Jaromir Jagr

Czechs open with Jagr, Plekanec on top line


The Czech Republic skated on Monday in preparation of Wednesday’s Olympic opener against Sweden and, as several pundits expected, iced a top line featuring New Jersey’s Jaromir Jagr, Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec and former Calgary forward Roman Cervenka:

Jagr has a history with Cervenka dating back to their days in the KHL. In 2009-10, Cervenka teamed with Jagr to play for Avangard Omsk, and the pair emerged as one of the league’s most dynamic scoring duos. The following year, with Jagr in Philly, Cervenka shouldered the load solo and wound up leading the KHL in playoff scoring (22 points in 20 games.) Plekanec, who will serve as the Czech captain in Sochi, has been a linemate of Jagr’s at a number of international events.

According to Sport CT’s Robert Zaruba, the remaining Czech lines look like this:

Jakub Voracek-David Krejci-Ondrej Palat

Petr Nedved-Patrik Elias-Martin Erat

Michael Frolik-Jiri Novotny-Milan Michalek

Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky and Phoenix’s Martin Hanzal looked to be the extras, though that could be largely due to their health. Hemsky was dealing with an ankle injury prior to the Olympics, while Hanzal fell ill prior to the break and missed a game against Chicago.

On defense, Zaruba has it:

Marek Zidlicky-Zbynek Michalek

Michal Rozsival-Tomas Kaberle

Radko Gudas-Ladislav Smid

Lukas Krajicek-Michal Barinka

Not much to glean from this, other than acknowledging three of the blueliners (Kaberle, Krajicek, Barinka) currently play in the Czech Extraliga, and made the team over NHL blueliners like St. Louis’ Roman Polak (injured at the time of roster selection), Colorado’s Jan Hejda and Detroit’s Jakub Kindl.

Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
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If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

Measuring stick stretch begins

Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning

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Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.