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As COVID-19 upends rosters, Flames prepare to return with health on their side

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Shortly after their second skate in just over two weeks, Darryl Sutter declared his club as healthy as it’s been since training camp.

With the return of Dan Vladar on Monday, all 20 Calgary Flames who tested positive for COVID-19 before Christmas are now back in the swing of things.

Aside from a few days of flu-like symptoms experienced by a portion of the team, the players have come through the team’s shutdown well-rested, energetic and healed from many of the bumps and bruises that accumulated the first two months.

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No more impediments.

No excuses.

After going through what the organization did to miss its last seven games, you’d hardly call them the envy of the league.

Monitoring COVID-19 in the NHL
The coronavirus has run rampant through the league, forcing teams to deal with the threat of outbreaks and games being postponed. Here’s the latest.

But given how things have come together since then, it’s reasonable to wonder if the Flames will have an advantage on most teams as the NHL returns to play.

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“I’d say ya,” said Matthew Tkachuk, one of the team’s three rostered players who weren’t sidelined by the Omicron variant. “Most of our guys have (tested positive) so we don’t have to really worry about that too much, whereas other teams are maybe coming in each day and not knowing what can happen with certain guys and might have a week or two off, starting now.

“For us to have a full roster I think it can help us, definitely. It’s more of a mental thing, too.”

As the Flames gain steam with their second of four-straight practices this week, more and more players around the league continue to be added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

On Monday, the league announced the postponement of three more upcoming games, putting further into question whether the Flames will actually fly to Seattle Wednesday for a return to play Thursday.

If they do, it would be a fortuitous start given the extended practice time it affords and the relative weakness of the opponent.

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Rested but rusty, the Flames won’t have to suit up with taxi squad players and callups like many of their opponents will, as the Covid damage to the Flames is theoretically behind them.

“I hope so,” said Chris Tanev, who said the extent of the COVID-19 damage to him was a day-and-a-half of flu-like symptoms. “Obviously it’s a very fluid situation going on with the league. Not every team has experienced what we have, so hopefully there are not a lot more cases popping up. We’ve just got to be ready to play.

“I’m sure (the schedule) is going to change over the next week or two.”



Editor’s Note:The COVID-19 situation, in the NHL and around the world, is constantly evolving. Readers in Canada can consult the country’s public health website for the latest.



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Tkachuk was even more optimistic that the Covid concerns that loomed over his team since Dec. 11 are a thing of the past.

Well, for this variant anyway.

“For our team ya, probably,” said Tkachuk, who had previously tested positive for Covid two summers ago. “But we’re not the only team in the league, obviously. Obviously other teams are having updates every day. It’s happening to a couple other teams. It’s probably the way it’s going to be for the next little bit.”

Sutter isn’t as convinced, going as far as to suggest that because players are double and triple vaccinated, he thinks the league’s re-implementation of taxi squads will mean the virus isn’t “going to affect our league anymore.”

Wishful thinking.

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Surely, many teams will be forced to play without regulars, an issue the Flames won’t have to worry about themselves.

“To be honest, the big thing with us is we’re probably healthier than any time since the last exhibition game,” said Sutter, whose team now has Brett Ritchie (concussion) skating again, leaving only Tyler Pitlick out due to injury. “I think the guys look fresh and they’ve got some energy in their practice, which is good.

“I don’t think (any rust) is related to the virus. I don’t think that affected any of us. It’s just the time off. Getting through the next three days you’re looking for good execution and pace of play, the same things you say coming out of training camp.”

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Given how well the Flames started this year, there’s plenty of reason to believe they can replicate that success again in their restart.

When last we saw the Flames in action, the club was on a four-game losing streak, capped by a home loss to Boston Dec. 11.

The next day the positive tests started rolling in, eventually sidelining 33 players and staffers.

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They’ve endured.

Now they prepare for a return they’re unsure will happen as early as Thursday.

“Very tough,” said Tkachuk when asked how hard it is to have the schedule up in the air. “It’s only been two weeks and a day, but it feels way longer than that, I can tell you that.”



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Three Stars from Day 3 of WJC: Canada’s McTavish joins elite company – Sportsnet.ca

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Canada and the U.S. dominated in their second game of the tournament while Czechia and Finland went toe-to-toe and needed a shootout to determine a winner on Day 3 of the World Junior Hockey Championship.

The Canadian team rebounded from a sluggish performance with an 11-1 win over Slovakia, a game in which captain Mason McTavish added his name to the country’s record books.

Against Switzerland, the United States took their game to another gear that their opponent could not match as they cruised to a 7-1 victory to improve to 2-0 at the tournament.

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Finland dropped a crucial point as they had to overcome a 2-0 deficit but were able to pick up the shootout win over their rival Czechia.

Here is a look at the top performances from Day 3 of the world juniors.

3rd Star: Luke Hughes, USA

Coming from a great hockey family, Luke Hughes is making most of his opportunity as one of the top defencemen for the U.S. 

The younger brother of Quinn and Jack displayed his mobility and vision against Switzerland with a three-point effort. He now has five points in his first two games of the tournament — more than either of his brothers ever achieved at this event in fewer games.

Hughes leads all defenceman in scoring so far in the tournament and is tied for fourth overall.

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The 18-year-old played 21:18 against the Swiss to lead the U.S. in ice time playing on the top pairing with Brock Faber. His play from this point will be a crucial part of his team’s success given the creativity he displayed, especially on Matt Coronato’s goal in the second period.

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He made another top-notch set up on Thomas Bordeleau’s power-play goal in the third period as he delayed enough to get the defenders to pull towards his side of the ice.

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2nd Star: Carter Mazur, USA

Coming into the tournament, Carter Mazur is looking to build off an impressive season at the University of Denver. 

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While he was in a scoring slump in his first NCAA season, the Detroit Red Wings prospect made a call to his NHL team’s assistant director of player development, Daniel Cleary. After that, he would go on to finish with 14 goals and 38 points in 41 games.

Those tips have now turned Mazur into a scoring machine as he accounted for two of the team’s seven goals and was also named the player of the game as the top line of Mazur, Landon Slaggert, and Thomas Bordeleau had an impressive performance against Switzerland

After a scoreless first period, Mazur wasn’t going to make any mistake on a point-blank chance in front of the net with Mackie Samoskevich making a great pass from behind the net.

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With the Americans looking to add to their lead, Mazur was once again the beneficiary of a great pass from Slaggert as he made no mistake from the front of the net.

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He added another assist on Slaggert’s goal later in the period for his third point of the game. Through his first two games at the world juniors, Mazur has four points and is tied for sixth in scoring.

1st Star: Mason McTavish, Canada

On a night where Canada dominated from start to finish, Mason McTavish joined some elite company with a night he’ll certainly remember for a long time.

The 19-year-old joined Mario Lemieux, Simon Gagné, Brayden Schenn, Taylor Raddysh, Maxime Comtois and teammate Connor Bedard as the only players to score four goals in a single world junior game for Canada. The tournament record for goals in a single game is held by Sweden’s Ola Rosander who had six back in 1987.

With his performance against Slovakia in a dominant win for Canada, McTavish now sits atop the scoring lead with eight points in two games after registering six points in this game.

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McTavish scored his first goal of the game on a breakaway — with Canada already leading 5-0 midway through the second — making no mistake to beat Tomas Bolo, who came into the game after starter Simon Latkoczy was pulled going into the second period.

His second goal came off a great play by Joshua Roy who flipped the puck in the air to Brennan Othmann who then set up McTavish as he finished with a backhander to put Canada up 7-1. McTavish would complete the second-period hat trick, a day after Alexander Blank did the same for Germany, after a selfless pass from Roy on a 2-on-0 break.

Canada would capitalize on a turnover on McTavish’s fourth goal as Othmann set him up alone in front of the net and he made no mistake.

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There was some doubt about whether McTavish would suit up for Canada after playing a fair amount of hockey last season. Making his NHL debut with the Anaheim Ducks, the third overall pick from the 2021 NHL Draft played in a total of 72 games between the NHL, AHL, OHL, Memorial Cup and the Olympics.

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Instead, McTavish decided to join the team in Edmonton and take on the role as captain where he has excelled centring Canada’s top line with Bedard and and a rotation of Roy and Othmann.

Canada will now look forward to a matchup against Czechia with a chance to improve to 3-0.

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Field of Dreams Game 2022: A celebration of baseball memories in an Iowa cornfield

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The Field of Dreams is an opportunity for fans and players alike to reflect on the people and places that taught them to love baseball, Jake Mintz writes.



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Ravens extend NFL record for consecutive postseason wins following Thursday’s victory over the Titans

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USA Today

The No. 21 is now synonymous with the longest winning streaks in NFL regular and preseason history. the 2003-04 Patriots won 21 consecutive games, an NFL record. On Thursday night, the Ravens won their 21st consecutive preseason game after securing a 23-10 decision against the Tennessee Titans

Baltimore has not lost a preseason game since 2016. Joe Flacco was their starting quarterback when the streak began, while Steve Smith Jr., who this past year was eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time, was heading into his final NFL season. Baltimore’s roster also included Terrell Suggs, who was entering his second-to-last season with the franchise. 

Along with not losing preseason games, another constant in Baltimore over the past six years has been kicker Justin Tucker, who is entering his 11th season with the Ravens. Tucker’s field goals of 47, 25 and 47 yards on Thursday night helped Baltimore pull out the win after falling behind midway through the second quarter. 

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The Ravens won Thursday’s game by winning the turnover margin while holding the Titans to 1 of 3 red zone efficiency. One of those turnovers was scooped up by Kyle Hamilton, the Ravens’ first-round pick in this past year’s draft. 

Baltimore won despite the efforts of Malik Willis, the Titans’ rookie quarterback who overcame a slow start to score his first NFL touchdown, a 7-yard run early in the second quarter. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Ravens received a strong night from Tyler Huntley, who completed all but two of his 18 pass attempts that included his game-winning touchdown pass to Shemar Bridges



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