TORONTO – In each of the past two offseasons Cody Franson and the Maple Leafs disagreed on the worth of the now 26-year-old defender. Vapormax Outlet . Contract disputes lingered for days, weeks and months in the winter of 2012 and once more in summer of 2013 before the two sides finally compromised on an unhappy middle with a pair of one-year contracts. Franson, not surprisingly, feels he has something to prove in his third season in Toronto. "Definitely," he said in conversation with the Leaf Report on Tuesday afternoon. "Thats the way my dad raised me was live by proving people wrong, have that motivation and drive to make people that say youre not eat their words." Franson believed that hed established himself as a viable top-4 defender last season, when he broke out with 29 points in 45 games, but Dave Nonis and the Leafs management group wanted to see more. They werent sure what the Sicamous, B.C. native was (the half-season sample size undoubtedly a factor) and balked at committing the sizeable term and dollars he desired in free agency (hence the one-year deal worth $2 million). Soon to be a restricted agent once more in the summer of 2014, Franson is out to prove that hes worthy of such an investment. Entrenched with the significant role and responsibility he always wanted upon landing with the Leafs via trade from Nashville, Franson is only half-satisfied with the season hes had to date. "Its going okay, but I can do more," said Franson, who will assume top pairing duty in the absence of suspended captain Dion Phaneuf. "I feel like I can do more. I feel I can help produce more. I can be a bigger part in our group turning things around." The Leafs have stumbled into December, struggling to generate offence and adequately defend amid a stretch which has seen them win just twice in regulation in 17 games. Now without their captain and leading minute-eater for the next two games – against top teams from Los Angeles and St. Louis no less – theyll need others, Franson most prominently, to step up their game. "The challenges are bountiful as we go forward into the season," said Randy Carlyle of a year thats seen an increasing number of injuries and suspensions, "but somebody else now gets an opportunity to fill those minutes." Be it offensively or defensively, Franson feels his game could stand to rise on a number of different fronts. The scoring leader of the Toronto defence once again this season – he has 14 points – Franson is nonetheless concerned by his inability to find the back of the net. He had four goals on 70 shots in 2013, but has yet score on any of the 40 attempts hes fired so far this year. Directing more pucks on net, thus creating not only goals but rebound opportunities for teammates, will aid in the teams struggling offensive attack – the Leafs have just 23 even-strength goals during this lasting 17-game run. "Obviously not having scored a goal is in my head," he said, noting a desire to increase his overall offensive production. "Its been a tough year to try and get shots through to the net and really help our forwards in that sense. Thats bothering me a bit." Amongst the best at his position in producing offence at even-strength last season – he had 16 points, tied for 12th most among NHL defenders – Franson has just three such points this season, the majority of his production coming on one of the leagues top power-plays. Because the Leafs have struggled to move the puck effectively for the better part of the opening two-plus months theyve been ineffective with a forecheck from which theyd like to initiate offence. One of their better puck-movers, Franson can help in that regard with some measure of improvement. "I havent got enough of those this year," said Franson of even-strength points, 11 of his 14 assists coming with the man advantage. "Thats something Ive been trying to focus on in getting better at and try to help our team win." Already second in ice-time among Leaf defenders – 21 minutes per game –Franson is poised to peg, if not more minutes, than more difficult minutes with Phaneuf suspended for tough tests against the Kings and Blues. He was paired with Carl Gunnarsson on the top pairing of Tuesdays practice. Though hes made strides in the right direction in Toronto, Franson remains a work in progress in the defensive zone. Part of that growth lies in his assertiveness and physicality. The 6-foot-5 defender has always been prodded to employ the requisite physical game his size is said to demand. Under the direction of Carlyle he has improved considerably. Franson actually leads all NHL defenders with 98 hits (entering Tuesdays action), quite a shift for a player who had 55 in his first 61 NHL games with Nashville. "Ive gotten better," said Franson, "but theres always room for improvement. Ive watched the video clips of myself after a lot of games and I see spots where I know I couldve at least bumped a guy there or a guy takes a shot and I was more worried about the rebound than finishing [him] into the wall. Just some things that I need to get back into the habit of doing and itll help me." Habit has also been forced to change with a steady mix of defensive partners. Unlike last season, when he played with Mark Fraser almost exclusively, Franson has shifted from partner to partner amid the teams struggles on the back-end. Gunnarsson will be the fifth partner hes been paired with already this season. The adjustment is as subtle as thinking versus reacting instinctually. "[I]t makes you think a little more and sometimes Im thinking too much and its making me read things a little slower than I should be and in turn making me not quite as aggressive as Id like to be," said Franson. "Ive got to get that down a little quicker and itll help." Such improvements will go a long ways toward proving the "naysayers" wrong while helping the Leafs turn a much-needed corner. Air Max 90 Outlet Australia .com) - The Vancouver Canucks recovered from a fluke goal early last time out to knock off one of the top teams in the league. Vapormax Australia . Jose Bautista homered for the fifth straight game in the sixth inning, following a two-out solo homer by Melky Cabrera. Edwin Encarnacion led off the seventh with a homer to tie the game 3-3 and, with two out in the seventh, Munenori Kawasaki came through with the two-out single to score pinch-runner Steve Tolleson with what proved to be the winning run.CHICAGO -- Chris Sale lost his chance at a shutout. He still had a shot at a complete game. After allowing a single, double and sacrifice fly in the ninth inning, Sale buckled down. He got a weak grounder to seal the victory as the Chicago White Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 7-1 on Friday night. "Thats kind of the goal as a starting pitcher is to finish as many of them as you can, and anytime you can get your bullpen a couple days off in a row, its nice, especially in this part of the season," Sale said. Sale (8-1) struck out a season-high 12 and allowed six hits and no walks in his fourth double-digit strikeout game of the season and 14th of his career. He struck out 10 three times this season. Jose Abreu hit his 27th home run and Dayan Viciedo and Paul Konerko also homered for the White Sox, who have won five of seven. Willie Bloomquist went 2 for 4 for the Mariners, who saw their four-game winning streak snapped. Rookie Roenis Elias (7-7) allowed five runs in five innings. He struck out six and walked one. Viciedo went 4 for 4 including a leadoff homer in the fourth inning that gave the White Sox a 1-0 lead. His 10th homer came on a 2-1 pitch. The White Sox added four runs in the fifth. Adam Eaton hit an RBI double and Gordon Beckham followed with a sacrifice fly after Moises Sierra singled and Tyler Flowers was hit by a pitch. Abreu then extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a two-run home run that put the White Sox ahead 5-0. He was tied for the major-league lead for homers entering Friday. Abreu has eight home runs and 18 RBIs during his hitting streak, the longest active in the majors. "I wasnt even aware of it until my dad told me," Abreu said through a translator. "He was like, You are getting hits. Im trying to do something to help every day, whether its an RBI, playing defensively. "Im trying to do something that helps the team. Thats mmy goal. Air Max 1 Wholesale. " The Mariners put runners at second and third in the sixth after two singles and a wild pitch, but Sale struck out Robinson Cano to end the inning. Konerko hit a two-run home run, his fifth, off Charlie Furbush for a 7-0 lead in the eighth. Sale allowed a single to Bloomquist and a one-out double to Cano in the ninth. Sale stayed in the game after manager Robin Ventura visited the mound. Sale gave up a sacrifice fly to Corey Hart, and Cano moved to third as the throw from right fielder Sierra sailed past the plate. Sale got Kyle Seager to ground out to end the game. "Every time I face him, hes got the same slider," Cano said about Sale. "Sometimes you face a guy and one day he doesnt have it. This is a guy, he always has his slider. Nothing straight. His slider is the best pitch he has. He confuses every lefty. You dont know when its a fastball and when its a slider." The Mariners had six left-handers in their lineup against Sale. Hart returned from the disabled list to give the Mariners another right-handed bat. Sale was limiting left-handers to an .089 average this season entering Friday. "I wouldnt say I was by any means laughing at it or anything, but thats definitely the first time its happened this year," Sale said about the lineup. "So I just tried not to put too much emphasis on it. "I knew I was probably going to throw a few sliders today more than normal, but thats about it." The White Sox improved to 28-7 against the Mariners since 2010. NOTES: The White Sox batted Abreu, the AL Rookie of the Month, third in the lineup for the third straight game. "I dont think theres any set way of doing it with him, but I know I like guys on when he comes to the plate," Ventura said. . Mariners RHP Felix Hernandez (10-2, 2.10) will start against White Sox LHP Jose Quintana (5-7, 3.44) on Saturday. ' ' '
The Air Canada Centre has always been a house of horrors for the Ottawa Senators. Morgan Tiller Jersey Store . Steve Thomas. Cory Cross. Gary Roberts. Joe Nieuwendyk. Every Sens fan can tell you with painful clarity how each of those players stung the Senators in the past. So as the Sens get set to face the Maple Leafs in a crucial game on Saturday night, I pondered a very legitimate question: Has Ottawa ever beaten Toronto in a regular season game that mattered at the Air Canada Centre? The only instance I could think of was at the tail end of the 2007-08 season, when the Senators crushed the Maple Leafs with a decisive 8-2 victory. With that win, Ottawa essentially clinched a playoff spot – although they were facing a Toronto team that had absolutely nothing to play for. The worst part is that win actually proved costly, as Leafs forward Mark Bell took out both Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher in that game and neither was available for the playoffs. Even Ottawas lone meaningful regular season victory at the Air Canada Centre came with a massive asterisk. For the most part, Ottawa has enjoyed success at the ACC in the month of October. Their most memorable victories were probably the first ever shootout win in NHL history and Dany Heatleys four-goal performance in an 8-0 win. Both of those wins came just a few weeks apart in October of 2005. You could maybe toss Craig Andersons 47-save shutout performance in his Sens debut into the mix, but that victory came in February when the Senators had already given up on the 2010-11 season. In fact, that Anderson victory at the ACC was an aberration when you look at the Sens record against the Leafs towards the back half of the season. A monthly breakdown of the Sens all-time record against the Maple Leafs paints a pretty clear picture of a team that does well in the first half of the season, but fades down the stretch against their provincial rivals: October: 16-5-1 November: 10-5-1 December: 3-3-1 January: 5-5-2 February: 4-7-3 March: 7-6-3 April: 4-7-0 Of course these numbers only reflect regular season meetings, but if you were to add the playoff numbers to the mix it would only worsen the situation for the Senators. In short, the Senators have won 16 times against the Leafs in the month of October in only 22 games. But that is more wins than they have against the Leafs in the final three months of the season combined – and that spans a total of 41 games. To add to the misery, the Senators record against the Leafs in February, March and April in the last five years is a woeful 2-10-0. Its not like Im dragging up ancient history and talking about the playoff series from 12 years ago. This is recent history that has not been kind to Ottawa. Ottawa has lost some memorable regular season games to the Leafs and it feels like all of them have been in the back half of the season. The infamous flu game where Owen Nolan scored the OT winner and said “Boo-hoo” about Ottawa players being sick. Or the 6-0 shellacking the Leafs laid on Ottawa in the regular season finale in 2003-04, which gave Toronto home ice advantage in their subsequent playoff series. And even Nazem Kadris hat trick last March in a 4-0 shutout win is probably near the top of the list. Torontos great regular season moments against Ottawa come in February, March and April, while the Senators big wins seem to occur in October. These are all ominous numbers and stats for the Senators, as they head into Saturday nights showdown against the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The calendar has flipped to February and history is not on the Senators side. But if Ottawa wants to make the playoffs this season and head into the Olympic break with some momentum, its time they finally won a game at the Air Canada Centre that mattered for both teams. Bill Baumgartner Jersey Store . If there is one club built to handle an off-field controversy, its the Bill Belichick era Patriots. Even if New Englands offence stumbles a bit out of the gate, their defence can help them stay in games, especially in the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets in the first two weeks. Larry Jordan Jersey Store . - Novak Djokovic beat John Isner 7-5, 6-7 (2), 6-1 on Saturday to reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open, where hell resume his longtime rivalry with Roger Federer.OAKLAND – Edwin Encarnacion suffered a right leg injury in the first inning of the Blue Jays Saturday night game against the Athletics. The clubs preliminary diagnosis is “right quadriceps soreness.” Encarnacion will undergo an MRI on Sunday. Encarnacion was at the plate with one out and Jose Reyes on third base and Melky Cabrera on first. He beat out a groundball by a step but pulled up lame. He required the assistance of trainers George Poulis and Mike Frostad to leave the field. "I felt some pop before I touched the base. Thats why after I touched the base I let my body go to the ground because I felt a lot of pain," Encarnacion said. Reyes scored on the play. Adam Lind pinch ran for Encarnacioon and replaced him at first base. Richard Bell Jersey Store . Losing Encarnacion for a prolonged period of time would be damaging to the Blue Jays playoff hopes. He is baseballs leader with 69 RBI. Encarnacions 26 home runs place him in a second-place tie with Baltimores Nelson Cruz, one behind Jose Abreu of the White Sox. "Id be very surprised if it wasnt a DL, for a couple of weeks at least. I dont know that for sure yet," manager John Gibbons said. "Of course, in this moment I dont want to go to the DL. I want to be playing, helping my team to win games," Encarnacion added. "Thats what we need right now, we dont need me to go to the DL, its going to be very frustrating for me. Well see what happens." ' ' '