Canada continues to torment Russia with stunning comeback at Worlds

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It almost feels … mean.

Russia seemed like it would finally beat Canada in a significant international competition involving a decent number of top-level players on Saturday. Then the third period happened.

Canada stormed back from a 2-0 deficit in that final frame, ultimately taking the semifinal match with a 4-2 win. Thanks to that dizzying comeback, they’ll face either Sweden or Finland for the gold. Russia, meanwhile, is relegated to the bronze match.

The rally began with a Mark Scheifele power-play goal early in the third, yet Russia had a 2-1 lead deep into the contest. Nathan MacKinnon‘s 2-2 tally came with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.

Not long after, Ryan O'Reilly scored the decisive tally, while Sean Couturier‘s empty-netter ended any drama. Canada generated a 19-5 shot differential in that third-period push.

Check out full highlights above this post’s headline.

Grubauer ready to ‘be a starting goalie somewhere’

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This summer’s goalie market was expected to be a fluid one, and there’s already been significant movement.

So where does Philipp Grubauer fit in all this?

Grubauer, 25, has served as Braden Holtby‘s capable backup in Washington for the last two years. He’s coming off an excellent campaign — 13-6-2, .926 save percentage, 2.05 GAA — and sounds like he’s ready to make the next step in his career.

“I would like to stay here; Washington is awesome and the whole organization’s been awesome the last couple of years,” Grubauer said, per the Post. “But I’m ready if the opportunity comes to make the next step and try to be a starting goalie somewhere.”

It’s been speculated the German ‘tender could be Vegas bound.

Golden Knights GM George McPhee was the boss in Washington when it took Grubauer in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. What’s more, McPhee hired former Caps goalie coach, Dave Prior, to oversee things in Vegas.

Prior has spoken highly of his former pupil.

“Philipp does things effortlessly,” Prior said, per the Washington Post. “That’s the talent that not everybody is lucky enough to be equipped with. He also stays between the puck and the net instinctively.”

Grubauer ticks several boxes for Vegas. He’s young and projects to be affordable (a restricted free agent, coming off a $750,000 cap hit).

But that means there could be other suitors as well.

Calgary has a void in goal, with both Chad Johnson and Brian Eliott as unrestricted free agents. Philly is still searching for someone to work in tandem with Michal Neuvirth. Winnipeg is looking to add something in goal, too.

The big question will be how much teams are willing to commit to Grubauer, who has just 66 career NHL appearances. It’s a small sample size, though clubs are probably willing to take the risk in the hopes of landing the next Cam Talbot. That’s clearly what Carolina is banking on following the Scott Darling acquisition.

As for the Caps, they do have some options in reserve. Vitek Vanecek, the 39th overall pick in 2014, is only 21 years old but showed well for AHL Hershey this year. Pheonix Copley, acquired from St. Louis in the Kevin Shattenirk trade, is older (25) but it’s unclear if the organization sees him as a capable NHL backup.

Hurricanes, Stars get early jump on NHL goalie carousel

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When the Carolina Hurricanes traded a third-round pick to Chicago for the rights to Scott Darling, the NHL’s goaltender carousel started spinning.

After Carolina signed Darling to a $16.6 million, four-year deal, the Dallas Stars sent a fourth-round pick to Los Angeles for the rights to Ben Bishop and signed the 6-foot-7 former Lightning starter for $29.5 million over six years. Carolina and Dallas were willing to give up picks to get the jump on what Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis called an interesting offseason to shop for a goalie.

“There’s two different paths you can look at: One is certainly who’s going to be available on July 1 and what it may take to get them in terms of years and in terms of salary, and then the other option is you’re looking at who might be available in terms of teams not wanting to lose a goaltender in expansion and willing to make a trade and what it costs you to get that player,” Francis said. “When we looked at everything and studied things, we thought this was the best viable option for us.”

It looks brilliant now ahead of a goalie shuffle that expected to happen over the next several weeks leading up to the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft June 21, the actual draft a few days later and the start of free agency July 1. The Golden Knights, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers and perhaps even the Winnipeg Jets and Colorado Avalanche are in the market, with Pittsburgh veteran Marc-Andre Fleury, Washington backup Philipp Grubauer and a handful of others in the mix to fill vacancies.

Fleury led the Penguins to the Eastern Conference final but could still be traded with Matt Murray entrenched as the goalie of the future, and his value has never been higher. Fleury wields power with his no-movement clause that could let him choose his destination.

Read more: Fleury could be good option for Flames … or even Flyers

Grubauer said he has no choice where he goes, but as a restricted free agent he does have some control and could be headed to Vegas. The Golden Knights will get 48 hours to negotiate with any unrestricted or restricted free agents left unprotected for the expansion draft, and the 25-year-old German had a 2.05 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 24 games this season and is widely considered ready to be a starter.

“He’s an outstanding goalie,” Capitals starter Braden Holtby said. “What I think I’ve seen from him the last year especially, his talent is NHL talent, but a lot of guys have that. His mental game, his mental prep – every game he was in he was never out of it mentally. He was always sharp and that shows.”

Grubauer and Darling could follow the path of understudies-turned-starters blazed by Edmonton’s Cam Talbot, who has thrived since backing up Henrik Lundqvist with the Rangers, and San Jose’s Martin Jones, who took the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final a year ago after being Jonathan Quick‘s No. 2 in Los Angeles. Much like Grubauer, the 28-year-old Darling has improved the mental side of his game as Corey Crawford‘s backup with the Blackhawks and believes he has the stuff to start.

“I’m confident because I’m excited about it and I’m going to do everything in my power to learn how to be the best starter I can be,” said Darling, who’s 6-foot-6 and had a .924 save percentage last season. “I have a good network of goalie friends that I’m going to be picking their brains and asking for help and just trying to do everything that I can do to be successful in that role.”

Current Rangers backup Antti Raanta, who has a year left on his deal at a bargain-basement $1 million salary-cap hit, has shown evidence he can be successful too and has been speculated as a Vegas option. So have Grubauer and Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth because of close ties to GM George McPhee and goalie coach Dave Prior.

“There’s a lot of other guys on the market too that could possibly go out there, so it’s not just me,” Grubauer said. “George drafted me, so they know what they probably get and with other guys they probably not know as much. I don’t know what they’re going to do.”

Vegas’ decisions in goal could have as much of a domino effect as Carolina getting Darling and Dallas locking up Bishop. The Flames made the playoffs with the tandem of Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson, now pending free agents, and could go young with prospect Jon Gilles, look at Fleury or move in another direction to improve on their 19th-ranked save percentage.

Winnipeg has youngsters Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson and Colorado has Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard but could shake things up in net to speed up the process of returning to playoff contention. The Flyers will likely move on from the Neuvirth-Steve Mason combo, but former goaltender and now GM Ron Hextall seems fine patching things up until one of Philadelphia’s top prospects (Carter Hart, Alex Lyon or Felix Sandstrom) is ready for the NHL.

“We do have kids coming, and I think everybody knows it,” Hextall said.

 

Related: Nill thinks Niemi or Lehtonen could be ‘intriguing’ for some teams

Housley emerges as hot coaching candidate

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There are just two bench boss vacancies left in the NHL — in Florida and Buffalo, respectively — and they might stay vacant for a while.

How long?

Maybe until the Nashville Predators are done playing.

That’s because Preds assistant and Hall-of-Fame defenseman Phil Housley has emerged as a strong candidate. The Sun-Sentinel reported that Florida’s search is hinging on Housley’s availability (though TSN’s Pierre LeBrun has since countered that report), while the Sabres are also tied to him.

Housley, of course, spent the first eight years of his career in Buffalo.

The 53-year-old been widely praised for his work in Nashville over the last few seasons, especially what he’s done with the club’s defense. And these playoffs have been the perfect advertisement for both the blueline and its coach.

“He brings such a different element to coaching because of the player he was,” P.K. Subban said of Housley, per NHL.com. “He sees the game unlike probably anyone else who’s ever played the game.

“When he talks, all that matters to me is what is coming out of his mouth.”

Though all his NHL experience has come as an assistant, Housley has experience running a bench. He led the U.S. to gold at the ’13 World Juniors, coaching future big leaguers like Johnny Gaudreau, Jacob Trouba, Seth Jones, John Gibson and Shayne Gostisbehere, among others.

So now, interested suitors will have to play the waiting game.

It remains to be seen how long that game will take.

Video: Gudas drops Giroux with one punch at World Championship

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So, uh, this one is kind of hard to fathom.

Radko Gudas and Claude Giroux normally suit up together as members of the Philadelphia Flyers. Giroux is Gudas’ captain, after all.

But, teammates face off against each other at the World Championship as was the case for Giroux (representing Canada) vs. Gudas and the Czech Republic. Thus, we have the violent defenseman dropping the Flyers scoring star with one punch while he also intimidates Nathan MacKinnon in a clip you really have to see to believe.

CSN Philly provided that video. More on that here.

Canada ended up winning the game 4-1. Giroux and Jakub Voracek seemed a lot friendlier.