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Maple Leafs in Campbell or bust mode as he faces former team and mentor

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TORONTO –Jack Campbell is a heart-on-his-sleeve guy under the most routine circumstances.

If you saw him give the mailman a high-five or feed his Red Lobster leftovers to a stray dog, would you be surprised?

So we can only imagine the emotions he’ll feel Monday night on Sportsnet staring down 200 feet at his mentor, friend and former teammate, Jonathan Quick.

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“That guy means the world to me,” Campbell said Sunday. “I used to watch video of him in Dallas, just studying his game, and I went to Connecticut one summer to train just because he was out there. That was before I ever met him.

“Just the ultimate teammate, ultimate guy to look up to. And we still are boys. We text each other a lot, and I can’t say enough good things about Quickie. He’s a legend, and it’d be pretty awesome to play him.”

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Well, it’s confirmed: Luke Skywalker gets a crack at Obi-Wan Kenobi at Scotiabank Arena, in a duel between two squads riding win streaks of at least four games.

Quick will be in the pipes for L.A. for the Kings’ first Toronto visit since Campbell (plus rental forward Kyle Clifford) was traded here for Trevor Moore and two third-round picks in February 2020.

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Of course, Campbell — set to make a league-leading 11th appearance — gets the start for the Leafs.

He’s the only healthy bona fide NHL goaltender they have available.

Petr Mrazek reinjured his groin and has been set back four weeks.

The pressure all falls on Campbell (6-2-1, .938 save percentage) to not only make big saves but keep healthy for what is setting up to be a hectic November.

This is not going according to plan.

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Trust in third-stringer Michael Hutchinson is wearing thin, and neither prospect Joseph Woll nor Swedish import Erik Källgren has played a single minute in an NHL crease.

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“We like the idea of having the tandem and guys that can work together and we can share that workload a little bit better,” Sheldon Keefe conceded.

“But at the same time, Jack’s in a groove right now. He’s rolling. It’s a positive for him that he can just keep at it and knows he’ll be playing every day.”

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When there is only one option, you have no choice but to spin positive.

Because Campbell is now set to assume a Frederik Andersen-like share of the starts (i.e., everything except back-to-backs), the affable workaholic has been skipping practices with the understanding that breaks can be more important than fine-tuning.

“I’ve learned that, as I’ve gotten older, you got to rest when it’s time,” Campbell explained. “Coach has done a great job of balancing that workload for me. I appreciate everyone looking out for myself and my body.”

And his mind.

Notoriously hard on himself, Campbell never allows blame to rebounds off his pads. He swallows it every time.

The goalie has sought advice of peak performance coach Greg Harden to improve his mental approach to arguably the most intense position in team sports.

Campbell says he’s been kinder to himself, and he’s eased up on the public self-flagellation in his post-game chats with the media.

“Has he to you guys?” Jake Muzzin, another former L.A. King, smiled Monday. “Because every goal that goes in is his fault, apparently — [when he speaks] to us.

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“He’s a tough critic on himself, but we’re there to remind him that he’s not alone. There’s a lot of guys in front of him. Mistakes are made. He’s been playing great — and we’re going to need him to continue playing great.”

That would be an understatement.

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With approximately 14 games to play until Mrazek’s return, it’s imperative Campbell goes easy on himself — because the schedule will not.

“It’s a good quality in that he judges his game harshly and expects a lot out of himself, but as teammates, you remind him it’s a team game,” Jason Spezza said.

“He’s handled it all in stride and found a good routine. It’s demanding. You don’t see a lot of guys carry the workload the way he’s been carrying it now in the league. It speaks to his dedication to get himself ready day in and day out.”

One-Timers: Riding a five-game win streak, the Maple Leafs will roll the same lineup that defeat Boston Saturday. This means Justin Holl will be healthy-scratched for a fifth consecutive game as Timothy Liljegren continues to impress…. Toronto recalled forwards Joey Anderson and Kirill Semyonov from the Marlies. Acquired in a 2020 trade with the Devils that sent Andreas Johnsson the other way, Anderson has played just one game for the Leafs. The undrafted Semyonov, a 27-year-old KHL import, impressed in camp and has nine points through his first nine AHL games…. Woll will back up Campbell and is getting NHL pay this week. That said, we’d be surprised if he gets the start in this weekend’s back-to-back over Michael Hutchinson and Källgren.





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Jacoby Brissett shares funny story about Eagles’ Nick Sirianni trying to fight fans when two were with Colts

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Nick Sirianni has showcased himself as a passionate head coach since being hired by the Philadelphia Eagles a year ago. Sirianni demonstrated how passionate he can be toward his team when a bouquet of flowers was thrown at him after a November loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last year, a moment he doesn’t like to reminiscence about. 

Turns out, Sirianni has unleashed his passion towards his team prior to his days in Philadelphia. Cleveland Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who was the signal-caller for the Indianapolis Colts when Sirianni was the offensive coordinator, shared a good story regarding his former coach and his encounters with fans ahead of the Browns-Eagles preseason matchup Saturday night.

“Remember he was trying to fight fans one time they were booing us,” Brissett said with many laughs from the media in attendance. “A lot of good memories. A great friend. A great coach obviously. I am extremely happy for him and the opportunity that he has been presented. I think he did a great job last year. Excited to see where he goes. I am a big fan of him.”

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Sirianni’s second year as the offensive coordinator in Indianapolis was the year Andrew Luck shockingly retired (2019), forcing Brissett into the starting role. Brissett started 15 games for the Colts that season, going 7-8 in his starts while completing 60.2% of his passes for 2,942 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions for an 88.0 passer rating. Brissett didn’t throw a touchdown pass, nor did he throw for more than 200 yards in his last three games played in 2019, finishing with a passer rating lower than 70 on all three occurrences. 

Brissett and Sirianni were together in Indianapolis for three years before the Eagles hired Sirianni and Brissett signed with the Miami Dolphins in 2021. Sirianni was flattered Brissett shared those fan stories, going into detail why he’s ultra passionate toward his players. 

“He’s teasing and making that up a little bit,” Sirianni said with a laugh. “I think one thing that, to a fault, maybe, even with me is — and I’ve been this way since I was a little kid with my brothers, we’re a family. My brothers and my dad and my mom were a family and I’m the youngest. One brother is nine years older than me and one is six years older than me. When they would have a bad game or say something bad about them or talk bad about them, I was quick to be defensive of them because I love them.

“Now as a coach, I feel like I have that. I was like that as a teammate I would like to think. As a coach, I definitely know I have that, like, protective (instinct) — like I know these guys are the biggest, strongest men in the world and they can protect themselves, but I love these guys. 

“That’s just an instinct that you have. That’s how I was raised, and I was like, this is our family, and I just have that protective instinct to defend them, and that’s been like that with every team I’ve ever coached.”

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Packers’ Matt LaFleur says Jordan Love ‘light years ahead’ of last year: ‘The game has slowed down for him’

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Jordan Love certainly showed the progress the Green Bay Packers wanted from the first preseason game to the second, using the deep ball to give Green Bay optimism in a post-Aaron Rodgers world. Love was accurate on his deep passes that didn’t reflect his overall performance in the box score. 

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur liked what he saw from the former first-round pick, saying he’s “light years ahead” of where he was last year.

“I think the game has slowed down for him,” LaFleur said after Friday’s 20-10 win over the New Orleans Saints (via ESPN). “I see a much more decisive player. I think that’s going to lead to a much more effective player.”

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Love finished 12 of 24 for 113 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions, yet his performance was highlighted by several drops that affected his night. Love threw a deep pass to seventh-round rookie Samori Toure that wasn’t a completion, and fourth-round rookie Romeo Doubs also misread a pass that led to a drop. LaFleur admitted Toure’s ball needed to be caught. 

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The Packers are liking what they’re seeing from Love, throwing accurate deep passes and showcasing his arm strength. The five drops certainly affected Love’s performance — as was the case in his three-interception game last week — yet the Packers have seen enough to be confident in Love if he had to play this year.





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Combate Global picks, live stream, how to watch, fight card: Tena vs. Romero predictions, channel, time

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The Combate Global schedule will continue Friday on Paramount+ with five fights from La Jaula in Miami. Ivan Tena is a 23-year-old featherweight who looks like one of the best prospects in the promotion after earning three knockout victories and one submission win in his first four fights. He’ll take on Mexican fighter Roberto Romero in a USA vs. Mexico showdown in the 145-pound division. You can stream the action live on Paramount+.

The co-main event will feature Chile’s Valentina Escobar (1-0) against Mexico’s Yazmin Najera in a fight at 120 pounds. Another bout on the Combate Global fight card will feature a pair of veteran featherweights as Carlos Rivera (14-6) takes on Landry Ward (5-1). The Combate Global fight card begins at 10:30 p.m. ET and you can catch all the action live on Paramount+.

Paramount+ now has two levels of membership so you can watch Combate and much more. The Premium Plan is $9.99 per month and you can watch your local CBS live stream, including plenty of sports like Champions League, Italian Serie A, college hoops, and the PGA Tour, with no ads, on-demand and the ability to download episodes for offline viewing. Plus, watch the highly-anticipated series Halo, Picard, 1883, and more. Both plans come with a free week to start. Paramount+ will even give you a free week to start, so sign up now here.

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How to watch Combate Global 

  • Date: Friday, August 19
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • Streaming: Paramount+

Top Combate Global picks for Aug. 19 fight card

Before tuning in to Friday’s Combate Global fight card, you need to see the picks from SportsLine’s MMA insider Andrew Gombas. With more than 1,400 selections tracked by the third-party monitoring service Bet MMA, he has shown a 6 percent return on investment for his followers. Over the past two years, his followers have netted a profit of more than $10,000. 

For Friday’s card, Gombas is picking Tena to defeat Romero to stay unbeaten and continue his rise up the featherweight ranks. Tena is a recent Arizona State graduate who trains out of MMA Lab and has finished all four of his professional fights in the first or second round. Romero is coming off a draw against Zed Montanez in his last fight.

“This is a fantastic main event for the Combate USA vs. Mexico card. Ivan Tena is one of the prospects in Combate who I hold in high regard. Roberto Romero is known for an exciting fighting style and has a bright future as well. I have to side with Tena. He is a slick finisher who punishes his opponents for making mistakes. I think he gets another finish,” Gombas told SportsLine. Stream the card on Paramount+ now.

How to watch Combate Global in Miami

Now that you know who to pick, get ready to watch Combate Global. Visit Paramount+ now to see the Combate Global, your live local CBS sporting events, some of the world’s top soccer matchups and much more.

August 19 Combate Global fight card

Stream the entire Combate Global fight card here

  • Ivan Tena vs. Roberto Romero
  • Valentina Escobar vs. Yazmin Najera
  • Carlos Rivera vs. Landry Ward
  • Jaret Betancourt vs. Rodrigo Garcia
  • Katie Perez vs. Andrea Meneses Garcia



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