Getting NHL players to the 2018 Olympics might be more complicated now.
That’s because the International Olympic Committee has decided not to cover the transportation or insurance costs for NHL players to participate in the upcoming Winter Games, according to IIHF President Rene Fasel.
“We had a meeting with the NHL last week and the prognosis is not really good,” Fasel told insidethegames. “Our wish is to have the best players. [But the IOC] not covering the cost as they did at the last five Olympic Games puts us in a difficult financial situation. We still have challenges – it is even more difficult than before.”
With the games set to be played in PyeongChang, South Korea, getting NHL players is naturally a logistical issue. While the popularity of hockey at the Olympics creates the potential for the league to grow the game, it also means temporarily suspending the regular season in February and putting the league’s top players at risk of injury. As we saw in 2014, that threat of injury is very real as Islanders captain John Tavares suffered a torn MCL and meniscus in his left knee while he was with Team Canada.
That injury angered Islanders GM Garth Snow, who said back in 2014, “Are the IIHF or IOC going to reimburse our season ticket holders now? It’s a joke. They want all the benefits from NHL players in Olympics and don’t want to pay when our best player gets hurt.”
At the time, the New York Daily News reported that Tavares’ salary would be paid for by the insurance policy covered by the IOC. It now seems like that would not be the case if the same scenario were to play out during the 2018 Olympics.
(H/T Puck Daddy and TSN)
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So is it back to Kari Lehtonen now?
It seems like a reasonable question after Antti Niemi surrendered five goals on 24 shots in a 5-4 overtime loss in Game 5 on Friday, especially after Stars coach Lindy Ruff recently reiterated that Dallas has two equal goaltenders.
“We’ll just evaluate and move on,” Ruff said following Friday’s loss, per the Dallas Morning News. “We’ll just keep doing what we’ve done all year. We’re up 3-2, and they’ve both won us games in the playoffs.”
Lehtonen started in the first three games of this series against Minnesota and held the Wild to just one goal in the first two contests. However, Niemi got the nod for Game 4 after Lehtonen allowed four goals on 24 shots in Game 3.
Niemi turned aside 28 of 30 shots in his 2016 playoff debut, which led to him starting again on Friday. So if there’s a pattern there, it would suggest that Lehtonen will start after Niemi’s less than ideal showing, but we’ll have to wait and see.
We’re getting into the heart of the first round where nearly every game is a must-win for at least one team. In fact, today’s game between Nashville and Anaheim is the very last exception to that in the 2016 first round.
Needless to say we got some important contests ahead of us, so here’s how to watch them:
NY Rangers at Pittsburgh (3:00 p.m. ET)
The Penguins lead the series 3-1. You can watch this contest on NBC or stream it using the NBC Sports Live Extra app by clicking here.
Nashville at Anaheim (6:00 p.m. ET)
The series is tied at 2-2. NBCSN will host the television broadcast of this contest and the stream is available here.
St. Louis at Chicago (8:00 p.m. ET)
The Blues have a 3-2 series lead. This game will be on NBC and you can watch the stream by clicking here.
While you wait for today’s action to start, here’s some relevant reading material:
Been there, done that? Rangers will again try to rally from a 3-1 series deficit
Video: Preds’ Ribeiro lands an ugly spear on Ducks’ Perry
Stayin’ alive: Kane beats Blues in double OT, forces Game 6
The Florida Panthers lost their home ice edge in the first round when they suffered a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders in Game 1. Tonight they got it back as Florida clawed its way to a 2-1 victory in front of a Brooklyn crowd.
Teddy Purcell struck first for the Panthers by capitalizing on a power-play opportunity. Jaromir Jagr assisted on that marker, which gives him 200 points in 206 career playoff contests.
John Tavares evened the score with just 16 seconds left in the second period. He’s been doing his part with three goals and seven points in the series. However, it was Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic that proved to be the unlikely hero tonight.
Petrovic had just two goals in 112 career regular season games and no markers in three playoff contests going into tonight’s action.
This was also a good night for Roberto Luongo, who saved 26 of 27 shots. At the other end of the ice, Islanders netminder Thomas Greiss kicked out 27 of 29 shots.
With the series now tied at 2-2, Game 5 will be hosted by the Panthers on Friday.
Related: The unusual case of Jakub Kindl
The Philadelphia Flyers aren’t done yet.
Despite being outscored 12-2 over the first three games of this first round series, the Flyers managed to eke out a narrow 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 4 tonight.
After posting a 4.09 GAA and .852 save percentage in three consecutive losses, Flyers goalie Steve Mason was replaced by Michal Neuvirth for this contest and that proved to be a key change. Neuvirth stood tall, turning aside 31 of 32 shots against the team that drafted him back in 2006.
When it came to finally breaking out of their offensive rut, it was the Flyers blueliners that led the charge. Shayne Gostisbehere found the back of the net with the man advantage after Philadelphia went 0-13 on the power-play in the first three games of this series. Andrew MacDonald, who is certainly not known for scoring goals, provided the game-winner.
T.J. Oshie cut the Flyers’ lead in half early in the third frame, but Washington wasn’t able to build on that.
While the Flyers won the night, their challenge is just beginning. Washington still holds a 3-1 series lead and will host Game 5 on Friday.