MichaelGrabner

Olympic playoff preview: Austria, Slovenia battle for top-eight finish

The Game: No. 8 Slovenia versus No. 9 Austria. Tuesday, 3 a.m. ET at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

How they got here: By recording historic wins in the group stage. Slovenia scored a stunning upset of Slovakia on Saturday, earning its first-ever win at the Olympics. Austria got its first Winter Games victory in 12 years with a 3-1 win over Norway on Sunday. Those were enough to propel Slovenia and Austria into the eighth and ninth seeds, respectively, which is a big deal — the winner is now guaranteed a quarterfinal berth and top-eight Olympic finish in the process. That’s pretty good, considering Slovenia’s never placed; eighth would be Austria’s highest finish at the Olympics since 1976.

Who’s hot: For Austria, Michael Grabner. The Islanders forward leads the tournament with five goals and has either scored or assisted on all but one of Austria’s seven goals this tournament.

For Slovenia, it’s Ziga Jeglic, who leads the team with three points. After scoring twice in the tournament-opening loss to Russia, Jeglic assisted on Slovenia’s first goal in the aforementioned upset over Slovakia.

Who’s not: Slovenia’s best player and lone NHLer, Anze Kopitar, left Sunday’s loss to the U.S. in the second period and didn’t return, finishing with just 11:31 TOI. After the game, head coach Matjaz Kopitar — Anze’s dad —  said his son was suffering from a stomach illness and “had no power.” The elder Kopitar said Anze was held out for precautionary reasons and would be good to play against Austria, but given how significantly illnesses have hit teams this tournament (the Czechs lost Radko Gudas and Patrik Elias to one), it could be an issue.

Austrian captain Thomas Vanek’s had a tournament to forget. He has no goals and just one point through three games, and made headlines by openly criticizing goalie Bernhard Starkbaum following an 8-4 loss to Finland.

X-Factor: Since we just mentioned it, goaltending. Austria made the change from Starkbaum to Mathias Lange during a 6-0 loss to Canada and Lange’s been very good in relief, allowing just one goal on 50 combined shots from the Canadians and Norwegians. Have to think Lange gets the call on Tuesday.

Slovenia’s Robert Kristian was solid in the first two games — stopping 57 of 63 shots against Russia and Slovakia — and should return to the net after getting a break against the U.S. (backup Luka Gracnar played, and allowed five goals on 28 shots).

Sydor named assistant coach of Blues’ AHL affiliate

OTTAWA, CANADA - OCTOBER 11: Assistant coach Darryl Sydor of the Minnesota Wild looks up at the jumbotron during a video review in a game against the Ottawa Senators, during the NHL home opener to kick off the Senators' 20th anniversary at Scotiabank Place on October 11, 2011 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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Darryl Sydor, after being let go by the Minnesota Wild, has joined the Chicago Wolves as an assistant coach.

The St. Louis Blues, the parent club of the AHL Wolves, made the announcement Monday. It was also announced that former NHLer Daniel Tkaczuk would join Sydor as an assistant on new head coach Craig Berube’s staff.

Sydor, who won two Stanley Cups as a defenseman, spent five years as an assistant on Mike Yeo’s staff in Minnesota. His time with the Wild was marred by an arrest in 2015 for drunk driving. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and sought treatment.

“I know now that alcoholism is a disease and I’m powerless over alcohol,” he told Kamloops This Week in January. “I can never have a drink again and I’m fine with that.”

Red Wings, DeKeyser settle on six-year, $30 million contract

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Cancel Danny DeKeyser‘s arbitration hearing on Thursday; it won’t be required.

DeKeyser has agreed on a six-year, $30 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings. The 26-year-old defenseman is now locked up through 2021-22.

Next up for GM Ken Holland is goalie Petr Mrazek‘s arbitration hearing tomorrow. That hearing, which came at the club’s request, may actually be necessary.

DeKeyser’s deal, on the other hand, always seemed like it would be the easier of the two to get done via negotiation.

“The player and the club both know what the range would be on a one-year deal,” Holland said recently, per the Detroit Free Press. “We continue to have conversation on a longer-term deal. I’m comfortable we can avoid the process. Danny is Detroit born, he’s happy with his role, happy to be a Red Wing. We are happy with his play.”

DeKeyser had eight goals and 12 assists in 78 games last season, while logging an average ice time of 21:48. As an NHLer, he’s proven why he was such a highly sought-after college free agent, and his new contract reflects that.

Rangers sign Russian d-man Zborovskiy to ELC

CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 19:  Pavel Karnaukhov #9 of the Calgary Hitmen is checked by Sergey Zborovskiy #2 of the Regina Pats during a WHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 19, 2014 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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The Rangers inked one of their better young blueline prospects on Monday, agreeing to terms with Sergey Zborovskiy on a three-year, entry-level deal.

Zborovskiy, 19, was New York’s third-round pick (79th) overall at the 2015 draft, a selection acquired as part of the Cam Talbot trade to Edmonton. He’s spent the last two seasons with WHL Regina, racking up eight goals and 25 points in 64 games last season.

At 6-foot-3 and 198 pounds, Zborovskiy has good size, one of the reasons the Rangers were high on him.

Per TVA, the Russian rearguard signed a deal that will pay $633,000 annually at the NHL level. Zborovskiy is expected to return to junior next year.

Ducks sign former first-rounder Noesen to one-year extension

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Forward Stefan Noesen has agreed to a one-year contract to stay with the Anaheim Ducks.

Anaheim confirmed the two-way deal Monday.

Noesen (NAY-sun) appeared in one game in each of the past two seasons for the Ducks, who acquired him from Ottawa in 2013.

The 2011 first-round pick by the Senators has spent most of the past three seasons in the AHL with Anaheim’s affiliates in Norfolk and San Diego. He scored 32 points in 65 games for the Gulls last season.

The 23-year-old Texas native’s pro career has been hindered by two major injuries. He missed practically all of the 2013-14 season with torn ligaments in his left knee, and he missed four months of the 2014-15 season after an opponent’s skate blade nearly severed his right Achilles tendon.