The Olympics have a way of putting NHL rivalries temporarily on the back burner, even the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.
USA Hockey previously revealed that Penguins bench boss Dan Bylsma would serve as Team USA’s head coach in the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics, but this morning they named his assistants.
One of them will be Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. The Flyers bench boss led his team all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 and he previously won the Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. Laviolette has a 389-279-25-63 record as an NHL head coach.
Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards will also aide his country after seeing his underdog squad enjoy a late surge in 2013 that almost led to them ending their playoff drought. Richards has spent four seasons as an NHL head coach and hasn’t made the playoffs in that role.
Finally, someone very familiar with Bylsma’s style, Tony Granato, will round out Team USA’s coaching staff. Granato has spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins. As a player, Granato was part of America’s 1988 Olympic squad.
One notable snub was John Tortorella, who has won both the Jack Adams Award and the Stanley Cup. Dan Bylsma beat out Tortorella for the head coaching job and at the time, it sounded like Tortorella’s abilities as a coach might not have been the sole reason why he wasn’t selected.
Per Kevin Allen of the USA Today:
Tortorella damaged his public image this season with hostile news conferences while with the New York Rangers and a cursing incident during an NBC interview. It had to make him a less attractive candidate. One reason why the NHL allows it players and coaches to go the Olympics is to help grow the game. Tortorella’s behavior this season didn’t help him.
USA Hockey announces 48-player Olympic camp roster
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.