Jason Brough

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist sits on the bench during the third period after being pulled during game 5 in a first-round NHL playoff hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Saturday, April 23, 2016. The Penguins won 6-3, to clinch the best-of-seven games sereis 5-1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Lundqvist had a tough time in World Cup exhibition play


Henrik Lundqvist is off to a slow start in the World Cup, but for Sweden’s sake, at least it’s only been exhibition. The Swedes open the tournament for real on Sunday versus Russia.

Last night, Lundqvist was pulled in the third period after allowing five goals on 22 shots in a 6-2 loss to Team Europe. On Saturday, it was three goals on just 14 shots when the Swedes defeated the Finns by a score of 6-3. His save percentage in exhibition play was an ugly .778.

“I don’t think we did a really good job in front of him,” defenseman Anton Stralman said yesterday, per NHL.com. “You look at the goals, there’s breakaways, there’s tips, individual mistakes. That cost us the game. I don’t blame him for any of the goals, but I’m sure he wants to catch a few of those.”

Lundqvist, 34, did not have a very good finish to the NHL season either. He had an .867 save percentage in five playoff games versus the Penguins. And just prior to that, he’d struggled down the stretch of the regular season, allowing 39 goals in his last 13 games combined.

Of course, he’s more than earned the benefit of the doubt that he can bounce back. A tighter performance from his teammates on Sunday would help, because the Russians are loaded with scorers.

“I think you just have to learn from it, analyze it, and talk about the game and what was good about it, and then you move on,” Lundqvist said. “There were still a lot of good things that happened out there, and you focus on that, but also the things that’s not good enough, you try to correct them.”

Related: Rangers may need King Henrik now more than ever

Seguin’s ankle ‘should be fine’ after a few days of rest

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 18:  Tyler Seguin #91 of the Dallas Stars on the bench during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on February 18, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Stars 6-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Tyler Seguin didn’t want Team Canada’s coaching staff to know how badly his ankle was hurting.

But he finally had to admit it, and now he’ll miss the World Cup. He was replaced yesterday by Ryan O’Reilly.

“He said to us, ‘You know I haven’t been very truthful,'” head coach Mike Babcock said of Seguin this morning, per ESPN.com.

“He tried to push through it. But he said even yesterday, when he started pushing through it, it started heating up right away. Now I don’t know what that means in medical terms but I know in coaching terms you’re not doing very good.”

It hasn’t been reported how Seguin suffered the injury, though it’s quite possible it occurred Friday in Columbus when he slid feet first into the boards in an exhibition game against the United States.

The injury was first reported to be to his knee.

“We are aware of the injury Tyler suffered while competing with Team Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey,” said Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill in a statement. “We recognize the constraints of the tournament and understand Team Canada’s decision given the circumstances. Tyler will be returning to Dallas in the coming days and we will evaluate him fully at that point.”


No longer dealing with wrist injury, Tyler Johnson is pumped for the season to start

TAMPA, FL - MAY 18:  Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 18, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Tyler Johnson went from 72 points in 2014-15 to just 38 points in 2015-16. It was a sharp drop in production for the diminutive Lightning center, but it sounds like he had a pretty good excuse.

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Johnson revealed that the broken wrist he suffered in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final was still a bother for much of last season.

“I had no strength, didn’t really have flexibility,” Johnson said. “It took me a long time to be able to do anything. It was pretty much about January I could finally do a push-up.”

He added that he’s healthy now, and that he “finished the summer stronger than I’ve ever been.”

This is a big year for the 26-year-old. He’s a pending restricted free agent, and he’s on a team where the salary cap is expected to force some tough decisions.

“I can’t wait for this season to start, to really show what I can do,” he said.

After ‘adventure’ on Friday, Carey Price gets another start for Team Canada

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13:  Carey Price #31 of Canada makes a save against Norway during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Friday in Columbus, Carey Price made his long-awaited return to the net, and it turned into an “adventure” against the Americans. He allowed three goals on 24 shots, looking a lot like a goalie that hadn’t played in a while.

Tonight in Pittsburgh, Price will start again for Team Canada. The opponent is Team Russia, with all its offensive stars, so it won’t get any easier for the Montreal Canadiens’ MVP.

“He gets an opportunity to play again,” head coach Mike Babcock said yesterday, per the Toronto Sun. “He hasn’t played in a long time, didn’t have the kind of game he’d like his first time out. He’s going back in the net. [Corey Crawford] is backing up. Then we’ll set up our rotation for the tournament.”

Translation: another shaky performance by Price and it might be Crawford or Braden Holtby between the pipes when Team Canada plays for real on Saturday.

Crawford was brilliant in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Team USA in Ottawa. He stopped 10 of 10 shots after Holtby had started and allowed two goals on 13 shots.

Joe Thornton is Team Canada’s elder statesman

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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TORONTO (AP) Mario Lemieux was the unofficial greybeard of Team Canada when the last World Cup of Hockey was played 12 years ago.

This time around, the role falls to 37-year-old Joe Thornton, who played alongside Lemieux in 2004 and is being counted on this time for leadership and talent that have withstood the test of time.

Thornton finished fourth in NHL scoring last season, compiling 82 points in 82 games for the San Jose Sharks. He added another 21 points in 24 playoff games, reaching his first-ever Stanley Cup Final.

“Joe Thornton, when you look at his season last year, he’s playing great hockey,” Team Canada general manager Doug Armstrong told the Canadian Press.

Armstrong says Thornton is still one of the best passers in hockey, and indeed his 63 assists last season were only topped by Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson. Thornton is the runaway leader in assists since he entered the league in 1997, 212 ahead of second-place Jaromir Jagr. Thornton also has the most points (1,341) of any player in that span, more than 100 points up on Jagr.

Canada coach Mike Babcock said Thornton’s inclusion on the roster, which came at the initial exclusion of much younger players like Logan Couture, Corey Perry, Ryan O'Reilly and Taylor Hall, was based on merit. His offensive gifts, which have already been apparent in exhibition play, were too much to ignore.

“He obviously was a guy that played well enough and played good enough and was important enough on his team,” Babcock said.

Armstrong was intrigued by how San Jose used Thornton last season, mostly on the wing alongside Joe Pavelski. A plodding skater who didn’t make the 2014 Olympic squad in Sochi, Thornton also seemed a better fit for the NHL-sized rink in Toronto where the World Cup will be played, though Armstrong said his inclusion was based on performance, not the ice surface.

Thornton, who last represented Canada at the 2010 Olympics, hadn’t given much thought to cracking the World Cup roster before getting the invitation this summer.

“It was just one of those things where you just kind of play, don’t think about it and then you get chosen,” said Thornton, still oozing energy even after more than 1,500 NHL games.

It could be the last time he wears red and white on the international stage, though he’s hinted at playing on. He’s already won Olympic (2010) and world junior gold (1997) as well as the crown at that 2004 World Cup, one of two players returning for Team Canada. Jay Bouwmeester is the other.

Thornton recalls that ’04 squad fondly. The group went undefeated (6-0-0) and included Lemieux as well as other future Hall of Famers Scott Niedermayer, Martin Brodeur and Joe Sakic. Thornton, 25 at the time, set up two of three goals in Canada’s 3-2 win over Finland in the final. The Canadians hope he’s still got that magic.

“I’ve still got another 10 years (left),” said a grinning Thornton, “so maybe the next World Cup, I’ll play in it, too.”