It’s early, but the U.S. has put together a sniper-filled line for Sochi.
Monday’s practice was highlighted by the Phil Kessel-James van Riemsdyk-Joe Pavelski trio, featuring three of the NHL’s top 20 goalscorers this season.
Kessel, second in the league with 31 tallies, looks as though he’ll retain his Toronto running mate van Riemsdyk for the Olympic tourney. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise — as we saw with Canada, teams are looking to utilize the chemistry built between teammates during the regular season (Sidney Crosby-Chris Kunitz, Jonathan Toews-Patrick Sharp and Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry were all paired at today’s Canadian skate.)
The interesting wrinkle in Sochi, though, will be Pavelski. The San Jose center is currently enjoying one of the best goalscoring campaigns of his career, with 29, putting him tied for fourth in the league with Getzlaf and just two back of Kessel as the top American scorer.
Amazingly, this means that van Riemsdyk — who has a career-high 24 goals already this season — is the lowest scorer on his line.
The other American forward lines were equally compelling. In keeping with the teammates theme, St. Louis forwards David Backes and T.J. Oshie skated with team captain Zach Parise; Ryan Kesler centered Dustin Brown and Patrick Kane; Paul Stastny was between Max Pacioretty and Ryan Callahan while Derek Stepan and Blake Wheeler were the extras.
FYI: Brown and Kesler are less than a month removed from fighting each other…
UPDATE: The defensive pairings, per Sports Illustrated, are Cam Fowler-Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh-John Carlson, Kevin Shattenkirk-Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik-Justin Faulk.
Mike Ribeiro isn’t playing in Game 3 for the Nashville Predators against the San Jose Sharks, and it doesn’t appear to be for health reasons.
Well, his production hasn’t been very healthy.
The polarizing playmaker has only mustered a single assist and zero goals in nine playoff games; Ribeiro hasn’t scored a point against the Sharks so far.
Ribeiro isn’t exactly known for his offensive acumen, either, so there’s not much motivation to keep him in the lineup if he isn’t producing offense. Ultimately, it’s easy to see why he’s a healthy scratch.
Pontus Aberg looks to make his NHL debut via this big playoff game while Craig Smith is believed to play.
It should be interesting to see how Nashville responds to this challenge.
The Nashville Predators hope to get back in their series now that the San Jose Sharks are visiting “Smashville.” Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars and Blues jostle for a 2-1 lead in St. Louis.
You can keep up with Game 3 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders (which is in progress) right here and on NBCSN.
Game 3 of Sharks – Predators is on USA Network and can be streamed via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Finally, Game 3 of Stars – Blues airs on NBCSN. Keep an eye out for notes if there’s overlap with Bolts – Isles (which would bump it temporarily to NHL Network), but either way, you can stream the action below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Jonathan Drouin‘s strong playoff play has been a big story for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but his health is in question after taking a huge hit on Tuesday.
As you can see from the video above, Drouin was shaken up by an enormous check from New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey. It’s believed that Drouin went to “The Quiet Room” to see if he suffered a concussion; PHT will pass along whatever information becomes available.
(NHL teams aren’t exactly forthcoming with this information.)
The Islanders actually ended up with a power play from the fallout, as Hickey’s hit didn’t earn a penalty. The general reaction is that it wasn’t a dirty hit, yet some might disagree with that sentiment.
Update: Drouin didn’t come out during the beginning of the third period. He did, however, return midway through the final frame.
The NHL named the three finalists for the 2016 Foundation Player Award on Tuesday: Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano, New York Islanders forward Matt Martin and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.
The awarded is handed to “an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey — commitment, perseverance and teamwork — to enrich the lives of people in his community.”
The winner gets to hand $25K to the charity of his choice.