Mike Davis or Josh Jacobs: Which RB will be a better play in week 12?
Mike Davis or Josh Jacobs: Which RB will be a better play in week 12?
The Toronto Raptors frustrate MVP candidate Luka Doncic as part of blowout win over the Dallas Mavericks.
TORONTO — Sheldon Keefe's first training camp as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs lasted just 10 days and included exactly zero exhibition games. Asked to explain by far his team's best stretch of the abbreviated 2020-21 season, the answer was a simple. More. "More time together, more games, more meetings, more discussions," Keefe said. "We've definitely seen progress in a lot of areas." Some of those were certainly front and centre Monday. John Tavares and Mitch Marner scored in a dominant second period — one that saw Toronto outshoot Winnipeg 22-5 — as the Maple Leafs defeated the Jets 3-1. Frederik Andersen made 27 saves for Toronto (3-1-0) in the first of 10 meetings between the North Division rivals before Marner added his second goal of the night into an empty net with 22.6 seconds left. "We were good at keeping them to the outside," Andersen said. "Then as they turn the puck over or after a shot, I thought we were good at breaking out and pushing it down to their end and making them defend and making them a little bit tired." Kyle Connor replied for Winnipeg (1-1-0), which got 35 stops from Connor Hellebuyck — the only reason the game was close — inside an empty Scotiabank Arena because of COVID-19 protocols. The Jets were minus sniper Patrik Laine, who sat out with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. But that did little to explain their miserable middle frame. "You get slow against anybody in this league, you're going to have a problem," Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice said. "Slow leads to bigger gaps and they certainly exploited those." Following an even first that saw both teams force good saves from Hellebuyck and Andersen, the ice tilted heavily in the second. The Leafs got the game's first goal at 5:28 at the tail end of a power play when Hellebuyck kicked Jake Muzzin's point shot out to William Nylander, who quickly fed Tavares in the slot to bury his third goal and sixth point of the season. Toronto, which dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen, led 13-0 on the shot clock after that goal, and 19-1 midway through the period with the Jets appearing to be asleep at the switch. Winnipeg looked to get some momentum on a man advantage later in the period, but Hellebuyck was forced to stop two short-handed Ilya Mikheyev chances. The Leafs were finally rewarded a second time with 1:21 left when Auston Matthews carried the puck into the offensive zone before finding Justin Holl. His one-timer hit the post behind Hellebucyk, and Marner was there to poke home his second of the year. Toronto appeared primed to take a feel-good 2-0 lead into the intermission, but got running around in the defensive zone, with Connor providing Winnipeg some life by snapping his second past Andersen with under a minute remaining. The Leafs finished the period with an eye-popping 36-11 edge in shot attempts, but only led by the slimmest of margins on the scoreboard. "You don't like it when it's happening," Keefe said. "Now you're through the game and you get the win, you look back through it. We're trying to get better here as a team. It's moments like that, that are going to allow us to reflect and talk about it as a team and see where we can better. "We'll take our lessons." Winnipeg got an early third-period power play, but Andersen was there at every turn — including a great stop on Mark Scheifele that would have had the fans chanting "Freddie! Freddie!" in a normal season. Andersen didn't dress for Saturday's 3-2 victory over the Senators in Ottawa, instead putting in a day of work followed by a night of rest in the wake of two shaky starts to open the schedule. "Freddie's one of the best in the league," Tavares said. "We've got so much faith in him. We were a much more connected, solid team over the last couple games. "We've got many areas to clean up, but we know the big saves he's going to make. We only want to make it easier and better for him." The Jets continued to push and got a power play with 5:15 left in regulation when Toronto defenceman Morgan Rielly cleared the puck over the glass for a delay-of-game infraction, but Andersen and the penalty killers did the job before Marner bagged the empty netter. "We've got to be ready to play tight-knit games," Marner said. "We've got to make sure we keep doing the right things, playing the right way." The Leafs rebounded from Friday's disappointing 5-3 loss to the Senators in Ottawa with that triumph Saturday, while Winnipeg opened its season with Thursday's 4-3 overtime victory at home against the Calgary Flames. Next up for the Jets are three straight games against Ottawa — Tuesday and Thursday in the nation's capital before the teams travel to Winnipeg for a Saturday tilt — as part of a gruelling stretch of six contests in nine nights that began Monday. The Leafs host the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday and Friday before embarking on a four-game road trip through Alberta beginning Sunday. "We leave the (Monday night) feeling good about the effort," Keefe said. "At the same time, I'm fairly confident we're going to have a number of things to discuss where we can continue to get better. "That's very positive. We're not where we can be." Notes: Toronto announced before the game rookie winger Nick Robertson will miss at least four weeks with a knee injury, which forced the team to put both third-string goalie Aaron Dell and veteran forward Jason Spezza on waivers for salary cap purposes. Dell was claimed by the New Jersey Devils, while Spezza made it through and dressed against Winnipeg. ... Mikko Lehtonen, who led all KHL defencemen in scoring last season, made his NHL debut for Toronto... Winnipeg blue-liner Logan Stanley made his NHL debut with Dylan DeMelo (personal) and Tucker Poolman (COVID-19 list) sidelined. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. ___ Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
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A degree of contempt is expected to grow between the seven teams in the NHL's all-Canadian North Division, but the number of times the clubs play each will also breed some familiarity. The shortened NHL season has each team playing a 56-game schedule within its division. Some of the Canadian clubs will see each other nine or 10 times. During a 14-day stretch within the first month, the Vancouver Canucks will face the Montreal Canadiens five times, with a three-game series against Ottawa squeezed into the same period. The Winnipeg Jets will face the Calgary Flames four times in the first nine days of February. WATCH | CBC Sports' Rob Pizzo ranks the all-Canadian division: Most players and coaches agree the games will have a playoff feel about them, but teams will also have to guard against becoming predictable. "For all the teams you are going to have to come up with different sort of strategies and ways to mix things up, especially when you are seeing a team three times in a row," said Flames captain Mark Giordano. "Little things like the way you kill penalties or the way you are on the power play, the way your faceoffs are drawn up. Teams are going to be able to scout that. "You are going to have to change things up and have a lot of different plays in your book. It's going to be exciting." Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice said having a Canadian division is "going to be fantastic. The message boards are going to be awesome, funny as hell." It also means coaches will be tested on their ability to make subtle changes without completely deviating from their schemes. "You have to be real careful about how many times you are going to change your grip on your golf club because you are going to get a different trajectory every time," Maurice said. "You have to play well, play hard, but I do agree you are going to have to be fairly creative in how you approach the game." Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green said teams are constantly adjusting for opponents. "There are wrinkles that you throw into your team for a game, but there are certain things, certain staples that every team has that [indicates] how they play," he said. "You don't want to go change your whole system from game to game. "I think it's perfecting a system that works for your team. There are different things [you can do], faceoff plays, on special teams, certain things you can change." 'Different for everybody' Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid said players will have to adapt. "You're going to have to learn on the fly," he said. "It's going to be different for everybody." Vancouver forward Brock Boeser said the schedule reminds him of his college days playing for the University of North Dakota. "You have to learn from game to game," Boeser said. "You watch film, you have to adjust to what you didn't do right in the game before and make sure you don't make those mistakes again." WATCH | NHL season begins amid rising COVID-19 cases: Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said reducing the number of opponents will make coaches focus. "It allows you to just zero in on a very small number of opponents, you get to know them very well," he said. "It frees up so much more time just to focus on our own team." Edmonton's Dave Tippett said the compressed schedule will keep coaches concentrating. "Sometimes you get into the regular season, games flow into each other," he said. "Every game [now] is going to be so important. The competition is going to be stiff. "I think it's going to be a playoff mindset coaches are really going to dig into. It's going to push coaches to be better. WATCH | CBC Sports' Rob Pizzo breaks down 9 NHL talking points: Vancouver forward Antoine Roussel, one of the Canucks who plays the game with an edge, said scores will be quickly settled. "It's going to be more edgy every night," he said. "You see the same guys all the time. "If something happens in game one . . . in game two you may have to answer the bell. The emotion and the fire in the games are going to step up, maybe linger longer." Playing more games against teams from the East will also give more exposure to young Canuck stars like Elias Pettersson and Quin Hughes. "I don't think our guys sometimes get the attention they deserve," Roussel said. "They could be in better position to market themselves as the best players in the league." Vancouver forward Tanner Pearson said the shortened season means teams must always keep an eye on the standings. "It's going to be different for a points race," he said. "You always talk about a four-point game when you play a division team. Now it's more crucial than ever." WATCH | NHL world honours Willie O'Ree on MLK Day:
LAS VEGAS — A stickless Chandler Stephenson was credited with the game-winning goal, Robin Lehner made 30 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-2 on Monday night. Not too long after the first of Reilly Smith’s two goals tied it early in the third period, Vegas defenceman Zach Whitecloud gathered a loose puck from a faceoff in Arizona’s zone and fired a shot off Stephenson’s back to give Vegas its first lead of the game. Max Pacioretty also scored for the Golden Knights, his third goal in three games. Vegas has won two straight after trailing to start the third period. The Golden Knights own a 7-0 goal-differential in the final period and improved to 3-0-0 overall. Tyler Pitlick and Nick Schmaltz scored Arizona. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper stopped 24 shots. Arizona looked like the better team from the outset, controlling the pace with more intensity than the Golden Knights, who struggled with sloppiness throughout the first period. Pitlick took advantage of Vegas’ miscues when he intercepted Mark Stone's pass in Arizona’s zone, skated the length of the ice and beat Lehner with a wrist shot that went off the crossbar and in to put the Coyotes on the board with a short-handed goal. It was Pitlick’s first goal and point as a member of the Coyotes after spending last season with Philadelphia. Vegas had two of its better chances in the second period, both during a penalty kill. William Karlsson hit the left corner of the post on a breakaway, and Tomas Nosek failed to find the five-hole during a 2-on-0 break, as Kuemper came up big again. Schmaltz rewarded his netminder by giving him a 2-0 lead when his shot from the right circle appeared to carom off Vegas defenceman Alec Martinez and past Lehner. Derick Brassard assist on the goal was 300th of his career. Pacioretty got Vegas on the board with a nifty shot from behind the goal line, where he chipped his own rebound off the back of Kuemper’s shoulder with Vegas’ first shot on goal after an 11:28 drought to cut Arizona’s lead in half. Smith, who scored a career-high 27 goals last season, backhanded his first of the season after linemate William Karlsson dished a beautiful no-look backward pass between his legs from behind the net four minutes into the third period. Smith’s empty-net goal with 12 seconds left iced the game. UP NEXT The Coyotes and Golden Knights meet again Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena as part of a four-game, home-and-home series, with the final two taking place Friday and Sunday in Glendale, Ariz. ___ More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports W.G. Ramirez, The Associated Press
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Dan Wetzel, Pete Thamel and SI’s Pat Forde thank former Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt for the three years of podcast fodder he has delivered before diving into the grossly mismanaged situation in Knoxville. Can Tennessee thread the needle of NCAA sanctions and hire a competent coach? Dan also has a very important update on his lost bank account as well as a 2020 version of Catch Me If You Can.
MLB pays tribute to MLK Day, plus the Padres acquire Joe Musgrove from the Pirates on this edition of FastCast