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TRAIKOS: Quebec premier right on need for Habs to either trade Price or Weber – Toronto Sun

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Normally, politicians don’t make the best hockey analysts. But in this case, Francois Legault might be onto something.

It was a week ago when the Quebec premier, who had grown increasingly frustrated with the Montreal Canadiens’ latest slide down the standings, tweeted out: “Big challenge in 2020: Should we trade Price and Weber?”

Well, maybe not both.

But one week later, with the team on its second eight-game losing streak of the season, it’s time to at least think about moving one of them. And it’s not the one with the big, burly beard.

So the question is, should Carey Price take a page out of Patrick Roy’s playbook and join Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon in Colorado? Or perhaps playing behind Nashville’s rock-solid defence is the best bet. How about Carolina, Buffalo or even San Jose?

Any of those options make more sense than having Price play out the remaining seven years of his contract in Montreal. Not with where this team is at right now. And not with where it’s heading.

A rebuild is finally coming for the Canadiens, who are on pace to missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. By the time it ends, the 32-year-old Price — and the 34-year-old Shea Weber — might be too old to lead this team where it needs to go next. By then, it might be 20-year-old Cayden Primeau who has replaced Price between the pipes.

The window has closed (not that it was ever really open) in Montreal. This isn’t a team Stanley Cup contender. In a beefed up Atlantic Division that includes Boston, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Florida and a Buffalo team that is young and trending upwards, this doesn’t even look like a playoff contender.

Some might suggest that the Canadiens don’t look much different than the St. Louis Blues did at this time a year ago, when they got great goaltending and went on an unprecedented roll that began in January and eventually led to a Stanley Cup. At the same time, the Canadiens also don’t look much different than the lowly Ottawa Senators.

The latter might be a more appropriate comparison. The difference is that Ottawa was built to be a draft lottery team this year, while Montreal had been hoping to reach up and grab a playoff spot.

And yet, if the 13th-place Canadiens lose to the 14th-place Senators on Saturday night, Montreal would be on pace for 77 points and Ottawa would be on pace for 73 points. That potential four-point swing speaks volumes about where the Canadiens are today and where they are inevitably heading.

The Canadiens, who are nine points back of a wild card and 18 points ahead of the last-place Red Wings, are not getting better. Not with this roster and not with what’s waiting in the pipeline. Montreal needs another top-3 pick in this year’s loaded entry draft. It needs more top-end prospects to go along with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

It needs to do what Ottawa has already done and turn the page and think ahead three-to-five years from now. That begins by making some hard decisions at the trade deadline.

Maybe the Canadiens can sell high on Tomas Tatar, who leads the team with 38 points and has another year remaining on his cap-friendly $4.8-million contract, and get back a first-rounder. Maybe Ilya Kovalchuk starts producing and Montreal manages to flip him to the Islanders for a second-round pick.

Maybe they dangle Weber. But if this rebuild is going to get a shot in the arm, it’s time for the Canadiens to think about clearing significant cap space and moving on from Price, who despite a sub-standard season that has mirrored the rest of his team’s, remains Montreal’s biggest trade chip.

Chances are, it’s already in the works.

“That was speculated last night in Chicago — not by me, but by people in the league,” hockey analyst Pierre McGuire told TSN radio on Friday morning. “I don’t know the answer to that. I’m not going to speculate … but I’m sure that’s been brought up.”

Trading Price is not an easy task for a number of reasons. The first is that Price has a full no-move contract. He’s also making $10.5 million until 2026, when he will be 39 years old. And if you haven’t noticed, it’s not like he’s justified that salary in the past two years.

Price ranks 37th in the league with a 3.01 goals-against average and is 39th with a .901 save percentage. Then again, it’s not like the Canadiens have made life easy on the former Hart Trophy winner.

Only Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck and Toronto’s Frederik Andersen have faced more shots this season. Unlike those two teams, Montreal doesn’t have an Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Mark Scheifele or a Patrik Laine who can single-handedly win games on their own when Price doesn’t have his best stuff.

After all, we’ve seen what he can do at the Olympics. We’ve seen what he can do at the World Cup. And unfortunately for him, we’ve seen what he can’t do while playing behind a Canadiens team that isn’t talented or deep enough to challenge for anything except for a spot in the draft lottery.

Now, it’s time to give him a chance to see what he can do with a team that deserves him.

mtraikos@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Michael_Traikos

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Astros' Garcia to start Game 6 of ALCS against Red Sox – Sportsnet.ca

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HOUSTON – Rookie Luis Garcia will start for the Houston Astros against the Boston Red Sox in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series on Friday night with a trip to the World Series on the line.

Garcia started Game 2 and gave up a grand slam in the first inning before leaving with no outs in the second because of discomfort in his right knee. Manager Dusty Baker announced Thursday that Garcia would get the ball for Game 6 and said the Astros are confident the problem is behind Garcia and he’ll be 100% healthy for Friday’s start.

The Astros fell behind 2-1 in the series after two big wins by the Red Sox. But they rode their powerful offence to consecutive victories in the last two games to take the series lead and move within a win of advancing to the World Series for the second time in three seasons.

The Astros won the championship in 2017, a crown tainted by the team’s sign-stealing scandal, before losing to the Washington Nationals in seven games in the 2019 World Series.

The Red Sox previously announced that Nathan Eovaldi would start Game 6. Eovaldi got the win in a solid Game 2 start but was charged with the loss in Game 4 after giving up the go-ahead runs after coming in with the game tied in the ninth.

The Astros got eight terrific innings from Framber Valdez in a 9-1 win in Game 5. The performance gave Houston’s taxed bullpen a much-needed break after relievers pitched 29 1/3 innings combined through the first four games.

Baker said Jake Odorizzi would be available for long relief Friday if needed. Odorizzi threw 82 pitches in four innings in Game 2 after taking over following the injury to Garcia.

Baker also said rookie center fielder Jake Meyers, who hasn’t played this series after injuring his shoulder in the final game of the ALDS, probably wouldn’t return to the lineup in this series. He said Meyers could pinch-run or pinch-hit but isn’t ready to return to the field. Fellow rookies Chas McCormick and rookie Jose Siri have filled in at center against the Red Sox.

Houston is without ace Lance McCullers Jr. for this series because of a flexor pronator muscle strain in his right arm. Baker said Thursday that McCullers still hasn’t resumed throwing, so it’s unclear if he would be available to return if the Astros were to advance.

If necessary, Game 7 would be Saturday night in Houston.

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NFL Prop Picks For Browns vs. Broncos: Bet This Donovan Peoples-Jones Over/Under On Thursday Night Football – The Action Network

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Credit:

Jason Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Donovan Peoples-Jones #11 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after a touchdown

Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, is highlighting his favorite player prop for every primetime game throughout the 2021 season. He has a 428-326-6 (56%) all-time record on NFL bets he’s tracked in the Action app.


Broncos-Browns Prop Bet

Donovan Peoples-Jones Under 2.5 Receptions

Editor’s Note: Now that Odell Beckham Jr. is officially active, Browns player props are off the board at most books.

Peoples-Jones has been on fire over the past two weeks, posting lines of 5/70/0 & 4/101/2 against the Chargers and Cardinals, respectively. However, I believe it’s time to “sell high” on him as he’s due for some regression.

He’s caught a ridiculous 86.7% of his targets this season despite seeing an aDot of 15.7. Players with an aDot that high typically average a catch rate in the 57-60% range.

There are a few other reasons why my projections are lower for him compared to the market:

  • Case Keenum is starting in place of Baker Mayfield tonight. Peoples-Jones has shown great chemistry with Mayfield over the past couple of games. The QB change seems like a setback for him.
  • Weather could be a factor tonight. Steady winds of approximately 20 mph are expected with the possibility of some occasional rain. That would (in theory) negatively impact a high-aDot player like Peoples-Jones.

  • Jarvis Landry is making his return from IR. He should be Keenum’s main target tonight, while the TE group should also see an increase in target share after a season-low five targets as a group last week. I also expect RB/WR Demetric Felton to have an expanded role tonight and he has been heavily targeted (37.5% of routes run) when on the field this season.

I’m projecting DPJ for 2.3 receptions tonight with a median projection of 31.5 receiving yards (market is currently at 38.5) — I’d give this under about a 60% chance of hitting. He’s the type of player who could clear his yardage prop on a couple of deep catches, so the safer play here is to take the under for his receptions, especially since we are getting + money. I would bet this down to -105.

Pick: Donovan Peoples-Jones Under 2.5 Receptions (+115) at BetMGM

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Canadiens fans welcome Kotkaniemi back to Montreal with boos, vulgar chant – Yahoo Canada Sports

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Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi (82) was not welcomed back to Montreal with open arms. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

The Carolina Hurricanes were in Montreal on Thursday night to face the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, marking the return of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was at the centre of petty off-season drama after signing an offer sheet with the Canes.

In true hockey fashion, the Bell Centre crowd greeted the 21-year-old with boos and taunting chants.

The Canadiens acknowledged the former third-overall pick by displaying him on the jumbotron, which in turn sparked another wave of disapproval from the near-sellout crowd.

It was Kotkaniemi who got the last laugh, though, tipping in a goal in the third period for his first point with the Hurricanes — much to the delight of Hockey Twitter. Carolina ended up walking away with the 4-1 victory, keeping Montreal winless on the season.

The native of Pori, Finland appeared in 171 games for the Habs over three seasons, scoring 22 goals and notching 40 assists. He also registered 12 points in 29 playoff games, including five goals in Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup Final last season.

Carolina tendered an offer sheet to Kotkaniemi in late August, offering a one-year contract at $6.1 million. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin chose not to match, and Montreal received a first- and third-round pick as compensation.

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