Connect with us

Published

on

TORONTO — Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews has been ruled out for Game 6 of the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Bruins on Thursday.

The Leafs trail the Bruins 3-2 in the best-of-seven series and face elimination with another loss.

Matthews missed the third period of Game 4 and all of Game 5 with what the Leafs have deemed a “lingering” illness.

Toronto’s top center has skated on his own the past three days — including for nearly 30 minutes prior to the Leafs’ morning skate Thursday — but coach Sheldon Keefe said it would be the team’s doctors ultimately making a call on whether Matthews made it into the lineup.

Toronto already extended its series once without Matthews available when they topped Boston 2-1 in overtime of Game 5. The Leafs planned to use a similar blueprint in Game 6 to grind the Bruins down and even the series one last time.

“It’s a bit of the human nature piece; you recognize everyone has to be better,” Keefe said of the Leafs performing well without Matthews. “It’s more the confidence our team has and how we’ve responded when players have been out. You’ve got to find a way to win a game … I think that piece is important. We have confidence there, we have trust in the group, and if anything, it just shows the strength of the group and not looking to others, but just doing your part.”

Max Domi moved into Matthews’ top-line center spot in Game 5 and was dominant in the faceoff dot (85.7%) while notching one assist. He also took over Matthews’ spot with Toronto’s top power play, which is a dismal 1-for-17 in the postseason. The Leafs also shuffled William Nylander — still adjusting to the postseason after being sidelined by injury for the first three games — to their second line.

Toronto did get a herculean effort from Matthews — who won his third Rocket Richard Trophy this season by pacing the league with 69 goals — prior to his illness absence through a three-point performance in the Leafs’ Game 2 victory.

Missing that type of difference-maker would be a hindrance for most teams, but the Leafs found ways to fill the Matthews void with a next-man-up mentality.

“Maybe instead of relying on him, we’re desperate to play good, because one of our best players is out of the lineup,” Nick Robertson said. “When you realize you don’t have a near 70-goal scorer in the lineup, we’ve got to find a way to play well.”

Toronto has no choice on that front. The Leafs enter Game 6 searching for their first playoff win on home ice in this series and have lost six consecutive postseason contests in their own building dating back to last year. They’ll have one final chance to change that and push the series to Boston for a decisive Game 7 — when Matthews may, or may not, be able to return.

“It’s difficult when one of the best players in the world isn’t available,” John Tavares said. “But it’s the nature of the game. Guys responded really well last game and it’s the same type of mentality. We’ve got to step up and do more and not have one guy trying to fill [Matthews] shoes.”

Continue Reading

Sports

U.S. advances at hockey worlds; Canada now 6-0

Published

on

By

U.S. advances at hockey worlds; Canada now 6-0

PRAGUE — Dylan Cozens scored two goals and had an assist to rally Canada past Switzerland 3-2 for its sixth win in six games at the ice hockey world championship on Sunday.

Canada leads Group A with 17 points, two more than the Czech Republic in second with Switzerland another point back in third. The three teams had already clinched a spot in the playoff round.

Cozens has scored six goals at the tournament and is tied atop the scoring table with American Brady Tkachuk and Finland’s Oliver Kapanen.

Nick Paul also scored for Canada and goaltender Jordan Binnington made 20 saves including a penalty shot in the second period when the score was 2-2.

Cozens found the roof of the net on a power play 1:42 into the game to give Canada an early lead.

Switzerland answered with two goals.

Kevin Fiala wristed an equalizer past Binnington in the opening frame on a power play.

Romain Loeffel put the Swiss 2-1 up in the middle period with a slap shot from the blue line.

Cozens tied it again at 2-2 from the top of the left circle on a power play.

Paul scored the winner for Canada on a power play, completing a series of passes by scoring into an open goal midway through the second.

Canada will complete the preliminary round on Tuesday against the Czech Republic, when Switzerland will face Finland.

In Group B, Latvia prevailed over Slovakia 3-2 in a penalty shootout. The result sent the United States to the next round.

Tkachuk scored three power play goals and added an assist to help the United States rout Kazakhstan 10-1.

Its fourth victory lifted the Americans to second place in Group B with 13 points, one ahead of Germany and Slovakia with a game against Latvia, which has nine points, on Tuesday to play in the preliminary round.

Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and four assists to become the United States record scorer with 43 points, one more than Patrick Kane.

Matt Boldy scored twice and had four assists, Brock Nelson and Luke Kunin both had a goal and an assist, and Gavin Brindley and Kevin Hayes also scored.

Alex Nedeljkovic made 13 saves.

In a four-goal opening period, Tkatchuk tipped in a shot by Zach Werenski on a power play to increase the U.S. lead to 2-0, and buried a rebound to make it 4-0 on a power play.

He completed his hat trick to increase the advantage to 8-0 with a one-timed shot from the right circle on another power play in the final period.

Alikhan Omirbekov scored the consolation goal for Kazakhstan when his team was 9-0 down.

In Group A, Austria beat Norway 4-1 and is tied for fourth place with Finland.

The top four from each group advance to the playoff round.

Continue Reading

Sports

Source: Boeser (blood clots) not expected in G7

Published

on

By

Source: Boeser (blood clots) not expected in G7

Vancouver Canucks right wing Brock Boeser is not expected to play in Game 7 of their second-round series against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday because of a blood-clotting issue, a source told ESPN, confirming a report.

There’s no timeline for his return to action. The Canucks had no comment on Boeser’s status.

Boeser didn’t skate in practice Sunday. Coach Rick Tocchet would only say at a media availability that “he needed the maintenance day.”

Boeser, 27, leads the Canucks in goals (7) and is tied for the lead in points (12) during the postseason. He established career highs in goals (40), points (73) and games played (81) during the regular season.

The Canucks winger has had some MVP moments during their playoff run. His hat trick in Game 4 against the Nashville Predators led them to a comeback win. Boeser’s three points in the first period of Game 3 led Vancouver to a win over Edmonton.

It’s the second significant injury for Vancouver in the playoffs after a regular season of relatively good health for the team’s core players. Starting goaltender Thatcher Demko, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best netminder, hasn’t played since Game 1 of the first round because of a knee injury. Edmonton won Game 6 at home Saturday night to force Monday’s Game 7, the only seventh game of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The winner faces the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference finals.

The Boeser injury news was first reported by Vancouver-based hockey journalist Irfaan Gaffar.

Continue Reading

Sports

Canes re-sign Brind’Amour off latest playoff run

Published

on

By

Canes re-sign Brind'Amour off latest playoff run

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed coach Rod Brind’Amour and his staff to multiyear contracts, keeping one of the best in the NHL behind the bench around for the long term.

The team announced the re-signings Sunday for Brind’Amour, assistants Jeff Daniels and Tim Gleason, goaltending coach Paul Schonfelder and video coach Chris Huffine.

“Rod has been instrumental to the success we’ve had over the last six seasons,” team president and general manager Don Waddell said. “Ever since he joined the organization 24 years ago, Rod has embodied what it means to be a Hurricane. We hope to keep him a Hurricane for life.”

Brind’Amour was in the final year of a deal reached in 2021, when he was the winner of the Jack Adams Award as the league’s top coach. His status had become a talking point around the NHL as jobs changed hands, though Brind’Amour — as well as Waddell — had expressed confidence that a deal would get done.

“I never had a doubt in my mind he [would] come back,” Carolina center Sebastian Aho said earlier in the day when asked about the reports of a deal. “Not surprised, I would say.”

Brind’Amour took over in 2018 to lead a franchise that had missed the playoffs for nine straight years. The Hurricanes have gone to the playoffs six times in as many seasons under the captain of Carolina’s 2006 Stanley Cup winner. Carolina has also won at least one series in each of the past six postseasons, marking the first time a team has accomplished that since the Detroit Red Wings did it from 1995 to 2000. The Canes also reached the Eastern Conference finals twice in the past six seasons.

Carolina finished three points behind the New York Rangers for the Metropolitan Division title and Presidents’ Trophy (presented to the league’s top regular-season team), another season in which it ranked among the NHL’s top teams with an aggressive forechecking style.

The Hurricanes beat the New York Islanders in five games in Round 1 then lost to the Rangers in a six-game second-round series after falling in a 3-0 hole.

Brind’Amour, 53, arrived in Raleigh in a January 2000 trade from the Philadelphia Flyers and played there until his retirement in 2010. He then spent seven seasons as an assistant coach before taking over as a first-time head coach.

Multiple players were asked earlier Sunday about Brind’Amour’s status during end-of-season interviews. None expressed concern that he wouldn’t return or that it had been any type of distraction.

“He’s one of the main pieces that turned this organization around from where it was when I first got here,” defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “So I think anyone would want him to stay as well. I know he wants to be here. I’m confident it’ll get done.”

Continue Reading

Trending