They played Tampa, Detroit and

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They played Tampa, Detroit and

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SOCHI, Russia -- Martin St. Louis is going to get a chance to represent his country at the Winter Olympics after all. Hockey Canada announced today that the 38-year-old Tampa Bay forward will replace injured Lightning teammate Steven Stamkos on Canadas mens hockey team at the Sochi Olympics. "I heard from Stammer that he wasnt going to go, so I knew it was a possibility," St. Louis told reporters in Tampa on Thursday. "So I guess I was prepared for it." St. Louis said he felt bad for Stamkos, who tried hard to come back from a broken right tibia he suffered in a Nov. 11 NHL game before being ruled out of Olympic competition by the Lightnings medical staff on Wednesday. "I think weve got to understand how hard hes tried and worked to put himself in the position hes in and give himself a chance," St. Louis said. "Obviously hes disappointed and Im disappointed for him. Stammers a true professional and hes done everything he can this past month to get back to the lightning first and hopefully to Team Canada." St. Louis was considered one of Canadas most surprising snubs when Canadas team was first announced, along with Philadelphia forward Claude Giroux and Pittsburgh forward James Neal. The Laval, Que., native led the league in points in the 2012-13 shortened season with 17 goals and 43 assists in 48 games. He is having another strong campaign in 2013-14 with 54 points (25 goals, 29 assists) in 56 games, good for 11th in the league. "I dont see this as Marty replacing me, I see it as Marty deserving a spot on this team and going over and hopefully bringing back a gold medal," said Stamkos in the same news conference. St. Louis has won two World Championship silver medals for Canada over his career. He played in the 2006 Turin Olympics, scoring two goals and an assist in Canadas disappointing seventh-place finish. St. Louis went on a 10-game point streak (eight goals, six assists) for the Lightning after first being left off Canadas team, announced on Jan. 7. He said the snub had nothing to do with his increased production, but his play of late might have given him the edge over Giroux and Neal. "I dont think its motivation. Ive been motivated the past four years ... the past 10 years. If youre not motivated, youre not even considered for these things. His speed could be a benefit to Canada, which has struggled in the Olympics when playing on the larger international ice surface. Canada won gold in Salt Lake City in 2002 and in Vancouver in 2010 playing in NHL-style arenas, but was left off the podium in Nagano, Japan in 1998 and Turin, Italy in 2006. "Obviously its a bigger ice surface. It think my quickness, my speed ... thats what Im going to rely on," St. Louis said. "Its a different game, but I think whatever game plan we come up with, its going to be well thought-out." Stamkos is confident that his teammate can fill any position on Team Canada. "Hes going to go over there and play whatever role possible. I personally think hes going to play a big role," said Stamkos. "The character that he has, the way hes played in big-game situations in the past. I mean, hes won individual awards, hes won the team championships, hes been in those situations. "Its not like its a young guy thats never been in these situations before filling in for someone. This is a guy who can step in and play any role asked." Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. . City has reached new heights under manager Manuel Pellegrini as they transition from big spending/immediate impact to perennial contender. Yaya Toures seeming discontent Tuesday may complicate that, as does the little issue of Financial Fair Play. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. . Numbers Game looks at the As getting Jon Lester from Boston, sending Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox along with a deal involving the As and the Minnesota Twins. The Athletics Get: LHP Jon Lester, LF Jonny Gomes, OF Sam Fuld and cash. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link.. The Maple Leafs handed their embattled head coach a two-year contract extension on Thursday, while at the same time announcing that assistants Dave Farrish, Greg Cronin and Scott Gordon will not be back. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. . Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, the bandleader of the beard brigade during Bostons run to the 2013 World Series title, said he will be shaving his off before spring training so that he can file it "in the archive" with his memories of the teams improbable championship. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. . Seager had another triple, a home run and a double in a rare feat not seen in more than 40 years, leading Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners past the New York Yankees 10-2. "It was a weird play," Seager said of the triple in the fourth inning.CHICAGO – The Blackhawks have captured two Stanley Cups in five years and on Sunday night they showed the suddenly skidding Maple Leafs exactly why. Chicago outclassed their Original Six rivals for the better part of 60 minutes, sending them to a third straight loss and some soul-searching just days after a fiery 10-1-1 stretch came to an end. The Leafs are admittedly trying to chase the Blackhawks model. Head coach Randy Carlyle expressed admiration for Chicagos up-tempo brand, describing it as the type of game his team would like to implement consistently. Players echoed his thoughts. We can learn from playing teams like that when theyre at the top of their game, said Joffrey Lupul after a 4-0 loss, just the second time the Leafs have been shutout this season. Thats the type of team were striving to become. Not only are the Blackhawks a polished offensive powerhouse, but unlike their Toronto counterparts, they lock things down at the other end, standing on top of the league defensively. Lupul observed how well they manage to play collectively – building off years of experience – Daniel Winnik noting just how effective and nifty they are with the puck in all three zones. Theyre so good with the puck when they have it, said Winnik. The Leafs, a sometimes sloppy outfit with the puck themselves, continue to tumble down the league rankings defensively, yielding an unseemly 15 goals during the three-game skid. Only the likes of Dallas, Edmonton, Buffalo, Arizona, Colorado and injury-ravaged Columbus have been worse this season at keeping pucks of the net. Weve allowed the opposition to score too many goals, said Carlyle following the first of seven straight on the road. Weve got to get our defensive side of [the game] back in order and play a tighter game, specifically on the road. You cant come into a building like this and play the Stanley Cup champs in these situations and think that youre going to play loose hockey. Thats not the way its going to work. Superior goaltending and a powerful offence kept such an approach afloat during much of the month-long stretch of winning hockey, but no longer. James Reimer was forced to make a good number of quality saves to keep things tight for two periods – with a handful of odd-man opportunities to contend with – Antti Raanta tested more and more often as the night wore on, but ultimately perfect with 31 saves. The Blackhawks struck twice in a controlling first frame – the second with just seconds left on the clock – adding two more in the final 20 minutes. They flung the puck around with precision, were often first to loose pucks - Patrick Kane snatching control ahead of Tyler Bozak on Chicagos second of the game – and were seemingly just a step ahead. Theyre a pretty good hockey club obviously, said Carlyle. And they executed at a very high level. They moved the puck around us quite a bit in the hockey game and we just didnt have an answer for it. And then when we did have chances I think their goaltender made some big stops. Carlyle continued to shuffle his line combinations around, mixing and matching furiously in hopes of finding a better mix at even-strength. That process Sunday saw David Booth and Richard Panik both move higher in the lineup (replacing David Clarkson) and Phil Kessel bounce between Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak. But it was to no effect against the Blackhawks, who held off a third period Leafs rally. The two teams are obviously at different stages in the curve to success with vastly different amounts of talent. Chicago is an annual Cup contender and an organization that generates a healthy amount of envy around the league. Toronto just trying to get into the postseason dance, looking at a team like the Blackhawks admiringly. Theyre a better team than us right now, Lupul said. Were striving to get to their level and its a work in progress. -- Five Points 1. 2015 Its very likely that Leo Komarov doesnt play again for the Leafs until 2015. Komarov, whos missed the past 11 games with a concussion, has been skating recently and steadily improving. But the 27-year-old continues to experience symptoms related to the concussion, according to a source, even if those symptoms are not quite as severe as those in the initial aftermath of the injury. And while he has taken to the ice briefly with the teams strength coach in recent days, Komarov still has yet to practice with the team, has yet to go through any substantial drills, and will miss the final game before the Christmas break in Dallas. The Leafs will have five games in seven days when they return from the holidays with the possibility of one, maybe two practices in that span. Hell need more than that to return given the precarious nature of the injury and length of time missed. And thats assuming those symptoms disappear – they havent yet – which is obviously far from a guarantee. The likely timelline for Komarovs return, according to the source, is January – perhaps as late as the middle of the month.dddddddddddd Leafs general manager Dave Nonis did not respond to a request for comment on the matter. Komarov was among the better Leafs through the first two months this season. He had 16 points in 23 games. -- 2. Embracing Analytics Carlyle likes to jest from time to time about the wave of analytics in the game today, but its evident that hes embracing the movement, even looking to procure a new stat. Frustrated with sloppy play recently, Carlyle wants to create an analytic that tracks how much time the club ends up spending in the defensive zone after a puck is turned over at the offensive blue-line. Its something he intends to present his players with. Its an interesting stat, Carlyle said ahead of the Sunday tilt with Chicago. And were going to be hard and fast with our players to show them whats happening when we do that. As to analytics, Carlyle said, Its just a different way of looking at the game and its a tool. We think that its a valuable tool in some of those situations where we can apply it. -- 3. Improvements Winnik offered one subtle change the Leafs could make to control possession longer, thus giving up fewer opportunities and shots against. Puck support, he said. Sometimes we just get too spread out. Were looking for cross-ice passes as opposed to being close and making short chips or short passes, I think thats kind of an adjustment we might have to make. The Leafs had maybe their three best games of the year after the 9-2 blasting at home by Nashville last month. They played Tampa, Detroit and Pittsburgh, holding all three under 30 shots with a structured brand of hockey rare to this group. Those are games that we really shut, I think, really good offensive teams down, Winnik said. I think the challenge is playing structured every single night. Its not easy and it might not be fun some games because you might feel robotic to what you have to do, but it gets the job done. In the 12 games after that brief three-game window, the Leafs gave up 30 or more in 10 of 12 games. I thought we were a pretty good team defensively for a while there, Winnik continued. Now weve kind of gotten away from it. Maybe weve just got to look back at those games. -- 4. Best Year Yet? It may not look like it, but Phil Kessel is quietly pushing toward what could be the best statistical season of his career. Kessel is on pace for 41 goals, 46 assists and 87 points, all of which would be career-highs. Hes also produced more efficiently than in years past, on pace for less than 270 shots and currently shooting nearly 16 per cent – which would also be a career-high. Now 27, Kessel is producing at about the same rates in even-strength situations as past seasons – though he endured about a month-long cold spell – receiving a big bump from a potent Leafs power-play. Nearly 40 per cent of his offence comes with the man advantage. Kessel, nonetheless, remains a drain on the Leafs in other areas; he is amongst the teams worst possession players and a glaring negative in the subtler points of the game, including in the defensive zone. But the production continues to be there. -- 5. Gardiner With an eye towards Tuesdays game in Dallas, the Leafs took Stephane Robidas out of the lineup against Chicago. Robidas spent the majority of his career with the Stars, Carlyle opting to give him an extra night of rest ahead of what should be an emotional return. In doing so the Leafs flipped Jake Gardiner back into the lineup, a night after scratching him against the Flyers. Gardiner led the Leafs with nearly 23 minutes, on the ice for the Blackhawks final two goals in the third frame. I thought Jake played very well until the third period, Carlyle said, describing Gardiners game as being more determined. I thought the third period was again an area where we just didnt do enough and he got caught in a couple situations, but a young player showed hes got some dynamic abilities out there. -- Stats-Pack 5-2-1 – Leafs record in second half of back-to-back games this season. 22:50 – Ice-time for Jake Gardiner Sunday, leading the Leafs. 41-40 – Possession advantage for Chicago. 13:11 – Ice-time for David Booth Sunday, his second-highest mark of the season. 2.97 – Goals against average for the Leafs this season, 24th overall this season. -- Special Teams Capsule PP: 0-2 Season: 20.3% PK: 1-2 Season: 83.3% -- Quote of the Night Thats the great thing about hockey is we get another crack at it right away in Dallas. Its not like NFL week where youve got to wait a full week before you get back out there again. - Joffrey Lupul, on the nature of a losing streak in the NHL. -- Up Next The Leafs visit the Stars Tuesday before hitting pause for the Christmas break. 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