Generation gap: Ozolinsh, Girgensons lead Latvian Olympic roster


No shortage of interesting plot lines from today’s Latvian Olympic team announcement.

Led by Buffalo Sabres head coach Ted Nolan, the Latvians named one of their most decorated international veterans — 41-year-old defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh — and a player many consider to be the future of Latvian hockey, 20-year-old Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons.

Ozolinsh, who appeared in nearly 900 NHL games with San Jose, Colorado, Carolina, Florida, Anaheim and the New York Rangers, was a star blueliner on the ’96 Avs team that won the Stanley Cup, leading all Colorado defensemen in scoring during the regular season and playoffs.

Now, almost 20 years later, Ozolinsh is still playing for Dinamo Riga of the KHL.

Girgensons, the highest-drafted Latvian in NHL history (14th overall, 2012), is in his first season with the Sabres. The gritty center has four goals and 14 points through 41 games this year, earning high praise from Nolan.

“The one thing you can’t teach somebody is to give them that work ethic that he has,” Nolan told the Buffalo News.

Aside from Ozolinsh and Girgensons, the Latvians will have a decent amount of NHL experience. Former Flyers d-man Oskars Bartilus was named to the team, as was former Winnipeg defenseman Arturs Kulda.

Up front, ex-Sens forward Kaspars Daugavins made the cut, as did former Lightning/Bruins winger Martins Karsums.

Here’s the roster in full, per TSN:

Goaltenders: Kristers Gudlevskis, Edgars Masalskis, Ervins Mustukovs.

Defence: Oskars Bartulis, Ralfs Freibergs, Arturs Kulda, Sandis Ozolinsh, Georgijs Pujacs, Krisjanis Redlihs, Arvids Rekis, Kristaps Sotnieks.

Forwards: Armands Berzins, Martins Cipulis, Lauris Darzins, Kaspars Daugavins, Zemgus Girgensons, Miks Indrasis, Koba Jass, Martins Karsums, Ronalds Kenins, Vitalijs Pavlovs, Mikelis Redlihs, Janis Sprukts, Juris Stals, Herberts Vasiljevs.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).