Saturday, September 30, 2017

{allcanada} Impact fall to Rapids for third loss in a row


COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Alan Gordon finished Dominique Badji's low cross for the go-ahead goal in the 81st minute and the 10-man Colorado Rapids beat the 10-man Montreal Impact 2-1 on Saturday night.

Referee Jorge Gonzalez, after video review, issued a straight red card to Rapids midfielder Jared Watts in the 12th minute for a studs-up challenge. Montreal lost the man advantage in the 32nd when Daniel Lovitz was sent off for a late knee.

the third minute of first-half stoppage time with his first career MLS goal -- a header from the middle of the box to finish Mekeil Williams' deep diagonal cross.

Matteo Mancosu's long-range blast into the top right corner tied it for Montreal (11-15-6) in the 62nd minute.

The Impact have lost three straight and seven of their last eight.

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{allcanada} Toronto FC tops Red Bulls to win MLS Supporters' Shield


Toronto FC ticked off another box Saturday night in a remarkable MLS campaign, defeating the New York Red Bulls 4-2 to win the Supporters' Shield that goes to the team with the best regular-season record.

With two games remaining, Toronto (19-5-8) has an unassailable nine-point lead atop the standings.

In a league where the hardware that really matters — the MLS Cup — goes to the playoff winner, taking first prize in the regular season means a lesser trophy and US$130,000 deposited to the TFC players' bonus pool.

But in a sport where the league title decides the champion in many countries, finishing first in the standings means something. For Toronto FC players, it is another goal achieved — following the Voyageurs Cup as Canadian champions.

It is also a step on the road to a bigger prize.

Toronto finished third in the East — and fifth overall — last season, but made it all the way to the MLS Cup final only to lose to Seattle in a penalty shootout at BMO Field.

The Toronto players celebrated in front of the fans Saturday, even if the Shield trophy itself was not on hand.

Once back in the dressing room, a few beers were consumed. But it was more a matter of job done than a party. Striker Jozy Altidore had a ginger ale at his locker while captain Michael Bradley munched on a slice of pizza.

"While we're celebrating, it's been a semi-muted celebration because we know we've got two of the three (trophies) and the third one is the biggest one we're after," coach Greg Vanney said after notching his 50th regular-season victory at the Toronto helm.

For Bradley, the Shield makes good on a team goal to be a consistent threat all season. For a man who came to a loser when he signed with Toronto in January 2014, it is also further proof that the once sad-sack franchise really is a winner.

Most important of all, it sets Toronto up for the playoffs.

"What we've done is we've guaranteed that the last game we play this season will be in this stadium," said Bradley. "Whether that's MLS Cup or whether that's the second leg of a playoff series, our season will end in this stadium.

"And I think every single one of us likes our chances of playing here in this stadium in front of our fans with our season on the line."

Toronto has lost just once this season at BMO Field. Other than that defeat (to Montreal) and the 2016 MLS Cup final, its last loss on home turf was a year ago Sunday (a 1-0 loss to D.C. United on Oct. 1, 2016).

TFC has already set club single-season records for wins (19), total points (65), goals scored (71), home wins (12) and home points (39). It clinched a playoff berth with six weeks remaining, matching the fastest post-season qualification by any club since 2006.

It is also the first Canadian team to win the Supporters' Shield.

Victor Vazquez's 80th-minute penalty proved to the winner in Saturday's wild win. Wingback Justin Morrow sealed the deal in stoppage time with his third goal of the night before a sellout crowd of 28,979.

Morrow is the second defender in MLS history to score a hat trick, following Jose Vasquez of the L.A. Galaxy in 1997. It marked only the fifth hat trick in TFC history, with the other four coming from Sebastian Giovinco.

Toronto players mobbed goalkeeper Alex Bono on the field when the final whistle blew. They then posed for a photo in front of the south stand fans.

It looked like the Toronto celebrations would have to wait when Daniel Royer tied it at 2-2 with a 77th-minute penalty after defender Drew Moor scythed down New York striker Gonzalo Veron in the box. But referee Allen Chapman pointed to the spot again minutes later when Aaron Long was caught all over Jozy Altidore in the box.

Veron scored for the third straight game for the Red Bulls. New York 'keeper Luis Robles made an amazing one-handed save in the 59th minute to somehow parry a Tosaint Ricketts headed deflection of a shot over the bar.

After an even opening with few chances, the offences opened up with three goals in seven minutes with Toronto leading 2-1 at the half.

The game marked the return of Altidore after a three-game absence due to a hamstring issue. Giovinco (quadriceps strain) sat out a fourth straight game.

Star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips and playmaker Sacha Kljestan came off the Red Bulls bench in the 59th and 64th minutes, respectively.

Toronto was coming off back-to-back losses — to Montreal and New England — for the first time this season. New York (12-12-7) is now winless in eight games (0-3-5) since a victory Aug. 12 over visiting Orlando.

"I think team effort was amazing again," said Royer. "It's insane what this team puts into every single game. The energy and the will is just fantastic. As I've said in all the other interviews before, it doesn't really pay off but if we continue like that it'll come and i think we can be proud of our performance."

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{allcanada} Granlund, Canucks hold off Oilers


Markus Granlund had a goal and an assist in the second period to help the Vancouver Canucks defeat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 at Rogers Arena.

Granlund tied the game 2-2 with a shorthanded goal at 8:09, and assisted on a power-play goal by Loui Eriksson at 12:41.

Jake Virtanen gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead 12:53 into the first period, but Leon Draisaitl scored with two seconds remaining in the first and on the power play 7:48 into the second to give the Oilers a 2-1 lead.

Jacob Markstrom made 25 saves for the Canucks, who finished the preseason 4-3-1 and will open the regular season Oct. 7 against the Oilers.

Cam Talbot had 14 saves for Edmonton, which finished the preseason 6-2-0 and plays its season opener Oct. 4 against the Calgary Flames.

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{allcanada} Red Wings defeat Maple Leafs in shootout


Matt Lorito scored in the third period and in the shootout for the Detroit Red Wings in a 3-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Ricoh Coliseum.

Parenteau and Lorito scored on Toronto goalie Curtis McElhinney. Eric Fehr scored on Detroit goalie Jared Coureau.

Toronto outshot Detroit 7-0 in overtime, after Travis Dermott scored for the Maple Leafs with 1:06 left to tie the game 1-1. Lorito scored with 2:51 remaining to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead.

Fehr gave Toronto a 1-0 lead 8:31 into the first period. Detroit tied it 1-1 with 31 seconds remaining in the second period on a goal by Michael Rasmussen, his fourth of the preseason.

Detroit finished the preseason 3-4-1 and opens the regular season Oct. 5 against the Minnesota Wild in the first regular-season NHL game played at Little Caesars Arena.

Toronto finished the preseason 5-2-1 and opens the regular season Oct. 4 at the Winnipeg Jets.

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{allcanada} Canadiens score nine against Senators


The Montreal Canadiens scored six straight goals, and five times in the third period, in a 9-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at Bell Centre.

Brendan Gallagher (11:04), Alex Galchenyuk (19:26) and Andrew Shaw (19:52) scored in the first period for a 3-1 lead after Kyle Turris scored for the Senators on the power play at 22 seconds.

Shea Weber scored on the power play 1:24 into the second period for a 4-1 lead, and third-period goals 18 seconds apart by Gallagher (2:11) and Max Pacioretty (2:29) made it 6-1.

Mark Stone brought the Senators within 6-2 at 5:46, but Jacob De La Rose scored shorthanded at 7:08 and at even strength at 10:04 for an 8-2 lead. Victor Mete scored at 13:43 on the power play to make it 9-2.

Carey Price made 15 saves for the Canadiens, who finished the preseason 2-6-0 and open the regular season Oct. 5 against the Buffalo Sabres.

Craig Anderson stopped 24 of 30 shots, and Mike Condon seven of 10, for the Senators, who finished the preseason 3-3-0 and open the regular season Oct. 5 against the Washington Capitals.

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{allcanada} 'NHL China Games All Access' offers inside look at historic trip


NEW YORK - The Los Angeles Kings' and Vancouver Canucks' historic journey through Beijing and Shanghai for the first-ever NHL preseason games played in China as part of the 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging will be chronicled in NHL CHINA GAMES ALL ACCESS, a 30-minute behind-the-scenes television special produced by NHL Original Productions. NHL CHINA GAMES ALL ACCESS premieres in Canada on Sportsnet on Sunday, Oct. 1, at 9 p.m. ET and in the U.S. on NHL Network on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 6:30 p.m. ET. In addition, the special will air on NBCSN on Thursday, Oct. 5, at 6 p.m. ET and on TVA Sports on Friday, Oct. 6, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Fans will experience the momentous trip from the perspectives of Canucks and Kings players, including their international flight accommodations; cultural explorations of the Shanghai fabric market, Beijing Street Food Tour and Great Wall of China; and interactions with youth hockey players and fans in attendance for the preseason games. The special also will feature exclusive glimpses of the preparations for the historic games; interviews with members of the Canucks and Kings organizations; and mic'd up content from players, coaches, and officials on and off the ice.

"The NHL China Games were an incredible cultural experience for our players, on and off the ice," said Steve Mayer, NHL Chief Content Officer and Executive Vice President, and Executive Producer of NHL CHINA GAMES ALL ACCESS. "For the Canucks and Kings players, the opportunity to help bring the game of hockey to China and explore the incredible cities of Beijing and Shanghai was unforgettable, resulting in meaningful and engaging content we can't wait to share with our fans in North America."

The matchups on Sept. 21 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and Sept. 23 at Huaxi LIVE Wukesong's Le Sports Center in Beijing were the first NHL preseason games held in China. The 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging advanced the NHL's commitment to grow the game globally, while furthering the League's international strategy and long-term business plans in China.

With a population of more than 1.3 billion, China is committed to hockey and expects to expand its participation in all winter sports to 300 million people by 2022. The League plans to work side-by-side with sports bureaus across China in developing grassroots hockey programs, supporting local youth hockey and hockey development at all levels. The NHL also will look to develop programs that provide schools with training and instructional content to implement these impactful hockey programs that promote physical education, sportsmanship, teamwork and fitness through participation in hockey.

Sportsnet will re-air NHL CHINA GAMES ALL ACCESS on the following dates (all times Eastern): Monday, Oct. 2, at 9 p.m. on Sportsnet; Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sportsnet and SN1, respectively; and Thursday, Oct. 5, at 8 p.m. on SN360. NHL Network's encore presentations of the special are set for Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 11 p.m.; Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 8:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 8, at 11:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Oct. 14, at 4 p.m.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

{allcanada} Matthews gives Maple Leafs win against Red Wings


Auston Matthews scored the tiebreaking goal 37 seconds into the third period, and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 at Little Caesars Arena.

Mitchell Marner gave Toronto a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 3:49 of the first period. Gustav Nyquist tied it 1-1 at 13:09.

William Nylander put the Maple Leafs up 2-1 3:22 into the second period. Luke Glendening tied it 2-2 with 32 seconds left.

Leo Komarov scored an empty-net goal with 16 seconds left in the third.

Frederik Andersen made 21 saves for Toronto. Jimmy Howard made 23 for Detroit.

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{allcanada} Canadiens defeat Panthers for first win


The Montreal Canadiens got their first win of the preseason, 3-1 against the Florida Panthers at Bell Centre.

Charlie Lindgren made 22 saves for the Canadiens, who lost their first six games; they have one remaining, at home against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

Paul Byron scored twice for Montreal, at 13:32 of the first period and shorthanded 10:25 into the second for a 2-1 lead. Andrew Shaw scored 1:13 into the third.

Evgenii Dadonov scored with 3:00 remaining in the first period for Florida. Roberto Luongo made 20 saves.

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{allcanada} Williams scores three TDs as Stamps roll over Alouettes


CALGARY — Terry Williams scored a trio of touchdowns for the Calgary Stampeders in a 59-11 win over the visiting Montreal Alouettes on Friday.

Already assured a playoff berth, Calgary (12-1-1) could clinch a home playoff date before the end of September if the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (9-3) beat the Edmonton Eskimos (7-5) on Saturday.

Anthony Parker and Rob Cote had touchdown catches and Tunde Adeleke returned a punt return 51 yards to score for the Stampeders. Marquay McDaniel hauled in a two-point convert catch.

Calgary kicker Rene Paredes was good from 32, 45, 39, 24 and 14 yards to extend his streak to 18 field goals in a row.

Tyrell Sutton scored the lone touchdown for Montreal (3-11). Boris Bede kicked a 28-yard field goal in front of an announced 26,394 at McMahon Stadium.

Stampeder running back Jerome Messam, the CFL's leading rusher, did not play Friday because of a knee injury.

His replacement Williams had played two games this season, but not since Week 3 when he had one carry for a loss.

The 25-year-old out of Kutztown University collected his first three career CFL touchdowns on one- and two-yard efforts in the first half and a 45-yard rumble in the fourth quarter.

Williams totalled 156 rushing yards on 16 carries.

The Stampeders extended their winning streak at home to 17 in a row dating back to 2015.

Montreal is the only team to have beaten the Stampeders so far this season with a 30-23 win at home in Week 4, but the Als have lost nine of 10 games since then.

Head coach Jacques Chapdelaine was fired earlier this month and replaced by general manager Kavis Reed.

Calgary starter Bo Levi Mitchell completed 14-of-19 passes for 265 yards and a pair of touchdown throws in almost three quarters of work.

He came out of the game for backup Andrew Buckley when the Stampeders led 49-11. Buckley completed five of seven passes for 43 yards.

With Alouettes starter Darian Durant sidelined because of a lower body injury, backup Drew Willy went 13-for-19 in passing for 137 yards and a touchdown pass.

Third-stringer Matthew Shiltz entered the game at the same time as Buckley and finished 8-for-10 for 60 yards.

Stampeder linebacker Alex Singleton's eight tackles put him over the season century mark at 102.

The Alouettes were also without Nik Lewis, the league's all-time reception leader, because of a lower-body injury.

Lewis, who was a Stampeder for 11 years and is expected to retire after this season, was recognized with a tribute on McMahon's scoreboard and he received a standing ovation.

The Stampeders have a bye week before taking on the host Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Oct. 13. The Alouettes are at home to the Eskimos on Oct. 9.

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{allcanada} OHL: Fulcher perfect on 25 shots as Bulldogs blank Steelheads


MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Kaden Fulcher stopped all 25 shots he faced as the Hamilton Bulldogs beat the Mississauga Steelheads 2-0 in Ontario Hockey League action on Friday.

Matthew Strome chipped in the game winning goal for the Bulldogs (1-1-0) at 16:16 of the second period. Isaac Nurse also scored.

Emanuel Vella turned away 32 shots for Mississauga (0-3-0).

Hamilton outshot the Steelheads 34 to 25.

The Steelheads went 0 for 1 on the power play. The Bulldogs went 0 for 2 with the man advantage.



ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — Kyle Langdon scored the winning goal as the IceDogs beat Erie.

Danial Singer, Akil Thomas and Oliver Castleman also scored for the IceDogs (2-0-0) .

Kyle Maksimovich scored for the Otters (1-2-1).



NORTH BAY, Ont. — Boris Katchouk scored the winner 43 seconds into overtime as Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defeated the Battalion 2-1.

Hayden Verbeek also scored for the Greyhounds (2-1-1).

Cam Dineen scored for the Battalion (3-0-1).


SPIRIT 4 67'S 0

SAGINAW, Mich. — Cole Coskey scored twice as the Spirit defeated Ottawa 4-0 in Saginaw on Friday evening.

Coskey chipped in the winning goal for the Spirit (1-1-1) at 8:11 of the first period. Ben Badalamenti and Damien Giroux also scored for the Spirit.

Olivier Lafreniere turned aside 27 shots for Ottawa (2-2-0).



SUDBURY, Ont. — Jason Willms scored twice as Barrie defeated the Wolves.

Willms supplied the winner shorthanded for the Colts (3-1-0) at 10:44 of the third period. Lucas Chiodo and Kade Landry also scored for Barrie.

Owen Gilhula scored for the Wolves (0-3-1).



GUELPH, Ont. — Alexey Toropchenko scored twice as the Storm defeated Oshawa.

Toropchenko chipped in the winner on the power play for Guelph (1-1-1) at 19:01 of the second period. Garrett McFadden, Liam Stevens and Isaac Ratcliffe also scored for the Storm.

Nick Wong and Danil Antropov each scored twice for the Generals (2-2-0).



KITCHENER, Ont. — Ethan Szypula scored the winner 1:26 into overtime to lift Owen Sound over the Rangers.

Zachary Roberts, Sean Durzi and Jonah Gadjovich also scored for the Attack (1-0-0-1).

Adam Mascherin, Logan Stanley and Joseph Garreffa scored for Kitchener (2-1-1-0) .



LONDON, Ont. — Eemeli Rasanen scored twice as Kingston defeated the Knights.

Sam Field, Linus Nyman and Sergey Popov also scored for the Frontenacs (3-0-0).

Tyler Johnson combined with Jordan Kooy for 28 saves for London (1-3-0).

The Frontenacs Paul Larabie was given a match penalty for fighting at 14:23 of the first period.

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{allcanada} Roughriders score 18 straight points to rally past Redblacks


OTTAWA — A rouge left the Ottawa Redblacks red in the face Friday night

Josh Bartel kicked a 41-yard punt single with just over two minutes to play as the Saskatchewan Roughriders rallied past the Redblacks 18-17 on Friday.

Bartel's game-winning point completed an 18-point comeback by Saskatchewan. The win came despite the fact that William Powell set a new Redblacks' record for rushing yards in a single game. Jonathan Williams set the mark of 180 yards in 2014. Powell broke it late in the third quarter, finishing the game with 187 yards.

"I'm feeling great, the O-line is doing great and we just have to try to get a win," said Powell. "Everything was clicking and we were doing what we had focus on doing. We wanted to come in and establish the run, and I felt like we did that. Some mistakes at the end of the game though."

Ottawa's record dropped to 5-9-1 and the Redblacks are now in danger of losing their second seed and a playoff berth in the East Division. Saskatchewan improved to 7-6 and is two points behind the fourth place Edmonton Eskimos in the West Division and what will likely be a crossover playoff berth.

The Roughriders trailed 17-7 heading into the fourth quarter but a six-yard touchdown run by Kienan Lafrance and a 16-yard field goal by Tyler Crapigna at 9:46 tied the game 17-17.

"To be on the road against a good team like that, be down 17 and come back and win, that's big. It shows a lot about the team," said Roughriders quarterback Kevin Glenn, who recorded his 100th win tying him on the all-time list with retired quarterback Matt Dunigan

"He's gonna be mad about that one. He always gets mad when I pass him or tie him for something," Glenn joked. "When you tie him, one of the greatest quarterbacks to play in this league, it's big. It's a really good feeling because of how this game went and I'm always going to remember this 100th win."

Glenn was 20-of-32 passing for 252 yards.

Both offences sputtered in the first half as the Redblacks took an 11-0 lead into the break.

An interception by the Redblacks turned into a 22-yard field goal by Brett Maher at 13:18 of the first for the opening score of the game.

In the second quarter, Ryan Lindley threw his first CFL touchdown when he connected with Greg Ellingson in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard strike at 10:47 of the first.

Lindley was making his second start at quarterback for the Redblacks following the injuries to Trevor Harris and Drew Tate. Although he says he felt better than he did during a loss in Winnipeg last week, Lindley wasn't happy with his performance.

"It's frustrating. All I can do is look at the way I played and I know I need to play better in the fourth quarter and the second half, " said Lindley, who completed 17-of-31 passes for 164 yards with a touchdown and interception.

"I felt a lot more comfortable with the guys and I felt in sync and it was good to get back in a rhythm," said Lindley. "It's tough to put your finger on one thing though. You make your own breaks in this game. At the end of the day there was stuff out there and we could have made plays, I could have made plays, and we didn't."

Powell rushed for 111 yards in the opening half, giving him three consecutive 100-plus yard rushing games for the first time in his career.

He kept piling up the yards in the second half, collecting another 36 on the opening drive of the third quarter that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Lindley at 4:43.

Powell was stopped on the two-point conversion and holding the Redblacks lead to 17-0.

The Roughriders got their first points of the game at 10:49 of the third quarter on a 97-yard punt return for a touchdown by Christian Jones. Tyler Crapigna's conversion made the score 17-7.

Notes: During the national anthem the Riders players and coaches stood along the sidelines and locked arms… Redblacks defensive lineman Jonathan Newsome carried the flag and led his team onto the field Friday. Newsome played 18 games with the Roughriders last season and one this season.

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{allcanada} Maple Leafs counting on production from young players


TORONTO -- The pressure is on for the Toronto Maple Leafs to go on a long run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.

Throughout training camp, coach Mike Babcock's underlying theme has been to guard against complacency, trying to drive home to his players that nothing is guaranteed in the NHL after Toronto in 2016-17 unexpectedly qualified for the playoffs for the first time in an 82-game season since 2003-04.

"I coached lots of good teams [with the Detroit Red Wings]. We had 124 points (in 2005-06), fifth-best of all time, and we lost in the first round of the playoffs," Babcock said. "There's lots of things that can happen, and there's no guaranteed success. As your talent base grows, your work ethic and preparation has to grow too if you want to have success. If you want to think you can skill your way around the rink, you can't. You have to put your work first."

Forward Patrick Marleau, who signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract July 2 after spending the first 19 seasons of his NHL career with the San Jose Sharks, should help in conveying that message to Toronto's young core.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 19: Patrick Marleau #12 of the Toronto Maple Leafs takes a face-off against the Ottawa Senators during the first period at the Air Canada Centre in their preseason hockey game on September 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

After scoring 40 goals as a rookie in 2016-17, forward Auston Matthews had six points (four goals, two assists) in his first three preseason games, including a hat trick in a 5-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

"He's a real improved player," Babcock said. "His skating through the neutral zone from a year ago to now is night and day. He's just a much better player. The growth in your young guys goes so fast because confidence is the hardest part to get, but as they get going and understand the League, they get better quick."

Here is a look at the five keys for the Maple Leafs, the inside scoop on their roster questions and projected lines for the 2017-18 season:



1. Tighten up defensively

The Maple Leafs allowed 234 goals last season, 22nd in the League and the most of the 16 teams to qualify for the playoffs.

2. Improve in shootout

The Maple Leafs were 1-8 in the shootout last season. An extra point would have put them in third place in the Atlantic Division, resulting in an Eastern Conference First Round series against the Ottawa Senators instead of the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals, who eliminated them in six games. Three more points would have given them home-ice advantage in the first round. Toronto scored on 17.8 percent of its shootout attempts (last in NHL), and it had a .538 save percentage in the tiebreaker (28th).

3. Continued success on special teams

Toronto was very effective on special teams last season, finishing second in the League behind the Buffalo Sabres on the power play (23.8 percent) and tied for ninth with the Columbus Blue Jackets on the penalty kill (82.5 percent).

"It's crazy important that you realize how important special teams are. They really win you games," said forward Connor Brown, who played regularly on the power play (1:13 per game) and penalty kill (1:59). "So many times you can get outplayed 5-on-5, you might get one or two goals, either team 5-on-5, but there are a lot of goals that come on the power play and penalty kill. Winning that special teams battle night in, night out gives you an edge."

4. Kids are all right

Matthews and forwards Mitchell Marner and William Nylander each is entering his second full NHL season. Matthews had 69 points (40 goals, 29 assists) to lead the Maple Leafs in 2016-17, and Nylander and Marner each had 61, tied for third with Nazem Kadri. Toronto, which was fifth in the NHL in goals (250), is counting on their production continuing.

5. Rielly raises his game

Defenseman Morgan Rielly elevated his game in the playoffs, when he had five points (one goal, four assists) in six games and was sound defensively.

"You want to your best every night and try to get better every game. It's not always as easy as that, but when you're able to put it together for periods at a time, it makes you motivated to keep it going," the 23-year-old said.

During the regular season, he was used primarily in a shut-down role against opponents' top lines and was effective, but his offensive production declined to 0.36 points per game, the lowest of his four NHL seasons. The Maple Leafs hoped Rielly would ascend into the role of No. 1 defenseman when they took him with the No. 5 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. If he continues playing like he did in the postseason, it would be a step in the right direction.


Biggest lock

Matthews, 20, won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the NHL last season. He was tied with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov for second in the League in goals behind Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (44), playing center primarily with Zach Hyman at left wing and Nylander and Brown splitting time at right wing. He will be the No. 1 center and featured on the top power-play unit.

Biggest battle

Babcock has said throughout training camp that fourth-line center is up for grabs. Dominic Moore, 37, signed to a one-year, $1 million contract July 1 as an unrestricted free agent and was thought to be the front-runner, but Miro Aaltonen, 24, who was signed to a two-year, entry-level contract March 17, has played himself into consideration for the job, earning the opportunity to play on a line with Matt Martin and Brown in an otherwise full NHL lineup in a 5-1 preseason win against the Canadiens on Monday. Babcock has also mentioned Eric Fehr and Ben Smith as candidates.

Most intriguing addition

Marleau, 38, remains among the fastest players in the League, and that should allow him to fit in well with the Maple Leafs' high-speed style. He had 46 points (27 goals, 19 assists) in 82 games for the Sharks last season. Babcock said he feels Marleau can score 20 goals, but he is most excited about his ability to play on any of the top three lines. In the preseason, Marleau has been used on the power play and penalty kill as well.

Biggest potential surprise

Defenseman Calle Rosen, 23, signed a two-year, entry-level contract May 16 and appears to have the inside track on a spot among the top-six defensemen, ahead of veteran Martin Marincin. Rosen was never drafted and spent the past three seasons playing in the Swedish Hockey League. Though Rosen and Aaltonen -- another potential surprise -- have exceeded the expectations of many in training camp, they haven't surprised the Maple Leafs. "We thought they were good, that's why we signed them," Babcock said.


Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner

Patrick Marleau -- Nazem Kadri -- Leo Komarov

Matt Martin -- Miro Aaltonen -- Connor Brown

Morgan Rielly -- Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev

Calle Rosen -- Connor Carrick

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

{allcanada} Donald Trump visit tarnishes Sidney Crosby’s crown in his hometown


HALIFAX — A year after Halifax decided to consider naming a street after Sidney Crosby, the hockey superstar suddenly finds himself embroiled in an ugly political mess that has some residents openly musing about rescinding the offer.

It's no secret the Pittsburgh Penguins captain has faced widespread criticism on social media for his decision to support the team's upcoming visit to the White House, but disapproval has also percolated to the surface in his hometown, where Crosby is typically accorded god-like status.

Soon after the Penguins accepted President Donald Trump's invitation to bring the Stanley Cup to Washington, D.C. — Crosby called it "a great honour for us to be invited there" — some Haligonians were calling on him to reject the offer.

They asked Crosby to show unity with NFL players and others protesting Trump for criticizing the league's players for refusing to stand during the national anthem.

One of Halifax's most outspoken social activists, El Jones, weighed in with a 900-word opinion piece that took the NHL star to task for failing to fall into line with other athletes.

Jones, Halifax's former poet laureate, noted that Crosby said there was "little to no discussion" in the locker room about the decision to visit the White House.

"That players in the overwhelmingly white NHL … were able to have 'no discussion' about this issue while black athletes in other leagues faced the president's harshest language says a great deal about white privilege," Jones wrote for Vice News.

"Crosby's choice not to side with black athletes should not be seen as representing the absence of racism in Canada. It is instead the exact face of 'polite' Canadian racism … This is what racism looks like in Canada, where everything is so comfortable (for white people) and nobody can understand why those protesters have to be so rude about it."

Jones suggested Crosby is no stranger to racism because the suburb in which he grew up, Cole Harbour, had race riots at the local high school in the 1990s and again in 2008.

In the Halifax Chronicle Herald, Atlantic Canada's largest-circulation newspaper, an editorial cartoon on Monday depicted Crosby meeting Trump in the Oval Office, with the hockey player saying, "I'm Sid the Kid,' and Trump replying, "I'm Donald the Baby."

The newspaper also carried an opinion piece from two local professors who offered six reasons for Crosby to stay home. The No. 1 reason? "You have already been there."

The fifth reason was more pointed: "Remember your roots. You are from Cole Harbour, the flashpoint of black and white race relations in Canada for the past 30 years. The parallels between your hometown and the U.S. today are too obvious to ignore."

A column in the city's alternative weekly, The Coast, compared Crosby to a notably apolitical singer: "The Taylor Swift of hockey has no problem joining his Stanley Cup-winning teammates in Washington."

On Twitter, there appeared to be little support for Crosby's position — even in tweets sent from the Halifax area, where regional council unanimously voted last year to consider renaming a suburban street after Crosby.

"Thank you Sidney Crosby for the helpful reminder of why it's a bad idea to name streets and buildings for people prematurely," said one resident. Another followed up with: "Find it difficult to support naming a street after Sidney Crosby after his decision to visit Trump."

And then there was this: "Sidney Crosby is a bum just like Trump if he goes to the White House…. better stay there too."

Crosby still has plenty of supporters online and elsewhere in Nova Scotia, though.

"I think Sidney should do what he feels is best for him and the team," said one tweet. "Our opinions shouldn't matter."

The Penguins visited the White House in 2009 and 2016 after winning the Stanley Cup.

One Twitter scribe suggested the practice should have nothing to do with who is in power: "It's about the tradition and the landmark, not the idiot that is the occupant."

On Facebook, Halifax resident Laura Patterson said Crosby can't avoid politics.

"The Penguins don't exist outside of current events, and the decision to visit or not visit the White House is politicized either way. The Penguins made the wrong choice … The Penguins and Sidney Crosby are left standing on the wrong side of history … I hope he reconsiders. Either way, he'll be making a stand."

Halifax-based classic rock radio station Q104 asked Twitter users the following question: "Should Sidney Crosby go to the White House?" The unscientific poll attracted 479 responses with 61 per cent saying no.

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{allcanada} Karlsson doesn't think he'll be ready for Senators opening night


OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson said Wednesday he likely won't be ready for the start of the regular season on Oct. 5.

Karlsson said half of his ankle bone was removed during surgery on his left foot June 14, and he was not optimistic he would be able to play when the Senators open their season at home against the Washington Capitals next Thursday.

"Most likely not, no," he said. "Again, anything could happen. We'll see how it reacts once we get into things a little deeper with body contact and game speed. It's a good sign that I'm finally skating even though it's a strange feeling and it feels a lot different. I feel like I can manage it pretty good."

The two-time Norris Trophy winner said he wasn't worried about being hit on the ankle by a shot.

"It's like when you break a bone, when it heals, it heals," he said. "They took half of my ankle bone out, so the part that is there should be as normal as possible. Again, you get a shot there, there is always the risk of breaking it whether it's the same ankle or something else. It's not something I'm worried about."

Karlsson, who tore tendons in his left foot during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring in addition to two fractures near the end of the regular season, skated with his teammates on Wednesday for the second time since the surgery. The first time was Saturday.

"It feels good. It's nice to be back out there, take a few reps and slowly get back into things," he said. "It's been a long time since I skated, so it's going to take a little bit of time here to get adjusted and skate as well as these guys do right now.

"In general it feels pretty decent, even though it's a weird feeling."

Karlsson said he isn't experiencing any pain.

"I can't say that it feels normal, but there's no sharpness or anything that's going to affect me moving forward, I think," he said. "I would try to explain it, but it's hard to say what exactly is different. It feels like I have a leather piece in my one ankle. You can't really move it. It's going to take some getting used to, but I feel like I can manage it pretty well right now. Hopefully it's just going to get better and better.

"It feels a lot better than it did during the playoffs last year, and I see that as progress. Hopefully it's just going to keep moving forward and starting to feel better and better the deeper we go in the season."

Karlsson, 27, had 71 points (17 goals, 54 assists) in 2016-17 and has led the Senators in regular-season scoring in each of the past four seasons. He also led the Senators with 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) in 19 playoff games.

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{allcanada} Penalty for failed offside challenge among NHL rule changes


The NHL has a clear message to coaches starting this season: Don't challenge an offside call unless you are really, really sure.

At times last season, coaches challenged on the off chance a goal would get called back or to at least give players a breather because all it cost was a timeout. That is expected to change because, pending approval from the board of governors Wednesday, a failed offside challenge will instead result in a penalty as the league tries to get the coach's challenge closer to what it was intended to be.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said that last season, the second with coach's challenges for offside and goaltender interference, included an increase in the total number of reviews and the percentage that were not overturned.

''We're in effect trying to discourage using the coach's challenge on offside unless you're really 100 percent certain that you're going to win because it was a blown call,'' Bettman said. ''The coach's challenge was really intended to focus on glaring errors. And by imposing a two-minute penalty if you're wrong, it should limit the number of challenges to those instances where there's a glaring error.''

It's still not perfect because a coach who wants to take a chance can still claim goalie interference in some instances. And there's still the concern that challenges take too long to figure out, but the league hopes fewer unneeded reviews make for a positive step forward.

Here are some other rule changes or points of emphasis this season:


Since 2005, teams have been unable to make line changes after icing the puck, with the design of creating some extra offense from fatigue. Coaches got around the rule by calling timeout to provide players some extra rest, but now that won't be allowed.

''That's consistent with the original intent of the icing rule that there was to be no substitution by the team that iced the puck,'' Bettman said. ''I think saying what we intended, namely if you iced the puck because you're tired, you're not going to get a break. I think that works well.''

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf doesn't think it'll cut down on icing but sees one place where the rule change will have an effect.

''The strategy's going to come on the offensive side,'' Getzlaf said. ''As soon as those pucks are iced, you're going to see coaches put out their top lines - much like they do now, but probably to a little bit stronger extent knowing that they can't call a timeout.''


This isn't a rule change, but officials will be calling players for not obeying the markings around faceoff circles. It was a frequent penalty in the preseason because faceoffs are a haven for Dale Hunter's old adage of, ''If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying.''

Director of officiating Stephen Walkom said the goal is to get closer to the clean faceoffs from the late 1990s when the markings were first put in and make it safer for players and linesmen.

''Over time, the rule slowly eroded to where you have players using their hands, basically banging heads over the dots, encroaching so much on the faceoff that they're putting the linesman in danger of being slew-footed on almost every drop, going down on one knee,'' Walkom said. ''We're not trying to reinvent the rule. We're just trying to reclaim some ice relative to the faceoff so that we can have a fair and competitive faceoff.''

Washington Capitals center Lars Eller hopes it levels the playing field.

''I think it'll be a disadvantage to guys that like to get their skate in there to use as it a part of winning their faceoff because now you have to have it so far back that it's going to be hard,'' said Eller, who called himself a stick-only guy 80 percent of the time. ''Usually the guys that like to get the skate in there, they would be way over that red line. You have to keep your foot back. I think it's more of an advantage for guys that really only use their stick to win the faceoffs.''


Broken fingers to Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau and Ottawa's Marc Methot last season because of slashes prompted concern that the problem had gotten out of hand. On-ice officials and the league office will be taking a closer look at and calling more slashes in and around the hands to reduce injuries and improve the quality of play.

The league is always sort of looking to make the game safer and they're always looking to, in recent years, generate a little bit more offense,'' Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner said. ''That's going to maybe create more scoring chances, if it doesn't create more power plays.''


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