Just Finn, baby: Finland medals again, routs U.S. for bronze

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All Finland does at Olympic hockey tournaments is win medals.

On Saturday, the Finns became the first country to medal four times since NHLers began participating 16 years ago, trouncing the Americans 5-0 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome in the bronze medal game.

After a scoreless opening period, Finland broke out early in the second when Teemu Selanne scored the first of his two goals just 1:27 into the frame. Jussi Jokinen scored 11 seconds later to give the Finns a 2-0 lead, and they broke the game wide open in the third period with three goals in a seven-minute span from Jusso Hietanen, Selanne (his fourth of the tournament) and Olli Maatta.

Tuukka Rask, back in goal after missing Saturday’s semifinal loss to Sweden with illness, stopped all 27 shots faced for his first shutout of these Olympics.

As mentioned above, the win caps off a remarkable 16-year stretch for the Finns: bronze at Nagano ’98, silver at Turin ’06, bronze at Vancouver ’10 and bronze once again in Sochi. The Finnish performance at this tournament was very impressive, especially considering the team was ravaged by injury — Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu and Tampa Bay’s Valtteri Filppula were ruled out by injury just prior to the start of the Games, and Florida rookie Aleksander Barkov was shelved during the group stage following a knee ailment. Finland’s only two losses in this tournament came to the teams playing for gold, too — they lost 2-1 in OT to Canada in the group stage, and 2-1 to the Swedes in Friday’s semifinal.

While the Finns have much to be proud of, Saturday was a massive disappointment for the Americans.

After losing 1-0 to Canada in the semis on Friday, head coach Dan Bylsma said the goal was to come home with a bronze medal. But the U.S. never got its game on track against the Finns, exhibited by Patrick Kane missing a pair of penalty shots. The Americans also failed to score for the second game in a row, a startling reversal of fortune given they scored 20 goals over their first four games of the tournament, often looking like a dynamic offensive force.

U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick was on the hook for all five Finnish goals, making 24 saves in the loss.

Predators tab Roman Josi as new captain, call him ‘our Roger Federer’

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The Nashville Predators boasted some appealing options to take the torch from Mike Fisher as captain, but really there was only one obvious name: Roman Josi.

Josi officially became the team’s eighth captain on Tuesday. Ryan Ellis appears to be second-in-command as “associate” captain, while they seem interested in spreading the leadership wealth around otherwise:

As captain, Josi will see an increased role on the Predators leadership team, which will also see some new appointments. Defenseman Ryan Ellis has been named as the team’s associate captain, while Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm will all serve as alternate captains. In addition, Pekka Rinne, P.K. Subban and Nick Bonino have all taken positions within the leadership group.

If that’s not a sign that the team is taking this seriously – kind of amusingly so – consider that Ellis and Josi “interviewed” for the position and Peter Laviolette evoked military structures in discussing the decision, as sports teams love to do.

Josi seemed flattered when GM David Poile described him as “our Roger Federer,” a fellow Swiss sports star.

At face value, that’s great, especially since it breaks through the near-corporate-speak that saddles announcements like these.

That said, it’s funny to compare the leader in a team sport to a tennis player, among the most individualistic athletes in all of sport. There aren’t many moments of teamwork beyond doubles and rare events like the Davis Cup.

Overall, it’s another strong decision by the Predators. It’s merely fun to tease them a bit about the cornier aspects.

Awful injury news for Blues’ Bouwmeester, Sanford

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Hockey’s training camps and exhibition games share a lot of similarities, big-picture wise, with other sports.

As much as they’re all about evaluating players trying to make rosters and rule tweaks heading into each season, the “winners” of a pre-season may just be the teams that make it out without any significant injuries. The St. Louis Blues aren’t one of those winners.

The team announced unsettling injury updates for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and forward Zach Sanford on Tuesday.

Sanford is expected to miss five-to-six months after undergoing shoulder surgery. That virtually wipes out an important season for a guy who was still trying to stake his claim to a full-time roster spot.

Bouwmeester’s situation is probably more troubling, potentially, as he’s already a key defenseman for the Blues (averaging more than 22 minutes last season, which was a slight decrease from recent work). The team announced that Bouwmeester suffered a fractured ankle and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

As tormenting as day-to-day updates can be, “check back in three weeks” makes for even greater anxiety.

It does open up some opportunities for other players in the Blues organization, for whatever that’s worth.

This news comes shortly after the Ottawa Senators announced that Colin White will miss multiple weeks with a broken wrist.

You almost wonder if we’ll start to see fewer practice updates like these:

Senators’ prospect Colin White out 6-8 weeks with broken wrist

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Bad news for the Ottawa Senators today.

The club announced Tuesday that prospect center Colin White is out six to eight weeks with a broken left wrist.

The Senators selected White 21st overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. After two years at Boston College, he signed his entry-level deal in April and appeared in two regular season games for Ottawa. He also appeared in a Stanley Cup playoff game, though he only saw 2:39 of ice time.

That’s certainly disappointing for White, who could’ve had a shot to make the big club out of training camp. One of the question marks for Ottawa had been the status of fellow center Derick Brassard, who had offseason shoulder surgery with a recovery timeline of four to five months.

“I come here and worry about myself, do the right things on and off the ice, take care of my body. If I’m playing well and taking care of my game, I’ll fight for a spot,” White told the Ottawa Citizen prior to training camp.

It was a little on the foggy side for Canucks practice in Shanghai

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The Vancouver Canucks dealt with some adverse conditions as they hit the ice at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai in preparation for this week’s 2017 NHL China Games exhibition series versus the L.A. Kings.

According to the pictures, it was a little on the foggy side for their practice.

Is that . . . Henrik Sedin in the distance?

The Canucks and Kings face off Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Arena, before traveling to Beijing for Saturday’s game at Wukesong Arena.

The good news? It appears the fog was lifted in time for the Kings’ practice.