Bet you thought the Jaromir Jagr love fest was over with after the Olympics, didn’t you? Guess again as the future hall of famer is playing for the Czech Republic at the IIHF World Championships, the seventh time he’s done so, and merely had three assists in the Czechs 6-2 win over France in their opening game of the tournament.
Despite working hard, the French simply lacked the physical tools and strategic sophistication to keep up with the 38-year-old Jagr and his teammates. Jagr, who became a Triple Gold Club member with the victorious Czech squad in Austria 2005, is playing in his seventh Worlds. The monstrously skilled winger first wore the colours of Czechoslovakia at the 1990 tournament in Switzerland.
The quality of France’s play is summed up pretty easily if they’re being outworked and outsmarted by the in the twilight years Jagr. For Jagr it continues the simple reflective joys that a lot of fans felt seeing him play during the Vancouver Olympics while he was one of the Czechs more dominant players, that is until he was rocked by Alexander Ovechkin.
Speaking of the Great Eight, he had the game-winning goal in Russia’s 3-1 win over Slovakia. Ovechkin was teamed up for most of the game with former NHL MVP Sergei Fedorov and his Washington Capitals teammate Alexander Semin to create a rather formidible unit. Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov didn’t play nor suit up in this game because, well, he doesn’t have any equipment after his airline lost that and his clothing.
“I have nothing to wear at all. I arrived in Domodedovo [Airport] on Monday wearing only flipflops. And that’s how I walk around like a tourist on the beach.”
I’d have to assume that playing goal in just flipflops is against IIHF rules and possibly the setting for some kind of awful comedy.
All isn’t just fun and games for Russia, however. One reason for them to be worried is that while holding a 2-0 lead early in the third period, former Florida Panther Ivan Majesky scored for Slovakia to cut the lead in half which then lead to Russia taking their foot off the gas and going into a defensive shell the rest of the way, something we saw them do too often in the Olympics.
Russia plays Kazakhstan on Tuesday while the Czech Republic will play the Tore Vikingstad-free Norwegians.
Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks
If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.
Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).
Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:
1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:
Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.