Tag: Anssi Salmela

Jimmy Howard, Cam Fowler, Mathias Seger

Team USA takes down Switzerland at Worlds, gets Finland rematch in quarters


They may not have finished first in their group, but Team USA is on fire heading into the elimination round at the World Championships.

After taking down Switzerland 5-2 in their final preliminary round game, the United States is off to the quarterfinals with a rematch against host Finland up next as they aim to land a medal. Paul Stastny had a goal and two assists while Jimmy Howard stopped 25 shots to lock down the win. Bobby Ryan also added a goal and an assist.

Team USA finishes the preliminary round going 4-2-0-1, their best opening round since 1939. With Team USA’s win, they avoided finishing behind both Finland and Slovakia who each won their final games. Canada will face Slovakia in Group H’s other quarterfinal match-up.

Now the Americans will have a Thursday date in the quarters against a Finnish team they dominated over the weekend in a 5-0 win (watch that game live at 11:30 a.m. ET Thursday on NBCSN). Team USA won’t be able to get revenge on Anssi Salmela for his brutal hit from behind on Alex Goligoski in that game as Salmela was suspended for three games by the IIHF. At this point in the tournament, the Americans will happily settle for another win over revenge.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Still need free agent pickups? Buyer beware as free agent crop is awfully thin now

Alex Kovalev

It’s nearly been a week since free agency began to officially kick off the NHL offseason. After all the signings we’ve had since last Friday, chances are if you haven’t found what you’ve needed for your team you might be out of luck. If you’re wondering who else is still out there, CapGeek has been doing a good job of keeping their lists updated as to who your team might be interested in.

Of course, if your team is in dire need of help virtually anywhere around the ice, they might be in some big trouble. As for who the best of the rest might be, we’ll take a look at each set of positions (forwards, defensemen, goalies) and show you who the next wave of guys to sign might end up being.


Depending on what your needs are, you could still find a little bit of what you’re after. If you need depth scoring and perhaps an aging veteran to spice things up there’s no one better to pick than Alex Kovalev. He’s 38 years-old and coming off a season that saw him split time with Ottawa and Pittsburgh scoring a total of 16 goals adding 18 assists.

source: Getty ImagesIf Kovalev doesn’t do it for you, there’s always the slightly younger Sergei Samsonov. Last season, Samsonov split time with Carolina and Florida scoring a total of 13 goals with 27 assists. Through his whole career he’s been a 40-point player so if you need a little scoring on your third line, go for it. The other more interesting skill forwards to be had include: Cory Stillman, Vinny Prospal, Nikolai Zherdev, and Rob Schremp.

If you’re in need of a speedy winger that can help kill penalties, Fredrik Sjostrom is available as is Steve Bernier. If you’d rather have a physical winger guys like Mike Grier, Brad Winchester, Ethan Moreau, and Eric Boulton. If you’d rather sign an older center who may just have a year or two left in them there’s always Mike Modano, Kris Draper, Brendan Morrison, or John Madden.

Then again, if signing agitators and fighters is what your team needs look no further than Jarkko Ruutu, Eric Godard, or Cam Janssen. With Godard you get a guy that will come off of the bench to defend your goalie in a fight and with Janssen he’ll make sure to book his fights in advance on Twitter.

The selections here aren’t mind-blowing, but if depth is what you need then you’re in luck. There’s also Teemu Selanne who’s technically a free agent but if he doesn’t play for Anaheim, he’s probably not playing in the NHL ever again. Sorry Winnipeg.


source: Getty ImagesIf you’re in need of a top flight defenseman, you’re better off trying to swing a trade elsewhere. If you’re looking for a second or third pairing guy then there’s a few choices that could pan out well and play in certain roles well. If your team needs another power play quarterback type Bryan McCabe is available. Other offensive-like guys are Anton Stralman and Sami Lepisto who were both set free from Columbus.

Defensive defensemen are key as well and should a team need a guy that can body up reasonably well and play sound defensively former Caps defenseman Scott Hannan or Habs blue liner Brent Sopel could work out well. Hannan is a bit more physical while Sopel will also double up and block shots as well. Former Predators defenseman Shane O’Brien could fit the bill for that role as well although his penchant for bad penalties could scare teams off.

Paul Mara could also be a nice complimentary defensive role player, especially if you’re in need of a guy to get in Alex Ovechkin’s business often. Other names to be found here: Anssi Salmela, Freddy Meyer, Karlis Skrastins, Steve Eminger, Jason Strudwick, and Mike Lundin.

If your team is in need of guys that have wild last names, defense is where it’s at with both Jeff Woywitka and Severin Blindenbacher both formerly with Dallas.

source: Getty Images


Here’s where things get dicey, there’s not many guys left if you want someone with NHL experience. Of those available you have your choice between a guy who’s still young but injury prone in Pascal Leclaire, feel-good veteran in Ray Emery, perennial backup favorite Ty Conklin, and elder statesman Chris Osgood.

Failing that a team could try to keep Marty Turco away from being a TV star or could think that Joey MacDonald did enough with Detroit last season to earn a backup job.

As it is, most jobs are spoken for in goal both in starting and backing up and Detroit is the one high profile spot remaining and that could be down to Ty Conklin or another year on pins and needles with Osgood.

Looking for someone to blame for Devils bad season? Kovalchuk says to blame him

Buffalo Sabres v New Jersey Devils

We’ve talked a lot (too much?) about the struggles of the New Jersey Devils this year. If it weren’t for the Islanders, they’d be sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and as it is, they’re 15 points out of the eighth spot in the East. Times are bad in New Jersey and while fans can point the finger at injuries to the defense and to Martin Brodeur and to a severe lack of offense as to why the team is failing so badly, one player has stepped up to take the blame.

Ilya Kovalchuk, he of the $100 million contract this off-season and 11 points this season, wants to take the heat for the team doing so badly this year. He also wants to show you that when a team struggles, it’s something that effects a player personally. Dave Hutchinson of The Star-Ledger gets the honest take from Kovalchuk about how bad things have gone so far in New Jersey.

Who can forget him losing control of the puck during a critical shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres at the Prudential Center and being booed off the ice? And what about his decision to pass instead of shoot against the Penguins on Monday night, turning it into a Pittsburgh goal in a 2-1 loss?

“I’ve never had problems with sleeping, but this year I have a little bit,” Kovalchuk said yesterday in a quiet moment at his locker following practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion. “It’s tough.”

There’s no doubt that Kovalchuk is squeezing the stick a lot in trying to breakout for the Devils. Kovalchuk is all too familiar with playing on teams that are doing poorly in the standings after spending most of his career in Atlanta. Then again, he was never on a team that’s been this bad before and he was never signed to a franchise-altering mega-contract there either.

As for the Devils offense that ranks out as the second-worst in the NHL with 50 goals scored in 27 games, Kovalchuk doesn’t make any excuses for how poor they’ve been.

“I’ll take all the responsibility for that, that’s why I’m here,” said Kovalchuk, who scored 41 goals last season between the Thrashers and Devils. “That’s what the team wants from me: Create chances for myself and my linemates. But we’re not there yet. We just have to keep working hard.”

It’s refreshing to see a player be as honest as Kovalchuk is being in talking about the team’s struggles. So often when things are bad you’ll see a player dance around the subject or even start pointing the finger elsewhere. Kovalchuk, however, is owning it. The Devils are dealing with injuries all through the lineup, most importantly to fellow offensive threat Zach Parise. Martin Brodeur makes his return tomorrow against Ottawa so that’s one piece back and while defensemen Matt Taormina and Anssi Salmela work their way back, things are slowly getting into place elsewhere in the lineup.

Of course, those guys aren’t getting paid $100 million to score 40 goals a year either. Kovalchuk settling down and snapping out of his funk is vital to the Devils bouncing back and climbing out of the cellar. Guys like Kovalchuk aren’t kept bottled up for very long. 11 points in 26 games is a dreadful stretch for a superstar like Kovalchuk, the Devils just have to hope he starts hitting his stride before they’re too far out of the playoff hunt.

Defensive help on the way for Devils; Taormina recovering, Salmela ready for the ice

Brad Staubitz, Anssi Salmela

The news all season long for the Devils has generally been bad. While most people want to focus on Ilya Kovalchuk and his offensive struggles for the moribund team from New Jersey, what’s truly been their Achilles heel has been how bad their defense is. Today, the Devils got some good news about a pair of key players that appear close to returning to the lineup.

Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice has the update for us from New Jersey that young defenseman Matt Taormina was back on the ice skating today. Taormina suffered a high ankle sprain on November 14th and put an already shorthanded blue line corps in further peril. Another player that’s getting closer to coming back is Anssi Salmela. Gulitti reports that Salmela is in great shape and ready to get into some games.

Defenseman Anssi Salmela, who has yet to play this season after having surgery in late May to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn meniscus in his right knee, has been given the green light to start playing in games and it appears he will be headed to Albany of the AHL for a conditioning assignment. He can stay there a maximum of two weeks—longer if he and the NHL approve it.

“We’re going to make a decision to get him to play some games,” Lamoriello said. “He’s been battling quite a bit (in practice). He’s been getting the contact. The doctors said he’s probably ready to get in a game. A game is different than practice.”

Lamoriello said he’s going to “have a conversation” with Salmela today about the possibility of going to Albany on conditioning.

Every little bit will help the Devils right now and tightening up the defense and adding more talent to the blue line will help straighten things out for everyone else. Hey, something’s got to work out in New Jersey.