Bring on the blowouts? Doughty says goal differential ‘huge’ at Olympics


Opening-round blowouts at the Olympics can be embarrassing for the team on the losing end but, as Canada’s Drew Doughty points out, they could be vitally important in the long run.

“I don’t think you ever want to take your foot off the gas regardless of the rules,” Doughty said, per the Olympic News Service. “We don’t ever want to embarrass teams if we have the opportunity to do that, but at the same time goal differential is huge.”

Doughty’s right that goal differential is a big deal. At the end of the preliminary round, all 12 teams are ranked to determine which eight go to the qualification playoffs, and which four get automatic quarterfinal berths.

Rankings are determined by 1) highest position in respective group; 2) highest number of points, 3) better goal difference, 4) high number of goals scored for, 5) 2013 IIHF World Ranking.

At the 2010 games in Vancouver, Finland and the Czech Republic finished the preliminary stage second in their respective groups, each with six points. That meant the deciding factor came to goal difference, and Finland — thanks in large part to 5-1 and 5-0 blowouts over Belarus and Germany — had the better differential, meaning it got the fourth-place ranking and a quarterfinal berth.

The Czechs, meanwhile, had to go through the qualification round and barely squeaked by Latvia in OT.

As such, Doughty re-iterated the importance of scoring goals in the preliminary round, and conceding as few as possible.

“We need to put pucks in the net and we have to keep them out of ours,” he said. “We’re not going to take our foot off the pedal. We’re just going  to keep going. We don’t want to develop bad habits.”

Capitals manage OT win after coughing up lead to Bruins

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 03: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals looks on against the Winnipeg Jets during the first period at Verizon Center on November 3, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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It wasn’t pretty, and they might have lost key defenseman Matt Niskanen to injury, but at least the Washington Capitals managed a win against the Boston Bruins.

For a while, it was looking pretty ugly.

After going up 3-0, the Capitals went more than a period’s worth of time without even managing a shot on goal. Whether you lean more toward giving the Bruins credit for fighting back or beating up the Capitals for “sitting on a lead,” it’s staggering that such a dangerous offense could be held in check for so long.

Luckily for Washington, Nicklas Backstrom salvaged the night with an overtime goal to give the Capitals a 4-3 overtime win.

Both teams have had a knack for extending games beyond regulation lately, by the way:

Capitals over the last three games:
Shootout loss to the Lightning
Overtime win against the Sabres
Overtime win tonight against the Bruins

Bruins over the last five games:
Shootout loss against Flyers
Shootout win against Hurricanes
Regulation win against Sabres
Overtime win against Panthers
Overtime loss to the Capitals

Maybe that’s what gets it done in 2016-17: finding ways to carve out wins and shake out rough patches, like the Caps did tonight.

Matt Niskanen injured by Patrice Bergeron boarding hit

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Patrice Bergeron doesn’t have a reputation for dirty hits, but he drew the Washington Capitals’ ire for a hit on Matt Niskanen.

The Capitals consider Niskanen “probable” to return to Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins with what they’re calling an upper-body injury. Bergeron received a two-minute boarding penalty for the infraction.

(Check out video of the hit above.)

The Capitals’ Twitter acknowledged the brewing bad feelings.

Does Bergeron deserve supplemental discipline for that boarding hit?

Washington currently leads the game 3-2.

Ouch: NHL official helped off ice after puck to knee (Video)

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There are plenty of hazards on an NHL rink even if you’re not a player.

Barry Trotz ranks among the coaches who’ve been hit by pucks, though he’s one of the tiny sliver of humans who would shake off a puck to the forehead. It can be dangerous for officials, too, whether it means a wayward puck or wayward player.

The latest example comes in the form of linesman Steve Miller needing help off the ice after a puck hit him in the knee area. As you can see from the video, it looked like he was in serious pain.


Video: Tyler Bozak with some saucy moves on this goal

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It’s refreshing that hockey fans have, for the most part, moved on from debating Tyler Bozak‘s merits.

The general feeling is that the Toronto Maple Leafs use him in appropriate ways these days, so we can simply enjoy his work as a pretty spiffy hockey player.

Speaking of spiffy, check out the sweet moves he made against the Minnesota Wild for the goal above. Feels like you could dub over a Chris Berman “whoop” or two in there, right?

(If you’re into that kind of thing.)

Here’s that gaudy move in isolation and in GIF form: