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U.S. names Hanifin, Keller to Worlds roster

USA Hockey is going young with its entry into the 2017 World Hockey Championships, a trend that continued on Friday with the additions of Noah Hanifin and Clayton Keller.

Hanifin, 20, is coming off his sophomore campaign in Carolina and will be making his second straight appearance at the worlds. Taken fifth overall at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the former Boston College standout scored 29 points in 81 games this season but, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted recently, might actually be on the shopping block due to Carolina’s surplus of talent on defense.

Keller, 18, just wrapped a tremendous year in which he starred at Boston University — scoring 45 points in 31 games — helped the U.S. capture gold at the world juniors, and made his NHL debut for the Coyotes. Taken seventh overall at the ’16 draft, Keller is regarded as a star in the making, and should be fun to watch (again) on the international stage.

As mentioned above, USA Hockey has undergone a youth movement for this tournament. In addition to Keller and Hanifin, the roster also includes Dylan Larkin (20), Christian Dvorak (21), J.T. Compher (22) and Keller’s former Boston University teammate, 20-year-old Jordan Greenway (a Minnesota Wild prospect.)

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    Bruins rule out Krejci for Game 2, Colin Miller unlikely


    Boston’s depleted defense looks like it’ll be thinned out even more.

    On Friday, B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy said that d-man Colin Miller would be unlikely for tomorrow’s Game 2 against the Sens, and ruled out top center David Krejci for a second straight contest.

    Krejci’s absence doesn’t come as a surprise. As mentioned, he sat out Wednesday’s series-opening victory and has yet to return to practice while dealing with an upper-body injury.

    Stream Bruins vs. Senators on NBC Sports

    Miller’s absence comes after he was knocked out of Game 1 on a hit from Sens d-man Mark Borowiecki. That injury came with fellow blueliners Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo already on the shelf, meaning the Bruins are now looking at a potential six-man defense comprised of Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Adam McQuaid, John-Michael Liles, Kevan Miller and Joe Morrow.

    Morrow is the likely candidate to replace Miller, if the latter is indeed ruled out. It’ll be a tall ask of the 24-year-old, who hasn’t played since Jan. 22.

    That said, Cassidy hasn’t ruled out recalling a blueliner from AHL Providence.



    Lineup changes for Blues, but Stastny remains out


    There will be a new look for the Blues tonight in Game 2 of their series against Minnesota.

    Head coach Mike Yeo will make a couple of changes to the lineup that won — but was badly out-shot — in overtime on Wednesday night. On defense, Roberto Bortuzzo will replace Jordan Schmaltz and, at forward, it looks like Zach Sanford will replace Jori Lehtera.

    Lehtera played 16:53 against the Wild two nights ago, while Schmaltz played just 9:18.

    Stream Blues vs. Wild on NBC Sports

    The one piece St. Louis really hoped to return won’t get back in. Paul Stastny, who missed the final few weeks of the regular season with a lower-body injury, didn’t travel to Minnesota for Game 2 (after missing Game 1).

    Related: A remarkable turnaround for Jake Allen


    Fleury ‘seems to stop the hard ones and maybe let in the easy ones,’ says Hartnell


    To hear Scott Hartnell explain it, Columbus doesn’t see much of a difference between facing Matt Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury.

    “Potato, Po-tah-to, both Murray and Fleury are good,” Hartnell said, per the Blue Jackets website. “(The change) doesn’t cause any havoc for us. Everyone on this team has faced Fleury a bunch of times. He’s won Stanley Cups.

    “He seems to stop the hard ones and maybe let in the easy ones.”

    Stream Penguins vs. Blue Jackets on NBC Sports

    One would assume Hartnell’s comments are (partially) in reference to the 2012 Penguins-Flyers series, in which Hartnell was playing for Philly. Fleury was ventilated for 26 goals on 131 shots over six games, finishing with an ugly .834 save percentage.

    But that was then. This is now.

    Fleury was thrust into the starting role just prior to Wednesday’s series opener, after Murray went down during warmup with a lower-body injury. It’s believed Murray re-aggravated a groin injury suffered late in the regular season, and it’s serious enough to keep him out of the lineup entirely — Fleury will start tonight’s Game 2, with AHL recall Tristan Jarry serving as the backup.

    Fleury was excellent in Game 1, stopping 31 of 32 shots, including all 16 faced in a very busy opening period. Matt Calvert ended his shutout bid with a marker midway through the final frame.

    Columbus said the goal for tonight’s tilt is to make life even busier for Fleury.

    “We got to focus on getting more pucks to the net,” Brandon Dubinsky said. “We need to get more pucks to the blues and make it hard on Fleury by trying to generate some rebounds.”

    As for Hartnell — well, this isn’t the first time he’s had a quip about the Penguins. Prior to the series starting, he was asked if Pittsburgh had matured over the last few years.

    “Maybe Sid [Crosby],” Hartnell replied, per the Post-Gazette. “He’s not whining all the time.”

    Puck drop tonight is at 7 p.m. from PPG Paints. You can catch the game on NHL Network, or stream it here.

    Hitch wants Seguin thinking, playing like a No. 1 center


    Introductory pressers are supposed to be about photo ops, congratulations and generic quotes. Those at the podium can easily deflect talk of specifics with “we’re still in an evaluation period,” and “it’s early, but we’ll look into it.”

    But that’s just not Ken Hitchcock’s style.

    Shortly after being introduced as Dallas’ new head coach on Thursday — his second tour of duty in Texas — Hitchcock jumped straight into specific improvements he wanted to make with the hockey club.

    Including a big one for Tyler Seguin.

    “I’ve got to get Tyler to start thinking like a [No. 1 center],'” Hitchcock said, per the Morning-News. “That means he has to be out there in critical spaces all of the time. He has to kill penalties, he has to play against the other team’s top players.

    “He has to be out there at the start of games, he has to be out there at the end of games. That’s what a ‘1’ does.”

    Seguin spent considerable time this season at right wing. Former head coach Lindy Ruff opted to give Cody Eakin significant minutes a top-line center — largely because of Eakin’s defensive prowess — forcing Seguin to the outside as a result.

    Offensively speaking, there’s never been any question about Seguin’s capabilities down the middle. He’s had at least 40 assists in each of his four years in Dallas, but there have been concerns about his defensive side of the game. And Hitch’s comment about penalty killing is quite interesting, because Seguin played a grand total of 2:09 shorthanded this season.

    You read that right. He didn’t average 2:09. He killed penalties for two minutes and nine seconds, total, over 82 games.

    So this proposed transformation will be major one. How does Seguin feel about the challenge?

    “I’m giddy,” he said. “Since I’ve come to Dallas, I’ve wanted to be a No. 1 centerman. I know he’s going to be hard on me, but I want to make this work.”