Fully Loaded Winter Survival Guide Contest
Thermalectric Heated Jacket. $279.99 CAD.
Fully Loaded Winter Survival Guide Contest
Fully Loaded Winter Survival Guide Contest.
Thermalectric Heated Jacket. $279.99 CAD.
Fully Loaded Winter Survival Guide Contest.
The Hurricanes are going in the right direction, but unless their youngsters step up and they get better goaltending, the playoffs are out of the question this year.
THN is rolling out its 2016-17 Team Previews daily, in reverse order of 2015-16 overall finish, until the start of the season.
THN's Prediction: 7th in Metro
Stanley Cup odds: 68-1
Key additions: Lee Stempniak, RW; Teuvo Teravainen, LW; Bryan Bickell, LW; Viktor Stalberg, LW
Key departures: James Wisniewski, D; Riley Nash, C; Nathan Gerbe, LW; Brad Malone, C
-Can the young defense keep it together? The Hurricanes found their form once rookie blueliners Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin took on bigger roles last year, and they’ll need to continue their ascent if Carolina has any shot at the playoffs. Justin Faulk is still the main man on the back end, but all the Hurricanes’ young defensemen have a coach in Bill Peters who believes in them. They already played without a safety net once, so they’re bound to improve. Will there be hiccups along the way? For sure. But the Canes have more work to do up front, so the defense can grow organically without worrying about hurting the result.
-Does Cam Ward have anything left? Although he showed glimpses of his old self in 2015-16, Ward, 32, also got beat up on the scoreboard just as often, if not more. Taking a big pay cut may put his mindset in the right perspective, but there likely won’t be another NHL contract in Carolina for the veteran goaltender once his new two-year pact expires. If anything, he becomes a solid mentor once Alex Nedeljkovic gets a chance to see his first action in an NHL arena.
-Who will step up at center? Jordan Staal and Victor Rask are pencilled in, but the Hurricanes need a youngster to step up, too. Teuvo Teravainen, Elias Lindholm and Sebastian Aho have all played center and wing in their careers, so none can be considered a true NHL pivot just yet. Lindholm must get stronger first, while Aho hasn’t played a shift in the league, so give the inside track to Teravainen. He cut his teeth in Chicago and has the Stanley Cup ring (and scoring heroics) to prove his worth. If none works out, there’s always the 2017 draft class to check out.
Player projections are based off a three-year version of Game Score (which you can read about here) weighted by recency and repeatability and then translated to its approximate win value (Game Score Value Added or GSVA). Team strength was derived from the combined value of every player’s GSVA on a team. The season was then simulated 10,000 times factoring in team strength, opponent strength and rest.
From a statistical perspective, the Carolina Hurricanes are a very interesting team. Last season they finished 11th in score-and-venue adjusted Corsi with a mark of 51.4 percent, and 29th in PDO at 98.3.
Some people are optimistic about Carolina’s chances because of those numbers. The first suggests they do a good job at controlling play, a genuine sign of talent and potential future success, while the second suggests they were a bit unlucky in converting that territorial advantage into results.
While that may be true, it’s likely that the Hurricanes are one of the few exceptions to the rule. One look at their roster and you’ll see why, as this team is pretty low on scoring talent and goaltending ability.
In net is the biggest area of concern as the team inexplicably re-signed Cam Ward, whose .915 save percentabe ranks 49th of 52 goalies who have played 2,500 or more minutes over the last three seasons. That’s not good, and one of the biggest reasons the team has consistently low PDO.
Up front isn’t much better. Over the last three seasons, Carolina has been below seven percent shooting in each season. Their last three seasons rank 77th, 88th and 81st overall respectively. Other than Jeff Skinner, there really isn’t a pure goal scorer on this team and while shot volume is great, the puck needs to go in once in a while.
Only six players on the team have an above average shooting percentage relative to their position. Two of them, Lee Stempniak and Bryan Bickell, are new additions interestingly enough.
There’s some reason for optimism though. The aforementioned Skinner is still young, as are Elias Lindholm, Victor Rask, and Sebastian Aho, three kids with offensive potential ready to blossom. Newly acquired Teuvo Teravainen should greatly help the cause too.
The D is stock full of potential too with fifth overall pick Noah Hanifin as well as last season’s breakout defensive stalwart Jaccob Slavin. With the underrated Justin Faulk as the No. 1, and the young guys ready to step up, the D-corps should be very strong for years to come.
It’ll take time for this team to become one of the East’s best, but they’re on the right path. This year looks to be another difficult one unless the goaltending situation gets figured out, or the team solves it’s scoring woes. They’ve got a solid process down, it’s time to turn it into results.
Up next: Minnesota Wild
Previously: Toronto Maple Leafs | Edmonton Oilers | Vancouver Canucks | Columbus Blue Jackets | Calgary Flames | Winnipeg Jets | Arizona Coyotes | Buffalo Sabres | Montreal Canadiens | Colorado Avalanche | New Jersey Devils | Ottawa Senators
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.”
CAREY PRICE HAVING SOME FUN
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."
Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton.
Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton.
Sidney Crosby dominated Canada's first game at the 2016 World Cup, just like he dominated the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. Is this is the best version of Sid yet?
TORONTO – I'll try to keep the hyperbole at a minimum here, but when it comes to Sidney Crosby, one of the greatest hockey players of all-time, it's difficult to avoid.
So I won't say the hockey world left Crosby for dead last December. But considering the lofty standard he's set for himself throughout his career, he experienced perhaps his own equivalent of being left for dead. He had two goals and 11 points after 20 games. He was struggling through a season so miserable he even wrote this summer about how badly he never wanted to experience that feeling again. The idea of him climbing back into the NHL scoring race and reclaiming his unofficial title of World's Best Hockey Player seemed far fetched. The sport belonged to Patrick Kane or, the year before, Carey Price. And there was nothing wrong with that. Crosby was a decade into a Hall of Fame career, he was nearing the end of his 20s, and it was possible he was merely exiting his prime a bit earlier than expected.
The Crosby-is-finished hype looks laughable now in hindsight. From the moment the Penguins fired coach Mike Johnston and promoted Mike Sullivan from their AHL affiliate, Crosby ignited. Sullivan helped free him up to play his north-south game at breakneck speed. Crosby's 66 points in 52 games over the rest of the season led the NHL. He was the league's best player in the playoffs and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as second-season MVP. His days of lapping the scoring field with 120-point seasons were over, but the new Crosby was an evolved version, dominant in every aspect of the game, from faceoffs to lower-body strength to puck protection to advanced statistics to his good, ole-fashioned laser of a backhander. Like Steve Yzerman midway through his career, Crosby enjoyed a renaissance of sorts as a more complete specimen.
After watching Crosby skate circles around the Czechs in Canada's first round-robin game at the World Cup Saturday, it's time to wonder if Crosby, already the best player of this generation, is getting better. His chemistry with linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand is excellent. He showed a sixth sense when he fed Joe Thornton all alone in the slot for Canada's fourth goal. He looked flawless out there.
"I think he's always been the best player in the world," said defenseman Brent Burns, Crosby's Stanley Cup final foe with the San Jose Sharks, now his teammate with Canada. "What makes him that is he works every day at it. He's always striving to get better, to be the best and stay up on that plateau, I think there are a lot of guys chasing him, and that pushes him to get better."
Now's the time when angry Flyers fans, er, blog commenters, strike back against the so-called insufferable Crosby love. But to do so at this point is to merely be a contrarian, to be a hater of greatness. Instead of fighting it, just stop and appreciate it. It wasn't hyperbolic to praise Wayne Gretzky's brilliance, nor Bobby Orr's, nor Mario Lemieux's, nor Patrick Roy's. And Crosby is approaching a similar stratosphere. He has two scoring titles, two MVPs, two Stanley Cups, a Rocket Richard, two Olympic gold medals, two Olympic game-winning goals, a World Championship and the highest points per game of any NHLer in history not named Gretzky, Orr, Lemieux or Bossy. If he keeps playing like he did to open the World Cup, he'll add one more impressive team trophy to the case. Canada coach Mike Babcock isn't yet ready to concede that Crosby has reached a new level, though.
"Let's not get carried way," Babcock said. "He was the star in Sochi. He was the star in Vancouver. What you saw tonight, though, is he got the points. Everyone likes to get points, Sid likes to get points, too, but it took the team to win, and he was the leader. Were in the process here, and as the team gets better, he has to get better. But it was a good start for his line."
And maybe why Crosby keeps improving is because he adopts that same mindset. He's never satisfied. Neither were any of the sport's all-time greats.
"There are still things we can improve on, but to get rewarded for our hard work, and get a couple on the power play, and get some big kills early on, all those little things go a long way," he told reporters after the game.
And that line is Crosby in a nutshell, isn't it? The man accomplishing the big things on the big stage is the one obsessed with the little things.
Matt Larkin is a writer and editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin
Ottawa Senators prospect Christian Saros absolutely walloped Sebastian Olsson in Swedish league play, and the impact sent both players flying.
Something about Slovakian defenseman Christian Jaros caught the Senators’ eye ahead of the 2015 draft, and the 20-year-old rearguard is doing his best to ensure the front office in Ottawa isn’t forgetting about him anytime soon.
During a Swedish league contest against Skelleftea, Jaros, who’s entering his third season patrolling the back end for Lulea HF, pivoted backwards while defending an oncoming Sebastian Olsson. With Olsson attempting to break wide on Jaros, the Slovakian defender kept level with Olsson until the winger attempted to cut into the middle of the ice.
As soon as Olsson made his move inside, Jaros was there to meet him with an absolutely massive hit:
Christian Jaros' Huge Hit on Sebastian Olsson in the SHL today... 😮 pic.twitter.com/CtcpVQS1lA— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) September 23, 2016
Amazingly — and thankfully — Olsson was able to get back to his feet and was relatively unscathed from the blow, and it’s nice to see a huge hit go without the immediate dropping of gloves and fisticuffs that have become the norm in the North American game.
Jaros, who stands 6-foot-3, 201 pounds, is looking to be more than just a physical threat, though. He has set himself up to have the best professional season of his career, and he’s well on pace to have his best offensive totals in the SHL. Through two games, Jaros has a goal and two points, which almost has him halfway to his SHL totals of two goals and five points from the past season.
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