Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 7 - Canada v Austria

Mike Babcock: ‘I evaluate Sidney Crosby on winning’

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Sidney Crosby has yet to score a goal in these Olympics. You can imagine the horror this appears to be creating north of the border.

So far, the tangible results Crosby has put forward in Sochi amounts to a pair of assists. On the outside, it might seem like so little because he’s widely considered the best player in the game, and because of what he did in Vancouver four years ago – scoring the overtime goal in the gold-medal game against the U.S.

Crosby’s coach with Team Canada doesn’t seem overly concerned about a lack of scoring from the captain, who played most of Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win against Finland on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Jamie Benn. (We await word on possible further changes to line combinations and starting goalies.)

“Everyone evaluates Sid on scoring and I evaluate Sid on winning,” said Canada’s head coach Mike Babcock, as per Sportsnet.ca.

Canada has advanced to the quarter-final stage of the tournament, and will play either Switzerland or Latvia in that game. The winner of the quarter-final advances to the semifinal and a possible – emphasis on possible – date with the U.S.

Yet there is hardly a level of satisfaction in Canada, or with the nation’s media. Canada went 3-0 in the preliminary round, outscoring the opposition 11-2. Two of those wins came against lesser opponents, in Norway and Austria.

And don’t forget the expectations on this team, which is looking to become the first nation in the men’s hockey competition to successfully defend the gold since NHL players began competing at the Olympics in 1998.

In two of their three contests so far, the Canadians have faced opposing teams keen to try and shut them down, playing a stringent defensive style in hopes of keeping the game as close as possible.

“You definitely have to find ways to get to that net and compete for every inch of the ice out there,” said Crosby, as per the Toronto Sun. “I think that’s just kind of the nature of playing teams who have done that for a long time.”

Judging by external reaction alone, it seems the results to this point have been underwhelming.

And when the offence up front isn’t as dynamic – only five of Canada’s 11 goals have come from forwards – as one would think with a roster that includes the likes of Crosby and Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and Matt Duchene and John Tavares, the criticism starts to come out.

“No one ever seems to be happy with us,” said Babcock.

Video: Chris Kreider doesn’t just fight Cody Eakin, he hits him with his helmet

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Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers almost seemed destined to be a wild affair, and so far, the two teams aren’t disappointing.

For one thing, Chris Kreider and the Rangers were open about “not forgetting” Cody Eakin‘s hit on Henrik Lundqvist, something Eakin realized heading in. The Stars had their own irritations coming into this game, as they clearly weren’t happy with their loss to the Buffalo Sabres and their shaky play overall.

So, yeah, plenty of reason for this to be a rowdy affair.

Kreider is delivering in particular, with the most memorable moment being his strange fight with Eakin, which you can see above. SBNation’s Pat Iversen points out that Kreider probably should have been ejected for hitting Eakin with a piece of his equipment, a violation of Rule 53.

As many know, Kreider has even more of a reputation for “interacting” with goalies, as he did once again with Antti Niemi:

The Stars currently lead the game 5-3, so it’s been a busy one on the scoreboard, too.

Video: Maple Leafs lose Morgan Rielly after fall into boards

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Down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a shaky start on Tuesday. Still, their concerns likely revolve the most around the health of defenseman Morgan Rielly.

As you can see from the video above, the young Buds blueliner was shaken up by an awkward spill into the boards.

It’s too early to know if he avoided injury or might miss some time, but there’s at least some concern that he might have aggravated an issue from before his NHL days:

We’ll need to wait and see, but with his offensive skills and overall importance in mind (average just under 23 minutes a game this season, more or less in line with his breakthrough year in 2015-16), the Maple Leafs are crossing their fingers that this isn’t anything major.

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 23:  Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck as he turns against Tyson Barrie #4 of the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on December 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks need to put a tough weekend behind them; maybe the Colorado Avalanche are just what the doctor ordered.

Colorado is clearly ranked last in the league, whether they believe they have some assets in the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog or not. Perhaps there will be a few scouts on hand to see how such potential Avs trade targets perform against a contending team?

It’s rarely a dull night when the Blackhawks roll out talented players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews – among others – so it should be a good time on NBCSN on Tuesday.

You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Short-lived return? No Tyler Ennis for Sabres tonight

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Tyler Ennis #63 of the Buffalo Sabres takes a shot on goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Tyler Ennis‘ return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Monday after a 30-game absence seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tuesday, then, represents letting the air out of the balloon.

The Sabres announced that Ennis wasn’t out for warm-ups heading into tonight’s Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs game. It certainly gives the impression that his groin injury isn’t fully healed.

Ennis contributed a goal to Buffalo’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday and nearly scored another in “lacrosse” style:

When healthy, he’s been a 20-goal, 40+ point player for Buffalo lately, so he was missed. The team tweeted out Ryan O'Reilly‘s comments about Ennis’ return mere hours ago, so you get the impression that it was a surprise for many:

Maybe it’s just a minor setback?

Update: The Sabres deem it a “precautionary scratch,” according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. So maybe file this under minor setback. We’ll see.