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Canadiens spoil Toffoli’s return to Los Angeles with ‘bad effort’ vs. Kings

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LOS ANGELES — Tyler Toffoli stood in the middle of the Montreal Canadiens’ bench, taking in the video tribute to his greatest accomplishments — all of them with the Los Angeles Kings, whom he was playing against for the first time since being traded in February of 2020.

He had downplayed what this might mean to him in the lead up to Saturday’s game, but it had been something he had been looking forward to for a very long time. This was the organization that gave him the chance to become an NHL player with the 47th pick in the 2012 Draft, the team he spent his formative years with and the one he’ll forever be linked to after helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2014, and this was supposed to be a memorable occasion.

Toffoli was supposed to have this reunion as a member of the Vancouver Canucks on March 12, 2020, but that was the day the NHL first shut down due to the pandemic. He couldn’t have known he’d go through an unexpected playoff run with the Canucks in the Toronto bubble months later, sign a four-year, $17-million contract with the Canadiens thereafter, score 28 goals in 56 regular-season games and play a big role in getting Montreal back to the Final for the first time since 1993 before having a chance to be saluted for everything that happened prior to all of that.

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But there Toffoli finally was on Saturday, glancing up at the big screen, taking in the highlights of his life as a Los Angeles King and being celebrated with a boisterous ovation from the crowd, his wife Cat, and celebrity friends Justin Turner (of the Los Angeles Dodgers) and George Lopez (comedian), who were holding Canadiens jerseys with his name on the back of them.

It was 0-0 at that point of the game. Josh Anderson made it 1-0 Canadiens shortly after.

And then the Kings scored five unanswered goals and turned this into a day Toffoli won’t want to think about ever again.

“It was really nice,” Toffoli said of the tribute after the game. “It’s just unfortunate it was washed away by a bad effort.”

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On Saturday, these Canadiens bore no resemblance to the ones Toffoli thought he was joining when he signed in Montreal.

They haven’t looked like that team since the puck dropped on this season; like the team that willed its way past the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Winnipeg Jets and the Vegas Golden Knights last summer; like the team that was completely bought in to its system and its culture of sacrificing for one another.

With shutdown centre Phillip Danault joining the Kings as a free agent after the playoffs, with superstar goaltender Carey Price in the NHL/NHLPA’s player assistance program, with captain Shea Weber too injured to continue his career and Joel Edmundson nursing an undisclosed injury from the onset of training camp through the first nine games of the season, the DNA had unquestionably been altered.

But it was unimaginable it would be to this extent.

Saturday’s loss was Montreal’s seventh in its first nine games, a fourth by as many as three goals, and it was embarrassing to the point that the Canadiens held a players-only meeting for 15 minutes after it concluded.

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“I’ve gone through things like this throughout my career, and it’s definitely tough to get out of,” Toffoli said. “It’s a funk where so many negative things are happening and you’re not getting the bounces on the ice, and then the breakdowns are hurting you in the game and that’s where you start getting in trouble.”

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On three occasions thus far, the Canadiens could blame their lack of execution for losses.

But this was a fourth time in this early part of the season that something far more troubling happened.

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Ben Chiarot, who scored for Montreal in garbage time to make this a 5-2 loss, emerged from the meeting and said, “It takes a certain level of compete and a certain level of work to win in this league every night and right now we’re not willing to give that on a consistent basis.”

“Our results show that,” he added.

We’d imagine he and Toffoli were central figures in the discussion that took place in the visiting room at Staples Center. Two guys among those rotating as alternate captains this season, two proud players who generally don’t fall short in the effort department.

The hope is that everyone else had a say, too, because everyone else played their part in how this game dissolved for the Canadiens.

They started the second period up by a goal and finished it trailing by one. And then they started the third by taking a terrible penalty in the offensive zone.

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Rasmus Kupari scored on the ensuing power play, and the Canadiens completely folded right then and there.

“I didn’t like our effort when they pushed on the other side,” said coach Dominique Ducharme. “I didn’t like the way we reacted. We were on our heels and we had no execution…”

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It undid whatever progress the Canadiens had seemingly made in a 4-0 win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

And this was against a Kings team that was 1-5-1 on the season and struggling just as much if not more than them. A Kings team missing its top two defencemen on the right side and two of its most skilled forwards.

It was inexcusable, and after the game was as good a time as any to air it out.

“We have to be accountable,” said Toffoli. “We have to find ways to man up with ourselves and with each other and be grownups in the locker room and understand that, if you’re not playing well, you need to figure it out. There has to be the accountability aspect (to one another).”

If it isn’t there by Sunday, against the Ducks in Anaheim, he and his teammates will go through another experience they hope to forget.

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How to watch Appalachian State vs. James Madison: NCAA Football live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds

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Who’s Playing

James Madison @ Appalachian State

Current Records: James Madison 2-0; Appalachian State 2-1

What to Know

The James Madison Dukes watched the action from their couches last weekend, but are set to take to the field. James Madison and the Appalachian State Mountaineers will face off in a Sun Belt battle at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The odds don’t look promising for the Dukes, but the bigger the opponent is, the harder they fall.

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A well-balanced attack led James Madison over the Norfolk State Spartans every single quarter on their way to victory two weeks ago. James Madison claimed a resounding 63-7 win over Norfolk State at home. The game was pretty much decided by the half, when the score had already reached 35 to nothing.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State didn’t have too much breathing room in their contest with the Troy Trojans last week, but they still walked away with a 32-28 victory. Appalachian State QB Chase Brice was slinging it as he passed for two TDs and 279 yards on 34 attempts. Near the top of the highlight reel was Brice’s 53-yard TD bomb to WR Christan Horn in the fourth quarter.

Their wins bumped the Dukes to 2-0 and the Mountaineers to 2-1. Watch the matchup and check back on CBS Sports to find out who keeps up the positive energy and who hits a stumbling block.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium — Boone, North Carolina
  • TV: ESPN Plus
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $40.99

Odds

The Mountaineers are a solid 6.5-point favorite against the Dukes, according to the latest college football odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Mountaineers as a 7.5-point favorite.

Over/Under: -111

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See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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UTSA vs. Texas Southern: How to watch NCAA Football online, TV channel, live stream info, game time

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Who’s Playing

Texas Southern @ UTSA

Current Records: Texas Southern 1-2; UTSA 1-2

What to Know

The Texas Southern Tigers will take on the UTSA Roadrunners at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Alamodome. Texas Southern isn’t favored, but they just beat the odds in their last game, so don’t count them out.

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The Tigers kept a clean sheet against the Southern University Jaguars last week and took the matchup 24 to nothing. The squad ran away with 21 points in the first half and mostly just sat on those in the second to pick up the victory.

Meanwhile, it was all tied up 17-17 at halftime, but UTSA was not quite the Texas Longhorns’ equal in the second half when they met last week. The Roadrunners suffered a grim 41-20 defeat to the Longhorns. This contest was a close 17-17 at the break, but unfortunately for UTSA it sure didn’t stay that way. A silver lining for them was the play of RB Brenden Brady, who threw one touchdown in addition to punching in one rushing touchdown.

Texas Southern’s win lifted them to 1-2 while UTSA’s loss dropped them down to 1-2. We’ll find out if the Tigers can add another positive mark to their record or if UTSA can shake off the defeat and take the spring out of Texas Southern’s step.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Alamodome — San Antonio, Texas
  • TV: STADIUM
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $69.00

Odds

The Roadrunners are a big 42-point favorite against the Tigers, according to the latest college football odds.

Bettors have moved against the Roadrunners slightly, as the game opened with the Roadrunners as a 44-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

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Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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North Carolina vs. Notre Dame live stream info, TV channel: How to watch NCAA Football on TV, stream online

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Who’s Playing

Notre Dame @ North Carolina

Current Records: Notre Dame 1-2; North Carolina 3-0

What to Know

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be returning home after a two-game road trip. They will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kenan Memorial Stadium after a week off. UNC is expected to win — but not by much — so they will need to come into the game prepared for a fight.

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The Tar Heels beat the Georgia State Panthers 35-28 two weeks ago. Among those leading the charge for UNC was RB Omarion Hampton, who rushed for two TDs and 110 yards on 16 carries. Hampton put himself on the highlight reel with a 58-yard TD scramble in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame netted a 24-17 victory over the California Golden Bears last week. RB Audric Estime and RB Chris Tyree were among the main playmakers for Notre Dame as the former punched in one rushing touchdown and the latter snatched one receiving TD.

Notre Dame’s defense was a presence as well, as it embarrassed California’s offensive line to sack QB Jack Plummer six times for a total loss of 47 yards. It was a group effort with four guys contributing.

The wins brought the Tar Heels up to 3-0 and the Fighting Irish to 1-2. A pair of stats to keep an eye on: UNC enters the matchup with 310 passing yards per game on average, good for 21st best in the nation. But Notre Dame comes into the contest boasting the 34th fewest passing yards allowed per game in the nation at 184. These opposing strengths should make for an exciting matchup.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kenan Memorial Stadium — Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • TV: ABC
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $110.00

Odds

The Tar Heels are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Fighting Irish, according to the latest college football odds.

The line on this game has moved quite a bit since it opened, as it started out with the Fighting Irish as a 1.5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -110

See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Notre Dame have won all of the games they’ve played against North Carolina in the last eight years.

  • Oct 30, 2021 – Notre Dame 44 vs. North Carolina 34
  • Nov 27, 2020 – Notre Dame 31 vs. North Carolina 17
  • Oct 07, 2017 – Notre Dame 33 vs. North Carolina 10



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