Thursday, May 24, 2018

What Did You Miss Wednesday?

Photo: CHL Images/Marissa Baecker

--It was the Sam Steel show at the Brandt Centre.  The Regina Pats captain tied a Mastercard Memorial Cup record with 5 assists as the Pats beat Swift Current 6-5 to avoid a tiebreaker.  The win eliminates the Broncos from the tournament and sends Regina to a semi-final against Hamilton Saturday night. Nick Henry had a hat-trick for the winners.

--The Washington Capitals are headed to the Stanley Cup Final.  The Capitals beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 to win Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.  Andre Burakovsky had a pair for the winners while Braden Holtby stopped 29 shots to record his 2nd straight shutout. The Lightning, who were the NHL's highest scoring team, did not score a goal in just under 160 minutes against the former Saskatoon Blade netminder.  The Capitals have not been in the Stanley Cup since 1998.  The Stanley Cup Final will start Monday in Vegas.

--The New York |Rangers have a new head coach.  51-year-old David Quinn coached Boston University to four NCAA Tournament appearances in five seasons.

--The SJHL's Kindersley Klippers and Notre Dame Hounds are in need of a new head coach.  Geoff Grimwood resigned in Kindersley while the Hounds are looking for a new bench boss after Clint Mylymok stepped down to take a position as Head Coach and GM of the Maryland Black Bears of the North American Hockey League. The vacancies mean four teams are looking for head coaches as the Battleford Stars and Humboldt Broncos are also looking for new personnel.

--The NFL draft is heading to  Music City.
NFL team owners approved the Tennessee Titans bid to host the 2019 NFL Draft  in Nashville. The 84th NFL draft, which takes place April 25-27, 2019, will span across multiple landmarks in Nashville's historic downtown district.

-- Olympic curler Cheryl Bernard has been named the new president and chief executive officer of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.
Bernard, who skipped Canada to women's silver at the 2010 Winter Olympics, takes on her new job next month.
Canada's Sports Hall of Fame is located in Calgary at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park.
It houses 100,000 artifacts in a dozen galleries and features 657 inductees across 66 sports.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

May 23 Stanley Cup Playoffs Morning Skate

The Lightning and Capitals will face off in Game 7 tonight at AMALIE Arena in Tampa with the winner crowned the Eastern Conference champion and earning the right to face the Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. Tampa Bay and Washington have never met in a winner-take-all contest and neither club has required a Game 7 this postseason.

* This marks the 33rd time in NHL history that a Game 7 will be required to determine a Stanley Cup finalist. Home teams own a 21-11 edge in the previous 32 such contests.

* This is the fourth consecutive year that the Eastern Conference Final has required a seventh and deciding game.


The Lightning hold a 5-2 record in Game 7s including a 3-0 mark on home ice. They will contest a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final for the third time in the past four years, having defeated the Rangers 2-0 in 2015 and lost to the Penguins 2-1 in 2016. In fact, the Lightning have required all seven games in each of their five appearances in the Conference Finals.

* The Lightning roster has a combined 78 games of Game 7 experience, including six players with at least five career victories in the winner-take-all scenario: Anton Stralman (7-1), Ryan McDonagh (6-1), Dan Girardi (6-2), Chris Kunitz (6-3), Braydon Coburn (5-2) and Ryan Callahan (5-2). All have recorded Game 7 wins over the Capitals with other teams.

* Four Lightning players have tallied a game-winning goal in a Game 7: Coburn, Girardi, Kunitz and Alex Killorn.

* The Lightning won the franchise’s only championship with a 2-1 victory in Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final against the Flames. In that contest, Ruslan Fedotenko – who tied for the team lead with 12 goals that postseason – scored both goals and captain Dave Andreychuk, now Tampa Bay’s Vice President of Corporate and Community Affairs, was the first to hoist the Stanley Cup.


The Capitals hold a 4-11 record in Game 7s including a 1-3 mark on the road. Washington will play in its 11th Game 7 since the beginning of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the most among all teams in that span.

* The Capitals roster has a combined 67 games of Game 7 experience with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin set to make their 11th career appearance, one shy of Boston’s Zdeno Chara (12) for the most among active NHL players. Patrick Roy and Scott Stevens (13 apiece) have the most Game 7 appearances in NHL history.

* Ovechkin and Backstrom have played each of their 10 prior Game 7s together, the most Game 7 appearances as teammates in NHL history.

* Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov, who enters the contest on a nine-game point streak (6-8—14), tallied the game-winner in the Capitals' most recent Game 7 victory, a 2-1 decision over the Islanders in the 2015 First Round.


Of the 171 all-time Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

* The team that scores first is 127-44 (.743), including a 1-1 mark in 2018.

* Home teams own a 100-71 (.585) advantage, including a 1-1 record in 2018.

* Forty-one have required overtime (24.2%). Home teams have a 21-20 edge.

CFL Rule Changes

TORONTO (May 23, 2018) -- Rule changes designed to improve player health and safety and eliminate illegal contact as a challengeable play will be in place when the Canadian Football League (CFL) kicks off its regular season next month.

The league’s Board of Governors has now approved the changes which were first proposed by the CFL’s Rules Committee earlier this year.

“The governors have again emphasized the importance of player safety to our league, as well as the need to protect game flow on behalf of our fans,” said Darren Hackwood, the CFL’s Senior Director of Officiating.

Here is a summary of the changes to the CFL rule book:
Illegal contact on a receiver can no longer be a play coaches can challenge (and send to video review).
The replay official will automatically review “potential touchdowns” – plays marked down short of the line when it when it appears obvious a touchdown has been scored.
It will be illegal for any player to deliver a forcible block on an opponent while moving back towards his own goal line, sometimes referred to as a “blindside” block.
Low blocks that occur outside of the “tackle box” – the area that extends from tight end to tight end and from the quarterback or kicker to two yards beyond the line of scrimmage – are outlawed.
The definition of spearing is widened to include any situation where a player delivers a blow with his helmet as the initial or primary point of contact. (This does not apply to a low running ball carrier.)
A loophole in the “sleeper” play rule is closed by making it illegal for a player who enters the game and remains outside the numbers to receive the ball in any manner, including a kick or lateral.
What constitutes a quarterback making a legal pass behind the line of scrimmage is now defined as the passer having at least one of his feet on or behind the line of scrimmage instead of requiring that the release point of the ball be behind the line of scrimmage.
The so-called “force out rule” is eliminated: a receiver catching a ball has to place at least one foot inbounds regardless of whether he was contacted in mid-air.
The penalty for “pyramiding” – the practice of using another player to elevate one’s self to block a kick – is increased from five yards to ten yards.
Allow the Replay Official to correct the game clock after a challenge to what the clock should read as a result of the challenge.

The Rules Committee, which includes several coaches and general managers as well as veteran official Al Bradbury and representatives of the Canadian Football Players Association, met in Winnipeg during Mark’s CFL Week last March.

The Board of Governors, which meets regularly throughout the year, includes the owners of privately held teams and the chairpersons of community-led teams.


What Did You Miss Tuesday?

Photo: Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

--The Hamilton Bulldogs defeated Acadie-Bathurst 3-2 at the Mastercard Memorial Cup. If Regina beats Swift Current tomorrow, they will advance to play Hamilton in the semi-final with the Titan going to the final.  If Swift Current wins, the Quebec champs will go to the final with the Bulldogs playing the winner of a Swift Current-Regina tiebreaker game on Thursday. 

-- The San Jose Sharks and left wing Evander Kane have reportedly agreed to terms on a long-term contract extension.  The deal is apparently seven years worth 49 million dollars.  The 26 year old was traded to the Sharks at the trade deadline. He is eligible to be a free agent July 1. 

--Jake Harty's season is over before it started.  It is believed the Riders receiver, who signed as a free agent, suffered a torn ACL Sunday during training camp. 

--ESPN released its Fame 100 list on Tuesday. That list consists of the 100 most famous athletes in the world is compiled based on how often an athlete's name is searched online, earnings from endorsements and social media followers.  Cristiano Ronaldo, Lebron James and Lionel Messi are the top 3. No NHL or MLB player made the list. 

-- NFL owners gave temporary approval Tuesday for a proposal designed to make the kickoff safer. The new rule will be in place for the 2018 season but will be evaluated next spring based on injury numbers and other factors.

The primary changes include:
  • The elimination of running starts for kickoff coverage teams
  • A requirement that eight of the 11 men on the return team must be aligned in the "setup zone" within 15 yards of the ball
  • No blocking within the "setup zone" until after the ball touches the ground if it is not first caught
  • The elimination of two-man wedge blocks
  • Kickoff team must have five men lined up on either side of the ball, a move that will limit schemes designed to get free runners in coverage down the field.

 If the numbers don't improve to the league's liking, more dramatic changes -- including the elimination of kickoffs -- would be on the table for 2019.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Rider Roster Moves

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced the following roster moves:

International defensive back Daniel Davie
National defensive back Tristan MacDonald-Doughlin

National defensive lineman Eddie Steele

International defensive lineman Nick James
International defensive back John Ojo

National offensive lineman Jeremy Zver

(Ryan Pollock/Riders PR)

What Did You Miss Monday?

Photo: CHL Images

--The Swift Current Broncos are in a must-win position at the Mastercard Memorial Cup. Despite the heroics of Stuart Skinner, the WHL champs were beaten 2-1 by Hamilton.  Skinner stopped 54 of 56 shots, but one by Marian Studenic with 2:01 to play in the 3rd was the winner.  Hamilton is 1-1 and will play Acadie-Bathurst on Tuesday at 8.  Swift Current is 0-2 and plays 1-1 Regina Wednesday at 8 to close out the round-robin. 

--A Game 7 is needed in the NHL East final.  Braden Holtby stopped 24 shots in a 3-0 Washington win. Game 7 is Wednesday in Tampa. Vegas awaits the winner.  If Washington wins, the Stanley Cup final starts Monday in Vegas.  A Lightning win will see them have home ice advantage with the game still going on May 28. 

--Lou Lamoriello appears to be heading to New York. Multiple media reports say the former Leafs G-M will be hired by the Islanders in a hockey operations role.

--Canadian pitcher Nick Pivetta struck out seven over seven innings to lead the Phillies to a 3-0 win over Atlanta. The Victoria native is 4-and-2 on the year.

---Riders training camp continues in Saskatoon with Tuesday being Day 3.  Early on, it appears as if Cameron Judge, the team's first-round draft pick last year, will get an opportunity to start at weak-side linebacker.   Defensive lineman Rakim Cox tweaked his back while tying his shoes prior to practice and missed the day as a result. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

May 21st Stanley Cup Playoffs Morning Skate


Vegas 2  Winnipeg 1 (Vegas wins Western Conference Final)

Image result for vegas golden knights

Three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves – and stopped all 19 shots he faced over the last 40 minutes – to backstop the expansion Golden Knights to another series-clinching road victory in Game 5 against the Jets.

* In the last 50 years, only one other club from either the NHL, MLB, NBA or NFL/AFL reached the championship series or game in its inaugural season – the Blues represented the all-expansion West Division in the 1968 Stanley Cup Final. Find more historic comparisons below.

* The Golden Knights became the seventh team in NHL history to reach the Stanley Cup Final after recording three series-clinching wins on the road. Five of the previous six went on to win the Stanley Cup. ICYMI: Fans back in Las Vegas gathered for a watch party outside T-Mobile Arena, just as they did when their club advanced with wins in Los Angeles and San Jose.

* This is the third consecutive year that a team will make its debut in the Stanley Cup Final. Debutant teams own an all-time series record of 11-17 in the Final, with the last three instances ending in defeat – the Sharks (2016) and Predators (2017) both lost in six games to the Penguins, while the Senators (2007) lost in five games to the Ducks. The Lightning (2004) were the last team to win the Stanley Cup in their first trip to the Final.

* The Golden Knights (12-3) became the 13th team to win at least 12 of 15 games to begin a postseason since 1986-87 when the Stanley Cup Playoffs became a four-round, best-of-seven format. Four of the previous 12 clubs went on to win the Cup (the three listed below and the 1993 Canadiens).


The Golden Knights became the 20th team from either the NHL, MLB, NBA or NFL/AFL to reach the championship series or game in their first trip to the postseason (via Elias†). Vegas is the sixth team in NHL history to achieve the feat, joining the 1917-18 Toronto Arenas, 1925-26 Montreal Maroons, 1926-27 Boston Bruins, 1967-68 St. Louis Blues and 1995-96 Florida Panthers.

* Like the Golden Knights, the Arenas and Blues advanced to the Final in their inaugural season, though under much different circumstances. Toronto did so in the first postseason in NHL history and St. Louis emerged from the all-expansion West Division during the first playoffs of the League’s expansion era in 1968. The Maroons (second), Bruins (third) and Panthers (third) all reached the Final within their first three campaigns.

* The 20-team list also includes the 2001 Baltimore Ravens – who began play as an NFL expansion team in 1996 after moving from Cleveland (where they had won four championships over 46 NFL seasons from 1950-1995) – and five NBA teams who joined from other leagues: the 1946-47 Philadelphia Warriors, 1946-47 Chicago Stags, 1947-48 Baltimore Bullets, 1948-49 Minneapolis Lakers and 1949-50 Syracuse Nationals.

* The remaining eight teams on the historic list started from scratch like the Golden Knights: the 1997 Florida Marlins (MLB; fifth season), 1976-77 Portland Trail Blazers (NBA; seventh season), 1967-68 Oakland Raiders (NFL/AFL; eighth season), 1969 New York Mets (MLB; eighth season), 1968-69 New York Jets (NFL/AFL; ninth season), 2008 Tampa Bay Rays (MLB; 11th season), 1984 San Diego Padres (MLB; 16th season) and 1977-78 Denver Broncos (NFL; 18th season).

* Ten teams have finished their first trip to the postseason as champions, including the Arenas (1918) and Warriors (1947) in the inaugural seasons for the NHL and NBA, respectively.

* The Golden Knights needed 12 playoff wins to reach the Final, tied with the 1996 Panthers for the most of any of the teams referenced above. In fact, only four other clubs required more than five playoff victories to reach the championship series or game: the Trail Blazers needed 10 wins to make the 1977 NBA Finals; the Blues had eight wins entering the 1968 Stanley Cup Final; and the Marlins and Rays each won seven games before playing in the World Series in 1997 and 2008, respectively.

* As the NHL’s 31st active franchise, the Golden Knights are the third team to reach the championship in a league consisting of at least 30 clubs. The others: 2001 Ravens (NFL: 31 teams) and 2008 Rays (MLB: 30 teams).

† All-time for NHL and NBA; Since 1966 for NFL/AFL; Since 1969 for MLB

Marc-Andre Fleury (31 saves) made at least 30 saves for the fourth consecutive game to improve to 13-5 in 20 career appearances in the Conference Finals and reach the Stanley Cup Final for the third straight year and fifth time overall.

* Fleury and teammate James Neal return to the Final after facing each other in the championship series last year – Fleury with the Penguins, Neal with the Predators. Lightning forward Chris Kunitz – the only active NHL player with four Stanley Cups – could join the trio in this year’s Final after winning with Fleury and the Penguins in 2016 and 2017.

* Entering 2018, 37 different players in NHL history reached the Stanley Cup Final in consecutive years with different teams. Six of those players won the Cup each time: Eddie Gerard, Lionel Conacher, Ed Litzenberger, Al Arbour, Claude Lemieux and Cory Stillman.

* Gerard actually won the Cup in four consecutive seasons from 1920-23. He played for the original Ottawa Senators in each of those postseasons, but was loaned to the Toronto St. Patricks for one game during the 1922 Stanley Cup Final, thereby earning his name on the Cup when the team defeated the Vancouver Millionaires in the best-of-five series.

* Fleury earned his 74th career win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to tie Chris Osgood for eighth place on the NHL’s all-time list, three back of Mike Vernon (77) for seventh overall. One of 14 active NHL players with three Stanley Cups, Fleury entered the 2018 playoffs with a team-leading 115 games of postseason experience and is the only Cup winner on the Golden Knights roster.


After losing Games 1 and 2 on home ice, Tampa Bay is now in position to join Vegas in the Stanley Cup Final as they take a 3-2 series lead into Washington for Game 6.

* Since 1942-43, when the final four began competing in best-of-seven series, only seven teams have won the Conference Finals/Semifinals after losing Games 1 and 2. Only one of those clubs did so after dropping the first two games at home: the Red Wings rallied to defeat the Bruins in seven games in the 1945 Semifinals.

(NHL Media)