There has been a lot of talk about how the Olympics could slow down teams and players that were on hot streaks leading up to Sochi. However, we also must consider that the opposite could turn out to be true as well. Players that were struggling during the first four months of the NHL season may be able to catch fire playing with their respective countries and translate that into a strong finish when they return to North America.
One such player to keep an eye on is Patrik Berglund. The St. Louis Blues forward had just eight goals this season and suffered through a stretch earlier in the year where he had one goal in 29 games and went to the break goalless in 14 straight. In the first game of the tournament he grabbed a goal and a pair of shots against the Czech Republic, so that’s a good sign. He followed that up with another assist and three shots in the next contest. Granted, these rosters are filled with talent players aren’t normally accustomed to playing with, but if some of the momentum can at least carry over then that’s a good thing.
Staying with that same game, Alexander Salak came on in relief for the Czech’s and looked sharp making 14 stops on 15 shots against the Swedes. I thought Salak may have had a shot at cracking the Blackhawks’ organization at one point but any hope of that came to an end after his release and the signing of Corey Crawford to a lucrative long-term deal. It’s an interesting move for Chicago who are right up against the salary cap, considering they weren’t confident in giving Antti Niemi a big deal when he was in a similar situation to Crawford. Goaltending seemed to be an area the team wasn’t willing to spend on in order to retain some of their high-priced skaters. We’ll see if it hurts them down the line.
It’s good to see Canada use P.K. Subban in their second game. For all the talk about the bigger ice surface, the blue line is actually closer to the net than it is in an NHL game due to the cage being moved out to create extra space behind the goal line. This means someone like Subban with a strong point shot becomes all the more valuable. Even if Canada just using him as a power play specialist in man advantage situations, it’s smart to keep Subban in the lineup.
Jaromir Jagr has two goals in the Czech’s first two games and produced a few of the greatest quotes you will ever see after the team’s victory over Latvia, via Pro Hockey Talk.
When asked if he will score in every game at the Olympics.
Jagr turns 42 today.
“I don’t get old, man,” Jagr said, per the Olympic News Service. “I don’t know why.”
Jagr on the pressure of the Olympics.
“We are from the Czech Republic, we are always loose man,” Jagr said. “No pressure.”
I hope that guy never retires.
Henrik Zetterberg is done for the Olympics with a herniated disc in his back, likely destroying my chances ofme winning an Olympic Hockey Pool in the process. Zetterberg’s absence certainly hurts the Swedes, but as Laidlaw mentioned yesterday it likely hurts the Red Wings even more. Gustav Nyquist’s production will definitely take a hit if Zetterberg is out long-term, but I’d be more concerned about Justin Abdelkader. He is huge in the hits category and his value is even greater when playing with Zetterberg because it gives him a chance for points. Once he loses that he becomes a below average fantasy player. Hopefully for Red Wing fans Pavel Datsyuk will be healthy once he returns from the Olympics because if not, Detroit’s lengthy playoff streak could be in major jeopardy.
There were a few questions that were submitted in the Ramblings and the first had to do with Colorado’s defense.
I’m a huge Tyson Barrie fan. He is close to Erik Johnson when it comes to points and his plus/minus is much better, ranking second on the team with a plus-15 rating. He also comes in ahead of Johnson when it comes to power play time and ranks second on the entire squad in that category. He also was on a solid run before the Olympic break with nine points in eight games that included a five-game point streak and a three-point night. He’s only 30% owned in Yahoo! Leagues, so give him a look.
Someone also asked about Adam Larsson and his prospects for New Jersey next season. I can’t say I know the Devils’ organization like the back of my hand, but one thing I do know is that Lou Lamoriello isn’t a fan of rebuilding or letting prospects develop at the NHL level. New Jersey has always used their AHL system as the main source to prepare players and they don’t believe like some teams do to letting guys cut their teeth in the NHL. The Devils could have easily played some young players this season but instead they opted to grab veterans Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder, and Jaromir Jagr in hopes of making the playoffs. That’s just how they do things.
As far as Larsson is concerned, he’s been average with Albany as well as in 20 NHL games this year. One thing that hurts him is the fact Andy Greene was on his way to a career-year at one point this season and Eric Gelinas has overachieved. Add in the fact that Marek Zidlicky is around as well and without playing some very good hockey, Larsson just won’t get many minutes at the moment.
However, one thing to keep an eye the rest of the way is if the Devils fall out of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Despite being 13th right now, they’re not out of it, but a bad stretch could easily sink them. Then maybe they give Larsson some more games and an audition for next season. Let’s also not forget he’s still only 21 years old.
Solid piece here from John Buccigross about Penn State’s hockey program.
After not reporting to his AHL assignment, Linus Omark is reportedly hoping to play in Sweden.
What is Brandon Pirri’s future in Chicago?
Calgary Flames forward Jiri Hudler seems a little lost.
With NHL news slow over the next couple of weeks, feel free fill the comments section with questions about things you would like to see in the Ramblings.