It was the game that has spawned thousands of think pieces. As the US fell in uninspiring fashion to the Canadians last night, their World Cup failure raised questions about the team’s roster construction yet again.
While the 4-2 loss to Canada may have been expected, the previous shutout loss to Team Europe helped to stir memories of the pop-gun offensive efforts against Canada and Finland at the 2014 Sochi games. In fact, TJ Oshie’s goal late in the third period against Canada was the first scored by a US forward in 254:02; a streak that extends to Team USA’s preliminary round win against Slovenia in 2014. Only Ryan McDonagh’s goal against Canada kept that from being a shutout streak as well.
That is a stunning inability to score from a country seen as one of hockey’s super powers. Of course, the questions about the roster choices didn’t crop up over the past week. The choices made by USA Hockey have been questioned, in one way or another, since the original roster announcement earlier this year. Maybe this should be too surprising, as many of the same names criticized for questionable choices in 2014 – and highlighted by the in-depth, behind the scenes articles chronicling that team’s construction – remained part of the decision making process. Continue reading →
The World Cup of Hockey is right around the corner, finally bringing the international event back to the hockey world after a 12-year absence. In the time between the 2004 event and this year’s World Cup, some major changes have come to the world of goaltending. It’s far easier for goalies to get new customized equipment and turnaround time on new masks is quite short.
As we approach the start of the tournament, every country’s goaltender has had their new gear or helmets released to the public via Twitter, Facebook or otherwise. Let’s take a look at the best and the worst of the World Cup of hockey goal masks (and gear). Continue reading →
With the draft set to kick off Friday night, it’s time to reveal my 2016 mock draft. There will likely be a handful of trades leading up to the draft as well as on the draft floor, but this mock is done without trades for obvious reasons. Continue reading →
Reaching an agreement on no movement and no trade clauses was among the most important unanswered questions surrounding the way teams will form their protected lists. With the potential for an expansion draft taking place as early as next summer, the need for that determination was obviously important.
One position that will get plenty of focus will be between the pipes. As there is only one option for protecting goaltenders, there is a near guarantee that a pair of solid goaltenders are headed to Vegas should a draft take place next summer.
The requirement that no movement clauses must be protected could put pressure on a number of general managers to make a move this summer – or prior to next year’s deadline – to ensure they aren’t losing a goaltending asset for nothing. Continue reading →
There will deservedly be a lot of coverage over the course of the next six weeks involving all sorts of trade rumors and possibilities as general managers work the phones in an effort to either position their team for a playoff run or plan for the future. All of that coverage is obviously merited, but there is a story getting a bit less air time that will play a major role in deciding who goes where in February and July: the salary cap.
The salary cap for the 2016-17 season has yet to be set, and the Canadian dollar’s dropping value has many around the league concerned; the Loonie is currently below 70 cents on the dollar for the first time in over ten years. This is bad news for a league with seven Canadian franchises that account for roughly 30 to 35 percent of hockey related revenue, according to The Globe and Mail. According to Steven Burtch of SportsNet, if the Canadian dollar remained at around 69 cents the salary cap would drop around $3.9 million next year, and that includes the escalator. Continue reading →
The clamor over adding a coach’s challenge to the NHL game wasn’t necessarily deafening, but it wasn’t silent either. Over the past few seasons various occurrences (looking at you Matt Duchene) led to a stronger case for teams to have the ability to review certain plays on the ice. Beginning this season the league obliged and provided coaches the ability to challenge one play per game.
It’s become a disaster.
Instituting a coach’s review for goalie interference or offside plays was brilliant, in principle. Mounting examples of each play made for a strong case to give coaches this option and the league was wise to research it and ultimately institute it. The negative impact continues to mount, however and it would seem wise of the league to backtrack on the offside rule at the very least.
The length of the reviews and the size of the tablets used by officials have been the focal point of the new system’s naysayers. That coaches have managed to use the new system as a loophole for much longer timeouts has been another unexpected consequence. The flaws are really coming to the forefront as more and more plays are flagged for review.
I will add that while I am a Sabres fan, my view on the rule does not reflect that Buffalo has been victimized four different times on offside reviews. While that sad bit of irony likely irritates many in the Buffalo fanbase, my criticism rests solely on the flaws I see in reviewing offside plays.
In fact, I’ve grown so tired of the offside review that it upsets me to hear and read the narrative bemoaning the tablets and length of the reviews. While those two features are certainly giant red flags, nothing outweighs the fact that a goal starved league created a rule which removes goals which would otherwise be perfectly legal. There are many out there crying to change the size of the nets – a fundamental alteration of the fabric of the game – while there’s a brand new rule stripping goals off the board. Continue reading →
The long wait for the World Cup of Hockey’s return is almost over and I can’t wait to see the event back on the ice next fall.
There is some contention over the choice to include a pair of teams who aren’t connected to any one country. The European All Stars, made up of players from countries not named Sweden, Finland, Russia or the Czech Republic, and the North American Young Stars teams will allow the league to showcase more star talent in the short tournament. The two teams have drawn the ire of some, particularly the Young Stars team which will pull American and Canadian players under the age of 23.
While Team Europe’s melting pot roster will be star-studded, the team isn’t pulling talent from other nations participating in the tournament. The same cannot be said of the North American Young Stars who will likely wind up with three or four players who would have otherwise suited up for the Americans alone.
I, for one, love the idea of the Young Stars team. As this isn’t the Olympics and there still doesn’t appear to be a long-term answer for the structure and schedule of the tournament, there’s no reason not to introduce a new wrinkle or two to help put more star power into the games. Each time the Olympics come around there’s discussion over how good a second Canadian squad would be. This practice isn’t far off from giving the Canadians another entry, there just happens to be a few Americans sprinkled in. Continue reading →