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03.06.2019 05:43
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"I really like the way hes into the game on the bench, hes finishing checks, hes engaged in what hes doing," Paul Maurice said Thursday as the Jets prepared to host the Vancouver Canucks. "He doesnt at all look like a player whos waiting for this experiment not to work and Im going to go back to where I want to. " Moving Byfuglien to the wing was one of former coach Claude Noels last acts as he tried to reverse a five-game slide that ultimately cost him his job. Maurice left Byfuglien there and suggests its working so well its not even something he thinks about. "Hes put up big numbers, scored overtime goals, done the things, so hes impactful in our game," Maurice said. The Chicago Blackhawks also tried Byfuglien at forward, although he has made it no secret that he prefers defence. He hasnt quit cold turkey and still covers the blue-line when the Jets have a power play and Byfuglien is still the third-highest scoring defenceman in the league with 40 points. When Winnipegs power play works (which isnt often, ranking 24th in the NHL) its usually Byfuglien whos partly responsible. He has a team-leading 19 power-play points. While forward might not be his first choice, he says its his job to do what hes asked to help the Jets win. "I dont know if Im really comfortable yet but getting there," he said after practice Thursday. "Playing with the same line helps and getting to know where they go, its better." He plays right wing on what is nominally the teams third line with Olli Jokinen in the middle and Devin Setoguchi on the left side. It has largely done what Noel hoped to accomplish, given the Jets three legitimate scoring lines that opposition teams have to be concerned about. Byfuglien has had six points in the nine games since the change, more than his linemates combined. The shift has meant rookie defenceman Jacob Trouba, just 19, is now getting a lot of ice time and defence partner Mark Stuart has nothing but praise for the way hes handled himself. "Hes a kid whos got tremendous skill and hes going to be such a good player in the league, he already is," said the veteran, whose own play seems to have taken off lately. Stuart had points in each of the teams last two games and is seeing almost as much ice time as Trouba. "I think we complement each other," he said. "Hes such a good skater, he plays with the puck really well, he loves skating it up. "Im more of a stay back (defenceman) a lot more, I think defence first." Trouba has seven points over the last seven games and has moved into 14th spot on the rookie scoring list, despite having played only 38 games this season due to injuries. After losing 4-3 to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, the Jets host Western Conference rival Vancouver on Friday night at the MTS Centre. January hasnt been kind to the slumping Canucks, who have won just four of the 14 games theyve played this month. Theyll arrive here having lost two straight to Edmonton and Chicago. But theyre still clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. The Jets were 12th going into Fridays game and need to gain a lot of ground if they hope to avoid missing the post-season once again. WINNIPEG -- Dustin Byfuglien may have to scratch for things he likes about playing forward but his coach is certainly sold on the way the former Winnipeg Jets defenceman is performing when hes on the ice. Custom Football Jerseys China . Louis, MO (SportsNetwork. Sale Custom Jerseys . Founding members of the Genie Army, a group of Eugenie Bouchard supporters who cheered for the rising tennis star during the Australian Open in January, will be in the city for the Rogers Cup, beginning this weekend. -- During Kansas shootaround on Wednesday before the Jayhawks faced Oklahoma, coach Bill Self told Wayne Selden Jr. Cheap Custom Jerseys From China . Pierre last November, only to watch St. Pierre leave the UFC octagon with his welterweight title belt and a split-decision victory. Wholesale Custom Jerseys Free Shipping .C. -- When Michael Jordan speaks, people still listen.A look at the respective runners of Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls on Saturday as the pair battle for the National Hunt trainers title. With the jumps trainers championship reaching a thrilling climax at Sandown on Saturday, Ashley Iveson runs the rule over seven races that will define a season.Paul Nicholls has a lead of £53,592 heading into Saturday, but with £150,000 up for grabs in the bet365 Gold Cup alone, its all to play for. Click here for the latest betting in the trainers championshipWillie Mullins - £2,275,659 (before racing Saturday)Paul Nicholls - £2,329,251 (before racing Saturday)2.20 - bet365 Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Prize-money £50,000)PAUL NICHOLLS: Tommy SilverWILLIE MULLINS: Voix Du ReveVOIX DU REVE looked sure to go close when coming to grief at the final flight in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham. He is 5lb higher now, though, and might have to make do with minor honours behind Wolf Of Windlesham. Paul Nicholls relies upon TOMMY SILVER, but he perhaps needs softer ground.OUTCOME: 1 Wolf Of Windlesham, 2 Voix Du Reve 3 Duke Street3.00 - bet365 Oaksey Chase (Prize-money £50,000)PAUL NICHOLLS: Saphir Du Rheu, Rocky Creek, Wonderful CharmWILLIE MULLINS: Valseur Lido, BallycaseyVALSEUR LIDO has an excellent opportunity to secure an important victory for Mullins. The testing nature of Sandown will play to his strengths and he is well treated by the conditions of the race. Nicholls saddles SAPHIR DU RHEU, ROCKY CREEK and WONDERFUL CHARM, with the former taken to finish third.OUTCOME: 1 Valseur Lido, 2 Menorah, 3 Saphir Du Rheu3.35 - bet365 Celebration Chase (Prize-money £125,000)PAUL NICHOLLS: Dodging Bullets, Solar Impulse, Ulck Du LinWILLIE MULLINS: Un De SceauxA key contest in many respects and Sprinter Sacre can confirm Cheltenham authority over the Mullins-trained UN DE SCEAUX, who is expected to pick up the second prize of almost £27,000. Former champion chaser DODGING BULLETS can make a slight return to form by finishing in the money for Nicholls.OUTCOME: 1 Sprinter Sacre, 2 Un De Sceaux, 3 Dodging Bullets4.10 - bet365 Gold Cup (Prize-money £150,000)PAUL NICHOLLS: Southfield Theatre, Just A ParWILLIE MULLINS: Sir Des Champs, MeasureofmydreamsHuge amounts of money at stake, but it could be that the two title-chasing trainers are out of luck in what is always a terrifically difficult race to win.OUTCOME: 1 Sausalito Sunrise, 2 Henri Parry Morgan, 3 Bishops Road, 4 Le Reve4.45 - bet365 Select Hurdle (Prize-money £50,000)PAUL NICHOLLS: Ptit Zig, San Benedeto, SilsolWILLIE MULLINS: Vroum Vroum MagThe Mullins-trained VROUM VROUM MAG is the banker of the afternoon and should win cosily. PTIT ZIG is an interesting contender for Nicholls, though, and can chase him home.OUTCOME: 1 Vroum Vroum Mag, 2 Ptit Zig, 3 Ubak5.20 - bet365 Josh Gifford Novices Handicap Chase (Prize-money £30,000)PAUL NICHOLLS: 5.20 As De Mee, Some Buckle, CaliptoWILLIE MULLINS: No runnersNicholls can cash in with SOME BUCKLE, who opened his account over fences in good style at Haydock last month, appearing to relish the sound surface. Stablemate Calipto is a good horse and must also have sound place claims.OUTCOME: 1 Some Buckle, 2 Thomas Crapper, 3 Calipto5.55 - bet365 Handicap Hurdle (Prize-money £30,000)PAUL NICHOLLS: Qualando, Red Hanrahan, Alcala, ChartbreakerWILLIE MULLINS: McKinley, Burgas, Bellow MomeThe progressive BELLOW MOME looks the pick for Mullins, but staying-on Taunton runner-up QUALANDO is also respected for Nicholls. Both trainers might find it tough if Ma Du Fou makes amends from a rather puzzling run at Aintree.OUTCOME: 1 Ma Du Fou, 2 Qualando, 3 Bellow Mome, 4 MatoricoCONCLUSION: Willie Mullins to claim two victories on the card, but Some Buckle and a raft of placed horses can haul Paul Nicholls over the line.Mullins following trail blazed by the great Vincent OBrienWillie Mullins will join exalted company should he defeat Paul Nicholls to claim what has been an enthralling race for Britains trainers title.The Closutton handler would emulate the great Vincent OBrien, who broke new ground when crowned champion in two successive campaigns in 1952-53 and 1953-54.Considering what OBrien went on to do on the Flat, no one ever imagined his feat would be repeated on UK shores.OBrien was a trainer without parallel and was very much a pioneer and an innovator. For example, he was the first trainer to use flying as a means of transporting horses across sea.He saw the advantage of horses going on an away day rather than be absent from their usual surroundings overnight or longer.Times may have changed enormously in those 62 years, but like OBrien in his day, Mullins is a supreme master of his trade.Totally dedicated to the sport and always willing to learn and try new techniques, both quickly realised you have to be a step ahead of your contemporaries if you are to be number one. Once there, you must continue with that philosophy and double your efforts.OBriens success was remarkable. He is the only man to have trained three consecutive Grand National winners and with three different horses - Early Mist (1953), Royal Tan (1954) and Quare Times (1955).He did the same in the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Cottage Rake who was the first to win the blue riband three years in a row, between 1948-50.Hattons Grace won three successive Champion Hurdles (1949-51) for OBrien and was also successful on the Flat, winning the Irish Lincolnshire in 1949 and the Irish Cesarewitch.Mullins has made his mark in the Grand National and the three top Cheltenham races and he does not too badly with his little forays to the big Flat meetings. He has had four winners at Royal Ascot, though not yet anywhere near the level of OBrien because he concentrates chiefly on the jumps.Amazinglyy, OBrien had never been to Cheltenham before 1948 when he had the first of 23 Festival winners that spanned up until 1959 and he never drew a blank there.dddddddddddd.In that time he won the Gloucestershire Hurdle, the forerunner of the Supreme Novices Hurdle, 10 times.Strangely, after beginning the 1950s as champion jumps trainer in Ireland, he was beaten first Tom Dreaper and then Paddy Sleator as his focus turned to Britain.That has not happened to Mullins. His dominance in Ireland is stronger than ever, despite the emergence of young trainers such as Gordon Elliott. His first title came in 2000/1 when he split Noel Meades total of eight in nine years and it has been his alone since 2007-08.This is the first season Mullins has really had a go at winning the British title, starting by tackling the big Saturday races, which the UKs top two, Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson, have usually farmed in recent times.Cheltenham was the only meeting he really targeted until this year, when he sent a big team to Aintree without compromising his chances at the big Easter Festival at Fairyhouse and the end-of-season meeting at Punchestown in late April.Not only do you need the right ammunition, but even the best horses have to be primed to be at their best for the big races, wherever and whenever they may be.Mullins has proved a dab-hand at that and whatever happens on Saturday, he has set the bar staggeringly high, just as OBrien did before him.Nicholls: Weve given it our best shotPaul Nicholls intends to be gracious in victory or defeat as his enthralling title battle with Willie Mullins comes to what promises to be a thrilling conclusion at Sandown on Saturday.By his own admission this season has been a relatively low-key one for the master of Ditcheat, and yet he is tantalisingly close to being crowned Britains champion National Hunt trainer for the 10th time.Mullins - aiming to become the first Irish-based trainer to be claim the British crown since Vincent OBrien in the 1950s - has remarkably trained less than 30 winners this side of the Irish Sea this term, but his dominance of the top-class events at Cheltenham and Aintree this spring - where he saddled seven and six winners respectively - looked to have put him in a commanding position.However, Nicholls came roaring back last weekend, with Vicentes Scottish Grand National triumph the highlight of an Ayr four-timer and he has continued in similarly spectacular form since to ensure he now holds the aces ahead of the final day.Weve had a great season and being competitive you want to win the championship. We want to keep it in the UK rather than it go to Ireland, said Nicholls.ts been quite tough this year. We only had five winners by October 1 and we didnt have the Grade One horses weve had in the past.Arguably we only have one Grade One horse in training, Silviniaco Conti, and he has had more than his share of problems this season.You cant just go out and buy horses like Kauto Star and Master Minded any more. Those days are gone.We have concentrated on recruiting and bringing on promising young horses for the future such as our juveniles and the group of bumper horses that have been so successful lately.Nicholls insists he is proud of the yards achievements this season, no matter what the result this weekend, and if he does come up short, he will be happy to congratulate the new champion.He told Betfair: Im thrilled that we have won over 120 races, earning over #2.3million in prize-money for their owners and we have had more winners than any other yard this season, which is, I think, a first for us.I do tend to feel the pressure on these big days because I hate the idea of letting people down when things dont work out.But ours has always been a team effort and I am encouraged by all the messages of support that we have had in the past few days.Weve fought back and kept chipping away and last Saturday was a big day for us.Me and Willie Mullins get on great. We always shake hands and we text from time to time if we want to help each other.Hes a gentleman, hes a brilliant trainer and we have huge respect for each other. Weve always got on great and always will do.Win or lose we have given it our best shot and if Willie Mullins is crowned champion trainer on Saturday I will be the first to shake his hand and say well done.With significant ground to make up, for most trainers the battle would be as good as over with only one day remaining, but the Mullins army is out in force in Esher.The likes of Un De Sceaux, Valseur Lido and Vroum Vroum Mag are all major contenders on a fantastic card, but the trainers son and assistant Patrick is hopeful rather than confident that the Closutton team can wrestle back the advantage.He said: Its a big day and I think the general feeling in the yard at the moment is were up against it.We might have to have four or five winners on the day, which is not impossible but its a tough ask as when you need things like that to happen theres normally one that either gets beat or falls.Paul has two or three in a few of the races, so even if we win them, hes chipping away at us all the time picking up prize-money.You never know, though, and I think well all be heading over there and well see what happens.Its great to be in this position and you never know when it might happen again.It would be fantastic to win it but its the end of the world.Whats interesting is when Vincent OBrien won the English title in the 1950s he wasnt actually champion trainer in Ireland which is a strange piece of information.If it can be done, great, but if Paul manages to retain his title fair play to him. 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