Mikko Koivu

Finland’s Black Friday: Wild captain Koivu to miss Olympics


Finland’s hopes of winning a medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics may have been ruined.

According to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu will not be headed to the Olympics after not being cleared to play following ankle surgery on Jan. 6. He’s expected to make that official at an announcement at 2 p.m. ET.

Koivu was injured against the Washington Capitals on January 5 and had surgery the next day so as to attempt to be back in time to play in the Olympics. That won’t be the case, however, as he hasn’t resumed playing yet and has only been skating recently with the Wild.

Koivu joins Tampa Bay Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula on Finland’s injured list. It was announced earlier today that Filppula wouldn’t be headed to Sochi after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his ankle against the Toronto Maple Leafs last night.

Without Koivu and Filppula, the Finns are down to Winnipeg Jets center Olli Jokinen and Wild center Mikael Granlund as their top two pivots. That makes for a dicey situation for a team that was believed to be a medal threat at the Olympics. Finland opens in Group B with Austria, Canada, and Norway.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen