Jason Brough

Rick Nash, Ryan Spooner
AP

Nash has a ‘great day’ of skating, could be back in a couple of weeks

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Rick Nash is hopeful he can get a few games under his belt before the playoffs start.

The big Rangers winger skated this morning in Pittsburgh. He’s been out since late January with a bone bruise in his leg.

“Today was a great day,” said Nash, per Newsday.

“I didn’t do anything crazy, stops and starts, so it’s going to be a bit of a process to get my legs back, my wind back, get my timing back. The big thing now is that hopefully there’s no setbacks.”

Assuming there aren’t, Nash could be back in a couple of weeks, with the playoffs set to begin a couple of weeks after that.

Subban has competition to make Team Canada

Montreal Canadiens' P.K. Subban passes the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Billy Hurst)
AP
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P.K. Subban believes he can be trusted.

He believes he’s proven his worth.

He believes he deserves to be on Team Canada at the World Cup.

“I’m going to trust in what I’ve done in this league and what I’ve accomplished over the past two seasons to do the talking for me,” Subban told reporters yesterday, hours before his name became the most notable omission from Canada’s first 16.

“For me, I feel that in any situation I’ve ever been put in I’ve always found a way to help my team.”

But Subban will have competition to make the cut. Drew Doughty and Shea Weber have already made it on the right side, with Duncan Keith and Marc-Edouard Vlasic on the left.

Canada will name three more defensemen by June 1. Assuming at least one of those three will be another lefty, that leaves a maximum two spots on the right side, and maybe just one.

So, will Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, in charge of the defense for Canada, push for Brent Seabrook?

What about Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo? Like Subban, he was on Canada’s gold-medal-winning Olympic roster in Sochi. And Canada’s GM, Doug Armstrong, is also the Blues’ GM.

Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie may shoot left, but he plays the right side on a pairing with Mark Giordano. Both those guys are “in the mix,” according to Armstrong.

Want another? Armstrong mentioned San Jose’s Brent Burns as a potential candidate.

In addition to all that competition, if there’s another challenge for Subban’s candidacy, it may be his reputation for taking unnecessary risks. That, of course, was an issue that flared up recently in Montreal.

“What I know about [Mike Babcock] from the Olympics is he likes predictability,” Armstrong told reporters. “He likes to know that he can play a player in any situation.”

Subban didn’t play much in Sochi under Babcock. In fact, he only dressed for one game, against Austria. He sat for all the big games.

And remember, Subban was the reigning Norris Trophy winner at the time.

“I’ve just tried to be the best payer that I can be over the last six years and definitely since the last Olympics,” Subban said.

“I definitely hope that I deserve to be on the team, but I don’t get to pick it.”

All of a sudden Petr Mrazek isn’t so unbeatable

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Petr Mrazek wasn’t the reason the Red Wings lost to Chicago last night at Joe Louis Arena. Nobody’s blaming him. Just to be clear.

Of the five goals Mrazek allowed, Detroit coach Jeff Blashill “didn’t think there was much he could do” on four of them, the exception being the first one, and that was off a pretty big blast by Brent Seabrook.

Still, that hasn’t stopped people from noticing that Mrazek — not long ago one of the hottest goalies in the NHL — has cooled off. Specifically, he’s allowed 23 goals in his last seven appearances, with a save percentage of just .880 over that stretch.

“To me, it’s just the natural ebb and flow of the season,” Blashill told reporters. “You’re going to have some stretches like he had during January on the road there and you’re going to have some stretches like recently.”

Blashill will be hoping that Mrazek can ebb or flow back the other way, and soon, because the Red Wings — with just four wins in their last 10 — are still not guaranteed to make the playoffs. As it stands, there’s an outside chance they could be run down by a team like the Flyers for a wild-card spot.

It’s also worth noting that Jimmy Howard has played extremely well in his last two starts, allowing just three goals on 71 shots. During one of those starts, Mrazek sat with a “tender groin.”

The Wings don’t play again until Sunday what they face the Blackhawks in Chicago.

Related: At season’s end, Holland will ‘plot a plan’ to deal with Red Wings’ goalie situation

McDavid, Eichel headline ultra-talented Team North America

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Love the idea or hate it, the majority of hockey fans are at least intrigued by the idea of a 23-and-under team competing in the World Cup.

And for those who insist they aren’t curious whatsoever, well, you must have just clicked on this post by mistake.

Just a reminder that Team North America is comprised of players from Canada or the United States who were born on or after Oct. 2, 1992, and those players are only eligible to play for Team North America.

The following are the first 16 players that GM Peter Chiarelli and his associate, Stan Bowman, came up with:

G John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
G Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
G Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins

D Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
D Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
D Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets
D Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs

F Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers
F Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
F Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
F Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings
F Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
F Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
F J.T. Miller, New York Rangers
F Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames
F Brandon Saad, Columbus Blue Jackets

Safe to say talent won’t be an issue with this group. Strength and experience maybe, but not talent.

The goaltending might be pretty good, too.

And those uniforms!

Those are sure…something.

Seven more players are still to be added to the roster by no later than June 1.

Candidates — and there are quite a few those, so forgive us if we miss any — include Shayne Gostisbehere, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck, Alex Galchenyuk, Dougie Hamilton, Jacob Trouba, Boone Jenner, Sam Bennett, Mark Scheifele, Anthony Duclair, Sam Reinhart, Bo Horvat, Max Domi, Robby Fabbri, Damon Severson, Colton Parayko, Matt Dumba, and possibly even Auston Matthews.

Related: Todd McLellan to coach Team North America, which will obviously feature McDavid

Seven countries represented by Team Europe’s first 16 players

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Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup will be comprised of the best European-born players, not counting the ones from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia or Sweden.

Think of it as a leftovers squad, even if the organizers would probably prefer you didn’t.

Today, Team Europe announced its first 16 players, and here they are:

G Frederik Andersen, Anaheim Ducks (Denmark)
G Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders (Slovakia)

D Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins (Slovakia)
D Roman Josi, Nashville Predators (Switzerland)
D Dennis Seidenberg, Boston Bruins (Germany)
D Andrej Sekera, Edmonton Oilers (Slovakia)
D Mark Streit, Philadelphia Flyers (Switzerland)

F Mikkel Boedker, Colorado Avalanche (Denmark)
F Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (Germany)
F Jannik Hansen, Vancouver Canucks (Denmark)
F Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks (Slovakia)
F Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings (Slovenia)
F Frans Nielsen, New York Islanders (Denmark)
F Tomas Tatar, Detroit Red Wings (Slovakia)
F Thomas Vanek, Minnesota Wild (Austria)
F Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers (Norway)

Seven countries — Denmark, Slovakia, Switzlerland, Germany, Slovenia, Austria and Norway — are represented on that list.

As you can see, it’s a veteran-laden group with no shortage of big-game experience. Hossa, Kopitar, and Chara have all figured prominently on Stanley Cup-winning teams in the past five years.

There’s also a dose of youth, with Draisaitl, 20, and 25-year-olds Tatar and Josi.

Team Europe, like the other seven teams in the tournament, will announce its full 23-man roster no later than June 1.

Candidates to be added to Team Europe include Tobias Rieder, Antoine Roussel, Michael Raffl, Mikhail Grabovski, and Christian Ehrhoff.