A couple of New Jersey notes from beatwriter Tom Gulitti - Eric Gelinas has been recalled. And Damien Brunner is on a line with Patrik Elias and Adam Henrique
On Friday I hosted an event in Toronto for DobberHockey readers and Dobber Sports writers. Among those in attendance, besides myself, were fellow ramblers Steve Laidlaw and Michael Amato, as well as about 10 other writers and friends of the site. Some pictures can be found here.
I'm going to assume that each and every reader here already saw Canada win gold Sunday and have already heard 100 opinions via TV, radio or online. So I won't waste too much space on this. I just know that Canada's defensemen were graded an A+ by me after the Latvia game. And then they were somehow 10 times better against the USA and Sweden. What's A+ times 10? Is there an A++++++++++? Flawless. Almost completely flawless. And ignoring the line combo stuff from early on, the team was very well coached. The line combos settled down the last two games more or less - and even if I disagree with a couple of the lines, I'm glad that Mike Babcock stuck with them. At that point in the tournament, you stop fiddling. And he did.
So my Team Canada grades:
Goaltending: A (Price was even better than he needed to be - great composure)
Offense: B (they were committed to playing error-free hockey, but they still took shots they shouldn't have and passed on shots they should have taken - but that's a line-combo familiarity thing)
Coaching: A (Babcock had a short window to work with, and stuck with his game plan - well done)
Other Olympic issues I should touch upon:
- I still would have dressed Subban as the seventh defenseman, but Babcock showed me that his game plan was tailor-made for Weber, Doughty, Bouwmeester, Pietrangelo, Keith and Vlasic. In future tournaments (I'm not sure the NHL goes to the Olympics again) I'll be more cognisant of that when I critique a roster put together for a Mike Babcock-coached team.
- Team USA was the best team in the tournament, hands down, until Friday. Then they seemed to play scared against Canada. Or maybe Canada's defense was honed into a well-oiled machine by that point. Regardless, the loss sucked all the passion out of the American players. Playing for bronze just wasn't inspiring for them. I know they cared about winning bronze when that game began - but without the inspiration, and with the crushing disappointment still on their mind, they just didn't show up. Especially once Finland scored.
- Teemu Selanne was the MVP of the tournament. A great choice, given his legend. But if his name was Teemu Selanovan, he was obviously not the MVP just based 100% on play. That would be either Shea Weber or Drew Doughty. Hell, maybe those two split the vote? Erik Karlsson, who won the tourney's best defenseman accolades, was also a consideration. But Selanne has, I believe, an Olympic-record 24 goals in his career and with two more in the bronze game, the future Hall-of-Famer was the right choice. He had six points, tied for fifth in scoring.
- I guess that answers our questions about Doughty. Was he losing his offensive touch? Did we have his upside pegged too high? Nope. It's just the Sutter coaching philosophy. So be on the lookout for the 'real' Doughty next time the Kings make a coaching change.
- Still with the Kings - Jeff Carter led Canada in shots with 24. That's what he was asked to do, and that's what he did - shoot.
Carey Price, Erik Karlsson and Phil Kessel were named the top goalie, defenseman and forward of the tournament. Kessel led the tourney in scoring with eight points, but he (along with the rest of Team USA) had no points the last two games. The All-Star team had Karlsson, Doughty, Granlund, Kessel and Selanne. For some reason Lundqvist was the All-Star goalie even though Price was "Best Goalkeeper".
Nicklas Backstrom missed the gold medal game because he was caught with a "banned" substance, which apparently was just Clariton - something he had been taking for years. No danger of him missing any NHL time (players are allowed to take, uh, allergy pills), but it's Team Sweden's job to ensure that this doesn't happen.
" Our opinion is that the IOC destroyed one of the greatest hockey days in Swedish history," said Team Sweden general manager Tommy Boustedt. Team doctor Bjorn Waldeback said Zyrtec-D, which contains pseudoephedrine, is a permitted drug at a certain level, and Backstrom has taken the medication for "several years."
Levels are allowed at 150 micrograms per milliliter and Backstrom tested at 190. "Nicklas Backstrom and I were at doping control and we told him he takes this one pill every day," Waldeback said.
And here is what Backstrom had to say (near tears):
"I was ready to play probably the biggest game of my career, and 2 1/2 hrs before game I got pulled aside. It’s sad."
Can you imagine? Gold medal game, playing for your country, 100% sure you are going to be playing in a couple of hours. And…this?
Impressed by Mikael Granlund. He's really coming into his own this season and all it took was increasing responsibility. In the case of both Minnesota and Team Finland, this was able to happen as a result of the Mikko Koivu injury. Now that he's shown what he can do (and all the confidence that goes with that), I can be pretty comfortable in believing that he'll be a first-line star in this league (and soon), if there was any doubt before.
The Blackhawks tried to sneak Michael Kostka through waivers but Tampa Bay plucked him. I think he's worth a flier if you have a defenseman you'd like to drop. Chicago had him as insurance but other than Kostka himself, there hasn't been any injuries to Chicago's blue line. I think any production will be just short-term, but I do think he makes a splash. This could be at the expense of Mark Barberio, who was finally seeing more ice time and actually producing (though pointless in his last six). Barberio would still dress, but the ice time may be cut. Keith Aulie will sit.
Alex Ovechkin is flying back to Washington, so he won't miss any games. Washington doesn't play until Thursday. For a great look at the upcoming schedule (and how you should play it), check out the latest piece from Bob Fisher here.
Steve Yzerman has announced that he will not return as Canada's GM. Beautiful - go out on top. He got the experience, but probably missed focusing on running the Lightning. Now he has the glory (two gold medals), the accolades, the experience, and now that he can give TB all of his time he'll theoretically be better at that job too. Just a perfect career both on and off the ice.
I just made a pretty gutsy trade in which I overpaid for a player who I have full confidence will become a star soon. It's in my forecaster league (with the group that writes the annual magazine), I'm tied for first place and looking for a three-peat so I'm kind of in "all or nothing" mode. We keep 12 players in this one, and it's 15 teams and you dress a regular NHL roster. I traded Kris Letang and a first round pick for Jacob Trouba and a 13th round pick. I need a body here and now…and also needed a stud keeper defenseman (who was supposed to be Letang). I consider Letang a 'buy low' for next season, but in circumstances such as this one, I definitely had to 'sell'.
Defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon missed most of the last two years with concussion issues after having a fairly promising stint with the Flyers in 2011-12. But he suffered another concussion recently and is sidelined again.
My THN column last Thursday can be found here, but I'm also going to try to add it and other columns in the Blog section of the forum, so you can also find it and have a discussion right here. Wanna mess around with writing - be it your thoughts, or fantasy hockey…or your thoughts on fantasy hockey? The world is your oyster - go to the blog section and have at 'er. I'm still messing around with that area, trying to find how best to use it.
Nick Kypreos has indicated that Martin St. Louis did as for a trade when he was left off of Team Canada. I'm thinking he's changed his mind now, but trade rumors are starting to swirl. I bet he stays.
I also bet that Ryan Callahan stays. The thought of him being traded is ludicrous, for the simple fact that the Rangers should be buyers at the Deadline. That means - they will be acquiring players with expiring contracts, who could help them win the Cup. Um, isn't that Callahan? They already have a player like that! Two, actually (Dan Girardi). Teams looking to make a run don't trade their expiring contracts. I'd be surprised. I think he just walks for nothing in the summer.
Some changes to the DobberHockey columns, as our Top 10 writer Dave Romaine had to step away and Anthony Lancione was more comfortable with Frozen Pool Forensics. So Dallas Guzzwell has taken over Wild West (his debut is today) and Tom Collins has taken over the weekly Top 10 (also debuts today).
Sidney Crosby's Welcome to the NHL moment: