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Urgency for Canadiens to bust slump ratchets up after loss to Senators –



This feels like a breaking point for the Montreal Canadiens, who are hanging their heads over a 3-2 overtime loss to an Ottawa Senators team bringing up the rear in the all-Canadian North Division.

That’s four in the last five, it’s five of the last seven, and the Canadiens need to pick themselves up and reverse this immediately before it gets any further out of hand.

So here’s looking at Claude Julien and his coaching staff; at 35-year-old captain Shea Weber; at alternates Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher; at struggling forwards Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar; at Carey Price; at Stanley Cup winners Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson, Tyler Toffoli and Corey Perry.

Because it’s not up to 20-year-old Jesperi Kotkaniemi or 21-year-old Nick Suzuki to steady this group and get it back on the rails.

Though it is Suzuki who identified why the Canadiens have only managed more than two goals in just one of their last seven games.

“I think we’re pretty much all up in our own heads right now,” he said after scoring 1:17 into Sunday’s game and making a mistake that started the play that led to a goal at the other end eight minutes and 30 second later. “I think just overthinking it, playing not to lose, and that’s never a good thing to do. I think at the start of the season we were real energized and everyone was having fun. It’s just that’s gotten away from us.”

Julien is in his 18th season behind an NHL bench. He’s seen enough of these bad stretches to know where the solution lies.

“It’s just a matter of simplifying your game and playing with some confidence and making things happen,” he said. “At the end of the day, we should’ve simplified our game. Some of the breakaways we give is we’re playing high-risk hockey at times. We’re making some decisions that are high-risk and it ends up costing us. So we just need to settle down here and play a more stable type of game.”

Julien must get the Canadiens to do that immediately—after they played right into Toronto’s hands on Saturday and gave the Senators four power plays, five breakaways and the game-winning goal Brady Tkachuk scored on Sunday—or that 7-1-2 start to the season won’t be the only thing flushed away. He needs to get his message across, get back to the drawing board on a power play that started well and has since scored just once over its last 19 opportunities, and he needs to help re-instill some confidence in his group.

But Julien can’t do it alone. He can’t do it at all without the veterans we mentioned above passing on his message.

That Perry echoed it post-game is a sign Julien still has his team’s attention.

“We just have to limit our mistakes, limit the turnovers,” the 35-year-old, who scored late in the third period to tie the game 2-2, said. “It’s all about us. We sometimes give them more than they deserve and that’s about taking care of the pucks in the right situations and knowing what’s on the clock or whatever it is. We’ll fix it, and we’ll move forward.”

The Canadiens can’t afford another step back. They’ve got another game against this plucky Senators team Tuesday before two to close out the week against a Winnipeg Jets team that pulled ahead in the standings. Everything has tightened around them, with Edmonton surging and the struggling Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks not far behind.

And you can tell the Canadiens feel the walls closing in.

Suzuki confirmed it, saying he can sense the tension on the ice, on the bench and in the room.

“Overthinking is a big thing in hockey,” he said. “I’ve gone through it the last few games (he went four without a point prior to Sunday’s game). I’m just trying to play simple. I know we’re not scoring as much as we did at the start of the season. We know we have to bear down on those chances and a couple of those opportunities to shoot where we’re looking to pass. We’ve just got to keep it simple as a team and get back to basics of what we were doing before.”

No one expected the Canadiens were going to continue scoring four-and-a-half goals per game like they did over their first 10, but they can’t be forcing things so much and sacrificing their defensive structure to get over three.

They made a mess of things against Ottawa. If it wasn’t for Allen, who made 36 saves—six of them in the dying minutes on plays that could’ve ended the game well before Tkachuk one-timed a puck that banked off exhausted Canadiens defenceman Alexander Romanov—this game never would’ve made it to overtime.

“He gave us a great performance, and gave us a chance to at least get a point,” said Julien.

And Allen spent the rest of his night watching the Canadiens work hard but not smart.

“No question goals are tough to come by right now, but that’s going to happen,” he said. “They were pouring in at the start of the year. They’re drying up a little bit right now. They’ll come back. We have too good players and too many guys that work too hard in this locker room for the puck to not go in the net. It’s gonna come.”

It has to. Not now, but right now.

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More people watched Seattle NHL expansion draft on ESPN2 than Cubs-Cards on ESPN – Awful Announcing



In the grand scheme of things, 637,000 viewers nationally is not a huge number for a cable channel with any level of significant distribution. Most things on broadcast TV not only beat that, but beat it by quite a bit, and that kind of number isn’t usually even amongst the top cable broadcasts. However, the news that ESPN2 pulled that number in for its (NHL-produced, but featuring ESPN figures) coverage of the NHL expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken Wednesday night was certainly interesting, especially as so much of the actual news around that draft was reported in advance, and also given that their main-network coverage of the MLB game between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals drew fewer viewers. Here’s a comparison of Wednesday night sporting events from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal:

On the negative side, that draft didn’t even draw the numbers of studio show Pardon The Interruption (however, that airs on ESPN rather than ESPN2; they’re similar in distribution, but many people turn on main ESPN first). It also didn’t draw the numbers of early Olympic programming from NBCSN. On the positive side, it outdrew a national MLB game. And it drew more than the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft five years ago (595,000 on NBCSN for a combined broadcast of that draft and the NHL Awards). And it’s a good sign for ESPN, as this is their first big NHL event they aired under their new deal.

And yes, as Ourand noted in a follow-up tweet, that Cubs-Cards game didn’t have regional sports network blackouts, so Cubs and Cardinals fans could still watch it on their local RSNs. And most probably did, so it likely primarily pulled the national audience that didn’t have those RSNs. But it’s still interesting to see an ESPN2 event outdraw an ESPN event, especially when the ESPN event is a live game and the ESPN2 event is a one-team expansion draft (and one where most of the information was previously available to the public).

If ESPN versus ESPN2 programming decisions were made strictly from a standpoint of what they thought would draw more viewers, this result would go against that. That’s not entirely the case here, as the MLB on ESPN package comes with some restrictions on where games can air. But it’s still interesting to see the NHL expansion draft on ESPN2 outdraw a live MLB game between two prominent teams.

That is also perhaps further evidence that draft “spoilers” don’t always damage the ratings that much. That’s long been a debate, from the NFL’s heavy pushes against pick-tipping to the NBA’s more moderate approach (which sees pick-tipping still happen with some different language, and which hasn’t really led to obvious ratings losses).

In the case of this draft, figures who don’t work for expansion draft rightsholders Sportsnet (Canada) and ESPN (U.S.) reported many of the picks early, with Frank Seravalli (formerly of TSN, now of Daily Faceoff) and Pierre LeBrun (TSN/The Athletic) getting many of those, other national figures getting some more, and local reporters getting some others. So a mostly-full picture was available before the broadcast for those who wanted to find it. But that didn’t stop a significant amount of people from watching this, and that maybe shows that the league pushes against pick-tipping aren’t always that impactful.

[John Ourand on Twitter]

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Cleveland changes MLB team nickname to Guardians after months of discussion –



Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will be called Guardians.

The ball club announced the name change Friday with a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks, ending months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names that are considered racist.

The choice of Guardians will undoubtedly be criticized by many of the club’s die-hard fans.

The organization spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that was at nearly 1,200 just over a month ago. But the process quickly accelerated and the club landed on Guardians.

Social unrest spurred name change

Team owner Paul Dolan said last summer’s social unrest, touched off by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the name.

Dolan is expected to provide more details on the choice and background on the change at a news conference at Progressive Field before Cleveland hosts the Tampa Bay Rays.

Dolan said the new name mirrors the city and its people.

“Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders. ‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us.”

In 2018, the team stopped wearing the contentious Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps. However, the team continues to sell merchandise bearing the smiling, red-faced caricature that was protested for decades by Native American groups.

The name change has sparked lively debate among the city’s passionate sports fans. Other names, including the Spiders, which is what the team was once called, were pushed by supporters on social media platforms.

But Guardians does seem to fit the team’s objective to find a name that embodies Cleveland’s ethos while preserving the team’s history and uniting the community.

Not far from the downtown ballpark, there are two large landmark stone edifices — referred to as guardians — on the Hope Memorial Bridge over the Cuyahoga River.

The team’s colours will remain the same, and the new Guardians’ new logos will incorporate some of the architectural features of the bridge.

The change comes as the Washington Football Team continues to work toward a similar makeover. The franchise dropped its name before the 2020 season and said it will reveal a new name and logo in 2022.

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LIVE BLOG: Opening ceremony kicks off 2020 Olympics in Tokyo – Global News



After being postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has officially kicked off.

The Olympic Games opening ceremony is typically a chance for competing countries and athletes to show off their pride and culture, but this year will be a little different.

Normally held in a stadium full of ecstatic fans, this year’s ceremony will have international athletes parade around a near-empty venue after it was announced fans would not be allowed to attend because of rising COVID-19 cases in Japan.

Read more:
Fireworks light up Tokyo sky as 2020 Olympics officially begin amid pandemic

Athletes from around the world, including Canada, are taking part in the ceremony for the Summer Games, which will run until Aug. 8.

Canada has sent 370 athletes to the Olympics, the nation’s largest delegation since 1984.

Click to play video: 'Team Canada names flag-bearers for Tokyo Olympic Games'

Team Canada names flag-bearers for Tokyo Olympic Games

Team Canada names flag-bearers for Tokyo Olympic Games

But only 30 to 40 athletes are marching into the Olympic Stadium, the Canadian Olympic Committee has previously said, saying athletes aren’t allowed into the Olympic Village until five days before they compete.

Many of them will be too close to the start of their competition to join flagbearers Miranda Ayim of the women’s basketball team and men’s rugby sevens co-captain Nathan Hirayama.

Read more:
Canada at the Tokyo Olympics — Who’s competing, attending opening ceremony Friday

The ceremony’s theme is “United by Emotion,” as officials are aspiring to reaffirm the role of sport and the value of the Olympic Games, express gratitude and admiration for the efforts made over the past year, and also bring a sense of hope for the future, the Olympics website says.

Despite all the difficulties the International Olympic Committee has faced to stage the Games amid a global pandemic, president Thomas Bach previously said he believes the ceremonies will be a moment of “joy and relief.”

The event runs from 7 a.m. ET to 11 a.m. ET

You can follow along here.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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