TORONTO — The Edmonton Oilers have two players who are tied for the lead in the Art Ross Trophy race. But if you want to know whether things have changed in Edmonton this season, it’s best to ignore the offensive exploits of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and instead focus on who the team’s next-highest scorer…TRAIKOS: Oilers’ McDavid, Draisaitl are doing the job of five players — Toronto Sun
The artificial turf field at the Toronto Blue Jays new player development complex in Dunedin is progressing. The small stone base for the turf is in place and work is progressing but it appears that this along with the other fields and clubhouse won’t be ready in time for the start of spring training in mid- February. This particular field is being built on top of two former dog parks, a wetland and a supposed spring fed pond. That along with a children’s bike path to the elementary school in the back ground it has been built over.
A new high fence is being erected at the Toronto Blue Jays new minor-league complex in Dunedin to protect the adjacent elementary school children from batted balls landing in their playground. Two sides of the playground have baseball fields adjacent to it. — Photos and text from Eddie Michels.
OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — The president of the International Ice Hockey Federation still has no inkling if NHL players will take part in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games at Beijing. Read MoreIIHF prez wants Bettman’s answer on 2022 Olympics by end of summer — Toronto Sun.
BROOKLYN — The shooting drought followed the Raptors from Miami to Brooklyn, but it only had its claws into the Raptors for about a half this time around. That same inability to find the range which cost the Raptors that game in Miami and wasted a stellar defensive effort was there for the first 20 […]Raps find the range and get a little feisty in comeback win over Nets — Toronto Sun
On the defense after the first quarter: “I think from the four-minute mark of the second quarter onward we really got down to a plan. We were into the ball. We were making catches tough. Everything was pretty tough. When Brooklyn did take it to the rim, which they can do very well, we were better. We were better protecting. We were better cracking in on the bigs so there wasn’t that little dump off there as much. Just much more energy and toughness.”
On Kyle Lowry’s toughness tonight: “Yeah, he was into it. There were a couple of weird scenarios with him. He got involved in a couple of scrums, but he’s going to do that and he’s probably playing really well when he’s doing that. He was still taking charges and throwing his body around and then he got a little juice from the perimeter. He was big, it was good. There was a lot of silliness, it seemed like, for us over kicking the ball around for the first 15 minutes of the game and then after that we looked really well organized. To me, that’s all I really want is for us to look like we know what we’re doing out there. Those guys (Lowry and Fred VanVleet) did a good job of running the team.”
On turning this around: “He (Nick Nurse) kind of got on us every single timeout. At halftime, he got on us about doing the same things over and over. Once we kind of settled down a little bit and got smart about what we were doing and got better spots, better positioning and playing some defense, it worked out.”
On whether it was more the offense or the defense in terms of settling down: “Both. We played pretty good defense, but it’s also understanding what we’re doing, kind of understanding the game play a little bit better and doing the game plan and executing the game plan a little bit better. Offensively, it’s about getting to the paint. Getting to the paint, kick out, getting to the spots and knowing where those spots are going to be.”
On whether it’s hard to fight the frustration when you start 1-11: “We know that that Miami game was a game that ain’t going to happen much. Just got to keep playing. We’ve got to keep putting them up. That’s what we do. We believe in the work that we put in and no one’s going to say this or that. We’re going to keep shooting the shots that are there and keep playing and working.”
On his thoughts and feelings being back at Barclays Center playing the Nets: “Man, it felt good. The energy, the love the people were showing me. It felt good to be here, to see the people that I spent four years with, a lot of familiar faces. But it felt really good to get the win. At the end of the day, that’s what the focus was, to compete and play hard.”
On Kyle Lowry’s competitive spirit: “I love it. Me and Kyle being from the same area, that’s how we play basketball. That’s how we get after it. If Kyle’s got a problem with anybody, I got a problem too, so I’ve got his back at all times no matter what. That’s the way the game should be played. At the end of the day, we’re just playing basketball, but we’re making it a little bit fun.”
On what turned this one: “I would say the energy. Energy, defensive stops, pushing the pace, getting some transition buckets, things like that. That helped us a lot.”
On if he notices a reoccurring theme in the second half of the last few games: “Fourth quarter. Last four out of five games, we were right there, or led, or close. That’s a theme. That’s a big theme right now. We have to figure out why. Fourth quarters have really been a thorn in our sides. It was again tonight. We competed for three quarters of the game, a little bit more than three quarters. I think when we subbed the starters back in the game, it was a six- or seven-point game and then they kind of went on a run and I’ve kind of seen that film before recently, so we have to figure it out. We have to figure out why we’re running out of gas. Is it physical? Is it execution? It’s probably a combination of all of those things.”
On the return of Caris LeVert: “Caris’ (LeVert) job is to get his feet wet and get back into rhythm, but it just makes a difference. I know there was some good stuff in there. There were some mistakes, but it’s nice when you know the player and you trust the player. It makes mine and all our staff’s job easier.”
On how concerned he is about the recent slump: “When I first started this job, we had 20 wins and were the worst team in the league, so we’ve been through the losing streaks and it’s just part of this league. It happens, but this will test us, test our character. I told the guys in the locker room, this happens during the NBA, but we’ll get it back down the road when we get five out of six or win six in a row. I have enough confidence in the team. We have to stick with our habits and our principles and trust what we do and we’ll get out of this.”
On the reoccurring fourth-quarter problems: “I think just looking at it, defensively, we’ve given up a lot of points in these fourth-quarter stretches – where it may be a lack of execution on one end or the other. Tonight was sort of cumulative – it kind of built up there in the third, where we gave up 35 points. In the fourth we gave up 38, which is way too many. You’re not going to win a lot of games, especially finishing out games like that.”
On if the team is searching for answers: “I think some of the games are frustrating. At the end of the day, a lot of us have been around – maybe for some of the younger guys it’s a little bit different. We talk about it a lot – there’s a lot of ebbs and flows individually through the course of the season and there’s a lot of ebbs and flows collectively as a team over the course of the season. Obviously, you don’t want to go through four or five-game losing streaks, but these things happen. You stick with the process, you stay level-headed and you trust in the process that we are going to figure it out and get it back on the right track.”
On Caris LeVert’s impact: “It was great to see Caris – we wish that he wasn’t on a minute restriction and he could play a little bit more. He looked great. I thought he came in and looked like himself. He said that he was trying to get his wind a little bit, but I thought that there didn’t look to be any rust whatsoever.”
On tonight’s game: “I felt pretty good out there. Obviously we wanted to get a win, but just me personally, I felt pretty good.”
On the next step in overcoming the minute restrictions: “I’m not sure – I’m just out here to play – that’s for coach and the performance staff. Whatever minutes I’m given, I’m just going to try to go out there and do what I can.”
On if making back-to-back shots made him forget about his thumb: “I wasn’t really thinking about my thumb at all out there.”
On the most difficult thing to overcome tonight: “Probably defensive rebounding – I feel like I could’ve done a lot better job there. I think I could’ve done a much better job helping out the rebounding.”
On how frustrating it has been sitting out of games: “Very frustrating. You know I love the game; I love being a part of it. Love helping my team out in any way that I can. It was tough being out, but I’m glad to be back.”
FINAL SCORE: 121-102 DATE: January 4, 2020 – Game #34 (Home Game #16)
FINAL SCORE RECORD HIGH POINTS HIGH REBOUNDS HIGH ASSISTS
Toronto 121 24-12 VanVleet – 29 Ibaka – 12 VanVleet – 11
Brooklyn 102 16-18 Dinwiddie – 23 Jordan – 8 Dinwiddie – 7
➢ The Nets fell to 16-18 tonight with their loss to Toronto this evening, while the Raptors improved to 24-12 on the season with tonight’s victory.
o Up next for Brooklyn: The Nets will travel to Orlando to play the Magic on Monday, 1/6, at 7 p.m., ET. o Up next for Toronto: The Raptors will return home to Toronto to host Portland on Tuesday, 1/6, at 7 p.m. ET. ➢ Brooklyn blocked a season-high 11 shots tonight (previous high: 10 blocks, twice, most recently in OT on 12/17 at New Orleans) and edged the Raptors 11-4 in locks.
o DeAndre Jordan led Brooklyn with a season-high-tying four blocks, while Jarrett Allen and Wilson Chandler each added two
apiece. ➢ The Nets’ .478 field goal percentage (32-of-67 FG) marked their second-highest field goal percentage in a loss this season.
➢ Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 23 points (6-of-12 FG, 9-of-12 FT) and seven assists with three rebounds and a block in 31 minutes.
o Dinwiddie has now scored 20+ points in 19 of his last 23 games and has scored 20+ points a single-season career-high 23
times (in 34 games). He scored 20+ points 18 times all of last season (68 games).
o Dinwiddie has scored 20+ points in 11 straight games at Barclays Center, dating back to 11/18 vs. Indiana, which marks the
longest streak of 20-point games at home for a Net since Vince Carter did it in 13 straight games in the 2005-06 season.
o Dinwiddie has recorded a 20-point game, a double-double or both in 22 of his last 23 games (all but 1/2 at Dallas, when he fell a point shy with 19 points).
➢ Joe Harris scored 18 points with three rebounds and five assists in 31 minutes tonight vs. Toronto. He shot 4-of-6 from the field, 3-of-5 from 3-point range and 7-of-8 from the charity stripe.
o Harris has now scored in double figures 27 times this season.
➢ Caris LeVert returned to action for Brooklyn tonight and recorded 13 points (5-of-7 FG, 2-of-2 3FG) in 16 minutes off the bench.
o LeVert played for the first time since 11/10 at Phoenix after returning from right thumb surgery.
➢ Garrett Temple totaled 12 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal in 30 minutes this evening against the Raptors.
o Temple returned to the starting lineup tonight after missing Brooklyn’s last game with a right knee contusion. o Temple has scored in double figures in 15 of his last 22 games after doing so three times in his first 11 games this season.
➢ Taurean Prince also scored in double figures for Brooklyn tonight with 10 points, six boards, two assists and a block in 28 minutes.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 4, 2020
Rochester: C. Mittelstadt (2) (A. MacWilliam, J. Dea), L. Pilut (5) (K. Porter)
Goaltender: A. Hammond (22/27)
Toronto: K. Kossila (2) (J. Bracco), K. Agostino (18) (P. Aberg), K. Kossila (3) (J. Lindgren), P. Aberg (13) (T. Kivihalme), E. Korshkov (9) (K. Kossila, T. Liljegren)
Goaltender: K. Kaskisuo (30/32)
ON THE SCORESHEET
- Kalle Kossila opened the scoring at 12:36 of the first period and scored the game-winner at 11:24 of the third period. Kossila also had the primary assist on Korshkov’s third period goal. This was his eighth career three-point game. Kossila has five points (3 goals, 2 assists) in seven games this season.
- Kenny Agostino scored at 14:42 of the first period. This was Agostino’s 100th career AHL goal. Agostino has points (2-1-3) in three consecutive games. He is third overall in the AHL in scoring (18).
- Pontus Aberg scored at 13:27 of the third period and earlier registered the lone assist on Agostino’s first period goal. This is Aberg’s ninth multi-point (9-10-19) game of the season. Aberg has 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 29 games this season.
- Egor Korshkov scored at 14:44 of the third period. Korshkov has 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists) through 26 games.
- Jeremy Bracco recorded the lone assist on Kossila’s first period goal. This was his 18th assist of the season at home. Bracco has 27 points (3 goals, 24 assists) in 34 games this season.
- Jesper Lindgren picked up the lone assist on Kossila’s third period goal. Lindgren has seven points (1 goal, 6 assists) in 24 games this season.
- Teemu Kivihalme registered the lone assist on Aberg’s third period goal. He has points (1-1-2) in consecutive games. Kivihalme has eight points (3 goals, 5 assists) through 29 games.
- Timothy Liljegren collected the secondary assist on Korshkov’s third period goal. Liljegren has seven points (1 goal, 6 assists) in his last six games. Liljegren has 20 points (3 goals, 17 assists) in 30 games this season.
- Kasimir Kaskisuo stopped 30 of 32 shots he faced. He is now 11-4-1-0 on the season with a .914 save percentage and a 2.57 goals against average. Kaskisuo is 6-1-0-0 when making 30 or more saves in a game.
- Toronto was not called for a penalty for the first time this season and was 0-for-1 on the power play.
- Rochester had a 32-27 edge in shots in all situations. Pontus Aberg led the Marlies with four shots on goal.
- The Marlies are 10-8-2-1 against North Division opponents and are 2-0-1-0 against the Rochester Americans.
REGULAR SEASON LEADERS
- Goals: K. Agostino (18)
- Assists: J. Bracco (24)
- Points: P. Aberg, K. Agostino (29)
- PPG: P. Aberg, K. Agostino,E. Korshkov (4)
- Shots: P. Aberg (94)
- +/-: P. Aberg, G. Wilson (+10)
- PIMS: G. Wilson (58)
- Toronto is 15-3-1-1 when scoring first.
- The Marlies are 8-2-1-1 when leading after the first period and 5-3-0-1 when tied after the second period.
- Toronto is 13-7-1-1 when outshot by their opponent.
- The Marlies are 9-3-1-1 in Saturday games and are 1-1-0-0 in January.
CURRENT POINT STREAKS
- Kenny Agostino has points (2-1-3) in three consecutive games.
- Teemu Kivihalme has points (1-1-2) in consecutive games.
- Timothy Liljegren has assists (4) in four consecutive games.
- Kevin Gravel (illness) did not dress for today’s game against Rochester.
- January 4: Returned defenceman Teemu Kivihalme on loan from Toronto (NHL).
- January 4: Recalled forward Scott Pooley from loan to Newfoundland (ECHL).
- January 1: Returned defenceman Michael Kapla on loan to Newfoundland (ECHL).
- January 1: Recalled forward Mason Marchment from loan by Toronto (NHL).
- December 30: Returned defenceman Timothy Liljegren on loan to Toronto (NHL).
- December 30: Recalled defenceman Teemu Kivihalme from loan by Toronto (NHL).
HEAD COACH GREG MOORE
On the message to Toronto following Friday’s loss to Syracuse:
Put that behind us. After a game like that you can’t let it leak into your future games. We just had to make sure that we set a new tone, had a new expectation of how we wanted to do things and get back to what I’m sure this team has done a lot this year.
On how he felt about the play of today’s lineup:
I was happy with everybody. I thought the reason we had success today was because the entire team was going and every line contributed in some different way. We’ll need that moving forward.
On Toronto not taking a penalty in today’s game:
That was really important. We’ve been killing a lot of penalties lately. Some calls could go one way or the other, and some just really stupid decisions we’d been making and it was really good to see our discipline tonight.
January 5 vs Lehigh Valley – 4:00 p.m. ET
January 10 at Texas – 7:00 p.m. CST
January 11 at Texas – 7:00 p.m. CST
January 12 at San Antonio – 3:00 p.m. CST
January 16 at San Antonio – 7:00 p.m. CST
HEAD COACH SHELDON KEEFE
On what he liked from the group tonight:
I just liked how we were able to stay with it. It was a different type of game than we’ve played, and we just stayed with it. We waited to get our chances and when we did, we made good on a couple of them. As you said, a combination of great goaltending, good defensive play, a little bit of luck and opportunistic players. They made good on their chances.
On the benefit for the team mentally from winning more of a low scoring game:
Yeah, I think it’s really good. I think it’s really healthy for our team in a lot of ways. Like I said, it’s a different type of game, offence is harder to come by as we expected it would be coming into the game. I just liked that our guys didn’t get frustrated with that first period. Not a lot going on. We just stayed with it. We gave up some chances and got saves which was good. Then when we got our chances, we made good on them. It would have been nice to get the goal on the breakaway early in the game, it might have been a different game if that’s the case, but we didn’t and it wasn’t, so we just had to stay patient and like it. We have to find a way to win the boring games too sometimes.
On if he has reflected on the significance of going 15-4-1 in his first 20 games as Maple Leafs coach:
No, I haven’t really. Every day brings a new challenge and, I said it before and I still believe it, we’re still not close to where I think we can get to. I think we’ve got a lot of room to grow as a team. That’s exciting and that’s what keeps us working. As a coach at various levels, I’ve had a lot of experience with coaching teams that go on stretches and runs like this. You recognize that you’re not going to be satisfied. You’ve got to continue to work and continue to get better and find the things that you can improve upon and I think that’s what we come to work every day to do.
On where the team can improve:
Well, in all areas, really. I think our play in terms of our ability to come out of our end, I think that can improve. I think being good and diligent in games like this today. It’s an area where it’s a low event game and not much happening. You can still defend well enough to give ourselves enough time to wait for our chance to come. Special teams, all those types of things, I think, can go a long way. But that’s not to say we didn’t have positives because there certainly is. We’ve been doing a lot of really good things. We’ve been resilient as a group, even though we’ve lost players to injury. We created a little extra adversity for our team today going into it, obviously, giving Freddie the day off and putting Hutch in. That raises the awareness of the team a little bit and creates some extra challenge there in terms of not having Freddie who has been so great for us and then Hutch who is trying to find his way. Clearly, he did today.
PIERRE ENGVALL (1 GOAL)
On his goal:
On the goal I just tried to hold onto it for a second to get the goalie moving and I think I found a spot there. So, it was really nice to see it go in. Obviously, [Kapanen] makes a — I don’t know what to say about that play — but it’s pretty good.
On the play Kapanen made to get him the puck before he scored:
Every time I see [Kapanen] go to the net with the puck with that speed I just try to catch up and be ready to shoot the puck. When I saw it, I was like, ‘sick play.’
MICHAEL HUTCHINSON (33 SAVES)
On his performance tonight:
Yeah, I obviously felt pretty good tonight. I felt really, really relaxed out there. I thought it was good to build off of the Detroit game in the New Jersey game. It was nice to get the win on that, but with the circumstances of the break and travelling same day it was getting more — personally, it felt like you had to battle through a lot of stuff. So coming in here and getting back into an actual game routine to be able to take the Detroit game and build off that for myself was huge. It was a lot of fun out there tonight. The guys played extremely hard. I thought we did a really good job defensively, we really made them have to work to try and generate chances. And then the guys bailed me out on a couple huge plays too.
On what he has done to put himself in a better headspace at this point in the season:
Yeah, it’s everything, really. It’s kind of resetting and knowing you can’t change anything that happened earlier in the season. But the team is playing great. I’ve been able to come to the rink positive every single day. Even when I’m not playing, enjoying the wins, enjoying the successes that other guys are having, whether they’re scoring goals or Freddie’s making big saves, getting wins. So, when you do that it’s eventually it’s going to come around to you. We’ve been playing so well as a group that now, it’s nice for myself to be a part of that and be able to contribute to those wins.
MITCH MARNER (2 ASSISTS)
On tonight’s defensive effort:
Yeah, it was good, I think we were coming back and we were getting quickly out of our zone. That team’s a heavy forechecking team, they get in on the forecheck hard and that’s how they create all their offence. I think we made it important to come back, talk to each other, try and find the exit quickly and get back on the forecheck. I thought we did a good job of that tonight.
On the bench’s reaction to Kapanen’s play to set up the opening goal:
I think like everyone else in the crowd. That’s a hell of a move by him and a hell of a pass as well to get it through to Pierre and that started us all off. It was a great play by him.
AUSTON MATTHEWS (1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST)
On the play of Hutchinson:
He was just dialed in. I think when we gave up good chances to their team he came up with some big saves. I know Hutch was all-time for us tonight. All the credit goes to him, he made some huge saves that kept us in the game, and we were able to capitalize on a couple chances and, I mean, he played unbelievable.
On the play that set up his goal tonight:
I just saw him get the puck and he’s got pretty good vision, so I just had a feeling he was going to throw the puck towards the middle and I just kind of tried to deflect it. I think it went off my stick, went off their stick and kind of trickled in the net, so, pretty fortunate there. Think I just had a feeling he was going to try and get the puck in that area and I just tried to make the most of it