Blue Jays Babble
There is a popular sports quote that should be ingested like medicine by fans of the Toronto Blue Jays: don’t let your highs get too high, or your lows get too low. The Jays may have been high as a kite following a dominant homestand at the Rogers Centre, but it wasn’t long before the opening games of their road trip had them lower than a thick man’s grave.
Toronto headed to Los Angeles to face the Angels, where they split the 4-game series. The next stop was Seattle where they lost two of three games, along with George Springer. The centre fielder crashed into a wall trying to make a catch and ended up on the 10-day injured list with a left knee sprain. The loss of their elite leadoff hitter may be the back breaker for the Jays.
In Washington, Alek Manoah was battered in the opening game, giving up six earned runs in just three innings in a 12-6 loss. This is out of character for the rookie, who hasn’t allowed more than seven total earned runs in any 3-game stretch this season. Just last week Manoah’s name was being mentioned in the Rookie of the Year conversation.
The Jays lost the second of the 2-game series against the Nationals, a team they should beat, and concluded the road trip with three wins and six losses.
The rubber is hitting the road for those baby blue birds, with just 43 games remaining in the regular season as they headed home on Friday. They’ll need to overcome injuries and string together some wins if they wish to climb back into Wild Card contention.
CFL Catch Up
In Week 2 of the CFL, the BC Lions won their first of the season with a 15-9 win over the Stampeders. Calgary struggled offensively, scoring all their points on field goals and limping out to an 0-2 start.
In contrast, the Blue Bombers are off to a perfect start, winning their second in a 20-7 romp of the Argonauts in a game that wasn’t as close as the score appears. The Montreal Alouettes, having had their bye week in Week 1, opened their season with a 30-13 win over Edmonton. Like their Alberta neighbours, the Elk are winless after two games.
Finally, the Saskatchewan Roughriders overpowered the Tiger-Cats to the tune of 30-8 for two wins in two games, while Hamilton is yet to make the win column.
NHL training camps are due to open in a month, and we can be sure there will be a flurry of activity around that time. But for most teams, the bulk of their off-season work is done.
The Canadian division is now defunct with the NHL returning to its regular divisions and conferences, with some minor adjustments due to Seattle’s advent. Let’s look at the Western Conference and how we expect Canadian teams to fare.
The Winnipeg Jets are the lone Canadian team in the Central Division. Despite allowing several players to walk, including some established veterans, I believe the Jets are a better team. Their weakness was on defence, and they were able to add Nate Schmidt and Brenden Dillon to their top four. They were also able to re-sign restricted free agents Neal Pionk (D) and Andrew Copp (C), along with unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny.
The Pacific Division includes the three Western Canadian teams as well as five American teams that include the shiny new Kraken.
For a few days, the deals were coming so fast and furious in Vancouver that I worried Canucks GM Jim Benning may have overdosed on Red Bull. The Canucks were able to offload some losing contracts and bring some interesting pieces back. Conor Garland will fit nicely in their top 6, and Jason Dickinson can play third line centre. Jaroslav Halak is an upgrade over Braeden Holtby. But a lot rests on whether Oliver Ekman-Larsson can regain form in a new setting and make that contract worth it.
The Edmonton Oilers were also busy, but Sherlock Holmes couldn’t solve the mystery inside GM Ken Holland’s head. He lost Adam Larssen to Seattle while holding on to Tyson Barrie, signed Cody Ceci and lost Ethan Bear, and traded Caleb Jones for Duncan Keith. Is the defence better or just older? Your guess is as good as mine. Holland did manage to win the Zach Hyman sweepstakes, and he will look very good in their top 6. But as is custom in Edmonton, the situation in net is questionable.
If the Calgary Flames are done their off-season work, I do believe they have gotten worse. Blake Coleman, though overpaid, is a nice addition and will play in their top six. Nikita Zadorov is no replacement for their lost captain, Mark Giordano. It’s going to take more than a Darryl Sutter bag skate to get this crew to the post-season.
Next week we’ll dive into the Eastern Conference to see how our Canadian teams are preparing for the upcoming season.
Lori Bennett is a social worker, policy professional, recreation softball player and coach, and newbie ukulele-ist. A Newfoundlander living in Toronto, Lori loves a good hockey chat, just as long as it remains respectful. Find her on twitter as @lori10habs.