From the NHL:
On Friday, May 27, the eight teams competing in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 will announce their final roster selections.
Team Finland, 3 a.m. ET, Helsinki — Hartwall Arena
Team Russia, 5 a.m. ET (announced via press release)
Team Czech Republic, 5 a.m. ET, Prague
Team Sweden, 11 a.m. ET, Stockholm
Team Europe, 6:09 p.m. ET, TV reveal
Team USA, 6:13 p.m. ET, TV reveal
Team North American, 6:16 p.m. ET, TV reveal
Team Canada, 6:22 p.m. ET, TV reveal
There will be plenty of intrigue with these final selections. Each team has already submitted an original list of 16 players, meaning the remaining seven must be selected by tomorrow’s deadline.
Some of the key decisions at hand:
— Who will secure the remaining positions on Canada’s blueline? Four guys — Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Shea Weber — have already made the team, leaving the likes of P.K. Subban, Alex Pietrangelo, Brent Burns, Kris Letang, Jay Bouwmeester and Mark Giordano for the final spots. That’s a crazy amount of talent on defense.
— Will Auston Matthews, the presumptive No. 1 pick at this year’s draft, be selected for Team North America?
— Phil Kessel was left off the U.S.’s original list of 16 players. Has his terrific postseason earned him a spot? Same question could be asked of Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson and St. Louis’ David Backes.
— Dallas’s John Klingberg, one of the better offensive defensemen in the NHL, failed to make Team Sweden the first time around. Will he get a shot?
— Finnish phenoms Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi are expected to go No. 2 and No. 3 at the draft. But will GM Jere Lehtinen take them to the World Cup?
Every year, a handful of NHL teams have to decide whether to keep a teenage player or send him back to his CHL club.
What’s not an option is to send that teenager to the AHL. The CHL and NHL have an agreement that forbids that.
And according to CHL commissioner David Branch, that agreement isn’t about to change.
“So far the National Hockey League has not expressed any viewer opinion that it should be changed,” Branch said recently, per the Canadian Press. “Now we know time to time when there’s an NHL team that thinks, ‘Gee I’d like to place him in our AHL franchise setting,’ that always comes back into this discussion. It’s only driven in a few isolated situations.”
If, for example, Jonathan Drouin had been allowed to join Tampa Bay’s AHL squad after being drafted in 2013, that’s perhaps where he would’ve gone. Instead, he was sent back to dominate the Q again.
Jared McCann, traded yesterday to Florida, would’ve been another teenage AHL candidate, had it been allowed. The Canucks chose to keep him last season, but they were worried the NHL would wear him down (which it did).
Next year, the Maple Leafs may have a similar worry with diminutive forward Mitch Marner, who just turned 19 and has nothing left to prove in the CHL. The AHL won’t be an option for him either.
Some people think that’s unfair, that the agreement should be amended, that the CHL is actually looking out for its own best interests, not the players’.
“My view of it is when hockey people get together in an unemotional environment, without specific examples, they say the best thing to do is play in the CHL or NHL,” Branch said. “That’s not something we push at (NHL clubs), that’s what hockey people have collectively agreed to.”
The Detroit Red Wings have acquired 20-year-old forward Dylan Sadowy from the San Jose Sharks, in return for a third-round draft pick in 2017.
Sadowy, the 81st overall pick in 2014, scored 45 goals in the OHL this past season. He had 42 the year before.
But Sadowy never did sign with the Sharks. The deadline for him to do so was June 1; otherwise, he could’ve re-entered the draft.
He won’t be doing that, though. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Sadowy has already agreed to terms on an entry-level contract with the Wings.
PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby is in no mood to get caught up in his own personal narrative, the one eager to attach whatever happens to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday against Tampa Bay to the superstar’s legacy.
Forget that Crosby has the game-winning goal in each of Pittsburgh’s victories in its entertaining back-and-forth with the resilient Lightning. Forget that he hasn’t been on the winning side of a post-series handshake line this deep into the playoffs since his glorious night in Detroit seven years ago, which ended with him hoisting the Penguins’ third Stanley Cup.
Yes, he’s playing well. Yes, his dazzling, imminently GIF-able sprint through the Tampa Bay zone late in the second period of Game 6 added another signature moment to a career full of them. Yet lifting Pittsburgh back to the Cup final for the first time since 2009 does not rely solely on him so much as the collective effort of all 20 guys in his team’s retro black and Vegas gold uniforms.
Depth has carried the Penguins this far. Crosby insists Game 7 will be about the team, not him.
“You give yourself the best chance of winning by keeping it simple and not putting too much emphasis on kind of the story line around it,” Crosby said.
Even if it’s easy to get lost in those story lines. The Lightning are on the verge of a second straight berth in the final despite playing the entire postseason without captain Steven Stamkos and losing Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop in the first period of the conference finals when he twisted his left leg awkwardly while scrambling to get into position.
Yet Tampa Bay has stuck around, ceding the ice to the Penguins for significant stretches but using their speed to counterattack brilliantly while relying on 21-year-old goaltender Andrei Vasilevski. The Lightning are hardly intimidated by having to go on the road in a series decider. They did it a year ago in the Eastern final against New York, beating the Rangers 2-0 in Madison Square Garden.
“You’ve got to go back to a tough environment, just like the Garden was last year,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “And you’ve got to have your A-game.”
The Lightning hoped to avoid revisiting this spot. They could have closed out Pittsburgh at home but fell behind by three goals and didn’t recover, fitting for a series that appears to be a coin flip as a whole but not so much night to night. The team that’s scored first is 5-1 and there’s only been a single lead change in 18-plus periods spread out over nearly two weeks: Tyler Johnson‘s deflection in overtime that gave Tampa Bay Game 5.
“You always want to play with the lead, and always the first goal is big,” said Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, who is 7-0 in Game 7s. “But, again, we were down 2-0 in Game 5 and came back from that. So it’s not cut in stone, the outcome of the game, no matter if you’re down a goal or two.”
Maybe, but it’d be cutting it pretty close. Tampa Bay’s rally in Game 5 was Pittsburgh’s first loss when leading after two periods all year. The Penguins responded by going back to rookie goaltender Matt Murray – who turned 22 on Wednesday – and putting together perhaps their finest hockey of the postseason. Their stars played like stars while Murray performed like a guy a decade older with his name already etched on the Cup a few times.
The Penguins will need to rely on Murray’s precocious maturity if it wants to buck a curious trend that started well before Murray was born. Pittsburgh hasn’t won a Game 7 on home ice since Mario Lemieux and company beat New Jersey in the opening round of the 1991 playoffs to escape from a 3-2 series deficit and propel the Penguins to their first championship. The Penguins have dropped five straight winner-take-all matchups since then, including a loss to Tampa Bay in the first round in 2011, a series Pittsburgh played without either Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, who sat out with injuries.
They’re healthy now and showing extended flashes of the form that seemed to have the Penguins on the brink of a dynasty when they toppled Detroit. And the Lightning, who are 5-1 in Game 7s, are hardly comfortable but hardly intimidated as they play on the road.
“I think it’s a roller coaster,” Cooper said. “But Game 7 is Game 7. There’s no two better words than that.”