Author: Mike Halford

Calgary Flames v Colorado Avalanche

Shore likely to make playoff debut for Flames in Game 1


Calgary looks like it’s making an interesting lineup switch to open its series against Anaheim — Drew Shore, acquired from Florida in January, looks as though he’ll draw in tonight when the Flames take on the Ducks at Honda Center.

Shore, 24, would take the place of Mason Raymond.

The 44th overall pick at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Shore has appeared in 78 career NHL contests — 11 coming with the Flames this season — but zero in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It looks as though he’ll make his postseason debut on Calgary’s fourth line alongside Brandon Bollig and Josh Jooris, which is an interesting development as Flames head coach Bob Hartley opted not to dress Shore in any of the six opening-round games against Vancouver.

That said, it’s not surprising the team was looking to change things up from Raymond. The veteran winger hasn’t done much this postseason, with just one point in four games; in the series-clinching Game 6 win over Vancouver, Raymond received just 5:39 of ice time and finished minus-1.

Crosby to captain Canada at Worlds

Canada forward Sidney Crosby warms up before a men's ice hockey game against Austria at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Sidney Crosby will once again wear the “C” internationally — on Thursday, it was announced that Crosby will captain Team Canada at the upcoming World Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic.

Dallas’ Jason Spezza and Vancouver’s Dan Hamhuis will serve as alternates.

Crosby, 27, previously captained Canada to gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He’s also twice served as an alternate for his country — once at the Worlds in 2006 (when he scored 16 points in nine games, becoming the youngest scoring champ in tourney history) and again at the ’10 Olympics in Vancouver, where he was part of a leadership group that included captain Scott Niedermayer, and fellow alternates Chris Pronger and Jarome Iginla.

Crosby famously scored the “golden goal” for Canada at those Vancouver games, potting the OT winner in the tournament finale against the United States.

After missing Round 1, hits leader Thompson back for Ducks

Dallas Stars v Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks will have some additional sandpaper in the lineup tonight as Nate Thompson will return from injury to face the Flames in Game 1 of their second-round series.

Thompson, out since Apr. 11 with an upper-body ailment, had a pretty productive first season in Anaheim — he scored five goals and 18 points in 80 games while averaging 13:19 TOI per night. The 30-year-old also led the team in hits, with 204, and finished third among forwards in blocked shots.

Thompson’s presence will be a boon for Anaheim as it looks to match the physicality Calgary brought in its opening-round series against Vancouver. The Flames out-hit the Canucks 163-118 over the six-game series, with the likes of Micheal Ferland and Joe Colborne leading the way.

Related: Flames trio of Wideman, Russell, and Brodie are ‘basically our motor offensively’

Despite higher seed and home ice, Therrien calls Habs ‘underdog’ against Tampa

Michel Therrien

On Thursday, Habs head coach Michel Therrien went a familiar route in previewing his club’s second-round series against Tampa Bay — by positioning Montreal as the underdog.

To be fair, Therrien might have a point. The Habs went winless in five tries against the Lightning this season, securing just one of a possible 10 points (courtesy a 1-0 OT loss in mid-March.) Therrien also correctly pointed out that Tampa Bay was “the best offensive team in the league” this season, finishing first overall in goals per game (3.16).

But let’s be real here — Therrien’s remarks are mostly gamesmanship. And something we’ve seen before.

Last spring, he trumpeted his team as the decided underdog not just in the Eastern Conference Final against New York, but in the two previous rounds as well. Per the Toronto Sun:

“When we started the season, there were a lot of people not even putting us in the playoffs. Or, if they wanted to be polite, they’d give us the eighth spot,” Therrien said.

“We caused a surprise to make the playoffs. We caused a surprise against the Tampa Bay Lightning to win in four, and we caused a bigger surprise to beat the Boston Bruins.”

It seems Therrien’s message has trickled down to the players as well. Prior to Montreal’s opening-round series against Ottawa this year, winger Dale Weise suggested the Sens were the favored team.

“I think we’re the underdogs,” Weise said, per the Ottawa Sun. “They beat us three out of four times, they’re the hottest team in the NHL right now.

“I don’t see them as an underdog at all.”