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Lightning exposing Panthers’ lack of playoff experience with series sweep in sight

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It’s the National Hockey League’s regular-season champions versus the Stanley Cup champions, and it’s not even close. Playoff hockey wins every time.

After winning 58 games in the regular season, the Florida Panthers lost their third straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday and are another loss away from being swept by their less-skilled but more-capable rivals in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Even after the mystifying Panthers’ power play finally manufactured its first playoff goal in the opening period, it was the Lightning’s penalty killing, as well as Tampa’s experience, guile and intensity, that was a key factor in a 5-1 victory in Game 3.

Game 4 is Monday evening in Tampa with puck drop at 7:00 p.m. ET on Sportsnet.

Through three games and an aggregate score of 11-3, the Lightning have exposed the Panthers’ playoff inexperience and inability to match Tampa’s battle level.

“They’re Stanley Cup champions and the best team in hockey probably over the last five years, so they know what they’re doing and they are willing themselves,” Panthers coach Andrew Brunette said of the Lightning. “They have more will and more desire than we do. It shows probably, if you watch the game, shift after shift right now. We have to find a way. We need to dial it in deeper and harder and want it more.”

Later in his media conference, Brunette added: “They’ve just got a little more will. When there’s a loose puck, they’re kind of outbattling us. They want it a little bit more. They’re small margins, but they’re still margins. And small margins over a course of 60-minute game makes a little bit of a bigger margin. We have to find a way to be above the margins, not behind.”

But it’s already too late.

Teams that have trailed 3-0 in a seven-game series are 4-197 in NHL history. The Panthers have about a one-on-50 chance of surviving the Lightning, who are handling their opponent while dressing just 11 forwards because Brayden Point, possibly Tampa’s best player, has been injured since his team eliminated another playoff lightweight in the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.

The NHL’s highest-scoring team in 26 years, the Panthers have managed just a single goal in each of this series’ first three games. The Lightning have blocked 59 shots, outscored Florida 4-1 on special teams and Tampa star Nikita Kucherov, after a four-point game on Sunday, has more points in this series (seven) than Panthers Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart, Claude Giroux, Sam Bennett and Aaron Ekblad combined.

The Lightning can earn some vital recovery time for Point and rest for themselves by winning Game 4 and earning a third straight trip to the Eastern Conference Final. They’re trying to become the first team since the early-1980s New York Islanders to win three straight Stanley Cups.

“We realize the challenge ahead,” Tampa captain Steven Stamkos said. “These guys are back against the wall. We’ve had this opportunity before and it’s the hardest (win) to get. So we understand that challenge, but we’ll be ready. We have an opportunity to do it in front of our home fans, feed off that. We know they’re going to give us their best effort, so we’ve got to match that and then some and just keep executing. I have confidence in this group that if we play the right way, good things are going to continue to happen.”

TURNING POINT

The Lightning were up 2-1 when Tampa’s Victor Hedman was penalized for interference at 6:37 of the second period. The Panther power play, which in the first period ended an unfathomable 0-for-25 playoff meltdown, had a chance to tie the game.

Instead, Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made four saves, his teammates blocked four other shots and, seconds after Hedman’s penalty expired, Tampa defenceman Ryan McDonagh made the play of the game by getting the shaft of his stick in front of Huberdeau’s shot when most of the net was open.

And less than two minutes later, Stamkos made it 3-1 on a one-timer off the rush at 10:23.

“Our group’s great about understanding situations within the game,” McDonagh said after a plus-four game in which he led the Lightning with 23:21 of ice time. “Big moment there, a big opportunity for them. We kill it off and. . . shortly after that we put the puck in the net. So huge swing there. I think our group on the PK as a whole wants to thrive on being difference-makers for us.”

TURNING POINT PART 2

Vasilevskiy, McDonagh and the penalty-killers got the glory, but no one should underestimate the world-class skill involved in Stamkos’ dagger to the Panther’s heart.

Hedman made a perfect stretch, bank pass to Kucherov, who took the puck effortlessly, then quickly relayed it across the Florida zone for a streaking Stamkos to one-time from his off-wing. All three elements were sublimely executed.

Stamkos said he was inspired by the penalty kill that preceded it.

“As a guy that, you know, doesn’t get out on the PK and watches those guys, I mean, it really is inspiring,” he said. “You watch those guys, they’re battling, they’re blocking shots, doing whatever it takes. Those aren’t easy minutes in a game. You see guys coming back to the bench just gassed, gasping for air, and then they’ve got to go right back out there.

“This group, it’s just. . . whatever guys are on the ice, we have full trust in that. Some of that comes with experience at this time of the year, some of that comes with going out and getting the right (guys) at the deadline and knowing the big roles that they’re going to play, and it’s just trusting in each other that you’re going to get the job done. And when you have trust in your teammates, that creates a lot of confidence and it just progresses and it snowballs and you usually get good results.”

TALKING POINT

The Lightning were lucky not to lose another forward when Brandon Hagel dangerously cross-checked Panther Eetu Luostarinen into the end boards at high speed late in the first period. Referees Dan O’Rourke and Frederick L’Ecuyer initially called a major penalty on Hagel but downgraded it to a minor upon a video review. It sure looked like a major penalty and potential game misconduct.

Despite hitting his head on the boards, Luostarinen finished the game.

LAST QUESTION

Where is Aaron Ekblad? Florida’s frozen scorers are getting much of the blame for this series, but Ekblad, who was supposed to be in the Norris Trophy discussion this season, has been almost invisible beyond his share of culpability for Florida’s power-play problems.

LAST WORD

Brunette: “We’re losing a little bit of our — which has been our strength of our team — a little bit of our resilience. Frustration has taken over passion, and we need to erase that.”

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CYC vs STS Dream11 Prediction: Fantasy Cricket Tips, Today’s Playing 11 and Pitch Report for Strike League T20, Match 2

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City Cyclones (CYC) will take on Southern Storm (STS) in the second match of the Strike League T20 at the Marrara Cricket Ground in Darwin on Wednesday, July 6.

The first match between the Northern Tide and Desert Blaze had to be abandoned due to heavy rain, so technically, this will be the first match of the Strike League T20 this season. While Tom Jackson, Tim Ward, Coby Edmondstone and Andrew Richards are expected to be pivotal for City Cyclones, Mitchell Owen, Jack Clayton, Sam Fanning and Bradley Hope are the Southern Storm’s key players.


CYC vs STS Probable Playing 11 Today

CYC XI

Liam Blackford (wk), Ashley Chandrasinghe, Dylan Brasher, Tom Jackson, Tim Ward, Hugo Burdon, Caelan Maladay, Coby Edmondstone, Jordan Buckingham, Reiley Mark, Andrew Richards.

STS XI

Michael Kudra (wk), Param Uppal, Sam Fanning, Charlie Bignell, Awad Naqvi, Bailey Capel, Bradley Hope, Hamish Martin, Jack Clayton, Toby Gray, Mitchell Owen.


Match Details

CYC vs STS, Strike League T20, Match 2

Date and Time: 6th July, 2022, 2:00 PM IST

Venue: Marrara Cricket Ground, Darwin


Pitch Report

The pitch at the Marrara Cricket Ground in Darwin generally favors the batters, and it won’t be surprising to see a high-scoring encounter today. However, the pacers might find some movement with the new ball.


Today’s CYC vs STS Dream11 match top picks

Wicketkeeper

M Kudra is a decent batter and is safe behind the stumps as well.

Batters

A Chandrasinghe scored 27 runs off 26 deliveries in the last match.

S Fanning has been in great form recently. He has two fifties and three 30-plus scores in his last five outings.

All-rounder

C Edmondstone has played two 30-plus knocks in his last four matches, in addition to taking four wickets.

Bowler

J Kann is known for his accuracy and ability to provide regular breakthroughs


Top 5 best players to pick in CYC vs STS Dream11 prediction team

A Chandrasinghe (CYC)

B Hope (STS)

C Maladay (CYC)

C Edmondstone (CYC)

J Reed (CYC)


Important stats for CYC vs STS Dream11 prediction team

A Chandrasinghe: 27 runs in the last match

B Hope: 357 runs and 25 wickets in the last 27 matches

N Wheeler: 275 runs and 12 wickets in the last 17 matches

J Reed: 16 wickets in the last 10 matches

J Kann: 18 wickets in the last 17 matches


CYC vs STS Dream11 Prediction Today (Strike League T20)

CYC vs STS Dream11 Fantasy Suggestion #1 - Strike League T20.
CYC vs STS Dream11 Fantasy Suggestion #1 – Strike League T20.

Fantasy Suggestion #1: M Kudra, A Chandrasinghe, C Bignell, S Fanning, B Hope, C Maladay, C Emondstone, N Wheeler, J Reed, J Kann, T Gray.

Captain: B Hope. Vice-captain: C Maladay.

CYC vs STS Dream11 Fantasy Suggestion #2 - Strike League T20.
CYC vs STS Dream11 Fantasy Suggestion #2 – Strike League T20.

Fantasy Suggestion #2: M Kudra, L Blackford, A Chandrasinghe, C Bignell, S Fanning, B Hope, C Maladay, N Wheeler, J Reed, J Kann, T Gray.

Captain: A Chandrasinghe. Vice-captain: N Wheeler.


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Cornes rips ‘petulant’ Dusty for ‘arrogant’ TV act

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AFL great Kane Cornes has ripped Richmond superstar Dustin Martin for the “petulant” snub of a journalist.

Martin injured his hamstring playing against West Coast at the weekend, and went for scans on the injury on Monday.

He was approached by a television reporter and asked to comment on the injury, but the 2017 Brownlow Medallist completely ignored the questioning and walked away.

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Martin is one of the two most recognisable players in the AFL, alongside Sydney’s Lance Franklin. He’s in the argument for the best to ever play the game, with three premierships to his name and three Norm Smith Medals for best afield in those grand finals.

And at 31 years old, Cornes believes Martin should know how to handle the media better than he did this week.

“It’s pretty petulant, don’t you think? I thought it was petulant from Dustin Martin,” Cornes told SEN radio.

“You’ve got the game’s biggest star refusing to talk to basically Channel 7’s No.1 footy reporter, the host broadcaster, and looking at him with genuine disdain and completely ignoring him.

Footy Classified is now available as a podcast! Subscribe/follow via Apple, Spotify or Google Podcasts.

“There is a level of respect on how to treat people. A lot of footy fans don’t rate the media and a lot of players don’t, too, but I think it’s more about how you treat people and if you’re going to accept a $1.2 million cheque per year basically from media rights, I think there’s a real arrogance about that, and some people would say that’s overdoing it, but he refuses to do on-ground interviews after.

“You’re the game’s biggest star. I just reckon it’s not hard to just say, ‘Hey Mitch, I’m not sure mate, we’ll find out later in the week’. That’s all you’ve got to say.

“You’re speaking to the supporters as well. You may hate the media, but you’re speaking to the 100,000 Richmond members who never hear (from you).”

Martin is notoriously media-shy despite being the best and most high-profile player in the game.

Following the scans on his hamstring the Tigers announced he the superstar will miss this week’s game against Gold Coast.

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Shotzi breaks silence after deleting her Twitter account 

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Shotzi has given an update on how she’s doing after deactivating her Twitter account.

The SmackDown star faced a lot of backlash from fans due to her performance in the Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match this past Saturday. Several of her spots in the bout didn’t go as planned.

Although no one was seriously injured, she received a lot of criticism on social media. Before deactivating her Twitter account, she released a statement revealing that some people said she should be fired from WWE, among other nasty things.

Shotzi has now put up a message on her Instagram story stating that she’s doing fine and trying to stay motivated and positive.

“I appreciate everyone checking on me but I swear I’m fine. I have been going through the toughest year of my personal life so it’s deeper than nasty comments, but also Twitter has not helped with my already fragile mind state. Just trying to stay motivated and positive. I am focused on my goals and not what’s on the internet,” the SmackDown star wrote.

Shotzi with a message of her being fine via her IG stories.

It should be noted that this was the SmackDown star’s first appearance in the MITB ladder match.

Shotzi was unable to win the Women’s Money in the Bank contract

The 30-year-old star competed in the Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match alongside Alexa Bliss, Lacey Evans, Raquel Rodriguez, Liv Morgan, Becky Lynch, and Asuka.

All six women fought hard to retrieve the coveted briefcase, but only one of them emerged victorious. The bout was won by none other than Liv Morgan, who pushed Big Time Becks off the ladder to grab the briefcase.

Ms. Money in the Bank didn’t waste any time as she cashed it in on Ronda Rousey after the latter’s match against Natalya later that night. Liv pinned The Baddest Woman on the Planet to become the new SmackDown Women’s Champion.


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