Olympic Stock Watch: Will top Flyers, Islanders fall with their teams?

2022 Winter Olympics
NBC Sports

The NHL currently plans on sending players to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, with an early February break in the schedule. For some Olympic men’s hockey teams, most roster spots are no-brainers. That said, there’s room to move. Players can work their way off or onto Olympic rosters. In some cases, a fringe player could end up being key.

PHT’s Olympic Stock Watch monitors ups and downs for players for the U.S. men’s ice hockey team, Team Canada, and other countries hunting for medals.

Click here for the first Olympic Stock Watch from early November.  Our last Olympic Stock Watch was headlined by Troy Terry and Steven Stamkos.

Unless otherwise noted, stats come from before Thursday’s NHL games.

Olympic Stock: Down

Struggling Islanders, slipping 2022 Winter Olympic hopes

In the grand scheme of things, people expect a turnaround for the Islanders. At least compared to sprawling teams like the Canadiens, Canucks, Flyers, and Senators. But for Islanders fighting for especially competitive roster spots at the 2022 Winter Olympics, this slump could really hurt.

Mathew Barzal

Often, it’s unfair to allow a team’s struggles to undermine a single player’s 2022 Winter Olympics chances. That seems especially pertinent to the Islanders’ underrated defensive duo of Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock.

But this really has been a tough season so far for Mathew Barzal.

Arguably, Barzal set expectations too high, too early with his captivating Calder campaign from 2017-18. As tantalizing as his 85-point explosion was, he’d likely take a more contained presence in exchange for team success.

Over the past three seasons, Barzal’s RAPM charts argue that he’s found a nice balance: quality offense without the sort of defensive lapses that would earn too much Barry Trotz ire.

Olympic Stock Watch: Will top Flyers, Islanders fall with their teams? Barzal RAPM three year
via Evolving Hockey

So far this season, that balance is off.

Importantly, note that the sample size is small. Don’t take this as some broad statement about Barzal’s overall all-around abilities.

Instead, graphics like Evolving Hockey’s RAPM charts can provide quick snapshots, even in small sample sizes. In this case, Barzal’s RAPM chart reads more like those candid photos of people screaming down the scariest drop of a roller coaster.

Olympic Stock Watch: Will top Flyers, Islanders fall with their teams? Barzal this season
via Evolving Hockey

Again, no reasonable person would argue that Barzal can’t rebound and that he’s not a first-line center.

But Team Canada’s 2022 Winter Olympic choices translate to the usual buffet of overflowing options. Sure, it’s nice to dream about Barzal fully unleashed with forwards who can bury the beautiful chances he’d surely set up.

[Before this season, PHT projected Team Canada’s Olympic roster]

Look at PHT’s Team Canada Olympic Projections from before this season. Every PHT staffer (myself included) listed Barzal on Team Canada’s projected roster. However, three of the four rosters including Barzal as an extra forward, and one had him in a lineup — on the equivalent of a fourth line.

In other words, Barzal’s grip on an Olympic roster spot was already tenuous. With troubling two-way numbers and so-so offense (14 points in 21 games), Barzal’s season only dents his chances.

That said … I wouldn’t fault Doug Armstrong one bit if he was merely too enticed by Barzal’s game-breaking talent.

• Islanders defensemen Pelech, Pulock

On Nov. 9, The Athletic’s Arthur Staple noted (sub. required) that Team Canada may consider one of Adam Pelech or Ryan Pulock. Staple identified Pelech’s chances as the strongest, picturing the wildly underrated defenseman as the 2022 edition of Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Judging by PHT’s staff picks, Pelech was by far the more likely Olympic consideration.

So far this season, Barzal’s struggled more prominently than those two Islanders defensemen. In their cases, it’s been more about missing time with injuries.

That said, for a seemingly all-defense consideration like Pelech, this bumpy start could really hurt. What if Team Canada merely searches for someone who can fit that Pelech role, but who’s been healthy and on a more successful team?

(For what it’s worth, I’d still have Pelech on Team Canada.)

Falling Flyers

Carter Hart

No, it’s not really fair to blame all of the Flyers’ failings on Carter Hart. That said, his season’s been up and down. His .911 save percentage and almost even GSAA argue that he hasn’t been able to overcome his team’s failings. Team Canada might look at that and ask, “What if we need a goalie to bail us out?”

Most simply, he’s also on a personal six-game losing streak.

Sean Couturier

Overall, I’m not too concerned about Sean Couturier’s chances of making Team Canada. Once you get past explosive scorers like Connor McDavid, you’ll want two-way options. Couturier justifies most of that hype.

But he hasn’t been immune to the Flyers’ struggles. Consider where he ranks in xGAR this season, via Evolving Hockey:

Olympic Stock Watch: Will top Flyers, Islanders fall with their teams? Couturier xgar
via Evolving Hockey

Big picture, that’s nothing to panic about. Again, though, it’s important to remember that Team Canada enjoys a ludicrously deep array of options. Hence, the nitpicking.

James van Riemsdyk

Generally, JVR was already a dark horse Olympic candidate. He didn’t make any of the PHT staff lists.

But it’s worth noting that, on last season’s disappointing Flyers team, James van Riemsdyk enjoyed a heck of a season. With 43 points in 56 games, JVR tied for the team lead in scoring.

In this latest disappointing Flyers season, van Riemsdyk’s been a big disappointment, too. He’s only scored six points in 24 games, and it’s not as though his power play time dropped too dramatically.

When things are clicking, JVR’s “nose for the net” can make him a rare weapon, especially on the power play. Things are not clicking.

Quick hits: Olympic candidates whose stock is up

  • In much of this post, we look at Olympic contenders sorting through an embarrassment of riches. The U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team isn’t overflowing with premium center options — at least not compared to the other elites. With that in mind, you have to think there are a lot of eyes on Jack Hughes since he returned.
  • Similarly, Team Canada’s goalie pickings still look a little slim. With that in mind, don’t count out Marc-Andre Fleury. After an awful October, Marc-Andre Fleury is 7-5-0 with a .922 save percentage in his past 12 games. Can you blame Team Canada if they picture how MAF might shine behind a far better defense than the one he’s dealt with in Chicago?
  • By similar logic, Seth Jones‘ believers are emerging once more.
  • Chances are, we’ll dig deeper on Darnell Nurse‘s Olympic push in a future stock watch.
  • Was there much of chance that Erik Karlsson wouldn’t get an invite for Team Sweden at the 2022 Winter Olympics? Maybe not, but either way, it’s delightful to see him back among the league’s best defensemen.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    Tortorella earns 700th career win, Flyers top Wild 5-4

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    Len Redkoles/Getty Images
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    PHILADELPHIA — John Tortorella needed one word to sum up if 700 career wins meant anything to the Flyers coach.


    OK, then. Good thing the brusque Stanley Cup winner isn’t paid by the word.

    James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal in a shootout, and Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Thursday night for Tortorella’s 700th victory.

    Tortorella is 700-573-181 in 1,454 games as an NHL head coach. His 700 wins rank 12th in NHL history and his career games rank ninth in NHL history. He led Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. In his first season coaching the Flyers, Tortorella joined Peter Laviolette as the second American-born coach to win 700 games.

    “I think the culture’s kind of changed around here,” Flyers forward Joel Farabee said. “I think he’s done a really good job of keeping the group together.”

    Farabee, Scott Laughton, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyson Foerster scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers have two straight games for the first time since Jan. 9-14 when they won three straight. Yeah, it’s been that kind of season.

    “Farabee’s starting to pop, he’s looking real good. Tyson is looking real good,” Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo said. “This is all about laying the foundation for next year but we get a lot of money to do this job. It’s something we love, so we’re gonna go out and give it our best every night.”

    Matt Boldy had two goals for the Wild, and Oskar Sundqvist and Marcus Foligno also scored.

    “We weren’t very good. They were good,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We knew they were playing well, they played well tonight. We were loose. We were not firm, turnovers, it didn’t look like our hockey club.”

    The Flyers and Wild were tied 1-all at the end of the first period, 3-3 at the end of the second and 4-4 headed into OT.

    The rebuilding Flyers have been plucky of late. They had won two of three coming into the game, with the lone loss in overtime. They showed some of that grit in the final two periods, scoring late tying goals.

    “It’s a credit to their group, to their coaching staff, that they’ve got them playing the right way,” Evason said.

    Boldy poked a backhander past Carter Hart with 6:28 left for a 4-3 lead. The Flyers, playing more for the No. 1 pick and for pride, tied the game on Foerster’s second goal of the season.

    Farabee tipped in Cam York’s shot early in the second for a 2-1 lead.

    The Wild got going when Boldy ripped one top shelf past Hart for his 24th goal of the season that tied the game 2-all. Foligno scored his seventh goal for the 3-2 lead.

    Ristolainen buried a hard slapper from the blue line on the power play for the tying goal with 23 seconds left in the second.

    “I think it’s good to try to lay this foundation, kind of get ready for next year. You see guys getting confidence,” DeAngelo said.

    The Flyers only played ahead in the first period.

    Laughton scored off the rush for his 17th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Sundqvist celebrated his birthday with a deflection for the tying goal with 3:24 left in the period.

    The Flyers had been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL until the start of this seven-game homestand (3-2 so far). They have scored at least three goals in every game and at least four in the last four.

    “We have definitely gotten to the net better,” Tortorella said. “We have spent a lot of time on the ice and with tape as far as getting to that area.”


    Wild: Host Chicago on Saturday.

    Flyers: Host Detroit on Saturday.

    Crosby reaches 30-goal mark, Penguins knock off Avalanche 5-2

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    DENVER – Sidney Crosby wasn’t even aware of reaching yet another milestone. He’s simply locked in on helping the Pittsburgh Penguins make a 17th straight postseason appearance.

    Jeff Carter had a pair of goals, Crosby scored on a nifty backhand shot in the second period to reach the 30-goal mark for an 11th season and the Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.

    Crosby moved into a tie with Hall-of-Fame center Mario Lemieux for the most 30-goal seasons in Penguins history. Another milestone reached – it came as news to him.

    “I think the most important thing for me is just try to be consistent and if that reflects that great,” said Crosby, who turns 36 in August.

    Even more, Crosby’s the first player in league history to post a 30-goal campaign at 18 years old and again when he was 35-plus, according to NHL Stats.

    “It means I’ve been in the league for a while,” Crosby cracked. “That’s been the thing that’s driven me since since I got into the league – in your first year, you want to prove that you belong. Even at 35, I still think you want to prove you belong, because it is a younger league.”

    Jake Guentzel also scored and Bryan Rust added an empty-net goal for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game slide and moved back into a wild-card spot in the East.

    “It’s definitely a big one for us, for sure,” Guentzel said. “Defending champs, coming to their building, you know how good they are. Top to bottom, we defended hard and that’s what we have to do at this time of the year.”

    Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 28 shots in improving to 11-4 this season against teams from the Western Conference.

    J.T. Compher and Devon Toews had goals for the Avalanche, whose six-game winning streak was halted. Nathan MacKinnon had an assist to extend his home points streak to 18 games.

    It was a missed opportunity for Colorado, which could’ve pulled into a three-way tie with Dallas and Minnesota in the Central Division with a victory.

    “We knew they were going to play with urgency,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “But I didn’t feel like there was any reason why we couldn’t, either. … We didn’t get it done. Hopefully we get another one.”

    Alexandar Georgiev made 40 saves, including several critical ones in a second period controlled by the Penguins, who outshot the Avalanche by a 21-9 margin. It could’ve been more than a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period.

    Toews’ power-play goal made it 3-2 with 9:32 remaining. But Carter wrapped up the win with his first multigoal game in the regular season since Jan. 11, 2022.

    “I’m thrilled for him. We’re all thrilled,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Carter. “He cares about the Penguins. He wants to win, and he wants to contribute in helping us win so we couldn’t be happier for him.”


    Bednar was appreciative of the three-year extension he signed Tuesday that goes through the 2026-27 season. In his seventh season, he’s the third-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Sullivan (December 2015).

    “It’s not a forgiving league or sport, for the most part, but obviously that’s part of the reason why I’m so grateful and thankful,” Bednar said. “Because there were times over my tenure that got a little hairy and management could have made another decision. But obviously they didn’t.”


    Avalanche D Cale Makar missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. “I still have him as day-to-day,” Bednar said. … F Darren Helm returned after missing 64 of 69 games this season with a lower-body injury. … Penguins D Jeff Petry (upper body) skated in the morning but sat out his third straight game. … The Penguins are 11-1 against the Central Division this season. … Penguins standout Evgeni Malkin assisted on Guentzel’s goal to reach the 50-assist mark for a seventh time in his career.


    Penguins: At Dallas on Thursday night.

    Avalanche: Host Arizona on Friday night.

    Report: Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed jerseys

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed warmup jerseys before Sunday’s Pride Night game against Vancouver because of security concerns involving a Russian law that expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country.

    The decision was made by the NHL organization following discussions with security officials within and outside the franchise, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to the AP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the move.

    The Blackhawks have worn Pride warmup jerseys previously and donned special warmup jerseys on some other themed nights this season. There had been ongoing conversations about a Pride jersey with the players, according to the person who talked to the AP, but the organization made the decision to hold Pride Night without the jerseys this year.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in December that significantly expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country. Chicago defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and there are other players with family in Russia or other connections to the country.

    The decision by the Blackhawks comes after San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys. The New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.

    Russians Nikolai Knyzhov and Alexander Barabanov wore the Pride-themed jerseys for the Sharks on Saturday.

    While Chicago will go without Pride warmup jerseys this year, the team has planned a variety of activities in conjunction with Sunday’s game. DJs from the LGBTQ community will play before the game and during an intermission, and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus also is slated to perform. There also are plans to highlight a couple of area businesses with ties to the LGBTQ community.

    Teravainen scores late, Hurricanes rally to beat Rangers 3-2

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    NEW YORK – Teuvo Teravainen scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period, Frederik Andersen stopped 29 shots and the Carolina Hurricanes rallied to beat the New York Rangers 3-2.

    Jalen Chatfield and Stefan Noesen also scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes, who won for the third time in four games.

    With the comeback win, the Hurricanes became the second team – following Boston – to reach the 100-point mark this season as Carolina increased its Metropolitan Division-lead over second-place New Jersey to two points and the third-place Rangers to eight.

    “That was a great effort. All 20 guys contributed and we got what we deserved,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “If we play like that, we’ll be in good shape. This time of year it gets tougher and tougher.”

    Tyler Motte and Kaapo Kakko scored for the Rangers, who had won four straight were 6-0-1 in their last seven. Igor Shesterkin finished with 36 saves as the Rangers played their third game in four nights – the previous two shutout wins at home.

    “Igor kept us in there as long as he could and we just didn’t have enough in the tank,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. ”They won more battles and played a hard game.”

    Teravainen scored his 11th goal with 2:33 left on a pass from defenseman Brent Burns, redirecting the puck past Shesterkin. The Hurricanes, who trailed 1-0 and 2-1.

    “Somehow they left me open in the back side, great pass by him,” Teravainen said of the winning-goal pass to him in the slot. “We knew this would be a tough night. They have a good team. We knew we had to battle to win this game.”

    The Rangers led 1-0 entering the third and were vying for their third-straight shutout before Chatfield tied the score at 9:49 – the first goal the Rangers allowed in more than eight periods. New York was coming off a 6-0 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday night with Shesterkin in goal and a 7-0 triumph over Nashville behind Jaroslav Halak on Sunday.

    Kakko then put New York back ahead 31 seconds later with his 13th goal, only to have Noesen answer right back 18 seconds later to tie it 2-2.

    Motte opened the scoring at the 17-minute mark of the first, knocking the puck past Andersen for his third goal in four games and sixth of the season overall.

    The Rangers hadn’t lost in regulation since a 4-2 defeat on March 4 at Boston.

    “Tonight we didn’t play near well enough to beat that team,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. ”Honestly, the whole game they outplayed us. They were a lot quicker. They managed the puck real well … We didn’t play our game.”


    Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal played his 729th game with Carolina on Tuesday, tying defenseman Glen Wesley for the second-most games played in franchise history since relocation from Hartford in 1997. Staal, 34, trails only his brother Eric, who played 909 games for the Hurricanes from 2003-16.


    Hurricanes: Host the Rangers on Thursday night to finish the home-and-home set in the opener of a four-game homestand.

    Rangers: At Carolina on Thursday night to open a two-game trip.