CFL Picks Week 19: Bombers Could Get Shredded in Calgary

By The Coach and Dr. Football

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Ottawa RedBlacks are done and now the Montreal Alouettes, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts will battle for the final two playoff spots in the East.

There will be a crossover team in the Canadian Football League this season. Either B.C. or Saskatchewan will play in the Eastern playoffs. This week, Montreal can clinch with a win, Hamilton should win in Ottawa and I’d be willing to wager that Toronto is going to be the odd team out.

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Drew Willy will spend another day running for his life (Photo by Jeff Miller)

But then again, it’s the East. Anything crazy can happen.

Last week The Coach went 3-1 while Dr. Football slipped in at 2-2. This week, The Doc and The Coach make an equal effort to write the truth about the games at hand. And The Coach will still whine about the officiating.

Let’s take a close look at Week 19 in the CFL:

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Zach Collaros

Hamilton (7-9) vs. Ottawa (2-14) Line – Hamilton by 6 ½

Ottawa’s inaugural season slowly comes down to two more auditions for next year. Hamilton needs the win to secure a chance for the playoffs, and they’ll get it. The Coach says: Ottawa is a joke. Although the RedBlacks did beat Winnipeg by three touchdowns.

Dr. Football: Take the Ti-Cats to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Ti-Cats to win and cover.

Paris Cotton CFL Picks Week 19: Bombers Could Get Shredded in Calgary

Maybe the Bombers will give Paris Cotton the ball a little more.

Winnipeg (6-11) vs. Calgary (14-2) Line – Calgary by 10

Please end this season. And all this talk about going out on a winning note is good for momentum into the off-season is nonsense. Calgary needs to stay sharp, and they will. The Coach says: … and in Winnipeg, another season bites the dust. How do you miss the playoffs three years running when six teams make it? And until this year, there were only eight teams. Of course, considering Ottawa’s brilliance there were only eight teams this year.

Dr. Football: Take the Stampeders to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Stampeders to win and cover.

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Mike Reilly. MOP?

B.C. (9-7) vs. Edmonton (11-5) Line – Edmonton by 5 ½

Both teams have great defenses, which makes me lean towards a low scoring game. Edmonton can clinch second in the West with a win and home field for the conference semifinal. Mike Reilly for MOP anyone? A solid bet, but the Eskimos will just squeak one out. The Coach says: Yes. Mike Reilly for Most Outstanding Player.

Dr. Football: Take the Eskimos to win but not cover.

The Coach: Take the Eskimos to win and cover.

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Jonathan Crompton. MVP?

Toronto (7-9) vs. Montreal (8-8) Line – Montreal by 2

The Argos hit the road for the first time in five weeks in one of the goofiest schedules the CFL has ever produced. Montreal can clinch a playoff berth with the win at home making it 19 straight years. Bet on it. The Coach says: The Alouettes went from league-wide laughing stock to the best team in the East over the last 16 weeks. Jonathan Crompton might not be the MOP, but he could have been the most valuable player.

Dr. Football: Take the Alouettes to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Alouettes to win and cover.



Jets Get Point in Jersey

The Winnipeg Jets were just 3 ½ minutes from their third straight win.

As it was, they got their third point of a possible four on a tough four-game Eastern road trip so a shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils was not the end of the world.

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Blake Wheeler scores for the Jets.

Thursday night in Newark, N.J., Michael Ryder scored at 16:30 of the third period and then New Jersey’s Jacob Josefson scored the only goal of the shootout as the Devils spooked the Jets 2-1 on the night before Hallowe’en.

Blake Wheeler scored a gorgeous goal (his fourth of the year) off a brilliant pass from Toby Enstrom at 6:56 of the first period and it appeared as if the goal night hold up, but Ryder scored late in the third and after drawing a blank in overtime, New Jersey got the only goal of the shootout to drop the Jets to 4-5-1 on the season.

The loss put a halt to the Jets two-game winning streak, but it did give Winnipeg a point and when you’re under .500 and in an extremely difficult division, every single point counts.

For those who want to be critical, the Jets did blow a chance to grab two points. After all, the Jets led 1-0 when Andrew Ladd misplayed a pass from Jacob Trouba, Jon Merrill picked up a loose puck, fed Ryder in the middle of the ice and then watched as Ryder beat Trouba and then fired a rope into the top right corner to tie a game the Jets should have won.

But hey, this is the NHL. One weak turnover and one missed check will often lead to a goal and that’s what happened to the Jets late in the third.

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Nice crowd in Jersey. Ouch.

The critics could look at this way: Jaromir Jagr had a golden opportunity to win it with 7.3 seconds left in regulation, but Ondrej Pavelec robbed the 42-year-old veteran of a goal to save the Jets a point. Pavelec robbed Jagr again in overtime, but that just prolonged the inevitable.

The Devils outshot the Jets 28-25 on the night, 7-4 in the third period. This one wasn’t Pavelec’s fault.

Fact is, the Jets offense remains a mystery. On Tuesday, they scored four against the Islanders in a 4-3 win, but Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak was weak.

Thursday night, the Jets scored a terrific goal early in the game and then had a number of solid chances (Mark Scheifele banged a laser off the post) after that, but couldn’t beat Cory Schneider quite as easily as they did Halak.

On the upside, Evander Kane returned for the Jets. He had a couple of chances but you could tell it was almost Hallowe’en. He kept firing the puck at that Devils’ tail on Schneider’s jersey.

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Evander Kane returned and had three shots.

Kane had missed the previous eight games after suffering a knee injury in Glendale, Ariz., in the first game of the season when he ran into linemate Mark Scheifele. Thursday night Kane returned to the top line, on the left side with Scheifele and Wheeler. The line combined for nine of the Jets 25 shots: Scheifele had one, Kane had three and Wheeler had five.

In the end, the Jets played a pretty sound road game. They simply made a couple of mistakes in their own end at the wrong time, gave up a late goal and lost in a shootout. They got a point and maybe got the point: Don’t fall asleep late.

Of course, that just kind of sounds like the Jets, doesn’t it?

Winnipeg will get back it and play Game 3 of this four-games-in-six-days road trip when they Face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden at 6 p.m. CDT on Saturday. It’s on Hockey Night in Canada.



NFL Week 9 Picks: Just Too Many Penalties

By The Coach and Dr. Football

Recently, USA Today was slipped some information from the National Football League that surprised people. The information didn’t surprise anyone. How a general manager could actually pass that information on is what surprised people.

Anyway, according to the math of this unnamed NFL GM, USA Today was told that “defensive holding penalties were up 120 per cent through the first six weeks of the season, compared to the same point in 2013.”

ref throwing flag NFL Week 9 Picks: Just Too Many Penalties

Another flag.

As well, “Flags for illegal use of hands were up 163 per cent. Illegal contact? Up 285 per cent. Offensive pass interference up at a rate of 51 per cent.”

It’s getting stupid. And it’s making the games very hard to watch. Anybody who thinks baseball is boring hasn’t watched an NFL game this season that involves teams that don’t matter. In other words, if you’re a Vikings fan and you’re watching the Vikings, you only notice when the penalty flags are thrown against your team. I get it. You’re cheering for your team so the flags are just part of the game.

However, if you try to watch a game played by two teams that don’t really matter that much to you, I’ll bet that you can’t make it to the end. There are so many penalties, the games just aren’t that interesting anymore.

In fact, it’s reached the point that on kick returns, there is no sense running the ball out of the end zone because if you run it all the way back, there will almost certainly be a penalty against your team. All you’re doing is wasting your breath. Take a knee and start at your 20. It’s almost as if the officials believe that fans pay $100 a ticket to watch them.

The NFL has become an extremely mediocre product. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone watching a game that didn’t involve one’s favorite team. Unless, of course, one was in Vegas, Costa Rica or Canada, and that person had a bet down.

So hey, let’s place a few wagers.

The boys were a little better than mediocre last week. Dr. Football went 10-5 straight up (81-39-1) and 9-6 (56-65) against the spread. The Coach went 9-6 straight up (73-47-1) and 7-8 (56-65) against the spread.

This week, The Doc writes our brilliant rationalizations while The Coach continues to whine about all the flags.

There are only 13 games this week. The Falcons, Bills, Bears, Lions, Packers and Titans all have byes. Let’s look closely at Week 9:

Thursday Night

 NFL Week 9 Picks: Just Too Many Penalties

Cam Newton

New Orleans Saints (3-4) at Carolina Panthers (3-4-1) 
Line: Saints by 2.5.

You have to go back 11 months to find the last Saints road win; they just don’t play the same outside the Superdome. The Coach says: The Saints just don’t win away from the Dome.

Dr. Football: Take the Panthers in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Panthers.

Sunday Afternoon

San Diego Chargers (5-3) at Miami Dolphins (4-3) 
Line: Dolphins by 1.5.

The Chargers will be well rested after getting beat up in last week’s Thursday Nighter and they face a Dolphins team that hasn’t beat a good team since week 1. The Coach says: True, the Dolphins haven’t beaten a good team since Week 1, but who is saying the Chargers have a good team?

Dr. Football: Take the Chargers in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Dolphins to win and cover.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1) 
Line: Bengals by 11.

The Bengals have yet to lose at home this season, and has outscored its opponents in their last four home games 121-78. In fact, they haven’t lost at home since December 2012. The Coach says: Puh-leeze

Dr. Football: Take the Bengals to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Bengals to win and cover.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-3) 
Line: Browns by 6.5.

Although the Browns gave the Jaguars their only win of the season two weeks ago, they had it easy at home last week against the Raiders and should do the same this week against the lowly Bucs. The Coach says: Just when it looks like Johnny Pigskin might play, Brian Hoyer has another good week. Expect another good week from Hoyer against the Bad News Bucs.

Dr. Football: Take the Browns to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Browns to win and cover.

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Teddy Bridgewater

Washington Redskins (3-5) at Minnesota Vikings (3-5) 
Line: pick.

RGIII returns this week but will he start over Cowboy slayer Colt McCoy? The Vikings looked much improved last week, but that was against the Bucs… I still don’t think the Redskins are any good and they are playing their second consecutive road game. The Coach says: Forget Norv Turner and Teddy Bridgewater and blah, blah, blah. The Vikings defense is legitimately good.

Dr. Football: Take the Vikings.

The Coach: Take the Vikings.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-2) at Houston Texans (4-4) 
Line: Eagles by 2.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the answer in Houston but it shouldn’t matter, as J.J. Watt will control the Eagles offense that is playing its second consecutive road game outside its division. The Coach says: The Eagles nearly went on the road and beat Arizona. They’ll have a field day in Houston.

Dr. Football: Take the Texans in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Eagles to win and cover.

New York Jets (1-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-3) 
Line: Chiefs by 9.5.

The Chiefs have the best pass rush in the league, which is not a good thing for the Jets Mike Vick, who can’t run like he used to do. Kansas City is a team on the rise. The Coach says: Michael Vick? Geno Smith is the new Mark (Buttfumble) Sanchez.

Dr. Football: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.

larry fitzgerald NFL Week 9 Picks: Just Too Many Penalties

Larry Fitzgerald

Arizona Cardinals (6-1) at Dallas Cowboys (6-2) 
Line: Cowboys by 4.

The Cardinals impressive 6-1 record has set the bar high, but their only two road wins have come against the Giants and Raiders. Tony Romo or no Tony Romo, expect the Cowboys to regroup. The Coach says: The Cardinals are real. Washington proved that the Cowboys might not be.

Dr. Football: Take the Cowboys to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Cardinals.

St. Louis Rams (2-5) at San Francisco 49ers (4-3) 
Line: 49ers by 10.

The 49ers will be rested and focused at home, but the Rams seldom get blown out; and they’ve proven they can hang with the big boys. The Coach says: The Rams are better than we think.

Dr. Football: Take the 49ers to win but not cover.

The Coach: Take the 49ers to win but not cover.

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Tom Brady

Denver Broncos (6-1) at New England Patriots (6-2) 
Line: Broncos by 3.

Great match up and it will be a high scoring game. Manning vs. Brady is always great, and this one won’t disappoint. Slight edge to the guys in orange. The Coach says: I just don’t like Peyton in New England, but it will be the game of the week.

Dr. Football: Take the Broncos to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Patriots to win.

Oakland Raiders (0-7) at Seattle Seahawks (4-3) 
Line: Seahawks by 15.

Even Raider fans won’t be betting on their team to win. The Coach says: Keep this away from children.

Dr. Football: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.

Sunday Night

Baltimore Ravens (5-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3) 
Line: Pick.

The Steelers got it going last week disguised as bumble bees while the Ravens went toe to toe but came up short against the Bengals. Despite being on the road again, I don’t see the Ravens dropping two in a row. The Coach says: The Steelers got it back against the Colts. I love them at home against an interdivisional rival.

Dr. Football: Take the Ravens.

The Coach: Take the Steelers.

Monday Night

Indianapolis Colts (5-3) at New York Giants (3-4) 
Line: Colts by 3.

Andrew Luck will redeem himself after a rough ride in Pittsburgh as he’s up against the league’s 25th-ranked pass defense. Should be a blow out as the Giants just aren’t any good. The Coach says:

Dr. Football: Take the Colts to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Colts to win and cover

logo sn9601 NFL Week 9 Picks: Just Too Many PenaltiesListen to The Coach Scott Taylor every Thursday at 10:05 a.m. CT with Dean (Boomer) Molberg on SportsNet 960 The FAN in Calgary with Boomers Pools and Props as two razor sharp NFL minds pick the Pools and Props for Sport Select and Western Canada Lotteries. You can listen live at: http://www.sportsnet.ca/960/



Jets Open Road Trip With Big Win Over Isles

The Winnipeg Jets opened up Tuesday night’s 4-3 win over the New York Islanders, looking like a team that just awoke from a long airplane ride East.

In fact, after they fell behind 10 on a goal by the Isles Brock Nelson, just 1:16 into the game, there was chance this might get out of hand.

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Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd get the job done.

But it just seems as if the Jets really like playing against Eastern Conference clubs. Because it wasn’t long before the Jets took control and won their second game in a row, their second road game of the season and took another step toward .500.

“It definitely feels like we are growing together as team,” said Bryan Little, the Jets leading scorer who had three assists in this one. “We’re learning quickly from our mistakes. We’re doing a better job of handling the game and we’re getting better at handling the situation when we’re behind.”

This was a strange one, but a good one. The Jets fell behind 1-0, scored three straight goals to take a 3-1 lead, let the Islanders come back and tie it at 3-3 and then, played what was probably their best third period of the season to win it 4-3.

“It was a good start to the trip,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice on TSN 1290. “We were a little late getting off the plane. We got our feet moving after the first period and our power play gave us life and we responded well to them coming back on us and played our best hockey in the third.”

Andrew Ladd scored twice for the Jets. Paul Postma and Jacob Trouba added the other goals. Ladd’s second, from Little and Michael Frolik was the winner at 3:31 of the third.

The Jets gave up two power play goals, scored two power-play goals (on the same five-minute power-play in the second period) and outshot the Islanders 30-21. In the second period, when the Jets took over the game, they outshot New York 12-5 and completely dominated.

Once again, the Jets demonstrated that scoring will be difficult for them this season. Sure they fired 30 shots at Jaroslav Halak and probably should have had five or six goal, but the Jets being the Jets, they won a game by one goal that they probably should have won by three.

Ondrej Pavelec on the road Jets Open Road Trip With Big Win Over Isles

Pavs wasn’t great, but he was good enough to win.

Still, it was a road win against a team they’ve enjoyed some success against in the past. In all, it was a brilliant way to open up a tough four-games-in-six-days road trip. After all, it was the first time this season the Jets have won back-to-back games – both of them by one goal.

Nelson, John Tavares and Mikhail Grabovski scored for the Islanders who tallied twice within 45 seconds late in the second period. It was a situation that might have emotionally crippled the Jets a week ago, but lately, the Winnipeg side has played with more confidence and a lot less fear of losing.

Sure, it wasn’t the greatest game ever played by any means. The pace in the first period was sluggish, thanks in no small way to a Jets team with bus legs. But once Winnipeg woke up, they played a solid road game and kept the Isles’ chances to a minimum.

It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was a great way to start a tough trip. And what the heck, if you can win without playing your best for two periods, there is no telling what will happen on Thursday night in Newark.



Jets Start Four-Game Road Trip Against Red-Hot Islanders

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice doesn’t think his offence is very good. He’ll contend that it’s getting better, but it’s not where he wants it to be.

After his Jets beat Colorado 2-1 in overtime at MTS Centre on Sunday, Maurice conceded that while things are moving forward, the offence is hardly where he’d like it to be.

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Paul Maurice

“Little was good, the bench was good, our offence wasn’t,” said Maurice. “We put 82 shot attempts, I think. Clearly they weren’t getting through. We’ll keep working on it in practice and we’ll keep working on it and find ways to get the puck through, changing angles, taking something off the shot. But our battle was still there. The physicality was good.

“For me almost all of it is effort, we know we can fix the system errors, the better and better we’ll get. We had good emotion out there.”

If the 3-5-0 Jets are going to come back smiling this week, there are definitely going to need “good emotion.”

Tuesday night, the Jets begin a four-game road trip at Nassau County Coliseum on Long Island against the red-hot Islanders. New has won two straight games and lead the NHL in offensive production (3.88 goals per game). Saturday night, the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 7-5 as the Isles secondary scoring produced all seven goals without any help from captain and scoring leader John Tavares.

If one thing worried Maurice on Sunday, it was the number of odd-man rushes that Colorado created. Against the Islanders, that can’t happen.

“Colorado has a good hockey team,” Maurice conceded. “They’ve got some great players; they’re going to get some chances. And yeah, we’re going to have to struggle to fight and tighten up those odd man rushes and some of those plays when they get behind us.”

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Bryan Little (Photo by Jeff Miller)

The 6-2-0 Islanders have definitely been able to get behind people this season. The Islanders started the season with four straight wins, lost the next two and have now won two straight. The Jets will be facing the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

However, the Jets earned three-of-four possible points against the Islanders last season and because this Winnipeg team is pretty much the same as it’s been since it arrived in the ‘Peg in 2011, they should be confident against New York. Last year the Jets won 3-2 on Long Island on Nov. 27, and then lost in overtime in Winnipeg on March 4. Jets’ captain Andrew Ladd scored three goals in those two games last year.

Tuesday’s game will open a four-game road swing that will not be easy. After ending a five-game homestand on Sunday (2-3-0 during the homestand), the Jets will now face a period in the schedule in which they play nine of the next 11 away from MTS Centre.

However, the Jets owned a winning road record of 19-18-4 last season and they’re 1-2-0 this year. The road should not be a frightening place for this team.

Especially since the team’s penalty killing unit is still fifth in the NHL, operating at 88.2 per cent efficiency. The Jets have yet to allow a power play goal on the road, having killed all 14 shorthanded situations.

On the down side, Winnipeg is one of the more penalized teams in the NHL giving up the man advantage 34 times so far this season, only three shy of league-worst Florida who have been shorthanded 37 times. Jacob Trouba is the Jets’ leading penalty killer, spending 3:54 minutes on the ice per game while his team is shorthanded.

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Jacob Trouba (Photo by Jeff Miller)

Because special teams are always important on the road, the penalty kill will be an asset. On offence, however, Maurice has a reason to be concerned. After all, Bryan Little leads the Jets with five goals – that’s five of only 13 goals in eight games this season for Winnipeg.

“We have to be better offensively,” said Maurice bluntly. “We’ll get better. We’ll keep working and we’ll get better.”

Tuesday night’s game will be televised on TSN3 beginning at 6 p.m. CDT. It’s the first for four games in six nights. The Jets play the Islanders tonight, the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, the New York Rangers on Saturday and the Chicago Blackhawks this Sunday night at 8 p.m.



Jets Win in OT, Head Out onto the Road With Heads Up

Brian Little tipped home a Dustin Byfuglien wrist shot that was first tipped by Andrew Ladd, with 24.2 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Winnipeg Jets some early season life.

The goal gave the Jets a 2-1 OT victory over the Colorado Avalanche in a game the Jets absolutely, positively had to win.

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Bryan Little scores the winner (Photo by Jeff Miller)

It’s not often you’d figure that the eighth game of an 82-game season would make a big difference, but when you’re 2-5-0 after the first seven games, 1-3-0 at home and you’re in the last game of a five-game home stand against an intra-divisional rival, you must win.

Especially when you’re heading out onto the road for a four-game road trip to face the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and the Chicago Blackhawks.

“We found a way to win,” said Ladd after the game. That’s all that needed to be said.

This was another game the Jets should have wrapped up early and then coasted to the airport. They outshot the Avs 28-23 overall, but it was the quality of shots that mattered. The Jets had 13 legitimate scoring chances, nine of them through the first two periods, but once again, the snake-bitten Jets couldn’t convert.

In the third period, Mark Scheifele might have won it, but his point blank shot at Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov hit the inside of the post and came out.

As it was, the Jets opened the scoring at 6:25 of the first period, when captain Andrew Ladd tipped home his second of the year off a shot by Zach Bogosian.

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Blake Wheeler comfortable in front (Photo by Jeff Miller)

Colorado tied it up at 19:42 of the first, just seven seconds after Bogosian went off for high-sticking. Jamie McGinn ripped a wrist shot past Ondrej Pavelec to make it 1-1. McGinn’s power play goal, his third goal of the season, was the last goal scored until Little’s goal with 24.2 seconds remaining in overtime.

“It was fun to play against this game,” said Jets defenseman Grant Clitsome. “We had some sustained pressure on them out there and we clamped down defensively.”

Here were the good signs:

1. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 22 shots and probably played his best game of the season. It was an outstanding bounce back game after his less than stellar performance against Tampa on Friday night. He made a huge save on Gabriel Landeskog in overtime that helped seal the deal.

2. Dustin Byfuglien played his best home game of the year. He had eight hits, two in the second period that brought the crowd to its feet. He played 20:30, had an assistm was plus-one and was the best player on the ice in the overtime. “When the big man gets fired up, he’s tough to handle,” said Clitsome. Indeed.

3. Mark Scheifele will start getting a few bounces eventually. He was all over the puck all day. He attacked the net and played hard. He should have two, maybe three. If he plays like that on a regular basis, he’ll score plenty of goals.

4. Andrew Ladd was engaged. He’s not always engaged. He was engaged on Sunday afternoon.

5. The Jets defense played its best game as a group this season. Colorado had a few good chances, but not many. As the Jets head out onto the road, they need more of that and less of what they got against Calgary last week.

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Dustin Byfuglien had eight hits (Photo by Jeff Miller)

The Jets aren’t out of the woods. They’re 3-5-0 (2-3-0 at home) and they have a difficult two weeks with the Islanders, Devils, Rangers, Blackhawks, Ottawa, Montreal, Carolina (OK, sure, the Canes are the free spot on the NHL Bingo card), Nashville and Minnesota on the road and Nashville and Pittsburgh at home. Between now and Nov. 16 the Jets need to batten down the hatches. Anything less than they’re best could have an ugly outcome.

However, they deserve 24 hours of relief before they have to settle into the reality that the three-game New York road trip is underway. The Jets meet the Islanders on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. on TSN3. For the next two weeks, the season gets real.



Bombers Season Sacked

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers might have one game to play, but their season is over.

In one of those wild, wonderful games that makes the Canadian Football League so intriguing, the B.C. Lions defeated the Blue Bombers 28-23 Saturday night in front of an announced crowd of 24,223 at Investors Group Field.

With the loss, the 6-11 Bombers were eliminated from any further opportunity to make the playoffs. The Wade Miller/Kyle Walters/Mike O’Shea-led Bombers became the first franchise in CFL history to start the season 5-1 and miss the playoffs. Saturday night’s loss was Winnipeg’s eighth straight and their 10th in the last 11 games.

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Drew Willy spent the evening running for his life (Photo by Jeff Miller)

The Lions defense won this one. Solomon Elimimian, Khreem Smith, Adam Bighill and Co. got together to sack Bombers quarterback Drew Willy 10 times. Smith had four of them; David Menard had two; Bighill had four tackles, three special teams tackles and a sack; Elimimian was all over the field.

However, the Lions also had 22 penalties, two on the same play that cost them a touchdown. Starting quarterback Kevin Glenn, who was injured in the fourth quarter, proved why he was dumped by Winnipeg, Calgary and Ottawa (before he even went to a practice). Glenn’s offence struggled most of the night. Before being replaced by backup John Beck, Glenn completed only 12-of-23 passes for 175 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

In a game he had to win in order to lock up a playoff spot, Glenn was awful. His Lions (now 9-7) trailed 17-13, when he left the game. The only bright spot in his attack was the running of 5-foot-7 tailback Keola Antolin. Antolin finished the night with 18 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown.

However, the man who saved the day for the Lions was Beck. He came on after an injury to Glenn and threw TD passes to Ernest Jackson and Kito Poblah and sealed the victory for the visitors.

Poblah, the former Bombers supplemental draft pick who spent three seasons in Winnipeg, scored his second CFL touchdown and his first as a member of the Lions, on a 55-yard pass-and-run play. It was his only catch of the night and it almost doubled his yardage output this season (he had 62 receiving yards heading into the game). It gave B.C. a 28-17 fourth quarter lead.

Oh, yeah, this was a strange one.

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Clarence Denmark reached the 1,000-yard receiving plateau. (Photo by Jeff Miller)

The Bombers scored late in the fourth quarter to keep it close as Paris Cotton, who carried 16 times for 131 yards, scored from three yards out. As the crowd wondered why Willy was trying to throw when Cotton was eating up yardage, a beautiful 48-yard completion to Rory Kohlert set up the final Bombers TD.

Sadly, once again the Bombers offensive line was overmatched. The Lions rush – whether it was three men or six – gave Willy little time to throw. Considering he was sacked 10 times, it’s a miracle he finished the game.

The O-line did set a record, however. With 10 sacks allowed on Saturday, the 2014 Bombers set a franchise mark of 70 sacks allowed in one season. And they have one more game to add a few more.

On the other side of the ball, veteran B.C. kicker Paul McCallum became the second CFL player to top the 3,000-point mark.

The Lions will had to Edmonton next week to continue jostling for playoff for a playoff position while the Bombers will finish their season in Calgary. Winnipeg hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011. The Bombers were 6-12 in 2012, 3-15 in 2013 and without a huge game in Calgary next week, it looks like they’ll finish the season at 6-12 once again.

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Kevin Glenn wasn’t very good, but the Lions still won. (Photo by Jeff Miller).



How Bad Could The Jets Be by the Middle of November?

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice has the look of a man who is resigned. He hasn’t given up. Like all professional coaches, he’s too committed to give up.

However, at his post-game and post-practice news conferences, he still appears to be resigned to the fact that his Winnipeg Jets aren’t that good and maybe, just maybe, this core group of players who are leftovers from the days of the Atlanta Thrashers might not be getting any better.

Head coach Paul Maurice of the Carolina Hurricanes addresses the media 1024x779 How Bad Could The Jets Be by the Middle of November?

Paul Maurice

In a short, but not-so-sweet post-game news conference on Friday night, Maurice didn’t have much more than the same old, same old. It’s not a terrible thing and it’s a criticism. It’s just the way it is.

“The offensive part of our game, in terms of chances for and chances against, it’s been good, it was good,” Maurice said without much emotion, moments after his Jets were beaten 4-2 by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“The quality of chances we gave up was too high. The odd man rushes that we gave up weren’t coming off four-in off the rush, we’re not trading rush chances, you know, back and forth, it was just positional and fairly basic things. It was a pretty hard battle but when you’re down 4-1 after two periods of hockey, it’s tough to say that we played that well.”

He tried. Heaven knows he tried. He wanted to sugarcoat a 4-2 loss. He didn’t want to have to admit that his team dominated another first period and yet again, didn’t play 60 minutes of high-level hockey. He wanted so much to be positive.

But after just seven games, you can see the inevitable weighing heavily on Maurice. His team is 2-5-0, last in the Central Division. In the midst of its longest home stand of the season, it is 1-3-0. Sunday’s game against the 2-4-2 Colorado Avalanche will end the home stand and the Jets will enter a very difficult six-week stretch.

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Blake Wheeler (26) checks Colorado’s Matt Duchene (9) at MTS Centre last season (Photo by Jeff Miller)

If the Jets don’t win on Sunday and you check the schedule closely, you can see there is a legitimate chance that by the time the Jets get a relatively easy one in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 13, they could be 2-14-0.

After Colorado, the Jets play four on the road against the Islanders, the Devils, the Rangers and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Jets have had good fortune on the East Coast, but the Islanders, Rangers and Devils have started well this season. The Hawks are the Hawks.

The Jets will return home to face Nashville and Pittsburgh and then they start their longest road trip of the campaign — five games between Nov. 8 and Nov. 16. They’ll face Ottawa, Montreal, Carolina, Nashville and Minnesota.

If this team doesn’t start to score goals, get better than average goaltending and stop making dumb mistakes, it very well could be near elimination from the playoffs by the middle of November.

After Friday’s loss to Tampa, a game in which the Jets outshot their opponent 42-27, even assistant captain Blake Wheeler was having trouble figuring things out – without pointing fingers at the perpetrators.

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This is just happening way too often to Pavs (Photo by James Carey Lauder)

“It’s one of those things where, you know, you watch the game tape, and you’re like, you feel, I don’t want to say pleased, but you feel like you’re doing enough to get yourself over the hump, you know, get our team over the hump,” Wheeler said unemotionally.

“You know, it’s just back-breaking some of those moments in the game, we just can’t escape from it seems like, and we just give up too good of a look, and it’s in our net, and that’s on us. We need to do a better job of trying to keep them on the outside, and when they do get opportunities, bear down in front of our net and let our goalie see the puck.”

Even Wheeler knows the Jets problems are too numerous to list.

The Jets will meet the Avalanche at MTS Centre on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. It’s almost hard to believe that Game 8 in an 82-game schedule could play such an important role. However, if the Jets don’t find a way to beat better teams (or, at least teams that are ahead of them in the standings), especially at home, there is going to be a nightmare before Christmas.



Lightning Strike Early, Pavelec Pulled, Jets Lose 4-2

Too bad the Winnipeg Jets don’t get to play the Carolina Hurricanes more often. It’s a lot harder when you have to play against teams with speed and skill like the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ondrej Palat, Vladislav Nemestikov, Jonathan Drouin and Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa while the shifty and gifted Nikita Kucherov had three assists as the Lightning beat the Jets 4-2 in front of a frustrated full house of 15,004 at MTS Centre on Friday night.

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Not a great night to be Pavs (Photo by James Carey Lauder)

As good as the Jets were against Carolina in their 3-1 win on Tuesday, they were equally as frustrating on Friday night as the Lightning scored four times on their first 18 shots at Ondrej Pavelec and built a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Michael Hutchinson took over in the Jets net in the third period and played flawlessly, stopping nine shots, but from the start of the third period to the final buzzer, it was a game of check, watch the clock, check, watch the clock, check, faceoff, check, watch the clock. Tampa controlled the pace, if not the scoring chances.

“Pretty frustrating one tonight,” said Jets defenseman Paul Postma. “There were stretches in the game where we dominated out there but they have a lot of offensive power and they took advantage of it. Bishop stood on his tonight. In the first period, we generated nine good scoring opportunities and couldn’t take advantage.”

Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler scored for the Jets. Little tallied the Jets first power-play goal of the year (they’d been 0-for-22) in the second period while Wheeler banged home a point-blank rebound midway through the third. Trouble is, the Jets inability to beat Tampa netminder Big Ben Bishop early in the game turned a game the Jets dominated into a game the Jets lost.

As an example of what might have been: The Jets went 1-for-5 with 12 shots on goal during the power play while the Lightning 1-for-4 with one shot on goal on the power play. Ouch.

After two periods the Jets had outshot Tampa 30-18 and they trailed 4-1. At one point in the second period, the shots were 28-14 in favour of the Jets and the score was 3-1 in favour of Tampa Bay. Pavelec gave up three goals on six shots in the second period. You can’t blame everything on Pavelec, but the team’s No. 1 goalie wasn’t very good.

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Pavelec goes one-on-one with Ondrej Palat (Photo by James Carey Lauder)

Best Tweets of the night:

@arby_18 Why is Bogosian __________ ?

a) on the PP

b) in the top-4

c) in the NHL

d) All of the above

@jtwpg If I win $50 million in the Lotto Max, I’m buying out Pavelec.

@scottie019 How many more games does Pavelec get before they admit they made a mistake? I’d guess 150.

Tampa improved to 5-2-1 on the season (3-1-0 on the road) while the Jets fell to 2-5-0 with a less-than-mediocre 1-3-0 record at home. There was a lot of talk before the season of the importance of the Jets making MTS Centre a difficult place to play for visiting teams. It has not been difficult for the visitors to this point.

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Big Ben Bishop was just too good (Photo by James Carey Lauder)

The Jets weren’t horrible on Friday, but they made a handful of glaring errors and simply didn’t get a great performance from their starting goaltender. It’s probably worth wagering that Hutchinson gets the start on Sunday when the shaky 1-4-2 Colorado Avalanche (heading into last night’s game against Vancouver) come to town for a 2 p.m. start.

It doesn’t really matter what happens on Sunday. The Jets will not have a plus-.500 record at home after the first homestand of the season.



CFL Week 18: Lions to Put Bombers Out of Misery?

By The Coach and Dr. Football

Drew Willy will be back at quarterback while Nic Moore is likely to miss Week 18 in the CFL. Might not matter, the fact that the Bombers get two starters – Patrick Neufeld and Glenn January – back on the offensive is what will make the difference this week.

If the Bombers intend to win, the offensive line has to play its best football of the season. And why wouldn’t they? The Bombers still have a very slim hope when it comes to making the playoffs.

Drew Willy CFL Week 18: Lions to Put Bombers Out of Misery?

Drew Willy (Photo by Jeff Miller)

One more time, let’s look at what must happen for Winnipeg to open in the East in the post-season:

1. The Bombers win their final two games of the season – at home to B.C. this coming Saturday and then next week in Calgary.

2. The Bombers hope B.C. loses its final three games – in Winnipeg this week, in Edmonton next week and at home to Calgary in the final week of the season.

3. The Bombers also hope that Toronto loses two of its final three games – at home to Hamilton this week, in Montreal next week and at home to Ottawa in the final week of the season OR they hope Hamilton or Montreal lose all three of their remaining games. Hamilton goes to Toronto this week, goes to Ottawa next week and then plays the Alouettes in the final game of the year. Montreal goes to Ottawa this week, plays host to Toronto next week and then finishes the year in Hamilton.

Yes, the Bombers need help, but there is nothing particularly far-fetched about all of the right scenarios taking place.

Last week, both Dr. Football and The Coach went 3-1 and remain deadlocked at 47-22 with three weeks to play. They’re already in the playoffs.

And this week, they’re back at it. The Doc writes the story of our magnificent selections while The Coach, drinks Arnold Palmers and whines about the officiating. Let’s take a close look at Week 18 in the CFL:

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Jonathan Crompton

Montreal (7-8) vs. Ottawa (2-13) Line – Montreal by 6 ½

No doubt the events of this past week in Ottawa will affect how both teams approach this game, but expect a “pride of the nation” effort from the RedBlacks. The Coach says: We will not make any remarks about Ottawa this week. It will be a solemn day at the ball yard.

Dr. Football: Take Ottawa in an upset.

The Coach: Take Montreal to win and cover.

image CFL Week 18: Lions to Put Bombers Out of Misery?

Bo Levi Mitchell

Saskatchewan (9-7) vs. Calgary (13-2) Line – Calgary by 10 ½

The Riders will start 41-year-old Kerry Joseph. The only number that the Stamps will focus on is 23, as in Nov. 23, their next meaningful game, the Western Final. No Jon Cornish? No problem. The Coach says: Saskatchewan will be better with Kerry Joseph at QB but probably not good enough.

Dr. Football: Take Calgary to win and cover.

The Coach: Take Calgary to win and cover.

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Zach Collaros

Hamilton (7-8) vs. Toronto (6-9) Line – Toronto by 3 ½

The East Division became a lot more interesting after Labour Day, and still is. The Ti-Cats signed “locker room cancer” Nic Grigsby, who, as all new team players, will have a “I’ll show you” kind of game. Yawn… The Coach says: The Argos will win late because they absolutely have to.

Dr. Football: Take Hamilton in an upset.

The Coach: Take Toronto to win but not cover.

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Paris Cotton (Photo by Jeff Miller)

B.C. (8-7) vs. Winnipeg (6-10) Line – B.C. by 5

The well-rested Lions welcome back Emmanuel Arceneaux, and they keep in the line-up his replacement, Lavasier Tuinei. Ex -Lion receiver Nic Moore will not play for the Bombers, who will replace him with Justin Wilson. Justin time? Nope. More like he “Just – ain’t – enough”. The Coach says: Winnipeg is a bad football team, but B.C. isn’t very good either. Paris Cotton will run wild. Or something.

Dr. Football: Take B.C. to win and cover.

The Coach: Take Winnipeg to win.