Thursday, September 29, 2016

Isles Add Dennis Seidenberg for Depth, Versatility

The New York Islanders signed free agent defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for a 1-year, $1 million deal to bolster depth on the blueline. Seidenberg, 35, had has four-year contract with the Boston Bruins bought out last season. The German just finished the World Cup of Hockey where he played for Team Europe, where he averaged over 20 minutes a game and tallied three assists in six games.

The Islanders have a pretty solid defense corps, and Seidenberg doesn't figure to earn top-six minutes, barring injuries. The deal likely means that Adam Pelech will go to Bridgeport for more seasoning because Scott Mayfield has a one-way deal and would have to clear waivers to be sent to Bridegeport.

Johnny Boychuk has been suffering from an upper-body injury already this season, and some are worried that he still could be dealing with the same shoulder problems that plagued him for much of last season.

Seidenberg spend the last seven years in Boston, winning the Stanley Cup with the team in 2011. As the World Cup of Hockey went on, several clubs were kicking the tires of the Schwenningen, Germany native, but he said that the Islanders were the only ones to make him an offer while speaking to Hockey Central by SportsNet on Thursday.

Watch: Marchand's Shorty Seals the World Cup for Canada

Canada struck twice in the final 2:53 to erase a 1-0 deficit and win the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. Team Canada fell behind in the first by a surprisingly strong Team Europe team when Zdeno Chara found the twine with a wrist shot that beat Cary Price high at 6:26 of the first.

Despite a strong-willed effort from Team Europe that saw them hold an advantage in odd-man rushes of 6-0 at one point, Canada stayed the course and hit the equalizer late in the third when Patrice Bergeron deflected a shot from Brent Burns that bounced and snaked past Jaroslav Halak.

Europe looked to be angling for a regulation win Drew Doughty was called for high-sticking at 18:10 but Toews took off on the rush and found Marchand with a perfect drop pass before Marchand whistled the winner past Halak blocker side and low, sending the Air Canada Centre into a frenzy.

Canada wins the series 2-0 over Team Europe, and the Canadians finish the tournament a perfect 5-0.

Sidney Crosby, who lead all skaters with 10 points in the tournament, was named the MVP.
Carey Price stopped 32 of 33 shots for the win in goal. The Canadiens' netminder finishes the tournament 5-0 with a .957 save percentage and a 1.40 GAA.

Canada has now won 16 straight games in best-on-best competitions since it dropped a decision to Team U.S.A. in the preliminary round at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bruins Ink Marchand to 8-Year, $49 Million Deal

The little ball of hate is loving life in Boston. Brad Marchand signed an 8-year, $49 million deal with the Bruins on Monday and figures to be a part of the Original Six club for the remainder of his career.

"Boston has become my second home," Marchand said. "I absolutely love it there. I'm very excited about what's ahead for our team. I really believe in our team and our group and what we're working towards. It's a place that I'm very excited about being for the next number of years and potentially my whole career."

Marchand, coming off a career year that saw him rack up 37 goals and 24 assists in 77 games, was heading into the fourth year of an $18 million deal. His new deal with pay him $8 million in 2017-18 and 2018-19, with a no-movement clause built in until the end of the 2021-22 season, per General Fanager.

The 28-year-old winger has gone 153-136-289 in seven NHL seasons with the Bruins. He was part of Boston's Cup-winning team in 2011. Marchand has amassed 39 playoff points for the Bruins in 66 post-season games.

Marion Gaborik Latest World Cup of Hockey Casualty

First Tyler Seguin (hairline fracture in heel), then Matt Murray (broken hand). Now Marion Gaborik is the latest NHL player to find himself out of the tournament and in danger of missing a chunk of the 2016-2017 NHL season.

Team Europe--and the Los Angeles Kings--got some bad news on Monday when Gaborik was lost for what could amount to 8-weeks after taking a shot to the foot in Sunday's 3-2 overtime win over Sweden.

According to reports, the injury is to the right foot.

Gaborik was a key player for Team Europe, scoring two goals in four games to help the squad reach the final against all odds. Gaborik scored the game-winning goal in Team Europe's opening-night win over Team U.S.A. and registered 13 shots and a plus-2 in four games.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tobias Rieder Will Not Attend Coyotes Training Camp

Phoenix Coyotes' right wing Tobias Rieder announced that he will not attend training camp after the World Cup of Hockey concludes. The 23-year-old German is a restricted free agent and was seeking a two-year deal for approximately $5 million, his agent confirmed.

Rieder's agent Darren Ferris says that the team has been unwilling to do a bridge deal with his client. Instead it appears that they're looking to lock him up long term.

“We’ve made them a fair offer at two years at $2.5 million a year, and they’re unwilling to do it,” Ferris said. “Tobi brings a lot of intangibles to that team. I know he’s a fan favorite. He loves Arizona, but it’s disappointing that they’re unwilling to compensate this kid fairly. But at the end of the day, we’re not far apart but they’re not willing to do it at all. I would doubt at this point that I could say that anything’s imminent in getting done.”

Coyotes' GM John Chayka had the following to say, according to Sarah McLellan of AZCentral Sports.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “He’s a big part of our team, and we like him a lot. We feel like we’ve made him some real considerable long-term offers that are right on par with the longest offers we’ve ever made in this organization. We want him to be here and get engaged with his teammates and join the club. But it’s business, too. He’s not the first guy to go through this and probably won’t be the last.”

Rieder had career-best numbers in 2015-16 for the Coyotes. He scored 14 goals to go with 23 assists and had eight points on the power play.

The German has a goal and is a plus-1 in four games for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey.

Jacob Trouba Requests Trade from Winnipeg

22-year-old Jacob Trouba has requested a trade from the Winnipeg Jets. The right-handed defenseman wants a chance to play in a top-four role on the right side for an NHL team, and that's something the Jets haven't given him the chance to do.

Trouba's agent, Kurt Overhardt, announced the news on Sunday, saying that Trouba had been seeking a deal since May.

Here's a snippet of the statement:

“Our client, Jacob Trouba, will not be attending the Winnipeg Jets NHL training camp. Since May, we have been working with the Jets management in an effort to facilitate a trade of Jacob’s rights. Both parties continue to work on this matter.

There has been no negotiation regarding the terms of a contract between our client and the Jets over the course of the last several months. The situation is not about money; it is solely about our client having the opportunity to realize his potential as a right shot NHL defenseman.

To the Jets credit, the club has two outstanding right shot veteran defensemen and our client simply wants the opportunity to have a greater role. As a consequence of the Jets depth on the right side, we believe it is in both parties’ best interest to facilitate a mutually advantageous trade."

Trouba has played 211 NHL games for Winnipeg. In 2015-16, he was 6-15-21 and a plus-10 for the Jets.

The 6', 200-lb Michigan native played two games for Team North America in the World Cup of Hockey, registering two shots in 40 shifts.

He is reportedly planning to skate near his home in Michigan while his agent and the Jets try to work out a deal for his rights.

The Jets are said to be seeking a left-handed defenseman of similar age to do a deal.

Watch: Tomas Tatar did more than simply score an OT winner on Sunday in Toronto

He also stepped on Niklas Backstrom's stick, broke it--and got away with it.

Clearly the ref was too mezmerised by this move to blow the whistle and make the appropriate call. Wait, what is the appropriate call? Has to be something, right? Part slash, part interference, part unsportsmanlike conduct? Hmmm....

Gotta hand it to Tatar. Not for stepping on Backstrom's stick, but for actually getting away with it. Pretty sneaky...

Watch: Clarke MacArthur Suffers Concussion in Scrimmage, Scrum Ensues

Senators vet Clarke MacArthur was hoping to make a comeback in 2016-17 after missing all but four games due to post-concussion syndrome. Now his future on the ice is in jeopardy again.

MacArthur was hit hard by Senators' defenseman Patrick Sieloff and after laying out on the ice for a while, left the Senators intrasquad scrimmage. He was later ruled to have suffered a concussion and is day-to-day.

Senator forward Bobby Ryan immediately went after Sieloff, brawling with him at center ice. After that was open, Chris Neil went after Sieloff, forcing Sieloff's removal from the game.

Senators coach Guy Boucher told Sportsnet that he did not feel that the hit was intentional.

"There was nothing pre-meditated, nothing exaggerated, but it's sad because it happened to someone that's important in the room and someone we wish well because of what happened last year," he said.

Sieloff, a second round section of Calgary in the 2012 draft (42nd overall), was traded in the off-season to Ottawa for Alex Chiasson. He has played in one NHL game to date.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

After all those good vibes, Team North America blew it

All that amazing hockey. All that excitment. All the feels.

For naught?

Well, no, not exactly, because anybody who watched Team North America play at this year's World Cup of Hockey knows that the team was a revolution unto itself, and who knows, when we look back at this moment in hockey time, it may end up being a seminal moment for the sport. A time when speed, creativity and tempo finally smashed out the conservativism that has been a huge anchor weighing down hockey since the beginning of the slogan "dump and chase."

But it could have been so much better.

Don't get me wrong, it was great. It was a spine tingler. The hair is still standing on the back of many a hockey fan's neck, but there is one thing that doesn't sit right.

The coaching staff blew it. That's right, they did.

First off, before I lay into them let me just say that Todd McLellan and his staff deserve major kudos for embracing and cultivating Team North America's identity. They let the kids play and set them free of the chains that bind. It was perfect, intuitive coaching -- letting these young talents play like they had nothing to lose (which they didn't) and letting them use their speed and creativity to put vaunted defensive juggernauts like Sweden and Finland on their heels.

That was all good. What wasn't all good was the way that the TNA coaching staff elected to keep the kids in the dark with regard to semifinal qualification scenarios. After Nathan MacKinnon's overtime goal the Canadian shocked many hockey fans by telling the media that he thought the team had qualified.

“When I scored, I thought we were in,” said MacKinnon, who scored the game-winner. “Maybe we shouldn’t have celly’d that hard.”

The sad reality was--they had not.

And this is where Team North America's coaches made their one fatal mistake.

Their decision not go for broke and pull the goalie in an attempt to win the game in regulation (which would have automatically qualified them for the semis) was the one bad decision in a tournament full of brilliant ones.

The decision not to go for the win in regulation undermined the integrity of the go-for-broke ethos that Team North America had embraced from the very first puck drop in this competition. If there was ever a team that was built to seize the moment and take the bull by the horns, this was it. If there was ever a team that was built to take a head-scratching gamble and risk it all to put a death dagger into the heart of Sweden while an arena full of punch drunk hockey fans went berserk, THIS WAS IT!

And now, as the hockey world prepares to watch a semifinal lineup that does not feature the most captivating lineup and the most endearing story of the tournament, we are left to contemplate this:

Why did the team that was all about going for it not go for it when it really mattered?

Was 4:07 of the best 3-on-3 overtime a good enough consolation prize for those who would have preferred another 60 minutes and maybe more of this revolutionary brand of hockey? Probably. Does it really matter if they made the semis or not in the end? Maybe not. But make no mistake about it. Team North America could have blown the roof off the Air Canada Center with an empty-net goal against Sweden. It would have been an even more remarkable, ballsier ending then we saw in the OT (which also blew the roof).

But for whatever reason its players didn't even know that it would have mattered.

Whether we blame the coaching staff for not informing the players, or the players for not taking the initiative and figuring it out, it's kind of a bummer that the ballsiest team in World Cup of Hockey history didn't have quite enough balls to do the unthinkable.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Kessel: "I meant no disrespect"

Penguins' Phil Kessel talks about his much-debated, cryptic tweet (maybe you've seen it? the one that got 75,000 retweets?) after practice today in Pittsburgh. Kessel gives a quick explanation of his views, and when he was asked about some of the positive reactions that his tweet received) (fans chanted "Let's go Kessel!" during last nights Team U.S.A. loss to the Czechs), he quickly moved away from the subject, saying "You know guys, I'm here to talk about the Penguins. If you want to talk about that, I'll talk about that."

Backlund to Miss Rest of World Cup with Concussion

Mikael Backlund took this brutal hit from Finland's Sami Lepisto during Sweden's 2-0 win over Finland on Tuesday, and it has knocked Backlund out of the competiton. Adam Gretz of NBC Pro Hockey Talk reports that Backlund is suffering from a concussion and will not play for the remainder of the World Cup.

Sweden is set to battle Team Europe on Sunday in the semifinals.

The Flames confirmed Backlund's injury and say he is day-to-day.

Backlund had a career-high 21 goals and 26 assists for the Flames in his eighth season with the club.

Blues Ink Steen for 4 Years at $5.75 AAV

The St. Louis Blues have locked up left wing Alexander Steen for $23 million over four years. The 32-year-old has been a key forward in St. Louis, scoring 74 goals in his last three seasons, but his goal production has dropped from 33 in 2013-14 to 17 last season. Still, Steen is a key leader in the Blues' dressing room and an intelligent two-way player that brings intangibles to the club.

Steen injured his left shoulder in February of last season, and played much of the season hurt. He underwent shoulder surgery on June 3rd and is hoping to be ready to open the regular season in good health.

"There are certain players on your team that raise your intellect level on your team," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post Dispatch after the signing. "As far as hockey sense, as far as smarts on the ice, as far as playing the game the right way. So we're able to show him off to a lot of younger players. He's a good example of how to play the game the right way, how to prepare off the ice, how to stay fit, how to take care of yourself in every aspect, so it becomes a very easy sell for us as a coaching staff."

The four-year deal means that the Blues have Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Jake Allen all signed through the 2020-21 season.

Steen was about to begin the fourth year of a four-year, $17 million deal with the Blues. He elected not to play out the year and test the free agent market out of loyalty to the franchise.

It would have been extremely tough to leave here and now I don't have to worry about that," he said. "I don't think I could have seen myself throwing anything else over my shoulders than the Bluenote right now. It takes some time to grow attached like this. For me, it's nothing that I take lightly and I'm extremely happy to stay here."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tortorella on Kessel: I like Phil, but His Tweet is Self-Serving

John Tortorella has had lots of dirt dumped on him by media and scorned players after Team U.S.A.'s dismal 0-3 performance at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. And he gets it. But what he doesn't get is why some of Phil Kessel has fired off a "told you so" tweet after the Americans were defeated by Canada on Tuesday.

Tortorella's sentiments have been echoed by others in the media who feel that Kessel is out of line to go after the American program for not making him a roster invite despite the fact that he's been a very productive player on the international stage.

"I like Phil," Tortorella said, "but..."

During Team U.S.A's 4-2 loss to the Czechs on Thursday, there were chants of "Let's go Kessel" ringing out from the rafters.

"We'll take it from [the media] all day long," Tortorella said of criticism. "It's part of our job, and it's part of your job... I just don't understand players that have been in this situation, players that have played for U.S.A. Hockey--not only Phil but some of the other guys speaking out--to me it's a little self-serving. And quite honestly it doesn't make U.S.A. Hockey look any better, either." Tortorella and Team U.S.A. management have taken heat for leaving skilled players off the roster in favor of more physical players. Kessel, along with Tyler Johnson, Justin Faulk, Nick Leddy, Kevin Shattenkirk are a few others that many see as better choices than Justin Abdelkader, Brandon Dubinsky and Jack Johnson.

The Americans regularly outhit their opponents but were outscored by a total of 11-5.

"You guys have grinded us about Phil," said Tortorella to the media. "Phil looks just fine as far as the way you've talked about us not picking him. I just wish he didn't say anything because it makes him look bad. And I don't want him to look bad."

He added: "It's so easy. It's so easy to start chucking dirt on us when things are going bad. But when they've been playing in the program, for the whole of U.S.A. Hockey it does not look good."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Watch: MacKinnon Buries OT Winner, Giving Team North America Win over Sweden

The most exciting 3-on-3 overtime in the history of the universe came to an end with this gorgeous deke-and-puckhandling clinic from Nathan MacKinnon. He eludes the poke check of Henrik Lundqvist and deposits a backhand top shelf to give Team North America the 4-3 overtime victory.

MacKinnon's goal, at 4:11 from Gadreau and Gostisbehere, capped a wild flurry of activity that also saw Lundqvist rob Connor McDavid on a point-bland chance at the goal mouth before Daniel Sedin was stoned on a breakaway by John Gibson.

Team North America, comprised of all 23-and-under players from the U.S. and Canada has become the darling of the tournament since it began. But they need a little help to qualify for the semifinals. If Russia beats Finland tomorrow, Russia takes the final Group B semifinal spot.

Here's Lundqvist's save:

Here's the Gibson save on Sedin:

Here's some of the praise for this incredible 4:11 of 3-on-3 hockey:

Phil Kessel Nonplussed by Team U.S.A.'s Dismal World Cup Showing

From his couch, Phil Kessel had the following to say after Team U.S.A.'s listless loss to Canada at the World Cup of Hockey on Tuesday night:

Kessel, who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in June, and is coming off his best run as a pro, apparently didn't enjoy feeling helpless at home while American hockey got a big kick in the jaw from big, bad Canada.

Kessel did have surgery on his hand in early July, so it's not clear if he would have been ready in time to go for the World Cup. But his tweet reads more like the frustration of a player who wasn't happy that he wasn't given an invitation to Team U.S.A. before his injury.

Kessel wasn't the only one critical of Team U.S.A.'s personell decisions for this year's World Cup. But head coach John Tortorella stuck by his team in a press conference after Tuesday's game in Toronto:

Q. In hindsight, do you think maybe you would change the makeup of this roster at all?

Q. If it isn't the roster, as critics like to say, what was the problem, or what should you have done differently?
JOHN TORTORELLA: Well, I'm still looking for us to generate offense. I think we have some good offensive players on that roster. I think we have some jam in that roster. I think we can play a lot of different ways. We have not played well offensively. We have not made enough offensive plays as a group. There's no one particular person, but as a group I just don't think we have been consistent enough, when really quite honestly, I think there were some plays to be made. I said it after Game 1, and I see it tonight. We have some chances to make plays, and we just did not complete that. Hit some posts. I don't think we got a whole bunch of puck luck, but we didn't play well enough. We didn't play well enough. But you guys can beat up the roster all you want. You look at some of those players on our roster, there are some pretty good skill players, and we just simply did not do enough offensively. And we self‑inflicted quite a bit in the two games. We gave some easy goals, and you just can't do that in a short tournament.

Kessel wasn't the only snubbed player that was critical about Team U.S.A. Bobby Ryan, after some prodding on Twitter, made the following snide remarks (Ryan was also left off the 2014 Olympic team after being criticized for his lack of intensity, so there's sure to be some frustration on his side):

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Gronborg Says Offense Will Come for Sweden

Sweden's forwards have only technically scored one goal in two games at the World Cup of Hockey (the second was an empty-netter by Loui Eriksson, and the other two came from defensemen), but head coach Rikard Gronborg is not worried about Sweden's offense ahead of it's matchup with Team North America on Wednesday afternoon in Toronto. He says patience is a virtue and its just a matter of time before its forwards, led by a first line of the Sedin twins and Eriksson, start to make a difference in the tournament.

Here's Gronborg's take:

I think our forwards are doing a great job of sticking to the game plan. Sooner or later I think we created some great scoring opportunities in both games here. So it's just a matter of time for some of the forwards to produce. Same thing in the power play. Obviously we need to step it up a little bit there for sure. But they're working hard and sticking to the plan, and we keep telling our team to be patient and things are just going to happen, and I think we're playing as a patient team, and that obviously turned out well the first two games.

More important than the offense is the status of Sweden's goalie Henrik Lundqvist. After allowing five goals on 22 shots in an exhibition against Team Europe on September 14th, illness forced Lundqvist to miss Sweden's first game against Russia.

Lundqvist was back in top form on Tuesday, and he said his teams discpline and structure made it a lot easier for him to ease into the competition.

"I felt like in the first period I was a little bit all over the place, but it helped having really good structure in front of me. With the way our D are playing and the forwards coming back, it helps you to build your game," he said. "If I compare this game to my last game I played, it was more open game, more open chances. That's a lot tougher game to play. Today I felt like we were in a lot of structure and really good position to help me."

Lundqvist says he feels good physically and wants to get the start on Wednesday against the darling of the tournament, Team North America.

"I haven't talked to the coach yet," he said. "But I want to go, and it's an important game, we're not in yet, but he makes the call."

Watch: Komarov Low-Bridges Hedman Late in Sweden's Win over Finland

Not only was this hit late, it was dirty. Swedish defensemen Victor Hedman was shaken up after this hit by Leo Komarov but appeared to be okay at the conclusion of Sweden's 1-0 win over Finland at the World Cup of Hockey on Tuesday in Toronto.

Guess we'll know more about Hedman's status in due time. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay Lightning fans will be holding their breath.

Watch: Lepisto Nails Backlund with Vicious Head Shot

Things are heating up in Toronto between rival nations Sweden and Finland. Sami Lepisto drilled Mikael Backlund as the forward tried to exit the zone afer a crazy scramble in Sweden's end. That's a rough shot. Even rougher for Sweden is that Lepisto was only given a minor on the play and it was matched by a retaliation minor from Gabriel Landeskog.

Backlund was bleeding from a cut on the bridge of his nose but he stayed in the game.

Sweden still leads 1-0 late in the third.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Team Europe Don't Need No Country

No country, no problem.

How about a continent?

Team Europe continued to take the World Cup of Hockey by storm on Monday by notching an overtime win over the Czechs, thanks to Leon Draisaitl's breakaway goal at 2:06 of the 3-on-3 session.

The win means that Team U.S.A. must win its game against Canada tomorrow or it will not make the semifinals.

Draisatil took a head-man pass from Mats Zuccarello and sped in alone on Petr Mrazek before rifling a wrister below the blocker of the Czech netminder. The goal didn't surprise Team Europe's Anze Kopitar.

"To be quite honest with you, I was about 90 percent sure he was going to score," Kopitar said. "The way he's going right now, there's not a whole lot of people who can stop him. I hope he keeps playing like this for us."

Mrazek made 38 saves in the game. The Czechs drop to 0-1-1 with the loss. They were drubbed by Canada, 6-0 in their opening game.

Draisaitl now has 2 goals in two games for Team Europe. He scored a goal in Team Europe's 3-0 win over Team U.S.A. on Saturday. The team has managed to have success in Toronto despite going 0 for 10 on the power play. They will face Team Canada on Wednesday night in their final Group A Game.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ovechkin Late Goal Disallowed, Russia Falls to Sweden

No dice, Ovi.

As Brett Hull later said while commentating for ESPN after Sweden's 2-1 victory over Rusian at the World Cup of Hockey, "If you aren't cheating you aren't trying."

Ovechkin valiantly argued that his goal, gloved in off a scramble past Jacob Markstrom with 8.2 seconds remaining, should have counted. But the play, originally waved off by the referee and ultimately disallowed after a good, hard look at video replays, did not count.

And Russia falls behind in the standings after getting thoroughly dominated by Sweden before mounting a late charge to add some suspense late.

The script was very similar to Russia's last exhibition loss against team Canada. They were outplayed early, feel behind, rallied some, but ultimately lost.

After the game, Ovechkin said he felt that his stick got a piece of the puck before it went into the net.

"I thought I touched it," Ovechkin said. "To be honest with you I didn't see the replay, but I [felt] the touch. I don't know if it was the puck or the stick. I definitely [felt] the touch on my hand on my stick. It doesn't matter right now. It's over, so we have to forget about it and move forward."

Russia will have to forget quickly. They'll face the high-flying Team North American on Monday night in Toronto.

Kopitar Commentary: "We Fooled Them all"

The story of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in the first weekend was the fact that highly touted Team U.S.A. dropped a 3-0 clunker to Team Europe. Apparently, coming as the heavy underdogs after being shellacked by a team of 23-and-unders in their first two exhibition games suits the European team. Team Europe came out with a surpisingly structured, steady victory over the Americans to open the tournament. It was a victory that left Team U.S.A. reeling ahead of its Tuesday matchup with Team Canada. It was also a victory that left Team Europe captain Anze Kopitar smiling.

Check out this bit of tomfoolery from Kopitar on the bench:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pacioretty Responds to Therrien Rumors and Tortorella Admonishment

Montreal Canadiens' captain Max Pacioretty has a response for all those interested in the recent controversy that has surfaced when it was reported that Habs' head coach Michel Therrien called his current captain the worst captain in franchise history.

"There are worse lists to be on."

During media day for the World Cup of Hockey in Montreal, Pacioretty spoke about those recent rumors and much-publicized critique from Team U.S.A. head coach John Tortorella.

Tortorella, in his typical no-holds-barred fashion, cut into Pacioretty after the Americans' 5-2 loss to Canada on September 10. "I need more out of him," Tortorella said. "He’s got to give me some reason to give him more minutes here. So we’ll see where it goes. We know he’s a really good player. Great kid. But we’ve just got to get a little more out of him.”

Pacioretty downplayed that controversy as well during media day festivities in Toronto on Thursday.

"Torts was asked a question, and he answered it," said Pacioretty. "I've had a lot of good talks with Torts since then."

Regarding the controversy with Therrien's comments, Pacioretty said he's also had lots of talks with Therrien, and the rumors aren't true. "It's unfortunate that someone would make something like that up. But it brings us closer together. I have spoken to the coach many times--I've spoken to him since then, I've spoken to the players on the team and we're all on the same page. We're going to show that this year--that we're all on the same page."

He added: "I'm not going to sit here and pout and say I wish it didn't happen. It is unfortunate--it's not something that I want to have to deal with, but I'm at the stage now where I've been in Montreal for eight years, and I know there's right ways to handle this and wrong ways to handle this."

Bobrovsky to Start Russia's First World Cup Game

Sergei Bobrovsky already seemed to have a leg up on the starting slot for Team Russia ahead of their third World Cup of Hockey pretournament game. After a 45-save performance against Team Canada on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, the 27-year-old has locked up a starting role, at least for Russia's first game.

Bobrovsky has gone 1-0-1 for Team Russia with a .925 save percentage in two games, and he was the team's best player during last night's overtime loss, one that was thoroughly dominated by the Canadians for the first half of the game. Canada had 48 shots on goal including many chances from in close.
The Russian also produced this bit of wizardry during the Russia's 4-3 win over the Czechs on September 8.

Semyon Varlamov will backup Bobrovsky. Andrei Vasilevskiy, the No. 3 goalie, has yet to see action in three pretournament games.

Russia faces Sweden at 3PM ET on Sunday in Toronto.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

U.S.A. Hopes for Quick Start at World Cup

Team U.S.A. head coach John Tortorella named Jonathan Quick as his starting goalie for the World Cup of Hockey, with Ben Bishop slotted in as the team's No. 2 goalie. Quick, who was Team U.S.A.'s No. 1 goalie at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, went 3-2 with a 2.17 GAA and .923 save percentage in five games at Sochi.

The Americans wrapped up a three-game exhibition schedule on Tuesday night with a 3-2 win over Finland. They will face Team Europe on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday afternoon.

"Quick will be our guy," Tortorella said after the American win. "It will probably be Ben as our backup. I've spoken with the goalies, so we'll start that way. But it's a long [tournament]. A lot of things can happen in the tournament. I believe in the body of work from all three goalies. As I've said from the get-go, it's a really hard decision. I think Jonathan has just done a little bit better than the other guys. He'll be our No. 1 guy to start the tournament."

If the Americans have any hope of "stealing" the gold medal at this year's World Cup, Quick is probably the best man to help them do that. The 30-year-old is a two-time Stanley Cup winner with nine career playoff shutouts and 46 career playoff wins to his name.

"I think we're getting better every game," Quick said on Tuesday after a 30-save performance against Team Finland. Quick has saved 62 of 65 shots faced in two games, and backstopped Team U.S.A. to 4-2 win against Team Canada on September 9 (Ben Bishop also made nine saves in that game).