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York Mets team that rollicked its way to th
COLUMBUS – Where Phil Kessel has gone the past two seasons so, too, has James van Riemsdyk. But its now with Joffrey Lupul sidelined indefinitely (with yet another unfortunate injury) that the Maple Leafs need their ever-improving 24-year-old to become a force without Kessel. In light of balance concerns, Randy Carlyle opted to split the duo even before the injury to Lupul – a broken right hand – but its now especially, with the 31-year-old likely out weeks, that van Riemsdyk has to emerge from the shadow of his fellow American winger and offer Toronto a consistent secondary threat. I dont control who I go out there and play with, said van Riemsdyk of the split from Kessel earlier this week. [But] if were a better team this way, then obviously thats great. The pair has been almost inseparable since van Riemsdyk joined the Leafs from Philly in the summer of 2012. In fact, more than 80 per cent of the nearly 2000 even-strength minutes van Riemsdyk has accumulated in Toronto have come with Kessel. Theyve been a mostly terrorizing offensive force, scorching together even beyond the NHL shores. Representing the U.S. at the Sochi Olympics, van Riemsdyk and Kessel finished 1-2 in scoring. The Leafs battled depth concerns even with Lupul in the lineup and they will no doubt need more pop from the likes of Nazem Kadri, David Clarkson and the rest of the depth they added this offseason. But van Riemsdyk is perhaps the only talent on the roster besides Kessel who may have the gifts to drive a line himself. Hes big. Hes fast. Hes powerful. And hes certainly talented enough to give the Leafs a real second threat beyond Kessel, someone to make the opposition think twice about. I know that James has played to a higher level and he can continue to grow as a hockey player, Carlyle said before a 4-1 win over the injury-depleted Blue Jackets on Friday. Hes done very, very well in the situations that weve put him in. Van Riemsdyk played the part of triggerman with Kessel – a scorer yes, but underrated playmaker, too – feasting on the openings and opportunities he creates. Usually when youre playing with Phil, hes going to have the puck a lot of the time, he said. Im more going to the net and trying to bang in rebounds, that sort of thing. He scored 19 goals at even-strength last year, adding 13 in 48 games the year prior. Many of those came off the rush and if theres a subtle shift in the style of whats now the Leafs second line – though they led the team in ice-time against Columbus – its that. With Clarkson taking the place of Kessel alongside van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak, the unit is likely to become more conservative in terms of the chances it takes in transition, increasing its emphasis instead on the cycle game. Previously just an intriguing experiment, the Leafs now need van Riemsdyk to emerge sans Kessel. Carlyle couldnt say Friday morning how long hed keep the pair apart, but given the injury to Lupul and need for balance, it seems likely to go on for at least the immediate future. Van Riemsdyk, who finished last season with a career-high of 30 goals and 61 points, has been quieter so far this fall. Unable to find the scoresheet Friday, hes tied for third in Leaf scoring, totaling six points in 10 games. Five Points 1. Lupuls Luck Joffrey Lupuls odd and unfortunate injury history as a Leaf added another chapter. At practice Thursday in Toronto, Lupul fell on his stick and jammed his right hand rather innocuously. Or so he thought. The 31-year-old finished the final 40 minutes or so of the session and came to the rink Friday night prepared to play against the Blue Jackets. But then the results of an x-ray taken in the Columbus area came back and revealed that a bone was indeed broken – Carlyle didnt learn hed be unavailable until 6:10pm. The severity isnt yet known. Lupul was admittedly in some shock after yet another fluky injury. I dont know what to say really, its part of the game, but it certainly is tougher mentally than it is physically I will say, he said, appearing noticeably upset. Kind of just…right now a little bit shocked. Hopefully its not something thats going to keep me out too long. Hes had a stretch of bad luck, theres no question about it, said Leafs general manager, Dave Nonis. Theres nothing he couldve done different. It was a freak accident. The list of injuries Lupul has suffered as a Leaf is wide and varied. The Injury Bug Date Injury Games Missed Mar. 2012 Dislocated Right Shoulder 16 Jan. 2013 Fractured Right Forearm 25 Apr. 2013 Concussion 5 Oct. 2013 Bone Bruise, Right Foot 2 Nov. 2013 Groin Tear 7 Apr. 2014 Knee Surgery 4 Oct. 2014 Broken Right Hand Indefinitely 2. 500 Daniel Winnik was asleep when he was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes nearly 10 years ago. A centre for the University of New Hampshire, Winnik had to be shaken awake by his parents, his agent calling that Sunday morning with the good news. I was like oh great! What round? Fourth? Fifth? the now 29-year-old recalled of the conversation. Ninth, his agent responded. And I was like what? It was a bit of a shock that I went that late. Fast-forward to Friday night in Columbus and Winniks 500th career game in the NHL, quite a feat for a player picked 265th overall. I think I always thought I had the chance to do it, Winnik said of hitting 500 games, but obviously my position being drafted – ninth round – it probably looked pretty grim. He had quite the performance against the Blue Jackets on what was a momentous night. Replacing Lupul alongside Kadri and Kessel on the teams top line, Winnik potted his first goal as a Leaf and 50th overall – sneaking behind the Blue Jackets defence – also adding two assists. Earlier in the day, Winnik spoke to his versatility as the main reason hes made so far in the NHL, that trait on display again on this night. Hes been a welcome addition to our group so far, said Carlyle. 3. Kadris Luck The possession numbers were strong for Nazem Kadri heading into the Leafs final game of October, but the luck numbers, well, not so much – his PDO was the lowest among Toronto forwards. Paired with Kessel for the second straight night, that luck started to change against the Blue Jackets. Kadri posted his first assist of the season in the 4-1 win, adding his first goal in seven games in the final period on a tap-in from Kessel. As for luck, Kadri agrees, he wasnt getting much of it. I definitely did feel that, yeah, because normally some of those pucks are in the back in the net, he said. Its finally nice to find the back of the net and just get a road win. 4. Without Kessel II No player – with either the Bruins or Leafs – has spent more time on the ice (and perhaps off it) with Kessel than Bozak, the third wheel of whats now a second line featuring van Riemsdyk and Clarkson. Bozak has basically played with no one else but Kessel since he joined the Leafs from the University of Denver, a rotating cast of left wingers running shotgun with the duo over the years. You lose a pretty dynamic player obviously, Bozak said of Kessel. I think Davids a great player, too. He gets in there on the forecheck and creates a little space for us. So I guess my role changes a bit, Ill have the puck a little bit more when Im not playing with Phil whereas when I am with him, Im trying to get him the puck as quick as I can. Like van Riemsdyk, he too, noted the lines stylistic changes without Kessel. Me, James and Phil were more of a rush line and creating opportunities like that, said Bozak, but I think with me, James and Dave, well try and get some pucks deep and get in on a cycle. I think youre a little bit more apprehensive to make a change when you know theres been a long history with the two players, but its not about two players, its about our hockey club, Carlyle said. We have a team and youve got to make decisions that are in the best interest of the team. Bozaks numbers, historically, have dipped considerably in those rare instances when hes played without Kessel. And it will indeed be curious if he can maintain production – he entered Friday tied for the team-lead in scoring – without him. The Leafs, meanwhile, improved to 5-0-0 when Kessel records a point. The 27-year-old had three points Friday in just 12 minutes and 39 seconds – his lowest as a Leaf – now with 13 points in 10 games this season. 5. The Road Actually quite strong for the most part at home a year ago despite talk of nerves and the like recently, Toronto finished last season as one of the worst road teams in the Eastern Conference. They had a goal differential of minus-29 away from the ACC and their 14 victories topped only the lowly tandem of Florida and Buffalo. So far this season, its been just the opposite. The Leafs picked up just their second home win in six tries on Tuesday, winning for the third time in four trips on the road Friday in Columbus. Jonathan Bernier, who was impressive in victory, improved to 2-0-1 in such trips, boasting a .954 save percentage in three road starts. Stats Pack 6 – Games without a goal for Nazem Kadri, who broke that spell against the Blue Jackets. 9 – Games without an assist for Kadri, who registered his first of the season on Friday. .954 – Save percentage for Jonathan Bernier on the road in three starts this season. 50th – Career goal for Daniel Winnik in his 500th career game Friday. 12:39 – Ice-time for Phil Kessel against Columbus, his lowest as a Leaf. 5-0-0 – Leafs record this season when Kessel records a point. Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-2 Season: 18% PK: 3-4 Season: 84.2% Quote of the Night Probably Nazzies thanking him because he saves his butt too many times. -Randy Carlyle, speaking on Nazem Kadris admitted admiration for Daniel Winnik and his poised all-around play. Up Next The Leafs return home to face the Blackhawks on Saturday. Cheap Titans Jerseys . -- Chris Jones and Louisville have done a tremendous job protecting the basketball this season and thats led to easy victories. A.J. Brown Jersey . "Ive still got it," Seattles ace said with a sly grin. Riding that fastball carrying a little more zip, Hernandez took a shutout bid into the ninth inning as the Mariners beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 on Wednesday night. On the verge of a brilliant shutout and first complete game since Aug. .C. - Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek says guard Goran Dragic will return to the starting lineup against the Charlotte Hornets after missing the last two games with a strained back. Nate Davis Jersey . - The New York Rangers have momentum, a unified locker room and Henrik Lundqvist. Cheap Titans Jerseys Authentic . Scheffler told The Associated Press on Wednesday he made the choice because he had three concussions over the past four years.NEW YORK -- Frank Cashen, the general manager who wore a signature bow tie and fashioned a New York Mets team that rollicked its way to the 1986 World Series championship, died Monday. The team said he was 88. He died at Memorial Hospital in Easton, Maryland, after a short illness, the Mets said. Cashen was a longtime sports writer in his Baltimore hometown and went to law school before joining the Orioles and eventually becoming their GM. The Orioles won two titles while Cashen worked for them, but it was in New York where he put his stamp on a franchise with the likes of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. Hired in 1980, Cashen transformed a last-place team into an outfit that became the most dominant force in baseball. Those Mets were brash and full of swagger, not at all like the personality of the man who built the club. Cashen made the trades that brought star first baseman Keith Hernandez and future Hall of Famer Gary Carter to the Mets, and oversaw the draft picks of Gooden and Strawberry. "Frank was our leader," Strawberry said in a statement. "I always admired the way he put together our team. He mixed young guys, like me and Doc, with guys like Carter and Hernandez. He was able to find the perfect blend to build a championship." Cashen also hired his former second baseman in Baltimore, Davey Johnson, to be the Mets manager. By the 1986, the Mets were ready to take over. They powered their way to 108 victories, won a tough playoff series with Houston and then rallied past Boston to win the World Series in seven games. "Frank was willing to take a chance and jump me from A-ball to the majors. That always meant a lot to me," Gooden said in a statement. "Also, he helped get me my No. 16. Lee Mazzilli had it before and Frank went to bat for me and said, If thats the number Doc wants, let him have it." Hernandez is now a broadcaster for the Mets. He was already a star first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals when Cashen acquired him in June 1983 in a one-sided deal, getting him for pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey. Before the Mets played at Atlanta on Monday night, Hernandez fondly remembered Cashen. "He was a man of integrity and honestly, and that was most important.dddddddddddd. He told you the truth," Hernandez said. "It was a day when the general managers didnt pal around with the players. We hardly ever saw him, but there was a relationship there. He was just a wonderful man." After winning the championship, however, the Mets werent able to sustain that peak performance. In the following years and Cashen traded away Lenny Dykstra, Ron Darling, Roger McDowell and other popular players. Cashen left the Mets after a fifth-place finish in 1991. He remained close to the team and was briefly the interim GM several years later. "Frank Cashen revitalized our franchise when he took over," Mets chairman Fred Wilpon said in a statement. "I dealt with Frank on a daily basis and he was a man of integrity and great passion." "No one had a more diverse career than Frank. He was also a lawyer, sports writer and marketing executive. His accomplishments will always be an integral part of our team history," he said. Cashen, who also worked as an executive in Major League Baseball, was inducted into the team Hall of Fame for both the Orioles and Mets. "Frank Cashen was one of the greatest executives in our game," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "A true gentleman who had many interests, Frank had a multifaceted career in baseball and beyond. He helped construct some of the best clubs that two of our franchises - his hometown Baltimore Orioles and the New York Mets - have ever had." The Orioles said Cashen served the team during its "most successful on-field era." "It was during his tenure that the Orioles acquired Frank Robinson and named Earl Weaver manager, two of the most significant moments in club history," the club said. In recent years, Cashen spent his time in Easton and in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where the Mets hold spring training. He was in camp with the Mets this year. "One of the great baseball people," Mets manager Terry Collins said Monday. Cashen is survived by wife Jean, seven children and nine grandchildren. ------ AP freelance writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd in Atlanta contributed to this report. 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