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Shero: Canada ‘might be the greatest Olympic hockey team ever’

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After David Poile suffered a major eye injury that kept him from going to Sochi, Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero handled Team USA GM duties at the Winter Olympics.

What Shero saw, he says, is one of the greatest teams of all time.

“The credit has to go to Canada,” Shero explained, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That might be the greatest Olympic hockey team ever.”

The numbers have been mentioned several times, but bear repeating: Canada went a perfect 6-0-0 and never trailed at the tournament. It outscored opponents 17-3, out-shot opponents 241-129 and racked up 120 minutes of combined shutout hockey against the U.S. in the semifinals and Sweden in the final.

Historically speaking, this put Canada in a conversation with other powerhouses. In 1984, the Soviet Union went a perfect 8-0 en route to winning gold, outscoring opponents 58-6. In 1960, the Americans went 7-0 while outscoring opponents 48-17. Canada’s last gold medal-winning team in the non-NHL era, the 1952 club that won gold in Oslo, went 7-0-1 and outscored opponents 71-14.

But since NHL participation began at Nagano ’98, the Olympics haven’t seen this kind of domination in any way, shape or form.

Consider…

— In ’98, the Czechs won gold after losing to Russia in the opening round.

— In ’02, the Canadians lost to Sweden and tied the Czechs before getting hot and winning gold.

— In ’06, Sweden was bombed 5-0 by Russia, then was accused of “throwing” a 3-0 loss to Slovakia… before winning it all.

— In ’10, Canada lost to the U.S. and went to a shootout with Switzerland prior to capturing gold.

So it’s easy to see why Shero said what he said. Though, to be fair, he wasn’t willing to concede the Canadians were untouchable in Sochi, alluding to their tight 1-0 defeat of the U.S. in the semifinals.

“We had great group of guys,” he explained. “It’s not so much a negative about Americans, how we played.

“Canada scored one goal.”

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.

Fight video: Patrice Bergeron vs. Blake Wheeler (seriously)

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Regular Selke winner Patrice Bergeron can do it all on the ice, it seems. Apparently that means he’ll even drop the gloves.

That was the unlikely scene during Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Winnipeg Jets skirmish, as Bergeron fought fellow finesse forward Blake Wheeler.

Perhaps unusual feisty behavior was just in the air, as Tyler Myers squared off with Matt Beleskey.

(Not as unlikely, but still.)