Early traction on part of Andersen could give Leafs a leg up in series versus Columbus — Toronto Sun

Fast out of the gate never has been a consistent hallmark of Frederik Andersen. Read More

Early traction on part of Andersen could give Leafs a leg up in series versus Columbus — Toronto Sun

Fast out of the gate never has been a consistent hallmark of Frederik Andersen.

If the National Hockey League’s return to play plans fall into place in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic and the Maple Leafs clash with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the qualifying round, one of the more crucial factors involving the Leafs will be whether Andersen can buck a career trend.

The 30-year-old Andersen usually has required some time to find his stride from the beginning of the season, with the month of October serving as a period to get the kinks out.

Andersen’s combined numbers in October through the first seven seasons of his NHL career — the past four with Toronto after three with the Anaheim Ducks — add up to a record of 30-19-7 in 57 games with a .911 save percentage and a 2.69 goals-against average. Last October, Andersen was 6-2-2, but had a save percentage of .901 and a 3.03 goals-against average. That’s well below Andersen’s career save percentage of .917.

Has Andersen traditionally been terrible in the opening month? We wouldn’t go that far, but he has not been spectacular either. In a best-of-five series against Columbus, there won’t be a choice for Andersen: He’s going to have to be at his best, even taking into account the Blue Jackets don’t score a lot of goals (they were tied for third-fewest in the NHL with 180 during the 2019-20 regular season), from the opening faceoff.

There won’t be the luxury of time for Andersen to find a groove, which he usually does in the regular season, as his career .928 save percentage in November is his personal best in any month.

Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno summed up in general terms last week the importance of being locked in from the moment the puck is dropped to begin Game 1.

“The advantage is going to be huge if you can get out on top early,” Foligno said. “I think that’s going to be a mindset of ours.”

One factor that could work in the Leafs’ favour is the presence of Jack Campbell behind Andersen. We would figure coach Sheldon Keefe wouldn’t hesitate to go to Campbell if Andersen falters, a legitimate option the Leafs have not had at No. 2 since Curtis McElhinney was lost on waivers in October 2018.

Campbell played in just six games with the Leafs after being acquired from Los Angeles on Feb. 5, but quickly became popular with his new teammates with his enthusiastic approach and ability to stop the puck. Something to keep in mind, perhaps — Campbell has never played in an NHL playoff game.

While we would argue that in the bigger picture Andersen’s overall experience should give the Leafs an advantage in goal, Columbus wouldn’t be entering the series with concerns in net. Despite losing Sergei Bobrovsky to the Florida Panthers in free agency last summer, the Jackets didn’t suffer in the crease, as Joonas Korpisalo and rookie Elvis Merzlikins shone.

Korpisalo made the Metropolitan Division team for the 2020 NHL all-star game but could not take part because of a knee injury. Merzlikins stepped in and was excellent, recording five shutouts in eight starts between Jan. 11 and Feb. 7. Merzlikins’ .923 save percentage in 33 games was best among NHL rookies who played in at least 20 games.

After he signed a two-year contract in April, Korpisalo indicated the competition to be the Jackets’ No. 1 goalie going forward would be intense.

“I’ve been fighting for my spot for a while in my career, so it’s nothing new,” Korpisalo said at the time. “It has been a lot of fun with Elvis. It doesn’t matter who plays, we support each other.”

Merzlikins and Korpisalo backed a stifling defence in Columbus in 70 games during the abbreviated regular season, one that limited the opposition to 187 goals, tied for third-fewest in the NHL. Neither has played in an NHL playoff game. Andersen has 48 on his resume.

What will be similar for any of the goaltenders potentially involved in the series will be the preparation time. Too many months will have elapsed since the end of the regular season for anything to carry forward (positive or negative), and it’s going to be a fresh slate for all of them once Phase 3 starts with full training camp (which the NHL said this week will not be before July 10).

Andersen told reporters earlier during the pause that part of his daily ritual during the downtime was keeping himself “mentally in the game.”

Once the series begins (we’re all hopeful that it will), Andersen is going to have to be at the top of his game mentally and physically — and without having had to worry about load management, that should not be a challenge.

There won’t be time for Andersen to get into a rhythm.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun1 

Michael Jordan ‘Angry’ over George Floyd’s Death: ‘We Have Had Enough’ — Darnell’s Notebook

NBA legend Michael Jordan provided a statement regarding the ongoing protests following George Floyd’s death. “I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country,” he wrote… from Bleacher Report – NBA https://ift.tt/2yTaahu via IFTTT

Michael Jordan ‘Angry’ over George Floyd’s Death: ‘We Have Had Enough’ — Darnell’s Notebook
Statement From Michael Jordan https://t.co/lnXYMhtvo3

“I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country,” he wrote. “We have had enough.”
There has been unrest across the United States after a Minneapolis police officer killed Floyd, an unarmed African American man, last week. At least 30 cities have held protests calling for changes.
Jordan is encouraging the “peaceful expressions against injustice” from those marching in the streets.
The Basketball Hall of Famer and current owner of the Charlotte Hornets has defended the right to protest in the past, a topic that became divisive several years ago when it came to athletes.

“One of the fundamental rights this country is founded on was freedom of speech, and we have a long tradition of nonviolent, peaceful protest,” Jordan said in 2017, per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “Those who exercise the right to peacefully express themselves should not be demonized or ostracized.
“At a time of increasing divisiveness and hate in this country, we should be looking for ways to work together and support each other and not create more division.”
Jordan is the latest prominent member of the NBA community to speak on the protests. LeBron James has used social media to spread his message, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar created an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.




MLB Rumors: Are Some Owners OK With Canceling League’s 2020 Season? — NESN.com

The COVID-19 crisis had led Major League Baseball to re-evaluate its plans for the 2020 season, though players and executives continue to clash on major issues. But are some owners willing to scrap the entire season altogether? According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, sources report a handful of owners might be “perfectly willing” to shut down…

MLB Rumors: Are Some Owners OK With Canceling League’s 2020 Season? — NESN.com

The COVID-19 crisis had led Major League Baseball to re-evaluate its plans for the 2020 season, though players and executives continue to clash on major issues. But are some owners willing to scrap the entire season altogether? According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, sources report a handful of owners might be “perfectly willing” to shut down the 2020 season, largely for the sake of their teams’ finances. The goal would be to “slash payroll costs and reduce losses” as teams struggle financially in wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Naturally, finances have been an issue for teams across the league as the pandemic impedes their ability to make money. But teams have taken different approaches when coping with the crisis. Some, like the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals, have agreed to pay minor league players through much or all of the regular season timeframe. Others, like the Oakland Athletics and Pittsburgh Pirates, have slashed benefits (like 401(k)s) and pay. Of course, pay has been a big factor for major league players as the league looks to resume. MLB executives and players have been at odds in recent weeks as players feel the league is attempting to back out of a deal struck March 26 that would give players prorated pay and offer 50-50 revenue sharing as a plausible solution to the league’s financial woes. More MLB: PawSox Turning McCoy Stadium Into Restaurant With Outdoor Seating But, are owners really willing to abandon the season for the sake of money? MLB Network’s Jon Heyman doesn’t think so. “Highly doubtful many owners are anxious (or even perfectly willing) to blow up season to save money,” Heyman tweeted Sunday. “OK, maybe Oakland (based on what it’s done so far). Could be 1 or 2 others, but those are outliers, and as @DavidPSamson points out, it’d take 8 to blow up a potential deal.” Highly doubtful many owners are anxious (or even perfectly willing) to blow up season to save money. OK, maybe Oakland (based on what it’s done so far). Could be 1 or 2 others, but those are outliers, and as @DavidPSamson points out, it’d take 8 to blow up a potential deal. https://t.co/7HF52VlRlY — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 31, 2020 So far, it doesn’t appear to be nearly enough support behind scrapping the season, if there even is any. Whether players and league executives will strike a deal before it’s too late, however, remains to be seen.

Read more at: https://nesn.com/2020/05/mlb-rumors-are-some-owners-ok-with-canceling-leagues-2020-season/

LeBron James, Doc Rivers, others around NBA react to, participate in protests — ProBasketballTalk | NBC Sports

NBA players are doing more than just taking to social media.

LeBron James, Doc Rivers, others around NBA react to, participate in protests — ProBasketballTalk | NBC Sports

Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to lead peaceful protest — ProBasketballTalk | NBC Sports

Brown has been one of the most active and outspoken NBA players in the wake of Floyds death.

Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to lead peaceful protest — ProBasketballTalk | NBC Sports

49ers to donate $1 million for oppressed minorities in wake of Floyd death — Times-Standard

SANTA CLARA — The last organization to employ Colin Kaepernick stepped up Saturday night in the wake of national unrest following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. 49ers owner Jed York issued the following statement on Twitter: “People throughout our country are hurting. Emotions are raw and rightfully so. Heinous acts have been committed…

49ers to donate $1 million for oppressed minorities in wake of Floyd death — Times-Standard

Kings part ways with Ontario Reign coach Mike Stothers — Press Telegram

In the same week that the Kings learned their season had officially ended, they made their first move of the offseason. They announced on Saturday morning they would not retain their top minor league affiliate’s head coach Mike Stothers had been a head coach with the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliates for the past six…

Kings part ways with Ontario Reign coach Mike Stothers — Press Telegram

Lakers’ Quinn Cook keeps showing passion for his hoops roots — Press Telegram

Quinn Cook’s online cul-de-sac is bursting with challengers. For the few weeks in April when Cook hosted a nightly marathon Instagram live feed, it drew all levels of players. He would air live feeds chatting with Kevin Durant and Victor Oladipo, All-Stars who hail from the same region in Maryland where Cook grew up. But…

Lakers’ Quinn Cook keeps showing passion for his hoops roots — Press Telegram