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Canadiens’ Ducharme miraculously keeping cool under strain of mounting losses

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MONTREAL — Dominique Ducharme didn’t bite, though he certainly had reason to.

After his Montreal Canadiens spotted the New York Islanders the first five goals of Thursday’s hockey game, after they eventually followed up a win with a completely discouraging loss for a third time in just three opportunities to follow up a win this season, the coach was asked how he was feeling and was given the floor to just vent.

Ducharme passed.

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“I won’t come here and give a show,” Ducharme said. “I won’t be making the headline and being on YouTube for 20 years.”

He generated some hearty laughs, but a tribute to Michel Therrien would’ve played better.

The former Canadiens coach, who famously unloaded in front of reporters as boss of the hapless Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006, was surely who Ducharme had in mind when he said what he said following this 6-2 loss.

Maybe it was the subject matter — a defence group that, Therrien suggested, was attempting to become “the softest” in NHL history — that made Ducharme go there. It would have made perfect sense for the current coach of the Canadiens to go off given what he saw from his group of six in this loss to the Islanders, in which New York’s Brock Nelson scored twice as many goals as his team did.

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But Ducharme decided to hold back.

“What I have to say, I’m telling my guys,” he offered.

We’re not sure there’s anything Ducharme can say to his defencemen that’ll drastically change what we’ve seen from them through this early part of the season.

On this night they tried. They’ve been trying on most of them.

But they’ve struggled mightily, and they failed miserably against the Islanders.

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“I don’t think the score accurately reflected our effort,” said Canadiens defenceman David Savard. “But I think we made bad decisions that cost us goals.”

No one made more of them than him in this game.

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Savard not only fought the puck; the puck fought back.

He bobbled it on the first goal against and fumbled it a few more times before someone in a Canadiens jersey had to fish it out of Montreal’s net, and when he had a chance to get his team back into the game — Nick Suzuki set him up with a gift while the Canadiens trailing 2-0 in the second period — he shot five feet wide of an open target.

In 12 games since signing a four-year, $14-million contract with Montreal, minus-five hasn’t accurately reflected Savard’s performance. He’s been worse than that.

Against the Islanders, nothing worked between him and partner Brett Kulak.

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Chris Wideman, who’s been in and out of Montreal’s lineup, struggled next to Alex Romanov, who rebounded well from a bad performance against the Anaheim Ducks last Sunday that led to him being scratched from Tuesday’s win over the Detroit Red Wings.

Jeff Petry and Ben Chiarot, who had found some mojo in that game at the Bell Centre, were neither good nor bad in this one, which saw the fans boo the Canadiens halfway through and mock cheer them with Ole, Ole, Ole throughout the third.

Ducharme kept that top pair together. He kept Savard and Kulak together. Wideman and Romanov, too.

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When asked if he thought of shifting things around, if he felt he even had the flexibility to mix and match his defence pairings when it was obvious Savard and Kulak were costing the Canadiens the game, Ducharme said, “We need our guys to be better and more consistent.”

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“I know about playing and switching and everything, but at one point we always need two Ds on the ice too,” he added.

At least the coach didn’t save all his frustration for the room.

Ducharme has probably felt it since training camp without Shea Weber and Joel Edmundson at his disposal.

He must have felt it on the bench watching the mistakes from his defence pile up on Thursday. It had to be painful watching forwards Christian Dvorak, Josh Anderson and Mike Hoffman miss defensive assignments and finish the night a combined minus-14.

Ducharme must have been stewing in it when the Canadiens whiffed on several scoring chances through the first 30 minutes and found themselves trailing 3-0 despite good intentions and efforts. And we have no clue how he kept his cool after the game, with the Canadiens’ record changing to 3-9-0 on the season and with his team once again proving incapable of building on whatever positive momentum it creates.

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He knows a YouTube-worthy rant isn’t going to change any of it, but we’re not sure how much longer he can hold it in if things don’t change for the Canadiens.



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The Chargers Have Difficult Offseason Decisions To Make

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The Los Angeles Chargers could be losing a few key contributors in the offseason.

Not only are these players a big part of their offense, but they are fan favorites as well.

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Keenan Allen and Gerald Everett are the most likely cap casualties for the Chargers, considering that they contribute to almost $20 million in cap space.

Allen was the third leading receiver for the Chargers in 2022, and Everett was the fifth.

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If they are to get cut or traded, the team will need to replace two high-impact players, not only for the team as a whole but for Justin Herbert as well.

Herbert has continued to grow as a passer, and Allen and Everett’s reliability are some of the reasons for his continued success.

The team may have to go back to the drawing board, either looking to the draft for a receiver or targeting free agency for a few budget weapons.

2022 marked the first time that the Chargers have made the playoffs since 2018.

Even though they ended up losing that game, it was a step in the right direction.

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The worst thing for the Chargers would be to take another step back, which is likely what would happen if both Allen and Everett leave.

From a historical lens, teams have been creative when navigating their cap situation, which is something that the Chargers could explore if they want to retain at least one of these players.

What will the Chargers look like in 2023?

Will Herbert be able to win his first playoff game?

The post The Chargers Have Difficult Offseason Decisions To Make appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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The Thunder Continue To Improve Their Postseason Chances

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Most people thought that the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t have much of a chance at greatness in the 2022-23 season.

That was even more true when they lost their rookie player, Chet Holmgren, to injury in the summer.

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And while the Thunder are still far from the top of the Western Conference standings, they are repeatedly impressing fans across the league.

The team has been surging since 2023 started.

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So far in the new year, the Thunder are first in offensive rating, first in net rating, first in points per game, first in three-point percentage, and have the sixth-best record since New Year’s Day.

Yes, they are currently the 12th team in their conference but they are just one game back from being qualified for the play-in tournament.

This last month has been spectacular for OKC.

They have beaten the likes of the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and others.

Their latest victory came on Saturday night when they decimated the Houston Rockets, 153-121.

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The importance and power of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander cannot be stressed enough, he has been leading the team in multiple ways.

So far this season, Gilgeous-Alexander has averaged 31 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.6 assists.

On Saturday night, he had yet another stunning game with his 42 points.

Of course, he has been getting a lot of serious help from Josh Giddey (16.2 points, 8 rebounds, and 5.9 assists), Lugentz Dort (14.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists), Jalen Williams, and others.

The Thunder have a packed week ahead, facing off against the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, and New Orleans Pelicans.

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Can their impressive January lead to an impressive February too?

The post The Thunder Continue To Improve Their Postseason Chances appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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MLB Analyst Defends Padres Fans From Criticism

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From 2011 to 2019, the San Diego Padres had a losing record every single year, with no exception.

But around the end of last decade, you could already tell that the Padres, after their long rebuild in which they had no direction or purpose, were starting to do things the right way.

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They hired the right people to lead the baseball department, they dramatically improved their farm system, and they started spending like a team that wants to compete.

Since 2020, they have been very competitive.

They made the playoffs that year but fell in the first round.

They missed the postseason in 2021 but were in contention for much of the year, and made it again last year and reached the NL Championship Series.

They are getting closer and closer to the first World Series title in franchise history.

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As you probably can imagine, interest from fans just wasn’t there in the middle of last decade.

They had been losing for years, and they would lose for a few more.

Now, fans are very much involved and engaged in everything that has to do with the franchise.

We can see a notable difference in fanfest attendance.

Some people have criticized fans for being there during the good times.

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An MLB analyst, however, is downplaying that notion and pointing out to the logical fact that when there is interest by the ownership, there will be interest from fans because the on-field product will be attractive.

“Some folks will say bandwagon. I’m gonna go with, this is what happens when you have an owner who is all in. The past few years, there’s never been a question of whether or not the Padres have been all in on winning a championship,” Jared Carrabis tweeted.

The Padres brought in shortstop Xander Bogaerts this offseason, plus Nelson Cruz and the re-signing of Robert Suarez.

Last year, they traded for Juan Soto and Josh Bell.

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A few years back, it was Manny Machado.

You can tell that Padres ownership wants to win and acts like a team that wants to win.

Fans, obviously, are becoming more and more interested.

It’s how the business works and there is nothing wrong with that.

The post MLB Analyst Defends Padres Fans From Criticism appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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