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Canada Olympic Team Goalie Power Rankings: Who’s the favourite to start?

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Building out potential Team Canada Olympic lineups is an excruciating task. No matter what you do, you’re going to end up cutting some great players with a strong case to be there.

Up front, depending on your outlook, as many as nine spots could already be considered locks, leaving one line to more or less fight over. On defence, there’s going to be tons of turnover from the last NHL Olympics and, again, as many as four spots that could be locked in already.

When it comes to the goalies, though, there are no locks anymore and the tough decisions start right at the top.

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After the Montreal Canadiens went to the Stanley Cup Final last season on the back of their starting goalie, it seemed the net would be Carey Price’s to lose. He’s won Olympic gold before, showed a recent ability to carry a team at important points and, crucially, came off as the most dependable of the bunch. But after he entered the NHL’s Player Assistance program this season, his spot on this team is up in the air. Price will hopefully return to the ice in the somewhat near future, but it’s still unclear when he’ll return to the Habs’ lineup. If and when he does come back, Price will be considered in a ranking such as these but, for now, we’re keeping him out of the mix.

Without Price the goalie picture for Canada is fascinating. Here are the other five goalies in the running and how we’d rank them today.

1. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers

The latest: Hart was the guy you could see coming as the future Team Canada goalie. A three-time winner of the WHL’s best goalie award, silver and gold medals at the World Juniors, and even three games for Canada at their World Championship silver medal effort in 2019 where he had a 0.70 goals-against average. Then last year happened. The 2020-21 season brought unique challenges and it was hard to gauge proper takeaways from both individual and team performance perspectives around the league. But Hart’s numbers were so uncharacteristically bad (.877, 3.67) that we reasonably could have expected him to recover under more normal circumstances.

So far that has proven to be right.

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The Flyers allow among the most shots in the league, 33.5 per game, and are 30th in high danger chances per 60 minutes of play. When you account for all situations and ice time, the rate at which Hart faces net front opportunities is surpassed by only Anton Forsberg and Sergei Bobrovsky and Hart is making a huge difference — his .896 high danger save percentage is fourth-best in the league. In terms of goals saved above expected, Hart is the No. 1-ranked Canadian goalie and seventh in the NHL. He’s all the way back.

2. MacKenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils

The latest: At first it didn’t seem like Blackwood would even be in consideration here due to his vaccination status, but in the past few weeks he has gotten that done and should be back in these conversations.

His early numbers are very strong, but it’s worth pointing out that Blackwood’s season didn’t start until November so he’s only played four games (and was pulled by the concussion spotter in his most recent start). He allowed three goals in three of those games and got a 42-save shutout in the other. The Devils are a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of shot suppression, but are top 10 in defending against the highest quality opportunities in front of the net.

By raw numbers, Blackwood’s .937 save percentage in all situations is among the league’s best and comes in at No. 1 among Canadian goalies. Adjusting for quality, his goals saved statistic is 14th in the league.

In a normal time where Price would already be Canada’s locked-in starter, there may only be room for one “young” goalie on the roster and that would have come down to either Blackwood (24) or Hart (23). Now both of them may be able to play their way onto the Canadian men’s Olympic team — and maybe even the top two options.

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3. Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues

The latest: Perhaps surprisingly, the Blues give up a good number of high quality shots against — only Vegas, Detroit, Philadelphia, Edmonton and the NY Rangers have averaged more at 5-on-5 so far this season. Binnington on his own has faced the second-most high danger shots against at 5-on-5 (behind only Robin Lehner), so his workload has been pretty heavy so far. His save rate on those quality chances is .845, which comes in below some other goalies who have faced a similar amount of dangerous chances such as Thatcher Demko, John Gibson and Jack Campbell.

Binnington has played in 12 of St. Louis’ 15 games so far, but relative to expectations based on the kinds of shots he’s faced, his ranking falls down the page a little. According to Natural Stat Trick, in all situations Binnington has a minus-0.11 goals saved above average, which ranks 29th among all goalies with at least five games played. In November alone Binnington has an .896 save rate and 3.13 GAA.

4. Darcy Kuemper, Colorado Avalanche

The latest: A slow start by the Avs is starting to come around and you can see it in Kuemper’s numbers. Allowing 16 goals in his first five starts has made way for just 10 goals against in his most recent five games. That surely has something to do with Colorado’s defence improving somewhat — they have allowed just under 30 shots against since Oct. 28 and were at 33.5 in the couple of weeks before then. Notably, Kuemper’s workload is perhaps somewhat the most similar to what Team Canada’s ‘tender might see in that his team doesn’t give up much in the way of quality chances. Among 57 qualifying NHL goalies who’ve played at least two games, Kuemper ranks 51st in the amount of high danger chances he faces per 60 minutes of action (all situations). And his .889 save percentage on these shots is sixth-best overall.

So Kuemper is doing well with what he’s faced so far, but is he standing out as a difference maker on his own? Kuemper has saved 0.59 goals above expected, which places him below some of the other serious contenders on this list.

5. Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks

Last year’s Vezina winner, things have been very rocky for Fleury in a Chicago uniform this season and while some of that can be attributed to his going from Vegas’ strong team defence to Chicago’s leaky defence, the Hawks have actually been slightly improved in this regard from a year ago. Through 10 starts, Fleury has been more likely to allow four or more goals against than not.

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With a sub-.900 save percentage and 3.50 GAA, Fleury might be playing his way off this team — which perhaps he played his way back into consideration for after his 2020-21 performance at 35 years of age. It’s a little volatile and a risky leap to expect he could return to his Vegas form if playing behind Canada’s defence. In terms of goals saved above expected, Fleury ranks 52 of 58 qualifying NHL goalies with a minus-4.53 mark.

We should note, however, that his November has been better. He’s won three of his past five starts and has posted a .920 save rate in that time, so if he can keep that going perhaps Fleury can move back up these rankings. But he is playing from behind now.



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Aaron Judge home run ball: Blue Jays bullpen makes sure Yankees secure historic HR No. 61

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USATSI

Aaron Judge belted his 61st home run of the season Wednesday against the Blue Jays, tying Roger Maris’ American League and Yankees single-season records. The historic ball reportedly would’ve been worth up to $2 million had it landed into the hands of a lucky fan. But on this chilly night in Toronto, the fan wasn’t so lucky. 

When Judge took lefty Tim Mayza deep in the seventh inning for dinger No. 61, the ball traveled painfully close to a Blue Jays fan who couldn’t corral it from his outfield seat. Here’s a look at a moment he won’t soon forget: 

Seeing Judge make history clearly didn’t mean as much to the fan as owning a piece of it, as he was caught on camera sulking and slamming his cap out of frustration moments after the ball left his sight.

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Thankfully for Judge and the Yankees, the ball ricocheted into the hands of Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann. Buschmann and the Jays bullpen, specifically closer Jordan Romano, then made sure the ball got to Yankees personnel. 

“From what I heard from our bullpen guys, Romano was the guy that kind of handed it over,” Judge told reporters. “Getting that type of support and a classy move from him, who’s one of the best in the game, definitely means a lot. I’ve got to try to find him here and thank him for that, that’s for sure.”

After the game, Judge and his mother, Patty Judge, posed for a photo with the record-breaking ball.

With home run No. 61 out the way, Judge needs only one more over his team’s final seven games to take sole control of the Yankees and AL single-season records. He’s unlikely to match or exceed the MLB record of 73 home runs that Barry Bonds hit for the Giants in 2001. 

It’s been quite the two-game stretch for Judge. On Tuesday, his Yankees clinched the AL East with a 5-2 win over the Blue Jays. He then matched Maris’ 61 home runs the following day. If the saying “all good things come in threes” is true, perhaps we can expect Judge’s 62nd homer Friday against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. 

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2022 Sanderson Farms Championship: Live stream, watch online, TV schedule, channel, tee times, coverage, radio

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Fresh off an electric Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club, the PGA Tour returns to Jackson, Mississippi, for the 2022 Sanderson Farms Championship. Defending champion and Presidents Cup participant Sam Burns headlines the field as he looks to get his 2022-23 campaign off on the right foot after notching three victories a season ago.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout, a member of the international team, will also make the short trip from Charlotte to Jackson. The South African should be brimming with confidence as he searches for his first victory on the PGA Tour after garnering a 1-0-1 record at the Presidents Cup. The Country Club of Jackson, which has been kind to first-time winners in recent history, could be an ideal landing spot. Six of the last eight champions at the Sanderson Farms Championship have been first timers, with Sebastian Munoz being the last in 2019. 

This is welcomed news not only for Bezuidenhout, but also for the stable of recent Korn Ferry Tour graduates looking to make a splash on the PGA Tour. Taylor Montgomery, Davis Thompson and Ben An are coming off of top-10 finishes at the 2022 Foritnet Championship and primed to improve on their efforts in Napa.

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All times Eastern; streaming start times approximated

Round 1 – Thursday

Round starts: 8 a.m.

PGA Tour Live: 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. — PGA Tour Live

TV coverage: 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. on Golf Channel

Radio: 1-6:30 p.m. — PGA Tour Radio

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Round 2 – Friday

Round starts: 8 a.m.

PGA Tour Live: 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. — PGA Tour Live

TV coverage: 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. on Golf Channel

Radio: 1-6:30 p.m. — PGA Tour Radio

Round 3 – Saturday

Round starts: 8 a.m.

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PGA Tour Live: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. — PGA Tour Live

TV coverage: 4-7 p.m. on Golf Channel

Radio: 2-7 p.m. — PGA Tour Radio

Round 4 – Sunday

Round starts: 8 a.m.

PGA Tour Live: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. — PGA Tour Live

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TV coverage: 4-7 p.m. on Golf Channel

Radio: 2-7 p.m. — PGA Tour Radio



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Oregon OC blames LeBron James for college football 'superteams'

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Oregon OC Kenny Dillingham pointed to LeBron’s Miami move as the reason behind “superteams” in college football. Does he have a point?



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