Connect with us

Uncategorized

Quarter-mark review: When will Maple Leafs’ offence start rolling?

Published

on


Just when you feared the Toronto Maple Leafs’ regular season was flying off the rails, they are very much back on track.

Judging by the numbers and by the eye at the 20-game mark, there is no good reason why Toronto won’t qualify for a sixth consecutive post-season berth.

Winners of 11 of their past 13 games, the Leafs have improved both special teams and are dressing the hottest goaltender in the game.

Advertisement

They’ve tidied up defensively, they have cobbled a third line that can skate meaningful minutes, and they have withstood a variety of injuries (Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Ilya Mikheyev, Petr Mrazek).

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

Perhaps most important: They haven’t blown a single game heading into the third period with a lead.

Granted it’s early, but the 2021-22 Maple Leafs kinda look like closers.

Even when things are going swimmingly, we can’t help but raise questions.

Advertisement

Here are the three biggies we’ll be looking at as the club hopes to keep piling up wins toward the Olympic break.

So… when is the offence going to start rolling?

Sit through enough pre-game scrums with the opposition and all their answers about the Maple Leafs start to sound the same.

High-powered offence. So many offensive weapons. They can score in bunches. We better watch out. Rinse. Repeat.

Thing is, the idea of these Maple Leafs as this score-at-will juggernaut is based on history and has nothing to do with the current truth.

Advertisement

Toronto’s excellent penalty kill ranks third overall, as does its team defence (2.25 GAA). A much-improved, top-10 power play has been a deciding factor on multiple occasions.

Believe it or not, Toronto has roared to a .675 points percentage at the quarter mark not because of its offence but, rather, in spite of it.

The Leafs rank 26th in goals per game, a smidge above Ottawa and below a bunch of teams not regarded for their forward depth (Buffalo, Detroit, Seattle, New Jersey, et al).

In 2020-21, Auston Matthews’ Rocket Richard year, Toronto ranked second overall in five-on-five scoring (2.4 per game). Now, the team’ five-on-five production has tumbled to 1.6 goals per night.

Advertisement

“It’s top of mind for sure. We’ve been talking about it a lot,” coach Sheldon Keefe says. “We’ve got to find ways to generate a lot more, make good on the chances that we do get. It’s something that we’re certainly aware of.”

One would assume the goals will pile up naturally with time. The Leafs’ shooting percentage is oddly low (7.5, 27th place), Matthews’ wrist should only get stronger (right?), and the chemistry with a bunch of new left wings should only improve.

Keefe doesn’t want to use the word concern just yet, but the odd scoring explosion couldn’t hurt.

Sign up for NHL newsletters

Get the best of our NHL coverage and exclusives delivered directly to your inbox!

NHL Newsletter

Please enter a valid email

Advertisement

Thanks for subscribing!

*I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

Can Campbell keep up this crazy workload?

New goalie, same story.

Much like Frederik Andersen before him, No. 1 Jack Campbell is being forced to work harder than a live blogger on trade deadline day.

No netminder has appeared in more games (16) or logged more minutes (904:14) than Mr. Laugh Smile Jokes.

This wasn’t the plan, of course.

Advertisement

GM Kyle Dubas committed $11.4 million to veteran Petr Mrazek to precisely avoid this situation.

With Mrazek’s return from groin injury No. 2 a ways off, the Leafs are getting a little lucky here.

With faith in Michael Hutchinson disintegrated, prospect Joseph Woll has gone two-for-two in his starts, and the hardworking Campbell is a very early Vezina candidate.

“Jack’s been really good with it. He’s managed it really well,” Keefe says. “If he feels he needs or wants some practice reps, he speaks up and communicates that.

“We try to design practices in a way that he doesn’t have to take on certain reps. We’ll put most of the load down on one end, and he’s at the other. Sometimes if there’s something specific that he would like to get out of it, I’ll move that to closer to the beginning of practice so he can just get off. So, those kind of things we’re managing.

Advertisement

“We’ve had to do it even more so with not having Petr being available. I think it’s served us well in terms of knowing what we can do, and it has gone really well for Soupy so far.”

Will the Leafs settle on six defencemen?

Keefe has sat down with the D corps and explained the situation.

The coach believes he has seven healthy, NHL-calibre blueliners. As a result, one must sit.

Advertisement

Justin Holl was benched for a stretch. Rasmus Sandin was given a night off he didn’t want. Travis Dermott keeps popping in and out to let Timothy Liljegren find his big-league legs.

It’s a delicate balancing act for a staff trying to keep all parties engaged and encouraged, rested and ready. But it can only be sustained for so long.

Behind the scenes, Dubas has at least floated the notion of trading Dermott or Holl to alleviate a little of the cap space he’ll need to give deserved raises to Sandin, Liljegren and Campbell this summer.

Do the Maple Leafs simply enjoy the security of a seventh defenceman? Or does a deal get made in-season?

Stay tuned.

Advertisement





Source link

Uncategorized

Flames Takeaways: PTO hopefuls lacklustre in attempts to secure top-nine vacancy

Published

on


Two tryouts for the Calgary Flames all but officially ended Wednesday night, as another one began.

With the Flames looking to shore up their lines and pairings in preparation for next week’s season opener, it was telling that the starting lineup in Wednesday’s 5-0 loss in Winnipeg did not include PTO hopefuls Sonny Milano or Cody Eakin.

Neither appears destined to stick with the team much longer.    

Advertisement

Instead, the Flames got their first look at the 6-foot-6, 220-pound winger they plucked off waivers Monday from Pittsburgh, Radim Zohorna.

As hard as it is to miss a man of that size, the 26-year-old did little to impress on the third line with Adam Ruzicka and Blake Coleman.

In ten minutes of ice time he had one shot on a goal — a solid rebound chance in tight — and two hits.

To be fair, he joined the team at their morning skate Wednesday and will benefit from a practice Thursday before getting another look in Friday’s pre-season finale, at home against the Jets.

.acf-block-preview .instagram-twitter-container {
width: 340px;
margin: 0 auto;
}

Advertisement

“I know I can be an NHL player full time,” said the man who played 25 NHL games over the last two seasons with the Penguins.

“I try to play hard, and physical, and use my speed. I will have an opportunity to make the team here and play with these guys.”

Based on the advice of Flames scout Steve Pleau, Zohorna was brought in with hopes he can help shore up a top-nine vacancy the Flames have tried in vain to fill through camp.

By virtue of a solid camp and winning another fitness testing title, Dillon Dube has earned the chance to fill the second line role alongside Nazem Kadri and Andrew Mangiapane.

He had another strong outing with them Wednesday, firing five shots on goal and providing energy on a line that should be a crowd pleaser for Dome dwellers.

Advertisement

Depending on how many players the Flames want to keep on their roster ahead of Thursday’s opener, Zohorna or Brett Ritchie could be a candidate to be placed on waivers with an eye on going to the AHL Wranglers.

But the Oilers had interest in Ritchie, so he might not clear.

.acf-block-preview .br-snippet {
display: grid;
grid-template-columns: 200px 1fr;
gap: 20px;
width: 100%;
margin: 0 auto;
padding: 16px;
border: 1px solid #CECECE;
background-color: #FFF;
border-radius: 4px;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-snippet-info a {
text-decoration: none;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-snippet-info .br-snippet-title {
color: #343434;
font-family: ‘roboto’;
font-size: 20px;
font-weight: 600;
line-height: 22px;
margin-bottom: 10px;
top: -3px;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-snippet-info .br-snippet-body {
color: #343434;
font-family: ‘urw-din’;
font-size: 16px;
line-height: 20px;
margin-bottom: 12px;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-snippet-info .br-snippet-link-title {
display: inline-block;
font-family: ‘urw-din’;
font-size: 16px;
list-style-type: none;
width: auto;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-snippet-info .br-snippet-link-title:not(:last-child):after {
content: ‘ | ‘;
color: #343434;
}

The Flames will also have an interesting decision to make on the back end, as they have nine defencemen in camp, which includes Michael Stone on a PTO.

Stone has been great in camp and will earn a deal in some fashion from the team, although it may have to wait past the opener.

That leaves the possibility of having to try pushing Connor Mackey, Juuso Valimaki or Nicolas Meloche through waivers.  

Advertisement

NOTES
+ The game’s first star was former Flames backup David Rittich, who made 37 saves for the shutout as part of his preparation to play for his fourth NHL team. 

+ Despite the score, it was another good showing from starter Dan Vladar, who allowed two power play goals on 15 shots before he made his scheduled departure. All told, the Flames backup has compiled an impressive .942 save percentage this fall. Dustin Wolf was hung out to dry by a series of Flames mistakes, allowing three goals on 11 shots.

+ With the lineup just two or three bodies short of its opening day look, the Flames top power play unit included Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli and Rasmus Andersson. Lindholm rang one off the iron in the second period, but the unit went 0-for-6 on a night the team struggled with special teams.

The second unit included Dube, Ruzicka, Andrew Mangiapane, Noah Hanifin and Stone/MacKenzie Weegar.

+ One thing that has looked razor sharp for the Flames through the first six games was its penalty killing unit, which stymied the opposition on 25 of the first 26 man-advantages over six games. On Wednesday they allowed three goals on five chances, which had plenty to do with Flames mistakes and the fact two chief penalty killers, Mikael Backlund and Trevor Lewis, did not dress.  

Advertisement

+ The Flames (4-3 in the pre-season) open their regular season Thursday against the defending champs from Colorado. 

“Funny how that worked out,” said former Avs star Nazem Kadri.

“I’m hoping maybe I’ll get my ring then.”

THE LINES

Huberdeau-Lindholm-Toffoli

Advertisement

Dube-Kadri-Mangiapane

Zohorna-Ruzicka-Coleman

Lucic-Rooney-Ritchie

Weegar-Tanev 

Hanifin-Stone 

Advertisement

Zadorov-Andersson 

Vladar

Wolf

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper {
display: grid;
grid-template-columns: repeat(2, 1fr);
gap: 20px;
}

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper a {
pointer-events: none;
cursor: default;
text-decoration: none;
color: black;
}




Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Uncategorized

C.J. Stroud, Caleb Williams highlight Joel Klatt's Heisman Tiers

Published

on




Joel Klatt released his Heisman Trophy tiers on the latest episode of “The Joel Klatt Show.” See who made the cut.



Source link

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

NBA pre-season roundup: Raptors maintain perfect record with win over Celtics

Published

on


BOSTON (AP) — Pascal Siakam and Precious Achiuwa scored 13 points apiece and Toronto used an early burst in overtime to beat Boston 125-119 on Wednesday.

Josh Jackson also had 13 points for the Raptors. Siakam recorded six rebounds and Achiuwa seven boards as the Raptors improved to 2-0 in the preseason.

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 23 points and Sam Hauser had 22, connecting on 8 of 12 shots, including 5 of 8 from outside the arc. Jayson Tatum finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for Boston, now 1-1 in the preseason.

Advertisement

Payton Pritchard scored 17 points and had five assists

The teams were tied at 110 at the end of regulation after Jeff Dowtin (10 points) converted a 9-footer for the Raptors. Pritchard’s 18-footer was off the mark as time in regulation ran out, sending the game to the extra period.

The Raptors outscored the Celtics 11-4 to open overtime and never relinquished the lead.

76ERS 113, CAVALIERS 112

var adServerUrl = “”;
var $el = $( “#video_container-537283” );
var permalink = $el.closest(‘.snet-single-article’).data(‘permalink’);

Advertisement

/*
if ( “1” == true && ‘undefined’ !== typeof window.getIndexAds ) {
var so = {preroll:{1:{1:{siteID:191888},2:{siteID:191889}}}};
adServerUrl = window.getIndexAds( ‘http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6313324835112&cmsid=384’, so, permalink);
} else {
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6313324835112&cmsid=384”;
}
*/
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6313324835112&cmsid=384”;
var adServerUrl_result = adServerUrl.includes(“cust_params”);
var queryString=”;
if(adServerUrl_result){
var gettheDUFI = localStorage.getItem(“theRED_loc”)

if(gettheDUFI){
queryString += “dufiid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
queryString += “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
var ppid = “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
}

var DUFI_IP = sessionStorage.getItem(“DUFI_IP”)

if(DUFI_IP){
queryString += “dufiip=” + DUFI_IP + ‘&’;
}

adServerUrl = adServerUrl.replace(/cust_params=/, ppid + ‘cust_params=” + encodeURIComponent(queryString) );
}

Advertisement

$el.after( unescape(“%3Cscript src=”” + (document.location.protocol == “https:” ? “https://sb” : “http://b”) + “.scorecardresearch.com/beacon.js” %3E%3C/script%3E”) );

$( document ).one( “ready’, function() {
$( “#video_container-537283” ).SNPlayer( {
bc_account_id: “1704050871”,
bc_player_id: “JCdte3tMv”,
//autoplay: true,
//is_has_autoplay_switch: false,
bc_videos: 6313324835112,
is_has_continuous_play: “false”,
adserverurl: adServerUrl,
section: “”,
thumbnail: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/6313324835112-1024×576.jpg”,
direct_url: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/nba/video/nba-preseason-highlights-76ers-113-cavaliers-112/”
});
});

var adServerUrl = “”;
var $el = $( “#video_container-412054” );
var permalink = $el.closest(‘.snet-single-article’).data(‘permalink’);

/*
if ( “1” == true && ‘undefined’ !== typeof window.getIndexAds ) {
var so = {preroll:{1:{1:{siteID:191888},2:{siteID:191889}}}};
adServerUrl = window.getIndexAds( ‘http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6313324835112&cmsid=384’, so, permalink);
} else {
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6313324835112&cmsid=384”;
}
*/
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6313324835112&cmsid=384”;
var adServerUrl_result = adServerUrl.includes(“cust_params”);
var queryString=”;
if(adServerUrl_result){
var gettheDUFI = localStorage.getItem(“theRED_loc”)

if(gettheDUFI){
queryString += “dufiid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
queryString += “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
var ppid = “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
}

Advertisement

var DUFI_IP = sessionStorage.getItem(“DUFI_IP”)

if(DUFI_IP){
queryString += “dufiip=” + DUFI_IP + ‘&’;
}

adServerUrl = adServerUrl.replace(/cust_params=/, ppid + ‘cust_params=” + encodeURIComponent(queryString) );
}

$el.after( unescape(“%3Cscript src=”” + (document.location.protocol == “https:” ? “https://sb” : “http://b”) + “.scorecardresearch.com/beacon.js” %3E%3C/script%3E”) );

$( document ).one( “ready’, function() {
$( “#video_container-412054” ).SNPlayer( {
bc_account_id: “1704050871”,
bc_player_id: “JCdte3tMv”,
//autoplay: false,
//is_has_autoplay_switch: false,
bc_videos: 6313324835112,
is_has_continuous_play: “false”,
adserverurl: adServerUrl,
section: “”,
thumbnail: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/6313324835112-1024×576.jpg”,
direct_url: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/nba/video/nba-preseason-highlights-76ers-113-cavaliers-112/”
});
});

Advertisement

.acf-block-preview .br-video-thumbnail::before {
content: “”;
position: absolute;
top: 50%;
left: 50%;
transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-moz-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-ms-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-o-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-webkit-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
width: 20px;
height: 24px;
border-top: 14px solid transparent;
border-left: 22px solid #fff;
border-bottom: 14px solid transparent;
margin-left: 3px;
}

Joel Embiid and James Harden were done with their preseason debuts long before Montrezl Harrell scored the go-ahead basket with 26 seconds left to lift Philadelphia over Cleveland.

Embiid had 12 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes before taking a seat after halftime. Harden played 19 minutes and scored nine points, going 3 of 9 from the field but adding five assists.

Tyrese Maxey, who had 20 points in Monday’s win over the Nets, continued his good start to the preseason, leading Philadelphia with 21 points in the first half. He went 9 of 11, making all three of his 3-pointers. Harrell, who signed a two-year contract with Philadelphia during the offseason, scored 13 points.

Mitchell scored 16 points in his first game since being traded from Utah, while Darius Garland and Raul Neto each had 12. Dean Wade and Sharife Cooper finished with 11 points apiece.

Advertisement

Cleveland played without second-year big man Evan Mobley, who is expected to be out a couple of weeks with a right ankle sprain suffered this week.

The Cavaliers got an optimistic glimpse of the backcourt tandem of Mitchell with Garland in the first half. Mitchell was 6 of 9 for the game, including 3 of 4 from outside the arc to go with five assists. Garland, meanwhile, made 4 of 7 shots and handed out four assists.

Shake Milton had 12 points for Philadelphia, while De’Anthony Melton, picked up from Memphis in a draft night trade, had 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.

PACERS 122; HORNETS 97

Aaron Nesmith scored 16 points, rookie Benedict Mathurin, the No. 6 pick in the draft from Arizona, added 15 and Indiana beat Charlotte.

Advertisement

Isaiah Jackson finished with 13 points for the Hornets, while Myles Turner and Chris Duarte contributed 12 points apiece. Mathurin was 5 of 10 from the field, despite missing all four of his 3-pointers over 19 minutes.

Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 18 points and P.J. Washington finished with 13. Kelly Oubre Jr. had 11 points and nine rebounds, while LeMelo Ball scored 12 points and handed out seven assists.

MAVERICKS 98; THUNDER 96

Jaden Hardy scored 21 points, Christian Wood finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Dallas used a fourth-quarter rally to beat Oklahoma City.

Dwight Powell finished with 13 points and five rebounds for the Mavericks in their opening game of the preseason.

Advertisement

Josh Giddey led the Thunder with 13 points, shooting 6 for 10. Rookie Jalen Williams, the 12th overall pick out of Santa Clara, finished with 10 points.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending