Nail Yakupov

Russia finalizes its 2013 World Junior roster

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Team Russia has the advantage of being the host country in the upcoming 2013 World Junior Championship, but that’s certainly not the only thing they have going for them.

Russia announced its finalized roster for the upcoming tournament and it looks very impressive.

“Russia is always strong and this year’s team is as strong as the gold medal-winning group two years ago,” NHL Director of European Scouting, Goran Stubb, told “The goaltending is better now.”

Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko will headline the squad after helping the country earn a silver medal last year. Yakupov and Grigorenko were selected with the first and 12th picks respectively in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Andrei Vasilevski, who the Tampa Bay Lightning took with the 19th overall selection in 2012, will also be returning after posting a 2.01 GAA and .953 save percentage in last year’s tournament.

Hockey fans might also want to keep an eye on Valeri Nichushkin. NHL Central Scouting ranked him first among Russian skaters eligible for the 2013 draft.

“He’s a big, strong two-way winger,” Stubb said. “He’s tough to stop when driving to the net from either wing — a defenseman’s nightmare in one-on-one situations when at top speed. He handles the puck well in traffic, makes good decisions in those situations. Has a high overall skill level and moves well for a big guy. Smooth hands. Good playmaker.”

Russia will play against the United States on Dec. 28 and Canada on Dec. 31.


Yakupov on Team Canada: “These guys play dirty”

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

Connor McDavid
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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

Eichel front page

Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”

Sutter: Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

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Lost in the various controversies (see here and here) of last night’s game in Los Angeles was a pretty dismal performance by the Kings, a team that should’ve been especially motivated to start the season after missing the playoffs last year.

The Kings were hammered, 5-1, by the visiting Sharks. They were outshot, 32-20.

“If you don’t check, you don’t have the puck enough,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. “If you don’t have the puck enough, you can’t score.”

“We were pretty sloppy. Sloppy on our rushes, sloppy in our D-zone,” said forward Dustin Brown. “That’s probably most of it, but the other part is compete – in the corners and making hard plays coming out of our zone, going in. We didn’t play very well.”

Obviously, much credit has to go to the Sharks. Like the Kings, they missed the playoffs last year and came into 2015-16 looking for redemption. But the Sharks haven’t won two Stanley Cups in the last four years, and they weren’t the home team.

“Gotta check,” said Sutter. “You don’t check, you can’t score. We had a lot of guys, especially top guys that weren’t interested in that part of the game.”

The Kings get a visit from the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. If they don’t dominate that team…