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La Lucha has a matinee in Ybor City, too.
727Area has new update 15 hours ago Vasilevskiy posts back to back shutouts, sets a franchise mark as Lightning down Canadiens 3-0
Vasilevskiy recorded his 18th career shutout and stands alone at the top of the franchise shutout list. For two periods, this evening’s match-up between the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning featured some fantastic hockey. Both teams displayed solid defensive play, speed, scoring chances, tight checking, and just a sprinkling of nastiness to give the game some flavor. It was great, until the third period where Montreal seemed more intent on attacking Adam Erne and “getting even” than actually winning a hockey game. So, the Lightning marched toward a three goal third period shutout the Canadiens, and in the process Andrei Vasilevskiy secured the franchise lead in shutouts—he’s 24 years old. 1st Period The opening period was a seesaw battle that saw both teams generate pressure and gift some chances to the opposition. Early on Tampa’s defense aggressively activated in the offensive zone to keep pressure on Montreal, but they struggled to get anything on Carey Price. At 1:23 a poor clearing attempt by J.T. Miller led to a Tomas Tatar scoring chance. Minutes later a 2-on-1 with Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos saw Carey Price remind everyone he’s Carey Price. A breakaway setup by Anthony Cirelli for J.T. Miller saw him miss wide. Montreal didn’t sit back either. As the midway point neared the Canadiens pushed play into the Lightning zone and maintained possession, but also struggled to get anything on Vasilevskiy. As play moved back into the Montreal end the Lightning’s first real opportunity arose when Brett Kulak was called for tripping at 9:43. The ensuing power-play saw Tampa Bay generate three good chances that Price pushed aside, but aside from that the Lightning man advantage did little to force the Canadiens penalty kill to work overly hard. This gave Montreal some life and they surged for one of their best shifts of the period between 13:00-14:20. They cycled the puck along the boards and forced the Lightning defense into a few awkward positions. This resulted in some sloppy play from the Lightning, but Vasilevskiy stood tall. Montreal’s last great chance came at 2:11 when Jonathan Drouin cut into the slot for a pass, but was tripped by Dan Girardi before he could get anything dangerous on net. The ensuing power-play was killed by Tampa Bay and the period closed. 2nd Period The middle frame mirrored the first as both teams continued their back and forth battle. One key difference was how Montreal adjusted their offensive strategy to get more traffic into the slot. Whichever team figures out a way to cut into the slot more effectively is going to break through and right now it's MTL who is getting there more consistently.— Matthew Esteves (@mattestevesSBN) February 17, 2019 The nastiness mentioned before started to rear its head this period. First, Andrew Shaw put a knee into Cedric Paquette’s leg while the fourth line was hemmed in the defensive zone. A scrum started in front of Price a few minutes later that saw Yanni Gourde and Max Domi get into a tussle that saw Gourde slam Domi into the ice. Both would get matching roughing minors as a result. Their beef continued into the penalty boxes and I so wish I was a fly on the glass for these chirps. Let this beef go on, please. Domi and Gourde take their on-ice conversation to the penalty box. pic.twitter.com/890S0eXdef— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 17, 2019 During 4-on-4 play both teams exchanged pressure and chances. Tampa Bay generated there’s first with Victor Hedman Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov skating circles around Montreal defenders and having a scoring chance go just wide of Price. Montreal answered right back with their own surge and they eventually scored by outmaneuvering Tampa Bay down low in the offensive zone. Brendan Gallagher battles through the Bolts D, and Brett Kulak finishes the play off. Except that offsides ruins everything. pic.twitter.com/VpiV1TCQVN— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 17, 2019 This is one of those plays where you just get beat. Tyler Johnson makes the right read, but just can’t get his stick on the puck. This was a great sequence from Montreal that was ultimately overturned after the Lightning bench challenged the play for being offside. The remainder of the period saw the back and forth pace return with chances being exchanged by both teams. Andrew Shaw had a chance in the slot that went wide. The Stamkos line pinned the Canadiens for a shift. However, it was Montreal who closed the period out with three great chances by the Drouin line that saw Vasilevskiy thwart every single one. Tampa Bay had the possession advantage after two periods 55% to 45%, but Montreal was even in all other categories. This was a great even battle between these two teams. 3rd Period It didn’t take long for Montreal to begin their march to the penalty box this period—52 seconds to be exact (Montreal took four penalties this period). Philip Danault was sent off for hooking and it didn’t take the Lightning long to flex their muscle on the power-play this go around. Sometimes you luck out when you whiff on a shot. That’s what happened here with Ondrej Palat. The pass from Point doesn’t settle on Palat’s stick and Steven Stamkos is right there to recover it. He then draws to Canadiens toward him before feeding a pass to Kucherov who promptly blasts a one-timer past Carey Price to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. Kucherov had an ealier on the man advantage that Price swallowed with ease. As the saying goes though, “try and try again until you succeed”. Tampa Bay wasted little time extending their lead on Montreal as Yanni Gourde sniped one past Price just 1:25 later. What’s this? A neutral zone turnover by Jonathan Drouin? I’m shocked I tell you, shocked! Jokes aside, the turnover is rather unfortunate since the shaft of Kucherov’s shift completely kills any momentum the puck has. Point recovers it and feeds a soft pass to Gourde who skates in and picks his corner on Carey Price. Tampa Bay never looked back after this. The Lightning have a much more keen killer instinct this season. They hound teams even when they’re up multiple goals and don’t sit back as much as they used to in previous seasons. Point had a breakaway chance that was saved by Price. The Stamkos line put a few more shots on Price during a prolonged shift. The third line pinned the Canadiens at different junctures as well. Montreal, on the other hand, seemed agitated after the second goal. They blatantly appeared to be more concerned with boarding Lightning players and starting scrums after the whistle. Nicolas Deslauriers was called for boarding Adam Erne at 7:54, and Nate Thompson decided to remind everyone why his chirp game is just as bad as his actual game. I'm not crazy about Thompson trying to chirp a dude who got shoved face-first into the boards. pic.twitter.com/qE2CyjbBvV— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 17, 2019 The ensuing power-play saw little from the Lightning that was dangerous. Once 5v5 play returned the Lightning continued to dominant the Canadiens and thought they had scored their third goal of the evening when Tyler Johnson tipped a point shot from Victor Hedman. Unfortunately, Montreal challenged for goaltender interference and the goal was overturned. How the goal was overturned I have no idea. Johnson’s skate brushes against Price’s skate as he leaves the crease and then he redirects the puck with his stick. Price’s stick gets a bit jammed in Johnson’s chest, but Price was still able to move fine. I have no idea what constitutes goaltender interference in this league. There doesn’t appear to be any kind of consistency with the league on these calls. Plays that look like are interference aren’t and vise versa. I give up on this nonsense. Montreal’s insistence of being “touch to play against” continued when Dale Weise, for some stupid reason, decided to go after Erne in the neutral zone. Weise was sent to the box for roughing and the Lightning power-play went through the motions to kill off more time. Shortly after Weise’s penalty expired, Tampa Bay reminded Montreal what playing hockey was when Tyler Johnson scored his second goal of the night (though, only one was “legal” in the official’s eyes). Stamkos manages to catch the Montreal defense being too aggressive here and skates it out for a 2-on-1 that Johnson converts on. The remainder of the game saw Montreal cut back on some of their shenanigans and focus on hockey which actually led to some offense being generated. MTL entered the period with 16 shots...they have two this period with 4:47 left in regulation— Matthew Esteves (@mattestevesSBN) February 17, 2019 Tampa Bay entered the second with 20 shots and at the moment of the above tweet they had 32—they ended the game with 37. Montreal’s shenanigans wouldn’t completely go away as Andrew Shaw started a tussle with Anthony Cirelli that saw both players receive a game misconduct. Cirelli received an additional two minutes for roughing when he wrapped Shaw up and took him down to the ice. Note, there were 15 seconds left in the game at this point, but sure Shaw go “send a message” when your team decided to stop playing hockey in the final period after playing a great game for two periods. The Good Vasilevskiy Stands Alone Andrei Vasilevskiy was great this evening. He wasn’t tested as much as I anticipated, given that Montreal is a high shot volume team, but there were plenty of in-close chances that he had to scramble for to keep the Canadiens off the boards. He now holds the franchise record for most shutouts in a career at 18 and he’s only 24 years old. That record is going to keep growing for a long time, folks. The Bad Montreal’s Third Period I don’t get it. I just don’t. The Canadiens played a fantastic game through two periods. They were neck and neck with the Lightning and had just enough nastiness to their game to give the tilt some drama to go with the great play on the ice. Then the third period came and they suddenly decided to play like a far lesser team that was more focused on taking liberties than playing the game. Montreal doesn’t have the luxury to play like this and essentially blow a period against a team like Tampa Bay. If they had stuck to how they played in the first two periods, this game could’ve easily gone to overtime or the shootout, and at that point it’s essentially a coin flip. They’re clinging onto a wildcard spot by two points and the teams chasing them are Pittsburgh and Carolina (have fun fending them off as the season winds down). They’re five points behind the third place Boston Bruins and six behind the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’re more than likely not going to pass either of those teams, so, they have to bank as many points as they can. The whole narrative of this game was changed when Montreal decided to not play their game in the third and play like an bunch of angry men looking to “get even”. They’re better than that. The Whatever I’m annoyed at how that game ended. The first 40 minutes were great. The last 20 saw one team get in their own heads and Tampa Bay sticking to their gameplan. checks scoreboard I wonder whose methodology was better?
10News WTSP has new update
17 hours ago Miranda Lambert reveals she secretly got married
Surprise! Miranda Lambert got married!
10News WTSP has new update
21 hours ago The Oscars have been host-less before, and it was a disaster
The last time the Oscars did not have a host was 30 years ago, and the evening did not go well.
727Area has new update 22 hours ago Updated salary cap situation for Tampa Bay
Many cuts to come, but don’t expect many big signings The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their off season moves underway this past week by releasing Vinny Curry, and saving $8 million dollars in the process. According to Spotrac, the Buccaneers currently sit at 24th in the league with $15 million dollars in cap space - not including the $8.5 million that is set to go to their draft picks. Factor in the picks, and Jason Licht currently has about $5.8 million to work with. With rumors of Donovan Smith likely receiving a contract in the $12-$14 million dollar range and you're looking at a current cap figure in the negatives. Yikes. With tons of work to do on both sides of the ball, specifically in the trenches and secondary, that is not a comforting thought. Fortunately, the Buccaneers do have options. Now, you can’t cut everyone with no dead cap because then you obviously need to fill a lot of holes, but other cuts will be made. The question is just how many. First, I believe the team will start by cutting Gerald McCoy. The cap hit of $13 million simply doesn’t line up with the production at this point in his career and frankly, the Buccaneers just can’t afford to pay him that kind of money with all their other needs. Not factoring in the Donovan Smith contract, $13 million freed up would give the Buccaneers about $18.5 million (factoring in draft picks). The next move that many people expect is DeSean Jackson to be on his way out. Personally, I don’t think this is a forgone conclusion, especially after the news this week that the team is likely to lose Adam Humphries in free agency, but for the purpose of this article, let’s say the Buccaneers do indeed move on from him and save $10 million dollars. That would put them at an estimated $28.5 million dollars, again, not factoring in Smith’s contract or franchise tag. Next up on the list of a potential cut/trade candidate is Cameron Brate. Brate is due $7 million dollars next season and that is simply too much for a backup tight end. Brate is a good football player, but he is replaceable and that $7 million dollars could go a long way in solving some secondary or offensive line issues. The cutting of Brate would bring the number to $35.5 million. The two most obvious cuts up next would be William Gholston and Mitch Unrein. Combined, the team would save $7.5 million and increase the available cap space to $43 million. Some other options are Demar Dotson ($4.8 million), Beau Allen ($5 million) and Bryan Anger ($3 million). Even if all of those players were cut, which they won’t be because you simply cant replace everyone with better players, the Buccaneers would have about $55-$56 million in space. Factor in Donovan Smith and possibly Kwon Alexander and that number shoots down to about $30 million. Obviously, you have to replace all the guys who were cut and build depth at the same time, so if I was a Buccaneer fan, I wouldn’t expect any splash free agent signings outside of maybe one big name. It’ll be interesting to see how Jason Licht and Bruce Arians work the roster, but right now, the cap situation doesn’t look pretty.
727Area has new update 1 day ago Combine Preview: Linebackers
Previewing the linebackers who will be participating in this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. Coming into 2018, there was some talk about whether or not the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the best linebacker group in the division. One which could match-up against most linebacker groups in the league, even. Now, Kendell Beckwith has missed a full year with an ankle injury, Kwon Alexander missed more than half the season after tearing his ACL against the Cleveland Browns, and the team is on the verge of moving to a base defense requiring the use of four linebackers. Standing tall at the AdventHealth Training Center is one Lavonte David. The lone shining beacon of starting NFL talent currently residing in the 2019 Bucs future. Beckwith is at least under contract, but I doubt anyone would believe missing his second year following an impressive rookie year was a positive thing. With hope remaining Alexander might be back in Tampa this upcoming season, there is still at least one open spot and up to three. Whew! Let’s look at this year’s combine linebackers. BEST IN CLASS: JOSH ALLEN, KENTUCKY When the NFL first released their list of participants, Allen fell into the linebacker group. Yes, he should be an EDGE defender. But for the sake of the league’s initial list and this series, he’s classified as a linebacker. Which is fine, unless you’re triggered by guys not be labeled as EDGE guys. Beyond this possibility, Allen is projected as a bonafide star from day one. Honestly, I’m not as high on him as most, but I still think he’s very good and can be very good in the NFL. Fits best at the next level standing up as a versatile linebacker rather than with his hand in the dirt, but he can certainly do both. Chances are he’ll be gone before pick five ever comes up, making him almost certainly not a future member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. MOST TO PROVE: MACK WILSON, ALABAMA This isn’t so much about Wilson’s ability. I think most would agree he’s a solid NFL talent with the potential to be a starter right away. What’s in question here, is whether or not he’s drafted in the first-round, which is not guaranteed. Of course, as we’ve seen in plenty of drafts, nothing is. Still, with a solid combine performance, Wilson can cement himself as a first-round favorite this April. The difference between being a day one pick and a day two pick are pretty significant, so Wilson should come in looking to turn some heads when the festivities get underway in Indianapolis. MOST LIKELY BUCS DRAFT PICK: DEVIN WHITE, LSU Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports There shouldn’t be much surprise here. LSU has been a linebacker factory lately, and White is the next man up to represent the school’s linebacker lineage. White has been mocked to the Bucs quite often, and it’ll likely continue to happen until the future of Alexander is known. Even then, he will still likely be a popular pick for the Bucs for the reasons mentioned above. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com has a grade on White which identifies him as an instant starter, which just so happens to satisfy my personal criteria for drafting a player in the Top-5.
727Area has new update 1 day ago Combine Preview: Running Backs
A look at the ball-carriers attending the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Our next look at the players vying for NFL roster spots at the Scouting Combine is going to focus on the running back position. Peyton Barber is a restricted free-agent and questions exist about whether or not he can provide what Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich will want in a starting running back. Ronald Jones is coming off a disappointing rookie season with most hoping he had more of a coaching problem than a player problem in 2018. So, we could say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a need at running back. When and where they’ll take one is the big question. No matter what the Bucs do with their running back group, these competitors will be looking to impress them and the other 31 NFL franchises at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. BEST IN CLASS: JOSH JACOBS, ALABAMA There might not be an easier ‘Best in Class’ tag to make than Jacobs. His versatility and play-making ability is clearly above the rest of the running back class at this point. Right now, teams in the top end of the draft are trying to figure out if he’s a generational talent worthy of such a high pick for a position with such a short career span. Teams in the teens and towards the end of the first round are just hoping all of the defensive talent in this year’s class puts Jacobs on skates. MOST TO PROVE: BRYCE LOVE, STANFORD Love’s character, leadership and ability are not in question. What is in question is his health. Having multiple injuries in college will never help a prospect’s draft stock. The word on running backs is they don’t last long in the NFL already, and that’s if they don’t come in with previous damage. Guys like Todd Gurley will make teams think it’s all going to be ok, and encourage them to take the risks. Although, after what happened this post-season, it’ll be a bit harder for teams to use him as a beacon of injury hope. Then there are players like Leonard Fournette who was drafted in the Top-10 despite his injury history with LSU, and has had the same issues as a professional running back up to this point. We’ve all seen injured players get drafted on day two of the NFL Draft. But guys like Jaylon Smith aren’t playing running back. Medical evaluations at the combine will be the talk of Lucas Oil Stadium during the event, and just how well his knee is recovering from his ACL injury will determine where he lands on individual boards this Spring. MOST LIKELY BUCS DRAFT PICK: JOSH JACOBS, ALABAMA Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports Now, truth be told, I believe the Buccaneers will go defense with their first pick of the draft this April. However, this isn’t necessarily a death sentence for Jacobs’ chances at being in Tampa this Summer. This isn’t so much a draft prediction as much as it is a projection. Meaning that if Arians, Leftwich and Jason Licht are not ready to commit to Barber or Jones being their starting running back in 2019, they’re likely going to need to draft Jacobs or sign a free-agent. Therefore, the most likely guy to get drafted by the Bucs, is this Alabama Crimson Tide product. Anyone else a team drafts in this year’s class is a complimentary or back-up player entering camp. Yes, we’ll have the surprise pick who turns out to be a star and every other fan base will blame their general manager for not picking him. But, entering the draft, Jacobs is the only day one starter and if Licht is targeting one running back it’s him. Honorable Mention: Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma
Creative Loafing has new update
1 day ago Herbie Hancock starts strong, succumbs to overindulgence at Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall
For about 40 minutes he made a viable case that jazz-fusion is not dead.
727Area has new update 1 day ago Believe it or not, receiving corps could be a potential issue this offseason
One of Tampa Bay’s deepest position groups could suddenly become a problem within the next couple of months. Even throughout all of the losing and roster holes in the last few years for the Buccaneers, there has been at least one constant. The team’s receiving group has been deep, possibly one of the deepest in the entire league. All of a sudden, that could be changing this offseason. DeSean Jackson has wanted out since the middle of the 2018 season, so fans have grown accustomed to the idea of him being gone in 2019. In a lot of cases, fans are even to the point where they desperately want it to happen. Jameis Winston is the guy at quarterback going forward. Jackson has little to no chemistry with him, and he doesn’t seem like he cares enough to work on it. Why keep that guy on your roster, especially when his cap hit for 2019 is $10 million? So, yes, cutting Jackson makes sense as a standalone move. It’s probably even the preferred course of action at this point. But add to that the fact that Adam Humphries is a free agent — one that the Bucs might not be able to bring back based on what he can demand in terms of money — and you have an issue on your hands. With both Jackson and Humphries potentially gone, that deep receiving corps that the team has grown to know would suddenly be thinned out. The top two would still be excellent. Mike Evans is a No. 1 guy regardless, and having Chris Godwin step into the No. 2 role is both well-deserved and extremely exciting. But the problem arises from there. Who becomes the No. 3 guy if Jackson and Humphries are gone? Is it Justin Watson, a second-year guy out of Penn who never played more than a few snaps here and there during his rookie year? Is it Bobo Wilson? Both of those guys could break out and be reliable, but they’re still unknowns. Having a strong tight end group helps reduce some of the sting of losing two of your top receivers, but there’s still something uneasy about turning your depth into top-line guys and having to bring in new depth behind them. Of course, this is all hypothetical. It doesn’t take into account any possible signings or draft picks the team could make to fill out the group. But with a tough cap situation and so many needs to address elsewhere, it’s concerning that one of the team’s strongest positions is suddenly a question mark. Where do you stand? Are you keeping Jackson or throwing more money at Humphries to avoid having a problem on your hands? It won’t be long before we see what the Bucs decide to do.
727Area has new update 1 day ago Tampa Bay Lightning vs Montreal Canadiens preview: Can Nikita Kucherov set a new team record?
The last game of a three-game homestand. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens : Game 59 Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time Location: Amalie Arena Broadcast/Streaming: SunS, NHL Network Opponent SBNation Site: Eyes on the Prize Preview:The Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t lost in regulation since the end of January, which was also the first game after the bye-week. Just a week ago, after losing in a shootout against Blues, it seemed like the team is in their deepest slump this season. But it looks now like that was just a blip as they’re on a four-game winning streak and have at least a point in the last eight games. Their next opponent is the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs are currently in the first wild-card position. The Canadiens are a potential first-round opponent for the Bolts, which makes this game interesting, although the Lightning have won both of the previous games against Montreal this season. The key matchup of tonight’s game could be the contribution of the special teams units for both sides. Despite having pretty decent stats at 5v5 (the Habs are the 3rd in the NHL in shot share), they have been mediocre team when it comes to special teams results. The Canadiens are 30th on the power play in the whole league and their Penalty Kill units aren’t much better. The return of Shea Weber surely helped them a lot this season. Their defense pair with Jeff Petry has been playing very aggressively in a good way lately. It also should be mentioned that Carey Price is feeling better after a horrible start of the season when he was under .900 save percentage. After passing the 90-point mark, Nikita Kucherov is likely going to surpass another team record very soon. Kucherov has 66 assists this season, which is two assists less than the team record, established by Brad Richards (2005-06) and Martin St. Louis (2010-11). With the way he’s been scoring lately, no one would be surprised if he reaches that mark by the end of the first period. Another player who’s rewriting team history right now is Andrei Vasilevskiy. With his fifth shutout of the season on Thursday agains against Dallas, Vasilevskiy has tied Ben Bishop’s record for most shutouts in franchise history at 17. When the team is scoring at least five goals every game, it’s not very hard to get a win. Vasy had been struggling a little after returning from his injury early in the season, but things have turned out well lately. Take a look at his shot map: Eric Cernak is still listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury but could be back in the lineup tonight. Tampa Bay Lightning Forwards Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Tyler JohnsonYanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Mathieu Joseph Scratched: Danick Martel, Ryan Callahan, Defense Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev Injuried: Erik Cernak Goalies Andrei Vasilevskiy Louis Domingue Montreal Canadiens Forwards Jonathan Drouin - Phillip Danault - Brendan GallagherTomas Tatar - Max Domi - Andrew ShawArtturi Lehkonen - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Joel ArmiaNicolas Deslauriers - Nate Thompson - Dale Weise Defense Victor Mete - Shea Weber Mike Reilly - Jeff Petry Brett Kulak - Jordie Benn Goalies Carey Price Antti NiemiScratched: Matthew Peca, Charles Hudon Injured: Paul Byron
727Area has new update 1 day ago Free Agent Spotlight - G Mike Iupati
Our free agent spotlights roll on with potential help in the trenches As we continue on with our free agent spotlights, we turn our attention to the much beleaguered offensive line. Although the victim of the ire and vitriol of many fans, the offensive line isn’t quite as weak as many believe. That’s not to say it doesn’t need improvement. As we discussed with Ryan Jensen here, the offensive line is the only position group on the field that has to work in perfect unison or the entire thing falls apart. And, as Jensen pointed out, the Bucs had a top five passing offense - that doesn’t happen if the O-Line isn’t doing something right. All that said, Bruce Arians has turned a lot of his attention to the offensive line publicly, referencing the need for improvement. So why not turn to a familiar face? Mike Iupati’s Career Drafted in the first round, seventeenth overall by the San Francisco 49ers in 2010, Iupati has been a reliable starter in this league for nearly a decade. Unfortunately, he’s been devastated by injuries over the past few seasons, limiting his playing time immensely - including playing in only fifteen games over the last two seasons. Iupati has been named All-Pro and second team All-Pro one time each in his career as well as being elected to four Pro Bowls. Why The Buccaneers Need Him Well, here’s the thing - Iupati has played left guard throughout his career. Plain and simple - the Buccaneers don’t need a left guard. However, if Iupati would be up for switching to right guard or if Ali Marpet is up for his fourth position in as many years, Iupati would improve the offensive line immediately. I’m not exactly a proponent of Marpet moving positions again, but Caleb Benenoch isn’t exactly cutting it on the right side. The Bucs need someone on that side to help an aging Demar Dotson and not place so much pressure on Jensen to overcompensate for the weakness. The other thing to bear in mind is that, at this stage in his career, Iupati may be better suited to be a depth piece rather than a starter. With his injury riddled past few seasons, Iupati’s body may not be able to withstand the grind of an every week starter. Giving the Bucs that kind of flexibility with a depth signing of Iupati’s skill level. What Will Iupati Cost? The Cardinals voided the final year of his contract, worth $3.7-million. Over his career, Iupati has averaged $4.64-million annually. Plain and simple - his free agent haul will not reach either of those numbers. Iupati is going to find himself being one of the bargains for whichever team signs him. He’s likely to get in the $2.5-3-million range as it is unlikely he will be signed as a starter. He will be the candidate of receiving a “prove it” deal given his recent injury history. Will It Happen? I definitely see this one as a possibility. Iupati has a familiarity with Arians as well as offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. If the Bucs snag him on the affordable “prove it” deal, he would provide a veteran presence and a reliable depth piece. If the Buccaneers can’t find a better option than Benenoch, they may experiment with Iupati on the right side. However, he would be best suited to fill in in case someone gets injured as his starting days are likely over.
727Area has new update 1 day ago Quick Strikes: Oilers, Flyers swap goalies, Cory Schneider wins a game, and Nikita Kucherov deserves your respect
Lots of goalie talk today. Talbot, Schneider, Vasilevskiy, Ingram, Stolarz, and Luongo! The Bolts Nikita Kucherov is historically good, but no one believes him because he’s on the Tampa Bay Lightning. [Raw Charge] I’m normally hesitant to acknowledge “on-pace-for” stats. They’re usually misleading because players don’t keep up what they do in small samples over a full season. But Kuch’s outrageous scoring pace has gone on long enough that we have to start paying attention. And so, for as long as this continues, we’ll be checking in at least once per week on how his season is progressing. As of last night, he has 92 points in 58 games. Andrei Vasilevskiy earned his 17th career shutout to move into a tie with Ben Bishop for the most in @TBLightning franchise history. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/LHe7386qJN— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 15, 2019 Nikita Kucherov is historically good, but no one believes him because he’s on the Tampa Bay Lightning. [The Hockey News] Last year, the Hart Trophy debate revolved around whether the Professional Hockey Writers Association could name someone “the player judged most valuable to his team” if that player’s team missed the playoffs. The answer was no. Connor McDavid was the consensus pick for “world’s best player” but, captaining an Edmonton Oilers team out of contention, he only finished fifth in Hart voting, while Taylor Hall, who carried the New Jersey Devils singlehandedly to the postseason, took the most-valuable award. Our goalie coach Frantz Jean met with the media today after practice to talk all things Vasy and Louis. ?? pic.twitter.com/Ih0wDxJbmj— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) February 15, 2019 Steven Stamkos is also on his way to making history. Franchise history, which is saying something for this young, but storied organization. [Tampa Bay Times] He started his NHL career as a teenage phenom, 2008’s No. 1 overall draft pick here to save the Lightning. He was a rising star then on a not-great team. In the ensuing years, Stamkos dealt with injuries. He became a playmaker. Through it all, Stamkos has been a pure goal scorer, the best the organization has had. And he’s on the verge of the ultimate proof. *Eyes emoji* We will have more details on all of our #BoltsPrideNight activations coming sometime next week, so stay tuned! — Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) February 15, 2019 The Prospects It was a tight one, but the Syracuse Crunch came out victorious over the Rochester Americans on the back of a Connor Ingram shutout to take over first place in the North Division. Great success! [Raw Charge] With the win the Crunch move into first place in the North Division for now. They also snapped a two-game losing streak and a 135:14 scoreless streak. With the win, they finish their five-game road trip with a 3-2 record and more importantly they pick up three out of four points against the Amerks. They won’t have long to celebrate as the two teams travel up to Syracuse for a rematch on Saturday. ed in for a 32-save shutout.That’s a league-leading six this season for @CBIngram1.#SYRvsROC pic.twitter.com/p3RQDskG2w— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) February 16, 2019 Here’s the goal! That’s more like it.#SYRvsROC pic.twitter.com/JKtPMNIXsS— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) February 16, 2019 And the proof! Tonight's results: A story in two parts.Tomorrow we repeat, although in our own barn, and try to start a gap. pic.twitter.com/qgNTHAlOjX— Alexandra (@Allovimo) February 16, 2019 If the Crunch plan to consistently succeed in the AHL, they need to keep up playing a strong, relentless brand of hockey. It works for them so let’s keep it rolling. [Raw Charge] The Crunch are not a “grind it out down low, posses the puck for a long time before scoring” type of team. Yes, they can and will do that, but when they are at their best they are a team that strikes quickly, often off transition. They have to create turnovers. How do they do that? By forechecking with aggression, harassing puck carriers the length of the ice, and stepping up in the neutral zone to challenge entries. All of these things are hallmarks of the “heavy stick” hockey that Coach Groulx likes to see. 6’9” > 5’10”#SYRvsROC pic.twitter.com/mkHGz3tEOV— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) February 16, 2019 The Game The Edmonton Oilers have traded their former-franchise goalie Cam Talbot to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Anthony Stolarz. This deal essentially ended up being a cap dump in order for the Oilers to activate Andrej Sekera from the injured reserve list. I mean, they could’ve just not traded for current-scratches Alex Petrovic and Brandon Manning, but I’m sure the Oilers know what they’re doing. [Broad Street Hockey] Stolarz, 25, has appeared in 12 games for the Philadelphia Flyers this season, posting a .902 save percentage on his way to a 4-3-3 record. The 6’6” netminder missed almost the entirety of last season with a knee injury, but has been enjoying a comeback season that saw him back in the NHL where he had previously played just seven games. The 2012 second-round pick had at one point served as the third-string goaltender in the AHL prior to his recall in late November, but since then has been a mainstay with the Flyers outside of a quick conditioning stint in January. #Oilers have traded G Cam Talbot to the #Flyers for G Anthony Stolarz. One for one.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) February 16, 2019 The Flyers — who finally look like they have a goalie of the future — decided to cement themselves in goalie history before (hopefully) riding off in the sunset with Carter Hart. Once Talbot plays for PHI, Flyers will set an NHL record using 8 goalies in one season— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 16, 2019 And on the Oilers front, things continue to fall apart. Jesse Puljujarvi and his camp have finally come to the conclusion that Edmonton wouldn’t be the best place for the teenager. I smell move. [Sportsnet] “It’s kind of hard for me to think you can hit the reset button,” mused Lehto, who spoke briefly with team president Bob Nicholson Friday when the two ran into each other outside a Starbucks near the hotel. “Going to the American League… Jesse was already there. There was a great plan, then things changed…” Jesse Puljujarvi's agent, Markus Lehto, tells Sportset he is unsure if staying with Edmonton is best for his client.Column to come shortly. pic.twitter.com/QtSFGI00M6— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) February 16, 2019 It’s cute that the New York Islanders think they’re making it past the first round. The Islanders announce if they make the playoffs all first round games will be at Nassau Coliseum. If they advance, the remaining games will be at Barclays Center.— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) February 15, 2019 Mike McKenna continues to be perfect. Got some pointers and a hockey card from my new friend and fellow full-right goalie Anthony today post-practice!Thank you Anthony, have fun & keep kickin'! pic.twitter.com/c9fHix6N2n— Mike McKenna (@MikeMcKenna56) February 15, 2019 Cory Schneider didn’t win a game in 2018, but he finally got back in the win column following an amazing 4-1 comeback against the Minnesota Wild. Below Elliotte Friedman’s tweet is Roberto Luongo’s interview with Friedman and Jeff Marek, 19:00 in he talks about Schneider and how he’s dealing with his struggles mentally. It’s definitely worth a listen, in my opinion. [All About the Jersey] In a lost season like this one, we fans have to find and appreciate the “little victories” that occur. That could be a milestone performance, seeing a favorite player have a great night, witnessing a highlight, or watching a win that means something. The Devils are still mortal locks for missing the playoffs and receiving a high draft pick in the first round. But this win surely means a lot to Schneider and the organization that stuck with him. No wonder Cangialosi was so exuberant. Cory Schneider has his first win since Dec. 2017. Comes in with NJ down 4-1 to MIN, wins in OT. Made some huge saves— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 16, 2019 Highlight of the Night: Looks like someone finally came up with a WAR stat that works. Now we're upsetting analysts in two different sports pic.twitter.com/LZjt230uu4— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) February 16, 2019
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727Area has new update 1 day ago Syracuse Crunch shut out Rochester Americans 1-0
With the win they move into first place. Prior to tonight’s game the Syracuse Crunch and the Rochester Americans had met five times this season. At no point in those five games have the Crunch had the lead, yet somehow they won two of those games (one in a shootout and one in overtime). On Friday night, the Crunch finally led thanks to a first period goal from Andy Andreoff. They then held on for forty minutes while Connor Ingram turned aside all 32 shots he faced. In the end the one goal was enough as Syracuse emerged with the 1-0 victory. With the win the Crunch move into first place in the North Division for now. They also snapped a two-game losing streak and a 135:14 scoreless streak. With the win, they finish their five-game road trip with a 3-2 record and more importantly they pick up three out of four points against the Amerks. They won’t have long to celebrate as the two teams travel up to Syracuse for a rematch on Saturday. The Crunch started the night with some good news - Jan Rutta was back in the line-up. Unfortunately, they had to deal with the loss of Hubert Labrie. The veteran defenseman suited up for the 3-0 loss against Belleville on Wednesday after missing Sunday’s game against Providence with an injury. Cameron Gaunce was also out as he was serving the second half of his two-game suspension. They were also still without the services of Taylor Raddysh, Dennis Yan and Troy Bourke who are still day-to-day with their own nagging injuries. It’s been a rough week injury-wise for the Crunch who were just turning the corner when it comes health. As noted in the preview, the Crunch needed a quick start, not only to get their confidence going, but because they have a pretty good record when scoring first. Despite some early pressure it was the Amerks that lit the goal lamp first. The good news for the Crunch was that it was the result of an overeager goal judge. Eric Cornell’s shot from the left circle did indeed beat Ingram, but it ricocheted off the post and out. The Crunch had their own bit of bad luck as Carter Verhaeghe stepped from behind the net and whistled a shot off of the crossbar. On the following face-off, Ross Colton also kissed a puck off the iron. Syracuse was generating chances and with under seven minutes to go in the period they finally found the back of the net. Alex Volkov controlled the puck at mid-ice and fought off a stick check from Kevin Porter. The Russian carried the puck into the zone and forced defenseman Matt Tennyson to retreat. With an open lane, he dropped the puck back to Andy Andreoff who ripped a wrist shot over Scott Wedgewood’s blocker for his 18th goal of the season. That’s more like it.#SYRvsROC pic.twitter.com/JKtPMNIXsS— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) February 16, 2019 Following the goal, the Crunch went on the power play and almost made it 2-0. After a sustained amount of pressure, Alex Barre-Boulet had the puck in the slot. He heard Cory Conacher banging his stick on the ice to his right and deftly slid a pass over to the veteran forward. The quick shot was labeled for the back of the net but somehow Wedgewood slid over to make the stop. The good news is that the Crunch took the lead and a 12-5 shot advantage into the locker room for the first intermission. Unfortunately, they left the crisp passing and clean zone breakouts in the locker room for the rest of the game. The second period started roughly as Alex Volkov was decked by Andrew MacWilliam on the opening face-off. Hello 2nd period!! Big Mac with the big hit. pic.twitter.com/Miej1wkc0s— Let's Go Amerks (@LetsGoAmerks) February 16, 2019 MacWilliam’s elbow came up after the hit and Andreoff took exception as he went after the Amerks’ defenseman. The two scuffled briefly and ended up with matching fighting penalties. Unfortunately for the Crunch Andreoff also picked up a two-minute instigator and a 10-minute misconduct. Syracuse never seemed to get back on track following the hit. The hitting picked up as the teams locked into a playoff-esque battle. Thanks to three power plays and an inability by the Crunch to cleanly exit their own zone, the battle was fought mostly in Syracuse’s zone. Their best player was by far Connor Ingram and he shone, stopping all 17 shots the Americans fired at him and off of him. Even a shot off of the helmet from Cornel couldn’t slow him down. It was the same story for the Crunch. They struggled to get the puck out of their zone cleanly. Bad passes were picked off and Rochester won way too many battles along the boards. On the few chances they were able to get the puck out of the zone, the Crunch’s offense was limited at best. Their only prime scoring opportunity came shorthanded when Boris Katchouk broke up a pass at his own blueline and zoomed in on a semi-breakaway. He tried to cut in front of Wedgewood and slide the puck behind him a la Peter Forsberg, but the Rochester goaltender smothered it. Thanks to Ingram’s stellar play the Crunch entered the final frame with their 1-0 lead intact. For the first six minutes it was a continuation of the second period. The ice was tilted heavily in Rochester’s favor and Syracuse could only relieve the pressure by chipping the puck out of the zone. Their first rush through the neutral zone didn’t come until almost six minutes into the period. On that rush Jonne Tammela managed to draw an interference penalty. While they didn’t score with the extra man (they ended the road trip 0-for-16 on the power play) they did ease some of the pressure on Ingram. It also allowed the the Crunch to get their footing back and they were able to generate a little more offense. They didn’t score, but they also weren’t pinned back in their own zone for the entire 20 minutes. Ingram made another 10 saves, including a nice glove save on Wayne Simpson with two minutes to go. The 32-save effort was his league-leading sixth shutout of the season. It wasn’t the prettiest win of the season, but the Crunch look mighty fine atop the standings. Three Stars of the Game: 3 Cory Conacher 2 Scott Wedgewood 1 Connor Ingram (Box Score) (Highlights)
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727Area has new update 2 days ago “Heavy Sticks” - The Crunch need to play to their identity
Fast, relentless hockey will propel the Crunch back atop the standings. The Syracuse Crunch will wrap up their five-game road trip On Friday night back where it started as they head into Rochester to take on the North Division-leading Americans. The road trip which began on such a high note with a 2-1 shootout win against the Amerks has taken a bit of a turn for the worse with back-to-back shutout losses. Still, the Crunch can overtake Rochester for the division lead with a regulation win. In order to win, the Crunch are going to have to reignite their suddenly stagnant offense. How do they do that? By sticking to what coach Ben Groulx refers to as their “identity.” He’s mentioned it often, especially during the recent 8-game winning streak, about how the Crunch need to go out and establish their identity during games. So, just what is the Crunch’s identity? It’s playing fast, playing right, and playing with what Coach Groulx refers to as “heavy sticks.” That means winning battles along the boards, getting sticks in the way of passes, and emerging from 50/50 plays with the puck. When the Crunch do that, they force the other teams to chase them instead of the other way around. The Crunch are not a “grind it out down low, posses the puck for a long time before scoring” type of team. Yes, they can and will do that, but when they are at their best they are a team that strikes quickly, often off transition. They have to create turnovers. How do they do that? By forechecking with aggression, harassing puck carriers the length of the ice, and stepping up in the neutral zone to challenge entries. All of these things are hallmarks of the “heavy stick” hockey that Coach Groulx likes to see. It also behooves them to play with the lead. The Crunch have scored the first goal 23 times in 47 games. Their record when they score first - 20-1-1-1. That equates to a .913 winning percentage when they score first. In case you were wondering, yes, that is the best mark in the league by far (San Jose and Bridgeport are tied for second with a measly .821 winning percentage). The identity that Coach Groulx wants them to play with makes them such a dominant team with the lead. Their style is a pain in the ass to deal with in general. It’s tough for teams to know that they have to fight their way up all 200 feet of ice and if they make a bad pass or the puck bobbles off of a stick they’re going to have to be chasing them down. That gets amplified when you’re down a goal or two and have to force a pass up the ice. An example: Tic-tac-goal.#UTIvsSYR pic.twitter.com/PIvyXWcboT— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) February 2, 2019 Utica is down 2-0 at this point and looking to get back in the game. They make a nice play to win the puck. Evan McEneny sees that he has a few Crunch players trapped in the zone. If he completes the cross ice pass to Brandon Woods, Woods has a one-on-one entry into the zone. In order to do that, McEneny has to get the pass through to players. If the Comets are tied or leading, he probably doesn’t try it. Down by two in the third period he tries it and it fails. Alex Barre-Boulet knocks the pass down and the Crunch are immediately on the attack. A couple of quick passes later and the puck is in the back of the net. Heavy stick in the neutral zone, attack with speed, and execute with precision. That is Syracuse Crunch hockey in a 10-second clip. Now, if they’ve scored first in 23 games, that leaves 24 games where they’ve given up the first goal. Their record in those games is 9-14-1-0. Winning nine games after trailing isn’t bad, but it’s not great. What makes them so good with the lead can also hurt them when they are trailing. Sometimes they are too aggressive and if they don’t win a puck battle it can lead to an odd man advantage for the other side. pic.twitter.com/O1IQjbwnuj— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) February 10, 2019 Trailing the Providence Bruins 2-0, the Crunch are in the Bruins zone as the puck swings around the boards to the blueline. Nolan Valleau tries to keep it in the zone with his stick, but he’s kind of caught in between. With three teammates still in the Providence zone he has to tie that puck up along the boards. Instead, he kind of swings it into the middle of the ice and falls down, and the puck goes right into the path of an oncoming Bruin. Providence has an easy entry and Ryan Donato whips it into the net. With the lead, Valleau plays that a little more cautiously. There’s no need to keep the puck in the offensive zone so he doesn’t have to reach for it initially. He plays back and slows the rush down allowing his teammates to regroup on defense. It’s not an easy identity to play for an entire season. Part of the reason the Crunch have been so streaky this season is because theirs is reliant on such a high tempo and execution. Their mistakes are often magnified. When they are executing properly they are one of the hardest, if not the hardest, team to beat in the league. When they don’t make their plays, and they lose battles along the boards, then they are battling not only the other team, but themselves as well. Hopefully the prospect of ending the road trip with the division lead will be a big enough motivation for them to start Friday’s game strong and force the Amerks to chase them up and down the ice instead of the other way around. Potential Lines Forwards Alex Volkov - Andy Andreoff - Cory Conacher Boris Katchouk - Gabriel Dumont - Alex Barre-Boulet Carter Verhaeghe - Mitchell Stephens - Brady Brassart Jonne Tammela - Ross Colton - Otto Somppi Defense Nolan Valleau - Cal Foote Dominik Masin - Jan Rutta Hubert Labrie - Ben Thomas Goaltender Connor Ingram Notes: Jan Rutta should be back in the line-up tonight following his oh-so-brief excursion to Tampa. If Coach Groulx goes with a 12/6 rotation, it wouldn’t be a bad night to give Oleg Sosunov a game off. The big rookie played well in the last two games, but Rutta is the better option. Tammela returned to line-up and was on the top line for most of the first two periods as well as on the power play unit. Down a few goals, Coach Groulx basically benched him, Somppi and Colton in the third period and rolled with his top offensive players. It will be interesting to see how he uses him tonight.
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727Area has new update 2 days ago DRaysBay Top Prospects 2019: No. 2, LHP/1B Brendan McKay
Brendan McKay was the fourth overall pick for the Tampa Bay Rays out of the University of Louisville. McKay was a three time winner of the John Olerud Award, given to the best two way player in college baseball, and since his selection the Rays have been committed to trying to see if he could make it work in professional baseball. Being good enough to be a major leaguer on one side of the ball is extremely difficult, much less while splitting your time between pitching and hitting, but Shohei Ohtani showed what the upside could look like if a player can be very good on both sides of the ball, and McKay will still be allowed to attempt the same in 2019. Setting up a schedule was the first obstacle and the Rays went with one day pitching, two days at designated hitter, two days at first base, and one day off every six days. The results on the mound were everything you could hope for in a pitcher that could be in the majors quickly. Split between three levels, culminating in the Florida State League (A+), McKay threw 78.1 innings with a 2.41 ERA and 1.94 FIP while striking out 34.5% and limiting walks to 4.5%. The only hiccup was a missed month due to a pulled oblique, a possible harbinger for the consequences of hitting while pitching. Rays High-A LHP Brendan McKay has been gaining momentum as a primary pitcher this year. Mostly 93-95 today, touched 96. Four pitch mix, all above average & command projects for above. Also has plus lefty raw power & at least an average hit tool, some say plus.TL;DR he’s good. pic.twitter.com/pMdEXqAt36— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) August 26, 2018 McKay isn’t an overpowering pitcher, but he throws a solid four pitch mix with an above average fastball, changeup, and cutter with a plus curveball being his best pitch. Command allows everything to play up and be a relatively safe bet to be a middle of the rotation starting pitcher. The results with the bat weren’t as exciting: McKay hit .214/.368/.359 over 242 plate appearances, and posted a 18.2% walk rate and 21.5% strikeout rate, so not all was bad at the plate. The strong walk rate allowed him to get on base at a good clip, but his approach led to excessive passiveness at times. The Trackman data also suggests his .257 BABIP was more misfortune than bad contact. A .146 ISO is cause for concern for somebody that will be limited to 1B/DH. There is no consensus on the bat, even though more teams liked his upside as a hitter than on the mound at the time of the draft. Kiley McDaniels and Eric Longenhagen at FanGraphs are the highest on McKay ranking him 12th in their recent top 100 and think he could be a 60 hit, 60 power bat, but if he were only a pitcher the road to the majors would be much quicker. What is the plan for 2019? According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, McKay’s schedule will change a little from last year by limiting McKay to designated hitter when he isn’t on the mound. The rotation will be a six day rotation of one on the mound, four at designated hitter, and one day off. The most notable part of the plan is McKay will still be limited to throwing every seventh day instead of the more traditional sixth day as a starting pitcher. With the arm ahead of the bat the Rays need to make sure his development there doesn’t plateau. The goal should be to see him reach 140-150 innings putting him on track to make an impact in the majors in 2020 with an innings limit around 170-180 innings. This is likely the make or break for year for McKay at the plate. He has the skills to be a productive hitter one day, but for a team looking to compete there will be pressure to use those innings at the major league level sooner rather than later. It’s possible that McKay starts the season in Port Charlotte (A+) to allow the bat to catch up, but an assignment to Montgomery (AA) shouldn’t be surprising. If he does start in Port Charlotte it shouldn’t be for long.
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