Christian Dvorak

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Gaudreau joins Eichel as latest additions to USA’s Worlds roster

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Another big score for USA Hockey on Friday.

Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau — whose season ended earlier Wednesday with a playoff sweep at the hands of Anaheim — told reporters today he’d be joining Team USA for the upcoming World Championships in Germany and France.

Gaudreau’s announcement comes just days after another big name — Buffalo’s Jack Eichelalso agreed to join the squad.

All this makes for a pretty intriguing roster.

USA Hockey has adopted a youth movement, selecting collegiate players like Notre Dame goalie Cal Petersen (a Buffalo draftee), Boston University forward Jordan Greenway (a Minnesota draftee), Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork (a Boston draftee) and Daniel Brickley, an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State-Mankato.

In addition to those, some quality NHL youngsters are also in the mix: Noah Hanifin, J.T. Compher, Andrew Copp and a pair of prized Arizona prospects — Christian Dvorak and Clayton Keller. Detroit sophomore Dylan Larkin will also suit up for the Americans.

The 2017 Worlds get underway on May 5.

 

 

‘I don’t think it’s acceptable’: Coyotes goalie Mike Smith is fed up of missing the playoffs

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It’s been five long years since the Arizona Coyotes made the playoffs. If you look at the way their 2016-17 season went, you’d think they probably aren’t close to ending that drought either.

Only two teams finished below Arizona in the standings (Colorado and Vancouver), three teams scored less often than them and only Colorado and Dallas gave up more goals.

For a veteran like Mike Smith, who’s been with the organization throughout these lean years, the situation surrounding the Coyotes is becoming more frustrating.

“It sucks. It’s the NHL. You play to play in the playoffs. When you’re out of the playoffs for five years in a row, I think it really leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” Smith told AZ Central.

“Personally, I don’t think it’s acceptable.”

The 35-year-old has played in 19 NHL playoff games throughout his career with 16 of those coming with the ‘Yotes in 2012.

On the bright side, the Coyotes are stacked with quality young players. Max Domi, Tobias Rieder, Clayton Keller, Lawson Crouse, Brendan Perlini, Christian Dvorak, Anthony Duclair,  Jakub Chychrun and Anthony DeAngelo all have terrific upside. Unfortunately for veterans like Smith, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Shane Doan, we don’t know how long it’ll take before those youngsters come together to form a competitive team.

Adding quality veterans could help speed up the rebuilding process.

“We need to add some more veteran pieces,” added Smith. “It’s tough to compete in this league, especially in our division against veteran clubs that have been together for a long time. You throw a lot of kids in the lineup, even though they have improved drastically over the season, it’s tough to win on any given night with as many young players we have in the lineup.”

With captain Shane Doan still undecided about his playing future and Radim Vrbata set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, GM John Cheyka may have to invest a good amount of coin to bring in older players from other teams.

Video: Coyotes’ Dvorak with a mesmerizing deke and goal vs. Capitals

The Arizona Coyotes seem like they’d be an easy opponent if you look at their place in the standings, but they’re instead giving the Washington Capitals grief on Friday.

Braden Holtby couldn’t make it through the first period tonight, being chased after the Coyotes made it 3-0 by scoring three goals on 15 shots (in less than 20 minutes of play).

Christian Dvorak‘s goal was the standout moment, as he made a brilliant deke and beat Holtby to start the scoring. He’s shown flashes of brilliance so far in 2016-17, with this being his 13th goal.

Here’s the goal that chased Holtby:

Dvorak, Coyotes put Ducks in early hole with slick goals (Video)

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The Arizona Coyotes’ happy thoughts are mostly centered on the future. Christian Dvorak possibly being more than a guy who put up nice junior numbers with Matthew Tkachuk and Mitch Marner could fuel some really nice thoughts.

He’s been red-hot in February, in particular, including a goal already tonight as the Coyotes raced off to an early 2-0 lead against the Anaheim Ducks.

Check out that smooth play for his 10th goal of 2016-17:

Again, he’s been on quite the roll lately.

February: nine points (and counting?) in nine games
Rest of the season: 13 points in 45 games

He only had one assist in 12 January contests, so this outburst is even more unexpected than the Coyotes racing off to this lead.

Interestingly, the Coyotes two goals looked awfully similar, at least in the finish:

Randy Carlyle’s mood? Probably not too chipper right now.

Coyotes clobber Flames, who flub chance to regain playoff position

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The Calgary Flames came into their bye week with wins in four of five games, with three coming beyond regulation. Did that five-day break extinguish that momentum?

That’s a question for those who want to bat around such semantic debates, but the bottom line is that the Flames suffered a rough loss on Monday, dropping a 5-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes.

The Flames fired 19 shots on goal to nine for Arizona in the first period, but Martin Hanzal scored the only goal of the opening frame. Mike Smith had a great game, posing a 36-save shutout, his second goose egg of 2016-17.

Christian Dvorak did just about everything except managing a hat trick in this one, settling instead for two goals and an assist. Ryan White also enjoyed a nice game, collecting a goal and an assist.

It’s one of the Flames’ worst losses of the season, and it’s also a squandered opportunity to climb into the West’s top eight.

West wild card races

Predators – 62 points in 56 games
Kings – 60 points in 55 games

Flames – 59 points in 57 games
Canucks – 56 points in 56 games
Stars – 54 points in 57 games
Jets – 54 points in 58 games

The Flames don’t have much time to sulk about this letdown. After Wednesday’s home game against the Flyers, the Flames embark on a five-game road trip.

Stretches like those can make things go sideways, so the Flames have to let this one go, as much as it likely stings.

And the Coyotes? Well, teams might want to start taking them seriously as “spoilers” going forward.