Cam Tucker

France v Canada - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
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Team Canada to sit Sidney Crosby in World Cup pre-tournament rematch with Team USA

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After long-time rivals Team Canada and Team USA renewed hostilities yesterday, the two teams meet again in a World Cup pre-tournament rematch on Saturday in Ottawa.

As per Hockey Canada on Saturday, coach Mike Babcock will sit team captain Sidney Crosby and defenseman Jake Muzzin for tonight’s game, which concludes a back-to-back set.

The physical play from Friday was a major topic of discussion, particularly after hits from Ryan Kesler on Shea Weber and T.J. Oshie on Logan Couture. Team USA tried targeting Crosby early in the game, which Weber took exception to.

Claude Giroux was on the receiving end of a big hit a split second after the whistle from Joe Pavelski.

After what transpired Friday, could the bad blood boil over to tonight’s contest? Or will cooler heads prevail?

If World Cup exhibition is an indication, Sedin twins and Eriksson could ignite Canucks power play

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 19:  Loui Eriksson #21 of Sweden celebrates his goal with Daniel Sedin #22 in the third period against Slovenia during the Men's Ice Hockey Quarterfinal Playoff on Day 12 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 19, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Vancouver Canucks have yet to play a game of any kind this season.

But the trio of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Loui Eriksson, who have played together at previous international events, should provide the Canucks with at least some excitement, especially for the power play, as training camp approaches.

The Canucks, in need of goal scoring and improvement to their power play, signed Eriksson to a six-year, $36 million contract on the first day of free agency. The plan, it’s expected, is for the left-shooting Eriksson to play on the top line with the Sedin twins.

(Mind you, Radim Vrbata was brought in as a free agent signing two years ago for the same reason, but he was eventually moved off that line.)

So far in the World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament games, the trio has been productive for Sweden, albeit in a small sample size as far as this competition goes.

Eriksson scored twice in Saturday’s game against Finland, as Sweden earned a 6-3 win over their neighboring rivals. Henrik Sedin assisted on both goals and Daniel Sedin had a helper as well. Both Eriksson goals came on the power play, including a five-on-three.

 

In both cases, Eriksson, who now has three goals in two pre-tournament games, was stationed in front of the net, and the Sedins — Henrik on the first goal and Daniel on the second — set him up.

“They are such smart players,” said Eriksson, as per NHL.com in July.

“It was easy for me when I first played with them to get chemistry because we kind of play the same way. We like to give the puck and get it back from each other. Maybe the first couple games was a learning process to see how they played and how they were thinking, and we seemed to match really well when we played together in those games, especially in the 2013 World Championships when we won it. … Hopefully we can keep playing like we did during that time and we should have some good success.”

The Sedin twins will turn 36 years old later this month. They have two more years remaining on their respective contracts. Eriksson, who has twice hit 30-plus goals in a single season, including last season in Boston, is 31 years old. They’re not getting any younger.

But the Canucks were dismal when it came to overall goal scoring (29th in the NHL) and power play (27th in the NHL). They also acquired and signed defenseman Philip Larsen with the idea of giving him the opportunity to run the power play from the back end.

So far, so good for the Sedin twins and Eriksson in the World Cup. If that can translate into the NHL regular season, the Canucks should at the very least improve their power play. The Canucks certainly need it.

Whether the Canucks, as an entire team, will be good enough to make it back to the playoffs is another story for another day.

Report: Hossa taken to hospital for x-rays after Team Europe loss

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 09:  Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago Blackhawks talks to a teammate against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center on February 9, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Sharks defeated the Blackhawks 2-0.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Team Europe and Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa has been taken to a hospital in Quebec City for x-rays following Thursday’s World Cup pre-tournament game, according to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports.

Hossa was credited with 10:47 of ice time in Europe’s 4-0 loss to Team North America, though it hasn’t been determined yet what caused him to leave the game.

Earlier today, Czech Republic forward Vladimir Sobotka was hurt on a hard hit during his team’s game with Russia. It was initially reported that he was taken to hospital with a possible clavicle fracture.

Czech coach Josef Jandac later said the injury to Sobotka was not serious.

Team North America sent quite a message to World Cup competition

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Team North America has entered the World Cup of Hockey exactly as advertised: An exciting group of young players stacked with relentless speed and skill.

It’s one pre-tournament game, but what a message they sent to the rest of the competition at this year’s tournament. From start to finish during Thursday’s game against Team Europe, the North American squad dominated.

Their opponents couldn’t handle the pace with which the likes of Connor McDavid — named captain of the team just prior to puck drop — and Auston Matthews and Jack Eichel played at.

For what North America might lack in “experience,” they make up for with the way they absolutely fly around the ice.

It was only a matter of time before they finally erupted on the scoreboard, with three goals from Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Johnny Gaudreau in a span of 4:42 during the second period.

Matt Murray recorded the shut out in a 4-0 victory for North America.

MacKinnon capped off the scoring in the third period, beating Jaroslav Halak on an absolutely filthy move to the backhand on a penalty shot.

Because of their speed, North America dictated just about every aspect of the game, particularly in the first two periods. And keep in mind that Dylan Larkin was a healthy scratch.

They owned the puck.

North America forward J.T. Miller was shaken up after blocking a shot during the third period. Miller briefly left the bench to go to the dressing room, but he did return.

Patrick Kane named an alternate captain for Team USA

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22: Patrick Kane #88 of the United States looks on in the second period against Finland during the Men's Ice Hockey Bronze Medal Game on Day 15 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) A year after Patrick Kane‘s career appeared in jeopardy because of a sexual assault claim, the Chicago Blackhawks star was named one of the alternate captains for the United States for the World Cup of Hockey.

“It’s a huge honor for sure,” Kane said. “It’s one of those things I don’t know if I was expecting to receive that, but at the same time, I still think it’s a responsibility I can handle and hopefully take somewhat of a leadership role and take charge.”

The sexual assault case in his hometown of Buffalo, New York, was dropped Nov. 5 for what the prosecutor said was a clear lack of evidence, and Kane quickly put the off-ice troubles aside. He had an early 26-game points streak and became the first American-born player to win the Art Ross (top scorer) and Hart (most valuable player) trophies.

“Sometimes you look back, it’s almost like a blur, it went by so quick,” he said. “It didn’t seem like it at the time but it was a really fun year.”

He had 106 points (46 goals, 60 assists) to become the first player to crack the 100-point mark in four seasons, and finished 17 points ahead of runner-up Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars.

“He was on a roll early, got his confidence going and never looked back,” said David Backes, the Boston center and U.S. teammate.

Along the way Kane might have grown up as well. The incident in Buffalo was the latest of several brushes with the law in his career.

“I’m 27 years old. I’m going to be 28 later this year; you want to maximize your potential,” he said. “You want to get all you can out of your prime while you’re still young, maybe advance that prime into your later years too. That’s where my thinking is now.”

U.S. and Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella knew Kane’s reputation but did not know him before the Americans’ training camp opened Monday in the Ohio city.

“He has matured. We all see that,” the coach said. “A lot of things have gone on with him obviously. Just talking to with him one-on-one here in the past couple of days you can see the maturity.”

That’s why Kane was named an alternate captain, along with the Minnesota Wild’s Ryan Suter, to captain Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks.

“I want (Kane) to take more responsibility now,” Tortorella said. “He’s ready for more responsibility as a leader of a U.S. team where before it was `Kaner, go play’ and he’s really good at it. I think he’s ready for more responsibility and I’m ready to give it to him because he deserves it.”

The game has always come easy for Kane, who has won Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks in 2010, 13 and ’15 and a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. But last season he went to a different level.

“He was the best player in the league last year,” Montreal Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty said. “Not many people can play the game the way he does. He’s special.”

He, Kane and Pavelski form the top line for the U.S. and they need to come through for any chance of winning the eight-team tournament. The U.S plays World Cup favorite Canada in an exhibition games Friday in Columbus and Saturday in Ottawa.

The focus will be on Kane but this time for a good reason.

“I sometimes catch myself over the summer saying, `OK, you did it once but can you do it again? Can you prove yourself again?’ ” Kane said. “It gave me a little bit of motivation over the summer, a lot of motivation. I want to get back to the level, stay there and do it as long as I can. It’s fun when you’re producing like that on the ice. You feel awesome.”