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20 Fantasy Thoughts: Dawson Mercer emerging as a dark horse Calder candidate

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American Thanksgiving is on Thursday, and by now, we all know what that means as it pertains to the NHL standings.

Since 2005, approximately 75 per cent of teams in a playoff spot on that day have gone on to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s why most coaching changes are typically made this time of year — teams don’t want to wait around.

To this point, there’s been only one performance-based firing: Jeremy Colliton got the hook in Chicago following a dreadful 1-9-2 start. The Blackhawks have responded with a 4-1-0 record through five games under interim head coach Derek King.

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Here are 20 fantasy-relevant thoughts as this milestone on the NHL calendar approaches.

1. Pick up Cole Caufield. After a six-game stint in the AHL, the 20-year-old is back, and through two games, he’s still goalless. That’s one helper in 12 outings for the pre-season betting favourite to win the Calder. Be patient.

2. Snatch up Dawson Mercer, who’s quickly emerging as a dark horse candidate to take home the rookie of the year award. The Devils forward has three goals and seven points over the past six outings. Sleeper alert.

3. Sticking with New Jersey, I would jump to grab Mercer’s linemate, Jesper Bratt, too. The dual-eligible winger has tallied 12 points (4 G, 8A) over the past 11 contests. He’s on fire.

4. Put Canes rookie Seth Jarvis on your watch list. Quietly, the 19-year-old has scored in three straight games, but most importantly, he’s been skating on the top line with Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho. Talk about a favourable line assignment.

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5. Pick up Anton Lundell. The Panthers freshmen is your best in-house replacement for the injured Aleksander Barkov.

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6. Scoop up Boone Jenner. Somewhat surprisingly, the dual-eligible forward has been making noise as Columbus’ number-one centre. The Jackets captain has nine goals and 11 points in 15 games to start the campaign.

7. Grab Robert Thomas, who mystifyingly enough is still under 30 per cent owned in standard leagues at the moment. The 22-year-old has 16 points in 17 games to start the season, need I say more? That Thomas/Tarasenko combo in St. Louis has been money in the bank.

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8. It could be time to take another flier on Flyer Derick Brassard. The veteran has two goals and four points in two games while filling in for the injured Kevin Hayes in Philadelphia’s top six. Think about it.

9. Jeff Carter, Joel Eriksson Ek, Mikael Granlund, Trevor Zegras and Kirby Dach are five other centres worth looking at to fill the big-time Barkov void.

10. With Darnell Nurse on the shelf for the next couple weeks for Edmonton, Evan Bouchard should be back on your radar. Monitor 2019 eighth overall pick Philip Broberg closely, too.

11. Here’s a couple other Nurse injury replacement options to consider rostering: Brandon Montour (FLA), Shayne Gostisbehere (ARI), Alex Goligoski (MIN) and Jake Bean (CBJ).

12. Trade for Jake Guentzel. Don’t look now but the 27-year-old has goals in four straight games. Sidney Crosby’s back, expect that Guentzel stock to keep rising.

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13. No need to be contemplating a sell-high on Calgary’s Andrew Mangiapane. The 25-year-old, who’s in the midst of a breakout season, has 14 goals in 18 games to start the year. Dating back to last season, the winger has potted 17 goals in his past 25 regular-season outings. I think this is legitimate.

14. The time is nigh to execute a buy-low on Minnesota’s Kevin Fiala. Once again, the 25-year-old has found himself deep inside Dean Evason’s doghouse. This won’t continue.

15. Flames backup Dan Vladar has emerged as a cheeky streaming option if you need a goalie start. The 24-year-old is 3-0-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average, 0.933 save percentage and one shutout.

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16. Move Mikko Koskinen. Unsurprisingly, the 33-year-old has hit a rough patch, yielding eight goals over the past two appearances. I’m sorry, I just can’t trust him long-term. Do it quick.

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17. On that note, snatch up Stuart Skinner, who’s now won back-to-back starts for the Oilers. With Koskinen struggling and Mike Smith suffering a recent injury setback, there’s suddenly opportunity for Skinner to show what he’s got. Take the plunge.

18. Not for anything but there’s not a single Seattle Kraken file I’m champing at the bit to own right now. Perhaps I’ll revisit later this season, but for now, I’ll pass.

19. 52-game week ahead in the NHL (Nov. 22-28):

Monday: 6 Games

Tuesday: 3 Games

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Wednesday: 14 Games

Thursday: 0 Games (American Thanksgiving)

Friday: 13 Games

Saturday: 9 Games

Sunday: 7 Games

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20. Your four-game teams: ANA, BUF, CAR, COL, CBJ, NSH, OTT, PHI, PIT, SJS, STL, WPG.

Take a closer look at these two schedules:

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Carolina Hurricanes: Mon (@SJS), Wed (@SEA), Fri (@PHI), Sun (WSH)

Waiver Looks: Seth Jarvis, Jaccob Slavin

SN Fantasy Pool: CAR Goalies 4, Anthony DeAngelo 1

Colorado Avalanche: Mon (OTT), Wed (ANA), Fri (@DAL), Sat (NSH)

Waiver Looks: Logan O’Connor, Alex Newhook

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SN Fantasy Pool: COL Goalies 4, Nazem Kadri 1

Steer clear of depth adds from Arizona, Calgary, Detroit and Los Angeles. Each play just twice.



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Stampeders beat Lions, both teams lock up playoff spots

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VANCOUVER — The Calgary Stampeders avoided a season sweep at the hands of the B.C. Lions with a defensively impressive 25-11 win at B.C. Place on Saturday.

The win ensures the Stampeders will go to the playoffs for the 17th year in a row.

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A spectacular 54-yard catch by rookie Jalen Philpot of Delta, B.C., set up the only major score of the first half, landing the Stampeders (9-5) on B.C.’s three-yard-line for a touchdown conversion by Ka’Deem Carey.

Calgary failed on its two-point convert attempt. Peyton Logan added a 19-yard touchdown run with 1:57 left in the fourth quarter, and Dominique Rhymes caught B.C.’s lone touchdown pass from Antonio Pipkin with 29 seconds remaining. Pipkin carried the ball across the one-yard-line for a successful two-point convert.

Calgary’s field-goal kicker Rene Paredes was good on four-of-five attempts, from 39, 33, 31 and 33 yards. He added a convert for 13 total points.

For the Lions (9-4), Sean Whyte extended his CFL field-goal streak to 13 with a 34-yard kick to get his club on the scoreboard with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.

Paredes kicked wide to the right on his first field-goal attempt of the game. That came just 2:08 into the contest — the Stampeders had marched down to the B.C. 41-yard line after opening the first quarter by recovering Paredes’ 11-yard onside kick.

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One week after grabbing a 31-29 overtime win over the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium, the Lions could not find a spark to ignite their offence.

In his first home start at B.C. Place after being acquired in a trade with the Montreal Alouettes on Aug. 19, quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. was 12-for-24 in the air for 151 yards. He added 11 yards on the ground. Anthony Pipkin stepped in under centre late in the fourth quarter, going 4-for-6 for 66 yards and one touchdown throw.

Kicker Stefan Flintoft had a busy night for the Lions, punting for 417 yards.

The Lions also came out on the wrong side of the penalty tally. After last week’s thriller at McMahon Stadium included 215 yards in total penalties, B.C. was whistled for six penalties for 65 yards on Saturday. That included a critical major foul on Jordan Williams which gave Calgary good position near centre field before Philpot’s monster catch shortly before halftime.

A major foul for roughing the passer also negated an interception by T.J. Lee with just over three minutes left to play in the fourth quarter.

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As Calgary’s defence kept the Lions pinned in their own half of the field for most of the game, quarterback Jake Maier had a strong outing. He completed 27 of 33 pass attempts for 294 yards and added 14 rushing yards. The Stampeders finished with five penalties for 36 yards.

With the win, combined with losses this week by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Redblacks, Calgary clinched its 17th-consecutive CFL post-season berth on the night Dave Dickenson coached his 100th career game with the Stampeders, improving his record to 70-28-2.

After the Lions won both matchups at McMahon Stadium for the first time since 2010, the Stampeders extended a winning record at B.C. Place that stretches back to 2016.

Despite the loss, B.C. also clinched its first playoff spot since 2018.

FOOT NOTES: Stampeders’ veteran offensive lineman Derek Dennis was taken off the field on a cart late in the first quarter after suffering a leg injury …Injured B.C. wide receiver Josh Pearson led the crowd in the singing of `O Canada’ before the game … The B.C. Football Hall of Fame inducted its Class of 2022 before Saturday’s game … The Lions also held their Salute to Amateur Football … Next week, the Lions will host the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday, while the Stampeders will be back at McMahon Stadium to take on the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday.

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College football Week 4 winners, losers, overreactions: Kicking blunders plague SEC teams, Oklahoma in trouble

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There’s one phrase that makes blood run cold from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to Provo, Utah: College kickers. On Saturday, the fortunes of four SEC programs were changed in an instant by two college kickers missing critical kicks in painful fashion. 

Arkansas had a manageable 42-yarder to beat Texas A&M for a second straight season. The Razorbacks out-gained the Aggies by more than 80 yards and needed just one swing of the leg to remain ranked in the top 10. Unfortunately, Cam Little’s kick improbably bounced off the top of the upright — a doink unlike any in recent college football memory. 

All Missouri needed was for All-American kicker Harrison Mevis to make a 26-yard field goal. Easy enough, right? Mevis nailed 20 of 22 field goals last season, including three from more than 50 yards. A 26-yarder is child’s play … except not against Auburn on the Plains as Mevis shanked the kick to the right and the matchup went to overtime. The game swung again after Nathaniel Peat fumbled an open touchdown at the goal line, and that was that. The Tigers are still searching for their first Power Five win. 

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Here are more winners, losers and overreactions that highlighted the Week 4 action around the country. 

Winners

Kansas QB Jalon Daniels: Start the Jalon Daniels Heisman campaign. He’s been that ridiculously good through the Jayhawks’ 4-0 start. Daniels completed 83% of his passes for 324 yards, 83 yards rushing and accounted for five touchdowns in an emphatic 35-27 win over previously undefeated Duke. The junior from Lawndale, California, has been the catalyst for a Kansas program that had not won four games in a season in 13 years. He deserves the lion’s share of the on-field credit.

Tennessee: The Vols let things get a little hairy in the last five minutes thanks to some quick Florida touchdowns, but the performance was more dominant than the 38-33 final score. This was a coming-out party for Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, who threw for 349 yards, rushed for 112 yards and had three touchdowns in a win over Florida. This was just the second Tennessee win over Florida since 2004, and gives the Volunteers a great chance to enter the AP top 10 when the polls come out on Sunday. 

Losers

Miami coach Mario Cristobal: The Hurricanes earned some early credit for beating up cupcakes, but the last two weeks have been a disaster. Miami had 27 first downs against Texas A&M, the most ever in a game without scoring a touchdown. On Saturday, a 45-31 embarrassment against Middle Tennessee sent any Miami hype train off the rails. Once-promising quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was benched after two interceptions, but rushing for fewer than 2 yards per carry and surrendering 500 yards to Middle Tennessee is nothing short of a disaster. Cristobal can’t blame talent in that kind of loss — this is coaching. 

Houston: The Cougars needed to score 10 unanswered points in the final five minutes to survive a challenge from 2-2 Rice. The Owls led for much of the game as the Coogs committed 10 penalties and turned the ball over to give Rice a chance. After the game, Houston coach Dana Holgorsen expressed frustration to the Houston Chronicle. 

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“I’m tired of yelling at them. Tired of motivating them. Tired of all that crap,” Holgorsen said. 

For a team that was thought at one point to be a serious contender for the New Year’s Six, narrowly avoiding a 1-3 start isn’t bringing many warm feelings.

Week 4 Overreactions

Oklahoma isn’t winning the Big 12: The Sooners flew up the polls after dominating an easy schedule featuring Nebraska, Kent State and UTEP. However, Kansas State to open Big 12 play was a rude awakening. The Wildcats scored more points (41) than the Sooners surrendered all season (30) thanks to a five-touchdown performance by Nebraska transfer QB Adrian Martinez. Suddenly, Brent Venables’ task in Norman feels far less turnkey than it did after eviscerating the rival Cornhuskers. Considering the depth the Big 12 showed in nonconference play, there are no easy games remaining. 

Kansas State has a tiebreaker over Oklahoma. Road trips to TCU, Iowa State and Texas Tech could be hairy. Battles with Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State remain. There’s too many speed bumps for the Sooners to make it to Arlington if this is the Oklahoma we’re getting in 2022.  

Wisconsin isn’t Wisconsin anymore: Between 2004 and 2017, Wisconsin was close to the most consistent program in college football. The Badgers went 141-45 and finished ranked in 13 of the 16 seasons, including five top-five finishes. Losing to No. 3 Ohio State was expected, but a noncompetitive 52-21 decision to fall to 2-2 suddenly brings up some existential questions. 

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The Badgers have finished ranked just once in the last five years under Paul Chryst. After the loss today, the Badgers have no ranked teams left on their schedule. It’s unlikely they can show enough to fight back into the polls. Additionally, Wisconsin has just one Rose Bowl since 2012. At one point, this was a program that could measure success by trips to Pasadena. 

Chryst went 34-7 in his first three seasons. Since 2017, he is 33-18 — a fine record but not one that satisfies the Wisconsin standard. Complicating things is the fact that Wisconsin likely has one of the most attractive coaching candidates in the nation on its staff in defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard. 



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Washington's Rome Odunze makes a SPECTACULAR catch vs. Stanford

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Rome Odunze’s amazing TD reception gave the Washington Huskies a 26-7 lead against Stanford. 



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