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Canucks nearing crisis as latest seven-goal loss leaves questions unanswered

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LAS VEGAS – The Vancouver Canucks positively answered the elemental challenge to compete and battle for each other to try winning National Hockey League games on Saturday.

But in losing 7-4 to the Vegas Golden Knights, who benefitted from a couple of suspect officiating calls but still outscored the Canucks by five goals in the final 41 minutes, Vancouver left unanswered all kinds of difficult questions about their ability to defend, mental strength, their convictions under head coach Travis Green and whether the team general manager Jim Benning built is actually capable of competing for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

In the wake of Thursday’s 7-1 embarrassment by the Colorado Avalanche, Saturday’s game was a referendum on the pride and professionalism of Vancouver players. The Canucks passed that test, building an early 2-0 lead and outplaying the Golden Knights.

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But while the “team” response to the debacle in Denver was admirable, the Canucks still made numerous individual mistakes by turning over the puck and misreading plays defensively, and generally displayed the mental fragility of teams on the precipice of a very long fall.

For historical context, consider that the last time the Canucks surrendered seven or more goals in consecutive games, in November of 1997, Pat Quinn was soon fired as general manager, followed by coach Tom Renney. Then Mike Keenan was hired, management became a three-man committee including a natural-resources executive who knew nothing about hockey, and frogs fell from the sky.

Eventually, Brian Burke was hired to solve the chaos and save the franchise in Vancouver.

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With the Canucks finishing what has been a faith-testing road trip Sunday night in Anaheim, Green is still the coach and Benning still the GM. But anything seems possible considering what the players displayed in Denver and Las Vegas.

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An underperforming team that had, at least, shown improved defensive play gave up its second touchdown in as many games. The Knights started their comeback from an 0-2 deficit with a harsh penalty call in the first period and broke a 4-4 tie on an atrocious one at 7:03 of the third when referee Chris Schlenker called the first penalty of Thatcher Demko’s NHL career after the goalie, sealing off his near post, dislodged the net that had required ice-crew maintenance on its peg earlier in the game.

Even without some of their best forwards, the Knights’ power play scored on both calls as the Canucks collapsed after building a 2-0 lead, then twice tying the game on goals by Nils Hoglander.

“Sometimes I go in and talk to the team, sometimes I don’t,” Green said of his post-game habits. “Tonight, I did. First and foremost, our effort was a lot stronger (than on Thursday) and I told them that, too. There’s some plays that we’d like to have back in the game, (but) the 7-4 score wasn’t indicative of the type of game that it was tonight.”

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Veteran defenceman Oliver-Ekman Larsson said: “I thought we came out and showed some heart out there and that’s what we need to do every single night. If we do that, we’re going to be fine.

“I wouldn’t say that we don’t have a lot of confidence in the group, but when you’re losing and letting in a lot of goals, it’s tough to battle back. But we’re trying to stay positive. I think that’s the theme we need going into the next game here (in Anaheim), and just stay positive and keep working hard because I thought the work ethic was there tonight and we deserved better.”

The Canucks probably did deserve better than a three-goal loss.

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They generated 43 shots on target and outshot the Golden Knights 30-22 at five-on-five.

But Vancouver still made costly turnovers (by Hoglander and J.T. Miller) that led to goals, and some terrible defensive reads (by Tyler Myers and minor-league call-up Madison Bowey).

And with the game on the line, the Canucks’ putrid penalty-killing failed again when Jonathan Marchessault, with space and an open shooting lane, zipped a puck into the top corner on Demko to break a 4-4 tie at 8:24 of the final period. The result of Schlenker deciding that the cerebral goalie, who has a degree in psychology and never exhibits panic, intentionally dislodged the Vancouver goal while Vegas had the puck in the Canucks’ zone.

“The post had come off a couple times already,” coach Green told reporters on Zoom after his team lost for the seventh time in nine games. “It came off with (Vegas goalie Robin) Lehner, I believe, in the second period. They actually had to go fix the post. On the commercial (break), they had the crew come out to fix it. I mean Demmer, he wasn’t pushing the net off. It wasn’t a penalty.

“There’s definitely a couple calls that should have never been called against us. I don’t usually complain about refereeing, but the call against Demko was atrocious and the call against OEL, the double-minor for roughing, was very questionable for me as well. And they were both critical parts of the game.”

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Schlenker and Ghislain Hebert essentially gave Ekman-Larsson an extra minor for instigating and roughing – this infraction doesn’t exist in the NHL rulebook – when the Canuck defenceman confronted Knight Brayden McNabb for clotheslining Vancouver rookie Vasily Podkolzin late in the first period. Ekman-Larsson has never had an NHL fight and absorbed the only punch of the altercation from McNabb, but the Canuck still received a double-minor for roughing to the Vegas defenceman’s single minor.

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The material point, however, is that Vancouver’s league-worst penalty-killing surrendered a power-play goal to Evgenii Dadanov – after a foolish hooking penalty by Justin Bailey put the Canucks two-men down – at 19:46 of the first period to start the Knights’ comeback, and another to Marchessault on the third-period winner.

Despite early goals from Tanner Pearson and Miller, who had a monster game but is questionable for Anaheim after suffering an apparent leg injury, the Canucks disintegrated defensively in the final period when the game was still there for them.

Playing with purpose was nice, but the reeling Canucks have so much more than their commitment to worry about.

“It was a good response for sure,” winger Brock Boeser, who managed six shots on net without being noticeable, told reporters. “But at the end of the day, it’s about winning and we’ve got to find a way to win hockey games.”



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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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San Diego State vs. Toledo: How to watch, schedule, live stream info, game time, TV channel

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Who’s Playing

Toledo @ San Diego State

Current Records: Toledo 2-1; San Diego State 1-2

What to Know

The San Diego State Aztecs may be playing at home Saturday, but the experts are forecasting a three-point defeat. They will take on the Toledo Rockets at 3:30 p.m. ET at Snapdragon Stadium. Both of these teams will be looking for a pick-me-up after considerable defeats in their previous games.

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The Aztecs were expected to have a tough go of it last week, and, well, they did. They found themselves the reluctant recipients of an unfortunate 35-7 punch to the gut against the Utah Utes. San Diego State was in a tough position by the half, with the score already sitting at 21 to nothing. One thing holding San Diego State back was the mediocre play of QB Kyle Crum, who did not have his best game: despite one touchdown, he threw one interception with a passing completion percentage of only 31.25%.

Meanwhile, it’s never fun to lose, and it’s even less fun to lose 77-21, which was the final score in Toledo’s tilt against the Ohio State Buckeyes last week. The Rockets were down 56-21 at the end of the third quarter, which was just too much to recover from. Toledo’s loss came about despite a quality game from QB Dequan Finn, who passed for two TDs and 153 yards on 19 attempts in addition to rushing for one TD and 70 yards. Near the top of the highlight reel was Finn’s 50-yard TD bomb to WR Thomas Zsiros in the first quarter.

The losses put San Diego State at 1-2 and Toledo at a reciprocal 2-1. A couple offensive numbers to keep in mind before kickoff: San Diego State enters the game with 221 rushing yards per game on average, good for 22nd best in the nation. The Rockets have displayed some offensive firepower of their own as they rank 17th in the nation when it comes to rushing touchdowns, with nine on the season.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Snapdragon Stadium — San Diego, California
  • TV: Fox Sports 1
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $14.85

Odds

The Rockets are a 3-point favorite against the Aztecs, according to the latest college football odds.

The line has drifted a bit towards the Rockets, as the game opened with the Rockets as a 1-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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Miami (FL) vs. Middle Tenn.: How to watch online, live stream info, game time, TV channel

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Who’s Playing

Middle Tenn. @ No. 25 Miami (FL)

Current Records: Middle Tenn. 2-1; Miami (FL) 2-1

What to Know

The Middle Tenn. Blue Raiders are staring down a pretty large 25.5-point disadvantage in the spread for Saturday’s game. They will take on the Miami (FL) Hurricanes at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium. The Blue Raiders should still be riding high after a win, while Miami (FL) will be looking to regain their footing.

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Middle Tenn. simply couldn’t be stopped last week, as they easily beat the Tennessee State Tigers at home 49-6. The team ran away with 42 points in the first half and mostly just sat on those in the second to pick up the victory.

Meanwhile, Miami (FL) came up short against the Texas A&M Aggies last week, falling 17-9. Miami (FL) couldn’t find the end zone and got their points from three field goals.

Special teams was responsible for all of the team’s points. K Andres Borregales delivered a perfect 3-for-3 game.

Middle Tenn.’s win brought them up to 2-1 while the Hurricanes’ loss pulled them down to an identical 2-1. Two defensive numbers to keep in mind before kickoff: The Blue Raiders haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown yet this season. Miami (FL) is not quite as good, but they are no chumps, either: they enter the contest with only one rushing touchdown allowed, good for 11th best in the nation. Looks like the running backs might have a tough go of it.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Hard Rock Stadium — Miami Gardens, Florida
  • TV: ACC Network
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $4.00

Odds

The Hurricanes are a big 25.5-point favorite against the Blue Raiders, 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 Hurricanes as a 26.5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -111

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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