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6 Maple Leafs takeaways: Unlikely bet on Woll pays off

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The Toronto Maple Leafs used to be guilty of letting their bad games snowball into a bad week.

Lately? One loss is but a pothole in an otherwise smooth ride through the regular season.

Responding decisively to Saturday’s blank sheet at the hand of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Leafs flipped the script on a COVID-hit New York Islanders squad that has yet to find its stride a quarter of the way into the season.

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Outshooting the Isles 40-20 and outscoring them 3-0, Toronto gifted fresh-faced Joseph Woll with his first NHL shutout in just his second NHL game and stretched its road win streak to four, outscoring the enemy 14-6 during that run.

Here are six takeaways from the Leafs’ 11th victory in their past 13 games.

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The Brick Woll is undefeated — believe it

Prospect Joseph Woll was leaned on heavily in last week’s NHL debut, a big win in Buffalo, was perfect Sunday in his second-ever start.

Tucking that first game under his belt, the 23-year-old figures, gave him a mental boost heading into UBS.

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“I just felt different this week. I feel more part of the team. I’m a little more comfortable here, and I’m just excited to go play some hockey again,” Woll said Saturday night.

“The biggest thing for me is probably adjusting to the speed. Guys can make the plays a little bit faster, and they’re pretty smart players up here. It’s just making sure I’m getting in the right spots quickly and giving myself a little more time to react and let the game come to me.

“The biggest thing for me is to understand it’s just another hockey game and go play like I can.”

Just another hockey game, eh?

Just another win for a guy who started the season as Toronto’s fourth-string goaltender.

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“Whenever a goalie gets a shutout, it’s definitely not fair to just say it was all him or even mostly him,” said Woll, whose workload was limited to just 20 shots. “It really starts with how the team plays, and it was unbelievable.”

Tavares still the man they love to hate

The one guy who has served as captain of both franchises has nothing but great things to say about his old team’s new barn.

After years jockeying between a rink too small on the Island and one too big in Brooklyn, the Isles have their Goldilocks, their just right.

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This weekend, they cut the ribbon on their very own $1.5-billion UBS Arena at Belmont Park, in Elmont, N.Y.

“It’s tremendous for the franchise and fanbase, something that’s been kind of hanging over them for a long time, probably decades,” Tavares said. “Not only is it a new building, it’s their building. And it [comes with] a contending team, a really good team that people look at as a constant favourite now. It’s a testament to what they’ve done.”

Hours before another return to the city that drafted him first overall in 2009, Tavares reflected on his most cherished memories from Nassau Coliseum (first game, first goal) and Barclays Center (double-OT playoff winner versus Florida). And, yes, he remembered what it was like to make the long commute into the heart of Brooklyn to play in a stadium built for basketball.

“Yeah, it was different. I [hopped the train] a little bit, carpooled a few times,” Tavares said. “It wasn’t ideal. But being negative or worrying about a situation like that, I don’t think was the right way to approach it — especially when you have to play 41 times in a building.”

By all accounts, UBS is magnificent and — with a low roof and steep seating — loud. A deserving hockey cathedral for the patient faithful.

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But one thing hasn’t changed: Islanders fans still booed Tavares every time he touched the puck.

The Leafs’ PK is A-OK

The positive turnaround of Toronto’s power play has overshadowed the superb work new assistant coach Dean Chenoweth has done with its 4-on-5 strategy.

After years of steady decline in the area, the Leafs’ PK has become one of the most aggressive and effective in the league.

What Toronto’s third-ranked kill (88.7 per cent) had not accomplished until Sunday was score shorthanded.

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Mitch Marner did just that, opening the scoring in the first period in a 4-on-3 situation.

Marner was sprung for his second career shortie with a beautiful three-zone, cross-ice pass from Jake Muzzin, and he let his magic feet do the rest:

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“When your penalty kill is feeling it, they are confident, and they tend to hold onto the puck a little bit longer, and sometimes they can catch teams like that,” Keefe said.

“It was a huge goal for us, and more importantly it was a huge kill at an important time of the game.”

Bunting is incredible on the draws (not that kind)

Michael Bunting drew two more minor penalties Sunday, increasing his total to 13 on the year.

That ties the winger with Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli for the most in the whole league.

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“It’s absolutely a skill. It’s a competitive thing,” Keefe says. “First of all, you got to get yourself into spots that are contentious, then you’ve got to keep your feet moving, and you’ve got to escape out of traffic with pucks. It’s a skill, and one that’s not easily transferable to others.

“It’s something that obviously is important, something that he brings to our team.”

Marner and Alexander Kerfoot share a distant second among Leafs in penalties drawn (six apiece).

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Left-wing shuffle continues

As much as Keefe wanted to give Nick Ritchie another decent run on the top line, the lack of even-strength production from Marner and Matthews has necessitated a second demotion.

So, while the coach appears to have (more or less) settled on four centreman–right wing pairings — Matthews-Marner, Tavares-Nylander, Kämpf-Kase, Spezza-Simmonds — the left-wing carousel continued Sunday.

Ritchie was tried on the third line, Bunting leapt to the top unit, and Pierre Engvall slipped to Line 4.

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Ritchie played a key role in Toronto’s second goal, by driving hard on the forecheck, getting a puck to David Kämpf, who fed Ondrej Kase for his fifth.

And Bunting had a heckuva game, working a give-and-go with Marner for the Leafs’ third goal.

“Ritch and Kase have got history playing together in Anaheim, and it’s been productive,” Keefe said. “So it’s something we’ve been thinking of doing for quite some time and thought today was the right night.”

Shawn McKenzie ate a blue and orange chicken sandwich

His astute culinary review? “Not bad.”

JFK 2 LAX

The Maple Leafs’ roadie heads three time zones to the left, as they are bound for California for dates against Los Angeles (Wednesday), San Jose (Friday) and Anaheim (Sunday) this week.

“A lot of great memories there. A lot of great friends,” says former King Jack Campbell, slated to start against the team that traded him away.

“It’s a business trip, so want to get out there and get some wins.”





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How to watch Appalachian State vs. James Madison: NCAA Football live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds

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Who’s Playing

James Madison @ Appalachian State

Current Records: James Madison 2-0; Appalachian State 2-1

What to Know

The James Madison Dukes watched the action from their couches last weekend, but are set to take to the field. James Madison and the Appalachian State Mountaineers will face off in a Sun Belt battle at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The odds don’t look promising for the Dukes, but the bigger the opponent is, the harder they fall.

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A well-balanced attack led James Madison over the Norfolk State Spartans every single quarter on their way to victory two weeks ago. James Madison claimed a resounding 63-7 win over Norfolk State at home. The game was pretty much decided by the half, when the score had already reached 35 to nothing.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State didn’t have too much breathing room in their contest with the Troy Trojans last week, but they still walked away with a 32-28 victory. Appalachian State QB Chase Brice was slinging it as he passed for two TDs and 279 yards on 34 attempts. Near the top of the highlight reel was Brice’s 53-yard TD bomb to WR Christan Horn in the fourth quarter.

Their wins bumped the Dukes to 2-0 and the Mountaineers to 2-1. Watch the matchup and check back on CBS Sports to find out who keeps up the positive energy and who hits a stumbling block.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium — Boone, North Carolina
  • TV: ESPN Plus
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $40.99

Odds

The Mountaineers are a solid 6.5-point favorite against the Dukes, according to the latest college football odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Mountaineers as a 7.5-point favorite.

Over/Under: -111

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See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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UTSA vs. Texas Southern: How to watch NCAA Football online, TV channel, live stream info, game time

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Who’s Playing

Texas Southern @ UTSA

Current Records: Texas Southern 1-2; UTSA 1-2

What to Know

The Texas Southern Tigers will take on the UTSA Roadrunners at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Alamodome. Texas Southern isn’t favored, but they just beat the odds in their last game, so don’t count them out.

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The Tigers kept a clean sheet against the Southern University Jaguars last week and took the matchup 24 to nothing. The squad ran away with 21 points in the first half and mostly just sat on those in the second to pick up the victory.

Meanwhile, it was all tied up 17-17 at halftime, but UTSA was not quite the Texas Longhorns’ equal in the second half when they met last week. The Roadrunners suffered a grim 41-20 defeat to the Longhorns. This contest was a close 17-17 at the break, but unfortunately for UTSA it sure didn’t stay that way. A silver lining for them was the play of RB Brenden Brady, who threw one touchdown in addition to punching in one rushing touchdown.

Texas Southern’s win lifted them to 1-2 while UTSA’s loss dropped them down to 1-2. We’ll find out if the Tigers can add another positive mark to their record or if UTSA can shake off the defeat and take the spring out of Texas Southern’s step.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Alamodome — San Antonio, Texas
  • TV: STADIUM
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $69.00

Odds

The Roadrunners are a big 42-point favorite against the Tigers, according to the latest college football odds.

Bettors have moved against the Roadrunners slightly, as the game opened with the Roadrunners as a 44-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

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See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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North Carolina vs. Notre Dame live stream info, TV channel: How to watch NCAA Football on TV, stream online

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Who’s Playing

Notre Dame @ North Carolina

Current Records: Notre Dame 1-2; North Carolina 3-0

What to Know

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be returning home after a two-game road trip. They will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kenan Memorial Stadium after a week off. UNC is expected to win — but not by much — so they will need to come into the game prepared for a fight.

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The Tar Heels beat the Georgia State Panthers 35-28 two weeks ago. Among those leading the charge for UNC was RB Omarion Hampton, who rushed for two TDs and 110 yards on 16 carries. Hampton put himself on the highlight reel with a 58-yard TD scramble in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame netted a 24-17 victory over the California Golden Bears last week. RB Audric Estime and RB Chris Tyree were among the main playmakers for Notre Dame as the former punched in one rushing touchdown and the latter snatched one receiving TD.

Notre Dame’s defense was a presence as well, as it embarrassed California’s offensive line to sack QB Jack Plummer six times for a total loss of 47 yards. It was a group effort with four guys contributing.

The wins brought the Tar Heels up to 3-0 and the Fighting Irish to 1-2. A pair of stats to keep an eye on: UNC enters the matchup with 310 passing yards per game on average, good for 21st best in the nation. But Notre Dame comes into the contest boasting the 34th fewest passing yards allowed per game in the nation at 184. These opposing strengths should make for an exciting matchup.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kenan Memorial Stadium — Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • TV: ABC
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $110.00

Odds

The Tar Heels are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Fighting Irish, according to the latest college football odds.

The line on this game has moved quite a bit since it opened, as it started out with the Fighting Irish as a 1.5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -110

See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Notre Dame have won all of the games they’ve played against North Carolina in the last eight years.

  • Oct 30, 2021 – Notre Dame 44 vs. North Carolina 34
  • Nov 27, 2020 – Notre Dame 31 vs. North Carolina 17
  • Oct 07, 2017 – Notre Dame 33 vs. North Carolina 10



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