Prospect Need to Know: Cliff Pu is making London a nightmare

Cliff Pu (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The world under-18s are going full-bore in North Dakota right now and there is some fantastic talent assembled. Sure, Russia’s under-18s were pulled out because of a drug scandal, but youngsters such as Klim Kostin and Andrei Svechnikov just get to make their impressions a year earlier. And with Jesse Puljujarvi joining Finland, the Americans will have several rivals to fend off if they want to defend their gold medal from last year. We’ve also got CHL playoffs getting serious and a special guest star from the coaching ranks in this week’s prospect round-up.

Read more

Philadelphia fans hurl tribute bracelets on ice; only hurt their own cause

Brandon Manning stares at bracelets thrown on the ice by fans (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Flyers fans (#notallFlyersfans) like to fancy themselves as an intimidating bunch. When your team identity was founded on the brawn and menace of the Broad Street Bullies, it only makes sense – especially in a town known for passionate fans of all local sports. But what may have worked in the 1970s doesn’t work as well today and once again Philadelphia fans found themselves at the center of a bad behavior controversy last night.

Read more

Capitals take stranglehold on series as lethal power play makes Flyers pay

Alex Ovechkin (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Capitals came into the post-season with the league’s best power play, and it was with the man advantage that Washington inched that much closer to punching their ticket to the second round of the playoffs.

Though the 6-1 final score makes it appear as though the Capitals ran roughshod all over the Flyers, it was anyone’s game through 40 minutes. It took only 57 seconds after puck drop — which was preceded by a tribute to late Flyers owner Ed Snider — for Philadelphia to get on the board, but Washington equalized not long after on the power play. However, were it not for Alex Ovechkin slipping behind the Flyers defense and snapping home a wrist shot midway through the second, the two teams may have gone to the dressing room knotted at one apiece after two periods.

But even though Philadelphia was only one shot away from tying the contest, hope dwindled early in the third period when a crazy bounce led to an Evgeny Kuznetsov power play goal. Kuznetsov’s tally gave Washington a 3-1 lead, and it was all downhill for the Flyers from there. Read more

Capitals’ Orpik suffers frightening injury after hit by Flyers’ White

Jared Clinton
Brooks Orpik hit by Ryan White (via Streamable)

Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik missed half the regular season with a lower-body injury this season, and it appears an injury could cost him at least part of the first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers.

In the second period of Game 3, Orpik was attempting to clear the puck out of the defensive zone while the Capitals were killing a penalty when he was hit hard by Flyers winger Ryan White. Following the hit, Orpik fell to his knees and remained down on the ice. Orpik was unable to get to his feet, and was eventually helped off the ice by John Carlson and a member of the Capitals’ training staff. And though he made it off the ice, the look on Orpik’s face and his lack of responsiveness was incredibly frightening: Read more

Content in Alex Ovechkin’s shadow, Nicklas Backstrom is free to play his game, and be the Caps’ resident prankster

backstrom644

Nicklas Backstrom has the yips. Too bad, as golf is by far his favorite summer pastime. He’s damn good at it, a five handicap. He carves his way through most courses off the tee, in his approach shots, via his short game. Put the man on a green, however, and his knees start to wobble. Backstrom can’t putt. He’s terrible at reading undulations.

“PlayoffPreview”

Of all skills on a course for him to lack…putting? Really? This is Nicklas Backstrom, the tranquil Swede with golden blond locks and stoic green eyes. The robotically efficient playmaking machine. The man with more assists than any player not named Joe Thornton or Henrik Sedin since breaking into the NHL in 2007-08.

Putting is the closest thing on a golf course to passing. You’d think it would cater to Backstrom’s talents as much as any non-hockey skill, but it doesn’t. It’s a reminder he’s far more human than he lets on. It hints at someone nothing like the person he appears to be on the ice.

On the surface, Backstrom fits a template. He grew up a hockey nut in Valbo, Sweden. He took up the sport by the time he was three, shortly after his father, Anders, retired from a 10-year career with Brynas of the Swedish League. Nicklas’ older brother, Kristoffer, also went on to play in the SHL. Nicklas was so obsessed he would sometimes sleep with his skates on. He idolized the likes of Daniel Alfredsson and Nicklas Lidstrom. He was a six-year-old jumping up and down on his couch when Peter Forsberg scored the postage stamp goal at the 1994 Olympics.

Read more

Capitals get the bounces, Holtby slams door in Game 1 victory over Flyers

Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

If the Philadelphia Flyers have any hope of beating the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in the first-round series, they will need to take advantage of the opportunities they are given. They didn’t in Game 1.

The Flyers had three first-period power plays and not only didn’t capitalize, but didn’t even get a shot on goal with the man advantages en route to a 2-0 Capitals victory. The Flyers were 0-for-4 on the power play, and while the Caps weren’t much better at 1-for-6, they got the lucky bounce they needed and it turned into the game winner.

Read more

Update: Flyers’ Couturier knocked out of series after big hit by Capitals’ Ovechkin

Sean Couturier (via NHL/Streamable)

Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin didn’t make an impact on the score sheet in Game 1 against the Philadelphia Flyers, but his physical play may have helped shift the series further in Washington’s favor.

Ovechkin’s big hit came midway through the second period when he was chasing Sean Couturier through the neutral zone. As Couturier laid a puck back into the middle of the ice that was intended for Brayden Schenn, Ovechkin caught up to the Flyers center and shoved him into the boards. The hit resulted in Couturier crashing into the boards shoulder first, and it was immediately evident Couturier was in pain. He remained on the ice for a few seconds, but was nursing his left shoulder. Read more