Dusk til Dawn: Sutter grinds out a shootout win for Pens
By: Ryan Kennedy
Dec 19, 2013
Read our morning recap as you ponder what your middle-aged self is doing while Jaromir Jagr is taking on punks half his age and racking up game-winning goals in the NHL.
Read our morning recap as you ponder what your middle-aged self is doing while Jaromir Jagr is taking on punks half his age and racking up game-winning goals in the NHL.
Essential Water Cooler
Brandon Sutter had a big night for the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring a sweet goal in regulation, then adding another in the shootout as the injury-ravaged Pens got past the Rangers 4-3. With rookie Brian Dumoulin already contributing and prospect Derrick Pouliot basically a lock for Canada's world junior team, the Jordan Staal trade is looking pretty sweet for Steeltown. Carolina now has two star Staals with Jordan and captain Eric, but much less on-ice success. Did the Canes get killed here, or is it unfair to compare the clubs?
The Sens thought Damien Brunner should have been given a slashing penalty here on Jared Cowen, but you can't deny the moves that followed in New Jersey's 5-2 wipeout of Ottawa.
Men of the Night
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh: Sid just keeps doin' Sid things, contributing two helpers to the cause in the Pens' win over New York.
Eric Gelinas, New Jersey: The rookie blueliner is quickly becoming a stalwart for the Devils; he had a goal and two points in the victory against Ottawa.
Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers: Albeit in a losing cause, 'The Hobbit' was on fire for the Blueshirts, popping in a goal and a helper.
Better Luck Next Time
Joe Corvo let the puck get by him at the blueline on New Jersey's first goal, then got tripped on a play that led to the Devils' second tally. Not only was the trip missed by the refs, but Ottawa would never get a sniff once New Jersey had staked itself to that 2-0 lead.
Five burning questions (and answers) about USA's World Cup debacle
By: Ken Campbell
Sep 23, 2016
Team USA put a bow on one of its worst performances ever on the international stage when it lost its final game in the World Cup of Hockey.
So what are we left to think of Team USA after the debacle known as the 2016 World Cup of Hockey? That’s probably the only question left to contemplate after watching a tournament that started with so much promise and progressed into a six-day tire fire.
There is so much to contemplate about this team. Surely it was not as bad as its record indicated. There were notable omissions on the roster, yes, but so notable that this team couldn’t muster a single goal against a hybrid team of players from third-world hockey countries? So glaring that it could not beat a Czech team that had only three NHL defensemen, not a single one who is a top-four for his varsity team?
Well, let’s see what we can come up with here:
Is this the worst best-on-best showing for an American entry in the history of the game?
Statistically, there’s no question. This team went 0-3-0, finishing the tournament with a 4-3 loss to the Czech Republic in a game in which the American team couldn’t even salvage some pride. But practically speaking, probably not. That dubious distinction still belongs to the 1998 Olympic team, which entered the tournament as the co-favorite to win the gold medal. It had six players who had scored 50 goals in the NHL and five players who would go on to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
That team won just one game in the tournament, against Belarus, was beaten 4-1 by the Czechs in the quarterfinal, then trashed their rooms in the Nagano athletes’ village.
This team was bad, even worse than the 1976 Canada Cup team that was loaded with non-NHL players, but given the expectations and talent level of the 1998 team, that still represented the nadir for USA Hockey. This one is close, though.
Is this one of the rare times where the eye test clearly supersedes analytics?
At first blush, you might think so, but once you dig deeper into the numbers, it becomes a little less convincing. It’s easy to forget that Team USA outshot its opponents in each of its three games, even the game against Canada. Overall, it outshot its opponents by a 110-78 margin and the shot attempts were a mind-boggling 212-148. But you also have to remember that the Americans were playing from behind most of the time, so it’s natural that a team sitting on a lead is going to let up and a team playing from behind is going to pour it on.
Still, though, according to www.naturalstattrick.com, the score adjusted 5-on-5 Corsi was plus 24.6 against the Czechs Thursday night and plus-15.1 against Europe. Against Canada, it was (gulp) minus-29.3. The Americans also outhit their opponents by a more than 2-to-1 margin, 90-42, which suggests they were chasing the play quite a bit. Actually, they were chasing the entire tournament. And when it comes to the eye test, was there any time that it seemed the Americans were dictating the pace of the game, where they had things under control, where they were successfully executing a game plan?
“You fall behind early in this tournament and before you know it, you’re 0-and-3 and packing your bags,” said Team USA winger Blake Wheeler. “I think that first game (a 3-0 loss to Team Europe) was the killer. We could just never really recover.”
Did the Americans leave their best goaltender in the stands and on the bench?
Well, we’ll never know how well Cory Schneider would have done had he been given the N0. 1 job on this team because he was never given a real chance. His only action was to mop up the game against the Czechs, a game in which he stopped all seven shots he faced. But we do know that Jonathan Quick surrendered seven goals on 51 shots and Ben Bishop allowed four on 20 shots in what could only be characterized as a shaky performance.
There were some goals against Europe and Canada on which Quick did not have much of a chance. The goaltending wasn’t near good enough and the defensive coverage was so lacking that it made Quick look even worse.
The coach defended his roster and liked its compete level. So if that wasn’t the problem, is it just a matter of USA’s players not being good enough to compete at this level?
Well, it’s pretty difficult to convince anyone that Patrick Kane isn’t one of the NHL’s best players. He has the scoring championship and Hart Trophy to prove it. He also hasn’t scored a goal in a best-on-best tournament since the Olympics in Vancouver. Only four forwards on the team scored a goal and all were outscored by defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who had two. Team USA had 11 power-play opportunities in the tournament and scored just once.
“This team has been kind of characterized as a team just full of plumbers and grinders,” said Team USA coach John Tortorella. “I don’t agree with that. I think we have some really good offensive people. I think we have a really good mix. The bottom line is we leave here with nothing, and so certainly we can’t be happy about that. In a tournament like this, I think you’ve got to be really careful not to lose your mind as far as what’s going on with some of the guys.”
What does the future hold for USA Hockey?
Well, first, you’d have to think there will be some kind of housecleaning done here. Don’t be surprised if a young, bright mind such as Bill Guerin has a more prominent role in the best-on-best player selection process. Mike Sullivan, who won a Stanley Cup this spring, will likely be at the top of the list of coaching candidates. The people who put this team together did it based on a completely flawed logic, then hired the wrong coach and picked the wrong group of players.
World Cup notebook: Crosby puts an impressive streak on the line
By: Ken Campbell
Sep 23, 2016
Sidney Crosby has won 22 straight and his only concern is making it 23...Swedes must be smarter...Carey Price on beer league hockey.
Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby is on something of a roll lately. Not only did he win his second Stanley Cup in the spring, he enters the World Cup of Hockey semifinal riding a 22-game winning streak in a Canadian uniform dating back to the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.
Since losing 5-3 to USA in the last game of the preliminary round, Canada won the next four games en route to the gold medal. Crosby’s teams then went 6-0-0 in Sochi and 9-0-0 in games in which he played in the 2015 World Championship before going 3-0-0 in the World Cup. Crosby has nine goals and 20 points in those games, including the golden goal in overtime in Vancouver and a goal in the 3-0 win in the gold medal game in Sochi.
“I didn’t even know about that until today,” Crosby said. “Those don’t really matter going into tomorrow, right? It’s all about tomorrow right now.”
SWEDES CAN’T PLAY ‘STUPID’
Swedish defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said his team can’t afford a repeat of its play in the final pre-tournament game when it lost 6-2 to Team Europe, the same team it plays in the semifinal Sunday afternoon. “We played a really stupid game,” Ekman-Larsson said. “We turned over too many pucks at their blueline, at our blueline, all over the ice. When you do that against a team with that much skill, you’re in big trouble.”
Team Europe coach Ralph Kruger said that late in that game, Frans Nielsen pointed to the Danish shoulder patch flag and reckoned he had lost to the Swedes about 200 times during his career. He then said how happy he was to finally beat them. The Swedes know they’ll be playing an opponent motivated by a desire to knock off one of the world’s hockey powers.
“I said right from the beginning I thought it would be great for the guys on Team Europe to have a chance to beat some of these teams,” said Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson. “Good for them. I wish then all the best, except for on Sunday.”
During his media scrum yesterday, Canadian goalie Carey Price seemed a little perplexed by a question from Marc-Andre Perreault of TVA Sports in Quebec. Perreault asked Price why Canada always comes into these big games saying it’s just another game when clearly there is so much on the line.
“Because that’s what it is,” Price said. What followed was this rather interesting exchange:
Perreault: “But in my beer league, when we play Maggie’s Corner Store, we get all excited.”
Price: “I don’t know. Maggie’s Corner Store must be pretty good, huh?”
CANADA, TEAM EUROPE WILL KEEP IT PREDICTABLE
Exciting hockey doesn’t always win, but boring hockey almost never loses. And that’s why Team Canada and Team Europe will continue to play predictable hockey for the rest of the tournament.
“I don’t like to feed my family on hope. I like to feed my family on know,” said Team Canada coach Mike Babcock. “I don’t like surprises, not on Christmas, not on my birthday. So I don’t want it anymore. I want it under control.”
Team Europe, meanwhile, won’t be in the mood to trade chances, either. “We’re playing a boring style of hockey, but it’s proving to be a successful one,” said Team Europe captain Anze Kopitar. “We’re proud of it and we’re going to keep doing it.”
BUT TEAM EUROPE WILL BE FAST
If there was one thing we learned about Team Sweden from its game against North America it was that the Swedes had all sorts of trouble handling the speed of the under-24 team. Team Europe is considerably older, but coach Ralph Kruger is keenly aware that it will have move quickly in order to win.
“There’s no question that we really need to be a strong transition team,” Kruger said. “We’ve created a lot of offense out of that. And (Sweden) is probably the best in the world at just defending and staying within their structure right through an entire game. We need to be patient with that. I’m expecting a one-goal game and we need to find our advantage like we did against the Czechs. It will be a similar game at a higher level and we’re going to have to pick it up."
Down Goes Brown: Five times a team avenged a round robin loss at the World Cup
By: Sean McIndoe
Sep 21, 2016
The history of the World and Canada Cup tournament is filled with surprising round robin results that ended up getting flipped, so don't worry just yet. Unless you're Team USA.
We're two games into the round robin portion of the World Cup, and we've already seen a handful of upsets, with favorites like Russia and the United States already tasting defeat, and in the case of the Americans, already being eliminated. With one game to go and some of the four playoff spots still up for grabs, fans around the world are no doubt panicking over the games their teams let get away.
But while the round robin is obviously important – you have to make the playoffs to win the whole thing – it's worth remembering that the results of individual games don't necessarily tell us much as much as we might think about what will happen in the playoff rounds.
In fact, the history of the World and Canada Cup tournament is filled with surprising round robin results that ended up getting flipped down the line. So in an effort to calm some nerves, here are five times that overreacting to a round robin result would have steered you wrong once the eliminations games began.
1976: Czechoslovakia 1 – Canada 0
In the first ever round robin game in Canada Cup history, Canada made a statement by crushing Finland 11-2. They went on the beat Sweden and the U.S., and they closed out the round with a win over their arch-rivals from the Soviet Union, winning those three games by a combined score of 11-3.
But in between, they dropped a surprising decision to Czechoslovakia. Vladimir Dzurilla outduelled Rogie Vachon at the Montreal Forum, turning aside all 29 shots he faced in a 1-0 win. The game was an instant classic, described at the time as one of the best ever played.
The two teams finished at the top of round robin standings, setting up a best-of-three final. But there was no repeat of Dzurilla's heroics – Team Canada blitzed him for four goals in the first period of the opening game, sending him to the bench and paving the way for a lopsided 6-0 win. Game 2 was more entertaining, with Canada jumping out to a 2-0 lead just three minutes in before a Czechoslovakian comeback set the stage for Darryl Sittler's tournament winner in overtime.
1981: Canada 7 – Soviet Union 3
By 1981, the Soviet Union was coming off a relatively rough stretch of international play. They'd won their usual Olympic gold in 1972 and 1976, but been upset by Team USA's Miracle on Ice squad in 1980, lost the 1972 Summit Series, and failed to even make the final of the 1976 Canada Cup.
When they met Canada in 1981 in the final game of the round robin, both teams were undefeated and battling for first place. The game was tied at 2-2 heading into the third, but Canada erupted for five straight goals in what ended up being a 7-3 laugher. Even with star goaltender Vladislav Tretiak sitting out due to illness, the result was an embarrassing one for the Soviets.
Both teams won their semifinal game to advance to a one-game winner-take-all final in Montreal. With Tretiak back in goal, most fans expected a closer game. Instead, they got an even bigger blowout. But this time, it was the Soviets who ran up the score, earning an 8-1 win and handing Canada what still stands to this day as its most embarrassing international loss.
1984: Soviet Union 6 – Canada 3
Three years after their impressive win, the Soviets looked even more dominant through the round robin portion of the 1984 tournament. Heading into a final game showdown against a struggling Team Canada, they were sporting a 4-0-0 record and looking to wrap up the tournament's top seed. They went on to smother their rivals in an impressive 6-3 win, finishing the round robin with a perfect record and dropping Canada down to fourth place.
That set up another meeting between the two nations in the tournament semi-final, held just three days later in Calgary. After being held to just 17 shots in the round robin, Canada exploded for 41 in the rematch. But Soviet goaltender Vladimir Myshkin stood on his head, and had his team in position to win with a 2-1 lead late in regulation. It took a late goal by Doug Wilson to set up overtime, where Paul Coffey's lunging breakup of a Soviet 2-on-1 set the stage of Mike Bossy's sudden death winner.
Canada went on to sweep Sweden in the final to claim the tournament. It marked the third straight time that the eventual Canada Cup champion had avenged a round robin loss on the way to their title.
1987: Czechoslovakia 4 – Canada 4; Sweden 5 – Soviet Union 3
The 1987 Canada Cup marked the first time that the eventual champion went undefeated through the round robin. That would be Canada, who beat the Soviets in a three-game classic punctuated by Mario Lemieux's historic winner.
But while Canada didn't have any losses to avenge on their way to the title, they weren't perfect in the round robin. And the first blemish came in their opening game, when a rusty Canadian squad blew a third period lead on their way to a 4-4 tie with Czechoslovakia. That was a disappointing result against a team that had gone 0-4-1 in the previous tournament, and raised questions as to whether Canada could defend their crown. Meanwhile, the tournament's other favorite had a disappointing opening of their own, as the Soviets gave up three goals in the first eight minutes while dropping a 5-3 decisions to Sweden.
Both powerhouses recovered well, with each winning three straight before facing each other in the round robin finale and skating to a 3-3 draw. That set up a pair of semifinal rematches, with Canada facing Czechoslovakia and the Soviets drawing Sweden.
This time, the favorites took care of business. Canada started slowly but pumped home four straight goals to take a 5-3 final, while the Soviets jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before eliminating Sweden by a 4-2 score. That set the stage for a final that still stands as perhaps the best international hockey series ever played.
As a side note, the Czechoslovakian goaltender for both of those games against Canada was a 22-year-old kid that most North Americans had never heard of. He eventually made it to the NHL three years later, and turned out to be pretty good. He even got some revenge against Canada at an international tournament over a decade later.
2004: Russia 3 – USA 1; Sweden 4 – Czech Republic 3
Canada didn't have to avenge any round robin losses on their way to the 1991 title, and the United States likewise was a perfect 3-0-0 under the new World Cup format before winning it all in 1996. Canada repeated that feat in 2004, making it four straight Canada/World Cups that have been won by a team that didn't suffer a loss during the round robin. Yes, that's right – it's now been 32 years and counting since a team lost a round robin game and still managed to win this tournament. Wait, this is supposed to be about giving teams that lost in the round robin hope. Forget everything I just mentioned.
But we can still find a couple of revenge games in the 2004 round robin, thanks to that year's, um, interesting format. The tournament featured eight teams, and the playoff round featured… eight teams. Yes, everyone made the playoffs in 2004, with the round robin settling the seeding and nothing else.
That format actually gave us a few interesting moments, like top-seeded Finland needing a goal in the dying minutes to edge winless Germany 2-1. And it also set up a pair of interesting rematches. In the round robin, the defending champion Team USA had dropped its first two games, to Canada and Russia. In the latter game, they fell 3-1 while being outshot 45-21. The 0-2 start didn't hurt their playoff hopes, because of the whole "everyone makes it" thing, but it certainly put a dent in their confidence.
Meanwhile, the Czechs dropped their opener 4-0 to Finland, then fell behind by the same score to Sweden. They came back to at least make that game a respectable 4-3 final, but other than running up the score on Germany in the finale, they didn't come out of the round robin with much room for optimism.
But in the opening round, both teams got a chance at payback, and both took it. The Czechs looked like a different team, shelling Mikael Tellqvist and Team Sweden in a 6-1 win. The Russia/Team USA rematch was a closer affair, with both teams going back and forth, but the Americans held on for a 5-3 win.
Both teams went on to lose in the semifinal, although the U.S. blew a late lead against Finland and the Czechs took Canada to overtime. Canada beat Finland in the one-game final, the year-long NHL lockout began the next day, and the World Cup hasn't been seen since. Twelve years later, we're finally getting another look at the tournament, and another chance to see a tough round robin loss avenged in the playoffs.
At least, that's what teams like Russia, Finland and North America are hoping.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.
Rumor Roundup: How the Blues can get Rick Nash from the Rangers
By: Lyle Richardson
Sep 21, 2016
If the Rangers and Blues are still interested in a Nash-for-Shattenkirk trade, the Blues may have found a way to fit Nash's salary on to their books.
A contract dispute with the St. Louis Blues led center Vladimir Sobotka to spend the past two seasons playing in Russia. The 29-year-old reportedly intends to use his out-clause with KHL team Avangard Omsk to return to the Blues in 2016-17
Those plans, however, apparently hit a snag. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Avangard Omsk seeks a fee from Sobotka which he's yet to pay. His agent, Petr Svoboda, is still negotiating his release.
If Sobotka is unable to return to the Blues this season, Rutherford's colleague Jeff Gordon suggests the Blues use the savings to offset some of the cost of acquiring winger Rick Nash and his $7.8 million salary-cap hit from the New York Rangers. Gordon cites the Rangers rumored interest in Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who's an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The “Shattenkirk-for-Nash” rumor isn't anything new, frequently surfacing over the course of the summer. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong reportedly shopped the 27-year-old blueliner in late-June but didn't find any suitable offers. TSN's Darren Dreger still believes Shattenkirk is a trade target, but doesn't believe it's a “front-burner” issue right now.
For now, Armstrong appears intent on keeping Stattenkirk for the start of the season. Whether the puck-moving rearguard is moved depends upon the Blues roster needs over the course of this campaign and their position in the standings before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
If Shattenkirk hits the trade block, there will be considerable interest in his services. Along with the Rangers, the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils could be among the suitors.
While Shattenkirk lacks a no-trade clause, his UFA status at season's end is a stumbling block. Rutherford claims interested clubs want to know if he'll agree to a contract extension before pursuing a trade. He said Shattenkirk's unwillingness to sign an extension with the Edmonton Oilers killed a possible deal that would've shipped left winger Taylor Hall to St. Louis. The Oilers instead dealt Hall to the Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson.
OILERS HAVE INTEREST IN KRIS RUSSELL
The status of unrestricted free agent defenseman Kris Russell is attracting interest in the rumor mill. The Edmonton Journal's David Staples cites a TSN report claiming the Edmonton Oilers were discussing a short-term contract with the 29-year-old rearguard.
TSN's Bob McKenzie believes Russell could be a decent short-term fit with the Oilers, who still need experienced depth among their top-four blueliners. Earlier this summer, the shot-blocking specialist reportedly sought a five-year deal. McKenzie believes he'll accept a one-year contract, perhaps seeking between $4-$5 million.
The Oilers aren't the only club the Russell camp have spoken with in recent weeks. McKenzie claims they've talked to as many as eight NHL teams. It's rumored the Calgary Flames, who dealt Russell to the Dallas Stars at last season's trade deadline, would like to bring him back. However, they've also got to re-sign restricted free agent star winger Johnny Gaudreau.
It could cost around $7 million per season to get Gaudreau under contract. With $7.9 million in cap space, that won't leave much room for the Flames to pursue Russell unless they make a cost-cutting deal.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).