Lets take a quick look at five of the many Canadians in the NCAA Tournament this year. The game in this country just continues to improve and it will be fun to watch it all unfold starting tomorrow. Cant wait! 1. ANDREW WIGGINS (Kansas): This young man has incredible talent and upside with explosivity and skill to spare. Wiggins has terrific feel for the game and can make all the plays. His strength and stamina have been an issue on occasion, but he plays better when challenged. Wiggins has to play with a more consistent motor, but thats expected for such a young guy, whos handled all the hoopla of his frosh year quite well. Hell set the tone for how far his team goes. 2. TYLER ENNIS (Syracuse): Ennis is an intelligent and steady point guard, who makes all the high percentage decisions for you. He plays at a controlled speed and has excellent vision and feel for the game. His poise and composure under pressure is off the charts. Ennis changes speeds well and knows how to make others better with remarkable maturity and leadership ability for a frosh. Hes got to exert his will earlier in games here in the Tournament and get his team going and set the tone. Ennis is truly the straw that stirs the drink for the Cuse. 3. NIK STAUSKAS (Michigan): There are major improvements in Stauskass strength and overall savvy from last season. He can really stroke it and plays with energy and emotion consistently and is an excellent screen-usage guy and knows how to get open. The elevation on his jump shot is terrific and his handle has gotten better, allowing him to create for himself and teammates. Stauskas is coming on strong. 4. MELVIN EJIM (Iowa State): Heres an intriguing guy. Ejims a very good athlete who has good compete level and I love how hes able to finish on the break and play the game inside and out. Ejim attacks the basket hard and I love his energy. Hes gotten better every year, which is a testament to his work ethic and love for the game. Hes a beast on the glass and has really improved his three-point-shooting stroke. Ejims stock is really rising. 5. KEVIN PANGOS (Gonzaga): Pangos is a shooter with deep range and a guy who can get on a roll if you leave him open. Hes a gym rat who gets after it for you. Pangos isnt the biggest guy, yet plays as hard as you can ask and creates his shot well and has a knack for freeing himself up in the five-on-five game and you better not leave him open in transition. Pangos moves his feet and fights through screens on the defensive end and relishes the challenge of getting stops. Hes steady and reliable in every situation. In short, Pangos is a winner. Adrian Clayborn Jersey
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.com) - Maria Sharapova reached her 10th career grand slam final after beating Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets at the Australian Open on Thursday.TORONTO – Before his unlikely heroics on this night, James Reimer wondered whether he had played his final game in a Maple Leafs uniform. And then he had an odd feeling as he left his home in the greater Toronto area on Thursday afternoon, a feeling that he was going to play that night against the Bruins – a game that Jonathan Bernier was to start. He told his wife April as much. “I didnt know why,” he said afterward. “Sometimes you just get those feelings.” His premonition proved on point. Reimer stepped in for the injured Bernier on Thursday night and helped the Leafs keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a 4-3 overtime win – their second straight against Boston. “He gave us a chance,” said head coach Randy Carlyle afterward. “And good for him. We needed that and he needed that. Its great.” It was the second time in less than a month that Reimer came to the rescue for the Leafs. Back in mid-March, he stepped in for Bernier at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and delivered a perfect 31-save performance in what seemed then to be a defining win. But he struggled mightily in the days that followed – .871 save percentage in five starts – a cloud of negativity building as the losses piled for both him and the team. Pulled 10 minutes into a Mar. 23 start in Jersey, his career as a Leaf appeared over. The former No. 1 had become the scapegoat what for ailed the sinking Leafs – his obvious struggles notwithstanding. “I was just focusing on playing the best I can for my teammates and trying to grind out a win,” he said of relief duty against Boston, stopping 10 of 11 shots. “Obviously those are thoughts that kind of go through your mind, but you cant be thinking about that when youve got Chara standing in front of you.” He hopped off the bench and into the net with less than 12 minutes left in the final frame and the Leafs up a goal at 3-2, another third period lead hanging on by a thread. Boston had a power-play too, Paul Ranger punished from shoving Patrice Bergeron into Bernier and thus injuring the 25-year-old netminder. Cold, save for a few stretches in front of the Toronto bench, Reimer jumped in and stopped all three Bruins shots with the man advantage. Bergeron, an infamous nemesis, snuck one by to knot the score at three, but from there Reimer held strong, keeping his teams playoff hopes alive until Nazem Kadri won it in overtime. “Hes the first guy that everyone seems to hop on when our team doesnt do so well,” Kadri said of finger-pointing in Reimers direction last month. “At that point when we were losing the team in front of him just couldnt bring it together and figure things out and obviously the goalies left out there to dry by himself. We felt bad. Now its about time we have his back and step up to the plate.” Cast aside countless times in his Toronto tenure, Reimer might have an opportunity to salvage some good and redeem himself in what are likely his final days as a Leaf. He may just be the guy – with Berniers status in question – the Leafs have to lean on one last time as they fight for playoff hopes that remain thin even after Thursdays timely win. Toronto remains a point back of Columbus – who also won Thursday and holds two games in hand – with just four games left. “Im going to try and go in there and just give the guys a chance,” he said. “Ive got belief in this team. I know weve got the passion and the desire to get it done. Were going to pull together and give it all we got.” Five Points 1. Biggest Goal Kadri played the fewest minutes of his season Thursday, but scored what was easily the biggest goal. The 23-year-old deposited a Cody Franson rebound beyond Bruins backup Chad Johnson. “That was unbelievable,” he said of his 19th marker this season. “Its probably one of the bigger goals of the year that weve scored. We needed it. That was a good Boston team that is relentless. We knew that coming in we werent safe with a one or two-goal lead; that we had to keep fighting to the end and thats exactly what happened.” Dropped to the fourth line against Boston, Kadri played alongside Jerry DAmigo and a rotating cast of wingers. He finished the night with 11 minutes and 40 seconds, given an opportunity on the power-play in overtime. “Obviously I dont control that sort of thing,” Kadri said of his ice-time, which has dipped over the past couple weeks. “Its out of my control and I just worry about trying to bring everything I can for the team every single day, no matter if Im on the first line or fourth line, it doesnt matter to me. Im going to still play my game and try and contribute as much as possible.” Carlyle explained Kadris decreasing opportunity prior to the game. “We felt that Nazzie wasnt moving his feet and he wasnt playing the north-south game, he was playing more of the same east-west game and he was getting caught a lot by back-side pressure,” Carlyle said. “Weve talked to him about it. Weve had discussions about it. Hes got to be stronger down-low.” 2. Injured Bernier, who missed the aforementioned five ggames in March with a groin injury, put no weight on his left leg as he was helped off the ice in front of a stunned ACC crowd.dddddddddddd. Labeled a lower-body injury – Carlyle wouldnt say if it was a re-aggravation of the groin issue – he was due to go for an MRI as soon as possible. Seeing his crease counterpart hunched on one knee in the crease, Reimer knew something was wrong and figured hed be going in. “I know what its like to get hurt and you kind of know the body language of a goalie,” Reimer said. “I tried to hop over the bench as soon as possible and start getting warmed up. Obviously youre hoping that hes going to be alright and that he can stay in there because he was doing a heck of a job for us, but obviously wasnt the case. I just tried to do my best and hopefully he can get back soon.” 3. Freeze Catchphrase It was déjà vu of sorts for the Leafs in the final period as the Bruins raced all the way back from a 3-1 lead, scoring twice on goals from Milan Lucic and Bergeron. Under siege for the better part of the frame – they were being outshot 10-1 at one point – Toronto was just hanging on for life – much like Game 7 last spring. Carlyle told his club – which has gone into “freeze mode” on many occasions – to breathe. “Thats been our catchphrase now because you cant do anything if you dont breathe. And thats whats happened to our hockey club is when were freezing were paralyzed,” he explained, before repeating what would seem to have been his advice. “‘Just breathe. Just breathe. Take it easy. Breathe. Well get through it. Do the things that youre accustomed to doing. Believe in the system. Commit to it and just breathe. Relax.” 4. Top Line Scorching in the opening months of 2014, Torontos top line had cooled considerably coming into Thursdays game, specifically their two top guns, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk. Kessel had only four goals and 10 points in the previous 16 games, van Riemsdyk totaling five and eight in that same span. Both, along with Tyler Bozak, came alive against the Bruins. Kessel initiated a pair of goals from the line, firing a pass off the midsection of Bozak for the Leafs second goal and then finding van Riemsdyk in front of Johnson for the third marker. The latter was the 30th goal of the season for the 24-year-old van Riemsdyk, the first time hes hit that mark in the NHL. “Obviously it was a nice milestone,” he said afterward. As to whats ailed the Leafs top pair, fatigue might be one factor – along with the subsequent bumps and bruises. Both Kessel and van Riemsdyk actually saw their ice-time increase after their Olympic experience with Team USA to nearly 22 minutes per game in March. Carlyle, however, saw the struggles of the man advantage as one reason for their slowdown. “Obviously the power-play is a big part of their opportunity to give us more offence,” he said. “And I think the power-play has been up and down at times for us. Some nights we look real good on it and then some instances within the game it actually has taken energy away from us with our inability to execute on it and not even create scoring chances.” True enough. Empty on Thursday, van Riemsdyk has now gone 22 consecutive games without a single point on the power-play, his last goal coming all the way back on Jan. 30. Kessel has just one power-play point himself in the past 21 games and hasnt scored a power-play goal since Feb. 1. The duo remains 1-2 in team scoring this season. 5. Still Alive Of the Leafs still tepid playoff chances, Carlyle wouldnt jump too far ahead after back-to-back wins. “Were alive,” he said, “but theres a lot of things that have to go our way. All were going to focus on is what we can control and we can control our effort and our commitment to our team game and thats what were going to focus on.” Asked if his team needed to run the table in the remaining four games – opposite Winnipeg, Tampa, Florida and Ottawa – Carlyle responded, “I just worry about the next one.” And that next one comes Saturday against the Jets. Stats-Pack 30 – Goals for James van Riemsdyk this season, the first 30-goal campaign of his career. 11:40 – Ice-time for Nazem Kadri, his lowest of the season. 22 – Consecutive games without a power-play point for van Riemsdyk. 2-2-0 – Leafs record versus Boston this season. 20:29 – Ice-time for Troy Bodie, a career-high and the most of any Leaf Thursday save for Kessel. 79 – Points for Kessel this season, now third in league scoring. 10 – Stops for James Reimer in relief of Jonathan Bernier. 5 – Points in the past 13 games for Kadri, third in team scoring with 49 points. Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-3Season: 20.5% (5th) PK: 2-2Season: 78.8% (28th) Quote of the Night “Wed like to win, thats for sure. Wed like to win as consistently. Those are models that every organization aspires to.” -Randy Carlyle, on replicating the Bruins success. Up Next The Leafs host the Jets Saturday in their final home game of the regular season. 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