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TORONTO – Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger. St. Louis was all that and more for most of a cold March night. They dealt the sliding Leafs their sixth straight loss – seven in the past eight games – and a very loud exit from the current playoff picture. Once on firm ground toward a second straight trip to the postseason, Toronto now sits 10th in the East, trailing Columbus and Detroit for the final two wild card spots with only eight games left to play. Skidding for nearly two weeks without even a single point they are in danger of fumbling away what seemed like a sure thing. Fear of that reality, it seems, is slowly infecting the group. "Well, certainly were afraid of letting it slip away," Joffrey Lupul conceded after a 5-3 loss to the Blues, the Leafs winless since Mar. 13. "The whole year we thought we were a playoff team and we still believe that now." At this moment, however, they are not. And what once seemed unthinkable as recently as two weeks prior when they stormed through California has now become a very real reality. The Leafs may not make the playoffs and they know it. And that fear of fumbling it away is driving the nerves of a flailing group. Head coach Randy Carlyle observed "tenseness" during the first half of Wednesdays game, one that saw St. Louis completely manhandle their sinking opponents, especially so in a dominant first frame. Big, hard, fast and strong, the best team in the West controlled possession of the puck almost without exception, peppering Jonathan Bernier with 23 shots while scoring the first two of four unanswered. "Its like we were frozen for 30 minutes of the hockey game," Carlyle said. "We didnt pick up the puck and skate with it at all. And thats showing signs of being nervous, tense, [lacking] confidence, not wanting to make a mistake which led to more offensive zone time [for the Blues]." Only when the score tilted at 4-1 did they start to push back and in a well-repeated theme, muster the kind of tenaciousness and enthusiasm required for winning at this time of year. Carl Gunnarsson and James van Riemsdyk scored to slice the deficit to one, but like those rallies in each of the previous five losses, the Leafs ultimately ran out of time. Desperation was just a little too late. "Right now it seems like when we get down then were playing with no fear," Lupul said. "Theres something to be said about being down and not having that fear anymore, but realistically weve got to play like that right from the start. Its more of a psychological thing than it is a physical thing for sure." Whether they can overcome that imposing mental hurdle and recover in time to make the playoffs remains an increasingly uncertain question. With stumbling starts, glaring defensive breakdowns, inconsistent offence and poor goaltending, theyve found ways to lose hockey games in rapid order and are feeling the pressure from it. Losing six straight for the first time since the infamous 18-wheeler collapse in 2012, the Leafs now they sit on the outside of the playoff picture with a daunting weekend set ahead against the Flyers and Red Wings. Their fate could be determined in a matter of days. "Theres reason for concern, but its not completely time to panic," Lupul said. "Were still right there. Weve got a game Friday, we play Detroit [on] Saturday, you win those two games and all of a sudden things look a lot different." Five Points: 1. Berniers Back Even Bernier – making his first start since Mar. 13 – couldnt rescue the Leafs from the Blues. And he tried. The 25-year-old was spectacular early on, turning away the first 20 St. Louis shots in a one-sided opening frame. He eventually ceded four goals on 48 shots. It was just his third loss in regulation when facing 40 shots or more (8-3-2). Bernier had missed the previous five games with a groin injury, rushing back to stabilize the Leafs wobbling crease. "Lot of work, but felt okay," he said afterward. Stretching constantly, in between whistles and during TV timeouts, Bernier was seemingly shy of 100 per cent, but surely felt the need to return with his teams chances of reaching the postseason flailing. Asked if he rushed back from the injury, Bernier said, "You always want to be back as soon as possible." "It was a little sore obviously, but I was just trying to get it loose a little bit in between whistles and timeouts." 2/3. Ready to Start? Scoring first didnt help the Leafs much on this night. They scored the first goal for the first time in eight games with Lupul tucking a Nazem Kadri pass beyond Ryan Miller on a power-play, but it was down-hill from there. Already owning possession for much of the period to that point, the Blues tied the proceedings at one when T.J. Oshie squeezed a rebound through the pads of Bernier. They went in front for good on the first of three from David Backes on a power-play, Dion Phaneuf failing to clear the puck adequately. St. Louis had 23 shots for the period, the most Toronto has allowed in any one period this season. "Thats a heck of a hockey team over there," van Riemsdyk said. "The way they play, lines 1-4, [defence] pairings 1-3, theres not much of a falloff. They kept coming. Thats no excuse for us. We have to find a way to get off to a better start." Strong and sturdy, the Blues cycled and cycled and cycled without giving the Leafs even a taste of the puck. "We couldnt break their cycle," Lupul said. "We couldnt get the puck." It was the kind of grinding performance Carlyle would like to see more from his team in Toronto. "They did a lot of things that were trying to convince our hockey club to do as far as hanging onto the puck a little bit more," he said. "We understand were not as big and strong and as physical as some of those teams that are able to do that, but thats more of the style this time of year – if you watch the games – thats whats being played." The Leafs are now 8-20-4 when they trail after the opening period. "Again we played 30 minutes of hockey tonight and showed that we can play, but wheres the 60 minutes?" Carlyle said. "We cannot afford to not start the way weve been starting. We have to have more of an effort or consistent, confident start than weve had in these games." 4. Phaneuf Phaneuf played fewer than 21 minutes and had what may have been his worst game of the season. The Toronto captain was on the ice and largely responsible for three of the first four St. Louis goals, having what Carlyle described as a "rough night". The 28-year-old made his first error late in the first, fumbling away an opportunity to clear the puck on a penalty kill, the Blues regrouping to score the first of three from Backes. Then early in the middle frame Phaneuf lost a puck battle with Alex Steen in the offensive zone. Lagging to get back defensively, he was beaten down the ice by Backes, the Blues captain eluding Bernier for the third St. Louis marker. About 10 minutes after that it was Steen muscling Phaneuf to the ice just outside Berniers crease, shaking free to whistle a backhand just under the bar for a 4-1 lead. Phaneuf was unavailable to media after the game. 5. Six-Game Skid Losing a bunch of close games, prior to Wednesday night, Lupul believed the Leafs had actually played better at points in their slide than in many victories this season. "Absolutely," said Lupul before the loss to St. Louis. "We track scoring chances – our team does – and were out-chancing teams every night. You can look at that and say were doing some things right, but its the time of the year that that doesnt really matter anymore, its all about wins. Youve got to translate that into getting more wins." The 30-year-old observed that the margin for winning and losing at this time of year is "really close". "Its been a topic of discussion in here," he said. "Were generating chances. Were not giving up near as many as we have, but were coming out on the wrong side of the game so that doesnt really matter. "And on the flip side when we were winning games and getting out-chanced we were saying the same thing in here, like come on, what are we doing? But now its the time of the year that it doesnt really matter how you get the job done it just needs to get done." Stats-Pack 1-7-0 – Leafs record in the past eight games. 23 – Shots allowed by the Leafs in the opening period Wednesday, the most of any period this season. 8 – Fights for David Clarkson this season. Pointless now in 23 of the past 25 games, Clarkson fought Brendan Morrow in the second period. 7-23 – Tyler Bozak in the faceoff circle against the Blues, hammered by the combination of Steen and Vladimir Sobotka. 1 – Six-game losing streak for the Leafs this season. 2 – Goals for James van Riemsdyk in the past 12 games, van Riemsdyk notching his 28th this season in defeat. Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-3Season: 21% (3rd) PK: 2-3Season: 78.5% (28th) Quote of the Night "Theres reason for concern, but its not completely time to panic." -Joffrey Lupul, following the Leafs sixth consecutive loss. Up Next The Leafs travel to Philadelphia on Friday to meet the Flyers before hosting the Red Wings at home on Saturday. دیدن لینک ها برای شما امکان پذیر نیست. لطفا ثبت نام کنید یا وارد حساب خود شوید تا بتوانید لینک ها را ببینید.
.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to complete a sweep of the Washington Capitals when the clubs cap a quick home-and-home series Tuesday night in the Steel City. دیدن لینک ها برای شما امکان پذیر نیست. لطفا ثبت نام کنید یا وارد حساب خود شوید تا بتوانید لینک ها را ببینید.
. In Englands first game since its worst-ever World Cup showing, Roy Hodgsons side rarely looked like scoring against unambitious opposition and the breakthrough in the friendly only came when Raheem Sterling was tripped in the penalty area. دیدن لینک ها برای شما امکان پذیر نیست. لطفا ثبت نام کنید یا وارد حساب خود شوید تا بتوانید لینک ها را ببینید.
.C. -- Al Jefferson said he feels like hes playing the best basketball of his 10-year NBA career. دیدن لینک ها برای شما امکان پذیر نیست. لطفا ثبت نام کنید یا وارد حساب خود شوید تا بتوانید لینک ها را ببینید.
. Neither striker Demba Ba nor Fernando Torres came close to scoring as Chelsea was left unsuccessfully appealing for penalties in this drab penultimate game of the season. "Our strikers are good strikers, no doubt about that, but players with some specific qualities," Mourinho said. دیدن لینک ها برای شما امکان پذیر نیست. لطفا ثبت نام کنید یا وارد حساب خود شوید تا بتوانید لینک ها را ببینید.
. They kicked off the still-going trend of host cities winning the Grey Cup and sent Hall of Fame head coach Wally Buono to the front office a champion.After playing at Middlesbrough for nearly his whole career, Seb Hines has been loving life at Orlando City in MLS. Hines traded his hometown club for the Lions before their inaugural MLS season last year, and so far hes been a regular starter for the club, who finished just outside the play-off places in seventh last season.Two games into the 2016 campaign, and Orlando have picked up two home points, most recently a 1-1 draw against Chicago Fire. Orlando now travel to Yankee Stadium to take on New York City FC - live on Sky Sports - where Hines will be responsible for marking one of the best players in the league in David Villa.We asked Hines 10 MLS-related questions, as he tells us all about life across the pond and playing in one of Americas rapidly growing football hotbeds. How would you assess Orlando as a place for football... or soccer? Orlando played out a 2-2 draw in front of over 60,000 fans in their opening game of the season against Real Salt Lake The buzz for soccer around Orlando, whoever you talk to, is just unbelievable.We had 60,000 fans there for our first game on the opening day [against Real Salt Lake] which was amazing and we could leave the stadium with our head held high after going 2-0 down and bringing it back to make it 2-2.Wherever you go around Orlando you see a sea of purple, its a carnival atmosphere on the streets and the citys taken to football in America.How would you compare the fan culture and gameday experience to England? A very different fan experience in MLS compared to England I feel its more of an event. People make more of a day of it, even from getting there five hours before a game, theyll be there outside the stadium with barbeques and picnics.Theyre really all up for the game prior to the match whilst in England I felt like you just turned up.You might go to the pub before you go to the game. Its more for the families here and I cant talk highly enough about the fans.Other English players and former team-mates you talk to in MLS? Seb Hines spoke to Giles Barnes ® before deciding to make the move to MLS We had Sean St. Ledger here, hes at Colorado now but I keep in touch with him. I see a couple of players who were up against like Bradley Wright-Phillips and my former team-mate at Middlesbrough Kei Kamara.Giles Barnes [at Houston Dynamo], I spoke to him before I came out here asking about the league and how its set up and he said: youll enjoy it mate, its definitely an exciting league to be involved in.An attractive prospect to play in MLS? A trip to Disneyland after training is a very realistic option for Hines MLS is a well-run organisation, its exciting, if you have the opportunity to play out here then you should definitely think about it.Ive enjoyed every moment of it. After training I could go to the pool, the beach, Disneyland, I could go wherever! Its amazing, whereas in Middlesbrough you dont get those sorts of opportunities to do that.Even in the off-season I just stay, because if I was back home I would go back out of Orlando to go on holiday. I just make full use of whats around me.What is it like playing alongside Kaka and what kind of influence does he have? Kaka is Orlando Citys captain Its massive. Hes a leader for our team. Hes plaayed at the highest level.dddddddddddd Hes won every competition that a footballer wants to win and I cant speak highly enough of him.Weve got a lot of young players in the team and we need his experience to drive us on and become winners.Other Orlando players to look out for? Orlando City striker Cyle Larin has scored 19 goals in 29 matches I would say Cyle Larin. Everything he touches turns into goals. Hes young, hes exciting and definitely one to watch for the future.We have got a young team with a lot of young players. Im classed as a senior, a veteran and Im 27!A lot of these players come straight from college and into a professional environment which is exciting for them and a massive learning curve.Are you looking forward to seeing former AC Milan and West Ham midfielder Antonio Nocerino in action? Hines says Nocerino brings high level experience to the side Hes a very good technical player, we havent seen much of him because hes just come in so itll be good to see how he does in the team and what he can bring.He definitely adds the talent, he also has experience of playing at the highest level. You dont play for AC Milan and then be rubbish so he is definitely a great addition to our team.How do you compare MLS to the Championship? Hines (L) was owned by Middlesbrough since the start of his career before moving to MLS I would say its one of the highest leagues in the world.Youve got the Premiership, La Liga, Serie A, after that Im not sure if you would find World Cup winners, Ballon Dor winners in the same league.You have to be so, so aware of everyones talent so its definitely a growing league, it will only get bigger with the players coming over from Europe and Im glad that Im a part of it and see the development over the seasons.Play New York City FC this weekend - what is it like as a defender going up against the likes of David Villa and Andrea Pirlo? Hines will be up against the likes of Andrea Pirlo and David Villa on Friday evening You want to play against the best players in the world and thats definitely something you can do out here in MLS.One week you play David Villa, the next you might be playing Didier Drogba. You dont see those types of players in the Championship so its definitely a great challenge for me and the younger players in our team.I played against David Villa three times last year and hes definitely a talent. Hes won World Cups, hes won Champions Leagues so were all aware of what hes capable of.Its just trying to contain him and give him minimal chances against us [on Friday].Is MLS Cup being spoken about? The Philip F. Anschutz trophy - or better known as MLS Cup Right now we need to make play-offs. We fell one game too short [last year] and when you make the play-offs anything can happen.Last year Portland won it and we managed to beat Portland away [last year] so we know that were more than capable of making it.Were all in high hopes but right now were just trying to make play-offs and win as many games as we can. Also See: MLS: Giovinco leads fightback WATCH: Incredible Amarikwa chip 10 MLS questions for Ridgewell WATCH: MLS highlights ' ' '


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