The Olympics have seen some stellar line combinations, and the American trio of Phil Kessel, Joe Pavelski, and James van Riemsdyk ranks among the best.
If not the best.
The trio has a combined 15 points in three games and Kessel leads the Olympic scoring race with seven points — but it’s the “new” guy on the line, Pavelski, that’s perhaps the most crucial element. Kessel and van Riemsdyk have a natural chemistry given they’re linemates in Toronto, so the San Jose center deserves credit for adapting to their style of play and taking a page from the book of Tyler Bozak — Kessel and JVR’s usual center with the Leafs.
“It’s nice coming in, knowing that him and JVR play together, and knowing what type of player Bozak is,” Pavelski said following Sunday’s 5-1 win over Slovenia. “It’s easy for me to come in and fill that role, read off them.”
So, what makes this trio so special? Versatility and sniping ability, for the most part.
Kessel is one of the best goal scorers in the game and remarkably quick, while van Riemdsyk is a big-bodied net presence that’s netted a career-high 24 goals already this season. Pavelski’s no slouch either when it comes to putting pucks in the net — he sits tied for fourth in the NHL in goals, with 29 — but in Sochi, he’s been more of a playmaker and racked up a team-high four assists (a lead he shares with van Riemdsyk.)
“Phil’s got that speed, and JVR you know he likes to be around the net,” Pavelski explained. “[I’m] filling in where I can, and we’ve had some success.”
While the Americans have received good contribution from a number of forwards, it’s clear the Kessel-Pavelski-van Riemdsyk line is driving the bus offensively. Head coach Dan Bylsma has juggled other combinations throughout the tournament but kept that red-hot trio intact throughout, a sign that it’ll be heavily counted upon as the tournament moves to the playoff stage.
The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins are going to take their rivalry outside on Saturday.
The Flyers visit the Penguins in a Stadium Series clash at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. You can catch the action on NBC or online with the NBC Sports Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Goalie nods: Murray, Neuvirth get the call at Heinz Field
Kris Letang won’t play in outdoor game; Schultz game-time decision
NHL On NBC: Penguins, Flyers meet in Stadium Series
Giroux: ‘It’s all business’ between Penguins and Flyers at Heinz Field
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes have made a minor league trade.
The Bolts on Saturday acquired right winger Stefan Fournier from the Coyotes in exchange for right winger Jeremy Morin, who has played 82 career NHL games between the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Fournier stands six-foot-three-inches tall and 226 pounds. He has two goals and four points in 29 games with the Tuscon Roadrunners in the AHL.
Morin, who has spent the majority of his pro career in the Blackhawks organization, has been a productive minor league player over the years. He has nine goals and 21 points in 43 games this season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.
The New York Islanders entered today with a three-game winning streak and holders of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
But yeah, it’s been a disastrous start for the Islanders on Saturday. The Blue Jackets scored three times in the first period, chasing Thomas Greiss from the New York net after he stopped 14 of 17 shots faced.
Jean-Francois Berube entered the game to begin the second period and promptly surrendered a goal to Josh Anderson, who scored his 12th of the season.
Oh, look at that: Another heated melee involving the Anaheim Ducks and L.A. Kings.
You’ll recall a first-period fight fest in a pivotal Pacific Division game between these teams almost one full year ago. On Saturday, in another meeting between these California rivals, the Ducks and Kings were once again at odds.
This latest conflict? Well, Corey Perry was involved. Again. (Last year, order had been restored during a brief scrum before Perry gave an extra shot to a Kings player, resulting in mayhem.)
Perry was called this time around for interference on Anze Kopitar. Kings players, as you might expect, suddenly rushed over before Nate Thompson and Brayden McNabb squared off in the main event.