Around the League
Mike Babcock was revealed as Canada’s coach for the 2016 World Cup on Thursday, and also announced that Sidney Crosby will be on the initial roster. This isn’t exactly surprising with Babcock considered one of the league’s best coaches and Crosby the league’s best player. Together, they’ve won the past two Olympic golds.
But while all the attention turns to Canada, the most intriguing team at the 2016 World Cup should be USA. Despite its Olympic disappointments, the U.S. has continued to field stronger and stronger teams each year, and with a talent pool that continues to grow. Remember, USA won the World Cup in its inaugural year.
Team USA’s greatest strength will be its considerable ability to skate up and down the ice and move the puck with ease. With some of the strongest skating defensemen in the world, good goalies and a crop of forwards that bring a good mix of size and skill, they’ll have a chance to be the best team in the tournament, not to mention the tournament will be played on NHL-sized ice in Toronto.
Here’s my best guess for Team USA for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey:
Tyler Johnson, TB
Nick Bjugstad, FLA
Joe Pavelski, SJ
Derek Stepan, NYR
David Backes, STL
Max Pacioretty, MTL
Zach Parise, MIN
Chris Kreider, NYR
James van Riemsdyk, TOR
Patrick Kane, CHI
Phil Kessel, PIT
Blake Wheeler, WPG
T.J. Oshie, WSH
John Carlson, WSH
Justin Faulk, CAR
Ryan McDonagh, NYR
Dustin Byfuglien, WPG
Kevin Shattenkirk, STL
Ryan Suter, MIN
Cam Fowler, ANA
Cory Schneider, NJ
Jonathan Quick, LA
Ben Bishop, TB
That’s a really good team, with Nick Foligno being a notable omission (maybe he can replace JVR), and if the NHL goes to the 2018 Olympics, Team USA will have the chance to add Jack Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau. This is a seriously talented team everyone is overlooking, though I heard the Americans love being the underdog anyway.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
Red Wings (Petr Mrazek) at Maple Leafs (James Reimer), 7:00 PM
Blackhawks (Corey Crawford) at Devils (Cory Schneider), 7:00 PM
Stars (Antti Niemi) at Hurricanes (Cam Ward), 7:00 PM
Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist) at Avalanche (Reto Berra), 9:00 PM
Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Oilers (Cam Talbot), 9:00 PM
Blue Jackets (Curtis McElhinney) at Ducks (Frederik Andersen), 10:00 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Friday
Detroit Red Wings
Kyle Quincey, D (ankle) – out indefinitely.
Johan Franzen, RW (concussion) – no timetable for return.
Brad Richards, C (back) – has yet to practice; no return date set.
Pavel Datsyuk, C (ankle) – one or two more weeks away.
Mike Green, D (upper body) – game-time decision; questionable.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Stephane Robidas, D (groin) – no timetable for return.
Jonathan Bernier, G (lower body) – placed on IR; no return date set.
Scott Harrington, D (upper body) – placed on IR; no return date set.
Marian Hossa, RW (lower body) – game-time decision; questionable.
Michal Rozsival, D (ankle) – no return date set.
Duncan Keith, D (knee) – placed on IR; out several weeks.
New Jersey Devils
Jiri Tlusty, LW (upper body) – did not play Tuesday; questionable.
Tuomo Ruutu, LW (fractured foot) – out 4-6 weeks.
Patrik Elias, LW (knee) – no timetable for return.
Ales Hemsky, RW (hip) – did not play Tuesday; questionable.
Patrick Eaves, RW (lower body) – no return date set.
Travis Moen, LW (upper body) – placed on IR; no return date set.
Brett Ritchie, RW (wrist) – no return date set.
Curtis McKenzie, LW (lower body) – out 2-3 weeks.
James Wisniewski, D (torn ACL) – out six months.
New York Rangers
Rick Nash, LW (back) – game-time decision; questionable.
Jesse Winchester, LW (concussion) – placed on IR; no return date set.
John Mitchell, C (oblique) – did not play Tuesday; questionable.
Bryan Rust, RW (arm) – out a few weeks.
Lauri Korpikoski, LW (head) – no return date set.
Rob Klinkhammer, LW (lower body) – no return date set.
Connor McDavid, C (collarbone) – no return date set.
Justin Schultz, D (back) out 2-4 weeks.
Columbus Blue Jackets
David Clarkson, RW (lower body) – no return date set.
Nate Thompson, C (shoulder) – no return date set.
Simon Despres, D (upper body) – placed on IR; no return date set.
Rickard Rakell, C (upper body) – day-to-day; questionable.
Josh Manson, D (upper body) – did not play previous game; questionable.
Jiri Sekac, LW (ankle) – no return date set.
Ryan Getzlaf, C (appendicitis) – game-time decision; questionable.
Taylor Hall, LW, EDM – It’ll be interesting to see if Hall can keep up his current pace without Connor McDavid in the lineup. He has goals in four of his past five games and 12 points in his past six games. He’s been one of the hottest players in the league recently but faces Pittsburgh, Chicago and Anaheim next.
Nikita Kucherov, RW, TB – With a goal and an assist last night against Buffalo, the Russian winger has now stretched his point streak to four games. He has scored six points in his past four games even thought the Lightning have won just two of their past seven games.
Dennis Wideman, D, CGY – He played just 17:58 in last night’s win against Philadelphia, marking the third time in four games he’s played fewer than 20 minutes and the second straight game that has seen his ice time decline. It’s not unwarranted, though; Wideman is minus-9 in his past five games. He’s not doing himself any favors with his name already a staple in the rumor mill.
Derek Stepan, C, NYR – Derrick Brassard seems to be the center of choice for Alain Vigneault with Stepan on a six-game goalless drought and just two points in his past nine games. The emergence of Oscar Lindberg has relegated Stepan’s role a bit, and it shouldn’t last all season, but Stepan should be stapled to your bench until he starts scoring again.
Victor Rask, C, CAR – Maybe he’s not worth adding now, but you should keep an eye on him. He’s coming off a three-assist game and a key member of Carolina’s top-six, playing anywhere from 16-18 minutes a night consistently. Although the Hurricanes don’t have a lot of elite offensive talent, Rask and forward Elias Lindholm are considered some of the team’s future lynchpins on offense.