Sports News You Can Use – Tuesday, July 18

A quick collection of the top sports stories from around Canada for July 18

Hockey

Bolts’ Sergachev: I think I’m ready for NHL

Mikhail Sergachev, acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning from the Montreal Canadiens for Jonathan Drouin a month ago, believes he’s ready to crack Lightning lineup this season. Sergachev was drafted ninth overall in the 2016 draft by the Canadiens and appeared in four games with Montreal before sent back to play a second season with the Windsor Spitfires. This year, however, the 19-year-old knows he needs to earn his spot, but believes he can have staying power at the NHL level. Read more.

According to the Russian news outlet R-Sport, Hockey Canada has reached to the Russian Hockey Federation in hopes of organizing an exhibition match before the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. Read more.

A closer look at zone starts and coaching behaviour

What we refer to as “checking lines” – trios of forwards designated to play the toughest minutes both in terms of shift starts and the type of competition they face – are something of an endangered species. For the most part, the league has made a collective shift towards rolling four lines and expecting each to shoulder some degree of the defensive burden.

But that’s not true across the board. Some coaches behave differently because their talent pool – for better or worse – calls for minutes of inequality. And, to some degree, it makes sense. If you are a coach with a group of defensive-minded forwards who can slow attacking units down, it may make sense to play them together and create ‘easier’ minutes for your offensively gifted forwards. Read more.

Baseball

Blue Jays at their best, and worst, in win over Red Sox

There are times when the Toronto Blue Jays can remind you why they were considered legitimate post-season contenders heading into the 2017 season, and then there are times when they show you why they’re full value for their sub-.500 record. Sometimes, maddeningly, they can demonstrate both ends of the spectrum in the same game, the way they did Monday night.

A 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox featured some of their best and worst, with Marcus Stroman dominating a game like few starters can for six innings, the offence grinding down a good starter, and their defenders stealing hits before a seventh-inning error unravelled it all, only for an eighth-inning rally to save the day.

Read more.

MLB Rumour Roundup: Cubs checked in on Marcus Stroman

The Chicago Cubs contacted the Toronto Blue Jays about a potential Marcus Stroman trade, but it would have cost them a player off their major-league roster, according to Peter Gammons. Gammons also writes the Cubs had an eye on Chris Archer, Michael Fulmer, and Gerrit Cole. It’s no surprise that the Blue Jays set the bar high in any Stroman discussion seeing as the right-hander has registered a 3.28 ERA this season and is under club control through 2020. Trading the 26-year-old would signal the Blue Jays are entering a full rebuild, which is contradictory to what Toronto’s front office has preached in recent weeks. Read more.

Five Jays trade chips to monitor

Exactly two weeks remain between now and the July 31 trade deadline. If you believe Toronto Blue Jays president/CEO Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins, they won’t be tearing it down and starting anew.

That means names like Josh Donaldson, Marcus Stroman and Roberto Osuna will be staying put – teams will still be calling about the Jays’ stars, so don’t be surprised if you hear rumours – in an effort to get back into the wild-card hunt in 2018. It’s not a crazy plan. Read more.

Daniel Norris still searching for breakthrough season with Tigers

Everyone Daniel Norris talks to tells him how great his stuff is. With a fastball that touches 95 m.p.h. and three off-speed pitches, he does have an impressive arsenal. And yet nearly two years into his tenure with the Detroit Tigers, Norris continues searching for his big-league breakthrough. Now 24, he’s on the disabled list with a 5.29 ERA, hopeful that he’s on the cusp of something more. “For me it’s just mental,” Norris said in Detroit Sunday. “I’ve got to trust it.” Read more.

Basketball

Lakers’ Ball named Summer League MVP

Lonzo Ball has taken his first NBA-related award, and he hasn’t even been to training camp yet. The Los Angeles Lakers rookie was named Most Valuable Player of the NBA Summer League on Monday night after he averaged 16.3 points and 9.3 assists along with two triple doubles this month. He led the Lakers to a 5-2 record during the event in Las Vegas. Read more.

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