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.
Brendan Perlini is off to an impressive start this season with the Tuscon Roadrunners in the American Hockey League. The scoring has been there. The production has been there.
Averaging a point per game with 11 goals through 16 contests in the minors, Perlini is on his way to the NHL. The Arizona Coyotes officially recalled the 20-year-old forward — selected 12th overall in the 2014 draft — from Tuscon on Sunday.
The rebuilding, youthful Coyotes are last in the Pacific Division right now, stuck with eight wins through 23 games.
They gave up 60 shots to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday but managed to earn a single point thanks to the play of their goalie Mike Smith.
The Coyotes are on the road Monday and Tuesday this week. They’ll open this quick trip against Columbus, although it hasn’t been determined when Perlini will get into the lineup.
But with a back-to-back situation on the road, it seems likely he’ll make his NHL debut at some point in the next two days.
“Brendan possesses elite speed and goal scoring ability,” said general manager John Chayka. “He has led the AHL in scoring early on and we believe he has earned the opportunity to show what he can do at the NHL level.”
Not much in the way of pleasantries between the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.
It started with Jordin Tootoo and Chris Thorburn dropping the gloves just 2:22 into this Central Division contest, with the Jets forward earning the takedown at the end of the scrap.
Bit of a size mismatch. Tootoo is listed at five-foot-nine-inches and 195 pounds, while Thorburn is six-foot-three-inches tall and 235 pounds.
Both teams are missing key players in this one.
Jonathan Toews is once again out of the Chicago lineup — and, it was revealed before Sunday’s game, that he won’t skate for the next few days — while Mark Scheifele misses this game for the Jets.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Matt Read is done for the night with an upper-body injury, the team announced.
Read, who only played three shifts today, was hit into the net by Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg during the first period. Flyers GM Ron Hextall announced the veteran forward suffered an upper-body injury.
There was no call on the play.
In 26 games this season, Read has six goals and 10 points.
Alexander Radulov has been a pretty good acquisition for the Montreal Canadiens, and he continued to prove that Sunday against the L.A. Kings.
Radulov scored in the shootout against the Kings, helping the Canadiens to a 5-4 victory. He also scored in the second period and had two assists for a three-point night. Not bad.
But his shootout goal was sweet. Just made it look easy, as he went to the backhand, top shelf on Peter Budaj.
With reported tension between coach Michel Therrien and Max Pacioretty, the Habs captain scored twice and had an assist. Another three-point night.
So, the Habs got offensive contributions from their best players.
That said, one of their best players, Alex Galchenyuk left the game late in the third period after a collision with Anze Kopitar away from the puck.
Galchenyuk didn’t return for the overtime. In 25 games, he has nine goals and 23 points, emerging as the No. 1 center in Montreal when the season began.