Jonathan Quick went into the World Cup exhibition schedule as the favorite to start for Team USA, and he did nothing to cast any doubt.
In two pre-tournament appearances, Quick stopped 62 of the 65 shots he faced (.954). He was especially brilliant in beating Team Canada last Friday in Columbus, turning aside 29 of 30 shots.
Head coach John Tortorella confirmed today that Quick, a two-time Stanley Cup winner for the Los Angeles Kings, will be in goal when the Americans begin group play tomorrow against Team Europe. Ben Bishop is expected to back up, after Cory Schneider struggled in his only exhibition appearance.
The way things went in pre-tournament action, if Team USA has any chance of winning the World Cup, Quick could be the key.
“I mean, he can outright steal a game that swings the whole tournament,” said defenseman Matt Niskanen, per NHL.com. “It’s completely a real possibility that he not only makes all the easy saves and makes it look easy, but there’s going to be a couple doozies in there that could swing momentum. He has that ability for sure.”
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.
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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.
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.
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.