SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Thomas Hundertpfund #27 of Austria celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal in the first period against Tuukka Rask #40 of Finland during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

Report: Finland will start Lehtonen vs. Norway

1 Comment

Finland won comfortably against Austria on Thursday, but goaltender Tuukka Rask left something to be desired. He stopped just 16 of 20 shots against the underdog team in Finland’s 8-4 victory.

Perhaps due to that, it now looks like Kari Lehtonen will play between the pipes on Friday against Norway, according to the Finnish news outlet Yle Urheilu and Stars Inside Edge’s Mark Stepneski.

Going into this tournament, Finland’s goaltending was expected to be one of its primary strengths and was arguably the deepest, if not the outright best, among the Olympic rosters.

With that in mind, the decision to replace Rask after a tough performance isn’t surprising given the nation’s alternatives. It is a bit curious though that they would go with Lehtonen next, who has been great with the Dallas Stars, but has just two games worth of playoff experience.

Finland’s other option, Antti Niemi, is a Stanley Cup champion. That being said, he’s never played in a World Championships, let alone the Olympics, while Lehtonen at least has some international experience.

Niemi was a healthy scratch today, but might serve as the backup tomorrow.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
Leave a comment

For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
Leave a comment

Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.