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Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens – Game #56 Preview, Projected Lines & TV Info



The Ryan O’Reilly era begins on Hockey Night in Canada as the Maple Leafs look to end a recent trend of upset losses to their oldest rival (7 p.m. EST, Sportsnet).

Reflecting on the Mike Babcock era is a divisive subject among the fan base and not at all our goal here, but what he definitely got right was accurately predicting the culture shift to come in Toronto whereby coveted Southern Ontario-born players would want to come home and chase Stanley Cups in a Leaf sweater.

There is no more fitting of an occasion for Clinton, Ontario’s Ryan O’Reilly to make his Leafs debut than on HNIC against the Habs on home ice, where he’ll no doubt be greeted with a raucous reception tonight. The post-deadline-addition playoff anticipation hasn’t been this high in this market since the Brian Leetch trade back in 2004. The buzz will be palpable in the building.

Both O’Reilly and Noel Acciari were “adamant” about jumping straight into the lineup per Sheldon Keefe, and so we’ll get our first taste tonight of how they can transform the two bottom-six lines of the team, assuming O’Reilly lines up at 3C to start (we won’t know the official line combinations until closer to puck drop).

Acciari could slot in on the RW to start with the Leafs already having Matthews-Tavares-O’Reilly-Kampf down the middle, but he is also fully capable of lining up at center. We’ll probably see all manner of combinations here in the final 25 games. The possibilities are endless.

In net, Ilya Samsonov is sick but will be a possibility for tomorrow’s game in Chicago. That means Joe Woll will start for the second time this season.

Head to Head: Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs

In the season-to-date statistics, the Leafs hold the advantage over the Canadiens in five out of five offensive categories and four out of five defensive categories.

Game Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on the additions of Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari:

What is most exciting for me on the coaching side of it, which is why it was difficult to sleep: You have so many options now with such an abundance of depth at center. We can do lots of different things. There are people we can move and can play center or wing, including the guys we have acquired.

It gives me lots of options. I expect, between now and the end of the regular season, we will try a number of different things. We will try to get, A) a feel for what our best mix is, and B) potential adjustments and looks we can throw out depending on what the game or opponent calls for.

Keefe on where Ryan O’Reilly can slot into the lineup and if he might fit on John Tavares’ wing:

I mean, he is a great player. He would fit very well with anyone in our team and in any spot in our lineup.

Mark Giordano on his memories of playing against O’Reilly:

He has such a good stick. He knocks down pucks. He is frustrating to play against when he forechecks against you, gets his stick on the puck, and knocks it out of the air and stuff like that. He is a really detailed guy. He plays the right away.

Giordano on the vote of confidence in the players from the GM:

We are a team that believes in ourselves and believes we can go all the way. Making additions like this is management’s way of saying they feel the same way.

Giordano on the addition of Noel Acciari:

He is a hard guy to play against as well. Really, really finishes every check. He is on the body a lot. He is one guy for sure that when he is out there, you know he is out there. He always has a good stick. Extremely hard to play against.

We are excited to have him as well. They are going to be two huge adds for our team.

Giordano on the addition of another Southern Ontario player to the team:

I think it is great for the organization. Speaking for myself and I am sure some of the other guys, too, you take a lot of pride growing up. A lot of us were Leafs fans. You know what the game of hockey means to the city and the province.

It is exciting. We feel like we can do some damage.

John Tavares on the message from management with the additions of O’Reilly and Acciari:

When Kyle and the management group make a move like that, it sends a strong message of belief in the team and what we want to accomplish. We are really excited about it. It should be a real boost.

They are two really solid players in what they bring and what they have accomplished. Just overall, in terms of an energy perspective, any time you make those types of additions, it sends a strong message and gets the group energized and excited.

Tavares on the elements O’Reilly will bring:

Maybe a comparison isn’t the best way, but he just has a very similar style to Bergeron just with the awareness, the hockey sense, and the two-way ability. He is so strong on faceoffs. He is just an unbelievable competitor. Very strong on the puck. Leadership qualities.

He has a lot of versatility to his game. I remember seeing those things in junior hockey when we were playing against each other. He is an overall complete player. He is extremely competitive and showed that when he won the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe. It is really impressive.

Those qualities will fit in really well with us and set a really good standard for guys to feed off of and learn from.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines*

*Updated: 6:51pm

#58 Michael Bunting – #34 Auston Matthews – #88 William Nylander
#91 John Tavares – #90 Ryan O’Reilly – #16 Mitch Marner
#47 Pierre Engvall – #64 David Kämpf – #19 Calle Järnkrok
#12 Zach Aston-Reese – #52 Noel Acciari – #15 Alex Kerfoot

#44 Morgan Rielly – #78 TJ Brodie
#55 Mark Giordano – #37 Timothy Liljegren
#38 Rasmus Sandin – #3 Justin Holl

Starter: #60 Joseph Woll
#50 Erik Källgren

Extras: Conor Timmins, Wayne Simmonds, Jordie Benn
 Matt Murray, Nick Robertson, Jake Muzzin, Victor Mete

Montreal Canadiens Projected Lines

#49 Rafel Harvey-Pinard – #14 Nick Suzuki – #17 Josh Anderson
#63 Evgenii Dadonov – #60 Alex Belzile – #68 Mike Hoffman
#27 Jonathan Drouin – #28 Christian Dvorak – #40 Joel Armia
#55 Michael Pezzetta – #32 Rem Pitlick – #56 Jesse Ylonen

#8 Michael Matheson – #52 Justin Barron
#54 Jordan Harris – #58 David Savard
#6 Chris Wideman – #26 Johnathan Kovacevic

Starter: #34 Jake Allen
#55 Samuel Montembeault

Injured/Out: Carey Price, Paul Byron, Brendan Gallagher, Sean Monahan, Kaiden Guhle, Jake Evans, Juraj Slafkovsky, Arber Xhekaj, Kirby Dach, Cole Caufield



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Tiger Woods had a tough opening round at The 152nd Open Championship



Tiger Woods encountered difficulties during the opening round of The 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon, finishing with an 8-over-par 79. Despite a promising beginning, including a birdie on the third hole, Woods struggled to find consistency throughout the round. His iron play and putting were particularly problematic, contributing to a series of bogeys and double bogeys.

Woods’ performance saw him slightly above average off the tee and around the green. However, he lost over two strokes to the field in both approach play and putting, ranking near the bottom in these categories. This marks a significant challenge for the 15-time major champion, especially considering the competitive field and the demanding conditions at Royal Troon.

Reflecting on his round, Woods admitted, “I didn’t do a lot of things right today. I didn’t hit my irons very close, and I didn’t give myself a whole lot of looks today. I need to shoot something in the mid-60s tomorrow to get something going on the weekend.” He emphasized the need for a strong performance on Friday to make the cut and remain in contention.

Woods, 48, has shown determination and resilience, competing in all four majors this year for the first time since his serious car accident in 2021. Despite physical limitations, he believes he can still contend for major titles under the right conditions. His performance on Thursday puts him in a challenging position, requiring a significant turnaround in the second round to stay in the tournament.

As Woods prepares for Friday’s round, his focus remains on improving his game and making the cut. Fans and analysts alike will be watching to see if he can achieve the remarkable recovery needed to advance and compete over the weekend. Woods’ journey at The 152nd Open Championship continues to be a testament to his enduring skill and competitive spirit.

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NBA Returns to Montreal with Raptors vs. Wizards Pre-Season Game



Montreal, QC – The NBA is set to make an exciting return to Montreal. The league announced on Thursday that the Toronto Raptors will face off against the Washington Wizards at the Bell Centre on October 6, marking the 10th edition of the NBA Canada Series.

This annual series has featured 15 teams playing 18 pre-season games across six Canadian cities. Notably, this will be the eighth NBA Canada Series game in Montreal, the highest for any city outside the Raptors’ usual home in Toronto.

Last year, Montreal fans witnessed the Detroit Pistons take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, featuring Canadians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort. The Raptors’ previous game in Montreal was in 2022.

This year’s game will be particularly special as it will showcase several Canadian players. Montreal natives Chris Boucher and Quincy Guerrier are both on the Raptors’ training camp roster. Additionally, Kelly Olynyk and RJ Barrett, who are set to represent Canada at the upcoming Summer Olympics, are also expected to play for the Raptors.

The Wizards bring their own Canadian connection with Kyshawn George, selected in this year’s NBA Draft. George, born in Switzerland, is the son of Montreal’s Deon George, a former member of Canada’s men’s basketball team.

The October 6 game will cap off the Raptors’ Montreal-based training camp, promising an exciting end to their preparations.

For more updates and coverage on the NBA Canada Series, visit Canada News Media

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Fafa Picault Leads Vancouver Whitecaps to Victory Over Sporting Kansas City



Vancouver, BCFafa Picault emerged as the hero off the bench, scoring in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps (11-7-5) dominated the first half, with two goals being disallowed due to offside calls. Vancouver’s breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Kansas City defender Robert Valoder accidentally scored an own goal, giving the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.

Sporting Kansas City (6-14-5) showed more vigor in the second half, equalizing in the 69th minute with a goal from Willy Agada. However, Picault’s decisive goal in the 76th minute ensured the Whitecaps extended their unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) to five games (4-0-1).

Yohei Takaoka delivered an outstanding performance with 16 saves for Vancouver, while Tim Melia made 12 stops for Kansas City, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

First Half Dominance

The Whitecaps were aggressive from the start, creating several early scoring opportunities. Brian White nearly scored with a header in the seventh minute, but Valoder cleared it off the goal line.

Ali Ahmed had a notable moment in the 27th minute, maneuvering past defenders to set up White for a goal that was disallowed due to offside. The Whitecaps’ pressure paid off in the 34th minute when Valoder deflected the ball into his own net, attempting to intercept a pass from Ryan Gauld to White.

Ahmed seemed poised to increase Vancouver’s lead eight minutes later, but his goal was also ruled offside. Despite these setbacks, Vancouver outshot Kansas City 9-2 in the first half.

Kansas City’s Resurgence

Sporting Kansas City made three substitutions at halftime, revitalizing their performance. Stefan Afrifa, substituting for Alenis Vargas, struck the crossbar in the 63rd minute, and Daniel Salloi’s follow-up shot was expertly saved by Takaoka.

Kansas City equalized six minutes later when Agada capitalized on a rebound after Takaoka’s save, slotting the ball into an open net.

Picault’s Winning Goal

The Whitecaps regained the lead in the 76th minute through Picault’s sixth goal of the season. Sebastian Berhalter, who replaced Ryan Raposo in the 67th minute, delivered a perfect cross to Picault, who headed it past Melia to make it 2-1.

Kansas City had a chance to level the score in injury time, but Erik Thommy’s free kick went over the bar following a foul by Mathias Laborda.

The victory solidifies the Whitecaps’ position as a formidable team in the MLS, with Picault’s performance highlighting their depth and resilience.

Stay tuned for more updates and coverage on the Vancouver Whitecaps at Canada News Media.

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