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CALGARY – No team in the NHL has shot the puck with greater accuracy this season than the Toronto Maple Leafs. “Were just a very opportunistic team,” said Nazem Kadri, who has scored five times on just 24 shots this fall. “We dont need many chances to score goals.” Despite being outshot for the 12th time in 14 games this season, the Leafs found the means for their third straight win, beating Calgary on the second leg of a three-game swing through Western Canada. Totaling about half the shots of the Flames – 22 to 43 – they managed victory yet again (10-4-0) with continued accuracy, a sturdy penalty kill and more mastery in the crease, on this night a 41-save performance from Jonathan Bernier. In question is whether the Leafs are simply opportunistic with mighty goaltending and terrific special teams or very fortunate considering lingering troubles defensively. “Obviously great goaltending and our special teams have been great winning us games,” said Kadri, after the second end of a back-to-back set, the Leafs winning in Edmonton a night earlier. “Thats only going to get you so far, but when youre not playing your best or maybe if its an off-night coming into a pretty tough building you have to rely on those things to get you through.” Firing at a league-leading 12.7 per cent clip (according to the extraskater.com) the Leafs continue to shoot and score with unlikely precision; four goals on 22 shots (including an empty-netter) in a victory over the Flames following four goals on 26 shots in victory over the Oilers. Unsustainable luck, or strategic accuracy? Also the league leaders in shooting percentage last season, the Leafs tend to believe the latter. “I guess were not a team that just shoots from anywhere like some of these teams,” said Kadri, who had one shot and one assist in 20 minutes against the Flames. “The Pittsburghs and the Chicagos, even Calgary, any opportunity they have theyre just throwing it at the net and then seeing what happens. A lot of times thats not a bad thing. But for us, we wait for our odd-man rushes or if we outman someone in front of the net to get good scoring chances usually were putting them in.” The theory proved true on Wednesday night. Joffrey Lupul out-manned several Flames in front for the games opening goal; James van Riemsdyk broke loose on a shorthanded rush with Jay McClement for second marker; Mason Raymond tallied the eventual winner on the door-step following a David Clarkson takeaway and rebound. Not only are they scoring with precision – the Leafs rank third in offence so far – but yielding a mighty sum of shots against; 40-plus for the second consecutive night and 36 per game this season. But as was the case in Edmonton – a 43-save night from James Reimer – and really all season there was another load-bearing performance in goal; Bernier stopped 41, including 34 of 35 through 40 minutes. The Leafs goalie tandem now boasts a .939 collective save percentage, amongst the best in the league. Whether such effectiveness can continue under the strain of such a mighty nightly barrage is uncertain. Helping the cause additionally against Calgary and throughout the season were game-changing special teams. The Toronto penalty kill stoned the Flames on all five power-play opportunities and sits as the fourth best unit in the league. Silent on this night, the power-play ranks third overall. Lying under the cover of wins are stats which point toward some degree of good fortune. But for the Eastern Conference leading Leafs the numbers in the standings prove satisfying. “We got two points,” said Randy Carlyle after the most recent win. “No matter how you get them theyre still two points in the standings. Im sure theres going to be games throughout the course of this season that wed say we were unlucky that we didnt win and theres going to be more games that were going to say were lucky to win. I think it all evens out in the end. Obviously wed like to play better defensively as every team would.” Five Points 1. Rising Shots Against Wednesday marked the 13th time the Leafs have allowed 30-plus shots and the second straight night of more than 40 against. Only the struggling Senators allow more on a nightly basis. “Well give them perimeter shots,” said Kadri. “We have no problem doing that. Its just boxing out in front. Thats where weve got to make sure were good. And really a lot of shots did come from the outside. Bernier did a great job looking at all of them. There were probably countless point shots tonight which arent terrible to give up.” Still, the 23-year-old conceded to the danger of yielding so many shots and subsequent chances against. “Yeah, there is [danger],” he agreed. “But really it depends whos in front. Thats our job to make sure that our goaltenders can see the puck. Shots from the point with traffic are pretty dangerous; if were giving that up weve got to make sure were good in that blue paint.” 2. Cutting Down Those Shots... As for cutting down the amount of shots opponents have had, Jay McClement pointed to possession. “Its playing with the puck I guess,” said McClement, who won 21 of 28 faceoffs against the Flames. “We get into trouble when we dont possess the puck enough. Part of that is turnovers and part of its just executing when we do have it and not [making] bad passes or bad dumps or what have you. “Were lucky we have two great goalies,” he added. 3. More of the Same Bernier nearly matched the efforts of his teammate from one night earlier. James Reimer stopped all 43 shots in victory over the Oilers on Tuesday. Though he wasnt quite so flawless, the 25-year-old was nonetheless effective in keeping the puck out, most notably during a second frame that saw the Flames fire 20 shots on goal. “That second I was a little tired at the end,” said Bernier afterward. “You cant look past your goaltender,” Carlyle added. “Hes given us a chance no matter who weve put in the net.” Bernier sits tied for seventh with a .933 save percentage, just a little ways behind Reimer, who remains second overall with a sizzling .949 mark. 4. Growth from Calgary Dion Phaneuf first suited up for the Flames on Oct. 5, 2005. He played over 24 minutes in Minnesota that night, a 6-3 loss to the Wild. From the point of his NHL debut to where he stands with the Leafs in the present, Phaneuf says growth has been most poignant defensively. “I think that thats a learning curve that a lot of young [defencemen] have when they come in,” said the 28-year-old before the game. “When you first start at a young age youre usually protected by different matchups and the coaching staff usually puts you out there against the guys that they want to match you up against and as you get older and as you gain more experience youre playing against better players. I feel that Ive grown in my role and the way that I play the game defensively.” 5. Opposing Perspective Former Leaf Matt Stajan played alongside Phil Kessel when he first landed in Toronto in the fall of 2009. He offered the following assessment of Kessel on Wednesday morning, the 26-year-olds four-game goal and point streak coming to an end against the Flames. “I just think hes making good decisions with when to take off in his own end,” said Stajan. “And he obviously has some chemistry with the guys he plays with now; they know exactly what hes thinking and when to get him the puck.” Kessel equaled the best opening month production of his NHL career this October, totaling nine goals and 18 points in 14 games. Back in Oct. 2011, he mightve been even better, compiling 10 goals and 18 points in 11 games. Stat Pack 13 – Times this season the Leafs have allowed 30 shots or more. 21-28 – Mark for Jay McClement in the faceoff circle against Calgary. McClement finished 9-10 opposite rookie Sean Monahan. 22.2 per cent – Team-leading shooting percentage for Dave Bolland, who has scored six goals on 27 shots. 12.7 - Shooting percentage for the Leafs this season, first in the league. 1 – Point for David Clarkson on Wednesday, his first as a Leaf. Clarkson assisted on Mason Raymonds eventual game-winner. 12 – Number of times the Leafs have been outshot this season. 5 – Consecutive games with a point for James van Riemsdyk. He has two goals and seven points in that span. 23:33 – Team-leading ice-time for van Riemsdyk on Wednesday, including 6:17 on the penalty kill. Special Teams Capsule PP: 0-1 PK: 5-5 Quote of the Night “Im sure theres going to be games throughout the course of this season that wed say we were unlucky that we didnt win and theres going to be more games that were going to say were lucky to win. I think it all evens out in the end.” - Randy Carlyle following the victory in Calgary. Up Next The Leafs conclude their three-game swing through western Canada with a Saturday date in Vancouver. Garrett Bradbury Vikings Jersey . Bjoerndalen broke the record he shared with cross-country skiing great Bjoern Daehlie, also matching his fellow Norwegians record of eight gold medals. Bjoerndalen earlier won gold in Sochi in the mens sprint biathlon. Brian ONeill Womens Jersey . -- Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich is expected to miss the rest of the regular season after having an operation on a groin muscle. http://www.authenticvikingspro.com/Adria...gs-jersey/ . -- Two out of three aint bad. Chuck Foreman Vikings Jersey . Messis 75th-minute goal answered some of the criticism the clubs all-time leading scorer had received for his lacklustre performances in the teams recent losses in the league, Champions League and Copa del Rey final. Adam Thielen Vikings Jersey .com) - Maria Sharapova rallied for a three- set win over Ana Ivanovic on Saturday to capture the season-opening Brisbane International tennis tournament.SOELDEN, Austria - If skiings opening weekend was any indication, the United States is in for quite an Olympic season. Ted Ligety, Mikaela Shiffrin, Bode Miller and Tim Jitloff underlined the squads enormous potential on the Rettenbach glacier in Austria. "Im really happy with how things are going," U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml said. "The coaches and staff did an unbelievable job getting the athletes ready." And with Lindsey Vonn planning to return in a month from right knee surgery and Julia Mancuso always a threat on a big stage, the Americans could surpass their eight medals from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics at the Sochi Games, which run Feb. 7-23. "Everything is going on track," Riml said. "Im feeling confident with our whole setup." Ligety won the opening giant slalom for the third consecutive year. The 18-year-old Shiffrin matched her career-best World Cup result in the discipline with a sixth-place finish. Miller marked his return from 20 months off by placing 19th after starting outside the top 30. Jitloff was 20th with one big error that probably cost him about 10 positions. Perhaps the only negative note was Mancuso finishing 27th. But Mancuso always seems to save her best for major championships, as evidenced by her gold medal in giant slalom at the 2006 Turin Games and two silvers in Vancouver. "Julia is always showing she does well at the big events," former U.S. mens head coach Phil McNichol said. "Lindsey is Lindsey. Ted is coming off three (gold) medals at the world championships. Bodes back in the mix. Mikaela is going to be a force to be reckoned with. So its going to be a very interesting Olympic cycle." Ligety dominated giant slalom last season, winning six of eight races on the World Cup plus the world championship race in Schladming, Austria, where he was also a surprise winner in super-G and super-combined. "Last year we had an awesome prep here but this year was less so, so I wasnt 100 per cent confident of how I was skiing," Ligety said. "But then we had good training here in Soelden and the last couple of weeks I started to feel a little better. Its nice to have some confirmation." Ligety is enjoying having his childhood friend and former junior world downhill champion Adam Cole on the coaching staff this season. "We grew up together," Ligety said. "Hes also young and athletic so he can do dry-land with us and we can go play other sports and push each other." Shiffrin dominated in slalom last season with four wins plus the world title and now looks like a two-event threat with her giant slalom vastly improved. After the Olympics, Shiffrin could expand into the speed events. Shiffrin is also maturing off the hilll.dddddddddddd Her mother, who has accompanied her in Europe for the past two seasons, said this is probably the last season shell be there. "I may not have to stay here as she keeps getting more and more comfortable," Eileen Shiffrin said. Shiffrin has improved so much in GS that she was beating male teammates in training the past couple of weeks. Which guys was she beating? Thats still a secret. "Shiffrin was skiing unbelievably fast," mens head coach Sasha Rearick said. "Im not going to tell you." As for the 36-year-old Miller — yes, hes twice Shiffrins age — his new slimmer frame appears to be paying off. The two-time overall World Cup winner lost nearly 30 pounds during his season off to recover from left knee surgery. Miller skied to 13th place with the No. 32 bib in the opening run and was able to hang on in the second leg. "I wasnt tired at all," Miller said. "I think my fitness is higher now for a World Cup than its ever been. Im snappy and springy and I can go as long as the courses are. ... Theres obviously some lack of inertia, some weight, but I dont think thats going to be an issue." If Miller already has his form back in giant slalom, he could really excel in the speed events of downhill and super-G, where hes had nearly all of his wins in recent years. "GS was the one event where we hadnt been able to put the most volume in because it was causing some more knee irritation," Rearick said. "So if hes been able to do what hes done this week, its beyond my expectations." Millers fitness should also get a boost from the speed teams newly hired conditioning coach, Tony Beretzki, an Austrian who once worked with Hermann Maier and Stephan Eberharter and spent the last four years with the Spartak Moscow soccer team. With Miller out last season, downhillers Marco Sullivan, Steven Nyman and Travis Ganong each had solid starts, but their conditioning dropped off around January. "He has brought a great, great program and is doing an awesome job," Rearick said. The womens speed team, meanwhile, is coming off a record-breaking season that included podium finishes not just for Vonn and Mancuso, but also for Stacey Cook, Alice McKennis, Leanne Smith and Laurenne Ross. The bar of expectations has been raised for Cook & Co. this season. "You definitely want to back up those results," womens head coach Alex Hoedlmoser said. "You want to be contenders with all of those girls on a regular basis." The speed teams dont race until events in Lake Louise, Alberta, and Beaver Creek, Colo., on Thanksgiving weekend. Next up are slaloms in Levi, Finland, Nov. 16-17. ___ Follow Andrew Dampf at http://twitter.com/asdampf ' ' '
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