Canada’s Gushue remains unbeaten after rout of Japan at world championship

John’s skip, who has secured a berth in the Page playoff 1-2 game, is still bothered by a hip/groin injury so any saved throws are welcomed.“It’s a huge positive,” Gushue said. At this point I don’t need more reps or more volume. Each early finish will help Gushue and his team stay fresh for the playoffs. The numbers are in Brad Gushue’s favour at the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship.He posted impressive wins over Jaap Van Dorp of the Netherlands and Japan’s Yusuke Morozumi on Wednesday to extend his unbeaten streak to nine games. John’s. “So to have a few lighter games, it has certainly been a benefit.”The 1-2 game between the top two seeds is set for Friday night. The winner will advance to Sunday’s gold-medal game.The Page 3-4 game between the third and fourth seeds will be played Saturday afternoon. Gushue beat Koe in the Brier final last month in St. China’s Liu, Italy’s Joel Retornaz, Scotland’s David Murdoch and Norway’s Steffen Walstad are in a four-way tie for sixth place at 4-5.The top four teams will make the playoffs.In the early game, Gushue opened with a three-point first end. The St. Teams can decide to shake hands early if the game has turned into a rout.Gushue has posted two six-end wins and three seven-end victories so far.By only going the regular 10-end length on two occasions in round-robin play, he has saved 21 ends overall — the equivalent of more than two games.That’s important for a team still feeling the effects of a long, tough grind at the Tim Hortons Brier.“When we came in we weren’t fully recovered,” Gushue said. I feel comfortable with the ice and I feel comfortable with how I’m throwing it.“So if I can keep the fatigue down and be ready come the weekend, I think that’s a positive.”Gushue’s 8-3 victory in the morning was followed by a 10-2 rout in the afternoon.Sweden’s Niklas Edin improved to 8-1 with a 10-4 victory over Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz (7-2) in the evening draw and has qualified for the playoffs. Edin is alone in second while de Cruz sits third.John Shuster (6-3) of the United States has sole possession of fourth place after beating China’s Rui Liu 8-2 in evening play.Japan’s Morozumi (5-4) is in fifth place. He iced it with a deuce in the seventh.At least six ends must be played per game at this competition. “The less I can be on it the better, to be honest. The winner advances to the evening semifinal and the loser will play for bronze Sunday against the semifinal loser.Kevin Koe skipped Canada to a gold medal at last year’s world championship in Basel, Switzerland. Gushue has outscored his opponents 77-29 overall and games have been called early on seven occasions. Van Dorp was held to a single in the fourth and Gushue tacked on a deuce in the fifth end.The Dutch side scored two points in the seventh but Gushue replied with a pair to wrap things up in eight ends.Against Japan, Gushue’s five-point fourth end put the game out of reach.

Canada’s road to women’s hockey gold goes through Finns

The stakes will be higher when the teams meet again in the semi-finals on Thursday. An improved Finland team has made Canada’s path to the gold-medal game at women’s world hockey championship steeper and bumpier than it once was.The Finns posted their first ever win over the Canadians with a 4-3 upset in the preliminary round. score goals on the Finns that a physical price will have to be paid to do the same.“We’re going to have to win our battles in front of the net, put a lot of pucks there and we’re going to have to get those rebounds,” Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin said.“The U.S., there were no clean goals and they had to get those rebounds. has so much individual skill. They were blown out by the hosts 9-2 in the preliminary round in the most lopsided loss ever to the U.S.But Canada beat the U.S. It just fits our style better. For us, we’re going to have to do the same thing because we know Raty can win a game by herself.”The U.S. Another upset and Canada will not play for gold for the first time in the 18-year history of the women’s championship.“We have something to prove now,” Canadian head coach Laura Schuler said Wednesday.Defending champion United States takes on surprise semifinalist Germany on Thursday.The Germans were promoted from the second-tier world championship, but finished atop Pool B at 2-1 and upset Russia, last year’s bronze medallist, in the quarters. Canada ranked second in their pool because of a superior goal differential and earned the bye to the semifinals.Finland is coming off a 4-0 shut out of Sweden in the quarter-finals.The Finns have beaten the United States before at the world championship, but Raty believes Canada’s reliance on systems allows her team to use counter tactics.“The U.S. went 3-0 in Pool A with Canada, Finland and Russia finishing 1-2. It’s just a good match for us.”Schuler will not announce her starter until Thursday, but Shannon Szabados is likely as she’s given up just two goals in two games.Assistant captain Haley Irwin didn’t skate Wednesday. “Adversity, we’ve got to through that to make it happen at the end.“For us, we just had the team together to feel good and forget about that.” They’re more skating, skating, straightforward. The medal games are Friday.Canada’s forwards worked on puck movement below the face off circles, while the defence ran through their breakouts in Wednesday’s skate at USA Hockey Arena practice.In their third season under coach Pasi Mustonen, the Finns play a more sophisticated game than their defence-first philosophy prior to the 2014 Olympic Games.Finland now pressures Canada coming out of their own zone with different looks, and also forces Canada’s shooters to the outside where goaltender Noora Raty can get a read on what’s coming.The Canadians know from watching the U.S. Schuler said Irwin will play in the semifinal.“We thought for her it would be best to take the day off so we can get the best out of her going forward,” Schuler said.Canada had a shaky start the last time the world championship was held on American ice back in 2012. in overtime for gold in Burlington, Vt.Poulin says Sunday’s team dinner helped them regroup after opening with back-to-back losses in Plymouth.“Those were big losses for us, but I think that’s when opportunity happens,” the captain said. Their offence, you give them space they create scoring chances,” the 13-year veteran said.“Canada is more systems and the team, I think.

Dustin Johnson injures back falling down stairs on eve of Masters

“He has been advised to remain immobile and begin a regimen of anti-inflammatory medication and icing, with the hope of being able to play tomorrow.”What might help Johnson is that he is in the last group for the opening round, scheduled to tee off at 2:03 p.m. Golf.com cited an unnamed source two years later as saying Johnson had been suspended for a positive cocaine test. The real calamity struck a few hours later.David Winkle, his manager at Hambric Sports, said Johnson fell on the stairs at the home he is renting in Augusta.“He landed very hard on his lower back and is now resting, although quite uncomfortably,” Winkle said in an email. An hour after the news broke, he was reduced to 7-1 along with McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.Johnson also missed the 2012 Masters, withdrawing two days before the start of the tournament, saying he had tweaked his back from pulling a jet ski out of the water. Johnson was an 11-2 betting favourite going into the Masters. “But, you know, anything can happen.”Las Vegas Westgate Superbook reacted swiftly to Johnson’s injury. 1 in the world.But this was far different.Johnson rose to No. Open for his first major, was voted PGA Tour player of the year for the first time, won the PGA Tour money title and captured the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average.Rickie Fowler this week described the 32-year-old American as a “freak of nature.”Winkle on Tuesday said Johnson was in “as good a shape as I’ve ever seen him in every aspect of his game and his life.”Johnson has had his share of mishaps in a major but not before a major even started.Two years ago, Rory McIlroy was playing soccer when he ruptured ligaments in his ankle a few weeks before he was to defend his title in the British Open at St. His management denied that he had been suspended.Winkle said he would not have any further comment until he knew more about Johnson’s condition.If he cannot play, there are no alternates at the Masters. He was coming off a season in which he won the U.S. Two of those titles were World Golf Championships, and his undefeated week at the Match Play made him the first player to capture all four of the WGCs.Johnson was at Augusta National on Wednesday to play nine holes before the first wave of storms moved in.“I’ve got a lot of confidence in my game right now, especially with the way I’ve been playing the last few tournaments,” he said Tuesday. with two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and PGA champion Jimmy Walker.Johnson had been scheduled to attend the Golf Writers Association of America annual dinner Wednesday night to accept its award as male player of the year. 1 in the world starting with the first of three straight victories, the first player to do that going into the Masters in more than 40 years. Masters favourite Dustin Johnson took a serious fall on a staircase Wednesday and injured his lower back, and his manager said it was uncertain whether the world’s No. Andrews when he was No. 1 golfer would be able to play the tournament.It was a stunning development on an otherwise quiet day at Augusta National, where the course was shut down at 1:30 p.m. because of storms.

Raptors star point guard Kyle Lowry to return against Pistons

Tucker. Lowry has yet to share the floor with Toronto’s trade-deadline acquisitions, Serge Ibaka and P.J. Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey says all-star point guard Kyle Lowry will make his long-awaited return tonight on the road against the Detroit Pistons.Lowry has been out since February’s all-star break after undergoing surgery on his right wrist.The Raptors have gone 14-7 without Lowry over that span, but need to get their star back in playing shape before the playoffs begin.

Kelly: Augusta National isn’t just a place. It’s a state of mind

Mostly, it’s a place designed to separate you from your disposable income (not entirely unlike some churches in that sense).Only Augusta National really puts the sacred before the profane. This place is above the tawdry concerns of the real world, most of which is coarse and uncouth. At Augusta National, they’ve somehow turned golf – their particular brand of it, at least – into a belief system.Once you succumb to that idea, money loses meaning. God bless the Masters. Unlike a lot of the geriatrics on the Augusta members’ list, he really fills out a green jacket.“As proud as we are of this building, it’s just bricks and mortar,” he said to the mob of journos. Might that change soon, in line with other tournaments?“You’ll have to ask the next chairman. It contains a working “arena” straight out of NASA Mission Control that looks over the driving range through 30-foot windows. It isn’t growing a business. It is maintaining a monument. Any one of this “cream of the crop” that puts ripples in the Masters’ pool is made to feel they’ve been boorish.Someone tossed up a rhetorical pebble by asking Payne his thoughts on the character of U.S. It’s the largesse of the pharaohs.Despite what one must assume is its immense profitability, Augusta National operates on communist principles. You are the best at your job.”Nobody actually sighed, but a lot of people looked close. In the year between the last Masters and the one beginning on Thursday, they built a new media centre at Augusta National.The last one was perfectly fine. It’s a pilgrimage site.Anyone willing to obey the rules and bend a knee is welcome to come in and worship. It has a full-service, white-linen-tablecloth restaurant, in which all food and drink is free. It’ll take some digging.The remarks ended with, “God bless you. And so that they can use it to awe the little people, which include some of the richest athletes alive. “My God, this is a big room.”Why did they build it? Every arena of a certain vintage is a “temple,” a “church” or the “Mecca” of football/baseball/hockey/what-have-you. Security guards collected cellphones at the door.(Later, Payne was asked about the Masters’ ruthlessly enforced ban on any electronic device that emits noise. “It’s you that makes the difference. It was quite definitely the last question of the news conference.The subtext was clear – the Masters exists not only as a geographic feature, but also as a state of mind. A pair of cleaners spend hours each day cleaning and recleaning those windows in tandem, one shammying the outside while the other polishes inside.It has a full locker room complete with showers. That’s not going to change while I’m chairman.”Can you explain why?“Not really.”)Payne launched into a long, often touching remembrance of Arnold Palmer. We can’t know for sure because Augusta National does not reduce itself to the gaucherie of talking dollar figures, or just about anything else to do with the club’s inner workings.During a rain delay on Wednesday, former champion Adam Scott wandered in to gawk at the main arena while everyone gawked at him.“This is a big room,” Scott said to no one in particular while spinning slowly in place. Try to find a critical word ever written about this place. There’s an interview room built along United Nations Security Council lines. And God bless America.”Heatley is from New Zealand.A short while later, down in the interview room, club chairman Billy Payne gave his opening statement. Whether you choose to believe, it is difficult not to admire the commitment. Because they have the money and they can. … You are the cream of the crop. No outfit in all of sports – or, really, any other cultural endeavour – has deployed a more successful media agit-prop operation than this one. The opulence becomes akin to a jewel in the pope’s crown – there to signal regality rather than wealth.Every major sport embraces the descriptive trappings of religion. President Donald Trump and his close association with golf. Why anyone would get up from his or her desk in the middle of a workday to take a long, relaxing soak was presumably not discussed.This place – which has no other purpose than to house journalists during the Masters and will be shuttered 51 weeks of the year – apparently cost about $60-million (U.S.). It sits dark now.Upon approach, the new one resembles the White House, in both size and grandeur. The chairman shifted uncomfortably and pretended to misunderstand the question.But didn’t he once have a lot to say about Tiger Woods’s sexual extracurriculars and how they reflected on the Masters?Payne stiffened, and the rest of us stiffened as a result: “I’m not the one to judge how [Trump’s] other remarks may have some influence on the game of golf, which is where my interests reside exclusively.”It wasn’t much of an answer. It was perhaps the most commodious press box in all of sports. The tone was so hagiographical, you half-expected him to whip out a shinbone for adoration as a holy relic. It is a cult of personality in which the focus of worship is the place itself.This oddly red tendency includes an element of indoctrination.Also on Wednesday, the member charged with handling the media, Craig Heatley, dropped by the media arena for a pep talk. All that was missing was a hands-up “Hallelujah!” But underneath the schmaltz and exaggerated gentility, there is a wide streak of reactive establishmentarianism. Better than that, actually. The ideal is constant progress willfully ignorant of cost. Heatley is a vastly wealthy business titan of stentorian bearing.

NHLPA drops gloves in Olympic dispute, telling league to expect payback in labour talks

Somebody is going to score the gold-medal-winning goal in Pyeongchang or Beijing. Bettman’s proposal because it was framed as a take-it-or-leave-it offer, instead of as a starting point for further talks.One of the key underlying issues now is how the NHL might prevent a player such as Mr. Bettman’s watch – it wasn’t made part of the new deal, which is how it has since became a negotiating chip.The owners and players have the ability of opt out of the current contract in September, 2019.Last November, Mr. Mr. His Capitals teammate and fellow Russian national Evgeny Kuznetsov shared the same resolve.It is also a continuation of the climate of mistrust that has existed between the league and the union for the better part of two decades.NHL Olympic player participation had been part of the previous labour agreement, but when the latest contract was forged – in December of 2012, in the midst of the third lockout under Mr. Marchand wants to go and believes a solution can still be found at the 11th hour, if both sides are willing to compromise. The NHL considers the matter closed, but the league’s decision to prevent its players from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics could trigger another labour dispute the next time the two sides negotiate a collective agreement.NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr told a Toronto radio station on Wednesday that his constituency had long memories, saying the Olympic dispute could colour negotiations when the two sides revisit the labour deal, known as the CBA, as early as 2019. Fehr told Sportsnet The Fan 590.Read also: Not a love story: The NHL and Olympics don’t need each otherAt the heart of the dispute is the NHL’s unwillingness to go to Pyeongchang for what are largely business reasons – a disruption to its schedule, the risk of injury to top players, an unattractive time zone and the inability to leverage broadcast and marketing opportunities that come from having the NHL at the Olympics.The NHL players’ collective desire to represent their countries at the international competition, meanwhile, is more sentimental.“Guys love representing their country on [the Olympic] stage and it is a bitter pill to swallow for sure,” the Toronto Maple Leafs’ U.S.-born forward James van Riemsdyk told reporters Tuesday. If it happens to be Joe Smith from the University of North Dakota or Pavel Jones from Moscow, it’s not going to matter. Crosby or reigning Norris Trophy winner Drew Doughty, have been to the Olympics before. Brad Marchand, the Boston Bruins’ scoring leader and World Cup scoring hero, hasn’t had a chance to go yet. The status quo deal from Sochi, or Vancouver, may be enough for the NHL to go to an Olympics in China.The league’s rising young stars, Connor McDavid or Auston Mathews, may eventually get a chance to represent their countries at an Olympics. Fasel bring himself to enforce rules that prevent NHL players from attending, after publicly promoting the concept of a best-on-best men’s Olympic hockey tournament for the better part of forever?“It puts Fasel in a difficult position,” said player agent Anton Thun, who has represented players for more than 30 years. “If the notion is that players will just say, ‘oh well, the CBA didn’t provide for it’ or ‘we wish it were different’ – and we could just go on with life as usual or as if this hadn’t happened, I think that’s a very, very, very unlikely possibility,” Mr. It just likely means they’ll have to postpone the possibility for another four years.“The IOC and the Olympics need hockey less to build the game than hockey needs Olympic exposure in my opinion,” Mr. That, in turn, could create a conundrum for IIHF president René Fasel, who adamantly lobbied for NHL players to go to the Olympics.Could Mr. Ovechkin] at some point.”The IOC put pressure on the NHL last week by saying in effect that if the NHL didn’t go to Pyeongchang in 2018, it might not be invited to play four years later in Beijing, where the NHL is in the early stages of a marketing push.Even though an Olympics in China poses the same obstacles as South Korea – risk of player injury, unfavourable time zones, a 17-day mid-season interruption – the NHL seems willing to overlook those because of the business possibilities China presents. Bettman offered to exchange a fully fleshed-out international calendar of events that included the Olympics, the World Cup and a Ryder Cup-style of tournament that would have been played in Europe in exchange for a contract extension. The NHLPA rejected Mr. “As players, we have shown we want to be there and made that very clear, but this decision was made outside of us.”Ultimately, the decision not to go to the Pyeongchang Games was made by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who had been seeking concessions from either the International Olympic Committee or the NHLPA, saying he needed a sweeter deal in order to sell Olympic participation to his bosses, the NHL owners, who firmly opposed the concept.The net result of a stalemate almost four years in the making is a lot of unhappy players. “He could say, ‘Yes, we have agreements in place with the NHL and if a player is suspended, he can’t play in our tournament.’ I don’t know – but those are going to be really interesting questions … because he is going to have to make that decision with at least one player [Mr. Ovechkin from going to Pyeongchang without league approval.Ultimately, it may fall to the International Ice Hockey Federation to rule which players are eligible to play in Pyeongchang. The Olympics existed before NBA or NHL players ever went to the Olympics and they will continue to exist if neither goes. But if it happens to be Sidney Crosby, it might help the NHL.”Many of Canada’s top players, such as Mr. The best soccer players in the world don’t go to the Olympics, and the Olympics continue to thrive, even without the best.“What the NHL is losing is the ability to promote Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby. Thun said. Some – such as the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin – say they are prepared to defy the NHL edict and go anyway, something the Russian sniper has been saying all along. “The reality is, the IOC doesn’t need the NHL.

Baltimore stymies Toronto as big bats remain silent to start season

Happ 3-1 to win their second in a row to mark the start of the season.The Orioles once again stymied the Toronto batters, with starter Dylan Bundy controlling most of the way. His 2.86 ERA is fourth lowest among the game’s starters for pitchers who have logged at least 250 innings.Toronto manager John Gibbons said before the game he is expecting Happ to pick right up where he left off last season.“He had a tremendous year last year, he set the bar high,” Gibbons said before the game. “And he looked good in spring training. The Orioles utilized the home run ball to spank Toronto starter J.A. He allowed just one run and four hits with eight strike outs over seven innings of solid work. But he’s a new pitcher now. And the long-legged lefty has been among the game’s best starters since he reinvented himself in Pittsburgh following a trade there midway through the 2015 season.After tinkering with his delivery, Happ went 7-2 with the Pirates with a sparkling 1.85 earned-run average, which paved the way to his joining Toronto last season as a free agent.Taking into account his stint with the Pirates and then last season, Happ had an impressive overall mark of 27-6 through 43 starts heading into Wednesday’s game. He was especially effective against the so-called meat of the Toronto order with Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Morales and Troy Tulowitzki, batting two through five, going a combined 3-for-16 with all of Bundy’s punch-outs coming against this group. He gets ground balls so he can bail himself out a little bit easier than he used to be able to.“I don’t see why he can’t do it again.”Happ was effective, striking out nine over seven innings while allowing just five hits – but two of them were home run bombs from Adam Jones and Chris Davis.Toronto took a 1-0 lead in the third after Devon Travis went the other way into left with a single that scored Justin Smoak from second.Then Baltimore went to work with the long ball.First it was Jones teeing off a Happ fastball in the third, a two-run shot to left that vaulted the Orioles in front 2-1.The inning concluded with Pillar making another of his now-patented circus catches in centre field. Zach Britton, the usually reliable Baltimore closer, came on in the ninth and was wobbly, walking Russell Martin to load the bases with one out.But Britton shut the door after that, regrouping to get Steve Pearce to hit into an inning-ending double play.“Early,” came the succinct answer from Blue Jays centerfielder Kevin Pillar, when asked afterward to summarize the two Toronto setbacks to start the year off on the wrong foot. A card game scrambled together by Jason Grilli, the newly minted closer during the absence of the sore-necked Roberto Osuna, was unfolding on one side of the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse.It was before the game Wednesday afternoon and the baseball players were acting baseball player-like as they whiled away their time before the finale of their season-opening series against the Baltimore Orioles. You expected the Rumba to break out at any moment.After a couple of songs, Morales then directed his smart phone to transition into the country flavourings of the deep-voiced Josh Turner before Mungo Jerry’s 1970s megahit In the Summertime took the room to a whole other level.The baseball season is still in its infancy, and the Blue Jays, oh so confident in their abilities, remain loosey-goosey.A win would be a way to back up some of the bravado, but the Blue Jays did not provide one. “Two of 160 [games] left.“Opportunities were there, we just didn’t capitalize.” The Blue Jays, who dropped the season-opener 3-2 to Baltimore on Monday on an 11th-inning walk-off home run by Trumbo, felt pretty good about their chances heading into Wednesday’s second game.They had Happ, a 20-game winner a year ago, on the mound. On the other side of the room, his feet propped up against his locker as he lounged in his chair, newcomer Kendrys Morales appeared right at home.The beefy new Toronto power bat was playing DJ before DH and his music, blaring from his portable Bluetooth speaker, filled the room, drawing smirks from players as they sauntered by.What an eclectic mix it was.First it was the musical stylings of Alberto Barros, a Colombian musician who is nicknamed the Titan of Salsa and it was easy to understand why. He tracked back quickly to haul in a laser shot by Manny Machado and somehow hung on after his body crashed into the padded outfield wall.“That’s just what I do, I try to go make plays,” Pillar said.In the fourth, Davis followed Jones’s lead, launching another misguided Happ fastball a long way over the wall in straightaway centre to make it 3-1.

Sabres hang on to snap Canadiens’ five-game win streak

… Evander Kane set up the play when his bad-angle shot to the right of the net caromed off Price and into the slot, stopping at the feet of Montreal forward Artturi Lehkonen. Plekanec cut across the top of the crease and backhanded a shot inside the right post.The goal was Plekanec’s 226th goal with Montreal, moving him into 16th place on the team list, one ahead of Stephane Richer.Price was sharp in keeping the game close. Sabres D Jake McCabe was benched after committing several turnovers that led directly to opponent’s goals in each of the past two games. Buffalo has already been eliminated from playoff contention to extend the franchise’s longest post-season drought to six years. First, he foiled Ennis on a partial breakaway two minutes into the third period. Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyler Ennis scored and the Buffalo Sabres closed their home schedule with a 2-1 victory Wednesday night to snap the Montreal Canadiens’ five-game winning streak.Robin Lehner stopped 31 shots in a game the Sabres hung on to win after building a 2-0 lead through two periods.Tomas Plekanec scored for the Canadiens and Carey Price stopped 28 shots in what was essentially a mean-nothing game between two Atlantic Division rivals. A person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that Okposo has spent the past three days in a Buffalo hospital’s neuro surgical intensive care unit undergoing a battery of tests.The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Sabres have not revealed Okposo has been hospitalized.Ristolainen opened the scoring 6:01 in with a slap shot from the right point that beat a screened Price over the right shoulder.Ennis made it 2-0 midway through the second period. The Sabres did hit a milestone by finishing with a 20-15-6 home record to reach the 20-win mark for the first time since a 21-12-8 finish in 2011-12.Montreal had little left to play for in having already secured the team’s fourth playoff berth in five years. … Before Lehkonen could play the puck, Ennis drove in and slapped at the puck beating Price over the left shoulder.Plekanec cut Buffalo’s lead 46 seconds into the third period, when he completed a three-way passing play.Paul Byron gained the blue line and dumped a pass to Alexander Radulov, who drove into the right circle before sending a pass through the middle and hitting Plekanec in stride. Some 40 seconds later, Buffalo’s Nicolas Deslauriers drove in alone from the left circle only to have Price punch out his glove to snag the hard low shot headed for the right corner.NOTES: Canadiens D Shea Weber (lower body) missed his second straight game and remains in Montreal to rehab what coach Claude Julien said was not “a serious injury.” Weber is expected to be healthy for the playoffs next week. Canadiens C Brian Flynn returned after missing 12 games with an upper body injury.UP NEXTCanadiens: Host Tampa Bay on Friday.Sabres: At Florida on Saturday. The Canadiens were coming off a 4-1 win at Florida on Monday in which they clinched the Atlantic Division title and guaranteed the Eastern Conference’s second seed once the playoff open next week.The win came at a time when the team expressed concern over the status of forward Kyle Okposo, who has spent more than a week being sidelined by an undisclosed illness.

Kyle Lowry returns to lineup, Raptors rally to beat Pistons

The Pistons led 37-17 at the time of the switch, and the Raptors narrowed the margin to 10 at the half.UP NEXTRaptors: Host the Miami Heat on Friday night.Pistons: Visit the Houston Rockets on Friday night. Caldwell-Pope joined his teammates on the bench late in the second quarter, and was on the floor to begin the third quarter.The Pistons got off to a rare quick start, leading 29-13 after nine minutes despite their makeshift starting backcourt. He split the free throws to put Toronto up three, and Caldwell-Pope and Harris both missed tying shots.Detroit started the game without Caldwell-Pope (family reasons), while starting point guard Reggie Jackson remains sidelined to rest a bad knee. Kyle Lowry had 27 points and 10 assists in his return from a wrist injury and the Toronto Raptors rallied to beat the Detroit Pistons 105-102 on Wednesday night.Back in the lineup after missing 18 games, Lowry helped the Raptors overcame a 20-point first-half deficit. Smith was able to consistently beat Lowry to the rim, opening up the rest of the offence.Lowry, though, finished the half with 16 points and Toronto only trailed 56-46 at the intermission. The Pistons dropped to 11th in the conference, three games behind Miami, Chicago and Indiana with four games to play.Serge Ibaka’s 3-pointer gave Toronto its first lead of the game with 1:20 to play, but Marcus Morris answered with a 3-pointer to tie it at 100 with 1:09 left.Valanciunas put the Raptors back in front, and Smith’s short jumper spun out with 50 seconds left. Toronto won for the 21st time this season when it trailed at some point by double digits.Pistons: The game was the next-to-last regular-season contest at the Palace of Auburn Hills — Detroit’s home since 1987. Jonas Valanciunas had 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter for Detroit, Ish Smith and Tobias Harris had 16 points each, and Cory Joseph added 15. Barring an improbable run into the post-season, the arena’s final game will be Monday against the Washington Wizards. DeMar DeRozan followed with a 20-footer to give the Raptors a 104-100 lead with 25.6 seconds left.Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made it 104-102, and the Pistons fouled Valanciunas with 7.1 seconds to play. … The Pistons and Detroit Red Wings both move to Little Caesars Arena this fall.NEW BALL, PLEASEThe officials had to change the game ball early in the second quarter, when an errant Toronto pass sent it sailing into a courtside fan’s beverage. Toronto moved a half-game ahead of the Washington Wizards for third place in the East. The Raptors started the third quarter with a 6-0 run that was aided by a flagrant foul committed on Lowry by Drummond.Detroit moved the margin back to 80-68 by the end of the quarter, but Toronto’s 3-point shooting kept the game close into the final minutes.Lowry’s three-point play cut the deficit to 95-93 with 3:27 to play, and DeRozan tied it with a layup.TIP INSRaptors: As has become usual with Raptors games in Detroit, Toronto fans made up a large percentage of the crowd.

Kelly: Canadian hockey fails to step up in wake of NHL’s Olympic decision

From an NHL marketing perspective, even suspending Crosby is picking a PR fight you can’t win – because he did it for country, and you’re doing it for money. Rules are rules. There’s no conceivable fine that can dent a man on a $100-million (U.S.) deal. Few outfits in the world so consistently overestimate their own importance. It’s “our” game. It’s that it did and then decided, “the players won’t balk. But others lead. You cannot predict outcomes and you cannot win them all. This would all be forgotten in a year’s time. If enough important people say it, there’s little that can be done to stop it.Instead, with a few theatrical demurs, Canada immediately fell in line. It’s a difficult situation to be in. The professional fallout is immaterial. Handcuff him to a radiator?They’re not going to kick out the league’s highest-profile player. That widely accepted premise suggests something more than ownership. This is about perception.And the undeniable perception left this week is that Russian players will do anything to play for their country, and that Canadian players need to talk to a lawyer first.None of this would matter much if we were talking about any other sport. Nobody cares that your contract has a specific clause about this sort of thing. I don’t care. The Russian Ice Hockey Federation issued a call to all its players to return home to the KHL for Olympic preparation. They keep telling us that in the advertisements. Though Pyeongchang is still nearly a year away, we’ve already had the first skirmish of the Olympic men’s hockey tournament. We just happen to play it, too.Sensing it had taken the momentum, Russia got further stuck in as the week went on. They don’t have the guts”.Sadly, despite the half-hearted threats of the NHL Players’ Association, it’s largely being proven right. While staring directly in an Olympic hockey black hole, our country’s sports bosses were already trying to locate trace amounts of light.“I’m confident, even if our NHL players don’t end up participating, we have such depth of field in hockey in Canada we will put forth a very strong team to defend our gold medal,” said Minister of Sport Carla Qualtrough.I suspect that confidence is not widely shared.But this isn’t about another prize at the Olympics. Everyone else follows.Based on newly available evidence, it’s actually their game – the ‘they’ in this case being Russia. I just go.”Here’s Sidney Crosby, his Canadian counterpart: “I haven’t even thought that far to be honest. When they ask the captain of the Canadian hockey team if he is willing to play for Canada, there’s only one right answer: “Yes.”The business circumstances don’t matter. I feel certain Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov (“If Russia needs us, of course”) didn’t feel they had to call PA boss Donald Fehr for legal guidance before they spoke out.Crosby is the Canadian who must match their challenge. Well, Canada’s pretty disappointed. I know some guys have been vocal about going regardless, but I’m not sure if I’m thinking that far ahead yet.”Watching Crosby, who’s been so stalwart for this country, slipping about in order to avoid upsetting anyone may be the most Canadian moment in recent hockey history.He still managed to get it wrong. From that point on, Canada’s best players may yet still win at our national game. An entire country lined up against the NHL.Canada? But, hey, what can you do? There’s no shame in losing from time to time.However, there is a considerable amount of shame in deciding it’s too logistically irritating to try.Honestly, what can the NHL or the Pittsburgh Penguins do to Sidney Crosby if he tells them he’s going to Pyeongchang? People will forgive them their caution. We’re a hockey-when-it-doesn’t-bother-the-people-in-charge sort of country.In far more important ways than can be told by any medal table, we will have surrendered our hockey primacy. Canada lost.That the NHL was eventually going to find some way to louse a good thing up was a given. No other league takes quite as much pleasure in giving up a long-term opportunity for a little bit of cash in hand – it’s a defining characteristic of all small-time grifters.Read also: NHLPA drops gloves in Olympic dispute, telling league to expect payback in labour talksIn view of that reality, what ought to have been top of mind for the Canadian hockey establishment was how to react once it happened.That should have been simple: “We’re still going.” It’s three words. In martial language – “(we) will do everything possible” – it promised to support any Russian under contract in North America who chooses to defy his employers. Embarrassingly, our rivals chose the route of resistance.Here’s Alex Ovechkin, captain of Russia, when asked if he would still be playing at the 2018 Games: “Somebody going to tell me don’t go? Every veteran marquee name that joins him – Toews, Weber, Price, et al – makes it exponentially less likely that the league can do much in response.If Canada’s best wanted to signal they’re willing to go to war on this, they’ve missed their first, best chance.The smart time to rethink the “hear and obey” approach is now. Redirecting questions to your union steward is not quite the same as speaking truth to power. You just knew it was going to sacrifice the invaluable prestige of the Olympics in a squabble about money. Confiscate his passport? Every day he sits out is another day for you to look more petty.The maddening thing, from a player perspective, isn’t that the NHL didn’t consider all the political knock-on effects of their Olympic decision. But this is the game we’ve all decided helps underpin not just our national identity, but also our sense of global self-worth.Open borders, Tim Hortons and hockey – that’s Canada at this particular moment in history. We set the standard. Even if just a few of the big names do it.But if it gets as far as next year and Russia’s best possible team wins gold while a squad of Canadian rejects and expendables gets hammered, it’s going to radically reframe our national mythology.We will no longer be able to tell ourselves we are a hockey-or-die country.

Dustin Johnson withdraws from Masters after back injury

Masters on Thursday after sustaining a back injury in a freak fall, leaving the year’s first major without the red hot favorite.The American, heavily fancied to win the title after victories in his last three tournaments, slipped on stairs in his rental house on Wednesday sparking immediate speculation he would not be able to play. I was up pretty much all night trying to get it ready for today.“Worked on it all morning. I just can’t swing the club.” I was up all night trying to get ready for today.“I can’t make my normal swing and I just don’t feel like there is any chance I can compete.“Obviously I want to play more than anything. I just can’t swing the club.“It sucks. I can’t make my normal swings and I don’t feel there is any chance that I could compete.“Obviously I want to play more than anything but just sitting there on the putting green … The guessing game continued right up until the moment Johnson appeared on the first tee with the other members of his group, Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker, and then walked away without taking a shot.“I just don’t feel like there is any chance of me competing,” Johnson told a crowd of reporters outside the clubhouse. “Last night, ice, heat, ice. “It hurts.“I was doing everything I could to try to compete. World number one Dustin Johnson pulled out of the U.S. tee time approached, Johnson was in deep discussion with his team on the range but seemed determined to play telling a television reporter he was going to give it a try.A grim-faced Johnson made his way to the first tee but after a few swings turned and walked to the clubhouse.It was later announced he was withdrawing from the tournament.The last number one to miss one of golf’s majors due to injury was Rory McIlroy at the 2015 British Open and before that Tiger Woods at the 2014 Masters.Johnson shed some light on the series of events that led to the injury, explaining that he was coming downstairs in socks to move the car when he slipped falling hard on his back and elbow.“I was doing everything I could to try and play,” said Johnson. I am playing maybe best golf of my career and this is one of my favorite tournaments.“It sucks, it sucks really bad.”Johnson had arrived at Augusta National around noon and warmed up under the watchful eye of swing coach Butch Harmon.The situation appeared dire as the 32-year-old took a few cautious swings.The big-hitting American was in clear discomfort, unable to bend over and leaving his caddie to tee up his ball.As his 2:03 p.m.

Bruins leading scorer Brad Marchand suspended two games for spearing

The Bruins are still fighting for a top-three spot in the Atlantic Division, which would allow them to avoid a first-round playoff matchup with the powerful Capitals.Boston entered Thursday’s play in third in the Atlantic, tied with the Senators at 94 points but with one game less to play than Ottawa.Fourth-place Toronto was one point behind Boston with a game in hand.Marchand will end the season with career highs in goals (39), assists (46) and points (85).Marchand is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association, and will forfeit $109,756.10 (U.S.) in salary. The suspension announced Thursday included Boston’s key matchup that night against visiting Ottawa as well as its season finale Saturday against Washington.Boston has already clinched a playoff spot, but the loss of its leading scorer comes at an inopportune time. The NHL has suspended Boston forward Brad Marchand for the Bruins’ final two games of the regular season for spearing Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Jake Dotchin.The incident occurred in Boston’s 4-0 win over the Lightning on Tuesday. Marchand received a five-minute major and game misconduct on the play.

Montreal’s new business generation goes to bat for Major League Baseball

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To continue reading this article, you must be a Globe Unlimited subscriber. Log in to keep reading. Go unlimited. Montreal’s new-money entrepreneurs are crazy about a very old sport. A Globe Unlimited subscription also gives you:

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Subscribe to Globe Unlimited now! While younger North Americans seem to go gaga over basketball and soccer, the new guard of Montreal business pines for the return of Major League Baseball to the city that still mourns its lost Expos.And it seems they’re even willing to put their money where their broken hearts are. Don’t stop here. Already a Globe Unlimited subscriber? Keep me logged in

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No Thanks Old money heir Stephen Bronfman last week confirmed reports that he has assembled an investor group to put up the estimated $1-billion (U.S.) or more that would be needed to bring an existing MLB team or expansion franchise to the city whose once beloved Expos fled for greener fields in 2004. Already a print newspaper subscriber? Click
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