Carrick wants back in
Leafs’ young D-man wants back into the lineup for crucial games
Connor Carrick would love to get back into the Maple Leafs’ lineup at this most crucial juncture of the season.
After a month away with an upper body injury, Carrick is awaiting clearance for Monday’s home game against the Boston Bruins, merely the most important game with playoff implications involving the two teams since the Causeway St. Collapse of 2013.
While the Leafs have held foes to one regulation goal the past two games, coach Mike Babcock wants to get Carrick’s brand of barbed wire defence back in the lineup, pairing him with Morgan Rielly at Sunday’s practice.
“Carrick gets the puck moving, he doesn’t play a lot in his own zone, he’s mean, he likes to cross check people,” Babcock said. “I like that. He can get (the puck) through from the blue line, too.”
A final decision will be made after Carrick works out Monday morning. Boston comes to town three points up on Toronto in the Atlantic Division and much improved under new coach Bruce Cassidy. But the Bruins have also lost three times to the Leafs this year and a regulation win for Toronto suddenly puts it back in the picture for a divisional playoff spot versus their current wildcard status. Twelve games remain for the Leafs.
“We wanted to be here,” Carrick said of their unexpected appearance in the race a year after finishing 30th. “You come down to the heavy part of the schedule in the dying days of the season and you want to be fighting for a spot. I don’t think we ever thought we were going to run away with the league, but at the same time we can put a streak together and earn (a spot.) You get in the playoffs (on a
USA Hockey and representatives of the women’s national team will meet Monday to discuss a wage dispute that could lead to players boycotting the upcoming world championships.
John Langel, a lawyer for the players, tells The Associated Press that they’ll meet with USA Hockey officials in Philadelphia two days before the scheduled start of training camp. Players announced Wednesday they’d boycott camp and the tournament unless significant progress is made in negotiations on what they hope is a fouryear contract.
The International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship begins March 31 in Plymouth, Michigan. The U.S. is the defending champion and has won six of the past eight world championships.
USA Hockey and players traded barbs Friday over demands but agreed to meet to further discussions.
Players are seeking a deal that pays them outside the six-month Olympic period. USA Hockey has said it is not in the business of high) instead of coasting and that serves a lot of teams well.”
Carrick said there was a silver lining to his long absence.
“When you get out of your employing players but is still hoping the players picked for the world championships are on the ice when it begins.
Standout forward Hilary Knight, who is expected to attend the meeting after playing in the National Women’s Hockey League final Sunday, said Friday that it was her hope that USA Hockey would “reach out to our lawyers and present something that’s worth sitting down to the table for.”
After players called numbers released by USA Hockey “patently false,” fellow star Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said, “I just think they need to come to the table and let’s talk about it.”
Players have said USA Hockey pays them nothing outside the Olympic period and $1,000 a month for the six months leading up to the Games.
Knight, Lamoureux-Davidson and twin sister Monique Lamoureux-Morando, captain Meghan Duggan, Kacey Bellamy and Kendal Coyne are scheduled to take part in the meeting on the players’ side. A USA Hockey spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for who will represent the organization at the meeting Monday. rhythm, you’re forced to take a step back. But you can watch some hockey, re-fresh your mind on things, think about how your year is going. I was able to re-set.”
TAMPA, Fla. — The opposition on Sunday afternoon was the Scranton Railriders, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
The venue was the sprawling minor league affiliate of the Jays AL East rivals and the game was played before a crowd of maybe 100 people.
But, under those understated spring training coordinates on Sunday afternoon, Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis may have taken his biggest step yet to get back to big-league form.
A quick moving and encouraging week of pain-free improvement for the player likely to bat leadoff in John Gibbons batting lineup has Travis believing he’ll be good to go for opening day.
Normally hustling to first base and being called safe on an error would be barely notable in a minor league game. But when Travis did so by unflinchingly running hard in the second inning, it was arguably the biggest news of the day for the Jays, given that the April 3 season opener is now just two weeks away.
“(Opening day) has been my goal fro the get-go,” Travis said after going 0-for-4 in five plate appearances, the most notable being that sprint to first base which he reached safety (thanks to a Railrider error.) “It’s why I got down here so early to get my knee right. It’s still my goal and I see it happening.
“The biggest thing is my knee is going to tell me when I’m ready to go and it’s starting to tell me I’m ready to go for sure.”
There’s still work to be done as Travis continues his long and tedious recovery from a bone bruise on his knee, the after effect of offseason surgery.
Travis has to hone his eye to get up to speed to game-speed pitching and beyond fielding drills at the Jays’ Dunedin facility, needs to take the next step defensively.
That will tentatively come either Tuesday or Thursday when he hopes to start at his customary second base in a minor league game.
“I’ve got to get out there (in the field) in a big league game,” Travis said of his to-do list. “I’ve got to
The Leafs will face some of the usual hurdles to get by Boston on Monday; Zdeno Chara’s size on the back line, Tuukka Rask’s goaltending, Patrice Bergeron’s face-off play the field. I’m not going to be a DH in the big leagues so I’ve got to prove to them I can play both sides of the ball and wake up the next day feeling good and ready to go ahead.”
Gibbons and a lineup light on major leaguers travelled south on Sunday to Bradenton for a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That contest marked the first defensive appearance for utility fielder Steve Pearce, who started at first base in an 11-11 Jays tie with the Pirates and drove in a pair of runs with a fifth-inning single.
Meanwhile, third baseman Josh Donaldson took a pass on hitting minor-league pitching after an aggressive morning in the batting cage and running back in Dunedin. Donaldson has been working on fielding drills at well, charging towards a game appearance — either minor league or major league — at some point this week.
“He’s answered the bell on everything,” Jays athletic trainer George Poulis said of Donaldson. “Hopefully there are no setbacks. He is in unbelievable shape. He just looks fit and he’s doing great.
“He just chose not to play today and to work harder in the batting prowess — but perhaps most difficult is Brad Marchand’s career year. Babcock joked that if he knew Marchand was going to put it all together, contending for the Art Ross Trophy and potentially damaging Toronto’s playoff hopes, he wouldn’t have given him such a high profile at the World Cup for Team Canada.
“I was thinking the other day — we shouldn’t have done that,” Babcock said with a grin. “Should’ve played him on the fifth line and sucked a little life out of him. I can’t believe (what he’s done).
“He’s one of the best players in the league right now and no one is driving his team harder, so it will be fun to play against him. He’s been a good player for a long time. He didn’t arrive in the league with the accolades of some other guys. He’s earned his way, he was a good (bleep) disturber, energy guy, penalty killer and then his offence (79 points) has come. But it’s amazing when you have a really good drive train, a lot of will and you love the game. Being around a good coach (Cassidy’s predecessor and Babcock buddy Claude Julien), being around Bergeron and guys like that didn’t hurt him, either. They’re scoring right now, their power play is on fire and Marchy’s really going.”
As for the chance of a four game sweep for the first time since Toronto and Boston were realigned in the same division in 1998, Babcock observed: “sometimes you catch teams on the right night. Sometimes I look at our schedule and say ‘wow, we haven’t beat these guys in while’ and wonder why when there’s no real reason. It doesn’t matter now, tomorrow’s a big game. We had a big game last night (a 2-1 overtime loss to Chicago), we have a big game every night. But it’s about the (next) one.”
Forwards James van Riemsdyk and Brian Boyle had maintenance days Sunday, while Zach Hyman departed practice early in the company of a trainer with an undisclosed issue. cage and take the time to recover.”
Though it wasn’t Donaldson, Travis did have company for the trip across the bay on Sunday. Joining him was Jays centre fielder Kevin Pillar, who came to work on his bunting and to check out Travis’s progress.
“I came out to offer some support for a good friend of mine, a guy who has been grinding for a long time to get back and try to get ready for opening day,” Pillar said. “If you would have asked him and maybe our staff a couple of weeks ago if that was realistic (the answer might have been different.)
“Now it’s definitely something possible. To see him get out here and get down the line is pretty optimistic, not only for myself and for him but for our team. We’re definitely counting on him being on our opening day roster.”
Pillar watched his teammate’s at bats closely, taking a video of his last trip to the plate.
“Timing is the issue right now but I told him ‘your swing looks like your swing.’ To me, that’s the biggest sign. His body is firing the way I’ve got accustomed to seeing.”
Toronto Maple Leafs’ defenceman Connor Carrick scores on the powerplay at against Henrik Lundqvist, of the New York Rangers, at Madison Square Garden on January 13, in New York City.
Toronto Blue Jays’ Devon Travis takes practice in the batting cage before a spring training baseball game against the Boston Red Sox Monday, March 13, in Dunedin, Fla.
In this March 2016 file photo Hilary Knight, of Team USA, celebrates after scoring against Finland goaltender Meeri Raisanen during a women’s world hockey championships game in Kamloops, B.C. USA Hockey and representatives of the women’s national team will meet Monday, March 20, to discuss a wage dispute that could lead to players boycotting the upcoming world championships. Knight said Friday that it was her hope that USA Hockey would “reach out to our lawyers and present something that’s worth sitting down to the table for.”