After netting just two goals in regulation over their last two contests, it looks like the Russians will be trying out some new combinations when they play Norway on Tuesday.
Alexander Semin was knocked off the top line during Monday’s practice, allowing Alexander Popov to skate alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin instead, according to Puck Daddy and TSN’s Dmitry Chesnokov.
Popov, 33, has spent his entire career playing in Russia. He had 14 goals and 32 points in 46 games with the KHL’s Omsk Avangard in 2013-14.
The line of Semin, Ovechkin, and Malkin certainly looked dangerous on paper, but they didn’t live up to expectations for very long. The trio hasn’t scored since combining for two goals in the first four minutes of Russia’s tournament opener against Slovenia.
Semin was knocked off of the top-six entirely as he skated with Artem Anisimov and Nikolai Kulemin.
Naturally these lines have to be taken with a grain of salt, not just because they were used during an off-day practice, but also because Ilya Kovalchuk is dealing with an ailment. Russia head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said Kovalchuk will play on Tuesday, but the 30-year-old missed Monday’s skate and Viktor Tikhonov consequently kept his spot warm. If Kovalchuk can’t play tomorrow, then Bilyaletdinov might significantly restructure his lines rather than let Tikhonov make his Olympic debut on the second unit.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.