“It’s About Time”: Martina Navratilova Reflects on Roger Federer Confirming to Play in Dubai


It has been more than a year of inaction for Roger Federer now. He last played at the Australian Open 2020, where the Swiss maestro saw a straight-set loss against the Serbian Novak Djokovic. It was a tough series for him where he had to test his physical limits in 2 five-setters.  The 20-time grand slam champion later in the same year underwent double knee surgeries. All of this kept him away from the tennis court even after various countries lifted lockdown and the sport made a much-awaited return. However, the latest news is a big positive for the Federer camp. Martina Navratilova reflected on the comeback of Roger Federer The Swiss great will make his return to the ATP Tour at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. Also, the latest development suggests that he can then play an ATP 500 tournament in nearby Dubai.  In a recent interview, a jovial Martina Navratilova learned the news and reacted with some humor. The 18-time women’s Grand Slam champion expressed, “I think he just wants to stay in Burj Al Arab again, but amazing! “It’s great to see Roger back, it’s about time for him sitting for over a year. So I’m glad he’s healthy and playing again.”  That he is coming back with an ATP 250 will ensure that he does not have to put too much pressure on himself for advancing deeper in the event. Prior to this, there were headlines that alleged Roger was fit enough to return for Australian Open 2021 and that he decided against it because of family reasons. Can the Ninjafed make a successful return? Roger Federer gestures to the spectators before hitting signed tennis balls into the stands during the 2019 Hopman Cup. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)Well, it might be an ATP 250, but it has participation from some of the best ATP players. The 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem, the ATP Cup 2021 hero Andrey Rublev, and of course King Roger himself will stay in the highlight of the event. Apart from these names, there are six players from the Top-20 that’ll make the competition juicier. From Roger’s Swiss companion Stan Wawrinka to Roberto Bautista Agut, Gael Monfils, and others, it will not be an easy draw for the legendary 39-YO. However, the rusty Federer is also the mighty Federer, and he has always dominated all the aforementioned names with his stinging play. Also notably, his participation in the Dubai event will depend on how his body reacts to the Qatar event. The event will kick off on March 8th and the world will cheer for the arguable GOAT. READ MORE- Why is Roger Federer Considered the GOAT?

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Irving and Harden lead Nets to big win over Kings

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IND vs ENG | Wouldn’t call it a good pitch but it made for exciting cricket, opines Joe Root



Following a shambolic loss, Joe Root opined that he wouldn’t call the Chennai pitch for the second Test as a ‘good’ pitch but insisted that it made for exciting cricket. He also admitted that it is a learning experience for the visitors to look at India and bat for long periods of time. After cruising past the hosts India in the first Test, where Joe Root led by example, England were looking to keep their momentum up for the second Test, at the same venue. However, right from the toss, everything went awry as they lost the toss and were made to bowl on a relatively flatter wicket. Eventually, that combined with their first innings batting display took the game away from the visitors, who ended up chasing the game from the second day. The visitors subsequently succumbed to a 317-run loss, during which the conditions in Chennai was a major part of the debate. Joe Root opined that he wouldn’t call it a good pitch but reckoned that the pitch did make for exciting cricket between the two teams. “It’s very alien to what a lot of English guys will have experienced before, as are green seamers that you might across in the UK. Do I think it was a good pitch? I wouldn’t say it was a good pitch, but it made for very exciting cricket,” said Root, reported ESPNCricinfo. “I do think that the toss was an important one to win but it wouldn’t have guaranteed us to win the game either. India showed that you can score runs on it and found a way of managing a very tricky surface so we’ve got to learn from that,” he added.Despite the tricky surface, India through their two innings – showed England how to bat, scoring 614 runs. Root stated that it was something that the visitors would have to learn from and added that they needed bat for long periods of time like the hosts. “How they (India) didn’t get away from their game plan, how they knew exactly the way they were going to score their runs. How they managed to bat at the other end for long periods of time.””And as a batting group, how does that look for us individually? How I am going to manage these big turning deliveries and how am I going to stay really calm and clear under pressure? We’ve got to take bits from it and add it to our own games, and come back better for it as well,” he added.However, next up for the visitors would be a day-night clash in Ahmedabad, where Root has his sights on, insisting that the break will help them regain momentum. “Day-night cricket offers something different again, so we are very much looking forward to that. We’ll have a little bit of a break now to refresh and have a look at a few things, but it’s exciting times.”Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .

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Draymond Green calls out NBA double-standard after Cavaliers sit Drummond


Draymond Green says there’s a double-standard in the NBA that protects teams but alienates players when trade requests are made public.
“At some point, we need to be treated with the same respect and have the same rights that the team can have,” Green said Monday after his Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game in which Andre Drummond was benched while the Cavaliers look for a trade for the star centre.
Earlier on Monday both the Cavaliers with Drummond and the Detroit Pistons with Blake Griffin made it publically known that those players would not play another game until a trade can be found. The NBA trade deadline is March 25.
After watching Drummond sit on the sidelines Monday, Green called the situation “b— s—” and cited numerous examples of players requesting trades and being portrayed as bad apples for doing so — including the January fallout between James Harden and the Houston Rockets — while teams can seemingly operate at will without criticism for their actions.
“…As a player, you’re the worst person in the world when you want a different situation. But a team can say they’re trading you, and that man is to say in shape, he has to stay professional and if not, his career is on the line,” Green said. “At some point, this league has to protect the players from embarrassment like that.”

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Lille vs Ajax Prediction: UEFA Europa League Match on 18.02.2021


The European action returns this week, as the battle in the Europa League resumes. Ajax would have been hoping to still be in the Champions League, but a third-place finish in their group means that they will now be in the second-tier competition in the second half of the season.

Europa League Preview
Ajax narrowly missed out on qualification for the knockout round of the Champions League after finishing below Liverpool and Atalanta in their very competitive group. Their pedigree in European action ensures that they remain a side that could do well in the Europa League this season, but they will be coming up against a side that have proven throughout the season that they are growing. Ajax themselves have proven that their next wave of talented young players could be up for the challenge this season, as they are six points clear in the Eredivisie at present. They have won their last five games, which includes the 2-0 success that they recorded against Heracles at the weekend. Sebastien Haller scored the second in that win, but the former West Ham striker will not be eligible to play in the knockout round of the Europa League after an administrator error.

Lille remain in a strong position in Ligue 1 this season, as they are still top of the league despite being held in their most recent fixture. The league title remains a dream for Lille, as they are likely to be put under immense pressure by PSG in the second half of the season. However, the fact that they have lost just two games in 25 domestic league fixtures highlights that they are a side that Ajax should take very seriously in the first leg of the meeting in the Europa League on Thursday evening.
Lille vs Ajax Head To Head
These two European sides haven’t come up against each other many times in recent history. In fact, they have only played each other twice, with those meetings coming in the Champions League group stages in the 2019-20 season. Ajax won both meetings, and scored a total of five goals in the two games.
Lille vs Ajax Prediction
While the last two meetings only came less than two years ago, Lille have grown immeasurably as a team during that period. The first leg will be crucial to determine which side progresses, but we expect the French side to take a slender lead back to the Netherlands with them.
Make sure to bet on Lille vs Ajax with 22Bet!

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Meet America’s 63rd National Park


As Americans continue to weather the pandemic, the $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and spending bill passed by the federal government in December brought an unexpected and lasting gift: a new national park.The 5,593-page spending package included a raft of provisions authorizing little-known projects — the construction of the Teddy Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota, for one — and giving lawmakers a chance to advance a variety of long-delayed initiatives. Among them was the elevation of the New River Gorge, in southern West Virginia, to the status of Yellowstone, Yosemite and the country’s other most renowned outdoor spaces. The designation of the area — roughly 72,000 acres of land flanking 53 miles of the gorge — as a national park and preserve creates the 63rd national park in the United States and completes a multigenerational effort, started in the mid-twentieth century, to transform a tired industrial area into a national landmark.“Towards the end of this year, with these big bills coming down, I decided to strike,” said Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican and the state’s junior senator, who, along with Senator Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, introduced the New River Gorge legislation in 2019.“This was the right opportunity,” she said.A draw for rafters, kayakers and other outdoor enthusiastsThe gorge and its surroundings have been prized for decades as one of southern West Virginia’s more spectacular natural places.In 1963, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a resolution seeking to designate the New River Gorge as a “national playground,” preparing to send the proposal to President John F. Kennedy, whose primary campaign was lifted substantially through support from West Virginia voters. But momentum to create a national recreation area stalled after Mr. Kennedy’s assassination later that year.Though the gorge remained a curiosity among rafters and outdoor enthusiasts, the area only received federal protection from the Interior Department in 1978, when it was designated a national river.Now, the outdoor offerings in the gorge have come to define the area as a premier destination for adventure sports in the East.The New River plunges 750 feet over 66 miles, resulting in long stretches of violent rapids that can reach a class five level, generally considered the most difficult that can be navigated by white-water boaters. (Licensed outfitters operate in several towns near the river, providing rentals and tours for rafting and kayaking.)The canyon walls, which soar as high as 1,600 feet, offer miles of cliffs that rank among the best in the East Coast for rock climbing. Sheer faces in the gorge made of robust Nuttall sandstone provide both traditional and sport-climbing routes across the difficulty spectrum.Bike routes are scattered throughout the park on both sides of the river, with options for both technical mountain biking and more casual pedaling along former railroad beds.A glimpse back in timeAccording to the National Park Service, geologists believe the New River — its name a misnomer used by early American explorers who often assigned the same name to any river they came upon for the first time — was a segment of the preglacial Teays River. This larger river, which traversed much of the current Ohio River watershed, was later diverted and broken up by glaciers. The age of the Teays is uncertain, but fossil evidence suggests it could be as much as 320 million years old, leaving its remnant, the New River, as quite possibly the second oldest river in the world.Beyond the millions of years of geological history on display, the gorge is also filled with signs of the region’s heritage as a major coal production hub.Miners once capitalized on the easy access to rich deposits of high-quality bituminous coal in the canyon, where the river had already shorn through hundreds of feet of rock. Especially after the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway linked the New River coal fields to markets in 1873, dozens of boom towns popped up along the river’s edge, thriving well into the 1920s.In 1963, a coal mine was still operating in the gorge, said Dave Arnold, a state tourism commissioner who operated a rafting company for more than 40 years.“In ’76 or ’77, if you were in my boat, we’d have been floating down the river and I would have been showing you, ‘here’s an old coal tipple, here’s the old hotel at Caperton, here’s this and that,’” he said.The demand for coal around the turn of the twentieth century was so high that towns existed every half mile along up the river, according to the Park Service. As the industry went into decline, however, by the 1950s many were already abandoned, leaving ghost towns scattered throughout the gorge. Additionally, logging during the late nineteenth century stripped vast portions of the gorge bare, clearing enormous swaths of virgin forest.The park contains the remnants of communities such as Nuttallburg and Kaymoor, which still stand near the riverbank and are accessible from points higher up. Seams of exposed coal are visible along some trails leading into the gorge and its towns, where abandoned mine portals and the foundations of coke ovens remain.Restoring an ecosystem with diverse wildlifeDespite the environmental degradation and pollution that industry unleashed, some unique ecological features make the gorge well-suited to a diverse combination of wildlife, which has slowly reappeared as time has passed.The river lies at the center of a migration corridor where plants and animals that typically range further north or south come together, including several federally endangered and threatened species, such as the Virginia big-eared bat and the Allegheny woodrat.According to Lizzie Watts, the park’s superintendent, the river itself is also notably warmer than surrounding areas, making it a popular warm-water fishing destination with more than a dozen public access points. The river is one of the premier spots for smallmouth bass fishing on the east coast, and muskellunge and walleye are common in the park today.“The next generation will have the opportunity to see what, in the last 150 years, it looks like when an area goes from being logged and mined to left alone,” Ms. Watts said. “The ecosystem has come back to full trees and mature forests.”As federal protections took effect after the Park Service began overseeing the area as a national river in 1978, wildlife has largely recovered, and many see an opportunity to showcase the region’s natural elegance.“To show off our rock climbing, our extreme sports availabilities in that area, is just really exciting,” said Ms. Capito of what she described as a “kind of wild and wonderful part of our state.” ‘The cream of the crop’The National Park Service, created in 1916, oversees more than 400 areas across the country, including national monuments, seashores and battlefields as well as parks, which together total more than 85 million acres.While the new title for New River Gorge does not fundamentally alter the area’s day-to-day operations, both lawmakers and the Park Service tend to view “national parks” as the crown jewels of the park system — a protection granted to some of the largest and most prized tracts of the country.“National Park status is usually considered like the cream of the crop,” Ms. Watts said. “But it really is just another one of those names.”The New River Gorge does not match the scale of many national parks in the western United States, where Death Valley, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone sprawl over more than 1 million acres each.Nevertheless, officials expect the new designation to bring a substantial influx of travelers, boosted in part by a dedicated set of enthusiasts who strive to visit every national park.In typical years, around 1.3 million travelers visit the gorge, according to the Park Service’s tourism data. Based on studies of other areas that received national park status, Ms. Capito said she expects to see visitors increase by as much as 20 percent.“It does feel like the very beginning stages of transformation for the whole area,” said Becky Sullivan, the executive director of the New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I’ll be very, very interested to see where we are in about 10 years.”Maintaining the community and its favored pastimesAs unique outdoor attractions throughout the Appalachian region have gained more national visibility, some concern has grown over the idea of a wealthy and mobile set from out of state trampling the communities adjacent to these places.West Virginia remains the second-poorest state in the country in terms of median household income, according to data collected by the United States Census Bureau. And while tourism has brought a needed injection of wealth to areas all around the gorge, it has also changed the makeup of neighboring communities, as more people have come to visit the park or settle down near it.Interest in the natural offerings around the park has brought slow but measurable change for small towns nearby like Fayetteville. Officials say that the advent of remote work during the pandemic has only hastened a trend of properties in the area being repurposed for vacation rentals and outsiders snapping up second homes.“You cannot find a house for sale in Fayetteville, because they’re just in such high demand,” said Sharon Cruikshank, the town’s mayor. “So that definitely changed the budgeting of the town as well as the county.”When legislation was first introduced to designate the area as a national park, pushback came from some locals. Hunters have long enjoyed access to secluded sections of woods around the gorge, and with hunting prohibited in federal parks, some protested the potential loss of thousands of acres of hunting grounds.In a compromise, more than 65,000 acres of the total area were designated as a nature preserve where hunting can continue as before, and only roughly 7,000 acres directly within the canyon are officially off limits as national parkland. A provision was included to empower the park to acquire more than 3,000 acres of private land around its current boundaries as well, to expand the size of the preserve and add public hunting grounds.In a nod to tradition, the legislation also enshrines the right for visitors to continue to make use of one of the park’s most famous features — the New River Gorge Bridge — at least once a year.BASE jumping, an extreme sport in which jumpers parachute from elevated structures or cliffs, is banned in every other national park.But, since 1980, BASE jumpers have been permitted to plunge from the top of the 876-foot-high bridge and parachute down toward the river once a year, on Bridge Day, held one Saturday in October. The legislation designating the area as a national park allows that tradition to continue.As many as 100,000 people typically come to watch the jumpers plunge, according to Ms. Sullivan, providing a major boost for businesses in the region. The event has only been canceled twice, including last year because of the coronavirus.Bridge Day’s organizers advise jumpers that the only dependable way to touch down safely is to plan to land directly in the river. In normal years, hundreds do so, often multiple times that day, gliding down and softly hitting the New River’s waters.

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NBA Trade Rumors: Cavaliers engaged in ‘active talks’ with Raptors about Andre Drummond move


Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty ImagesJessica Pegula, daughter of Bills and Sabres owners, pulls off massive Australian Open upset by John Buhler The Cleveland Cavaliers are on the precipice of moving center Andre Drummond, possibly to the Toronto Raptors.With the Cleveland Cavaliers holding out center Andre Drummond until they are able to trade him, one team could be at the front of the line for his services: The Toronto Raptors.While ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Cleveland will indeed keep the two-time Eastern Conference All-Star out of action until he is inevitably traded, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported the Raptors in serious discussions to bring the rebounding maven to Toronto/Tampa Bay. Cleveland is 10-18 through 28 games and in 13th place in the Eastern Conference as of Feb. 14.Reporting with @WindhorstESPN: The Cleveland Cavaliers are no longer planning to play center Andre Drummond as they work to trade the two-time All-Star prior to the NBA’s March 25th deadline, sources told ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 15, 2021How soon could Andre Drummond be on the move from the Cavaliers?Drummond last played for the Cavaliers on Friday night. The Cavaliers are in the midst of a league-worst seven-game losing streak. This has knocked them 2.5 games back of the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, which coincidentally is the Raptors. Cleveland plays three more games within the week, so we should not expect to see Drummond to continue to ride pine into late February.Cleveland may have already punted on this season, as this recent swoon likely means they will be on the outside looking in at a possible playoff berth. As for Toronto, the Raptors are in win-now mode. Despite having to play their home games in the Tampa Bay Area this season, Toronto has been an ever-present force in the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the better part of a decade.If Drummond is dealt by the end of the week, he could very well be playing for Canada’s NBA team.

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Truthful Tuesday | Why Jasprit Bumrah shouldn’t play Tests in India at all



Even in full-blown wars, the ace is only unveiled in special scenarios. Scenarios which can’t be unlocked with anything but the X-factor, the special weapon that holds the audacity to be a differentiator, a differentiator needed when the run-of-the-mill stuff can no longer work.Jasprit Bumrah is that precious jewel, the X-factor, the special weapon, the differentiator in Indian cricket. The skills, the temperament, the confidence, he is one of the best that Indian cricket have had in ages. He’s arguably the best pacer across all formats in world cricket at the moment. Short run-up yet great momentum. A chutzpah-laden jump, whiplash action from hyperextension, raw pace, dipping slower balls, killer yorker, wide-angle of attack. An ability to move the ball both ways, with accuracy and control, the deceptive change of wrist. And above all, a sharp brain, to work out a batsman’s technique, play with his head, and attack where it hurts the most. He’s GOLD for India. A bowler, who should be wrapped up in cotton wool and preserved. There have been great batsmen in the country, but very rarely as good fast bowlers. And that is why there is a greater need for India to be more cautious with him than others. No other bowler in the country walks into the XI across different formats, different conditions, and different countries but Bumrah. But that also means he is likely to be exposed to far more cricket than he ideally should be. And that is precisely where India will need to be careful.Given the team’s fast bowling resources for Tests in India, there is a strong case to not play the 27-year-old in home conditions at all. Even his selection for the ongoing Test series against England didn’t make much sense given the amount of cricket he had already played. He entered the home series having played 15 matches in IPL, three ODIs, one warm-up game, four Tests since September 19. He sent down 159.4 overs in these many Tests. He was even ruled out of the Gabba Test, which might well have been triggered as a result of his workload. In the hot conditions of Chennai, he had to bowl the most in an innings he ever had. No wonder the Indian pacer was rested for the second Test. But his selection in the squad itself was hard to comprehend, at least for me, given India have to play a lengthy white-ball series later, then there is the IPL and the much more important England tour lined-up. Not to forget, in the World Cup year, it will be great to try different combinations with Bumrah in the side so as to build up the team ahead of the megaevent than in it like the 2019 WC.Let’s take a look at how Indian pacers have fared in the last five years in India with a minimum of 10 wickets:
Indian pacers at home in the last 5 years  © Cricinfo Statsguru
India have quality pacers in Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, and now Mohammed Siraj, all of whom are good enough with reverse swing and the old ball. And given how much of a factor India’s batting and in particular spin bowling assumes, there is hardly any need of Bumrah’s presence. Why expose him when India already have enough firepower for familiar home conditions? So, they shouldn’t. Also, in all honesty, Bumrah in India doesn’t make as massive a difference as he does in SENA, for him to toil hard on flat, unresponsive Indian surfaces or the ones that are tailor-made for spinners. However, in SENA conditions, he is invaluable given he leads the Indian bowling attack and turns into an X-factor, with his top-notch skills which are better than most others pacers as the below stats reflect.
Indian pacers in SENA in the last 10 years  © Cricinfo Statsguru
Bumrah has the best bowling average for any Indian pacer in SENA nations in the last decade. He is the third leading wicket-taker after having made his debut in 2018 in South Africa, which shows he is a class apart. The difference in his bowling average with others shows the gulf between him and everyone else and his significance.And when it comes to limited-overs cricket, he is unrivaled in the Indian team with his value arguably even greater than Virat Kohli given Rohit can make up for his failures but there’s no other pacer who comes even close to the diversity of the skills that Bumrah possesses. There is no better death bowler in the world than him forget India, where there is dearth of such options. And unlike Tests, India lack quality bench strength or even as many options in the colorful jersey. So, his value in white-ball cricket goes unabated just like SENA. Bumrah is a generational talent. India are lucky to have a match-winner like him. Now, it’s on the selectors, team management, and captain whether they use him in the best manner possible or leave a room for injury with the amount of workload there is for an Indian cricketer, who happens to be a fast bowler, a regular across formats, and an IPL star. He certainly can’t be wrapped up in a cotton wool and be preserved but used as judiciously as possible. To ensure that his body doesn’t break down due to excessive cricket and he continues winning games of cricket in years to come. Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .

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My Confession: Male, Age 21 (AUSTRALIA)


Let me give you some valuable background info first: I live at home with my Dad & my girlfriend (she’s between houses). They’re both my best friends. I am currently going through a chronic pain type disorder that appeared in both wrists & forearms since July 2020. In & out of appointments/checks every fortnight. I am unable to do much in my day, it hurts to do normal things in my day – so I am unable to work or study anymore. Painkillers are not helping. Thursday was the day, the day I basically lost my entire life savings. Since then, I’ve been using every single dollar I can get my hands on to recover this loss & I’m sure you know where I’m at now. $8 in debt & unemployed with no income. But how did I get here? I got caught gambling when I was 17/18, lost all my money then too but it was less than $1000 (my Dad was the only one who knew). Since then, I vowed to never gamble again & I didn’t until 2 weeks ago. My Dad & I were watching the cricket & he placed a $100 multi (he rarely gambles) & won $450. We both thought this was great so I put in $50 myself for the next game. I ended up losing $25 & won it back in the darts later on. I then decided to move on & not do any more as my girlfriend of 2 years (the one I’ll marry) did not approve of me gambling again. So I stopped – until my Dad persuaded me to lie & just gamble anyway behind her back. It was innocent losses, $5-$10 here & there for the next 2 weeks. It wasn’t until last week, the day after my girlfriend’s birthday, that everything went downhill. She had to work Wed & Thu which left me to be alone for 2 days. I was very down in the dumps & just felt like I had all this money & didn’t use it (which is the stupidest thing ever, I know). So I started gambling on the races. With high $1000 bets & spent hours & hours, got up $10k then back down to $5k before I bet my whole bank to get back where I started at $15k. I stopped, went in my room & realised what I did, I almost lost my ENTIRE bank. Did I stop there? Nope, you guessed it. Eventually, one thing led to another & now I’m $15k down & $9 in debt. I confessed everything to my girlfriend & Dad on Thursday. Which they were both very supportive. I had $2000 in my bank then & said I’d stop. But I didn’t, Iost $1500 yesterday & $500 today. So yes in $9 debt. Although I do not have an addiction (oddly enough I studied psychology for 2 years before this chronic pain stopped me), I have definitely fallen into the trap of gambling once again & I only risked losing my last $2000 to not win the money back, but rather I looked at it as an outlet to make money so I can provide my girlfriend & I with a future. But this was such a bad mindset to approach everything. $9 in debt. I am stopping here. I vow to, right here, right now. I have not told my girlfriend or Dad about the last $2000, but I think I will hang onto this one for now as I can make that back in selling some of my collectables that have been collecting profit over the years. So thank god for that at least. Additionally, I may receive a pension for my condition so if that’s approved, must lock my money away. I had to get all this out & it has put me in an awful lot of PHYSICAL pain to even write this due to my chronic pain condition. I don’t expect anyone to read this all as this is rather for me. Thank you. C. submitted by /u/codesfrost [comments]

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Canucks lose valuable point as glaring mistakes prove costly vs. Flames


VANCOUVER – With a deficit in the standings and a lead in the game, the Vancouver Canucks’ late rally Monday still felt more like two points lost than one gained.
After Brock Boeser forced overtime for the Canucks with a post-and-in wrist shot through traffic that tied the game with 30.2 seconds remaining in regulation time, Johnny Gaudreau’s sharp-angle one-timer on a four-on-three power play 23 seconds into OT gave the Calgary Flames a 4-3 win at Rogers Arena.
The point was still important for the Canucks’ confidence. They outplayed their opposition for a fourth straight game, but have only one win over that span and badly needed something to show for Monday’s effort.

But the six-game losing streak that ended Saturday against the Flames has left the Canucks will little margin for error in the National Hockey League’s North Division, and a couple of glaring mistakes with the puck kept them from taking both points on Monday.
Instead, the Flames crept a point farther ahead.
“I think we’re happy we had the pushback and got it to the overtime,” Canucks captain Bo Horvat said. “Obviously, it sucks not getting that extra point. In my opinion, it shouldn’t have gotten to overtime in the first place.
“Tonight, again, I thought we carried the play the majority of the game and tested Marky pretty well. But we made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on it. We’ve just got to tighten it up even more. We’re going in the right direction, but we have to be just that touch better.”

Former Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom, who had looked untouchanble against his old team until it beat his new one 3-1 on Saturday, was beaten by Boeser on the tying goal as the Canucks played shorthanded but with their netminder on the bench for another skater.
It was the only shot to beat Markstrom over the final 45 minutes.
But the Canucks’ real missed opportunity was in the first period when they had four straight power plays near the start of the game. It felt like Vancouver might win the game then, and it was halfway there with a 2-0 lead after 15 minutes.
But Vancouver’s fourth line began a defensive-zone shift with 1:17 left in the opening period, couldn’t get out of its end and surrendered a key goal to Calgary with 25 seconds remaining.
Several times this season the Canucks have allowed goals in the final minute, changing momentum.
Milan Lucic’s goal from the slot – he was left unchecked by Jay Beagle after Jake Virtanen had the best chance to clear the zone but failed – got the Flames back in it and Calgary scored two more in the second to seize the lead.
Horvat turned the puck over by shorting his pass to Quinn Hughes on a three-on-two rush, and on the Flames’ counter-attack, Elias Lindholm wristed a 25-footer past goalie Thatcher Demko to make it 2-2 at 10:40.
“It was just a pass that should have been harder,” Horvat said. “It was just a little miscommunication between Huggy and I. Ultimately, I’ve just got to move that over to him quicker.”
That miscommunication was nothing compared to what came next for the Canucks.
Calgary took the lead five minutes later when Vancouver defenceman Nate Schmidt went Steve Smith by trying to pass in front of his goalmouth from behind the red line.

Dillon Dube got his stick on Schmidt’s pass, which ricocheted into an unsuspecting Demko, who was scrambling back into his net after giving the puck to Schmidt. With the puck somewhere in his feet, Demko sprawled trying to find it and knocked it into his own net at 15:51.
Schmidt said a few days ago he’d never experienced in his NHL career the bad luck he suffered last week when, in consecutive games, he kicked the puck on to an opponent’s stick on one goal and had a double-deflection bounce off him into his net for an own goal. Hopefully, bad things only come in threes because Monday’s mishap was the worst yet.
Still, the Canucks pushed back, outshooting the Flames 16-6 in the third period.

After breaking through against Markstrom on Saturday, the Canucks appeared to still have that momentum two days later. Tanner Pearson’s deflection of Hughes’ shot opened scoring at 3:52 of the first period, and Horvat doubled the lead during a two-man advantage at 14:44, scoring from the low slot after being teed up by Boeser’s quick relay from J.T. Miller.
But that was the only goal the first-unit power play produced on seven chances. After building the fourth-best power play in the league last season at 24.2 per cent, the Canucks are 20th through 19 games in 2021 at 17.4 per cent.
“There’s been games where I’ve said that I think they’ve been good and they just haven’t scored,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “I didn’t think they were very good tonight. I just didn’t think they were sharp. Passing wasn’t sharp, they were on the outside. When you get an in mini-series like this, teams do make adjustments as the series goes on and their penalty killers to did a good job tonight. But I thought our power play could have been better. You’re not always going to score, but sometimes momentum is gained and lost with a power play.”

The Canucks failed on two third-period power plays before tying the game with their goalie out and Hughes in the penalty box.
“(Playing) .500 isn’t going to cut it,” Pearson said. “Every game is kind of a four-point game. . . playing everyone in your division. There’s no outside help; it’s all on yourself. We’ve got to keep getting points here and start stringing some (wins) together.”
The Canucks and Flames end their four-game series Wednesday in Calgary.

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