Team USA struggles in final qualifying game, loses to Switzerland 5-3

Team USA’s efforts to improve their position for the elimination round of the 2011 IIHF World Championships fell by the wayside today as an energized and intense Team Switzerland came out and stifled the Americans on their way to a 5-3 win in the final game of the qualifying round.

Team USA got some reinforcements today in the form of Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk and he made his presence felt in the game scoring a goal in the third period, but his efforts alone weren’t enough to lead the Americans to victory. University of Wisconsin product and Nashville Predators prospect scored as did Senators forward Ryan Shannon to provide the offense for Team USA, but their issues were in goal today.

Ty Conklin got the start but made just 12 saves in 31 minutes played as he allowed four goals. Al Montoya replaced him and closed the door stopping all 12 shots he saw as it would be just an empty net goal that would provide the rest of the Swiss offense. Switzerland was led by Kevin Lotscher who scored twice, his second of the game providing the difference maker and giving them a 4-2 lead at the time.

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Team USA is now set for the elimination round of the tournament and they’ll have a date with Jaromir Jagr’s Czech Republic team. With host Slovakia out of the tournament, expect that the crowd will be very much pro-Czech as visitors from the neighboring country will pack out the arena.

The Czech Republic locked up the top spot in their group while Team USA finishes fourth in theirs. Getting the chance to face off against Jagr’s team with Ondrej Pavelec in net will provide this very young American team quite the challenge if they want to earn a medal in this year’s tournament. Pavelec has been lights out all tournament going 5-0 with a 1.40 goals against average and a .945 save percentage. The Czechs are teeming over with talent, however, as they’re rolling with Patrik Elias, Martin Havlat, and Tomas Plekanec. The deck is certainly stacked up against Team USA but this tournament is always ripe for surprises.

Here are the highlights from today’s game.

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Brendan Smith still talking to Rangers, ‘trying to make it happen’

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It’s only a few days until July 1 and defenseman Brendan Smith still doesn’t have an extension in place with the New York Rangers.

Not to worry, says his agent. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Smith is going to sign elsewhere.

“No one should read anything into the fact that we don’t have a deal yet,” Anton Thun told the New York Post. “You’re never really close until it’s done, but both sides are trying to make it happen. We’ll have to see.”

Thun told the Post a month ago that Smith, an unrestricted free agent, was “open” to returning to the Rangers.

But there’s also been speculation that the Blueshirts will pursue Kevin Shattenkirk in free agency, which would probably mean less money available for Smith.

It remains to be seen if the Rangers will, indeed, make a big push for Shattenkirk. The addition of Anthony DeAngelo in the Derek Stepan trade may have lessened their urgency in that regard.

“He’s a puck-moving right-handed defenseman that can run the power play and shoot the puck,” GM Jeff Gorton said of DeAngelo, per Sporting News.

Which sounds a lot like Shattenkirk, no?

Smith, 28, was traded to the Rangers from Detroit on Feb. 28.

Sens extend McCormick — two years, $1.3 million

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Looks as though forward Max McCormick has a future in Ottawa.

On Tuesday, the Sens signed McCormick to a two-year extension worth $650,000 annually — and, perhaps most importantly, it’s a one-way deal in the second year.

McCormick, 25, also has a $250,000 guaranteed AHL salary next season.

The deal comes after he set a career high and tied for the AHL Binghamton team lead in goals last year, with 21. McCormick also appeared in seven games for Ottawa — this after playing 20 in ’15-16 — and emerged as a high-energy guy with an edge to his game.

Despite not being overly big (5-foot-11, 188 pounds), McCormick fought seven times for Binghamton last season, and led the team in penalty minutes. The year prior, he scrapped 12 times between the Sens and Baby Sens.

A spot at the NHL level could soon materialize. The Sens have already announced they’re moving on from free agent forward Chris Neil, and the futures of fellow UFAs Viktor Stalberg, Chris Kelly and Tommy Wingels remain uncertain.

Carolina re-signs Chelios, Brown

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The ‘Canes retained some organizational depth on Tuesday, agreeing to terms with defenseman Jake Chelios — the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios — and forward Patrick Brown.

Brown’s contract is a one-year, $650,000 extension, one that will pay $160,000 at the AHL level, with a guarantee of $190,000.

Brown, 25, split last season between Charlotte and Carolina, appearing in a career-high 14 contest with the ‘Canes. The Boston College product scored 12 goals and 28 points in 66 games with the Checkers.

Chelios, 26, has yet to make his NHL debut but is coming off a strong season with Charlotte. He served as an alternate captain and had a strong offensive campaign, with 32 points in 76 contests. That led all Checkers d-men in scoring, and he was the only player on the team to appear in every single game this season.

Like Brown, Chelios’ deal will pay $650,000 at the NHL level. It’s $85,000 at the AHL level.

Report: Sens tried to get Methot back from Vegas

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The Ottawa Senators did their best to make sure they didn’t lose Marc Methot in the expansion draft.

They attempted to get Dion Phaneuf to waive his no-move clause so they could keep Methot, but that didn’t work out.

On Monday, TSN hockey analyst Pierre LeBrun reported that the Golden Knights and Senators had been talking about a potential trade back to Ottawa.

In the end, Vegas GM George McPhee preferred to ship him to Dallas for 2017 seventh-rounder Dylan Ferguson and a second-round pick in 2020.

According to beat reporter Bruce Garrioch, Vegas’ asking price to allow the Sens to protect Methot before expansion was a 2018 first-round pick.

Methot has averaged at least 19:49 of ice time during his five seasons in Ottawa.

In the end, all this means is that the Senators will need to find someone else to play on the top pairing with Erik Karlsson next season.

During training camp, Ottawa put top prospect Thomas Chabot with Karlsson. They opted to send Chabot back to junior, but that could be an interesting combination if they think he’s ready to be a regular in the NHL.