Dylan Larkin

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Red Wings raise eyebrows by protecting Howard instead of Mrazek

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Though his past accomplishments must be noted, Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s recent moves have been hit-or-miss, and many fans have been vocal about perceived mistakes. Sunday’s reveal of all 30 teams’ available and protected players lists won’t do Holland many favors.

In one of the biggest surprises of today’s reveal, it became clear that the Red Wings decided that their one goalie to protect would be Jimmy Howard instead of Petr Mrazek.

The decision drew national criticism to go along with local/fan critiques, too.

Note the two players’ ages and contract situations:

Howard: 33, $5.292 million through 2018-19
Mrazek: 25, $4 million through 2017-18

There are factors that could help explain the decision. Perhaps the Red Wings have a deal in place that might illuminate the choice. Maybe management simply believes that Mrazek wouldn’t return to the team after next season, anyway. Maybe Howard’s superior work over Mrazek in 2016-17 swayed management.

On face value, it’s one of the more puzzling decisions so far, even if the Golden Knights don’t scoop up Mrazek.

Check out the Red Wings’ protected and available players below, noting that Dylan Larkin ranks among those who were exempt:

DETROIT RED WINGS

Available
Louis-Marc Aubry (F)
Mitch Callahan (F)
Colin Campbell (F)
Martin Frk (F)
Luke Glendening (F)
Darren Helm (F)
Drew Miller (F)
Tomas Nosek (F)
Riley Sheahan (F)
Ben Street (F)
Eric Tangradi (F)
Adam Almquist (D)
Jonathan Ericsson (D)
Niklas Kronwall (D)
Brian Lashoff (D)
Dylan McIlrath (D)
Xavier Ouellet (D)
Ryan Sproul (D)
Jared Coreau (G)
Petr Mrazek (G)
Edward Pasquale (G)
Jake Paterson (G)

Protected
Justin Abdelkader (F)
Andreas Athanasiou (F)
Anthony Mantha (F)
Frans Nielsen (F)
Gustav Nyquist (F)
Tomas Tatar (F)
Henrik Zetterberg (F)
Danny DeKeyser (D)
Mike Green (D)
Nick Jensen (D)
Jimmy Howard (G)

Finnished: U.S. crashes out of Worlds with disappointing loss

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Team USA’s promising World Hockey Championship run came to a stunning halt on Thursday.

The Americans, who finished atop Group A on the strength of six straight victories, were dumped in the quarterfinal round courtesy a 2-0 loss to Finland — the same Finnish team that only posted two regulation wins in the preliminary phase, had a negative goal differential and barely edged out France for a playoff berth.

It was a disappointing day for Team USA, to say the least.

Failing to score a single goal might top the list of frustrations. Coming into the quarters, the U.S. was the tournament’s third highest-scoring team, finding the back of the net 31 times. That included 16 goals over the last three, which included an emotional 5-3 victory over the previously-undefeated Russians.

Johnny Gaudreau had 11 points over seven preliminary round games. Dylan Larkin had 10. But they and the rest of the Americans couldn’t solve Finnish netminder Harri Sateri — who, to be fair, wasn’t overly tested but held strong in the third. Sateri finished with 26 saves, 12 of those coming in the final frame.

On the offensive side of things, Finland was paced by goals from Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Kemppainen. Sebastian Aho assisted on Rantanen’s tally, giving him a team-high nine points on the tourney.

With the win, Finland will now take on Russia in the semifinals. The Russians dispatched of the Czech Republic in earlier quarterfinal action.

The U.S., meanwhile, will head home from the Worlds without a medal for the second straight year.

 

Hayes scores twice as U.S. hands Russia first loss at Worlds

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Team USA notched its biggest win of the World Hockey Championship on Tuesday, knocking off previously undefeated Russia 5-3.

Kevin Hayes scored twice, while Anders Lee continued his terrific tourney by netting the game-winner on the power play in the third period. Isles teammate Brock Nelson — who’s also playing very well for the U.S. — had a three-point effort, while Johnny Gaudreau and Dylan Larkin registered two points each.

The Russians were led by Nikita Gusev, who scored twice.

As mentioned above, this was the first setback of the tourney for Russia. The team had previously run roughshod through the preliminary round, largely on the strength of its “big three” — forwards Nikita Kucherov, Artemi Panarin and Vadim Shipachyov. The trio had combined for 36 points but went silent on Tuesday. Shipachyov was the only one to find the scoresheet, registering an assist.

The U.S. has to be thrilled with today’s result. It’s a stark turnaround from its opening loss to the Germans, and has put the squad among the favorites for gold. The Americans have reeled off six straight wins and have looked dangerous offensively, scoring 16 goals over their last three games.

The U.S. also locked up top spot in Group A with Tuesday’s victory.

USA scores four unanswered goals to rally past Latvia

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Team USA won its fourth consecutive game at the IIHF World Championships on Saturday with a 5-3 win over Latvia.

It was not an easy win by any stretch of the imagination.

Trailing 3-1 midway through the second period, the United States need to rally with four consecutive goals to pick up the win. The rally started with a Nick Bjugstad goal with just under seven minutes to play in the second period. Just a few minutes later Johnny Gaudreau scored the equalizer. The game would remained tied until late in the third period when Andrew Copp would score the eventual game-winner with just under four minutes to play in regulation.

Dylan Larkin added an empty net goal to put the game away, extending his point streak in the tournament to five games. He is the only team USA player to record a point in every game of the tournament.

You can see all of the highlights from the game in the video above.

After being upset by Germany in the opening game of the tournament, the United States has outscored its next four opponents (Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Latvia) by a 19-8 margin.

Team USA is back in action on Sunday against Slovakia then closes out the first round on Tuesday against Russia.

U.S. posts third straight win at Worlds by shutting out Italy

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It was fair to suggest the Americans would have an easy time with Italy in today’s preliminary round game at the World Hockey Championships.

In the end, it proved to be exactly that.

While the scoreline was hardly as lopsided as Russia’s 10-1 smashing of the Italians on Sunday, the U.S. still cruised to a 3-0 win today — a game in which starting netminder Jimmy Howard was forced to make just nine saves for the shutout.

On offense, Islanders forwards Anders Lee and Brock Nelson combined for all three goals, with Nelson scoring a pair and Lee adding a single. The duo has been dynamic thus far, collectively scoring six goals and eight points over the first four games of the tournament.

Detroit’s Dylan Larkin continued with his run of fine playmaking, notching a pair of assists. He now has a tournament-high seven.

Looking ahead, the U.S. will get a couple of days off before going for a fourth straight win against the Latvians on Saturday. Things won’t get any easier for Italy, as it’ll be up against Sweden on Friday.