He’d been in contention for the NHL scoring title and in the midst of an MVP-style season before his injury. Part of being an effective NHL general manager is understanding insurance. In the meantime, Fleury was exceptional at the other end. But the Blue Jackets had no answer for Sidney Crosby and they especially had no answer for Evgeni Malkin, who missed the final 15 games of the regular season recovering from an undisclosed injury.Malkin likely could have played a few games in the final week, but the Penguins figured, why risk it? First, he went out and brought in extra defencemen – Ron Hainsey and Mark Streit – because he knew that eventually, he would need more than a starting six. Insurance, sometimes you have to have it. When Hockey Night in Canada does its nightly playoff montage, one of Lemieux’s goals in that series is usually featured. He was the Conn Smythe winner in the 2009 Penguins’ Stanley Cup season and finished the series against Columbus with an eye-popping 11 points in five games (two goals, nine assists). Fleury set a Penguins’ record with the victory, his 57th in the playoffs, moving him past Tom Barrasso (56) for most in team history.Apart from Fleury’s clutch goaltending, ultimately what turned the series in Pittsburgh’s direction was the play of its stars down the middle. In Thursday’s deciding game, Fleury made 49 saves as the Penguins became the first Eastern Conference team to advance to the second round. And it turned out the Penguins were in good hands with Fleury. You need collision, of course, because there are always collisions in a hockey game, and some result in injury. But Murray also has had a bit of an injury history, too. But really, the most important policy is comprehensive and that’s what the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Jim Rutherford took out this year, in an attempt to enhance his team’s chances of defending the Stanley Cup. But his playoff pedigree is bullet-proof. But Pittsburgh’s high-powered offence lit up Bobrovsky. Most everyone thought Rutherford would, well in advance of the 2017 NHL expansion draft, move goaltender Marc-André Fleury because the expansion rules permit teams to protect only one goalie, and in Pittsburgh, that one is going to be Matt Murray, their goalie of the present and future.Murray helped them win the Stanley Cup last season and was the Penguins starter for 21 playoff games. Kris Letang’s season-ending surgery proved him correct. 3 because Fleury was also out – and this year, when it appeared all systems were go for the start of their series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Murray got injured in warmup of the opening game.Thankfully for the Pens, they made the decision to keep Fleury around for insurance purposes, a policy decision that paid big dividends, when he stepped in to provide difference-making goaltending in what finished as a 4-1 series victory.Columbus was supposed to have the goaltending edge in the series because of Sergei Bobrovsky, a sure-fire Vézina Trophy finalist, who’d had an exceptional year. The only other Penguins player to accomplish something comparable was Mario Lemieux, with 12 points in the 1991 Stanley Cup final against the Minnesota North Stars. He wasn’t able to start the playoff opener last year – that fell to Jeff Zatkoff, their No. But mostly, it was the deal that Rutherford didn’t make that had his NHL brethren puzzled, until it proved wholly prescient. Malkin did most of his damage while Canada was focused on its trio of Eastern Conference playoff teams, but his play was no less memorable, even if it happened over on Sportsnet 360.So the Penguins answered one of the early questions about their title defence, defeating a pretty good Columbus team, and now await the winner of the Washington Capitals-Toronto Maple Leafs’ series. Columbus posted the fourth-best record in the NHL regular season because of its one-to-12 depth up front.
It was, but not in the way people thought at the time.After having been so bad at so many things for so long, Toronto reached up and put a death grip on the one team doing anything worth cheering. Though they were always ahead, even in the lean years, hockey is currently crushing basketball in the TV ratings by factors.When this change was put to Raptors coach Dwane Casey, he said, “That happened very fast. But it does make the city’s sports what they should be – a recurring civic reward rather than an endless group penance. Ten years ago, that might have begun a decade of muddling about. Like, overnight.”He didn’t say it disapprovingly. Inside the arena, few bothered taking their seats until after tipoff. The Raptors were at the high-water mark for a while. If nothing else, Toronto fans have proved they are willing to endure limitless amounts of unwatchable entertainment.More than committed fans or well-to-do fans or a new generation of fans, what every profit-minded owner wants is a proud local tradition of masochism.The Raptors accidentally changed that calculus, since the 2013-14 season was designed to be a tank job.Basketball’s breakthrough made it impossible for everyone else to continue bumbling down the path of lucrative mediocrity. Until the final seconds, the atmosphere was oppressively regular season. You can’t share out the love equally between teams. Toronto sports went from a “I suppose I can see why you did that stupid thing, even though it was stupid” sort of a town to an Alec Baldwin-esque “Coffee is for closers” sort of town. The hysterical crowds that once showed up for the Raptors are now there for the Leafs instead. outlets such as ESPN had spent the previous decade painting the city as a post-apocalyptic sports wasteland overrun by cannibal fans eating their own teams. You felt as though the city you’d grown up in – a city whose three favourite sports were bad hockey, worse hockey and Harold Ballard in the off-season – was changing.Now, it’s changed back.During Tuesday’s Game 2 of Raptors-Bucks, the group at Jurassic Park looked like a poorly assembled picket line. Today, it means they must demonstrate they are willing to begin quickly fixing whatever is wrong or risk being drowned in apathy.You cannot guarantee being very good at all your games at once – that’s an accident of timing and competition. The accompanying photo showed Drake in full throat, howling from his courtside seat at a Raptors game – a spot he has yet to occupy during this year’s NBA playoffs. It felt nothing like 2014.It suggested that people like new things even more than good things.The other contributing factor is, of course, hockey. A few weeks ago, Rolling Stone ran a piece entitled “Is Toronto the Next Great North American Sports City?”Since this town is a figurative sheepdog wandering around the continental dinner party looking for a belly rub, this small bit of American love felt good. Even Toronto FC finally figured out that you should probably ask people if they want to play for your team before you begin burying them in bricks of money.That rising tide has floated all boats, but like any tide, it shifts. Every franchise may have been trying to get better before, but now they had to get better.A year later, the Leafs lit their roster on fire and began a rebuild. The biggest ovation during the first three quarters was reserved for a blooper reel played during a timeout. Then the Jays. Six months after that, the Blue Jays did what they had spent two decades avoiding – mortgaging an uncertain future for a reliable shot at the present. Now the Leafs.Compared to the hockey club, the other two are looking shaky at the moment. One will always be uppermost in the city’s esteem, usually whichever Prodigal Son is currently returning.What matters is creating an environment in which every organization feels consistent, grinding pressure to lap the new favourite.It may not make you the “best” sports city. Especially so since U.S. He said it like it was a natural adaptation.Over the 20 years before this sudden group resurgence, the problem with Toronto sports was two-fold – hegemonic control and general malaise.When one or two companies own all the teams, and all the teams are terrible, there is no pressing reason for any of them to get better. Among his many talents, Drake always seems to know when a trend has run its course.Three years ago, when the Raptors began their current run of postseason appearances, it felt like a tipping point. Hours before home games, hundreds of people would already be lined up to get into the viewing zone outside the Air Canada Centre.The feeling coming from those crowds was infectious.
Not that his emergence is a shock.Lehkonen has a lethal shot and a sky-high hockey IQ. The lesson: If canines know not to chase people mindlessly around stationary objects, hockey players should be able to learn to do the same, or at least imitate the behaviour.It’s not known whether Montreal Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen had a dog growing up in Piikkio, Finland, but he plays like one, relentlessly, tirelessly and with enthusiasm.In the first period at the Bell Centre on Thursday Lehkonen provided an example of how subtle positioning and on-the-fly decision making can affect a close game.With New York Rangers defenceman Marc Staal skating back to retrieve a loose puck in the right corner of his own zone the Finn bustled in behind him, on his outside shoulder, forcing him behind the net.That’s where Lehkonen, rather than following, turned hard and scooted around the front, thus forcing Staal toward the boards and, as he turned to avoid a referee, the Finn sneaked his stick in and pilfered the puck.The play would eventually result in a goal – Lehkonen’s second of the playoffs, which jointly leads the team with Alex Radulov – and showed why Habs coach Claude Julien has compared the heady young winger to Loui Eriksson of the Vancouver Canucks, a one-time 36-goal scorer in the NHL.“A smart, smart player, he just has that personality, not much fazes him,” Julien said. He also owns a world junior championship gold medal and, a year ago, led Sweden’s top pro league in playoff scoring, setting a Frolunda club record. Subban and Lars Eller; in: Shea Weber, Andrew Shaw, Radulov), and continued at the trade deadline (in: Jordie Benn, Steve Ott, Dwight King, Andreas Martinsen).Overlooked in much of the discussion is the never-say-die contribution from Lehkonen, a second-round choice in 2013, Bergevin’s second draft with the club.He has 14 points in his past 17 games playing mostly third-line minutes. Roger Neilson, the late, great NHL coach, had a theory about fore-checking and early in his career he used a large, elderly collie named Jacques to teach it to junior-aged players.Neilson would head behind the net with a tennis ball on his stick and his dog would stand in front of the goalie, waiting for him to make a move. Coincidentally, one of the club’s signature exports is Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.“Although [Lundqvist’s twin brother] Joel might be a bigger deal back there,” said Lehkonen, who speaks in a commanding baritone.The younger Lehkonen made his debut in the Liiga, or Finland’s elite league, at 16.He’ll never be a bruiser in the NHL – he is listed, optimistically, at six feet and 182 pounds – but as Bergevin told the Montreal Gazette earlier this year, “he shakes hands like he’s six-four.” “He just goes about his business.”Lehkonen later added an assist on Brendan Gallagher’s go-ahead goal and ended the night on the top line and first wave of the power-play.So, hands up out there if you predicted the 21-year-old NHL rookie would be the Habs’ most consistent forward in the playoffs to this point. Anyone?The Canadiens face elimination on Saturday at Madison Square Garden, which will test the theory character is more consequential than other qualities in hockey.Habs general-manager Marc Bergevin began stockpiling grit and leadership last summer (out: P.K.
With 6 minutes 56 seconds remaining, McDavid delivered a crushing open-ice check on San Jose’s Marcus Sorensen. A tough left winger in his day, Kypreos played eight seasons in the NHL, accumulating 90 points and 1,210 penalty minutes in 442 regular-season games.“I thought it was a great moment for [McDavid] to be able to do something like that,” Kypreos said. The hit was strategic and intentional.“I don’t see it so much about him going outside of his comfort zone, as much as I do him adding a dimension to his game,” Kypreos said. Fans chanted “MVP.” The Oilers on the bench looked charged.The hit changed the game, and maybe the series. The left winger was skating with his head down when McDavid barrelled into him shoulder-first. The Oilers lost that night, but sparked by the hit, went on to win the next four games, and made it to the Stanley Cup final.In 2010, the Flyers’ Mike Richards caught the Bruins’ David Krejci skating with his head down during Game 3 of the second round, and knocked him out of the game and the rest of the series. Sorensen dropped, his stick flying.The sell-out crowd at Rogers Place roared. The energy that had belonged to the Sharks shifted the Oilers’ way.Mark Letestu scored near the end of the second period to cut the Sharks’ lead to 3-2, with an assist from McDavid. He delivered his biggest hit to tip the series in the Oilers’ favour. The Flyers went on to win, and also reached the Stanley Cup final.The play caught the attention of Nick Kypreos, now a hockey analyst with Sportsnet. You don’t see many like that anymore.”The Art Ross Trophy-winner as the NHL’s leading scorer with 100 points, McDavid is known for his blazing speed and preternatural puck-handling. Then David Desharnais completed Edmonton’s rally, flipping a puck past Martin Jones from in front of the net 18:15 into overtime.The victory gave the Oilers a 3-2 lead in the series, with a chance to win in California on Saturday night. In the second period of the fifth game of the first round on Thursday night, the Oilers’ season was imperilled.With the series tied, the Sharks had scored three times unanswered and had a 3-1 lead.Connor McDavid, Edmonton’s 20-year-old captain, had been struggling to score against San Jose’s tight defence, so he found another way to impose his skill on the game. “It showed push-back and relentlessness and lifted the whole bench. “It showed another side to him that a lot of people didn’t think he had.“You can change the feel of a game with that type of hit. Oscar Klefbom tied it with 2:46 remaining in the third. He didn’t talk about it, but it was no accident. “I am sure right now the Sharks’ players are thinking, ‘I didn’t know he could do that.’”McDavid has one goal and two assists through five games, but the Oilers have the series lead.“I am sure guys are saying, ‘As if I didn’t have enough to worry about with him, now I have to keep my head up,’” Kypreos said. If a seventh game is necessary, it will be played at Rogers Place on Monday. Amid the celebration afterward, McDavid’s thunderous hit was lost.“It was a tipping point,” Ron MacLean, the Hockey Night in Canada host, said Friday. In this series, he has had four hits in two games. It showed he would do anything to help his team win the game.“It was huge.”MacLean said it reminded him of two playoff series that suddenly turned.In 2006, Raffi Torres delivered a vicious open-ice check on Milan Michalek in Game 2 of the Oilers-Sharks second-round playoff series.
“I was thinking I have five guaranteed minutes, and I’ve got to make the most of it – and it kept building up – I just had to clock it in and go as hard as I could in that five – and [the minutes] just kept going up and up.”Maker took great motivation from a speech Dellavedova and Terry made to their teammates this week, challenging everyone to work as hard as the rookies, Maker and Brogdon. “He’s going to take the state of Wisconsin on a ride, and the city of Milwaukee, and we should all sign up.”He leads his team in countless statistical categories, but it’s not just the Greek Freak who is leading to the Bucks’ success. He’s only 22 years old,” Kidd said. If they get out of character, it’s not a very good movie,” Kidd said after Friday’s practice. 9 selling jersey in the NBA this season, and his No. Maker is now a starting centre – the rookie who was playing high-school ball at Orangeville’s Athlete Institute a year ago and was playing five minutes a game a few months back.“I just had to trust and now it’s paying off,” Maker said. He picked up a basketball for the first time in 2007, was in the Greek A2 League by 2012 and drafted by the Bucks 15th over all in 2013. The ad ends with the voice of the precocious star:“Eventually everyone is gonna know my name.”That name, by the way, is pronounced YAHN-iss ahn-teh-toe-KUHN-poe.”He had the No. The Bucks are the first team to start two rookies in a playoff game since Golden State did it with Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli in 2013.At their practice facility on the grounds of a Catholic seminary, a 15-minute drive from downtown Milwaukee, the Bucks were met by a large crowd of reporters. Francis, Wisc., the flags of six countries hang on the wall, representing the men who make up the plucky young Milwaukee Bucks team that is turning heads in the NBA playoffs.A U.S. Inside their practice facility in St. And former Cavalier Dellavedova, who has been setting masterful screens, is sharing the role of veteran leader with Jason Terry.Few might have anticipated that the team, which lost Jabari Parker to injury this season, could be playing like this now. 3-seeded Toronto Raptors. “Us using our length, flying around on the defensive end – right now it’s all coming together.”A new stadium is being constructed downtown beside the current one, and a new practice facility will be there, too. The team defence has been right on point. Malcolm Brogdon is the floor general, Maker and Greg Monroe the powerful tandem at centre, and Tony Snell the shut-down defender. He and his brothers peddled sunglasses on the streets to help their family pay for food. They caught fire in March and went on to win 14 of their 18 games in that action-packed month, making Kidd the Eastern Conference coach of the month.The Bucks have asked Snell to guard DeRozan with grit. 6 in the East – to advance past the No. 34 jersey is the one most prominently worn around town and displayed on store-front mannequins, who are also wearing cheese-head hats.“He’s just getting started on his journey. Few would have bet on this youthful Bucks squad – seeded No. He defies double and triple teams with his long stride, can be used as a point guard and an inbound passer, he bullies through the paint, dishes expert passes, beats defenders in transition, is a prolific rebounder and shot-blocker, and throws down some of the NBA’s most stunning dunks.Nike dropped a new ad this week, putting Antetokounmpo’s fascinating life into a one-minute video – the ultimate out-of-nowhere story.He was born in 1994 in Athens to Nigerian immigrants. There’s one for Bosnia and Herzegovina for Mirza Teletovic, an Australian flag for both the invaluable veteran Matthew Dellavedova and the surprising rookie Thon Maker – who is also represented by the Sudanese flag. Khris Middleton has had a hot hand. Their excitement was muted, but their pride in how they’re performing rang clear.“This is what I envisioned,” Maker said. Monroe was a guy they asked to come off the bench at centre and he answered big time in that role. “So we talk about that a lot – staying in character.”The leading man and action hero of this movie is definitely Antetokounmpo, the uniquely talented 6-foot-11 star who is built much like a real-life superhero and may some day be the world’s best player. The Bucks are showing off talent, team work and strategy, coming together at precisely the right moment.Coach Jason Kidd preaches to them about every person staying in the “character” the team has constructed for them.“If they stay in character as a team, that movie is great to watch. Now up 2-1 in the series after winning Game 3 by 27 points, they are presenting tremendous challenges to the more playoff-seasoned Raps, especially to all-stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. flag hangs alongside ones from Greece and Nigeria – for Giannis Antetokounmpo, a kid raised in Athens in a family of Nigerian immigrants and the freakishly athletic 22-year-old taking the NBA by storm. It makes you wonder what kind of things this team will accomplish there when it opens the 2018-19 NBA season.
His latest came one minute and four seconds into overtime on Friday night to give the Capitals a 2-1 win at the Verizon Center. T.J. Their power play’s been good but five-on-five I think we feel pretty confident in our game.”The Capitals scored first in what was a comparatively more conservative game than the previous four in the series. Just have a Coke and enjoy the match.“It’s playoffs. Ovechkin lay on the ice for several minutes and had to be helped to the dressing room. The Caps now lead the first-round NHL playoff series 3-2. “For sure, I’ve got a lot of respect for that guy. “Yeah I just needed a little break,” he said. Ovechkin also skated toward the Toronto bench and offered some thoughts.On further review, Kadri wasn’t so sure he was happy to see Ovechkin return.“Ah, I’m not quite sure I was happy to see him come back on the ice,” he said. From what I saw he’s okay.“I’m hoping he’s okay. The Toronto Maple Leafs slipped from the tightrope they have walked in this playoff series and now are hanging on for dear life.They were done in for the second time in the series by Washington Capitals forward Justin Williams, a seize-the-moment kind of guy whose legacy as a playoff hero is now written in stone. It’s all it takes,” said Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin, the central figure in a sub-plot that played large earlier in the game. You don’t want that to be an extended injury. “I was watching TV. They say the ability to simply play that carried them this far is still with them and they know they are an even match for the Capitals.“The scores indicated it,” Leafs defenceman Matt Hunwick said. He tried to get out of the way, it’s not like I stuck my knee out,” Kadri said. That drew a penalty for slashing at 19:34 while Kadri and Caps forward Tom Wilson were given minor penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct in the ensuing scrum. Right now we going back to play in Toronto and try to win there.”The Maple Leafs had their chances to grab the win in regulation time but were frustrated by Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. Game 7. However, Ovechkin sent a buzz through the crowd when he returned for the second period.Ovechkin was out for the opening faceoff and then flattened Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner for the second time in the game. “One shot and we get the [series] lead. But at the end of the day I’m cheating my teammates if I don’t try to get a piece of him because he’s dumping the puck in and going around our defencemen.”Ovechkin said there was nothing serious about his injury and that while he was in the dressing room he watched his teammates capitalize on the power play. “You kind of get more comfortable each and every night to expect not too much space, it’s pretty physical, a lot of 50-50 battles that you got to make sure you’re winning.“I think that’s kind of been the key for us, for everybody, just trying to get better each game and tonight’s a big one for us.”The drama in regulation time was provided by Leafs centre Nazem Kadri, who upended Ovechkin with a controversial hit late in the first period. There might have been grounds to call Kadri for clipping, which is when a player lowers his body and throws it at or below the knees of an opponent. His scoring exploits, particularly in the seventh and deciding games of playoff series, earned Williams the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP when the Kings won in 2014.“Mr. They smothered four Leafs power plays.The Leafs now have to fight off the pressure of playing in an elimination game on Sunday. The goal came at the end of a tremendous shift by Matthews’ line, as the Capitals were hemmed in their own zone.He said before the game he thinks he is getting better as his first NHL playoff experience moves along.“Yeah, I just think each game, myself personally I feel like I’ve gotten better,” Matthews said. The game grew nastier in the wake of Kadri’s hit.Kadri was given a tripping penalty for the hit, although it was a hip check. “I think four overtimes, [there is] not a lot to choose. Oshie scored late in the first period on a power play that came as the result of a hip check by Leafs centre Nazem Kadri on Ovechkin, which fostered much ill will over the rest of the game.Auston Matthews, fresh off his selection as one of three finalists for the Calder Trophy, which goes to the NHL’s rookie-of-the-year, tied the score six minutes into the second period. I’m glad he came back. “It happened really quick. In the remarkable four overtime games that have been played in this first-round NHL playoff series, Williams scored the winning goal in two of them. It’s a pretty tender area. I didn’t watch the replay, but if it’s dirty it’s dirty. He was non-committal about whether or not Kadri’s hit was clean. League going to watch it and if not, it doesn’t matter right now.” Kadri threw a hip check that knocked Ovechkin out of the game briefly with what appeared to be a left knee or leg injury.Kadri threw a classic hip check on Ovechkin at 17:32, flipping the star over and he landed on his left leg. However, the replays showed Kadri hit Ovechkin on the thigh, above his knee.“I thought I got right on the puck and then tried to get a piece of him. They can eliminate the Leafs in Game 6 of the best-of-seven affair on Sunday night in Toronto.Williams, 35, has three Stanley Cup rings from his days with the Carolina Hurricanes and the Los Angeles Kings. He took some criticism when the Capitals won 5-4 in Game 4 but was sharp all evening in Game 5 with 24 saves.Also sharp were the Washington penalty killers. He was running around a little bit when he came back, so he must have been fine.Ovechkin went after Kadri in the second period. He gave Kadri a jab on the arm and then Capitals defenceman Matt Niskanen chopped Kadri on the left knee with his stick.
We are unable to comment further on an ongoing investigation.”Nastase, whose behaviour on court during his career often landed him trouble and earned him the nickname “Nasty”, began the tie under a cloud after remarks overheard at the official draw ceremony on Friday.He was heard speaking in Romanian to one of his team members about Williams’ baby.“Let’s see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?” he was quoted by Romanian and some British media as saying.Williams, who confirmed her pregnancy through a spokeswoman on Wednesday, is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who is white. World number seven Konta was in tears when play was briefly suspended at the tie in Constanta where she was up against Sorana Cirstea, apparently because of remarks made by Nastase.He was eventually excluded from the tie because of “unsportsmanlike conduct”.Konta recovered her composure to win the last five games for a 6-2 6-3 victory that levelled up the tie at 1-1 after Romania’s number one Simona Halep had beaten Heather Watson.“Mr Nastase was also removed from the grounds due to his serious misconduct,” the ITF said in a second statement.“His accreditation was removed and he will play no further part in the tie.“The ITF has launched an investigation into this matter as well as previous comments made by Mr Nastase during the week.”British captain Keothavong, who said she was made to feel “uncomfortable” by comments made by Nastase at the official pre-match dinner, said the abuse during play had been unacceptable.“We expected a patriotic crowd for the Romanian team but we don’t expect abusive language to be used … Former tennis bad boy Ilie Nastase found himself in deep water on Saturday after being booted out of Romania’s Fed Cup tie against Britain, a day after allegations that he made a derogatory comment about Serena Williams’ unborn child.The 70-year-old former French Open and U.S. language that is not appropriate for anyone to speak to any other human.”ITF president David Haggerty said an investigation would be launched.“This is unacceptable behaviour by a Fed Cup captain. what he said directed to both Johanna and myself is… No player, official, member of the media or fan should have to endure any kind of abuse, and Mr Nastase will rightly play no further part in this tie,” he said.“A formal investigation is already underway and any decision or sanction will be made by the ITF’s Adjudication Panel. Open champion, who is captain of Romania’s Fed Cup team, was sent from his courtside chair after apparently aiming abuse at the umpire, British player Johanna Konta and visiting captain Anne Keothavong during the second singles rubber.