Jason Brough

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Lundqvist reflects on last season, with all the shots and ‘great chances’ he faced

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The way Henrik Lundqvist sees it, he can’t be too critical of himself. Even though he struggled down the stretch last season, and even though he really struggled in the playoffs, he still had a good year, all things considered.

“I think that yes, last year was a little bit up and down, but when I looked back on the whole season it wasn’t too bad, not with the amount of shots I saw and not with the number of great chances I faced,” Lundqvist told the New York Post yesterday.

He added, “In a way, it was a fun year because I did see a lot of action and more close-in shots, so as a goalie, you challenge yourself more.”

Lundqvist went 35-21-7 with a .920 save percentage last season. While his remarks do not reflect very well on his teammates, they weren’t inaccurate, as no goalie in the NHL faced more shots (1,944) than he did.

And as The Post notes:

According to CorsicaHockey.com, Lundqvist faced the greatest number of high-danger chances in the league by a substantial margin. That was the result of the Blueshirts’ chaotic play in their own end pretty much from start to finish. Though there are discrepancies among several stat-oriented websites calculating Lundqvist’s high-danger save percentage, he ranked between second and fifth in all of them.

Related: AV concedes the Rangers had a ‘puck-moving’ problem

Sobotka still having ‘issues’ with return to NHL

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After two years in the KHL with Omsk Avangard, it still remains to be seen if Vladimir Sobotka will make his NHL return to the St. Louis Blues in 2016-17.

The holdup is related to his KHL contract, which has one year left on it. He was expected to opt out of that final year, but clearly the process hasn’t been so easy.

“We’re still talking and we’ll see what’s going to happen during the World Cup,” said Sobotka, per ESPN.com. “After that, I think we’re going to be smarter. It’s been going on for five months and I’ve had enough of it. It’s my agent’s job to to keep talking and we’ll see.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed via the Associated Press that Sobotka was having “issues” returning to the Blues.

It will not be a crippling blow to the Blues if they can’t get the 29-year-old center back, but it will be disappointing all the same. Head coach Ken Hitchcock, for instance, has talked about the “great chemistry” between Sobotka and winger Jaden Schwartz.

Sobotka had nine goals and 24 assists in 61 games for the Blues in 2013-14, his last season in the NHL before jumping to the KHL.

Nothing to be ‘alarmed about,’ but no guarantee Keith will be ready to start season

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Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman can’t guarantee that defenseman Duncan Keith will be healthy enough to start the regular season next month.

“He’ll be ready when he is ready,” Bowman told reporters today, per Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune. “But it’s nothing that we’re alarmed about.”

Keith was replaced on Team Canada’s World Cup squad by Jay Bouwmeester. According to Bowman, it was Keith who made the call to sit out the tournament as he continues to rehab the knee injury he sustained last season. The 33-year-old has reportedly been a participant at informal skates back in Chicago,

One of the best defensemen in the world, Keith will be missed by Team Canada. He averaged 21:06 of ice time in the 2014 Olympics, second to only Shea Weber (21:50) for his country.

Without Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, a right shot, has been moved to the left side of Canada’s defense. Bouwmeester, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Jake Muzzin all shoot left, but Muzzin is expected to be the healthy scratch when Canada opens against the Czech Republic on Saturday.

Report: With Roy gone, the Avs have hired a couple of analytics experts

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Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but one month after Patrick Roy’s abrupt resignation comes a report that the Colorado Avalanche have hired a couple of analytics experts.

OK, it’s probably not a coincidence.

From BSN Denver:

Earlier today, BSN Denver confirmed through various sources the organization has hired both Arik Parnass and Zac Urback.

The pair will report directly to Assistant General Manager Chris MacFarland, whose influence in the front office seems to show more with every move the team makes. Both Parnass and Urback are well-known in the analytics community for their various works and the hirings signal an organizational shift away from the Patrick Roy-era. Roy was notoriously critical of analytics and despite the team dabbling in them during his tenure, did not fully embrace them until this summer, which might have helped set the table for the curious manner in which Roy departed.

Roy admitted following his resignation that there were only certain things about analytics with which he agreed.

“There’s parts that I like and there’s parts that I don’t agree with,” he said, per Michael Traikos of Postmedia.

In the past, Roy had railed against analytical measures like Corsi, which is simply a way to approximate puck possession via shot attempts.

“The part I don’t like about the Corsi,” Roy said last year, “is you could shoot from the redline, or you could shoot from a terrible angle and your Corsi will look good.”

The counter-argument is that there is a significant relationship between high Corsi teams and winning hockey teams. It isn’t a perfect relationship, but nobody ever said it was. By and large, the analytics community has been right about the Avs.

The hiring of Parnass was originally reported by Garret Hohl of Jets Nation.

Russians feeling ‘much better’ after taking Canada to overtime, says Ovechkin

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It wasn’t a win, but it was still good.

That’s how Russia’s captain, Alex Ovechkin, saw last night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the World Cup favorites from Canada. The Russians actually managed to take a 2-1 lead in the third period, until a John Tavares shot sent it to sudden death with just over six minutes left in regulation. Ryan Getzlaf would then notch the winner in 3-on-3.

“Mentally it was very important for us that we didn’t lose the game right away,” said Ovechkin, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “We have a battle, get the lead. The boys feel much better right now for the future. …From our standpoint it was huge.”

Granted, the Canadians outshot their opponents by a wide margin, 48-26. If not for a solid Sergei Bobrovsky performance in goal, the final score wouldn’t have been so close.

But in the second period especially, Ovechkin felt the Russians held their own.

“I think we have a slow start, we play kind of slowly and we afraid to make mistake,” he said. “But in the second period, we play a great game. We played in their zone.”

Russia opens the World Cup tournament for real on Sunday against a stacked Sweden side. The Swedes will almost certainly improve on last night’s embarrassing loss to Team Europe, but they did look vulnerable in exhibition action, particularly in their own end.

Also in Russia’s group are Finland and Team North America.

Related: Henrik Lundqvist got lit up in exhibition play