When Karl Alzner got a voicemail from Doug Armstrong on Sunday, he thought it was in Armstrong’s capacity as GM of the St. Louis Blues, informing Alzner of a trade.
What Alzner didn’t expect was a call from Armstrong on behalf of Team Canada’s Olympic selection group.
“I thought at first that I got traded,” Alzner told Metro Vancouver of the call informing him he’d been named one of 17 defenseman named to the orientation camp. “My jaw dropped. I was thinking ‘is he seriously calling me?’
“It was a pinch-me moment.”
Alzner, 24, earned his camp invite on the strength of a solid 2013 campaign. He set a career-high for average time on ice per game (20:57) and upped it to 22:18 in the playoffs, where the Caps lost in the opening round to the Rangers.
Washington’s No. 5 overall pick at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Alzner finished second on the team in blocked shots last year (85) and fourth among all defensemen in hits (45).
In addition to the Team Canada invite, Alzner was also rewarded financially this summer.
The former WHL Calgary standout earned himself a four-year, $11.2 extension from the Caps, a nice bump from his previous two-year, $2.57 million deal.
While he’s a longshot to make Team Canada for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi — defense is arguably the country’s deepest position — Alzner is thrilled with just the opportunity to participate in the selection process.
“I’m not even on the (Olympic) team. I’m just on their radar,” he said. “There’s no better feeling.”
Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues
Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.
OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.
It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.
Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.
In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.
It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.
The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?
“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”
Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.
The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.
Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.
With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.
They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.