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With Flames injuries beginning to mount, so are the losses –



The playoffs may not be here just yet, but the war of attrition generally associated with the post-season has begun for the Calgary Flames.

After being unscathed by the injury bug all season long, the Flames lined up Saturday minus three regular starters. By night’s end they’d lost a fourth. And the game.

Injuries aren’t the only thing mounting in Calgary these days – so are losses. That’s three in a row for a team that has only won four of its last ten. Not the way the coach or any of his players want to roll into the playoffs.

On Saturday, the effort was there, the finish wasn’t.

Plenty of that had to do with the brilliance of St. Louis Blues revelation Ville Husso, who made 39 saves in a 6-4 Blues win.

The other deciding factor revolved around an evening of deficient defensive zone coverage by a Flames club that generally knows better.

“Probably a good time for a road trip here,” said Milan Lucic, whose club heads out on a three-game California swing Sunday that ends in Seattle next Saturday. “It feels like we haven’t had one for two months. We have to approach this one like we did the first one in Detroit.”

Might be a good idea given Monday’s tilt is against a surging L.A. club that crawled to within three points of the Flames Saturday.

“Big games, all divisional games, especially Monday,” said Lucic, whose club has three games in hand on the Kings. “Now they are three points behind us. Good time to get away and get together as a group and as a team on the road again.”

An off-day Tuesday in Anaheim, with temperatures expected to be 25 degrees, should do wonders for a bunch that hasn’t played quite to its identity or potential of late.

There were several good signs Saturday for a club that found itself down 1-0 in the first minute. Again.

The fourth line, which learned earlier in the day it would be without Sean Monahan due to season-ending hip surgery, evened the score with a Brett Ritchie goal that got the crowd back into it. Led by Lucic, they were fantastic all night.

With Ryan Carpenter now the de facto fourth line centre moving forward, the line was also instrumental in the game-tying goal scored by Noah Hanifin with nine minutes remaining in a 3-3 game.

On the play Lucic brought it into the zone and Carpenter and Ritchie battled hard in front of the net before Hanifins shoveled a backhand in. Ritchie had his right knee pinned awkwardly under Robert Bortuzzo on the play, and left for the evening.

Joining Monahan and Ritchie on the shelf was surprise scratch Calle Jarnkrok, promoting Trevor Lewis to centre the third line.

Not ideal.

Nor is playing without Oliver Kylington, which the team also had to deal with following his face-first collision into the boards two nights earlier, leaving him day-to-day and prompting the callup of Connor Mackey.

Michael Stone filled Kylington’s shoes admirably on the second pairing, playing almost 20 minutes alongside Chris Tanev.

The backbreaker for the Flames came with just under two minutes remaining, as Australian – yes, Austrailian – Nathan Walker took a nifty Robert Thomas pass alone in the high slot and beat Jacob Markstrom to put the visitors up 4-3.

It was the third goal of the evening in which the Flames allowed a Blues forward to find open space in the slot for an easy conversion.          

“It’s something we can’t allow them to do – that’s not the identity of our team,” said Hanifin. “We’re not going to have success in the long run doing that. Not trying to win a game 6-5.”

The Blues went up 5-3 with an empty-netter before a Dillon Dube goal made it slightly interesting with 37 seconds left. Another empty netter sent the crowd of 16,422 unhappy, despite the Flames outshooting the Blues 43-25.

“It’s not how we want to finish up before we go on a road trip but, if anything, it’s the understanding we have to dig in and it’s not going to get easier on the road,” said associate coach Kirk Muller.

“Everyone is playing for something. We’ve got to feel comfortable playing in these games and keep our identity, which is playing away from the puck. Not get frustrated and be the team thinking, ‘this is okay and that’s how we want to play.’ We can’t crack – we have to make other teams crack.”

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UK government approves US$5.33 billion sale of Chelsea to LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly



London, United Kingdom (UK)- The UK government has formally approved the sale of Chelsea FC for US$5.33 billion to Todd Boehly, the co-owner of the LA Dodgers and Clearlake Capital, a Californian private equity firm.

As a result, this now brings Roman Abramovich’s 19-year ownership of Chelsea, in which the club has won 21 trophies including five Premier League titles and two Champions Leagues to an end.

“Late last night the UK government reached a position where we could issue a licence that permits the sale of Chelsea. Following the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich, the government has worked hard to ensure Chelsea has been able to continue to play football, but we have always been clear that the long-term future of the club could only be secured under a new owner.

Following extensive work, we are now satisfied that the full proceeds of the sale will not benefit Roman Abramovich or any other sanctioned individual. We will now begin the process of ensuring the proceeds of the sale are used for humanitarian causes in Ukraine, supporting victims of the war.

In addition, the steps today will secure the future of this important cultural asset and protect fans and the wider football community. We have been in discussions with relevant international partners for the necessary licences required and we thank them for all their cooperation,” read a statement from the government.

The UK government sanctioned Abramovich on March 10, 2022, due to suspected links with Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

This in turn led to several restrictions on the club such as the ability to buy or sell players and negotiate new contracts with players. However, due to the recent developments all of that is all about to change, a boost for Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel, as he prepares for the 2022/23 season after finishing third and qualifying for next year’s Champions League in the 2021/22 season.

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Blues' head coach Craig Berube addresses Nazem Kadri threats: 'It's not a good thing' – The Athletic



St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube denounced social media threats made toward Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri Wednesday, days after the coach said he had ‘no comment‘ when he was first asked about them Monday.

“I’m not on social media. I was aware of a threat made to Nazem, not the racist stuff,” Berube told the media Wednesday. “In no way is it acceptable by the St. Louis Blues or anybody else for him to have to go through that. Being a Native American myself, I’ve heard it all, I’ve been around it.

“It’s not a good thing. So I just wanted to get that out there that there’s no room for it anywhere.”

Kadri was subjected to racist comments and threats on social media following a collision with Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington during Game 3 of the Blues-Avalanche second-round series. Following the game, Binnington threw a water bottle at Kadri as the Avs forward was being interviewed by TNT.

In Game 4, Kadri scored a hat-trick en route to a 6-3 Avalanche win over the Blues. Colorado can eliminate St. Louis Wednesday night in Game 5 with a victory.

(Top photo: Scott Rovak / NHLI via Getty Images)

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Instigator call the turning point in Rangers’ Game 4 win over Hurricanes –



Yep. They picked up right where they left off.

Game 3 between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes ended with tensions high and there was some obvious carryover into Tuesday’s Game 4 at Madison Square Garden that saw the Blue Shirts even the series with a 4-1 victory.

Whistles were few and far in between during a frenetic first half of the opening period as both teams traded chances. The Rangers controlled much of the high-paced action and eventually began winning more puck battles than the Hurricanes.

Then the key turning point of Game 4 occurred.

Jacob Trouba absolutely walloped Max Domi near the penalty boxes with a hard hit at the 11:38 mark.

Steven Lorentz was in the vicinity when the open-ice hit was delivered. Instead of merely taking Trouba’s number, Lorentz immediately came to the defence of his teammate and dropped the mitts with Trouba in a rare playoff scrap.

Trouba unquestionably contacted Domi’s head, just as the Hurricanes’ forward’s feet were sliding out from beneath him mind you, yet the officials deemed it a clean hit.

The sequence resulted in an instigator call on Lorentz.

Carolina’s bench, plus head coach Rod Brind’Amour, were visibly upset when Trouba only received five for fighting.

Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant told the broadcast at the first intermission “it was a great hit” before adding “Domi had his head down a little bit.”

Domi, of course, was involved in the rough stuff at the end of that heated Game 3 over the weekend.

The instigator call certainly seemed to affect the Hurricanes on the penalty kill and the Rangers capitalized with Lorentz in his team’s locker room as part of the 2-5-10 he was assessed.

Carolina was relatively sloppy while a man down and a turnover in their own end led to a missed opportunity to clear the zone. That led to Adam Fox patiently making a cross-ice saucer pass to Andrew Copp who neatly slide the puck to Frank Vatrano and the winger beat Antti Raanta low glove to open the scoring.

Brind’Amour, while wanting his players to be more disciplined, was fairly subdued in his post-game comments. He did mention he thought Trouba should’ve been given a cross-checking minor for getting his stick up on Lorentz prior to the brief punch-up.

“We’re not out there to catch guys (with their heads down) or play stupid or anything like that,” Copp said of Trouba’s hit after the game. “We’re just trying to finish our checks when we’re there and play physical when we can and make smart decisions. At the end of the day, them taking the two minutes changed the course of the game. … It’s not headhunting at all. It’s a good hit and their response warranted a penalty.”

Copp added his second assist of the period moments later when Fox, who leapfrogged Cale Makar for the active post-season lead in points among blueliners, tipped in his fourth of the playoffs on a Ryan Lindgren shot.

Lindgren, who has been excellent for the Rangers since returning to the lineup, was named the second star thanks to his two-assist night. Copp and Vatrano, both acquired in March trades, were named first and third stars of the game, respectively.

While there’s plenty of blame to go around on the Carolina side of the equation, Raanta’s performance is not why the series is even as it shifts back to PNC Arena.

Raanta did allow four goals on 28 shots, sure, however he also made a handful of highlight-reel saves to keep his team in it.

Alexis Lafreniere and Artemi Panarin were both separately stopped by Raanta on breakaway backhand deke attempts and he flashed the leather on Chris Kreider, yet his best of the night was against Mika Zibanejad.

The bigger concern for Carolina continued to be the lacklustre power play. It was only 5-for-43 in the playoffs prior to Game 4 where the issues persisted.

Carolina didn’t have trouble entering the zone when a man up. It’s just they couldn’t do much beyond moving the puck around the perimeter once the zone was established.

Their first man advantage of Game 4 occurred midway through the second period although the best scoring chance and only shot on goal during that PP was generated by the Rangers.

Brind’Amour’s group couldn’t get anything going with Lafreniere in the box serving a goalie interference minor early in the final frame either and they finished the night 0-for-2.

The Hurricanes were down by three goals heading into the third period and to say putting three behind Ilya Shesterkin in a single period is a tall task would be an understatement.

The soon-to-be Vezina Trophy winner had his shutout bid ended by Teuvo Teravainen in the third but that’s all Carolina could muster.

Brind’Amour didn’t even bother pulling his goalie in the final few minutes with the score 4-1.

There was some more pushing and shoving at the final horn with Ryan Reeves giving Domi the business – which was likely more fallout from the Game 3 rough stuff – but nothing escalated further.

The Hurricanes are winless on the road this post-season but perfect at home so they’ll appreciate Game 5 is scheduled for Thursday in Raleigh, N.C.

This series is now officially a best-of-three.

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