Flames turn up the heat against Avalanche

Kipper.jpgThe best game of the night was easily the one that had the most
stakes attached to it. The Calgary Flames and the Colorado Avalanche
battled for the 8th spot in the Western Conference, and thanks to Miikka
Kiprusoff’s 35 saves the Flames were able to pull away with the big
victory.

Both teams are now tied with 89 points, yet Colorado is able to hang
on to the 8th spot for now thanks to tie breakers.

Despite the Avalanche threatening to pull off a historic playoff
collapse — something I thought the Ottawa Senators were on their way to
a few weeks ago — at times it seemed as if Colorado just wasn’t as
interested the Flames were determined. Craig Anderson kept the game from
getting out of hand, and his teammates didn’t seem to wake up until the
Avs went down 2-0 in the third period.

Is this Colorado’s inexperience and youth showing? All season long
Craig Anderson has carried the team on his back, and now when the stakes
are at their highest the cracks are starting to show. They’ve now lost
four in a row, and the Flames looked
like a team that knew what it was fighting for
, while the Avs did
not.

“We were taking it like Game 7 of the Stanley Cup
finals,” said Rene Bourque, who scored his 26th goal of the season early
in the third period. “That’s how we have to treat every game from now
on.”

The Flames have had their share of questionable
efforts when the season was on the line, but after a 5-0 collapse
against Boston a week ago have roared back into playoff contention. This
is one instance where publicly calling out the team and its leaders has
definitely worked.

Sadly, this is the final game of the season between the Avs and
Flames. I always love a do-or-die game on the final night of the season.

Scroll Down For:

    World Championship standout Shipachev named to Team Russia’s World Cup roster

    MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 21: Tomi Sallinen #51 of Finland and Vadim Shipachyov #87 of Russia battle for the puck at Ice Palace on May 21, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. Finland defeated Russia 3-1. (Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images)
    Getty Images
    Leave a comment

    Team Russia filled out the remaining seven spots on their World Cup of Hockey roster earlier today.

    Vadim Shipachev, who was fantastic in Russia’s Bronze Medal effort at the World Championships this month, was added to the team. The other additions to the roster are Ivan Telegin (CSKA Moscow), Evgenii Dadonov (SKA Saint Petersburg), Slava Voynov (SKA Saint Petersburg), Nikita Zaitsev (Toronto), Alexey Marchenko (Detroit) and Alexei Emelin (Montreal) were also added to the roster.

    Shipachev was the leading scorer at the 2016 worlds. He finished the tournament with six goals and 18 points in 10 games. A number of teams are reportedly interested in bringing the 29-year-old over to the NHL for the upcoming season.

    Former Kings defenseman Slava Voynov (yes, that Slava Voynov) also won bronze with Shipachev at the World Championship earlier this month. The 26-year-old had no goals and seven assists in 23 games in the KHL in 2015-16. He was forced to go back to Russia after spending time behind bars because of a domestic dispute with his wife.

    As always, Russia will have some serious fire-power up front.

    Here’s the full roster:

    G Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
    G Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche
    G Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

    D Alexei Emelin, Montreal Canadiens 
    D Dmitry Kulikov, Florida Panthers
    D Alexey Marchenko, Detroit Red Wings 
    D Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens
    D Dmitry Orlov, Washington Capitals
    D Slava Voynov, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) 
    D Nikita Zaitsev, Toronto Maple Leafs 

    F Artem Anisimov, Chicago Blackhawks
    F Evgenii Dadonov, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) 
    F Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
    F Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
    F Nikolay Kulemin, New York Islanders
    F Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals
    F Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
    F Vladislav Namestnikov, Tampa Bay Lightning
    F Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
    F Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks
    F Vadim Shipachev, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) 
    F Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
    F Ivan Telegin, CSKA Moscow (KHL) 

    It’s no surprise that Oilers forward Nail Yakupov isn’t on the roster. After their Bronze Medal win at the worldds, Russia’s head coach Oleg Znarok said not having Yakupov on the team was “addition by subtraction”.

    Hemsky, Faksa and the Michalek brothers added to Czech Republic’s World Cup roster

    SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 18:  Ales Hemsky #83 of Czech Republic celebrates after scoring in the first period against Slovakia during the Men's Qualification Playoff Game on day 11 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Shayba Arena on February 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
    Getty Images
    1 Comment

    Team Czech Republic announced their full 23-man roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

    Like every other team, the Czechs named 16 players to their roster back in March. Joining the likes of Jakub Voracek, Tomas Plekanec, Ondrej Palat and David Krejci are Milan Michalek (Toronto), Dmitrij Jaskin (St. Louis), Ales Hemsky (Dallas), Radek Faksa (Dallas), Jakub Nakladal (Calgary), Zbynek Michalek (Arizona) and Michal Jordan (Carolina).

    Hemsky posted 13 goals and 39 points in 2015-16 and added a goal and four points during the Stars’ postseason run.

    Milan Michalek has represented his country a number of times, including in the last Olympics where he had no points in five contests. The 31-year-old was traded from Ottawa to Toronto as part of the Dion Phaneuf trade, but he didn’t have a good season, as a finger injury derailed his year. He finished the season with seven goals and 16 points in 45 games.

    Milan’s older brother, Zbynek, has also represented his nation a number of times at the international level. He took part in each of the last two Olympics.

    Nakladal completed his first season in the NHL in 2015-16. The 28-year-old had two goals and five points in 27 contests with the Flames.

    Former St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka, who was named to the team back on Mar. 2, is the only player on the roster who isn’t currently in the NHL.

    Here’s the full roster:

    G Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings
    G Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia Flyers
    G Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets

    D Radko Gudas, Philadelphia Flyers
    D Michal Jordan, Carolina Hurricanes *
    D Michal Kempny, Chicago Blackhawks
    D Zbynek Michalek, Arizona Coyotes *
    D Jakub Nakladal, Calgary Flames *
    D Roman Polak, San Jose Sharks
    D Andrej Sustr, Tampa Bay Lightning

    F Radek Faksa, Dallas Stars *
    F Michael Frolik, Calgary Flames
    F Martin Hanzal, Arizona Coyotes
    F Ales Hemsky, Dallas Stars *
    F Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks
    F Dmitrij Jaskin, St. Louis Blues *
    F David Krejci, Boston Bruins
    F Milan Michalek, Toronto Maple Leafs *
    F Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning
    F David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
    F Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens
    F Vladimir Sobotka, Avangard Omsk (KHL)
    F Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers

    Earlier this week, Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr announced that he wouldn’t be taking part in the World Cup event.

    In a surprising move, Jagr’s teammate in Florida, Jiri Hudler, was left off the roster. The 32-year-old had 16 goals and 46 points in 72 games with the Flames and Panthers in 2015-16. Radim Vrbata (Canucks), Tomas Fleischmann and Andrej Nestrasil (Carolina) also didn’t make the cut.

    Laine makes Team Finland for World Cup, Puljujarvi doesn’t

    Patrik Laine of Finland celebrates scoring against Russia during the 2016 IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championship final match between Finland and Russia in Helsinki, Finland, Tuesday Jan. 5, 2016. (Roni Rekomaa/Lehtikuva via AP) FINLAND OUT
    AP
    2 Comments

    The Finns rounded out their 2016 World Cup of Hockey roster on Friday morning, and two of the country’s brightest young prospects received decidedly different news.

    Patrik Laine, the reigning World Hockey Championship MVP and likely No. 2 overall pick at this year’s draft, was named to the squad. Jesse Puljujarvi, the 2016 World Juniors MVP and presumptive No. 3 pick, was left off.

    Puljujarvi, 18, was edged out for a spot at forward by Laine, Minnesota’s Erik Haula and Sebastian Aho, a Carolina Hurricanes prospect that spent last season playing for Karpat of the SM-liiga.

    Aho, another 18-year-old, played alongside Laine for Finland’s silver medal-winning squad at the Worlds and finished the tournament with seven points in 10 games.

    On defense, Finland added three more skaters to the roster: Calgary’s Jyrki Jokipakka, Chicago farmhand Ville Pokka and Sami Lepisto, who plays in the KHL.

    In goal, another KHLer — SKA Saint Petersburgh’s Mikko Koskinen — was selected, and will compete for minutes with Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne.

    The Finnish roster, in full:

    G Mikko Koskinen, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) *
    G Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
    G Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

    D Jyrki Jokipakka, Calgary Flames *
    D Sami Lepisto, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL) *
    D Esa Lindell, Dallas Stars
    D Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins
    D Ville Pokka, Rockford IceHogs (AHL) *
    D Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres
    D Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks

    F Sebastian Aho, Karpat Oulu (SM-liiga) *
    F Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
    F Joonas Donskoi, San Jose Sharks
    F Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning
    F Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild
    F Erik Haula, Minnesota Wild *
    F Jussi Jokinen, Florida Panthers
    F Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild
    F Leo Komarov, Toronto Maple Leafs
    F Lauri Korpikoski, Edmonton Oilers
    F Patrik Laine, Tappara Tempere (SM-liiga) *
    F Jori Lehtera, St. Louis Blues
    F Teuvo Teravainen, Chicago Blackhawks

    * named to roster today

    Among the notable “snubs” for Finland? Detroit’s Teemu Pulkkinen, Vancouver’s Markus Granlund (Mikael’s brother), Winnipeg’s Joel Armia, former Boston Bruin Joonas Kemppainen and Nashville’s Miikka Salomaki.

    In addition to Puljujarvi, it’s also worth noting two of the country’s brightest young prospects failed to make it: Kasperi Kapanen, who made his NHL debut for the Leafs this year, and Mikko Rantanen, the promising Colorado forward taken 10th overall in ’15.

    Pittsburgh’s run fueled by ‘Baby Pens’

    1 Comment

    Thursday night was big for Pittsburgh.

    But it was also big for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as well.

    After the Penguins defeated Tampa Bay 2-1 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, head coach Mike Sullivan praised four key players that spent parts of this year with the club’s minor-league affiliate: Matt Murray, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust and Tom Kuhnhackl.

    Lest we forget, Sullivan is a WBS guy too. He was coaching in the AHL prior to replacing Mike Johnston midway through the year, and seemed to know his minor league guys — the ‘Baby Pens’ — could produce at the NHL level.

    “Those guys were huge,” Sullivan said in his presser. “I told our players after the game that one of the things I really loved about this game was it
    took every single man in the lineup to win, and everybody made a significant contribution to helping us win, regardless of how many minutes they played.”

    The most obvious hero was Rust, a rookie that scored both goals in the Game 7 win. The Notre Dame product had five goals in 55 career regular season games, but now has five goals in 17 playoff games this year.

    “I love what he brings to this team and couldn’t be  happier  for him for his effort and his contribution as far as how he’s helped this team win for four or five months now,” Sullivan said of Rust. “To see him get rewarded with a couple of goals is a thrill for all of us because he’s such a great kid and he plays so hard.”

    Murray, who turned 22 earlier this week, was also a key factor. He was remarkably solid after regaining the starter’s net from Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 6, stopping 44 of 47 shots over the final two games of the series.

    Sheary, the diminutive speedster, had two points through Games 5-7 and fired an impressive five shots on goal tonight. Kuhnhackl was a little quieter, but still chipped in with five points this postseason, and provided a physical presence.

    Overall, the quartet provided something that Pittsburgh’s lacked in previous playoffs. The knock was always that if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin weren’t producing, the Pens weren’t winning. They just didn’t have the depth at forward to compensate when their star players went quiet.

    That’s not a problem anymore.

    “Guys made key plays at key times, subtle plays — plays on the wall, blocked shots, won face-offs, decisions with the puck, a good save, a big hit,” Sullivan explained. “There was a lot of those subtle plays throughout the course of the game that, I think, makes us the team that we are.”