Qatar became the first World Cup host country to get eliminated after its first two games following a 3-1 loss to Senegal on Friday.
It’s mathematically impossible for the 2022 World Cup hosts to be one of the top two teams in Group A and make it to the next round even though there’s still one more group stage to go. The Netherlands and Ecuador each won their first games of the tournament — Ecuador beat Qatar 2-0 — and tied 1-1 on Friday. They each have four points and Senegal has three after its win over Qatar. Even if Qatar beats the Netherlands on Tuesday it will have no more than three points.
Senegal sandwiched halftime with its two decisive goals. Boulaye Did scored in the 41st minute and then Famara Diedhiou scored the eventual game-winner just three minutes after halftime. Mohammed Muntari scored for Qatar in the 78th minute, but Senegal put the game away with Bamba Dieng’s 84th-minute goal.
Qatar was a long shot to make it to the knockout rounds entering the tournament but its elimination after two games is nothing short of a massive disappointment for a country that had been preparing for the World Cup for over a decade. Qatar’s national soccer team infrastructure was built for the tournament and the national team played in events like the North American Gold Cup to get prepped for the World Cup.
Qatar joins South Africa as the only countries to get knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage. South Africa tied Mexico to open that World Cup but its win over France in the final group match wasn’t enough for it to move on as Mexico advanced via goal difference.
And while South Africa was an easy team to root for 12 years ago, there are undoubtedly millions of people across the globe who aren’t unhappy that Qatar’s World Cup won’t advance past the group stage given the myriad controversies that surround this tournament. According to the United States Department of Justice, multiple FIFA officials received bribes to vote for Qatar as the host of the tournament. And after Qatar got the World Cup bid, its poor treatment of thousands of migrant workers who helped construct the stadiums has been a black mark on the tournament along with the country’s porous human rights record.
Ramblings: Updates on Bennett, Talbot, Theodore, and Gostisbehere; Kuzmenko Re-Signs; All-Star Schedule – January 27 – dobberhockey.com
In Minnesota’s last game, forward Ryan Hartman took a late penalty that put his team on the penalty kill with under five minutes left and down a goal. The coach wasn’t happy, Hartman knew it was a dumb penalty, and that led to him being healthy scratched on Thursday:
Hartman had been producing well for Minnesota since his return with four goals and nine points in 16 games while skating under 14 minutes a night. However, the team had lost three in a row and six of their previous nine games, sliding out of a playoff spot. Undisciplined play is not something they can afford, so this makes sense, and I’m sure we’ll see Hartman in the lineup on Saturday when they host Buffalo.
Andrei Kuzmenko has re-signed with Vancouver:
There was chatter of a trade, seeing as the Canucks need to really stop spinning their wheels in mediocrity and start setting themselves up for the future. However, they decided to extend a winger with 47 career games that is shooting nearly 25% through his age-29 season rather than build for that future because this team cannot stop being hilarious.
Ottawa provided an update on Cam Talbot:
It seems like it’s going to be Anton Forsberg‘s net for the time being. Ottawa has three games before the All-Star break and two of them are against Montreal, which would make for great Forsberg starts. The problem is that the team has a back-to-back this weekend so he’s surely only playing one of those, and one of those is in Toronto on Friday night. He may only get two starts in the next six days, one of them being on the road against the Leafs. After their game against Montreal this coming Tuesday, the team is off for 11 days, so Forsberg’s usefulness as a streamer in the short-term is murky at best.
Following a gnarly crash into the boards in Florida’s game against the New York Rangers on Monday, Sam Bennett was at practice on Thursday:
He missed the game on Tuesday but looks no worse for the wear. That is incredible news for him and the Panthers; his splits going into the boards looked like a hamstring strain at the least. Florida needs all the depth it can muster if it hopes to get back into the playoff race, Bennett included.
Staying on the good news train, Vegas defenceman Shea Theodore was in a regular jersey at practice on Thursday:
The 27-year-old blue liner has not played in seven weeks due to a leg injury but had posted 22 points in 29 games before exiting the lineup. That is a 62-point pace in a full campaign and was doing so without much power-play production. He will provide a much-needed boost whenever he does return but keep in mind we’re less than a week from the All-Star break. The team may give him some of that additional rest if they feel he needs it.
Cale Makar was back in the lineup for Colorado on Thursday night after having missed four games due to injury. There was some thought he might not be back until after the All-Star break, but the team just climbed back into a playoff spot after peeling off six wins in a row. They want to keep this momentum going and adding Makar will certainly help in this regard. Also, a home matchup with Anaheim is about as easy a matchup as possible for Makar to get his legs back under him.
Valeri Nichushin was out of the lineup, though the Avalanche are saying it’s not related to his ankle injury from earlier this season. He was at practice watching the team, though, so it doesn’t seem anything serious. Remember that season Roope Hintz was basically a game-time decision every game, sometimes being scratched? It seems like Nichushkin may be in that boat for the rest of the season unless he rests up over the All-Star break.
Another Western Conference defenceman was injured, though, as Shayne Gostisbehere was dinged up in Arizona’s game on Tuesday. That is going to cause him to miss around a month:
As Mr. Morgan points out in his tweet, we’re fewer than six weeks away from the trade deadline. Gostisbehere is a pending free agent who turns 30 years old this spring, so he’s likely not in Arizona’s long-term plans. He was an attractive trade deadline candidate but if he’s not healthy, do teams still want to acquire him, and will they pay his market price? We’ll find out in a month or so.
In a battle of a potential heavyweight Stanley Cup contender, Tampa Bay took a 3-2 win in at home against Boston. Andrei Vasilevskiy was superb, stopping 37 of 39 shots he faced in the victory. Victor Hedman scored the game-winner with less than seven minutes remaining, just his third goal of the campaign. He had four total shots as well as his fantasy value has come alive over the last six weeks.
Nikita Kucherov got in on all three goals, managing one tally and two helpers. He is quietly having an outstanding fantasy season with 20 goals and 71 points in 47 games.
Casey DeSmith held back Washington through 65 minutes, stopping 43 of 45 shots he faced, but Pittsburgh lost the shootout and fell by a 3-2 margin. DeSmith had arguably the best performance of the season, but that says a lot about Pittsburgh’s own problems.
Alex Ovechkin scored on the power play, totalling seven shots and a pair of hits. He now has 32 goals in 50 games.
Kris Letang had a great multi-cat effort even without a point going plus-1 with three shots, four blocks, four PIMs, and five hits.
Two goals from Rafael Harvey-Pinard wasn’t enough for Montreal in their home game against Detroit as the Red Wings held on for overtime which was ended by Robby Fabbri on a tremendous passing play:
Moritz Seider had three assists in the team’s triumph, one on the power play and one in overtime. After starting the season with just two points in 10 games, he now has 22 in his last 37 contests. That is much more what fantasy owners were hoping for. He even chipped in two blocks and three hits for good measure.
Jake Allen stopped 38 of 42 shots in his first start in nearly three weeks.
The All-Star break is looming with it officially starting next Thursday, February 2nd. The break itself is four days long but the NHL is giving its teams more time off on either side of the break. It is going to make for a light schedule over the next couple of weeks, so I thought it’d be worth highlighting some key spots. Let’s use the Frozen Tools Schedule Planner to see what those weeks look like from January 30th through February 12th.
Also, be sure to check out Andrew Santillo’s ‘Looking Ahead’ column. He covers all this stuff much more in depth, and every week, so he’ll have his thoughts on this lightened schedule sometime Friday.
There are seven teams with just two games in that two-week span and all are notable: Boston, Buffalo, Los Angeles, Nashville, Ottawa, St. Louis, and Winnipeg. There is a lot of high-end fantasy talent in there and weekly fantasy owners will have to decide if they are worth using.
Specifically, Boston, Buffalo, and Los Angeles have tough schedules in just those two games. The Bruins face the Leafs and Caps, the Sabres get a Hurricanes/Flames duo, and Los Angeles receives a Hurricanes/Penguins present. Using players from Boston, Buffalo, and Los Angeles might be tough sledding until Valentine’s Day, so fantasy owners that cannot make lineup changes once weeks lock should make alternative preparations.
Ottawa is one of the two-game teams that requires some consideration for rosters. The are in Montreal then home to Edmonton, both matchups that could bring scoring potential. The Oilers game is on a busy Saturday, February 11th, but the Habs game is on a three-game evening. For those that can make daily lineup changes, they might be a team to look to next week before the official break starts.
The final note here is Winnipeg’s schedule. They play Monday (the 30th) at home to St. Louis and then are off for 11 days. Their return is a home game against Chicago but it’s also on that busy Saturday that has 14 games on the docket. The matchups are good but an 11-day break with Jets players sitting on a roster doing nothing is a long time, and there’s a chance they’ll be rusty when they hit the ice against the Blackhawks.
Fill Up On Flyers
No team in this two-week stretch plays more than four games, and Philadelphia is one of those four-game teams. What differentiates them is all four games are at home, and the schedule isn’t that bad: Islanders, Oilers, Predators, Kraken. They start their All-Star break early so they have no games from this Sunday until a week from Monday, or no games next week at all. However, when they do return it’s with one of the best schedules in the league. There could be secondary names like Morgan Frost, James van Riemsdyk, Scott Laughton, or Cam York that could be of use in some fantasy formats.
Four-Game Road Warriors
There are nine teams with four games in the two-week span, and two of them play all their games on the road: Seattle and Vancouver. Both teams are heading to America’s Northeast for a three-game New York/Jersey trip, rounding the four games with Seattle then heading to Philadelphia while Vancouver goes to Detroit. It isn’t a great schedule for either, but it’s not awful, and four games is four games.
The difference between the two teams is Saturday, February 11th. It is a huge day with 28 teams playing but Seattle is one of the four teams that is not. Instead, they play on the lighter Friday and Sunday that sandwich that huge day. Anyone looking for some extra games the weekend after the All-Star game should look to Seattle as they and Anaheim are the only two teams to play February 10th and 12th, lighter days than that heavy February 11th.
Granted, fantasy options on Columbus are few and far between, but their top line is still important, so their schedule is important, too. The team has a home game this coming Tuesday to Washington, which is a light game day. Then they’re off for nine days before a back-to-back with Toronto the following weekend. Columbus’s second game against the Leafs is not only on the road, but also on that incredibly large 14-game Saturday slate. In that sense, Blue Jackets skaters might have two opportunities to crack fantasy rosters, and those games are against Washington and Toronto. Decisions need to be made.
Those are some of the important/interesting spots I noticed. Again, check out Looking Ahead for more in-depth coverage of every team as we navigate the All-Star break.
Murray’s mystery injury puts Samsonov in ‘terrible spot’ as Maple Leafs fall to Sens – Sportsnet.ca
Quick Reaction: Raptors 117, Warriors 129 – Raptors Republic
|S. Barnes37 MIN, 24 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 0 STL, 9-15 FG, 2-3 3FG, 4-5 FT, 2 BLK, 2 TO, -2 +/-
Scottie took more threes in this game than we’ve seen him take in a while, he also was a force inside, backing down smaller defenders and moving off the ball well, nice scottie game.
|O. Anunoby10 MIN, 1 PTS, 0 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 0-2 FG, 0-1 3FG, 1-2 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 7 +/-
Injured in the first half.
|P. Siakam40 MIN, 21 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST, 0 STL, 8-26 FG, 1-6 3FG, 4-5 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -7 +/-
Very poor shooting night from Pascal, took a lot of tough contested looks in the mid range, really hunted his shot tonight but never found it.
|G. Trent Jr.37 MIN, 17 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 7-14 FG, 3-7 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -14 +/-
Gary was getting beat on a lot of backdoor cuts tonight, but his scoring was pretty solid, hit a couple tough but needed buckets.
|F. VanVleet40 MIN, 28 PTS, 4 REB, 10 AST, 1 STL, 11-20 FG, 5-10 3FG, 1-1 FT, 1 BLK, 5 TO, -10 +/-
Another strong offensive performance from Fred, really exploded in the first quarter with 14 points and then had 14 in the second half as well, shot the ball extremely well tonight and he had a lot of great passes, especially in the pick and roll.
|C. Boucher19 MIN, 7 PTS, 9 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 2-9 FG, 1-3 3FG, 2-5 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, -16 +/-
Boucher’s energy was truly felt on the glass tonight but he missed so many of his looks that were mostly clean, wasn’t that good on defense tonight either.
|P. Achiuwa36 MIN, 17 PTS, 11 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 8-12 FG, 0-2 3FG, 1-3 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -8 +/-
Really nice offensive game for Precious and a lot of his buckets came at the rim after offensive rebounds, he battled on the glass and took advantage of the Warriors size.
|J. Hernangomez11 MIN, 0 PTS, 3 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 2 +/-
Juancho was playing some decent help defense tonight, he didn’t get a lot of scoring opportunity sadly.
|T. Young10 MIN, 2 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1-2 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -12 +/-
Thad came in and wasn’t very good on defense, had a nice post up bucket in the first half though.
Nurse ran the proper lineups tonight, he even sent doubles towards Steph, just a lot of bad things from the defense tonight.
Things We Saw
- For the defense to go from what we saw in Sacramento to what we saw here tonight has to be incredibly frustrating for everyone involved, too many breakdowns tonight.
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