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“…That’s why these series are seven games…”


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Several valuable lessons for fans and other followers of the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers in the most recent doubleheader televised as part of the NHL’s revamped, and surprisingly attractive, playoff package.

The New York Islanders gave the Philadelphia Flyers a lesson in the early-evening effort and the Dallas Stars followed with an impressive victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

In the Islanders triumph, the lesson was the value of discipline and patience.

In the later test, believe it or not, the lesson was the value of discipline and patience.

Both Calgary and Edmonton showed a distinct lack of those virtues as they were ushered out of the playoffs. Calgary blew a chance to take a stranglehold on its series with Dallas by failing to hold a lead for all of 12 seconds; Edmonto frittered away leads in all four of their losses to Chicago in a previous round.

Edmonton’s flaws were much more obvious, largely because they showed more often. Had they seen a preview of New York’s winning effort Monday night, they would not have chased scoring opportunities so rashly when they had a lead to protect. Coach Barry Trotz’s disciplined team scored the only first-period goal and then spent incredible energy barricading every attempt by the talented Flyers until Jean-Gabriel Pageau stretched the margin late in the second period.

Afterwards in what became a 4-0 shutout, there was no real threat that Philadelphia could come back, or even could end Semyon Varlamov’s shutout.

There was some brief temptation to criticize Sherwood Park product Carter Hart’s performance in goal for the Flyers. He was deep in the net on Andy Greene’s goal in the first period and on his knees when Pageau clinched the decision. But the young Alberta kid was brilliant at other times. He did not lose the game; the Flyers lost it as a team that lacked the discipline and patience of its conquerors.

The Dallas victory was marked by Colorado’s lack of those vital qualities, but the Avalanche added a flaw that may have been even more devastating: they showed an immense lack of confidence as soon as their sound 2-0 lead disappeared on a pair of shocking 5-on-3 Stars power-plays.

Granted, Dallas got some good breaks — one on Esa LIndell’s goalmouth shove at a loose puck that was not clearly shown to be over the line, the other on an Alex Radulov tally that deflected twice before hopping over the head of goaltender Pavel Francouz.

The Lindell goal was the ultimate winner. If it did not steal all of the Colorado confidence, it certainly came close — and the fluke that bounced off Radulov grabbed the rest.

Philadelphia’s win came in the best-of-seven series opener, leaving the Flyers some time to develop a scheme that might humanize the machine-like Islanders.

Avalanche veteran Gabriel Landeskog downplayed his team’s shaky position after its second consecutive shaky performance.

“We’ll be all right,” he told a post-game questioner. “That’s why these series are seven games.”

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Alberta border agents made record meth bust after pulling over produce truck

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COUTTS, Alta. — The Canada Border Services Agency says officers in southern Alberta made the country’s largest-ever methamphetamine seizure at a land border crossing last month. 

The agency says in a news release that officers flagged a produce truck for further inspection as it entered Canada from the United States at the Coutts border crossing on Christmas Day. 

It says they found more than 228 kilograms of meth inside with an estimated street value of $28.5 million. 

Border agents arrested the driver and handed the investigation over to the RCMP.

The RCMP Integrated Border Enforcement Team has charged Amarpreet Singh Sandhu of Calgary with importation of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking. 

The 38-year-old suspect was released from custody on Jan. 14 and is to appear in Lethbridge provincial court on Feb. 11. 

“While many Canadians were celebrating Christmas at home, border services officers at Coutts remained on the front line to protect our country,” Ben Tame, who directs the border agency’s southern Alberta and Saskatchewan districts, said in the statement Wednesday. 

RCMP Supt. Allan Lai said the operation’s success is a testament to the strong partnership between the national police force and the border agency. 

“We know that crime has no borders and it is imperative that we continue working with our partners, like CBSA, to share information and co-ordinate enforcement action as needed to keep Canadians from the harms of illegal drugs and crime related to smuggling in Alberta and all of Canada.” 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021.  

The Canadian Press

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Cautious optimism rules oilpatch as fourth-quarter reporting season dawns

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CALGARY — Canada’s oil and gas producers are expected to maintain spending discipline in 2021 as optimism from stronger oil prices is offset by fears of weak demand due to new strains of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Analyst Matt Murphy of Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. says he doesn’t expect big changes in spending plans as senior members of the energy industry roll out fourth-quarter results over the next few weeks, starting with oilsands and refining giant Imperial Oil Ltd. next week.

Nor does he expect surprises on Thursday when oilsands producer Cenovus Energy Inc. unveils its first capital budget after buying rival Husky Energy Inc. in an all-shares deal at the end of 2020 — a deal expected to potentially result in more than 2,000 layoffs.

Murphy says that while U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to kill the Keystone XL oil pipeline last week was a long-term negative for the sector, it won’t affect the short-term plans of Canadian oil producers.

He says that’s because the Line 3 replacement pipeline and the Trans Mountain expansion will provide nearly one million barrels a day of export capacity, more than enough to account for the sector’s very modest growth plans over the next couple of years.

In a recent report, RBC analyst Greg Pardy says he expects a fourth-quarter oil prices rally to set the stage for a strong finish to an “immensely challenging 2020” for most energy producers, but he also doesn’t expect to see any change in their focus on cost and capital spending control.

“It’s still a very uncertain near-term demand picture,” said Murphy.

“There’s optimism, somewhat cautioned with the near-term uncertainties, but as we look back on very challenging 2020, the view for 2021 and beyond is certainly looking quite a bit more optimistic.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:IMO, TSX:CVE)

The Canadian Press

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