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Canucks humiliated in loss to Avalanche: ‘It’s unacceptable’

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DENVER — In the first 11 minutes of Thursday’s game, when the Vancouver Canucks had one shot and the Colorado Avalanche had three goals. The visiting team’s best shift of offensive-zone pressure was when three Vancouver forwards converged on the puck in the corner and determinedly froze it for a faceoff.

The Canucks didn’t compete. They skated a little, tried a little, but never came close to actually competing with an Avalanche team that awakened from its opening-month doldrums by humiliating Vancouver 7-1.

It was a convincing display by both teams — that the Avalanche is a Stanley Cup contender while the Canucks will have to paddle like mad just to stay near the National Hockey League playoff race. They could be out of it sooner than anyone thought, scuffling through their first 14 games at 5-7-2 and now facing a more difficult schedule through the 21-game quarter-pole.

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The way the Canucks played Thursday, the word “playoffs” should sound like Jim Mora’s incredulous utterance: “Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game.”

Vancouver has 68 of them left. They can’t win any the way they played against the Avalanche.

It wasn’t just that they were overmatched against a more talented team that is so disconcerting, it was the Canucks’ total lack of pushback, of engagement. They were never in the fight.

“We should be embarrassed,” Canucks captain Bo Horvat acknowledged. “We obviously didn’t come to play tonight and it definitely showed. They outworked us, outplayed us, and it’s unacceptable. We can’t let that happen again.

“It’s not the way we have to play and it’s not Canuck hockey like we’ve showed in the past where we’ve been resilient and not rolled over. Tonight, I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. Obviously, we know it’s not good enough and it’s unacceptable, and we can’t let that happen again.”

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There were numerous early signs of the Canucks’ lack of resolve and competitiveness.

After goalie Thatcher Demko stopped an Avalanche four-on-one rush, teammates further abandoned him and the shift ended with Gabriel Landeskog alone at the side of the net to make it 2-0 at 7:34 of the first period. The Canucks hadn’t yet recorded a shot on net.

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Colorado made it 3-0 at 11:10 when Elias Pettersson, who is being paid to be the Canucks’ best forward, carelessly lost the puck in his own zone despite seeing everything that had happened to that point.

And at the start of the second period, after the Canucks had a chance to regroup in the intermission after being outshot 12-3 and outscored 3-0 in the first, the Avalanche were bestowed more easy scoring chances and eventually ran up the shot clock to 17-3.

“We talked between periods about responding and, obviously, that didn’t happen throughout the game,” Canucks winger Tanner Pearson said. “It sucks because our goalies are playing so well and games like this, leaving them out to dry, it’s pretty embarrassing.

“Everybody’s got to be honest with ourselves. If you think you played well, you could be kidding yourself. I think honesty is a big thing, accountability. We’ve got to respond.”

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Yes, well, the Canucks play another sleeping Stanley Cup contender, the Vegas Golden Knights, Saturday before finishing their three-game, four-night road trip less than 24 hours later against the Anaheim Ducks.

Then it’s the Avalanche again, and the rest of the November schedule that includes teams like the Winnipeg Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins.

Stream every Canucks game this season with new pricing options! SN NOW STANDARD and PREMIUM let you choose how much hockey you want to watch.

What was startling about the Canucks’ dismal performance against the Avalanche is that it followed two good games when Vancouver outshot and largely outplayed the Dallas Stars and Ducks to finish a losing homestand by taking three out of four points.

Is it even possible, given their complacency on Thursday, that Canucks players actually thought the worst part of their start was over and that things were going to be easier?

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“If they thought it was going to be an easy game coming into play against Colorado, you wouldn’t think you’d have to talk about (that),” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “It’s never an easy game for starters in the NHL, but obviously we had a lot of guys that weren’t ready to play tonight.”

Asked about his largely-invisible top players, like Pettersson, Conor Garland, Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller, Green said: “Your best players and your leaders definitely need to lead the way in a lot of areas in your game. There’s no secret to that. I don’t think they’re on top of their game, for sure. I’m not going to start with names, but we’ve got some guys that need to play a lot better.”

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Green was still wrestling with the idea of making the team practise Friday in what had been a planned day off in Las Vegas. Given the road schedule, and two weekend games starting 22 hours apart, the coach may have to show his trust in players rather than his frustration.

“I don’t know what else to say: I’m very disappointed,” Green said. “We weren’t close tonight. They looked like a team that’s trying to find their game, a team that’s thinking about winning the Stanley Cup. We looked like we had a bunch of guys that were a half step behind.

“You’ve got to play well every game, you’ve got to play like it matters every game. And that team was a lot hungrier tonight.”

Travelling without defenceman Travis Hamonic, home in Vancouver fulfilling vaccination guidelines, the Canucks are likely to play Saturday also without blue-liner Tucker Poolman, who is subject to suspension after earning a match penalty in the third period for spinning with one hand on his stick and slashing Kiefer Sherwood across the face.

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Of course, the Avalanche beat the Canucks by a touchdown while playing without the second-best player on the planet, injured centre Nathan MacKinnon.

“We’ve showed a lot of resilience in a lot games, and a lot of times we’ve fought back and stayed in the fight,” Horvat said. “And tonight, we just didn’t have it.”

Playoffs?



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Neymar working ’24 hours a day’ to return from injury at World Cup

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DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Neymar is working “24 hours a day” to try to recover from his ankle injury and play again at the World Cup, Brazil teammate Marquinhos said Sunday.

Neymar damaged ligaments in his right ankle in the team’s 2-0 opening win over Serbia on Thursday and will miss the match against Switzerland on Monday. He remained hopeful of recovering but team doctors still haven’t given a timetable on his return — or said if he will return at all.

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“He is sleeping in physiotherapy, 24 hours a day,” Marquinhos said. “That shows how much he wants to be back with us. We don’t know when it’s going to happen, but we hope we will have him with us again as soon as possible and in good health mentally and physically.”

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Brazil coach Tite said he had to “force” Neymar and right back Danilo — who is also injured — to stop their treatment on Sunday and go be with teammates at the last training before the match against Switzerland. Tite said after the match against Serbia, Neymar was in physiotherapy until five or six in the morning.

Neymar had said Saturday on Instagram that he was “sure” he would “have a chance to return.” He posted photos of his ankle still looking very swollen.

Marquinhos said Neymar had been feeling down after the injury but was getting more upbeat.

“I see him very well and confident about returning,” the defender said ahead of the match against Switzerland. “He is very focused on coming back.”

Tite remained optimistic about the return of both Neymar and Danilo, who sprained his ankle against Serbia.

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“I’m not a doctor, I’m not an expert,” Tite said. “But I still believe that Neymar and Danilo will play in the World Cup. I think we will still be able to use them.”

Tite has plenty of options to fill in for Neymar but admitted it’s hard to replace the talent of a player like him.

“These great talents can show up two or three times and make the difference,” Tite said. “And that’s what Neymar can do for us.”

The coach did not say who would replace Neymar or Danilo in the starting lineup on Monday. The options to replace Danilo included Dani Alves or Éder Militão.

The 30-year-old Neymar is second on Brazil’s scoring list with 75 goals, two behind Pelé’s record with the national team. He has yet to win a major title with Brazil.

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Neymar had to leave the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after hurting his back in the quarterfinals against Colombia. He also missed the 2019 Copa América because of a right ankle injury.

Brazil, seeking its first World Cup title in two decades, faces Cameroon in its last Group G match. The team can reach the round of 16 with a win on Monday if Cameroon doesn’t defeat Serbia in the other group match.



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Morocco's Hakim Ziyech puts a free kick in the net but Romain Saïss caught offside in 45'+2'| 2022 FIFA World Cup

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Hakim Ziyech put Morocco on the board momentarily after a strong free kick from the right wing, but Romain Saïss was caught offside and the goal was disallowed.



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Is Stephen Curry The Face Of The NBA?

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(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

 

The Golden State Warriors may not be doing so well so far this season with a 10-10 record, but their franchise player, Stephen Curry, is playing as well as ever.

Through 18 games, he’s putting up 31.7 points on 52.7 percent overall shooting and 44.5 percent from 3-point range plus 7.1 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game.

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Of course, Curry is the owner of four NBA championship rings, the latest of which he earned less than six months ago, plus two regular season MVP awards and one NBA Finals MVP trophy.

He is now widely considered one of the 10 greatest players of all time, and some may even consider him the best in the game these days.

Is it accurate to go as far as saying Curry is the face of the NBA right now?

 

Curry’s Legacy Has Hit New Heights

For years, Curry was universally lauded as a great player, but he was also criticized for supposedly being soft and not being a prime crunch-time performer.

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But his performance in last year’s championship series, particularly his gutsy 43-point outing in Game 4, seemed to silence that type of criticism.

It now seems he is getting the type of praise he has deserved for a long time, and as is the case with fans of any great athlete, some of it may be a little over the top.

 

The NBA Doesn’t Have A Clear-Cut Best Player Right Now

For a long time, there was usually a consensus on who the best player in the game was.

The 1980s belonged to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the 1990s were owned by Michael Jordan, the 2000s were controlled by Kobe Bryant and the 2010s were mostly a LeBron James decade.

But now, although James is still playing at a very high level, few consider him the best player around, and while many would vote for Giannis Antetokounmpo, he doesn’t seem to have a stranglehold on that accolade.

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Parity has been the modus operandi for the NBA over the last few years, and it has been good for it, as it has made things more exciting and unpredictable.

That actually works to the advantage of Curry and the Warriors, as there is no predominant team or player they would have to get past to win their fifth world title in the last nine years.

The post Is Stephen Curry The Face Of The NBA? appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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