WINNIPEG – Earlier in the day, Nikolaj Ehlers was on the receiving end of one of those famous chirps from his buddy and even though the tongue of Patrik Laine may have been firmly planted in his cheek, he did ultimately heed that friendly advice about keeping his head up.
And by the time the dust had settled, it was Ehlers who ended up having the last laugh.
On a night when so much of the hype and attention was on Laine suiting up for his first game against his former team in front of a fan base he absolutely adored, it was Ehlers that took centre stage with the game on the line.
As Jets interim head coach Dave Lowry rolled out three highly skilled forwards as the three-on-three overtime and went on the offensive, there was Ehlers scooping up a pass from Kyle Connor, looking over his shoulder on two separate occasions to see how much room he had with Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Zach Werenski in hot pursuit.
By the time Ehlers had been able to determine that his nearest pursuer would not be able to catch him, he focused on what he planned to do when he got in tight on Elivs Merzlikins, ultimately deciding to fire a quick shot through the wickets just 21 seconds into the three-on-three overtime.
“I like the five hole,” said Ehlers, who secured a sixth consecutive 20-goal season in Friday’s 4-3 triumph. “I did a couple shoulder checks there. I just didn’t want to come in with too much speed, and that’s why I kind of let up there a little bit. That’s why I was checking to see where he was at.”
There have been times when breakaways have been the equivalent of kryptonite for Ehlers, but on a night where the Jets were looking to regroup after a lacklustre 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators just one night earlier, he was able to deliver a dagger.
That Ehlers was able to steal the thunder from his close friend should not come as a surprise, as he’s a game-breaker in his own right.
Since returning from a knee injury that cost him nearly a quarter of the season (19 games for those of you looking to be exact or scoring at home), Ehlers has been a driving force for a Jets offence that has been explosive.
He’s generating scoring chances for himself and his linemates at an extremely high rate and his production has matched the rate.
With seven goals and five assists for 12 points in 12 games since returning to the lineup, Ehlers looks like he hasn’t missed a beat.
His explosiveness and ability to back off defenders has been on full display, whether he was playing alongside Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois or with Mark Scheifele and Paul Stastny, as he was on Friday night.
Ehlers also delivered a bit of levity of his own, lovingly slashing the stick of Laine while lining up opposite him on the wing during a defensive zone draw.
“I don’t know. That was the first time I was on the ice against Patty, on the other side,” said Ehlers. “I’ve played with him… We’ve honestly pretty much played every single game together during the time that he was here. So it was a little different, it was fun, we won the game so that’s great.”
The Jets did an excellent job of preventing Laine from finding the scoresheet, limiting the Finnish sniper to four shots on goal and seven shot attempts.
But that didn’t mean Laine wasn’t dangerous, even if he was showing some signs of the nerves he admitted to having during his session with reporters on Friday morning.
He unloaded a couple of one-timers and then got a great look late in the contest that was turned aside.
“Scary, for sure. I mean, obviously, when he gets a little time and space anywhere in the slot, you want to try to get there as fast as possible to take it away from him because we’ve always seen that for years,” said Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey. “It’s always weird playing against former teammates for the first time. But you definitely have to respect their ability and (Jack Roslovic’s) speed and quickness and (Laine’s) ability to score and beat you one-on-one.
“I got (Laine) a few times with the stick checks and he faked me a couple times. It was what we did for years in practice, so it was fun to do that and play against him. But certainly like I said, you have a lot of respect for their games and their ability.”
Morrissey played a huge role in limiting Laine’s effectiveness and he also scored an important power-play goal that gave the Jets a 2-0 lead.
But with just 19.4 seconds to go in regulation time and the Jets protecting a one-goal lead, Morrissey received a slashing minor that took an empty-net goal from Blake Wheeler off the board.
Instead of putting the game on ice, the Jets faced a two-man disadvantage after the Blue Jackets pulled their goalie in favour of an extra attacker and needed only five strikes for Oliver Bjorkstrand to strike, sending the game to overtime.
While it should be noted that Blue Jackets Sean Kuraly pushed Morrissey into the boards initially and appeared to embellish the severity of the stick contact when the Jets defenceman retaliated just before the puck went into the empty net, it was Morrissey who showed incredible accountability when discussing the play in question.
“At the end of the day, emotions are high, it’s the last minute of the game,” said Morrissey, who is up to a career-best total of 11 in the goal category. “Obviously we’re battling. I didn’t like the hit (by Kuraly). But at the end of the day, I’ve got to control my emotions there and not put my team down and take the goal off the board. That’s why you have your teammates to pick you up when you make mistakes. That was a play I’d like to have back, for sure. But we found a way in OT, and the guy beside me saved my butt.”
Morrissey endured the feeling of loneliness that accompanies sitting in the penalty box when the game is on the line.
“When that happens, I feel like the smallest guy in the arena. And rightfully so,” said Morrissey. “(The referee) thought I slashed him, which I did. And he thought I did it before the goal went in. That’s really the only…I didn’t like the hit either, but as I said, I slashed him, what am I going to say. It’s a penalty.”
This was a true example of leadership.
It would have been easy for Morrissey to say it was a soft call (which it was) or that his opponent took a dive (which is what it looked like), but instead, he pointed the finger at himself and said he needed to park his frustration in that situation rather than force his team to play shorthanded in the waning seconds of regulation time.
“That shows you the type of person he is and the leadership he provides,” said Lowry, whose team improves to 31-25-10 and temporarily pulls within three points of the Dallas Stars, who hold three games in hand. “He owns that moment and that just shows the type of character and the player that he is.”
Jets backup goalie Eric Comrie continued his stretch of solid play this season, making 33 saves as he won a fifth consecutive start and improved to 8-2-1 overall.
Those early-season questions about whether or not Comrie was ready to handle the job at the NHL level seem like nothing but a distant memory.
“That guy works his ass off,” said Ehlers. “Yeah, he doesn’t play a lot, but when he does, he plays fantastic. We’ve got two goalies that give us a chance to win. When you’ve got a guy like (Comrie) who, every practice, he goes out there, 20, 30 minutes before and stays to do whatever extra guys want to do, stays out for that as well, he deserves it.
“He’s a great guy off the ice, and we love him in the room. It’s awesome to see how well he’s doing, and we obviously love that. We have two goalies that are fantastic, and that’s great.”
D.J. Uiagalelei bailed out Clemson’s defense this time around
Clemson fans finally got the game from D.J. Uiagalelei that they’ve been waiting for, finishing with 371 yards passing and five touchdowns. You’d figure that kind of day would lead to a blowout of No. 21 Wake Forest with the defense we’re accustomed to seeing from the Tigers. After two overtimes and more than 1,000 yards of total offense, the perennial conference champions held off the reigning kings of the ACC, 51-45.
Demon Deacon QB Sam Hartman tallied six touchdown passes, repeatedly hitting receivers for big plays — or pass-interference flags — up until the second overtime when the hopes of an upset were dashed on a fourth down heave to the endzone. Tiger cornerback Nate Wiggins, who was getting targeted all day, made the game-sealing pass breakup, and Dabo Swinney’s team escaped Winston-Salem with its winning streak — now at 10 — still intact.
As comforting as Uiagalelei’s performance was, the defense is just as concerning. The defensive front was without one of its best players, so they’re not at full strength. Yet they’ve shown some hints the past couple of weeks that they might be missing coordinator Brent Venables, and now those signs are blinking bright red.
I liked Wake Forest’s chances in Saturday’s game, but my questions were more about the quarterback. Clemson has allowed more than 40 points only five times in the past five-plus years. Notre Dame, LSU, Ohio State, and Pitt were responsible for the previous four, and now Wake Forest is on that list.
Outside of a one-play possession that ran out the final 14 seconds of the first half, Wake scored on five-straight drives from the second quarter to the fourth. Dave Clawson’s insistence on the run during the Deacs’ final chance at a score in regulation — Clemson’s only stop of the second half — was a weird strategy considering how hot Hartman was.
Saying Dabo out-coached him might not be accurate either as his equally hot offense wasn’t even given a chance to get within field goal range with 49 seconds left to try to win the game sans OT, and Wake hemorrhaging yards. (He also ran his kicker out for a 52-yarder to tie the game with four minutes left in the game, and his trust was rewarded as B.T. Potter drilled the kick.)
The day belonged to Uiagalelei though. This was the exact type of command and playmaking Clemson fans have been waiting for out of him, and it came in a high-pressure situation. The 371 yards passing is the second highest output of his career, and his first game with 300-plus yards since Nov. 7, 2020. The five passing scores are a career-high by three TDs.
He made plenty of tough throws, but the hardest came on a two-point conversion in the third quarter to tie the contest at 28. Under pressure, with a Deacon holding his leg, he found receiver Beaux Collins despite only having one foot on the ground.
Even though Wake’s defense leaves a lot to be desired — the fangless three-man rushes allowed Uiagalelei enough time to write a memoir — this was as perfect of a game as a quarterback can play.
No. 12 NC State and QB Devin Leary visit Death Valley next week, and if the Wolfpack can get by UConn, College Gameday could find itself with another orange-heavy destination. The Clemson defense will have another veteran quarterback to contain, but that can be said of both teams.
Mayweather vs Asakura: Start time UK, undercard, ring walks, prediction and latest odds tonight
This will be boxing’s 15-time world champion’s fourth such outing since retiring again in the aftermath of his lucrative victory over UFC superstar Conor McGregor in 2017.
Mayweather dominated former sparring partner Don Moore in a rescheduled contest in Abu Dhabi in May, one year after being taken the distance by internet personality Logan Paul in another no-contest.
YouTuber and Rizin featherweight Asakura, a former two-division champion in the Fighting Network Rings promotion, is 16-3-1 as a mixed martial artist, but has his work cut out this weekend.
He will be only too aware of the outcome of Mayweather’s last trip to Japan in December 2018, when kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa hit the canvas three times before being stopped inside the first round.
And ‘Money’ could well be on similar form here as he looks to tee up a rematch with McGregor in Las Vegas for 2023, while he is also due to face KSI’s brother Deji in November.
Mayweather vs Asakura date, start time, venue and ring walks
Mayweather vs Asakura takes place on Saturday, September 24, 2022 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The main card is due to begin at around 12pm local time, which is 4am BST in the UK.
Mayweather vs Asakura fight card/undercard in full
Kyoji Horiguchi vs Yuto Hokamura
Seika Izawa vs Anastaysia Svetkivska
Ayaka Hamasaki vs Si Woo Park
Soo Chul Kim vs Hiromasa Ougikubo
Shoma Shibisai vs Callyu Gibrainn
Kyohei Hagiwara vs Chihiro Suzuki
Juri Ohara vs Luiz Gustavo
Floyd Mayweather vs Mikuru Asakura
Kouzi vs Jizzy
Yoshinari Nadaka vs Bandasak So Trakunpet
Kota Miura vs Bunchuai Phonsungnoen
How to watch Mayweather vs Asakura
TV channel and live stream: Saturday’s event is being broadcast live on American digital video streaming service Fite TV, including in the United Kingdom.
The event will cost $19.99 (£17.73) to purchase.
Mayweather vs Asakura rules
Saturday’s main event is an exhibition scheduled to last just three rounds. Stoppages are allowed but the bout will be ruled a no-contest if it lasts the distance.
Mayweather vs Asakura purse
Mayweather claims he will earn upwards of $15-20million for his latest outing – not bad for potentially nine minute’s work or less!
Mayweather vs Asakura fight prediction
Mayweather has seemed content to coast through many of these exhibitions, going the distance with Logan Paul and Don Moore to produce no-contests.
The veteran is seemingly happy to continue picking up those vast paycheques without taxing himself too much or risking getting particularly hurt, and at 45 who can blame him.
However, his last visit to Japan saw him decimate Tenshin Nasukawa, who was left in tears after being knocked down three times en route to an emphatic first-round stoppage.
If Floyd decides to turn on the style again, then a similar fate could await his compatriot. Otherwise expect another dominant outing that ends in a disappointing no-contest.
Mayweather vs Asakura betting odds
Per Oddschecker, Mayweather is -700 to win tonight, giving him a huge win probability of 87.5 per cent.
Asakura, meanwhile, is at +500, giving him just a 16.67 per cent chance of pulling off a major upset on home soil.
Laver Cup: Novak Djokovic hails ‘beautiful’ farewell for Roger Federer as he retires from tennis | Tennis News
Novak Djokovic expressed his gratitude at being part of Roger Federer’s “beautiful” farewell to professional tennis but admitted to being left with mixed emotions over the retirement of his rival.
The Serbian was present at The O2 on Friday night to watch his Team Europe colleague bow out from competitive sport following a doubles defeat in the Laver Cup to Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.
Federer partnered up with Rafael Nadal – the other member of the ‘big three’ – for his last match but in keeping with the unique situation of the London event, Djokovic was one of the most vocal to provide support for two players who have usually been his biggest competitors.
An emotional goodbye to the pro game was afforded to Federer, who received a succession of ovations and had a retirement video package played on the big screen before singer Ellie Goulding produced a performance that left the Swiss star and Nadal in tears.
Djokovic, speaking after his singles’ victory over Tiafoe on Saturday, said: “Well, I think we would all agree this was one of the most beautiful moments anyone has experienced live or on a tennis court worldwide. We all knew it would be an emotional farewell for Roger but I think we were all taken away by the moment.
“At the same time it is a mix of emotions. Sadness because one of the greatest athletes of all time is leaving the sport but on the other hand seeing him happy with the way it all played out, I was just very grateful and privileged to be alongside other Team World and Europe players to witness that.
“It was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever experienced in my life, for sure.”
Federer had hinted in the hours after his ‘last dance’ that a potential farewell tour could be on the cards.
He had announced last week the doubles contest on night one of the Laver Cup, the Ryder Cup-style team competition he set up, would be his last on the ATP Tour but the door has been left open for more chances to see him on tennis courts around the world, just not in a professional capacity.
“I have no plans whatsoever like where, how, when,” Federer said during a press conference that did not finish until after 2am on Saturday. “All I know is I would love to go and play places I have never played before or go say thank yous for years to come to all the people that have been so supportive of me.
“Because the hard part about the Laver Cup was that tickets were already sold out. You know, the people who maybe would have also loved to be here couldn’t make it. Maybe there is another way down the stretch we can party all together.”
Defeat on a comeback was finally admitted publicly by Federer last week after a succession of operations during the last two and a half years on his right knee proved unsuccessful.
It meant the final singles contest of his career occurred at Wimbledon last year, where he lost in the quarter-finals to Hubert Hurkacz, but he insisted retirement – which he settled on last month – was no longer a scary concept.
“I was able to remind myself always on the court again how wonderful this is,” Federer said. “This is not the end, end, you know, life goes on. I’m healthy, I’m happy, everything’s great and this is just a moment in time.”
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