Henrik Lundqvist was solid in Wednesdays’ 4-2 win over the Czech Republic — stopping 27 of 29 shots — but credited Sweden’s power play and penalty kill as the standout performers.
“Special teams are really good,” Lundqvist said. “That’s going to be a big factor in this tournament.”
Sweden went 1-for-4 on the man advantage against the Czechs, with Erik Karlsson hammering home his second of the game early in the second period to give the Swedes a 4-0 lead. Daniel Sedin and Nicklas Backstrom assisted on the goal and, afterward, Karlsson spoke about playing on a PP unit with such talented skaters.
“We have some pretty good players out there,” he said. “It makes it a lot easier, and you can move around a little bit more, and trust that they’re going to get the puck to you.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time now.”
While the power play was good, Sweden’s penalty kill was even better. It killed off all four Czech man advantages on Wednesday, including two during a busy third period in which Lundqvist made 17 saves. The Swedish goalie acknowledged his club sagged a bit after building up a 4-0 lead, but thought there were some positives from the letdown that saw the Czechs cut the lead to two.
“I thought our first half was really strong,” Lundqvist explained. “After our fourth goal, we had a little letdown. It was a good test for us. You don’t want a game to go perfectly. You want a little test.”
The Edmonton Oilers have assigned center Leon Draisaitl to AHL Bakersfield.
The demotion of Draisaitl, 19, means 21-year-old rookie Anton Slepyshev has made the opening-day roster after scoring twice and adding two assists in exhibition action.
The Oilers experimented during the preseason with Draisaitl, a natural center, on the wing. He didn’t have a particularly poor camp, finishing with one goal and three assists in six games.
But Slepyshev apparently impressed more.
“He’s a young player but he’s played pro hockey before,” coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Journal. “You can see it.”
Slepyshev played 58 games in the KHL last season, scoring 15 goals for Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
A preseason push by a number of Vancouver Canucks youngsters has left forward Linden Vey and defenseman Frank Corrado on waivers today.
The more surprising name of the two is Corrado, the 22-year-old who entered the season with an excellent chance of making the opening-day roster. However, it seems that rookie d-man Ben Hutton, 22, has been given the nod after finishing an eye-opening preseason with one goal and four assists in seven games. (This despite Hutton being waiver exempt. So it’s a risk for the Canucks, to be sure.)
It was the play of 19-year-old rookie Jared McCann that led, in part, to the waiving of Vey. (For more on that, click here.) Veteran Adam Cracknell remains with the team as well, to some surprise.
Rookie winger Jake Virtanen is also expected to be on Vancouver’s opening-day roster, though that’s no big shock.
Defenseman Alex Biega is also on waivers, as expected.