Jaromir Jagr

Jaromir Jagr’s hat trick leads Czechs to eliminate Team USA from World Championships 4-0

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Team USA’s dreams of medaling in the World Championships a year after they were in the relegation round are finished and it was a familiar and legendary face that did it.

Jaromir Jagr netted a hat trick for the Czech Republic while Ondrej Pavelec continued his stellar tournament with a 29 save shutout to lead the Czechs past Team USA 4-0 and into the semifinals. Team USA was outclassed by the Czechs in this game as Jagr’s line with Tomas Plekanec as his center proved to be impossible to keep up with. Plekanec added a goal of his own in the third period as well. The USA never really threatened in this game and a mix of dumb penalties and just not being talented enough proved to be the difference. USA goalie Ty Conklin was mostly helpless and unsupported while Jagr continued to show that he’s still got it at age 39. His play in the tournament has led to speculation that Jagr might come back to the NHL next season.

Team USA finishes the tournament in 8th place and while that seems disappointing, the USA finished 13th in last year’s tournament. Of course last year’s tourney came on the heels of the Olympics that saw the United States win the silver medal. The Czechs, meanwhile, are looking to win the gold at Worlds for the second straight year. Last year it culminated with an upset of Russia in the title game. This year the Czechs look like a wrecking crew ready to roll their way through to another title.

It’s a disappointing end for the United States despite their improvement over last year’s finish but with most American players either still playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs or resting after rugged seasons, it’s tough to compete with the other teams who have more players stepping up to represent their country. On the upside for the United States, they were able to get a lot of younger players experience on the international stage. That kind of thing can only help them out in their future NHL careers and potentially for an Olympic spot in the future if need be.

Here are all the Jagr-iffic highlights from today’s game.

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Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.