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Two-game series with Senators proves to be tonic for what ailed Oilers – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — Back to .500 and feeling awfully good about themselves, the Edmonton Oilers discovered this week what the Vancouver Canucks learned a week ago: The Ottawa Senators are a tonic for whatever ails you.

After an 8-5 win Sunday with rookie Stuart Skinner making his first NHL start in goal, the Oilers inserted Mikko Koskinen back between the pipes, buckled down defensively, and executed a clinical 4-2 victory over the Senators — scoring the first four goals of Tuesday’s game. The Oilers travel to Calgary for a game on Friday, then two more at the Sens rink after that — four points that should not go to waste.

“We came home for this homestand and we had that (reaching .500) goal in mind,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “There were some things we were doing, even when we were losing, that we liked. Then we’d make a mistake or take a penalty at the wrong time.

“I don’t mind our game moving forward here. We’ve taken some steps from where we were, but there are more steps to take.”

On Groundhog Day, the Sens lost their ninth straight. Now they go home and home with the first-place Montreal Canadiens, and then they have two games vs. Edmonton, which outscored them 12-7 in this two-game set and gave up just 25 shots on goal Tuesday despite four Senators power plays.

“Right now, every break seems to go in,” Senators head coach D.J. Smith said. “Probably, I need more from some of the older guys. Probably, need more right now from some of the guys who have been in the league.”

Connor McDavid (two assists on Tuesday) now has six consecutive multi-point games. He and Leon Draisaitl (one goal) have 36 points between them in the past eight games.

Jesse Cashes

It was the great Finn Teemu Selanne who used to speak of the old ketchup bottle whenever he would be in a goal-scoring slump. Eventually, Selanne always said, the ketchup would flow again.

And so it was that with 27 shots on goal but not a single tuck on the season, the young Finn Jesse Puljujarvi entered Tuesday’s game with the distinction of being the only NHL forward with that many shots not to have scored. Well, let the ketchup flow.

“I have a couple of chances and they go in. That’s good,” said Puljujarvi, who scored on a solo rush and then tipped home an Evan Bouchard wrister while cruising through the slot.

“Sometimes good shifts, sometimes bad shifts. All the time I try to be better player, help those guys and be a better linemate. There are things that I and the team can do better. (I can) be strong and make some plays all the time. That kind of stuff.”

This will give the 22-year-old some confidence, and blow some wind into the sails of a fan base that has been waiting for something good to happen to Puljujarvi.

“I’ve been talking to him quite a bit,” Tippett said. “He says it doesn’t bother him, but it’s nice to see him get on the board. Anybody, if you feel like you’re not scoring, there’s that extra bit of pressure you’re putting on yourself. Good to see that smile on his face.”

Puljujarvi played 14:31 and had three shots on goal.

Bouchard Begins

It was a calm, professional debut for Bouchard, who got into his first game this season. He had an assist, four shots on goal, eight shots in total, played 16:56 and simply looked like an NHL defenceman.

“Felt good to get back playing here in Edmonton. It took a shift or two to get back used to it,” said the 21-year-old, who watched the first 10 games of the season. “The message was, ‘Go out, have fun and work hard every day,’ it was a matter of time before I got to play a game. It’s the NHL. It’s always fun being here. Staying positive was a big part of it.”

What did his coach think?

“Really solid. Really solid,” Tippett repeated. “That’s a tough thing to jump into a game like that — every game the points are critical — and I think he got 17, 18 minutes. I was really pleased with his game. Smart, got an assist on a good shot from the point, and didn’t look out of place.

Bouchard’s game is subtle. It flows, and he doesn’t waste any energy.

“It’s a controlled game. Not quiet, but controlled,” Tippett said. “He doesn’t expend extra energy when he doesn’t have to.”

“He had a great start tonight,” Tippett said. “It’s all up from here.”

Murray Worry

The Sens acquired goalie Matt Murray from the Pittsburgh Penguins then promptly signed him to a four-year, $25 million deal in the off-season. That made him the third-highest paid player on the roster, and, alongside Thomas Chabot, the only other Senator signed through 2023-24.

He is clearly the goalie of record for this rebuild, but boy oh boy, things haven’t started well for Murray. In seven games he’s sporting a .842 saves percentage and a 4.82 goals-against average.

Murray watched the final two periods of Sunday’s game from the bench after being pulled, and backed up again tonight while the Sens went with Marcus Hogberg and his .849 saves percentage.

“I’ve never changed from when I got here,” Smith said. “We want this team to be set up so it can be good for 10 years. Slowly, we’re integrating more and more young guys, and (Murray’s) going to be the goalie when this team is the team that we know it can be. He’s going to be the guy holding them every day.”

Murray spent some extra time on the ice following Tuesday’s optional morning skate working with goalie coach Pierre Groulx. He’s grinding away in search of the game that took him to two Stanley Cups as a Penguin.

“Right now, this is a good work day for him,” observed Smith, who had “a good talk with him” Tuesday. “We’ve got to put him in a spot where we can play good in front of them. We think (Tuesday) was a good day to get some work, get some rest and be ready for the next one.”

It can only go up from here.

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Oilers score four unanswered, even series with Game 2 win over Flames – TSN

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CALGARY — Zach Hyman scored the winning goal shorthanded for the Edmonton Oilers in Friday’s 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames to even their playoff series at one victory apiece.

Edmonton captain Connor McDavid‘s goal and assist Friday made him the fastest active player to reach 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in a single post-season, and fastest among any player since Mario Lemieux in 1992.

Leon Draisaitl and defenceman Duncan Keith each had a goal and two assists and Evan Bouchard also scored for Edmonton.

After he was pulled early in Game 1, Oilers goaltender Mike Smith made 37 saves for the win and assisted on Draisaitl’s insurance goal.

Michael Stone, Brett Ritchie and Tyler Toffoli scored for Calgary, which led 3-1 midway through the second period.

Johnny Gaudreau had two assists. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom stopped 35 shots in the loss.

The best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal heads to Edmonton’s Rogers Place for Sunday’s Game 3 and Tuesday’s Game 4. The Oilers went 18-4-2 at Rogers Place over their final 24 games of the regular season.

Calgary (50-21-11) topped the Pacific Division ahead of runner-up Edmonton (49-27-6) in the regular season. The Alberta rivals are squaring off in the playoffs for a sixth time, but the first since 1991.

One of the NHL’s top teams five-on-five, the Flames were shorthanded for almost 11 minutes Friday. Edmonton scored its first power-play goal of the series midway through the second period to send the game into the third deadlocked 3-3.

Hyman turned Calgary’s offensive-zone turnover into a breakaway. He scored the shorthanded, go-head goal going upstairs on Markstrom at 10:14.

Smith head-manned the puck to Draisaitl for another breakaway just over two minutes later. The forward, who is playing through a lower-body injury, put the puck off the post and in on Markstrom’s stick side at 12:36.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins penalized for slashing at 16:48, the Flames couldn’t convert a power play into a goal. Calgary went 1-for-5 with a man advantage in the game, while the Oilers were 1-for-6.

Two broken Oiler sticks contributed to a pair of Flames goals in the first two periods. Defenceman Darnell Nurse was hampered down low without his in the second period and didn’t manage an exchange with a forward.

Gaudreau threaded a pass to the front of the crease for Elias Lindholm to flip to Toffoli, who scored a power-play goal at 2:04 for a 3-1 Calgary lead.

Draisaitl’s goal at 2:31 of the second was waived off. Flames head coach Darryl Sutter successfully challenged goaltender interference by McDavid.

But McDavid struck seconds later to draw Edmonton within a goal. He rolled off Calgary defenceman Nikita Zadorov into open ice, took a pass from Keith and stickhandled the puck by Markstrom’s outstretched pad at 3:05.

Bouchard pulled the Oilers even at 15:03 during Stone’s double minor for high-sticking. The defenceman wired a slapshot from the top of the faceoff circle upstairs on Markstrom.

After setting the record for the fastest two goals to start a playoff game in the series opener with a pair within 51 seconds, Calgary struck early again, 63 seconds after puck drop.

Edmonton, and Smith, recovered faster than in Game 1, however. The Oilers carried offensive zone time and had more chances from the slot than Calgary in the first period.

Hyman celebrated an Oilers goal with just over four minutes left in the opening period, but officials waived it off. The whistle blew before the puck crossed the goal-line in a crease scramble. The Flames took a 2-1 lead into the second.

Keith halved the deficit at 13:45 of the first . McDavid circling out from behind the net held off Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson with one arm and held the puck on his stick with the other.

Edmonton’s captain shovelled a one-handed pass to Keith, who beat Markstrom far side.

The hosts led 2-0 at 6:02 when Smith bobbled an Erik Gudbranson shot. Ritichie pounced on the loose puck in the crease and put a backhand by the Oilers’ goalie.

Hyman broke his stick and wasn’t able to retrieve another from the bench before Stone’s slapshot from the point beat Smith bottom corner glove side at 1:03.

The Flames were minus top shutdown defenceman Chris Tanev for a third straight game. He was injured in Game 6 of Calgary’s first-round series against Dallas. Tanev skated in practice this week, but hasn’t dressed for games.

Notes: Gaudreau extended his playoff point streak to seven consecutive games (two goals, 10 assists) and tied Lanny McDonald (1984) for the fifth-longest in Flames history . . . McDavid stretched his playoff multi-point streak to five straight games. The only other players in NHL history with a run of five or more multi-point games were Wayne Gretzky (1983), Tony Currie (1981), Darryl Sittler (1977), Evgeni Malkin (2009) and Dale Hawerchuk (1993) . . . Keith became the oldest Oiler to score a playoff goal at 38 years, 308 days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2022.

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How the internet has changed the sporting world

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The internet has slowly changed how people participate in sports. One of the areas that were greatly influenced was virtual games. While there was a time one needed to get a PlayStation or Xbox, this has changed over time. Most players simply go online and get to play on their phones or computers. As such online games have become more popular over the years.

Perhaps one of the leading games to thrive has got to be online betting. If you want to find out more about bet365 sportsbook Canada, you can get all that information on the internet. It has made it easier for more people to join the online gaming space and become active members there.

Fans have also changed how they consume their sporting activities. Before the internet era, one needed to go to the stadium to watch a live game. The only other option aside from living sports was watching it on television or listening to the radio. With the internet, live games keep being aired daily.

As long as you have the internet on your phone or device, you can access games from any part of the world and watch them live.

You can also save the game and watch it later if you want to analyze it. It has led to an increase in the fan base since so many more people can watch the sports. It has also helped those who want to place bets on certain games to do it without an issue.

The introduction of virtual games has led to the international online tournament being arranged. While other sports need most people to travel from one place to another, this is no longer the case.

Fans from around the world gather and participate in different games without traveling. It has led to a rise of online players with their community and laws over them. The online gaming community has come together in the past and done things for strangers they have never met.

While there is some good in the online space, there is also negativity that comes from it. The anonymity the online space gives its people has made it easier for most people to judge others without fear of repercussions.

There have been cases where players have been bullied so much that they quit a sport. There has also been a situation where teams have lost sponsorships because online fans boycotted the matches. Whether these fans were on the right or not, it shows how much reach the online space has.

More sports companies hire PR teams to ensure that whatever happens in a game or with their players is taken care of. That way, the game’s credibility is maintained, and more fans can keep streaming in. Most players have also learned to be more cautious of how they carry around their fans lest they get painted in a bad light.

Running a sports academy has been made easier with the internet of things connecting so many tools. Managers simply need to put the right system in place, and they can monitor how their business is running.

With the touch of a button, staff gets paid, and invoices are made. New players can also sign up for these programs. It ensures that sports academies can run without hassle.

The internet has transformed how we look at things, and the sports areas are not different from all these changes. Soon all fans and players will have to be on these platforms. It is the only way to connect and offer whatever support one is giving a team or a sport.

 

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Hockey’s Battle Of Alberta Is Back

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The path to the Stanley Cup is going through one of hockey’s signature rivalries this spring, with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers squaring off in the NHL’s Western Conference semifinals. (The Flames took Game 1 in a wild 9-6 shootout on Wednesday night; Game 2 is Friday night in Calgary.) Not only will the series determine who carries the banner for all of Canada in hopes of ending its painful 29-year Cup drought,<a class=”espn-footnote-link” data-footnote-id=”1″ href=”https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/hockeys-battle-of-alberta-is-back-and-as-entertaining-as-ever/#fn-1″ data-footnote-content=”

Before the Montreal Canadiens in 1993, Edmonton and Calgary were the second- and third-most recent Canadian teams to win it all (in 1990 and 1989, respectively).

“>1 but it represents a fierce clash between provincial neighbors with almost as much history, and hostility, on the ice as off.

So with the help of our Elo ratings, let’s take a tour through the history of the rivalry, tracing the rise and fall — and rise again — of Western Canada’s most bitter foes.

Though the two franchises started out at the same time, they took very different paths to what would eventually become an iconic rivalry. The Oilers first played in 1972 as a charter member of the upstart World Hockey Association and were known at the time as the Alberta Oilers, under an early plan (which never materialized) to split home games between Edmonton and Calgary.<a class=”espn-footnote-link” data-footnote-id=”2″ href=”https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/hockeys-battle-of-alberta-is-back-and-as-entertaining-as-ever/#fn-2″ data-footnote-content=”

After the WHA’s initial Calgary franchise (the Broncos) ran into funding problems and moved to Cleveland before playing a single game in Alberta.

“>2 Rooting itself explicitly in Edmonton — and changing to a more familiar name — starting in 1973, the team still found little success in the WHA … until it bought the rights to a skinny 17-year-old prospect named Wayne Gretzky. With Gretzky leading the way as a rookie in 1978-79, Edmonton nearly won the WHA’s last Avco Cup title, and his Oilers were absorbed into the NHL when the leagues merged in 1979.

Meanwhile, the Flames were born in 1972 as well, beginning their NHL life in the unconventional hockey market of Atlanta. Though largely forgotten now, the Atlanta Flames had some pretty good seasons in the mid-to-late 1970s — and in a certain sense, they can be seen as an early audition for the NHL’s later, more successful forays into the American South. But when financial losses mounted for Flames ownership in 1980, the team was sold to Canadian investors and moved northwest. Thus it came to be that the NHL had two Alberta-based franchises, destined to battle across the deep cultural divide that has always separated Edmontonians from Calgarians.

The conflict was fierce from the start, with one of the most penalty-filled games in the history of the rivalry taking place in just the second Edmonton-Calgary game ever. The teams avoided playoff confrontation early in their time as neighbors — until 1983 and 1984, that is, as the Oilers eliminated the Flames en route to the Stanley Cup final both years. (Game 7 of the 1984 division finals was a particularly wild affair, with Calgary taking a 4-3 lead midway through before Edmonton scored four unanswered goals to advance — a stepping stone on the path to the Oilers’ first Cup.) While the two teams had been on the same level in Elo at the beginning of the 1980s, the emergence of Gretzky and Edmonton’s high-scoring offense gave the Oilers a dynasty — and a clear edge in the Battle of Alberta by the middle of the decade.

But things got more competitive as the Flames began building a strong talent base of their own. Calgary improved from minus-3 in goal differential in 1984 to plus-61 in 1985 on the strength of the NHL’s second-best offense, trailing only Edmonton. And when the two teams matched up again in the playoffs in 1986, Oilers defenseman Steve Smith scored an infamous own-goal in Game 7 — accidentally banking the puck off netminder Grant Fuhr’s skate on a pass from behind the net — providing Calgary the margin to finally beat their rivals in the division finals. (The Flames would go on to lose to Montreal in an all-Canadian Cup final.)

That was a rare miscue for Edmonton: It marked the only time from 1984 through 1988 that the Oilers didn’t win the Cup. As much as Calgary improved over the course of the ’80s, Edmonton usually was a step ahead; even when the Flames finished a franchise-best No. 2 in Elo in 1987-88, the Oilers were No. 1. But Gretzky’s shocking departure for Los Angeles in August 1988 changed the rivalry — and the Flames seized on the opportunity to surpass their rivals, closing out the decade with the franchise’s first (and, for now, only) Stanley Cup triumph.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Oilers bounced back from their post-Gretzky downturn to begin the 1990s, capitalizing on their former captain’s own first-round win (with the L.A. Kings) over Calgary to then sweep Los Angeles in the following round and ultimately win yet another Cup. For those counting, that meant either Edmonton or Calgary had won four consecutive championships and six of the previous seven. The Battle of Alberta was effectively the battle to control the entire NHL.

But little did the teams know that would be the last Cup for either franchise in three decades and counting. As the economics of the NHL shifted during the 1990s to favor higher-payroll teams — and, relatedly, the American dollar — the Flames and Oilers fell behind. From 1992-93 through 2002-03, the teams combined to win only two playoff series: Edmonton’s pair of improbable seven-game victories over No. 2 seeds in 1997 (the Dallas Stars) and 1998 (the Colorado Avalanche). But while Oilers goalie Curtis “Cujo” Joseph was brilliant in both upsets, the decade as a whole was a time of decline and mediocrity in Alberta.

That trend carried over into the 2000s at first, reaching its nadir when neither team made the playoffs at all in 2001-02 — the first time that was true in the rivalry’s history. But each franchise was due for a moment of excitement, however brief.

The Flames had their turn first, improving by nearly 20 points in the standings under former (and, incidentally, current) coach Darryl Sutter in 2003-04. Hall of Fame winger Jarome Iginla finally had the goaltending help — in the form of Miikka Kiprusoff — to power a deep postseason run, and Calgary even held a 3-2 lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Cup final before losing a double-OT heartbreaker at home in Game 6 and another tight contest in Game 7.

After a lockout torpedoed the entire 2004-05 season — and radically changed the economics of the league yet again — Edmonton went on a run of its own behind the standout play of defenseman Chris Pronger and journeyman goalie Dwayne Roloson (a former Flame!). Falling behind three-games-to-one against the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2006 Stanley Cup final, the Oilers rallied to force a Game 7, though they lost on the road to match their rivals’ fate from two years earlier.

The Battle of Alberta had seen both of its competitors come close to winning championships in the mid-2000s. But instead of serving as the prelude to another era of 1980s-style dominance, those Cup final runs were mostly a mirage. Edmonton would miss each of the next 10 postseasons, and Calgary failed to muster another series win for nearly as long.

Which brings us to the current era of the rivalry. The Flames have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the league since the mid-2010s, bouncing between decent seasons and bad ones across multiple coaches and an influx of younger talent such as Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm. The Oilers spent most of the 2010s squandering draft picks, making horrible transactions or generally wasting their chances to build around the once-in-a-generation talent of Connor McDavid.

And yet, both franchises have been on the rise recently. Calgary was one of the NHL’s best teams throughout the 2021-22 regular season, with a deep roster, plenty of star power and a rock-solid goalie in Jacob Markstrom. Edmonton received its typical 1-2 superstar punch from McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but the Oilers also finished the regular season as the best stretch-run team in the league according to Elo. Along those lines, both clubs were among the top three in goal differential over the second half of the schedule. These teams were in good form for their first playoff meeting since 1991, despite both requiring seven games to dispatch lower-seeded opponents in Round 1, and that showed with 15 total goals in Game 1.

After Calgary’s win, our model gives the Flames a 69 percent chance of winning the series and moving on to the Western Conference final. But if the history between these teams is any indication, anything can happen from here on out. In many ways, this series has been decades in the making — and not just because of the cartoonish, 1980s-style scoreline of the opener. While Alberta is no longer the center of the hockey universe it once was, the path to the Stanley Cup will still run through the province. And that means this rivalry is officially back as one of hockey’s best.

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