The 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship kicked off this morning, with Canada dominating Germany by a score of 7-2. The other game that is currently underway is Russia against Norway, with the Russians leading 10-0 in the second period (not on TV). USA faces off against the Czech Republic today at 11:30.
The Rangers have two players in the tournament this year: Brady Skjei (USA) and Pavel Buchnevick (Russia). Buchnevich currently has a pair of assists and 2 PIMs in the Russia game.
We will have full recaps of the Ranger prospect performances (at least of the games we can watch) as the tournament progresses. We will be using the 2014 WJC tag.
Could be better, could be worse.
As Olympic orientation camps get under way this week, many of the new unis that the teams will wear are being unveiled. On Tuesday, Nike revealed the uniforms for the 2014 American Squad, to mixed results.
The jerseys continue the trend of Edge® style moisture wick design, however, these two have something of a euro influence, perhaps more common on the football pitch than in the hockey rink. The two-tone design of the white jersey clearly displays this quality more prominently, but both are seemingly soccer influenced.
The patch is evocative of the 1932 USA jersey, used in Lake Placid. This is where it starts to get weird, however. The cheap, screen-printed look of both the navy-on-navy stars and the faux-lace neck area leave much to be desired, in my opinion. Why not just have a real tie on the neck? Read more »
Boo Nieves (2012, 2nd) and Brady Skjei (2012, 1st) both made it to the final round of cuts for Team USA for the World Juniors. The team still needs to be cut by six forwards and four defensemen (and a goalie), so Skjei and Nieves haven’t made the roster yet. Skjei was one of the final cuts last year for the WJC team, but he has been impressive this year during the tryouts. Nieves has also been impressive despite not being invited to the tryouts last year. Both still need to play well during the final evaluation to make the roster, as neither are shoo-ins.
Things are a little slow here in Rangerland as we count down to the pre-season, so I thought I’d tackle a more global topic.
Not withstanding the (now completely predictable) labor squabbles of recent years, the NHL has consistently investigated and implemented ways to improve its overall on-ice product. They aren’t plagued with the constant felony arrests of the NFL and NBA, nor the drunk driving and steroid issues of MLB. Most of the athletes are humble professionals who respect the game and the fans. Now, the NHL is not without its problems. There have been several nagging issues that have persisted through rule changes, new committees, summer R&D camps and beta tests in lower leagues. The most demonstrative examples include not enough goal scoring, concussions and obstruction-type penalties.
Now, all three of these major problems could be solved by one simple solution, and it’s not one anyone around the league wants to consider, myself included: moving the NHL to olympic sized rinks. I know what you’re thinking, I don’t like it either. It seems borderline sacrilegious. The NHL has always played on North American sized rinks. It’s what has differentiated the NHL from the Olympics and the inferior European leagues. We like the physicality, the fighting, the hard-nosed style of play that comes along with the smaller rink, but consider each league problem…
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Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, and Ryan Callahan have all been invited to US Olympic Camp, to be held in the last week of August. Callahan, who could serve as one of the captains or alternates, is returning after earning a silver medal in the 2010 games. McDonagh and Stepan will by vying for their first Olympic appearance.
Rick Nash and Marc Staal were 2 of 47 invited to Canadian Olympic camp, as Canada looks to form their team from this group. Nash was on the 2006 and 2010 rosters, but Staal was left off the 2010 roster after receiving an invite. Dan Girardi was notably absent from the list, but there are a lot of big names there.
The NHL has announced that NHL players will be participating in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. This announcement was expected for a few days now, and it comes as no surprise that NHL players will be participating. The Olympics –at least the hockey portion– will run from February 12, 2014 until February 23, 2014 and the NHL will be shutdown from February 9, 2014 to February 26, 2014.
Just picture a puck, instead of a soccer ball.
Last week, Craig Custance at ESPN published an article about the NHL’s plans to expand its global brand. Most of the article discussed further expanding outdoor games, the resurrection of the World Cup of Hockey, and the finalization of an agreement that would send NHL players to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympics. There was one more idea condensed to one little blurb in the text:
He’s also intrigued by the idea of a Champions League, featuring games between the NHL’s and Europe’s best teams.”We love the idea of the power of the team competition,” he said. “Maybe we bring NHL teams over to play the best teams in Europe. How do we stage stage that? That’s definitely something we’re looking at.”
For those unfamiliar with European professional football, the concept is pretty simple: there are various high quality professional football leagues throughout Europe, let’s play a tournament to crown a champion of them all.
The format is quite complicated for qualification, but one you get past that, its quite elegant. There are 8 groups of 4 teams. No teams from the same league can be in a group together and no league can send more than 4 teams to participate. Seeding determines the composition of the group. During this group stage, each of the 4 teams play home and home round robins against one another. After the 6 game group stage, the top two teams in each group advance to the tournament proper. Read more »
Photo credit: ctpost.com
While the next Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are still a little under a year away, discussions continue on between the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and IOC to determine whether NHL players will participate in the games. As it stands right now, all signs point to an agreement being reached to keep the game’s best players representing their respective nations.
In the spirit of these discussions, I thought I’d take a look at which Rangers might be making the trip over to Russia next year…
Henrik Lundqvist – Sweden: After a gold medal performance in 2006 and general NHL dominance over the past eight seasons, Hank is the guy for Sweden. Not even a disappointing 5th place finish in Vancouver could begin to dethrone The King.
Ryan Callahan – United States: Cally assumed a penalty-killing, bottom-6 role in Vancouver in 2010, often paired with former Ranger, Chris Drury. Callahan will play a much more prominent role on a still young US roster this time around. A letter is a distinct possibility for the Ranger captain. Read more »
Team USA pulled it off. After beating a stacked Team Canada in the semi-finals, USA beat an equally talented Sweden team 3-1 in the World Junior Championship Finals to capture WJC gold. Very few thought that the Americans would win gold from the onset of the tournament, as the Russians, Canadians, and Swedes were all incredibly talented teams with high-profile scorers. USA won on great goaltending from John Gibson, superior defense, and a north-south grind-it-out style.
J.T. Miller –the Rangers 2011 first round pick– added another assist to his totals, tallying the primary assist on the third goal. He also finished with a +1 rating, two shots on goal, and a 6-5 record in the face off circle.
Miller finished tied for the team lead in scoring, with two goals and seven assists throughout the tournament (seven games). Miller started the tournament off slow, but got better with each game he played. He was one of the most visible and most dominant US players.