Earlier today, Mike passed along word that the United States bludgeoned Finland 5-0 to make the quarterfinals of the 2012 World Championships. The Dallas Stars might have “lost” just as much as Finland in the grand scheme of things, though.
Mark Stepneski reports that workhorse goalie Kari Lehtonen suffered a knee/lower-body injury after Bobby Ryan bumped him while crashing the net:
As Stepneski notes, Lehtonen didn’t return to the contest but there wasn’t much time left and Finland was already well behind. That wasn’t the only nail-biting moment for Stars brass on Sunday, however, as Alex Goligoski also was boarded, as you can see in this video:
As disturbing as that hit looked, Goligoski reportedly didn’t miss a shift. Naturally, things could change once he gets examined again (the Stars might want to insist on as much) but that’s a positive sign.
It all goes to show that many NHL teams probably root for good luck with health more than gold medals and developmental confidence-boosters when they see their players perform in international tournaments. Lehtonen and Goligoski’s issues don’t sound serious – Goligoski might not even be “injured” – yet it shows how much things can change for a team in a single game (even when those players aren’t wearing your sweater).
Flyers’ Read out four weeks with reported oblique muscle pull
Holland is also a baseball fan and likes the way MLB has created must-watch play-in games. In baseball, there are three division winners in each league. Those three teams qualify for the division round of the postseason. Two wild-card teams in each league square off in a one-game play-in to decide the fourth divisional qualifier on each side.
“I’m all for an extra team in each conference qualifying for the playoffs and having a wild- card play-in game,” said Holland. “It would add excitement down the stretch for many more teams fighting for the additional wild-card spot and two extra teams would be involved in the playoffs. Those play-in games would be dramatic.”
Of course, the interesting thing about that is the Red Wings have a streak of 25 consecutive playoff appearances on the line.
But their best days — when Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg led them to a Stanley Cup in 2008 and the final the following year — are long behind them. The organization has undergone substantial change with Zetterberg getting older, the loss of Datsyuk to the KHL and Mike Babcock joining the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Three forwards — Brock Boeser, Alex DeBrincat, and Colin White — and two defensemen — Chad Krys and Charlie McAvoy — make up the five returnees that were named today to the preliminary roster for the 2017 U.S. National Junior Team.
Other recognizable names include first-round draft picks Luke Kunin, Clayton Keller, Logan Brown, Kieffer Bellows, Jack Roslovic, and Tage Thompson.
“This is a talented, versatile group of players that has found success across all levels of hockey,” said general manager Jim Johannson from USA Hockey. “There is depth at every position, and while we still have some difficult decisions to make, we feel each of these players can fit the style of hockey Coach Motzko (U.S. head coach Bob Motzko) first implemented at our National Junior Evaluation Camp last August.”
Galchenyuk suffered a lower body injury on December 4 in Los Angeles. He went for medical testing in St. Louis earlier Monday, and will be out indefinitely.
He will be further evaluated by team doctors in Montreal on Wednesday. An update will be released later this week.
The injury occurred in the third period of Sunday’s game, when he collided with Kings center Anze Kopitar.
Galchenyuk, 22, leads the Canadiens with nine goals and 23 points in 25 games this year and is one of the club’s top faceoff men, at least in terms of draws taken. He also averages over 16 minutes per night and features prominently on the power play.
So, needless to say, this is a potentially massive loss for Montreal.
The Habs will wrap their three-game road swing in St. Louis tomorrow, and are then back in action Thursday, when they host the Devils.