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Canadiens, Golden Knights on divergent paths despite similar adversity

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MONTREAL — It was a win that pushed the Vegas Golden Knights to 6-5 on their season.

They’ve been without leading scorers Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone for nine of their 11 games. Their best two-way centre, William Karlsson, broke his foot three games ago. One of their most versatile players, Alex Tuch, was traded to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday for a superstar, in Jack Eichel, who won’t be available for at least three more months, and regular defenceman Zach Whitecloud missed his seventh game of the season on Saturday.

But the Golden Knights have still found a way to be on the right side of .500 so far.

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On Saturday, they looked like they brought the Vegas Flu with them to Montreal. After touching down in the city early on Friday and cancelling practice at the Bell Centre, they stepped back onto the ice in this building for this game and started with one shot to the Canadiens’ 20 and zero goals to their two before first intermission rolled around.

The Golden Knights began the second period by taking a penalty. They gave up many quality chances and relied on Robin Lehner to turn miracles in their net, and then they got a power play and immediately scored to get on the board.

Jonathan Marchessault made it 2-2 five minutes later, and Dylan Coghlan scored his first of the season to make it 3-2 Golden Knights with eight minutes to go in the frame.

They added two empty-net goals late in the third to win 5-2. They were out-shot 38-18 in the game and, as Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme accurately noted, out-chanced 23-7.

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The Golden Knights found a way to win because that’s what good teams do.

“I think when you have a two-goal lead like that, good teams find a way to lock it down,” said former Golden Knight draft pick Nick Suzuki, who is now Montreal’s top centreman.

What does it say of the Canadiens that they found a way to lose?

They’ve been without top goaltender Carey Price since the season started. They’ve been without captain Shea Weber, who’s too injured to continue his career. Joel Edmundson, another pillar on defence, suffered an injury right at the onset of training camp and won’t be available for another couple of weeks. Speedy winger Paul Byron is out until late December or early January, top two-way centre Phillip Danault and key leader Corey Perry play for other teams now, and everyone understood they were going to be in tough to make it work without all of them.

But the expectations were that they still had enough good pieces in place to remain somewhat competitive until Price, Edmundson and Byron could return.

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The Canadiens haven’t found a way to win more than three of 13 games, though. They haven’t even found a way to get to overtime or the shootout in any of their 10 losses.

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And somehow, Saturday’s game must have felt worse than any of them. It was completely demoralizing.

Under different circumstances, it was a game that could’ve inspired a lot of confidence in the process.

We asked backup-turned-starting goaltender Jake Allen how differently the Canadiens might have viewed this loss had it occurred with the team hovering around .500.

“One hundred per cent it changes everything,” he said. “(But) to be 3-10, it’s a little bit different. If we were right there on the .500 mark, or right around that where we’ve won some good games, played some good hockey… But it’s tougher to take right now when you look at all the teams ahead of you and you’re 3-10.”

When contemplating how his team might take the positives out of its performance and feel good about things going into the next one, Allen said, “It takes balls to do that, to be honest right now.”

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He wasn’t wrong.

Neither was Ducharme when he said, “nine times out of 10, the win would be on our side.”

But whether or not the Canadiens can build on the way they played to finally generate the result they so desperately need is completely up in the air and frustration lingers.

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Suzuki, who started out with zero points over his first four games but has turned it around with 12 in his last nine — including a goal and an assist against Vegas — was feeling it.

“We’ve got to find a way,” he said.

Those were the same words uttered by Brendan Gallagher, who had Montreal’s best chance to tie the game 3-3 in the dying seconds of the second period and is stuck on just two goals and three assists in his 12 games.

He also said, “We understand it’s early (in the season), but we also understand the hole we’re in.”

The Canadiens just haven’t found a way to tackle adversity the way the Golden Knights have.

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Vegas came into the game with zero goals on 19 power plays and managed to break the ice with two against a Canadiens penalty kill that went from not allowing a goal in 13 consecutive playoff games at one point last summer to allowing 16 goals on the opposition’s first 47 attempts this season. They’ve managed to score 2.73 goals per game despite the gaping holes they’re dealing with up front, while the Canadiens have averaged just two goals per game. And they started off losing four of their first five before winning five of their next six.

The Canadiens didn’t, and their season is quickly turning into a lost cause.



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Kenny Pickett Describes Where Steelers Fans Rank In The NFL

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers are some of the most dedicated fans in football.

Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett is taking notice of his team’s fan base.

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During an interview, he described where fans of the Steelers rank in the NFL.

So what does he think about the team’s fan base, and their ranking among other NFL teams?

 

Pickett Comments On His Hometown Fans

When ranking the Steelers fans, Pickett ranks them as the best in the world.

He thinks and feels no other fan base can compare to the Steelers.

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His feeling comes from how many people in the Atlanta crowd were Steelers fans.

With their fan base taking over the stadium in Atlanta, it’s easy to see why Pickett praises the fans.

He also feels like every game is a home game, no matter what stadium they are in.

His feeling comes from people outside of Pittsburgh being fans of the Steelers.

However, it also comes from a fan base that travels to see their team, no matter where they play.

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This combination isn’t lost on the rookie quarterback, who sees the dedication of the team’s fans.

With the Steelers having an off season this year, it shows the dedication fans have to their team.

While other teams see empty seats during terrible seasons, the Steelers fan base takes over other team’s stadiums.

It’s exactly why Pickett believes he plays for the best fans in the world.

The post Kenny Pickett Describes Where Steelers Fans Rank In The NFL appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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Reports: 2019 NL MVP Bellinger agrees to one-year $17.5M deal with Cubs

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The Chicago Cubs have agreed to sign outfielder Cody Bellinger to a one-year $17.5 million contract, per the New York Post‘s Jon Heyman and ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

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Bellinger won the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year award and the 2019 NL MVP with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 27-year-old has spent all six of his years in the majors with the Dodgers and became a free agent after the team rejected to tender his contract for 2023.

In 2022, Bellinger hit .210 with 19 home runs and 68 RBI — he also stole 14 bases.

The two-time all-star suffered a drop-off in production after his MVP season. In 295 games between 2020 and 2022, he had .648 OPS — down from .928 in his first three years.

He joins a Cubs team that finished third in the NL Central with a 74-88 record in 2022.

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Rob Manfred Reveals An Unfortunate Athletics Update

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(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

 

The Oakland Athletics franchise is currently not in very good shape.

The team traded its stars and high-priced players in the last two seasons, it finished with the worst record in the American League (60-102) in 2022, their stadium is old, and fans just don’t go to A’s games.

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Why would they, when the on-field product and the stadium experience are both subpar?

A move to Las Vegas has been in the cards for years, but it hasn’t materialized for a variety of reasons.

The Commissioner understands that a solution has already dragged for far too long.

“Rob Manfred: ‘We’re past any reasonable timeline for the situation in Oakland to be resolved,’” MLB insider Bill Shaikin tweeted.

 

A Frustrating Situation

The situation in Oakland is starting to become unsustainable from every angle.

There is currently a project to build a new stadium in Oakland so the franchise can stay in the Bay Area, but it hasn’t come to fruition.

The A’s can’t possibly stay in the Coliseum for long, and its lease reportedly expires after the 2024 season.

It would be a shame for the A’s to move out of Oakland, because there is a lot of baseball history in the city.

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The organization has won four World Series in Oakland in addition to the five it lifted in Philadelphia.

They moved to Oakland in 1968, after a few seasons in Kansas City, and just four years later they won three consecutive Fall Classics, from 1972 to 1974.

Whether the future of the franchise is tied to Oakland or not, the league needs a resolution quickly because it has expansion plans and they can’t move forward with the A’s future still undecided.

The post Rob Manfred Reveals An Unfortunate Athletics Update appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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