Matthews out as Maple Leafs host Bruins

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is being listed as day-to-day with a shoulder injury and will not be available to play against the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

Matthews was injured late in the 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

The game against the Bruins could be a preview of a first-round playoff matchup. The Maple Leafs have won 13 of their past 16 games and eight in a row at the Air Canada Centre.

The Maple Leafs (38-20-5) are third in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the second-place Bruins and four behind the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning (41-17-3). The Maple Leafs have played five more games than Boston and two more than the Lightning.

The Bruins are 2-1-0 during a five-game road trip. They are 17-2-2 in their past 21 games on the road. The Maple Leafs are 21-8-2 at the ACC.

Boston lost 6-1 to the Canucks on Saturday at Vancouver before defeating the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers on Monday and Tuesday.

That puts the priority on getting guys to fill out the 3-4 end rotation for Bowles. The Bears’ Mitch Unrein and the Titans’ DaQuan Jones, pending free agents, played in that base scheme last season.

In the draft, Washington’s Vita Vea is yet another non-skill consideration for either the No. 6 pick or a slight trade back. Because of Williams’ presence, the Jets could also be OK waiting until Day 2 or 3, as Virginia’s Andrew Brown and Alabama’s Da’Shawn Hand both could serve them well.

This was the game that launched all the 28-3 jokes at Atlanta’s expense. Brady and the Patriots trailed by 25 points before engineering an epic comeback exacerbated by the Falcons’ steadfast unwillingness to just run the damn ball. James White’s touchdown run in overtime clinched a victory in the only Super Bowl to ever go to overtime and gave New England the win in one of the greatest games ever played.

This one got so out of hand a defensive lineman scored a touchdown. Walter Payton, playing in his first Super Bowl, did not. New England starting quarterback Tony Eason threw six passes and completed NONE of them.jaguars_243-223x223

Super Bowl 2018 international broadcasts: How to watch Eagles vs. Patriots abroad

Few events unite spectators across the globe like the Super Bowl. The National Football League’s crowning moment is broadcast to fans in 170 different countries and territories, making it a constant presence among the most watched programs of each year.

He’ll duel with one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Tom Brady made the extraordinary look commonplace two weeks ago, shaking off a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and pushing the Patriots to their third Super Bowl in four years by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars. While he’s already confirmed his Greatest of All Time (GOAT) status, another ring-winning performance would make it that much tougher for any future upstarts to catch him.

For viewers who want to listen on the radio, Westwood One is carrying the game with Kevin Harlan on the call. Look for your local Westwood One station here.

The Patriots are looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions after last year’s epic comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons. Head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have five rings each and are both in the big game for the eighth time in their careers. The Patriots went 13-3 in the regular season and took care of business in the playoffs, including a comeback win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship. Brady is a potential MVP once again.

The Eagles took a much different path to the Super Bowl. They cruised to the NFC’s No. 1 seed on the strength of Carson Wentz, who was getting legitimate MVP buzz before a torn ACL ended his season early. Philly turned to Nick Foles, who has been less consistent than Wentz but has done enough to keep the offense moving. The Eagles rode a tough defense to wins over the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings.bears_015-223x223

After the Thursday vigil, Rizzo met with families of victims and visited with other survivors at a local hospital.

Rizzo stressed that he doesn’t have all the answers, as he’s just a baseball player, but it’s obvious to him things can’t go on as they are.

I said there needs to be change, but I don’t know what the change needs to be, Rizzo explained. I think it’s good for the kids to go out and show they have a voice. For them to be outspoken about it, it shows they’re not going to sit back and be another statistic.

He returned to the Cubs this past weekend to begin spring training, but he says his heart will always be in Parkland.

After hosting Oregon on Saturday, the Bruins play their final three games in hostile environments, starting with the daunting Utah-Colorado trip and a finale at archrival USC. With wins over all three of those foes currently qualifying for Group 1 status, Steve Alford’s squad can put itself in great position by taking two out of three.

Honestly, the Atlantic 10’s struggles have negatively impacted the Bonnies’ hopes. With only St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island ranking in the RPI top 50, and only Davidson joining the pair in the top 100, quality win opportunities in the league are almost non-existent. And it doesn’t help that none of the Bonnies’ top four victories — Buffalo, Vermont, Syracuse and Maryland — is guaranteed to be in the field as of right now. This is why defeating URI at the Reilly Center is absolutely vital for Mark Schmidt’s squad’s chances.

The Tigers gave Martinez a four-year, $68 million deal after that season, but they haven’t made the playoffs since. Martinez struggled to a .245 average in 2015 before bouncing back (.289, 27 HRs) in 2016. Then last year, he hit .255 with 10 home runs in 107 games — and the concerns about his offensive numbers were nothing compared to the health issues he ended up facing.

As you read this, whether you do so soon after this is sent out to the Say Hey, Baseball mailing list and posted to SB Nation’s MLB page or well into spring training, there will likely be upwards of 100 free agents at the training camp in Bradenton, Fla. put on by the MLB Players Association. Some signed players may attend in solidarity. Scott Boras clients won’t attend, as they have their own facility provided by the agent. The camp remains a manifestation of the offseason’s screwy economics, and the number of seemingly deserving players are out of a fair-paying job because of it.bears_001

Hurney informed the team of the complaint two days later, and the team informed the league office.

This all came about two months after the NFL opened an investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct by team owner Jerry Richardson. A December article in Sports Illustrated said at least four former employees were paid to keep quiet about allegations of sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur directed at a former team scout.

Lucchesi told ESPN.com at the time that the allegations against her client were absolute fiction and part of a continued trend of allegations since the Hurneys began divorce proceedings in 2013.

The challenge for this league is how can we then bring that experience to our well over a billion fans around the world who will never get a chance to see a game in person, Silver said. So technology and creating a more immersive experience for fans is something that we spend a lot of time on at the league office.

This seems wise. The NBA is in the middle of a prosperous era with a lucrative television contract feeding into its galaxy of stars. Those broadcast rights have an expiration date attached, and there’s no telling where the market for live sporting events will be in 2025 when the current agreement expires, or even how we’ll consume the games.

Perhaps by then we won’t just be watching Bradley Beal. We’ll be experiencing the game through his eyes in real time, like we’re right there on the court with him.

This is why it is so important to get those early-round picks correct. We say that you can’t win a league in the first round, but you can lose it, and that is generally true. You don’t have to look beyond those owners who built their 2017 teams around players like Josh Donaldson, Miguel Cabrera and Jonathan Villar in the first two rounds.

Schoenfield: Probably not well. If it actually happens, it would be for a few pinch-hitting appearances in blowouts. The only way he starts a game is if the Mets are way out of the playoff race or have clinched the division and are playing a meaningless game the final weekend.

Speight transferred, and O’Korn is out of eligibility, leaving Harbaugh with redshirt sophomore Brandon Peters and redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey. These are touted recruits but inexperienced players, heading into a season when Harbaugh really needs to beat Michigan’s rivals and make some headway in the Big Ten.

Fortunately for Michigan, the QB transfer market had Shea Patterson to offer from the wreckage of Ole Miss. Now there’s an opportunity for the Wolverines to capitalize again with an experienced collegiate QB, as long as the NCAA grants Patterson immediate eligibility.royals_001

“I’m just going to reflect on the season with all the boys and see what happens.”

One of the biggest questions coming out of Super Bowl 52 was what the Patriots were thinking by not playing Malcolm Butler. He did play, but it was just one special teams snap. This was a player who started all year long and suddenly on the biggest stage, he was a spectator.

Bill Belichick defended his decision after the game, but that didn’t stop people from talking about it. One of the more interesting names was Brandon Browner, a former Pro Bowl cornerback and two-time Super Bowl champ, one of which was as a member of the Patriots.

In another post, Browner posted in a caption, “A locker room was divided pre game, most yds ever given in up in a SB game, and your best defender over the past 3 seasons. Doesn’t get a snap. You [sic] where hurt/burnt where he was needed tonight.”

Also, “Players play and Coaches are supposed to Coach, Bill was out coached for not letting his players play.”

Each teams is only allowed a certain amount of Padded practice all yr. I watched Malcolm carry his pads and helmet out to practice everyday. So days we didn’t have to wear pads, lil bruh had to, it was a extra practice after practice everyday. I know first hand what kind of work he put in. He made the team from a workout, he wasn’t a draft pick or free agent signed on draft day. He got it out the mud. He said YES sir, when he answered you. Which I wouldn’t unless I felt u respected me. #strictlybusiness ??

Gronk accentuated the second score with a funky dance move followed by his trademark spike that sent the ball flying skyward at U.S. Bank Stadium. This simple celebration — later mocked by Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett after he recovered a Tom Brady fumble — is also one of the NFL’s most distinctive because of how it reflects Gronk’s raw power.

It’s understandable that Gronkowski wasn’t ready to either make or announce a retirement decision in the aftermath of something as emotionally draining as playing in a Super Bowl, let alone losing one.

“I’m not ready for these type of questions right now,” Gronk said. “I’m going to sit down, reflect on the season, talk to my teammates. We fought all year long. All the receivers, running backs, linemen … We’ve been all working together.bills_034

To this moment, it remains unfathomable, impossible to forget or ignore.

But first consider what a six-hour Super Bowl pregame show might appear as if the rotating network, in exchange for billions, didn’t feel compelled to kiss the NFL’s fanny, promote their own news and entertainment shows and stars, and hype a game that needed more hoo-hah like a club sandwich needs more lettuce.

Today’s Super Bowl marks another anniversary — the 29th — of the Bengals team that lost Super Bowl XXIII, 20-16, to the 49ers in January 1989. That game likely strikes those who remember it by what preceded it: A story of the most irreconcilably unrestrained individual madness in the championship game’s history.

Monday during Packers-Eagles, ESPN couldn’t say or note simply that the Packers have allowed a pile of points in their previous four games — 33, 31, 47, 42. Those points were, as TV-usual, all hung on the defense.

Thus, football things such as the Titans’ 12-yard touchdown drive after Green Bay fumbled, a Colts 99-yard kickoff return, then their 5-yard TD drive after an interception vs. the Packers were used as evidence of the Packers’ failing defense. Packers then won, 27-13.

Reader Keith Murray: “If Yoenis Cespedes turned doubles into singles in a contract year, what are the odds he’ll run to first now?” Actually, Cespedes now has a chance to hit a bouncer off the left-field wall, then be thrown out at first. Gary Cohen: “He’s got that troublesome quad.”

When the Knicks start firing up 3-pointers — 32 in their Saturday loss at Charlotte, another 32 in Wednesday’s two-point road win against 5-13 Minnesota; one-third of their field-goal attempts in both games — it brings back memories … of seventh-grade recess.

The Patriots will play the Dolphins on Sunday without their suspended star tight end Rob Gronkowski. What does it mean for the offenseBased on history, perhaps not much.

Sunday will mark the 26th game in which the Patriots have played without Gronkowski, who was hit with a one-game suspension for a violent late hit on Buffalo cornerback Tre’Davious White — and they’re 20-5 without him. They’re 9-0 without Gronk since the start of the 2016 season.

Mets’ 2018 ticket marketing campaign borrows from Ernie Banks, with Yoenis Cespedes shouting, “It’s a beautiful day, let’s play 36!”

Vaccaro, taken out of Texas as the first safety in the draft, at times has been a rare bright spot in a dismal Saints defense that has contributed to three straight 7-9 seasons. After posting a career-high 104 tackles in 2015, Vaccaro took a step back in 2016 and served a four-game PED suspension.
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That trend continued with this year’s first hire, as the Jacksonville Jaguars promoted interim coach and former offensive assistant Doug Marrone.

With the Steelers, Patriots and Chiefs firmly entrenched atop their divisions, the only division race that looks remotely competitive right now is the AFC South, where both the Jaguars and Titans sit at 6-3. Now I’m not going to say Jacksonville will finish 12-4 and perhaps bump someone out of a playoff bye, but look at the Jags’ remaining schedule: at Browns, at Cardinals, Colts, Seahawks, Texans, at 49ers, at Titans. Take away Seattle and the New Year’s Eve finale at Tennessee, and that’s a ghastly assortment of middling-to-bad NFL teams.

Tesfatsion: I’m leaning toward Haason Reddick or Christian McCaffrey, but I’m not even sure if either player will be available with the 17th overall pick now. This is going to be a crazy first round. Everyone expects the Browns to pick Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, and they should. I have no clue on how the draft plays out from there, which should make things interesting throughout the night, and it makes it difficult to pick just one player. You almost have to pick at least three. What about you?

Jones: I like Reddick, but also like Reuben Foster, if he’s still there. It’s impossible to really know. Some projections have him going in the top 10, others have him lasting until the early 20s. I feel like the Redskins have to use this pick — and probably their first three picks — to get significantly better on defense.

Joseph spent this season as Gase’s defensive coordinator in Miami. The Dolphins ranked only 29th in the NFL in total defense. And Joseph’s defense did not fare particularly well in Sunday’s 30-12 defeat at Pittsburgh in the opening round of the AFC playoffs.

But Joseph’s reputation as a rising star in the coaching ranks went mostly unaffected. Broncos front office chief John Elway seemed to zero in on Joseph and Shanahan after also interviewing Kansas City’s special teams coordinator, Dave Toub. When Joseph did not leave for a planned interview with the Chargers, it was clear that Elway had settled on his man.
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How about 17-1 Baylor, another one-loss team?

The committee told us how it viewed the Lady Bears, placing them at No. 9 overall. And Louisville has easily beaten both Notre Dame and Oregon.

While Louisville stayed put, some other teams suffered considerable setbacks since Thursday’s reveal. Tennessee and Rutgers each lost twice. The Lady Vols consequently fell from fifth overall to 11th. The Scarlet Knights are now No. 5 seed after being slotted at 15th overall by the committee. With three losses in its past four games, the magic of Rutgers’ nonconference season might be wearing off, and a big fall could be on the horizon with two games against Maryland and one each against Michigan and Ohio State still to come.

Quick. Name the starting quarterbacks in the first game of the weekend. (Answer: Connor Cook and Brock Osweiler.) The Raiders will be going with Cook after their season of destiny became a dumpster fire when MVP candidate Derek Carr broke his leg and backup Matt McGloin suffered a concussion. Over on the Texans’ side, Osweiler has failed to live up to the expectations of his gargantuan contract, but don’t read too much into his heated sideline exchange with Coach Bill O’Brien last week. O’Brien has been known to do that with quarterbacks.

The Texans have had a devastating injury of their own, losing J.J. Watt after three games. Still, they have the league’s best defense. That and playing in the less-than-competitive AFC South, where they edged the Tennessee Titans for the title, helped compensate for an offense that is ranked 29th. The Raiders may have a 12-4 record but are 3-2 in their last five games.

The Vikings don’t hold back in letting Keenum throw downfield, because the deep ball is an integral part of their offense. With a terrific, speedy wide receiver duo in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, both of whom came up monumental against the Saints, the Vikings will take their shots against the Eagles’ cornerbacks, which are Philly’s weakness. Keenum will need to use his mobility to buy time against a good edge pass rush to make those plays.

For Foles, the key is protecting the ball and getting it out quickly. Even with what the Vikings have at linebacker, safety and corner, Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and tight end Zach Ertz can be difference-makers with their size, hands and athleticism. Holding the ball too long against the Vikings’ unpredictable mix of pressure and coverage looks will spell doom for Foles.
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C Kevin Love played only three minutes before leaving with an unspecified illness. …

This is the man two NFL franchises might want as their head coach in 2018. In Hue’s defense, I would lose my red challenge flag all the time. When it’s time to layer up in December, it’s a virtual needle-in-a-haystack scenario.

On balance, I come down as neutral on the idea of mascots. If the kiddies like it, no one wants crotchety, embittered ol’ sportswriter dad spitting hot takes from behind a MacBook. But I do tend to cringe when mascots actively insert themselves into the touchdown celebrations of the teams they represent. Football is hard work. The players lay it out there every Sunday, and when they score a touchdown, it’s both the payoff and a release. It’s safe to say the guy in the furry costume has not made the same sacrifices.

After the season, the NFL’s leadership will review the injury data and try to determine if there are any trends. Representatives of the league and the NFL Players Association meet each year at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. The competition committee deliberates and proposes rule changes to the owners for consideration at the annual league meeting in March. Player safety is an annual focus of that process. Player safety is an annual focus of that process.

Cavaliers: With the Feb. 8 trade deadline approaching, there is growing speculation that Cleveland will make a deal — or two — to improve the league’s oldest roster. Lue doesn’t necessarily believe change is essential. “I like the group that we have,” he said. “We just haven’t been healthy the whole year. I’m just focused on coaching the guys that we have.”

A byproduct of the inept offense is Denver’s defense — which has dropped from No. 1 to No. 12 in one season per Football Outsiders — has to contend with opponents starting at their own 34-yard line, the best field position allowed this season. In 2016 opponents started at their own 29-yard line. The shift has spiked Denver’s points allowed per drive from 1.4 to 1.9 year over year.

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The weakest perimeter partners here have been Rubio and Ingles.

The reported points produced are for the team as a whole, not just the ball handler, so it seems that both last season and this, the Jazz have been effective generating offense off the pick-and-roll (this has been a staple in Utah since the John Stockton and Karl Malone days). Both Gobert (last season) and Favors (this season) have proved effective as the big in these scenarios.

Thus, if the Jazz recognize this pattern and run more pick-and-play with Mitchell and Hood as the ball handlers and Ingles as the weakside shooter, it could lead to more effective usage of their bigs and perhaps more space for them to work.

Puddicombe has visited the Lakers’ film room on a game day, dimming the lights and conducting a 15-minute meditation session with the players attempting to fall into a state of relaxation in their plush chairs. The goal is for players to train their mental game by concentrating on eight areas — motivation, focus, training, competition, communication, analysis, recovery and rehabilitation — in an effort to get them in a state where they are relaxed but also an active state of readiness on game day.

When we focus on something too much, or overthink it, then we tend to create tension, both in our mind and in our game, Puddicombe said on Saturday. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the free-throw line. Meditation will unquestionably help players step out of that thinking pattern, and get more comfortable shooting from the line, but only if they practice it regularly and apply it in a game time environment.

Sunday was the end of a tough stretch of games for Tennessee, which went 1-3 against ranked teams Texas A&M, South Carolina, Notre Dame and Mississippi State. And the victory, against the Gamecocks, came with South Carolina senior star A’ja Wilson out. Two weeks ago, the Lady Vols were undefeated; now they’re 16-3 overall and 4-2 in a tough-as-nails SEC.

For the Tennessee freshmen, every game is a learning experience, and that was evident as they went against Mississippi State’s seniors. But even some of the Lady Vols’ more experienced players struggled, as senior Jaime Nared and junior Meme Jackson were a combined 4-of-24 from the field. Redshirt senior center Mercedes Russell was 7-of-9 from the field for 16 points, but as has been the case during these past four games, the Lady Vols had a difficult time getting her the ball as much as coach Holly Warlick wants.

Sunday’s game also was an indicator of the way the tide has turned in the league in recent years. Mississippi State was 0-36 against Tennessee until getting its first victory in the series in 2016. Now, the Bulldogs have beaten the Lady Vols in four of their past five meetings, including two years in a row here in Knoxville.
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