Author: Mike Halford

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)

Crosby to captain Canada at Worlds


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.”

‘Canes part ways with longtime AHL coach Daniels

Carolina Hurricanes v New Jersey Devils

The Carolina Hurricanes made a fairly significant organizational shakeup on Thursday, dismissing AHL Charlotte head coach Jeff Daniels after seven seasons on the job.

“We appreciate the years of service and hard work that Jeff provided for our organization,” GM Ron Francis said in a statement. “His contract expires at the end of June, and we will now begin the process of finding a new head coach for the Checkers.”

Daniels, 46, has been with the Carolina organization for 15 years. He spent his final four playing seasons with the ‘Canes — helping them advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2002 — then quickly transitioned into coaching, and was Peter Laviolette’s assistant on the Cup-winning team of ’06.

Daniels sort of embodied the “keep it in the family” approach favored by former GM Jim Rutherford during his time in charge. Rutherford was known for bringing ex-players back for repeat tours of duty (think Cory Stillman, Joe Corvo, Tim Gleason, Erik Cole) and transitioning former ‘Canes into coaching and front office roles (think Francis, Rod Brind’Amour and Glen Wesley.)

PHT’s Round 2 picks, once again featuring The Coin


For those not up to speed with The Coin — a 1972 Eisenhower Dollar that we used in Round 1 — click here to learn all about its coinly goodness (and the very arbitrary nature of making accurate predictions.)

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The Coin finished tied for the best PHT staff record in the opening round as it, along with Ryan Dadoun, went 6-2; Jason Brough, James O’Brien, Cam Tucker and Dhiren Mahiban all went 5-3 while yours truly went a putrid 3-5.

Quit showing me up, coin. Ah, who am I kidding…I can’t stay mad at you.

Anyway, let’s move onto some of the more impressive Round 1 picks:

— Tucker was the only human staffer to take the Wild over the Blues (and nailing it in six games, too.) The Coin also took the Wild.

— Mahiban was the only animate object to take the Flames over the Canucks. The Coin also took the Flames.

— Tucker was also the only staffer to accurately predict Rangers over Pens in five.

— Dadoun picked Habs in six, which nobody else did.

Round 2 picks

Montreal vs. Tampa Bay

Brough: Bolts in 6

Halford: Bolts in 6

Dadoun: Habs in 5

O’Brien: Bolts in 6

Tucker: Bolts in 6

Mahiban: Habs in 7

Coin: Habs

New York Rangers vs. Washington

Brough: Caps in 6

Halford: Rangers in 7

Dadoun: Rangers in 6

O’Brien: Caps in 6

Tucker: Rangers in 7

Mahiban: Rangers in 6

Coin: Caps

Anaheim vs. Calgary

Brough: Ducks in 7

Halford: Ducks in 6

Dadoun: Ducks in 6

O’Brien: Ducks in 5

Tucker: Ducks in 5

Mahiban: Ducks in 7

Coin: Ducks

Chicago vs. Minnesota

Brough: Wild in 6

Halford: ‘Hawks in 7

Dadoun: Wild in 7

O’Brien: ‘Hawks in 5

Tucker: ‘Hawks in 7

Mahiban: ‘Hawks in 6

Coin: ‘Hawks