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NFL Week 11 picks, odds: Bills blast Colts, Texans scare Titans, Saints roll Eagles and Packers edge Vikings

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There are many terrible things about a 17-game season, mostly trying to remember what teams’ final records will be (9-8, you disgust me). One nice thing? We have an actual halfway point! Well, not really but you can at least divide 18 weeks in half and everyone has played nine games or more at this point. 

Please don’t check my math. Instead, focus on the fact we’re halfway through a full, fairly normal NFL season and you can’t definitely say if there’s a single good team in the league. The Bills might be great, but they lost 9-6 to the Jaguars. The Titans are rolling, but they lost to the frigging Jets. Tampa Bay is the defending champ, and it just lost to WFT’s league-worst defense. 

Find a good team and I’ll find you a flaw. This is about to be an epic run to close out the season with a bunch of weird stuff happening and the promise of some fireworks in the playoffs. Let’s get hot with the picks. 

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All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook

NFL Week 11 Picks

Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox/NFL Network | Stream: fuboTV (click here)

Latest Odds:

Atlanta Falcons
+6.5

The Patriots are a suspiciously large road favorite here given what we’ve seen out of “Thursday Night Football” the last few weeks. The home team has covered four of the last five weeks on “TNF,” the lone exception being the Colts lobbing a 40-burger on the hapless Jets. Prime-time games have been friendly to home teams lately as well. I just can’t ignore the obvious mismatches here. The Patriots pass defense is rounding into shape and has been locking teams down while Christian Barmore wrecks havoc up front and Matt Judon piles up sacks. The Pats are running the ball really well and Damien Harris cleared concussion protocol. Maybe Dean Pees dials up pressure to slow down the run or stacks the box? It wouldn’t surprise me and it probably wouldn’t surprise Josh McDaniels either. We might see an aggressive Mac Jones early before the Pats lean into the run game, similar to what they did against the Browns. I have zero interest in betting against the Pats over the next few weeks.

The Pick: Patriots 28, Falcons 3

Props, Best Bets: Hunter Henry anytime TD +210, Pats -7

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Which picks can you make with confidence, and which Super Bowl contender goes down hard this week? Visit SportsLine now to see which teams will win and cover the spread, all from a model that has returned almost $7,500 since its inception.

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)

Latest Odds:

Chicago Bears
+4.5

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My initial lean on this game was the Ravens, but sometimes you see two big favorites on the road in the first two games and you get a little nervous. Our excellent CBS Sports research team — shouts to Ben Bradley, Jon Fisher, Sean Ahearn, Ryan Satsky and the whole crew, because they crush it behind the scenes — sold me on staying with the Ravens. With an assist to the folks at Tru Media: the Ravens and Bears are both bad at third-down conversions on offense (29th and 28th, respectively). But the Ravens are much better on defense at stopping the same conversions, second in the NFL (32%) versus the Bears at 14th (40%). Additionally, Baltimore is an elite red-zone team on offense (70% of the time it scores a touchdown) and defense (44% allowing one), while Chicago is below average in red-zone conversions (54%). Unless the Bears decide to change their defensive tendencies — they rank second-lowest in the NFL in terms of blitzing — Lamar should cook here. He has three TDs and three picks against the blitz, an 11-to-5 ratio when defenses don’t send pressure, and his yards per attempt spikes 2.6 when he has time. 

The Pick: Ravens 27, Bears 17

Props, Best Bets: Mark Andrews anytime TD

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

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Latest Odds:

Tennessee Titans
-10.5

We were told the offense wouldn’t change without Derrick Henry, but you would need to be born the day Todd Downing said it for that to be the first lie of your life. Before Henry went down, 32% of Ryan Tannehill‘s throws were going 10+ yards down the field. That number is now at 24%. The Titans have also seen a 12% spike of throws at or behind the line of scrimmage since the Big Dog suffered his foot injury. D’onta Foreman is the best of their committee, but it’s reasonable to wonder if the Titans will commit to him, even with Jeremy McNichols likely down this week. I really dislike betting on the Texans, but the Titans had their lowest-scoring game since Week 1 last week with 23 points and only produced 194 yards in their Week 9 upset of the Rams. Factor in a trip to New England the following week and this reeks of a weird Texans cover in a sleepwalk/coffin-kick game.

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The Pick: Titans 17, Texans 14

Props, Best Bets: Texans +10.5, Brandin Cooks over receiving yards if it’s less than 65

Colts at Bills

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds:

Buffalo Bills
-7

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Fun rematch of last year’s playoff game. Carson Wentz is playing better than I expected and is on the NFL’s version of the Jordan Spieth comeback. If that pathway actually happens, somehow Kyle Porter and I will end up doing a four-part mini-series podcast. Jonathan Taylor is a monster. The first three Colts “picks” of 2020 were DeForest Buckner, Taylor and Michael Pittman. Chris Ballard is very good at his job. Unfortunately for the Colts, Buffalo is quite simply the best defense in football this year. It’s not being talked about because Josh Allen didn’t take an equally exponential leap in 2021 (an impossible feat), and the Bills have some weird results on their resume. 

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I think we just chalk it up to football being weird with this team. The Bills flexed back on the Jets last week and this is a bad matchup for the Colts. Buffalo has given up just two 100-yard *team* rushing games this year: one was Derrick Henry, the other was the Chiefs, which was a “dare you to run” situation. They won’t dare Indy to run because Sean McDermott wants Wentz throwing as much as possible against his defense. 

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The Pick: Bills 35, Colts 14

Props, Best Bets: Bills -7, Stefon Diggs over yards 75 or lower

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds:

Cleveland Browns
-11.5

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I live in the South and no less than nothing about Cleveland weather. But this Sunday is setting up as a miserable affair, with a bunch of chilly water falling from the sky and 15 mph winds. It’s supposed to be a high of 46 degrees, but if for some reason Mother Nature gets weird, there could be sub-freezing temps and snow, which are coming Monday. Dan Campbell is tough as nails, but Jared Goff is not a cold-weather guy. The Lions stink at stopping the run, and Nick Chubb is back and healthy. Plus, Case Keenum can operate this offense just fine. The Lions will be put into pass-heavy mode in bad weather with Myles Garrett staring down a DPOY trophy. Random but Garrett is 3-1 to win the DPOY trophy at Caesars. Bet that if you haven’t. 

The Pick: Browns 27, Lions 14

Props, Best Bets: Nope

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Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)  

Latest Odds:

New York Jets
+3.5

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We betting on Joe Flacco or against him? What are the Jets doing???? This is a long-suffering fanbase, and if you give them a sniff of competency, they immediately start Joe Flacco in 2021. I’m not sure there’s a real-life relationship equivalent. Maybe asking your spouse to vacuum the living room before your parents come and instead said spouse sets the living room on fire? The weird thing is the Jets are only three-point dogs at home. If you look at the numbers here it’s impossible to argue for the Jets. Miami is pressuring a league-high 35% of the time and the Jets are bottom five in pressure rate allowed. The Jets are bottom 10 in every major passing category defensively. Tua Tagovailoa was limited Wednesday, but in reading his and the coaching staff quotes he should be good to go. The only argument here for the Jets is “weird stuff happens” or “it was cold for the Florida team.” How do you bet on that versus “bet against 36-year-old Joe Flacco”?

The Pick: Dolphins 17, Jets 10

Props, Best Bets: Nope

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds:

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Minnesota Vikings
+1.5

Are we going to pretend Aaron Rodgers isn’t on a vengeance tour right now? The irony of the Jordan Love pick is it gave Green Bay at least two years of peak FU-MVP Rodgers. And now we’ve got the Immunized Reunion Tour, except there’s an interesting plot twist. Because Davante Adams and Rodgers each missed games, the Green Bay defense was forced to step up. And it’s stepped up big, allowing 11.3 points per game over the last three while playing Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson (the last one admittedly gimpy in the hand). Aaron Jones being hurt is a problem, but I think it just condenses the Green Bay offense around Adams and A.J. Dillon. This is a statement slate for Rodgers — at Vikings, vs. Rams, vs. Bears, at Ravens — and he’s fully aware. Minnesota’s been his best divisional opponent, and now he’s very angry. 

The Pick: Packers 24, Vikings 21

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Props, Best Bets: Packers -2.5

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds:

Philadelphia Eagles
-2

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The Eagles coaching staff finally started doing the right stuff over the last few weeks with the rushing attack. It’s a little bewildering to see Jordan Howard and Boston Scott average over 200 rush yards per game. Either the Eagles are completely locked in from a rushing perspective or they just faced three of the 10 worst rush defenses in football by DVOA. You can’t really run on the Saints, and if the Eagles put everything on Jalen Hurts, it will end the same as the early season games, with Hurts scoring in garbage time. Great fantasy play every single week, but the Saints might roll here.

The Pick: Saints 27, Eagles 21

Props, Best Bets: Saints +2

49ers at Jaguars

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV:
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here

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Latest Odds:

Jacksonville Jaguars
+6

Very rare event here, but I’m sacrificing myself for the betterment of football. You want/and/or/need Kyle Shanahan’s cooking schemes in the playoffs. The 49ers have to take care of business here if they want to make the postseason. The Jags — a.k.a. the 250s — are actually solid against the run, allowing only 3.9 yards per rush on the year. I almost picked the Jags to win and cover as a reverse jinx for my 49ers futures, but I legit believe the 49ers are about to start cooking. They’ve been sloppy all season and something was wrong in the locker room early on this year. A fully healthy George Kittle makes a massive difference.

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The Pick: 49ers 27, Jaguars 17

Props, Best Bets: George Kittle anytime TD

WFT at Carolina

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds:

Carolina Panthers
-3.5

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May not feel like it outside of the South but this is a pretty big game. Cam Newton is back (!!) and his first game as starter is against Ron Rivera. This matchup is #RevengeGame jet fuel. Washington’s offense put a damn licking on Tampa Bay last week with that closing drive. (Nineteen plays, 80 yards of offense and 10 minutes, 26 seconds off the clock is a soul-crushing drive.) I think Carolina’s defense as a whole is better than Washington’s. Carolina is second best in terms of defensive yards per play. A cynic could chalk up Cam’s performance against Arizona as a fluke. But roll that cynic into Bank of America Stadium after 12:30 p.m. ET. That place is gonna be rocking. You can’t pay me to bet against the Panthers here.  

The Pick: Panthers 24, WFT 14

Props, Best Bets: Panthers -3 (I bet -2.5 earlier in the week but 3 is fine), anytime Cam TD

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Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)

Latest Odds:

Las Vegas Raiders
+1

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Look, the reality of the Raiders season is they can’t continue to operate solely on adrenaline and motivation at an NFL level. It worked for the first two weeks after Jon Gruden resigned and Henry Ruggs was arrested. At a certain point, it’s not even adversity that takes a toll — it’s attrition. When you lose your head coach and No. 1 receiver in a span of two weeks, regardless of circumstances, it’s going to catch up to you. The Raiders soared into their Week 8 bye with wins over Denver and Philadelphia but averaged 15 points per game the last two weeks while seeing Derek Carr‘s yards per attempt plummet from 8.5 to 6.9. Las Vegas went 0-2 in those games, and it wasn’t going up against stout defenses. The Bengals have cratered back to earth on defense, so there’s a chance Carr and Co. rebound here, but when you play the Raiders you can just bracket Darren Waller and force their passing game to go through Bryan Edwards and Hunter Renfrow. It neuters what Las Vegas wants to do. And the Raiders shouldn’t be able to find an answer for the Bengals receiving corps either.  

The Pick: Bengals 31, Raiders 24

Props, Best Bets: Bengals 

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds:

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Seattle Seahawks
+2.5

First things first — if you hear/see/get an alert about Kyler Murray being out (the Cards are keeping it pretty tight but have let it be known the last two weeks; I think he plays but could be wrong) bet the Seahawks. I don’t love backing Russell Wilson who can’t feel his fingers, but Seattle as a dog is ridiculous given how bad the Cardinals offense is without Murray and DeAndre Hopkins (3.2 yards per play and 4.9 yards per pass attempt bad). The win over San Francisco with Colt McCoy was massive, but it isn’t reality. We know Russ is playing as a home dog and the Cards *should* sit Kyler with the bye coming next week.

The Pick: Seahawks 21, Cardinals 17

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Props, Best Bets: Seahawks +2.5

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: 
Fox | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds:

Kansas City Chiefs
-2.5

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Hot take: this game doesn’t meet our expectations. How can it? If we don’t get 2018 Chiefs-Rams, it’s probably a disappointment given how the Cowboys are operating and how we know the Chiefs can work. Dak Prescott (five) and Patrick Mahomes (three) are first and second in 400-yard games since the start of 2020. But the Dallas ground game has been its hallmark this year, with the Cowboys averaging 139.6 yards per game rushing, good for fourth in the NFL. And that ground game gives me pause when it comes to KC, but the Chiefs defense has been immensely better over the last five games. The competition has been worse, no doubt, but moving Chris Jones inside changed things for Kansas City. (Since Week 9, Jones has seven total pressures, which is third in the NFL behind only Jeffery Simmons and DeForest Bucker for interior DL.) Tyron Smith is supposed to play; if he doesn’t I love the Chiefs here. 

The Pick: Chiefs 31, Cowboys 27

Props, Best Bets: TBD

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: 
NBC | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

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Latest Odds:

Los Angeles Chargers
-6

How are the Steelers this big of a dog in this spot? The Chargers are taking on water right now and drew a terrible matchup — do you remember what it looked like in their little soccer stadium when Steelers fans showed up for the last matchup? They played “Renegade”!! More importantly, the Chargers are the league’s worst rush defense and the Steelers would love nothing more than to give Najee Harris 42 carries in this game. If Harris hits 100 rushing yards here, he’ll join the legendary Franco Harris as the only Steelers rookies with three or more 100-yard rushing games in a single season. The Chargers have allowed 100 yards rushing or more in eight games this season. And offensively, Justin Herbert has regressed. It’s probably coaching, but I’m not interested in backing him against a good defense as long as Joe Lombardi is keeping the reins on.

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The Pick: Steelers 21, Chargers 14

Props, Best Bets: Under 47, over Najee Harris carries

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: 
ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (click here)  

Latest Odds:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
-11

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These are not Eli Manning‘s Giants, so we can’t count on them to simply take out Tom Brady in front of the entire world. Oddly enough, these NFC teams have met each of the last five years and the Giants have won four of them. Not quite as odd: the win by the Bucs came with a team captained by Tom Brady. Tampa is 10-3 at home with Brady, but it hasn’t played there since smoking the Bears, 38-3, on Oct. 24. That’s a long time to be away and home, and prime-time Brady coming off back-to-back losses is more than a little scary. It’s just a massive window for the Giants to backdoor (think Philly on “TNF” in Week 6) and the Buccaneers simply aren’t healthy. Can’t make this any kind of bet without knowing about Chris Godwin or Antonio Brown. A fully weaponized Brady might change my mind, but for now give me the G Men.

The Pick: Buccaneers 28, Giants 21

Props, Best Bets: TBD

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Players to watch on each team at 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship – Sportsnet.ca

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The summer version of the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship has arrived in Edmonton.

The feeling around the tournament is mixed but the competing players take pride in representing their county when given the opportunity. For some of the participants, this will be their only chance to face some of the best players from top-ranked countries around the world.

Here are some notes on players to watch on each of the 10 teams in the tournament.

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Group A

Team USA

Logan Cooley

Forward | Left shot | Five-foot-10 | 181 pounds | Arizona Coyotes (first round, third overall in 2022)

He was in the discussion for No. 1 overall at this past draft and landed in Arizona at No. 3. He has an opportunity to show off his skill at this event, especially without players like Juraj Slafkovsky and Shane Wright in attendance. Cooley is an elite play driver who simply creates offence and can take over a game. He’s worth the price of admission.


Charlie Stramel

Forward | Right shot | Six-foot-three | 216 pounds | 2023 NHL Draft eligible

There should be an opportunity for Stramel to find a role with Team USA on the wing. He can also play center so it will come down to a coach’s decision and team need. The big-body forward plays a power game. He isn’t exceptionally fast in open ice but he has decent mitts and creates space in traffic. Stramel is a power forward who is a late 2004 birthday which makes him eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft. He is committed to attending Wisconsin.

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Matthew Knies

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-three | 205 pounds | Toronto Maple Leafs (second round, 57th overall in 2021)

Power forward who can extend plays, isn’t shy about getting pucks to the net, battles for space around the crease, and cleans up rebounds. Team USA has some smaller skilled centerman on their roster and he opens up space for that style of player. Knies is heading back to Minnesota in the NCAA this fall.


Brock Faber

Defenceman | Right shot | Six-foot | 190 pounds | Minnesota Wild via L.A. Kings (second round, 45th overall in 2020)

Originally selected by the Los Angeles Kings, Faber was a key piece of the Kevin Fiala trade this summer with Fiala ending up in California. This kid is a pro. He’s a leader who plays the game the right way. Faber provides exceptional three-zone detail. He’s likely to be the captain for Team USA. He will be deployed in all situations but his offence is secondary to the rest of his game.

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Team Sweden

Jesper Wallstedt

Goalie | Catches left | Six-foot-three | 214 pounds | Minnesota Wild (first round, 20th overall in 2021)

Wallstedt is coming over to play in the Minnesota Wild organization this season at the AHL level in Iowa. It won’t be long before he challenges for an NHL job. He gives the Swedes an opportunity to win. He’s big in the net and plays with poise between the posts. His stats at the SHL level (Sweden’s top league) playing for Lulea last season: 22 games played with a 1.98 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Jonathan Lekkerimaki

Forward | Right shot | Five-foot-11 | 172 pounds | Vancouver Canucks (first round, 15th overall in 2022)

It will be interesting to see if Lekkerimaki can establish himself at this tournament and play to his identity. He’s an elite shooter. His element is offence. His off-the-puck detail and willingness in the hard areas will need to elevate but if he’s scoring the Swedes will be pleased.

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Daniel Torgersson

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-three | 205 pounds | Winnipeg Jets (second round, 40th round pick in 2020)

Torgersson is a power forward who moves well for his stature. He is best suited at the net front extending plays or looking for tips and rebounds. He isn’t a threat off the rush but he does have the ability to extend plays along the boards. This is the kind of player that can open up space for skilled linemates. It will be interesting to see how he is deployed.

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Team Germany

Luca Hauf

Forward | Left shot | Five-foot 11 | 183 pounds | Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

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Hauf is scheduled to join Edmonton in the WHL this season so he will be familiarizing himself with the surroundings at this tournament. He has a nose for the net and will find pucks around the crease. On occasion he distributes and finds open space off the rush. It will be interesting to see how he competes with the pace of play at this event.

Maksymilian Szuber

Defenceman | Left shot | Six-foot-three | 190 pounds | Arizona Coyotes (sixth round, 163rd overall in 2022)

A big body defender who is developing in the DEL playing for EHC Munchen. Szuber is mostly a stay-at-home defender but he will occasionally pinch down to keep pucks alive in the offensive zone. Defensively he is rangy and uses his long reach to his advantage. Szuber will skate at even strength and on the penalty kill for the Germans.

Nikita Quapp

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Goalie | Catches left | Six-foot-three | 187 pounds | Carolina Hurricanes (sixth round, 187th overall in 2021)

Quapp is a true butterfly/hybrid goalie. He plays down on the ice. When he is on his game he can swallow pucks from distance and limits his rebounds. When teams get him moving side to side to make second stops (or desperation saves) he has lacked lateral quickness to recover. If he’s the starter for Team Germany they will need him to be on top of his game. Quapp is signed to play for Eisbaren Berlin in the DEL next season.

Team Switzerland

Brian Zanetti

Defenceman | Left shot | Six-foot-two | 181 pounds | Philadelphia Flyers (fourth round, 110th pick in 2021)

Zanetti has some interesting qualities. He moves pretty well. He has a long reach. He can take away space. Zanetti has also shown an ability to provide some secondary scoring. He is likely to be used in all situations for Team Switzerland. It has taken time for Zanetti to add strength to his lanky frame. The Swiss will need all of their defenders to play an engaged game at this tournament.

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Simon Knak

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-one | 185 pounds | Nashville Predators (sixth round, 179th pick in 2021)

Knak plied his trade in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks before the pandemic. He showed he can contribute offensively while providing decent three-zone detail. He is playing for HC Davos in Switzerland and on occasion shows some streaky offence. The fact he is willing to get in on the forecheck and bump opponents to extend plays is an element that should land him in the top six for Team Switzerland.

Kevin Pasche

Goalie | Catches right | Five-foot-10 | 187 pounds | Omaha Lancers (USHL)

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Pasche had a solid year in Omaha posting a winning record and save percentage over .900.
It’s not clear who will have the net for the Swiss but Pasche has proven he can elevate for stretches and give his team a chance to win. The fact that he’s a southpaw gives shooters a different look. If he does play games his crease composure and rebound control will have to be spot on against top-flight opponents since he lacks the size to be giving up too many second chances against.

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Team Austria

Recently drafted Marco Kasper would have been, by far, the most talented player on this team but elected to take time off before attending his first NHL training camp in Detroit next month. Kasper was selected eighth overall by the Red Wings in Montreal.

Beyond Kasper there are too many unknowns to handicap the Austrian roster. The team hasn’t won a game at their last five world junior championships (0-17). I’m sure there will be some motivated players suiting up for Austria. Time will tell who catches my eye.

Group B

Team Canada

Connor Bedard

Forward | Right shot | Five-foot-nine | 181 pounds | Regina Pats (WHL) | 2023 NHL Draft eligible

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This is the jumping-off point for what should be an exciting journey towards the 2023 NHL Draft for Bedard. He’s a dynamic talent who scored 51 goals and 49 assists for 100 points last season in Regina before adding six goals and seven points at the U18 Worlds. It will be impossible for him to shed the spotlight from now until next June. Team Canada is counting on his element to contribute to their success at the tournament.


Mason McTavish

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-one | 207 pounds | Anaheim Ducks (first round, third overall in 2021)

Nobody has played more hockey in more countries than McTavish in the past 12 months, with stops in Anaheim (NHL), San Diego (AHL), Peterborough (OHL), Team Canada (Olympics), and Hamilton (OHL). He has answered the bell at every stop. McTavish plays his best when the games get harder. He scored 16 goals and 29 points the playoffs for Hamilton, helping them win the OHL title. He gives opponents all they can handle in the trenches. Team Canada will be counting on his power, skill and leadership as captain.

Ridly Greig

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot | 174 pounds | Ottawa Senators (first round, 28th overall in 2020)

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In order to have success at an event like this it takes more than finesse and skill. It also takes grit and determination. Greig is a ball of hate that doesn’t quit on a play. His combination of skill and “rat” gives Team Canada the flexibility to deploy him in a variety of roles.

Team Finland

Aatu Raty

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-two | 185 pounds | New York Islanders (second round, 52nd overall in 2021)

Raty is developing nicely for the Islanders and coming off a productive season. He scored 13 goals and 27 assists for 40 points playing for Jukurit in Liiga before coming to North America to join Bridgeport in the AHL. Impressively he contributed one goal and four points in six playoff games for Bridgeport. He will be leaned on heavily to contribute offensively at the tournament but it won’t only be offence Team Finland needs from Raty. He will be tasked with key matchups and need to play a full 200 foot game.

Roni Hirvonen

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Forward | Left shot | Five-foot-nine | 176 pounds | Toronto Maple Leafs (second round, 59th overall in 2020)

Hirvonen is an infectious, lead by example, relentless worker. He has always been a leader on the Finnish national team and it looks like he is going to captain the group at this event. Team Finland will be relying on his detailed three-zone energy while hoping he can contribute offensively as well.

Brad Lambert

Forward | Right shot | Six-foot | 183 pounds | Winnipeg Jets (first round, 30th overall in 2022)

The Christmas version of this event was cut short due to the pandemic, which was unfortunate for Lambert. He was off to a flying start in his first two games. He can play the game quick and fast and have an impact offensively. With last season in the rearview mirror (he struggled to gain consistent momentum playing in Liiga) I’m looking for him to have an impact at this event. His offensive element is waiting to break out.

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Team Czechia

David Jiricek

Defenceman | Right shot | Six-foot-three | 190 pounds | Columbus Blue Jackets (first round, sixth overall in 2022)

Jiricek will be tasked with matching up against top lines and being deployed in all situations. There won’t be any easy minutes for the Columbus Blue Jackets first-round pick. He has a good stick, some deception, the ability to make plays on the offensive blue line, and an absolute bomb of a shot when he finds space. It will be interesting to see how he handles defending against the speed rush and containing opponents along the wall in his zone.

Jiri Kulich

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot | 180 pounds | Buffalo Sabres (first round, 28th overall in 2022)

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Kulich had a breakout tournament at the U18 Worlds in Germany in the spring where he scored nine goals and 11 points. He was the most lethal goal scorer at the event. Team Czechia will need him to contribute on the power play at this event. He’s a goal scorer who finds quiet ice in the offensive zone and wastes little time directing pucks on net.


Jan Bednar

Goalie | Catches left | Six-foot-four | 201 pounds | Detroit Red Wings (fourth round, 107th overall in 2020)

Team Czechia has a history of using more than one goalie at this event so it’s not a given that Bednar gets the net and keeps it. Having said that, the team will need big saves throughout the tournament and Bednar appears to have the most capable pedigree to give them a chance. This tournament could provide Bednar an opportunity to impress the Red Wings brass. He’s unsigned to date so he will want to prove he’s ready for a contract.

Team Slovakia

Dalibor Dvorsky

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-one | 190 pounds | 2023 NHL Draft eligible

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Another potentially elite Slovakian player on the horizon. Dvorsky is eligible for the 2023 draft and has the ability to push his way up the board before next June. He brings size, good pace and excellent puck skill. Dvorsky has a quick release in tight quarters and the ability to spin off checks along the wall. He scored 20 goals and 20 assists for 40 points for AIK in the Swedish U20 league last season along with 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points representing Slovakia at the U18 level.

Adam Sykora

Forward | Left shot | Five-foot-11 | 174 pounds | New York Rangers (second round, 63rd overall in 2022)

If you watched the men’s World Championships in the spring you would have viewed this infectious player. He brings high end compete and energy. Sykora plays quick and he’s relentless. He has better than average offensive upside. Team Slovakia will be counting on him to not only bring his usual high end compete but also create offence.

Maxim Strbak

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Defenceman | Right shot | Six-foot-two | 183 pounds | 2023 NHL Draft eligible

Strbak is a player that has been deployed in all situations at the U18 level for Slovakia. On the PP he is more of a distributor than a shooter but does have the ability to direct pucks on net from range. Defensively he isn’t shy about gapping up and taking away space. It’s a big ask for a defenceman his age at this tournament. It will be interesting to see how he handles older opponents.

Team Latvia

Dans Locmelis

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot | 170 pounds | Boston Bruins (fourth round, 119th overall in 2022)

It will be a big ask for Locmelis to produce the level of offence that Latvia requires to have success at this event but he is one of their more skilled forwards. He sees the ice and distributes very well through seems. If space opens up he is capable of scoring goals and beating opponents one-on-one on his own. He’s young for the event and will be tested physically. Locmelis is scheduled to come to the USHL next season to play for the Youngstown Phantoms.

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Sandis Vilmanis

Forward | Left shot | Six-foot-one | 192 pounds | Florida Panthers (fifth round, 157th overall in 2022)

Vilmanis is also young for this tournament but he’s coming off a decent U18 Worlds in Germany. When he gets pucks in open ice he has an extra gear and the ability to slip between defenders. He will be deployed at even strength and the power play. He’s a shooter more than a distributor and usually sets up on the weak side flank to one time pucks. His 200-foot game is average so Latvia will be hoping he can chip in offensively and play to his strengths. Vilmanis was selected by the Sarnia Sting (CHL/OHL) in the most recent import draft.

Goaltenders

It’s likely more than one of these goaltenders will see action at this tournament and be leaned on heavily to come up with timely saves. None have been drafted to NHL clubs. It’s likely this group will be under duress playing in this group so they will have to have career weeks to give Latvia a chance:

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Patriks Berzins: Catches left | Six-foot-one | 165 pounds | Latvian national team

Bruno Bruveris: Catches left | Six-foot | 168 pounds | Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)

Rudolfs Lazdins: Catches left | Six-foot-one | 163 pounds | HK Riga (MHL)

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2022 World Juniors Primer: Everything to know about rescheduled tournament – Sportsnet.ca

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Ah, August. The Blue Jays are in a playoff race, NFL camps are in full swing and… the best junior hockey players in the world are hitting the ice.

It’s not Christmas in July, but the annual World Junior Hockey Championships holiday tradition is making an unusual appearance in the middle of the summer.

The tournament will feature 10 teams competing over a two-week span with gold, silver and bronze medals up for grabs. Before play gets underway, here is everything you need to know.

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Investigating Hockey Canada

The most important story entering this tournament is off the ice, as Hockey Canada’s culture and governance are under a widening microscope following group sexual assault allegations made in a lawsuit earlier this year.

The allegations stem from an event in 2018 hosted in London, Ont. by Hockey Canada to celebrate a team that won this very same tournament. Since then, there have been revelations about another incident of alleged gang rape connected to the Team Canada team at the 2003 World Juniors.

The scandal has led to growing calls for Hockey Canada’s leadership to resign and on the weekend, Michael Brind’Amour — the chairman of the board — did.

This important story will remain front of mind for everyone as the tournament plays out for the first time since the revelations first came to light this spring.

Support for survivors
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and is in need of support, those in Canada can find province-specific centres, crisis lines and services here. For readers in America, a list of resources and references can be found here.

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Why was the tournament rescheduled?

The 2022 World Juniors were originally scheduled to take place from Dec. 26, 2021 to Jan. 5, 2022 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta. However, the tournament shut down after just three days when multiple teams recorded positive COVID-19 cases within their ranks.

The United States, Czechia and Russia had all forfeited games due to players testing positive before the cancellation was announced on Dec. 29.

The August tournament will be a complete reset of the event in December. That means all scores and standings will be erased and teams have picked new rosters. All players who were eligible for the December tournament, most of them from 2003 and 2004 birth years, are eligible to play this summer.

Red Deer is no longer co-hosting and all games will be played at Rogers Place, home of the Edmonton Oilers.

What teams are playing?

There are 10 teams competing in this tournament and they have been split into the following groups for pool play.

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Group A

United States, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Austria

Group B

Canada, Finland, Czechia, Slovakia, Latvia

The most notable development here is the addition of Latvia, which is replacing Russia. On Feb. 28, the IIHF banned Russia and Belarus from all competitions due to the invasion of Ukraine. As a result, the Russians — who did compete in this tournament last December — are now out and Latvia was promoted into the top division.

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Russia was also slated to be the host of the 2023 event this December, but that will now take place in Halifax and Moncton. There will be no relegation round in the 2022 tournament meaning the same 10 teams will compete in the 2023 event.

The United States are the defending champions after they beat Canada in the gold medal game in 2021. Finland won bronze in that tournament, defeating Russia in the third-place game.

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Schedule

The tournament begins on Aug. 9 and each team will play four games in the preliminary round, which concludes on Aug. 15. The top four teams in each group will compete in the quarterfinals on Aug. 17, the winners of those four games will face off in the semifinals on Aug. 19 and the medal games will be played on Aug. 20.

Below is the full preliminary round schedule.

All Times Eastern

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Aug. 9

Slovakia at Czechia, 2 p.m.

Finland at Latvia, 6 p.m. 

Germany at United States, 10 p.m.

Aug. 10

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Switzerland at Sweden, 2 p.m.

Canada at Latvia, 6 p.m.

Austria at Germany, 10 p.m.

Aug. 11

Czechia at Finland, 2 p.m.

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Canada at Slovakia, 6 p.m.

United States at Switzerland, 10 p.m.

Aug. 12

Sweden at Austria, 2 p.m.

Latvia at Slovakia, 6 p.m.

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Aug. 13

United States at Austria, 2 p.m.

Czechia at Canada, 6 p.m.

Swizterland at Germany, 10 p.m.

Aug. 14

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Slovakia at Finland, 2 p.m.

Latvia at Czechia, 6 p.m.

Sweden at United States, 10 p.m.

Aug. 15

Austria at Switzerland, 2 p.m.

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Finland at Canada, 6 p.m.

Germany at Sweden, 10 p.m.

Players to Watch

With the unique timing of this event, a number of top players have opted to skip it, instead focusing on the upcoming season. Regardless, there will still be some star power sprinkled across the rosters.

Our series of previews will introduce you to those players:

Bedard, Cooley, Wallstedt headline players to watch at 2022 WJC

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Canadian NHL teams will have plenty to monitor at World Juniors

16 returning, nine joining: Examining the new players on Team Canada’s WJC roster



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Serena Williams announces retirement plans: Tennis superstar ‘ready for what’s next’

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One of the most prominent American athletes is ready to retire. Tennis legend Serena Williams has announced her retirement plans in the latest issue of Vogue. She did not put an exact timeline on when she will stop playing, but does plan to play in the upcoming US Open.

“It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine,” the tennis star told Vogue. “I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”

In an Instagram post promoting the Vogue piece on Tuesday morning, Williams wrote “I’m gonna relish these next few weeks,” insinuating that the US Open — which begins on Aug. 29 — will be her last tournament.

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Williams, 40, changed the sport of tennis when she broke onto the scene in 1995. Since then, she has won the Australian Open seven times, Wimbledon seven times, the US Open six times and the French Open three times. Altogether, she has 23 Grand Slam singles titles to her name, the most by any player in the Open Era.

The only person with more Grand Slam titles is Margaret Court (24).

“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year,” Williams told Vouge. “And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York [the US Open]. But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun.”

During her career, Williams was at the top of the Women’s Tennis Association rankings for a joint-record 186 consecutive weeks, and finished as the year-end No. 1 five times. 

CBS Sports will have more on this breaking news story.

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