Flyers forward Jakub Voracek has netted himself a fairly big honor, as he’ll captain the Czech team at the upcoming World Hockey Championships in Prague.
This tournament is of great significance in Voracek’s native land. The Czech Republic hasn’t hosted the Worlds in 11 years — Prague and Ostrava shared duties in 2004 — and the country hasn’t medaled since capturing bronze in 2012.
To put even more significance on the “C,” do consider Voracek received the captaincy ahead of future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, who came out of international retirement to play for the Czechs in this tourney.
The sweater letter is well deserved. Voracek is coming off the best season of his seven-year NHL career with a career-high 81 points in 82 games, finishing tied with Alex Ovechkin for fourth in the league in scoring.
The Chicago Blackhawks have made a goaltending change.
On Monday, head coach Joel Quenneville announced that Corey Crawford would be the Game 1 starter when Chicago opens its second-round series against the Wild. The development comes after a tumultuous series against Nashville, in which Crawford opened as the starter, lost his gig to backup Scott Darling, then reclaimed the No. 1 job in the deciding Game 6 — after Darling was yanked following three goals allowed on 12 shots.
“It’s his net,” Quenneville said of Crawford, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “Let’s go.”
Part of Q’s decision to go back to Crawford could stem from last year’s second-round win over Minnesota, in which the veteran netminder played very well. Crawford stopped 150 of 162 shots faced in the six-game victory — a solid .926 save percentage — and was at his very best in the final two games, allowing just two goals on 67 shots (Chicago won both by 2-1 scores.)
It’s also possible some of Darling’s weaknesses were exposed as the Nashville series progressed. While he started brilliantly, stopping 127 of 131 shots, Darling proceeded to allow seven goals on 40 shots over his final two appearances.
Tough news out of New York today — the Rangers have announced that forward Mats Zuccarello will be sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury, which the Post is reporting to be a concussion.
Zuccarello was hurt in the first period of Saturday’s Game 5 series-clinching win over Pittsburgh, after taking this Ryan McDonagh shot to the helmet:
Zuccarello left the game and didn’t return.
The loss, if lengthy, will be a significant one for the Blueshirts. The 27-year-old averaged a career-high 17:15 TOI this season and finished third on the team in assists, with 34. The Norwegian winger also inked a four-year, $18 million extension with New York in early March and, last year, was given the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award for being the player who, as chosen by the fans, “goes above and beyond the call of duty.”
In this year’s opening round against Pittsburgh, Zuccarello had two points in five games. The Rangers will take the winner of tonight’s Caps-Isles game in Round 2.