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Canadiens must find emotion from start to finish to salvage season



MONTREAL — Michael Pezzetta chased Brendan Lemieux all over the ice before taking the bait — and a second consecutive penalty for trying to rough him up.

This time, Pezzetta went to the penalty box all by himself.

The two had served coincidental minors just before that and they were running their mouths at each other for the entire two minutes. When they came out, a fight seemed imminent, but Lemieux turtled when Pezzetta challenged him and the rest of his Montreal Canadiens simmered with rage on the bench as Pezzatta was directed back to the box.


They were trailing 2-1 with just over 12 minutes to play and Pezzetta looking on from across them. It was as his penalty was expiring that the rage on their bench finally transferred to the ice, right through Alex Romanov’s body as the young defenceman curled into a thunderous hit and knocked Los Angeles’ Rasmus Kupari flat on his back.

Jake Evans turned Tobias Björnfoot inside out and roofed a puck into Cal Petersen’s net to tie the game 2-2 a little more than three minutes after that happened. He had capitalized on a few waves of momentum the Canadiens had built with pure emotion.

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They kept it going, shift after shift, hemming the Kings in and forcing them into several mistakes — including a penalty from former Canadien Phillip Danault with 2:12 to go.

From the second Romanov threw that hit to the second this one ended with a nice play by Adrian Kempe in overtime to make it 3-2 Kings, the Canadiens out-shot their opponents 13-3 and generated enough quality chances to win this game outright.

What’s hard to understand is why it took so long for them to ignite that fire.

This is a team that came into Tuesday’s contest with 10 losses in 13 games. A team playing against a tired Kings group that extended its winning streak to five games with a 5-1 win over the Maple Leafs while the Canadiens were cooling their heels at home Monday night.


They should have started off with the type of energy they finished with.

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Not that the Canadiens started poorly. They scored the opening goal thanks to Ben Chiarot and they tilted the ice enough to probably pad the lead before 20 minutes were done.

But Montreal’s passion wasn’t on the same level, and their game degenerated shortly thereafter.

What happened to close out the second period was not only perplexing, but inexcusable.


“It’s something we need to get straightened out,” said Chiarot. “Second period, it’s almost kinda like we get back on our heels for some reason.”

The Canadiens took a penalty and were outshot 8-0 over the final seven minutes of the middle frame. As coach Dominique Ducharme put it, there was as much to take out of that sequence as there was the way they played after Romanov rocked Kupari.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” he said. “We gave momentum to the other team with execution, decisions that were made.

“When we try to make the game more complicated than it is, sometimes that’s where we bite ourselves.”

The Canadiens have bitten themselves so much this season, there’s barely any meat left on the bone.


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With 68 games to go, and such a steep climb up the standings needed to re-enter the playoff conversation, they have to find a way to get the emotion they showed towards the end into their game from start to finish. They can make life simpler for themselves by focusing on that more than anything else.

At least the Canadiens took a step in that direction with that sequence. At least they have some tape to review what it looks like when they push as hard as they should.

“I was happy with the way we were kind of able to recapture the momentum — something we’ve had a little bit of trouble doing when we lose it in games,” said Chiarot. “One of the best games I’ve seen Romy play, Pezzetta trying to do what he has to do for the team, and I thought both of those things kind of got us back in the fight.”


There are so many more of “those things” that need to happen for the Canadiens to not be forced into having to get “back in the fight.”

They’ve trailed going into the third period in an NHL-leading eight of their 14 games. They’ve given up a league-leading 18 goals in the middle frame. And these stats have as much to do with their effort and passion level as they do faulty execution.

On this night, it didn’t cost the Canadiens then and there, but they still paid for it to start the third when Alex Iaffalo blew by David Savard and shot a puck through Jake Allen to make it 2-1 Kings.

They collected a point, but it takes more of what they showed at the end — and less of what they showed in the middle — to finish with two.

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Canadiens notebook: Jared Davidson gets opportunity to experience NHL atmosphere



MONTREAL— It’s 1:00 p.m., on a breathtaking, blue-bird-sky Sunday in Montreal. This is a day to be anywhere but inside a freezing cold arena—even one as magnificent as the Bell Centre—but that doesn’t stop roughly 21,000 people from filing through the doors up on Av. des Canadiens-de-Montréal.

As they pass through security, they’re greeted by the players they’re about to watch, and it’s a gift they deserve for spending the money they did on an intrasquad scrimmage and sacrificing a precious, sun-soaked afternoon ahead of another long, gloomy and grey winter.

But they’re the ones who are really giving on this day. These fans are providing several of the players they’re watching with a first taste of what it’s really like to play in Montreal. They’re offering an atmosphere that makes this feel like a real NHL game instead of a September shinny, and we don’t know if they can even fathom how much is being taken from it.


For a kid like Florian Xhekaj, who scored for Team White, went through interviews with media in the Canadiens dressing room and then was returned back to the OHL Hamilton Bulldogs, these fans are making a dream come true.

“I’ve never played in front of that many people before,” the 19-year-old said. “It was crazy.”

It wasn’t only inspiring for Jared Davidson; it was illuminating.


On Sunday, the 21-year-old, who’s participating in his second Canadiens camp, took his smoothest turn in what’s been a hazardous journey to this point. Here’s a player who was cut by several minor-league teams in Alberta, who went undrafted in the WHL before making the Seattle Thunderbirds as a walk-on, who was overlooked by Team Canada for several international competitions, who was passed over twice in the NHL Draft before being taken in the fifth round a year ago, and he stood out on nearly every shift of this game.

Davidson, who scored three goals in a scrimmage earlier this week, ripped his shot right through Jake Allen to open the scoring on Sunday. He created several good chances for his linemates as the afternoon continued, and then he brought the fans to their feet once again when he scored in the shootout.

“It’s special,” Davidson said afterwards. “This is a red-white game, it doesn’t mean anything, but that was so cool to see. Felt like the whole city was on our back.”


Davidson said it also made him feel like his NHL dream might actually be realized with time.

Not that he hasn’t been a believer all along, but as he put it, “Even last year, it looks like it’s so far away and kind of just a hope.”

“But camp this year has been really good and it helps my confidence knowing that I’m almost there,” Davidson adds. “The experience today with those fans takes it that much further. Makes me feel I’m not that far off.”

Not that the Edmonton native has an open lane to a spot on this year’s Canadiens roster. He’s under contract with the AHL’s Laval Rocket, on the verge of making his professional debut, and all he could really do (under those circumstances) was make himself as noticeable as possible.

Davidson has accomplished that already within the span of five days, and that’s a big win for him.

“I find he’s been unreal this week,” said Canadiens assistant coach Alexandre Burrows. “I think he’s a shooter. It doesn’t take long (for him to shoot), he’s got a quick release. He sees the ice well, he’s always well-positioned defensively, and he works extremely hard, and he’s been impressive since Day 1 this year.”

Burrows, who went from being passed over the NHL Draft to becoming a player who produced over 400 points and appeared in over 900 games, can relate to what Davidson must be feeling.

“As an undrafted player, you feel that you’re behind the eight ball, you’re far away from your dream, but I think a week like this one for him—it’s been all positive, he can see that he’s not that far off,” the coach says. “He played as an over-age last year, but he’s just starting his pro career. He’s got a lot to learn still, but we see there’s something there. I think for him to be able to score some goals against quality goalies today—he was against Jake Allen, and that was a great shot—I think he’s got a bright future and wouldn’t be surprised to see him here in not too long.”


Davidson remains for the time being, with pre-season games ahead and more opportunities within reach to continue proving himself.

Mattias Norlinder sighting

Norlinder is the forgotten man at this year’s camp and, on Sunday, he was completely forgotten on a two-on-one rush that gave him a clean shot at a goal once the puck came to him from Nick Suzuki.

Norlinder scored, and not just into the yawning net; he scored points with management with the way he played, serving up a reminder that he’s someone who shouldn’t be forgotten or dismissed in the competition on defence.

Not that the Swede, who was taken in the third round of the 2019 draft, is in line for a spot in Montreal to start the season. But with William Trudeau knocking on the door, and with Logan Mailloux, Miguel Tourigny and Jayden Struble showing NHL potential, it was essential that Norlinder show he can also be an option for the big club.

He did that on Sunday—and has done it under the radar throughout camp—by making an essential adjustment: moving his feet constantly, with or without the puck.

There was so much hype about this player before he came over from Sweden. He was a highlight factory on the big ice.

But Norlinder arrived at his first camp two years ago and suffered an injury that set him back. And at last year’s camp, the only time you noticed him was when someone was burning right by him because he was flatfooted.


Norlinder said on Sunday that a full season in Laval last year did him a lot of good, that he developed a lot as a player and feels much more like himself now.

He can be a threatening offensive player, and he showed that on Sunday.

But in order for Norlinder to be that in Montreal, in order for him to hit his ceiling at this level, he’ll have to continue to establish his floor.

“If you get those top minutes, sometimes your leash is a little bigger,” said Canadiens defence coach Stephane Robidas. “But sometimes to come in as a fifth or sixth D, or seventh D (like Norlinder would as a call-up to Montreal—you have to make sure the coach can trust you whenever they put you on the ice. If you don’t play those power play minutes and don’t get put in those situations as much, offensively, you gotta make sure you take care of defence and make sure you’re a reliable player for your team. And I think that’s where, a lot of time, young dmen take time. It takes time, it’s not easy. It’s not an easy position. You get a lot more exposed as a dman than you’d be as a forward, and that’s why sometimes it takes longer as a dman to make it to the NHL.”

The good news for Norlinder is he appears to be advancing on that timeline.


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Pearson making a strong impression

Another player who showed well on Sunday was Tanner Pearson, who was playing his first game in 10 months.

It was interesting to see him on a line with Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki.

We don’t expect Pearson to be there when the season starts but, considering he and Emil Heineman have been the only ones to line up with the Canadiens’ offensive stars, it’s fairly evident the coaches like the idea of having someone who’s big—or plays big—complete the trio.

What really stood about both the six-foot-two Heineman and the six-foot-one Pearson playing alongside Caufield and Suzuki was their board play.


Pearson said he was cut from the Los Angeles Kings early in his career for his not being up to snuff, but he learned quick under Darryl Sutter and found a way to make it a strength.

That strength was on full display on Sunday, as was some nifty playmaking from Pearson on a goal he set for Caufield.

As for what the 31-year-old can bring to the Canadiens, in general, Burrows feels it’s more than just Stanley Cup-winning pedigree.

“He’s a big winger who’s capable of scoring, and he’s a good player who’s able to play on any line. He knows the league, too. It’s obvious he’s a veteran, he’s a pro. He prepares well. Now he’s excited to have an opportunity here after his injury in Vancouver last year. He’ll be a good option for us, and we can put him pretty much anywhere—on special teams, be it on the penalty kill or the power play, and even across the lineup…he can play left, right, on any line. That’s a good asset for our depth.

“And what’s even more fun is he’s an excellent team player who comes with a good attitude, who works hard, who wants his teammates to do well, who wants the best for the team. We’re very happy to have him with us.”


Quick hits

• Three players, in addition to Xhekaj, were cut from Canadiens camp late on Sunday: Cedrick Guindon, Quentin Miller and Jan Spunar.
• Cayden Primeau, who said he had a rough scrimmage on Saturday, stopped all 12 shots he faced in the opening half of Sunday’s game.
• The Canadiens will play their first pre-season game at the Bell Centre Monday against the New Jersey Devils.

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Mike McDaniel Makes His Thoughts Clear About Dolphins’ Potential



(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)


After picking up a resounding 70-20 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3, the Miami Dolphins moved to 3-0 and are now the only remaining undefeated team in the AFC.

The Dolphins have looked like a team completely in rhythm, especially offensively as they dumped 726 yards of offense on the Broncos’ defense.


Mike McDaniels has to be happy with how his team has performed out of the gates of the 2023 NFL season as they look sharp and locked in every snap.

Miami was considered to be a Super Bowl hopeful coming into the season and there’s an argument to be made that they could be the outright favorite right now.

Even though Denver hasn’t been the most imposing team, to embarrass them the way they did should illustrate just how good Miami is.

The sky feels like the limit for this Dolphins squad and McDaniels doesn’t think any sort of ceiling should be placed on themselves via Cameron Wolfe of NFL Network.

“Shame on us if we put a ceiling on what we’re capable of,” McDaniels said.


With Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill playing at the level they are, the offense will remain one of the most electric units in the league.

Couple that with their backfield tandem of Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane and it’s hard to imagine any team being able to keep up with them on the scoreboard.

The defense has also shown signs of life, and if they’re able to do their job then there really aren’t many answers for the Dolphins.

Three weeks isn’t much of a sample size, but McDaniels has a point that there’s no telling what else this team is capable of.


The post Mike McDaniel Makes His Thoughts Clear About Dolphins’ Potential appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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Yankees lose to Diamondbacks, miss playoffs for first time since 2016



NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016, getting mathematically eliminated with a rainy 7-1 loss Sunday to the Arizona Diamondbacks as Zac Gallen got his 17th win.

Arizona (82-73) won for the sixth time in seven games and remained in position for the NL’s second wild card, a half-game ahead of the Chicago Cubs. The Diamondbacks also clinched their first winning season since 2019.

New York (78-77) was eliminated from contention with a week to play. The Yankees head on the road to Toronto and Kansas City is in danger of finishing with a losing record for the first time since 1992.


New York would have 85 wins if the Yankees finish 7-0. Baltimore (97 wins) and Tampa Bay (95) will split the AL East and the top wild card, and Toronto (87) is in position for the second wild card. Texas (86) could win the West or get a wild card in a race that includes Seattle (84) or Houston (85). Because the Astros and Mariners play three times in the final week, one must finish with more wins than the Yankees.

Gallen (17-8) allowed three hits in six innings, struck out eight and walked two. He won for the third time in four starts and had his fourth scoreless outing this season.

Tommy Pham and Christian Walker produced sacrifice flies on consecutive pitches in the first inning off Carlos Rodón (3-7) and that was enough for Gallen, who is second in wins, one behind Atlanta’s Spencer Strider.

Evan Longoria added a two-run single and Geraldo Perdomo had a sacrifice fly in Arizona’s three-run seventh following an error by New York left fielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa and a wild pitch by Randy Vásquez. Walker added an RBI groundout in the eighth and Gabriel Moreno hit an RBI double in the ninth.

The Yankees avoided getting shutout when Aaron Judge drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth.


The game started about 50 minutes late and the rain never stopped. It grew heavier during the middle innings but lessened in the final innings.

Rodón allowed five runs — three earned — and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.


Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said he was going to call Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore to get an update on the forecast.

Lovullo met Cantore in Atlanta when Arizona television play-by-play announcer Steve Berthiaume made the introduction.


“You get that, you got to take advantage of it,” Lovullo said before the game.


Diamondbacks: 2B Ketel Marte (illness) was scratched from the original lineup.

Yankees: RHP Frankie Montas (right elbow) threw 25 pitches in two innings in his second rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre Saturday and could be activated for the final week. A free agent after this season, Montas was 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA in eight games after being acquired from Oakland at last year’s trade deadline and has not pitched since Sept. 16, 2022. … C Jose Trevino (torn right wrist) said he plans to start hitting in a few weeks and should be ready for spring training. … OF Everson Pereira (hamstring) missed his ninth straight game.



Arizona RHP Merrill Kelly (12-7, 3.37 ERA) opposes New York RHP Clarke Schmidt (9-9, 4.65) Monday afternoon in the makeup of Saturday’s postponed game.

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