Top 9 Magical Girls of Anime and Manga

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Have you been approached by a talking cat? Did a magical contract get offered to you lately? Is your hair pastel colored? Did a mysterious book appear lately that says “do not open?” […]

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Sabres Shootout Must Improve

The Buffalo Sabres showed significant signs of improvement during the 2015-16 season. Sabres’ GM Tim Murray continued to reshape the roster this summer. With new players in the fold, expectations for the club are higher heading into the 2016-17 season than they’ve been in quite some time.

Just how high these expectations should climb will be an important question for Sabres fans this season. Will the Sabres need to qualify for the playoffs in order for 2016-17 to be considered a success? Buffalo finished last season with 81 points. This was 15 points behind the Philadelphia Flyers which was the final wild card team to qualify for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

In comparison to the 2014-15 season, last season’s Sabres upgraded their overall point total by 27 points. However, there are still many areas that the team can improve upon in 2016-17. One area of struggle for Buffalo last season was the shootout. A better performance in the shootout this season could help the team make their dream of returning to the playoffs become closer to a reality.

[See Also: Top 5 Sam Reinhart Goals in 2015-16]

Steve Downie

Matt Moulson scored one of Buffalo’s four shootout goals last season. (Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

Reviewing the 2015-16 Sabres Shootout

The NHL implemented the shootout at the start of the 2005-06 season. Since then, the Sabres generally have performed well in the shootout. Heading into last season, Buffalo won at least half of their shootout appearances during all but two seasons.

In most other seasons, shootouts helped the Sabres in the standings but last season was a very different story. The Sabres left seven possible points in the standings on the table due to their poor performance in the shootout.

The team tallied just two wins in nine shootout opportunities in 2015-16. This equates to a 0.222 shootout win percentage which ranked Buffalo dead last in the NHL according to SportingCharts.com. If the Sabres want to fulfill their quest to qualify for the playoffs then they’ll need to perform better in the shootout to earn as many points in the standings as possible.

 

Sabres Shootout Scoring Drought

Buffalo had a very difficult time lighting the lamp during the shootout in 2015-16. The Sabres scored just four goals in the shootout last season and no player on the squad scored more than one goal. Jack Eichel, Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis and Sam Reinhart each lit the lamp once in the shootout. The goals scored by Moulson and Reinhart were game deciding goals.

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All told, the well for Sabres shootout goals last season ran about as dry as the Buffalo region did this summer. However, the goal-scoring drought on the shootout was not due to a lack of opportunity. According to NHL.com, the Sabres had a total of 27 shootout shots so there were plenty of chances to light the lamp.

Ryan O’Reilly was unable to convert on six opportunities while Eichel scored on one out of his six shootout shots. In terms of scoring percentage, Reinhart led the team last season by converting one out of two or 50-percent of his shootout chances. Buffalo desperately needs to improve their shootout performance and there is at least one big reason to believe this will happen in 2016-17.

[See Also: Buffalo Sabres Number 90 History]

Kyle Okposo

Kyle Okposo has 12 shootout goals in the past three seasons. (BridgetDS/Flickr)

Improving the Sabres Shootout in 2016-17

The shootout has its critics with some favoring the return of tie games. Others have proposed an entirely different scoring system for the NHL standings. Regardless of one’s opinion on the subject, the fact remains that a good amount of points are won or lost in the shootout.

Sabres forward Kyle Okposo has found success on the shootout during his career. In the past three seasons with the New York Islanders, Okposo scored 12 goals on the shootout. Okposo was tied for the second-highest total in the NHL last season by scoring five shootout goals in 10 chances. In addition, eight of his shootout goals over the past three seasons were game deciding goals.

Many analysts and fans view the Okposo signing in a positive light for Buffalo. Okposo has the potential to spark the Sabres’ offense joining a roster of talented forwards which includes O’Reilly, Eichel and Reinhart. However, others have pointed out that Okposo may experience a regression on offense due to the fact that he is no longer playing alongside star forward John Tavares.

Regardless of Okposo’s offensive production next season, his success on the shootout during his career has not been dependent on other players. If the veteran can remain consistent in this area, relative to the past few seasons, then it is a very reasonable expectation that Buffalo will improve on the shootout this season. An improvement on the shootout would boost the Sabres’ overall point total and help move the club into the hunt for a playoff berth.

2017 Jaguar XE EPA Fuel Economy: When Six Is Good as Four?

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A funny thing happened to Jaguar on the way to EPA certification. Its all-new 2017 XE sedan posted identical fuel-economy estimates with its four- and six-cylinder engines.

In the rear-wheel-drive models, both the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four and the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 deliver 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, according to Jaguar and the EPA. At least until we can run run our own fuel economy on U.S.-spec cars, this suggests there is no penalty for grabbing an extra 100 horsepower and 81 lb-ft of torque.

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Adding all-wheel drive to the V-6, which isn’t available with the gasoline four, nets a slightly lower figure of 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. The 2.0-liter turbo-diesel inline-four, as expected, plays in another league efficiency-wise. Rear-wheel-drive diesel models achieve 32 mpg city and 42 mpg highway according to the EPA; all-wheel-drive cars lose 2 mpg in both tests. That matches the 2016 BMW 328d xDrive’s 30/40 rating, the only competitor to currently offer a diesel.



All XE models come with an eight-speed automatic and auto stop-start. Later, a six-speed manual will be available with the gasoline four. When the XE SVR arrives, expect city fuel economy to dip down into the teens-as if anyone choosing that high-performance model will care.

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Blake Wheeler Named Captain of the Winnipeg Jets

Blake Wheeler has been named the captain of the Winnipeg Jets website, the team announced through their website Wednesday. The 30-year-old Wheeler has played with the Jets since the 2010-11 season after being traded to the then-Atlanta Thrashers franchise from the Boston Bruins at the trade deadline. Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Scheifele were named the alternate captains.

Wheeler has consistently been one of the more underrated players in the entire NHL throughout his career despite posting tremendous point totals year in and year out. In 82 games last season, Wheeler scored 26 goals and a career-high 78 points in 82 games; par for the course given his 28 and 26 goal, 60-plus point campaigns in each of the previous two seasons. On top of what Wheeler brings to the team offensively, he’s a proven leader in the locker room and has consistently been an all-purpose player on the Jets roster throughout his career.

The Jets were in need of a new captain after trading away Andrew Ladd to the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline last season. Ladd went on to sign a seven-year deal with the New York Islanders this offseason. With a long-time veteran in Wheeler set to take over the reigns in Winnipeg, the Jets are officially turning the page on the Ladd-era. Wheeler still has three years left on his current contract that will pay him $5.6 million per season.

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