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Canada’s Stanley Cup hopes might relaxation on just a few key gamers
On Saturday, all seven Canadian-based NHL groups will likely be in motion on the identical day for the primary time this season. To mark this momentous event, let us take a look at every group by means of the lens of an fascinating participant to comply with in 2021-22:
Edmonton Oilers — Connor McDavid. Let’s begin with the obvious man. McDavid is coming off a season for the ages. With 105 factors in solely 56 video games, he received the Artwork Ross Trophy (his third) by an absurd 21 factors (over teammate Leon Draisaitl) and averaged extra factors per recreation than anybody since Mario Lemieux again in 1995-96. With two MVP awards already on his mantle at age 24, McDavid is on a Gretzky-like monitor by way of particular person success. However, whereas the Nice One had two Cups underneath his belt earlier than the season by which he turned 25, McDavid has (by means of no fault of his personal) received just one playoff collection in his six years within the NHL. Understanding their famous person wants a greater supporting solid, Edmonton signed hard-working former Leaf (and writer of children’s books) Zach Hyman, who ought to be good for 30 objectives taking part in on McDavid’s wing. With Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins anchoring the second line, the Oilers have a dynamite prime six. It is as much as everybody else to drag their weight, or else Edmonton might waste one other sensible efficiency by one of many all-time greats.
Toronto Maple Leafs — Auston Matthews. One of the crucial electrifying goal-scorers within the recreation, Matthews averaged 39.5 of them over his first 4 seasons after which went nuclear in 2021, potting 41 in solely 52 video games to win his first Rocket Richard Trophy. However he and the Leafs bombed within the playoffs once more, with Matthews managing only one purpose in a shocking seven-game opening-round upset loss to Montreal. The 24-year-old remains to be recovering from wrist surgical procedure however ought to be again within the lineup quickly. He can take his time, although, as a result of nobody actually cares anymore what Toronto does within the common season. If Matthews and his teammates do not get this franchise previous the opening spherical of the playoffs for the primary time within the salary-cap period, Leaf followers will likely be howling for blood.
Calgary Flames — Johnny Gaudreau. It is a massive yr for the diminutive winger. Gaudreau can develop into an unrestricted free agent at season’s finish, and one of the simplest ways for him to money in (with Calgary or one other group) is to show he is nonetheless the man who completed fourth in MVP voting three years in the past. Gaudreau had 36 objectives and 99 factors that season, however he hasn’t been a point-per-game participant since. A contract yr may convey out the perfect within the 28-year-old, but it surely might additionally ship him to the buying and selling block if Calgary seems prefer it’ll miss the playoffs once more.
Montreal Canadiens — Cole Caufield. With Carey Value on depart indefinitely and Shea Weber taking the season off to heal his accidents, the Habs are going to have a tricky sufficient time entering into the playoffs — by no means thoughts matching their magical run to the Stanley Cup last. This season may be extra about wanting forward, which is the place Caufield is available in. Regardless of taking part in within the last 10 video games of the 2021 common season and 20 extra within the playoffs, the place he notched 12 factors, the 20-year-old ahead remains to be thought of a rookie underneath NHL guidelines. A Calder Trophy-calibre season by Caufield and one other good one by third-year ahead Nick Suzuki might assist Hab followers get by means of a doubtlessly tough yr that is off to a bumpy begin with losses to Toronto and tanking Buffalo.
Vancouver Canucks — Elias Pettersson. Final season was a nightmare for Vancouver, which completed final within the all-Canadian division after a crippling COVID-19 outbreak shut the group down for nearly a month in late March/early April. Earlier than that, Pettersson suffered a wrist damage that prompted him to overlook the ultimate 30 video games. He then sat out the beginning of coaching camp till the Canucks gave him (and fellow younger cornerstone Quinn Hughes) a brand new contract. It will be largely as much as these guys and Pettersson’s linemate Brock Boesser to resolve how nicely the Canucks bounce again.
Ottawa Senators — Brady Tkachuk. The 22-year-old restricted free agent lastly received his cash ($57.5 million US over seven years) simply hours earlier than the season opener on Thursday. He missed that win over Toronto and it appears like he’ll sit out Saturday night time’s rematch too, however he may very well be again on the ice Sunday in Dallas. Tkachuk, who was the No. 4 total choose within the 2018 draft, led Ottawa in factors in every of the final two seasons — and all the NHL in photographs per 60 minutes in 2021 (although he buried solely 17). Tkachuk additionally helped the Senators climb out of the underside two within the league for the primary time since 2016-17. A playoff spot nonetheless seems out of attain, however the Sens have a pleasant younger core to construct round in Tkachuk, teenage ahead Tim Stützle (the No. 2 total choose in 2020) and 24-year-old defenceman Thomas Chabot.
Winnipeg Jets — Connor Hellebuyck. The 28-year-old American received the Vezina Trophy two years in the past and deserved to complete increased than fourth within the voting final season. He is probably the greatest goalies on the planet. However the Jets are likely to lean on him an excessive amount of — one thing they’ve tried to repair with the acquisition of defencemen Nate Schmidt and Brenden Dillon. A greater season from Pierre-Luc Dubois would assist too — he struggled after forcing his manner out of Columbus and getting traded to Winnipeg for Patrik Laine in a swap of disgruntled forwards.
For extra on the Canadian groups, watch CBC Sports activities’ Rob Pizzo sort out a burning query for every of them right here:
Baseball’s last 4 is ready. The Los Angeles Dodgers stored their repeat hopes alive by beating San Francisco 2-1 final night time within the fifth and deciding recreation between baseball’s two winningest groups. L.A. now faces a neater matchup within the Nationwide League Championship Collection vs. Atlanta, which received 18 fewer video games than the Dodgers this yr. That collection begins Saturday at 8:07 p.m. ET. Tonight, the Boston Purple Sox and Houston Astros open the American League Championship Collection at 8:07 p.m. ET.
This weekend on CBC Sports activities
This is what you possibly can live-stream and watch on TV:
Canadian lengthy monitor pace skating championships: Yesterday in Calgary, Isabelle Weidemann lowered her national record within the ladies’s 5,000 metres to seize her second victory of the meet (she received the three,000m on Wednesday). On the boys’s facet, Olympic champion Ted-Jan Bloemen received the ten,000 to finish his personal double after taking the 5,000 title Wednesday. Watch the boys’s and girls’s 1,000m occasions reside right this moment at 6 p.m. ET here. Catch the boys’s and girls’s 1,500m on Saturday and the boys’s and girls’s mass begins on Sunday — each at 6 p.m. ET at that very same hyperlink or on the CBC Sports activities app or the CBC Gem streaming service.
Street to the Olympic Video games: This week’s present options the seashore volleyball World Tour Finals, the place Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes took silver within the ladies’s event. Watch it Saturday at 2 p.m. ET on the CBC TV community, CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports activities app and CBC Gem.
Junior hockey: Watch Saturday’s Western Hockey League matchup between the Calgary Hitmen and the Purple Deer Rebels reside at 3 p.m. ET on CBC TV, CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports activities app and CBC Gem.
Hockey Night time in Canada: It is the primary Saturday night time of the season, and you’ll watch Ottawa vs. Toronto at 7 p.m. ET and Calgary vs. Edmonton at 10 p.m. ET on CBC TV, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports activities app.
You are on top of things. Have a great weekend.