Barry Trotz decided to roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen just so he could get Johnny Boychuk into the lineup.
And Boychuk, who hadn’t seen game action since Game 1 of the play-in round against the Florida Panthers on Aug. 1, was a major presence as the Islanders kept their season alive with a 2-1 double-overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
“He brings a presence for us, he goes out there, he blocks shots, he plays tough,” fellow defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “We knew when he was getting his opportunity, he was going to step in and do his job. Big block early on the kill, and just playing hard. That’s what we expect from him, and that’s what he did.”
With a team-high six blocked shots to go along with five hits, Boychuk delivered the energetic presence that Trotz was counting on. In just his first five shifts of the game, the veteran defenseman came up with three big blocks, stopping the puck once with his ribs and another with his skate blade, to help preserve a 1-0 early lead.
But to Trotz, Boychuk’s influence on the team has gone well beyond the ice.
“Johnny is one of those unique guys that you come across,” Trotz said. “He’s old school, he’s one of the most likeable guys that you’re ever going to meet, one of the most committed guys. I think the first shift he blocked two or three shots, he’s got welts all over his body, just gives you everything he has night in and night out.
“He’s fearless. He’s really a little bit of a leader and father figure for some of the younger guys, he’s always taking care of people around him.”
The 36-year-old Boychuk finished with 12:04 of ice time with two shots on goal. He was primarily paired with Nick Leddy.
Former Islander Carter Veraghe nearly put the Lightning on top 2-1 halfway through the second period after receiving a pass from Cedric Paquette, who bodied Scott Mayfield off the puck in the corner, and wristing it past Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov.
But Trotz challenged for offsides and the goal was overturned to keep the score 1-1, allowing the Islanders to ultimately force overtime.
Trotz went 4-2 on regular season challenges, including 4-0 on offside challenges. Trotz is now 1-0 in challenges since play returned.
Trotz shuffled up his lines from top to bottom in order to deploy 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
Cal Clutterbuck was bumped to the first line alongside Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal, but the second line stayed the same. Jean-Gabriel Pageau centered the third line between Matt Martin and Jordan Eberle, while Derick Brassard was in the middle of Leo Komarov and Michael Dal Colle on the fourth line.
Giving the edge to San Diego
The San Diego Padres are back in the postseason for the first time since 2006 and will be facing the team they saw the last time they were there — the St. Louis Cardinals.
San Diego enters the postseason with an ailing starting rotation. Mike Clevinger, the team’s big trade-deadline acquisition, might not pitch at all. The news on n th who left his last start due to a biceps injury, seems to be significantly more encouraging. That’s huge considering Lamet has given up just one run in 12 starts in the first time through the batting order and has posted a 2.09 season ERA with 12.1 strikeout per nine innings.
He will have the edge of facing a Cardinals team that had to play 23 games in 18 days to end the season and now has to travel to the Pacific time zone for the first time all season.
The Cardinals will need Jack Flaherty to look more like he did in the second half of the 2019 season as opposed to the 2020 version. Flaherty had a 0.91 ERA in his final 15 starts of 2019, giving up one run or fewer in 12 of those starts. This season, he’s posted a 4.91 ERA and gone five innings or fewer in seven of his past eight starts.
The Cardinals are in the top 10 in the majors in team ERA but have been in the bottom half over the past 30 days, which might be a result of the breakneck schedule.
Despite the starting pitching injuries, the Padres have the edge in this series as their offense ranks third in MLB in runs per game while the Cardinals are in the bottom six. Combine that with San Diego having the No. 2 bullpen ERA the past 30 days, and it should provide betting opportunities on the Padres both game by game and to win the series.
What is a catch in the NFL? Explaining the rules for completing a catch in 2020
Dez Bryant would have caught it had he been playing in 2020 and not in 2014. This was the NFL’s goal when it simplified the catch rules that robbed the then-Cowboys wide receiver of a critical play in that season’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Packers.
From the league’s perspective, the phrase “Dez caught it” became common verbiage in the following years for all of the wrong reasons. It was the most notable among many examples of the NFL’s rules to complete a catch (or an interception) being too ambiguous.
The NFL unsuccessfully tweaked the wording of its catch rules a few months after the Bryant play, and after a couple more seasons of confusion regarding the interpretation of the rules, another tipping point arrived.
MORE: Breaking down the NFL’s onside kick rules
A massive Steelers-Patriots game late in the 2017 season was decided in the last minute by a baffling incompletion call on what appeared to be a Jesse James touchdown catch. Technically, the call was correct under the letter of the law. But it was then when the NFL realized there were too many letters in the law.
The public was told by NFL officiating chief Al Riveron that James did not score against New England because he failed to “survive the ground” after he lunged forward with the ball and crossed the goal line as part of his catching motion. So the NFL the following spring simply stripped such ridiculous language out of its catch standards and simplified the rules.
Below is are the NFL catch rules the league established that year. They remain in place in 2020.
NFL catch rules in 2020
A few months after NFL team owners voted to pass simplified catch rules in March of 2018, Riveron told Sports Grind Entertainment the league did so in the name of entertainment. He insisted it was not a reaction to the persistent confusion regarding NFL catch rules.
“I think we got to a point where fans, the office, coaches, players wanted to see more exciting plays,” Riveron said. “How do we make this particular play a catch? How do we take the Dez Bryant play and make it a catch and still stay within the rules and the confines? How do we get these exciting plays back in the game?
“I know we’ve come up with a great rule.”
The NFL’s simplified catch rules, which also apply to interceptions, require the player to do three things: Control the ball, get two feet or another body part down, and make a “football move,” like a third step/reach reach for the line to gain; or the ability to perform such a move.
Below is the official language of the NFL’s catch rules, which can be found in Rule 8, Section 1, Articles 3-4 in the league’s rule book.
A player who makes a catch may advance the ball. A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) in the field of play, at the sideline, or in the end zone if a player, who is inbounds:
- secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and
- touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands; and
- after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, performs any act common to the game (e.g., tuck the ball away, extend it forward, take an additional step, turn upfield, or avoid or ward off an opponent), or he maintains control of the ball long enough to do so.
- Movement of the ball does not automatically result in loss of control.
- If a player, who satisfied (a) and (b), but has not satisfied (c), contacts the ground and loses control of the ball, it is an incomplete pass if the ball hits the ground before he regains control, or if he regains control out of bounds
- A receiver is considered a player in a defenseless posture throughout the entire process of the catch and until the player is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent.
- If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the loose ball.
- If a player, who is in possession of the ball, is held up and carried out of bounds by an opponent before both feet or any part of his body other than his hands touches the ground inbounds, it is a completed or intercepted pass. It is not necessary for the player to maintain control of the ball when he lands out of bounds.
Doc Rivers out as Clippers coach after NBA playoff disaster
The Los Angeles Clippers’ NBA playoff disappointment seems to have cost head coach Doc Rivers his job.
Rivers will not be returning to the Clippers’ bench next year after seven seasons with the team, according to ESPN.
This season was particularly disappointing as the club paired superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer in hopes of overtaking LeBron James’ Lakers and making a title run.
Instead, the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals and hinted at chemistry issues.
“Thank you Clipper Nation for allowing me to be your coach and for all your support in helping make this a winning franchise,” River said in a statement on social media. “When I took this job, my goals were to make this a winning basketball program, a free agent destination, and bring a championship to this organization. While I was able to accomplish most of my goals, I won’t be able to see them all through.
“Though it was a disappointing ending to our season, you are right there and I know what this team is capable of accomplishing with your support. Thank you to all the players, coaches, and staff for helping us get here. Most importantly, thank you to the fans. We went through a lot, and I am grateful for my time here.”
Rivers, who turns 59 next month, finished with a 356-208 (.631) record in Los Angeles and would likely be a prime candidate to land one of the vacant NBA coaching jobs.
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