17
August
2018

Saturday at home agains

Despite a stronger start for the Maple Leafs against the Vancouver Canucks – building a 7-1 lead at one point on the shot clock – things didnt look too good until the final 20 minutes. Struggling to generate much offence in the second half of the first period and into the middle frame, the Leafs found their legs in the third period, scoring three unanswered goals to split their season series with the Canucks at a win apiece with a 3-1 victory. “We were pleading, begging, crying, all those things to change the way we were playing and it just seemed that we didnt have our sharpness in terms of making tape-to-tape passes,” said Carlyle. “Then we tried to make plays as individuals in the second period and they just sat back with their 1-4 (formation) and trapped.” But with a chance to head into the Olympic break on a high and post an impressive 11-2-1 record in their last fourteen games, Carlyle asked his team during the second intermission to find twenty inspired minutes. “The idea is that it was a one-goal hockey game, here we have an opportunity to pull a game out of the fire by scoring one goal to give ourselves a chance,” explained Carlyle. “We had a break coming. Wouldnt it be nice for everybody to feel a lot better about ourselves with a win here versus a loss?” Tied with Montreal at 70 points in the Atlantic, the Leafs run has positioned them well for the final 22 games of the regular season, sitting seven points up on the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final Wild Card spot. “We talked about wanting to go into the break I think probably six games ago,” said Dion Phaneuf. “Our focus really focused in on playing well going into the break. We feel weve done that, we got some big wins and we wanted to get as many points as we possibly could going into the break and we did that.” Five Points 1) Burrows Pokes The Bear Alex Burrows drew the ire of Phil Kessel late in the second period, cross checking him near the chin before giving him a glove on punch. Kessel responded with a few shots of his own and was noticeably agitated as he left the ice. But the Leaf sniper responded in the third period with what held up as the game-winning goal along with an assist on James Van Riemsdyks insurance marker. “I dont know, its just a hockey game,” said Kessel, after the game. “I wasnt too happy, but its part of the game." It wasnt the first time, though, this season that Burrows had gone after Kessel. In the previous meeting on Nov. 2, the two players fought in what was only Kessels second career NHL fight. On Saturday, both players received just two minutes for roughing with an extra two minutes going to Burrows for high sticking. “I think Burrows has kind of a mandate to disrupt Phil so its always nice when you come out on the right end of a big game like that and Phil scored a big goal for us,” added Carlyle. 2) Kulemins New-Found Talent Nikolai Kulelmin surprised many by how well he performed playing centre between Mason Raymond and Troy Bodie on Thursday in Tampa. But he showed it was no fluke with another solid outing on that same line against Vancouver. Assisting on Mason Raymonds goal that tied the game 1-1 early in the third period, Kulemin also improved in the faceoff circle going 7-for-16. “There has been kind of an unveiling of Kulemin at centre,” said Carlyle. “Its been a big surprise for everybody.” With Kulemin heading towards unrestricted free agency this summer, it will be interesting to see if his new-found versatility will affect how the Leafs approach the decision they will have to make. Additionally, Carlyle also indicated that David Bolland should be available once the Leafs resume their schedule on February 27th against the Islanders, giving the Leafs a wealth of strength down the middle with Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri, Nik Kulemin, Dave Bolland and Jay McClement. 3) Bodie Plays Into Carlyles Good Books Bodie continued to be featured regularly by Randy Carlyle against the Vancouver Canucks, playing 14:13 on a line with Raymond and Kulemin. On Thursday in Tampa, Carlyle suggested that Bodies play has been so strong of late that he felt he owed the Portage Le Prarie native more ice time. “Its a nice vote of confidence,” said Bodie before Saturdays game, regarding Carlyles comment. “Being up and down from the minors, its not the easiest thing to do but to get in the line-up and get some opportunity and to play well with it, its nice. To hear it from him (Carlyle) is good too.” Bodie rewarded his coach, assisting on Mason Raymonds tying goal, and tied for the team lead with six hits. “I think just being strong on pucks, getting into fore-checks and being hard on fore-checks,” said Bodie, on what has allowed him to play into Carlyles good books. “Thats really my game, getting in there and just getting pucks back for the skill guys on the line.” 4) JVR and Kessel Excited For Their Olympic Experience Van Riemsdyk and Kessel played a big part in the Leafs come-from-behind 3-1 win but next week, they will be hoping to display that same prowess for Team USA at the Olympics. The two players along with Kulemin will head to Newark on Sunday and then on to Sochi. “Im excited,” said Kessel. “Obviously whenever you get the chance to play for your country its a big honour and Im looking forward to it.” “Its a huge thrill on this stage,” added van Riemsdyk. “One of the highest levels of sport you can play at is the Olympics and to be with a guy I play with day in, day out, it should be fun.” It would stand to reason that JVR and Kessel would play on the same line with Team USA but both indicated they have not been told as of yet who they will be playing with. One thing is for sure though. If they do play together, theyll have to find a new centre to mesh with. “Im excited to watch them play; I think theyre going to do great,” said Tyler Bozak, who said hell be watching his teammates from the Bahamas over the Olympic break. “Its nice that theyre coming into the Olympics really hot. Im Canadian so if Canada and the U.S. play each other, its going to be tough. I dont know who Im going to cheer for yet.” 5) Olympic Break Concerns The Olympic break couldnt come at a better time for the Vancouver Canucks, having lost seven straight. But for the Maple Leafs, the concern for Randy Carlyle is that the break will interrupt the hot streak the Leafs have found themselves on. “It gives us an opportunity to get our team back together and not to drop what weve done now, its to maintain some level of consistency and push for the last 22 games to get ourselves in the best possible position to qualify for the playoffs,” said Carlyle. With four sets of back-to-back games remaining and a five-game road trip that will take them to Anaheim, San Jose, Los Angeles, Washington and Detroit, the schedule will be a grind. “We know that the games are going to get tougher, were going to go out west, play some Western Conference teams, its not going to be an easy schedule that weve got coming,” Carlyle cautioned. “There are no easy ones in the NHL and theyre just going to get tougher when we come back, thats for sure.” He also opted to leave his players with a message he hopes they heed over the break. “The message was ‘the break is here for you to rest and relax but youd be well advised to make sure that you have some form of exercise taking place a few times during the break because when we come back, were going to go to work,” said Carlyle. Injury Update: Jay McClement left in the second period after tangling with Dan Hamhuis, falling awkwardly into the corner boards. He did not return to the game, playing just 5:22. Randy Carlyle confirmed after the game that McClement had a gash over his eye and went to the quiet room. Stats Pack: 11-2-1: Leafs record in final 14 games 100: Career assists for Tyler Bozak; earned it on Phil Kessels goal 14:13: Troy Bodies ice time; second highest among this season 60%: Tyler Bozaks night in the faceoff circle going 12/20 57%: Nazem Kadris night in the faceoff circle going 12/21 7: Losses in a row for the Vancouver Canucks 19: Games since Daniel Sedin last scored a goal 28: Games Alexander Burrows has gone without a goal Quote of the night: “I dont think anyones happy when stuff like that happens, he kind of went after (Phil). I mean its a scrum, theres going to be tons in hockey but I think Phil kind of likes that stuff secretly. It kind of fired him up. They say dont poke the bear and I think they kind of did there. Phil showed it in the third period.” – Tyler Bozak on Phil Kessels skirmish with Alexander Burrows. Up Next: The New York Islanders to kick off the final 22 games of the regular season in New York on February 27th. Sheldon Richardson Vikings Jersey . - Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard has signed with WME-IMG, saying the sports management powerhouse will help maximize the value of my brand. Mike Hughes Vikings Jersey .Y. -- The New York Islanders were merely content with a lopsided victory. http://www.thevikingsshoponline.com/Yout...Vikings-Jersey/. The 2014 edition will be the ninth meeting between the Caps and Vikes in a tradition that dates back to 2005. "Since the original Whitecaps, the club has enjoyed fantastic support from fans in Victoria and all across Vancouver Island," said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. Mike Hughes Jersey . -- Kole Calhoun homered and drove in three runs, Albert Pujols also went deep and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Chicago White Sox 8-4 Friday night. Brian ONeill Vikings Jersey . Next week, hell try to add to the list. A Stanley Cup champion as a rookie, Seguin followed that up by becoming the youngest player to lead the Boston Bruins in scoring.PORTLAND, Ore. - With a potential playoff spot in the balance, as well as a chance to climb to the top of the Cascadia Cup standings, the Vancouver Whitecaps travelled to Portland on Saturday looking to make amends for the drubbing suffered at the the hands of the Timbers less than a month ago. It was not to be. In a near-replica of that August 20th matchup at B.C. Place Stadium, Vancouver got off to a lively start before giving up a goal and then fading down the stretch. Portland dominated for long stretches en route to another 3-0 trouncing of the Whitecaps in front of 20,814 at Providence Park. Fanendo Adi scored twice, Diego Valeri added a goal and an assist, and Donovan Ricketts had his fourth shutout as the Whitecaps ceded the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot to their Pacific Northwest rivals with just five games remaining. "Were chasing them now," said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson. "Its a different scenario when youre chasing a team rather than them chasing you." The game started with the visitors creating some good chances in the opening 15 minutes, including a Sebastian Fernandez shot in the games first minute that went just wide of the post. "For the first 20-odd minutes we were excellent but werent able to capitalize on that," said Robinson. "And goals change games, as we all know." Unfortunately for the Whitecaps, it was the Timbers that changed the game to their benefit. Following an end-to-end first twenty minutes, momentum started to shift in Portlands favour, culminating in the opening goal from Valeri at the 28-minute mark. The sequence started with Steven Beitashour getting caught in a two-on-one situation on the right wing. With Beitashour unable to commit, Portlands Jorge Villafana had time and space to neatly pick out Valeri running unmarked through Vancouvers penalty area. "My initial reaction was to go out, but I saw I had guy," said Beitashour. "I didnt want to go out and have them just play in behind, so I sat in and he whipped in a good ball. Great finish." Beitashour, a question to start prior to the match, had words with Mauro Rosales about the defending mixup, but the damage was already done. "The ggoal took the wind out of our sails," said centre back Andy OBrien.dddddddddddd Robinson agreed that there was a bit of a drop-off in Vancouvers performance once the home side took the lead. "When we go a goal down, were probably not playing with the same energy, desire or confidence we should," Robinson said. "But weve got to learn, because were not always going to score the first goal." The Timbers put a choke-hold on the remainder of the first half and Vancouver took a one-goal deficit into halftime. The visitors regrouped to start the second half, but a costly mistake in the 66th minute by Matias Laba gave Portland a chance to double the lead, and Adi capitalized on the chance for the first of his two goals on the night. Laba tried to cut the ball back near midfield with his teammates mostly in the attacking third. Valeri took it cleanly off Laba and easily found Adi breaking towards David Ousteds net all alone. "Ninety-nine times out of 100 (Laba) makes that play," said Robinson. "Valeris a good player, hes knicked the ball." Adi put the finishing touches on just four minutes later, slipping a ball between Ousteds legs for the final goal of the game. The additions of Kekuta Manneh, Darren Mattocks and Nicolas Mezquida created a flurry of half-chances in the waning moments of the game, but Portland saw out the match to keep the visitors scoreless for the the sixth time in nine games. Vancouver is winless on the road in that stretch as well. "Its not a fun way to lose," said Ousted. "Its not a fun place to lose, especially with the fan support we had out today. There are five games left and we cant feel sorry for ourselves, we cant get down. We need to continue to work." The Whitecaps face three playoff-bound teams in their remaining five games, starting next Saturday at home against Real Salt lake. Despite the recent form and a tough outlook for upcoming games, Robinson doesnt feel his team is wilting. "People can say whatever they want," he said. "Its a good challenge for us. If we want to play in big games, important games, weve got to cope with this pressure. Theres a little bit of pressure on next week." 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