Keith Allain (Worcester, Mass.), one of the most experienced and successful coaches in the United States, was today named the head coach of the 2011 U.S. National Junior Team. The appointment marks Allain’s third stint as head coach of a U.S. National Junior Team, having taken on the role in 2001 and 2002.
Joining Allain on the coaching staff will be assistant coaches Mark Osiecki, Phil Housley and Joe Exter. Osiecki and Exter will be serving as assistant coaches for the U.S. National Junior Team for the second straight year, while Housley returns to the staff of a U.S. National Junior Team after serving as an assistant for the first time in 2008.
Allain has his hands full in having to follow up the tremendous work coach Dean Blais did with last year’s World Junior Championship team that won the gold medal over Canada. The United States won gold thanks to a no-look overtime goal by current Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson. One difference in the tournament this time around is that the United States will be hosting the tournament in Buffalo.
Allain is the man responsible for turning around the Yale hockey program the last few years. He’s brought the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament the last two years, winning the ECAC two years ago and finishing as the top team in the conference this past season. Yale was a game away from reaching the Frozen Four this year but lost to eventual National Champion Boston College in the Northeast Regional final 10-7. Expect Allain to have better goaltending and defense for the World Junior Championships as he’ll have last year’s hero Jack Campbell in goal once again as well as soon-to-be first round pick Cam Fowler along the blue line.
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.