- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy2 hrs ago
TORONTO – That Sidney Crosby needed the World Cup of Hockey as a referendum on his success, his abilities, his acumen, his work ethic or his status as the best hockey player on Earth always seemed a little peculiar to me.
This exhibition tournament featuring two made-up teams was held a scant three months after Crosby won the most grueling tournament in professional sports, hoisting both the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of his team, with four points in the six-game Final against the San Jose Sharks.
That victory, and Crosby’s performance in leading his team there, came after a regular season in which there were a number of questions about whether he had plateaued or, worse, was in decline. Then Mike Johnston bungled his way out of a job; Mike Sullivan was promoted; the Penguins played an aggressive offensive style; Crosby found his smile and, eventually, his second Stanley Cup.
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy3 hrs ago
TORONTO – Christian Ehrhoff isn’t worried that he doesn’t have a professional hockey contract for the upcoming season.
The Team Europe defenseman knows he’ll sign somewhere after the tournament. At the age of 34 and after a down year that spot may not be in the NHL, but the World Cup of Hockey has shown Ehrhoff can at least hold his own against the NHL’s best in a short tournament.
“There’s no stress level. For me it’s not a big deal. I know I can play somewhere in this world if I want to, so it’s not that I will sit at home and not do anything,” Ehrhoff said. “I feel good about my game and I just focus on the next task with Team Europe.”
Before this tournament, it appeared Ehrhoff’s days in the NHL were over. Last season continued a stretch of struggles for Ehrhoff that have dated back for several years.
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy3 hrs ago
TORONTO – The NHL has announced that the World Cup of Hockey viewing party scheduled for Thursday night has been cancelled due to inclement weather.
Game 2 of the World Cup of Hockey Final between Canada and Team Europe is scheduled for 8 p.m., as Canada has the opportunity to win the World Cup.
The NHL held a World Cup of Hockey viewing party during Game 1. The photo above is from that viewing party on Tuesday night.
Standing room only. Lots of it. Maple Leaf square. pic.twitter.com/M0Lh2oj4aS
— Joe Warmington (@joe_warmington) September 28, 2016
— ahmed hagar (@ahmhagar) September 28, 2016
- Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy3 hrs ago
TORONTO – Canada played their worst game of the World Cup of Hockey in Game 1 and won. Team Europe played their best game of the tournament but was on the wrong side of the 3-1 scoreline. So what’s the mood among Ralph Krueger’s men with Game 2 Thursday night?
“We feel good. I think we played arguably the best game so far in this tournament but we just fell short,” said Team Europe captain Anze Kopitar. “Because of that, we can’t get discouraged. Our backs are against the wall now. We’ve gotta win two games now to win the thing. We’ve got to come, play with confidence. There’s no reason for us to be nervous about anything. Come out, play hard and we’ll see what happens.”
Team Europe pressed Canada for much of Game 1, which included a good scoring chance on the opening shift, but could only beat Carey Price once after a fortunate bounce landed on Tomas Tatar’s stick. Against a powerful opponent, they know they cannot waste any of their opportunities.
- Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy4 hrs ago
Brett Hull was a sensational choice for ESPN as an analyst, as his passion for Team USA brought gravitas to his off-the-cuff comments. Plus, his lingering bitterness over the program’s management came in handy when they crashed and burned at the World Cup of Hockey.
Hull appeared on TSN 1050 in Canada on Wednesday, and explained what he believed went wrong (transcript via Chris Nichols):
“The philosophy was picked, and they picked it to beat Canada,” continued Hull. “You can’t blame them. That was their theory. That’s what they wanted to do. They did it and it was terribly wrong. It went terribly wrong like the Titanic. But they made their bed. They picked those guys.
“But I still think they could have put a better system in, or – I don’t know if you guys noticed, or thought the same thing I did, but they seemed like a very unhappy group. When you’re unhappy in a tournament like this, you have no legs. You have no energy. I don’t know if you guys noticed that, but they looked like they were skating in quicksand. Everybody. And there were some good skaters on that team.”
- Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy7 hrs ago
[Breaking down the plausibility of the week’s biggest rumor.]
The regular season gets closer every day, but there are still a few high-profile unsigned restricted free agents who need new contracts before the season starts.
The biggest and most obvious of these, this week at least, is Jacob Trouba, whose agent recently revealed a trade request made back in May. But in terms of unsigned young stars, he’s actually a rather faint one. Names like Nikita Kucherov, Johnny Gaudreau and Hampus Lindholm are still out there sans contract; and with the World Cup of Hockey wrapping up this week, one assumes a lot more work to get deals done will begin shortly thereafter.
But even ahead of the official end of the World Cup — congratulations to Canada, by the way — it seems many people are turning their attention to this issue. Most notably, Bob McKenzie gave us the mother of all RFA rumor roundups this week, supplementing plenty of other reporting on the subject that has been widely circulated in recent weeks.
Just to rattle off the list of names he addressed in his Wednesday morning tweetstorm: Tobias Rieder, Rasmus Ristolainen, Lindholm, Trouba, Kucherov and Gaudreau.
Who’s Going Where?
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy23 hrs ago
Last Season: 41-27-14 (96 points), 4th in the Central, 7th in the West
The Predators were one of the more consistent teams in the NHL last season. They shot out of the gate at 7-1-2, and didn’t falter much except for losing seven of eight in late December and early January.
The issues that led to that streak proved a blessing in disguise, since it helped land them Ryan Johansen in a trade for Seth Jones on Jan. 6. This gave the Predators the No. 1 center they’ve long needed.
Johansen notched 34 points in 42 games to help the Predators get to the playoffs.
Overall, Predators players produced as expected. Forward Filip Forsberg tied the franchise’s single-season goal scoring mark with 33. Roman Josi set a career-high with 61 points while averaging a team-high 25:29 of action. Shea Weber blasted 20 goals and was his usual physically imposing self on the blueline.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne experienced somewhat of a drop-off with a .908 save percentage and 2.48 goal-against average, down from his Vezina Trophy finalist season the year before where he held a 2.18 goal-against average and .923 save percentage.
- Puck Daddy at Puck Daddy1 day ago
(Ed. Note: The column formerly known as the Puck Daddy Power Rankings. Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)
8 – More World Cup injuries
Matt Murray out six weeks. Marian Gaborik out eight. Add that to the pile, and someone figure out how many man-games teams are losing to injury because of this tournament. It’s gotta be pushing 50.
7 – Edmonton children who need to fall asleep at some point
Whenever a bad and scary mascot gets put out into the world, I wonder how many people had to sign off on it before the press release and photoshoot.
Like, at least a dozen here, right?
At least a dozen people saw the concept art and pushed it forward. At least a dozen people saw the finished product and pushed it forward.
- Sean Leahy at Puck Daddy1 day ago
TORONTO – One day after they downed Team Europe 3-1 in the opening game of the World Cup of Hockey final series Canada’s players could only talk about how much better they need to play.
Ralph Krueger’s troops were much better in Game 1 than when the two sides met in the final game of group play, a 4-1 win for Canada. Europe came out firing, challenging Carey Price on the first shift of the game and forcing their opponents to play sloppy at times.
Now one win away from a second straight World Cup title, Canada knows they have to be better to close out Team Europe. They’ve dominated this tournament, averaging 4.4 goals per game, but after a so-so Game 1 performance where they still came out on top, they know there’s a lot to work on ahead of Thursday night.
- Josh Cooper at Puck Daddy1 day ago
TORONTO – For hockey players still at the World Cup there’s an easy way to tune out happenings at NHL training camps.
“Shut off my phone,” joked Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar.
“I’ve texted back and forth with the guys a little bit, just someone asking how everything is going and how the guys are doing,” he added. “Other than that there’s really not a whole lot of communication about it and I’ll read some stuff online and see how the guys are doing, but that’s about it.”