The United States, which leaned on the country’s youth movement when assembling its roster, turned some heads during its run to the semifinal in the 2015 Worlds. Along the way America managed an upset win over Russia in the Preliminary round, but with a spot in the gold medal game on the line, Russia got revenge with Saturday’s 4-0 victory.
Alex Ovechkin, who was a late addition to Russia’s roster after Washington’s elimination, scored a goal and later added an assist on Evgeni Malkin’s empty netter. Sergei Mozyakin and Vadim Shipachyov accounted for Russia’s other two markers.
Team USA might not go away empty handed though as it has a chance to claim the bronze medal on Sunday against the Czech Republic. It would be America’s second medal in three years.
Russia, which won last year’s tournament, will now face Sidney Crosby and Canada in the Championships Final. Canada has gone undefeated thus far and is coming off of back-to-back shutouts against Belarus and the Czech Republic.
The Anaheim Ducks needed to play just nine games to get past the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames. In order to accomplish that, goaltender Frederik Andersen had to be sharp and the Ducks’ star forwards had to perform as advertised, but Anaheim also required help from its supporting cast. It got it and no one exemplifies that more than Jakob Silfverberg.
The 24-year-old forward has three goals and is tied for fifth in the league with 11 points in the postseason. That’s in stark contrast to his 13 goals and 39 points in 81 regular season contests.
“He’s been a difference-maker in all the games,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau told the Los Angeles Times. “We knew he was capable, but he’s gotten hot at the right time and that’s great.”
Silfverberg feels like he’s playing the same way he has all season and wonders if the difference has simply been puck luck. At the same time, this could be a matter of his hard work paying off.
“Just from day one, seeing what he does, seeing his puck skills, seeing the way he can shoot the puck, I knew he could score,” linemate Ryan Kesler said. “It was just a matter of doing it game in and game out. He’s found that consistency to his game now and we’ve been working well off each other.”
Given that the Ducks will face the Chicago Blackhawks next, they’ll have to hope that Silfverberg can continue to be a significant factor.
“I think if we keep playing like we did in the previous two series we should be fine,” Silfverberg said. “We’re playing on top of our game right now and I don’t think there’s a better time to face the Blackhawks than right now.”
Ryan Callahan has already resumed skating after his emergency appendectomy surgery on Monday. If he is healthy enough to play, he’ll be going up against the team he used to captain, the New York Rangers, in the Eastern Conference Final.
“It’s going to be a lot of emotions actually going back there for a playoff game, and I’m excited,” Callahan said, per Ottawa Sun. Not that he thinks the Eastern Conference Final could get much bigger regardless of the opponent. At the end of the day this is about fighting to reach the Stanley Cup Final and he would be pumped to face any adversary to get there.
Indeed, Lightning coach Jon Cooper thinks that the rematch between Callahan and former Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis, who was moved in the same March 2014 trade, “will mean more externally than it does internally.” Although he can’t help but be one of the many people that’s intrigued by the storyline.
“How often do two captains get traded for each other?” Cooper asked. “And then are going to end up going against each other in the Eastern Conference final? You can’t make that stuff up. It’s a pretty appealing story. So I’m actually interested to see how it’s going to turn out.”
It will be interesting to see if either of them end up being a significant factor offensively in this series. Although Callahan has helped Tampa Bay get this far, he’s also been limited to three assists in 12 playoff contests. St. Louis has just four assists in 12 postseason games.
Either one of them has the potential to tip the scale against their former squad.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Joe Barajas turned someone’s hair into a portrait of Rangers forward Chris Kreider (h/t Puck Daddy):
Stars captain Jamie Benn has decided to stay in North Texas rather than return to Victoria, British Columbia for the summer so that he can make sure his recovery from two hip surgeries goes according to plan. (Dallas Morning News)
Despite rallying back from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 6, Montreal didn’t fare well against Tampa Bay tonight. With his team eliminated, Canadiens bench boss Michel Therrien offered a harsh assessment of what happened.
“I felt that physically and mentally we were drained. It’s disappointing but I guess those things happen,” Therrien said, per the Montreal Gazette’s Dave Stubbs.
Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban partially echoed that sentiment by stating, “We knew they were going to come out with their best effort tonight and we didn’t match it.”
They seem to differ regarding where Montreal’s stands overall though. The Canadiens have won their division in two of the last three years and have advanced to at least the second round in back-to-back campaigns, but Therrien still sees them as a transitional team.
“I can’t focus on saying we need to wait a couple of years before we can contend,” Subban countered, according to NHL.com’s Аrpon Basu. “We need to contend now.”
Carey Price will turn 28 in August, Subban celebrates his 26th birthday on Wednesday, and Max Pacioretty will be 27 in November. That’s the core of the team and with that in mind, the Canadiens should be in win now mode. At the same time, forwards Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk are just starting to come into their own and perhaps they’ll be the difference in a couple years.
Montreal could certainly use the offensive help as it averaged a pedestrian 2.61 goals per game in the regular season and that went down to 2.08 in the playoffs.