Confidence is usually a great thing to have. Minnesota Wild forward Nino Niederreiter has plenty of that going for him and he believes in his Switzerland team as they head into the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Niederreiter tells Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press he’s excited for his team at this year’s Olympics and believes they’ve got a chance to do well.
“I think we have a great team, actually,” said Niederreiter. “We have a lot of strong defensemen and two great goalies. It definitely helps our confidence, and the experience, there’s going to be nothing like it.”
The goalies he’s referring to are Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks and Reto Berra of the Calgary Flames. Add in former Dallas Stars goalie Tobias Stephan and that’s a solid trio. With Roman Josi, Mark Streit, Raphael Diaz, and Yannick Weber on defense, maybe Niederreiter has a point.
Also going for the Swiss is their success at the 2013 World Championships. There, Switzerland made it to the gold medal game before losing to Sweden.
It won’t be easy in the opening round for Switzerland as they’ll have Sweden, Latvia, and the Czech Republic in their group for the round-robin. Add in Switzerland’s previous success at international tournaments and they won’t be flying under anyone’s radar now.
Marc Crawford fell short in whatever NHL head coaching races he was in this summer, but that won’t stop him from making big moves for a hockey club. Darren Dreger reports that Crawford will coach the Zurich ZSC Lions, a team that’s located in Zurich, Switzerland.
(The full name for the ZSC Lions is: Zürcher Schlittschuh Club Lions, by the way.)
Crawford spent the last season as an analyst for TSN after being fired following the 2010-11 season with the Dallas Stars. Crawford coached the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche for four seasons, the Vancouver Canucks for seven and the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars for two seasons apiece.
Beyond scratching that itch, you have to wonder if this sojourn in Switzerland will help him scrap his way back to the NHL. Do you think we’ll see him as a head coach again?
It’s not exactly the way the Rangers were hoping to warm up for the regular season while in Europe. In Switzerland today, the Rangers fell to Swiss National League team EV Zug 8-4. Losing these sorts of games aren’t a big deal, obviously, but the Rangers never had a lead in the game at all and while they were able to come back from being down 3-1 in the first period to tie things up at 3-3 at the end of one, Zug had it all working for them.
About the one thing the Rangers had to be pleased with is that the Zug fans treated it like a clash of the super powers as some of them even booed the Rangers when they hit the ice. Clearly Switzerland is only neutral in matters of diplomacy because when it comes to hockey, they’re as helpful as Islanders fans are when it comes to the Rangers.
There’s not much you can take away from this game for New York as this was their final tune up for the regular season. The Rangers open up on Friday in Stockholm, Sweden against the Los Angeles Kings. While Marc Staal won’t be joining them abroad, the competition for the final starting forward spot is hanging in the balance between Sean Avery and Erik Christensen.
Avery was a healthy scratch in the last two exhibition games while coach John Tortorella got a better look at Christensen. While it’s possible that Avery could start the year in the AHL, it’s looking more likely that Christensen will be the guy finding his way into the press box or demoted.
Either way, we’ll have all the answers for the Rangers later this week. At the very least they won’t have to worry about any pesky Alpine teams the rest of the way. Perhaps they’ll be a bit more ready for the Kings and Ducks on this European swing.