Some Monday morning musings from the NHL and rest of the hockey world to prepare you for the upcoming week that will see:
We are No. 5
Would you be surprised to learn the Canadian men's team is ranked fifth in the world, even though Canada won gold in Vancouver four years ago? Well, that's the case, according to the IIHF world rankings released after the 2013 world championship last spring.
The IIHF rankings are compiled on a points system based on the past four world championships and last Olympics. So while Canada enters the Sochi Games as the defending champions, it has finished fifth in the last three world championships and seventh in 2010. The next IIHF rankings will be issued after the 2014 world championship in Belarus in May.
4. Czech Republic
6. United States
1. United States
Hot and cold Canadians
Canadian Olympians Sidney Crosby, John Tavares and Ryan Getzlaf sit 1-2-3 in the Art Ross Trophy scoring race as the NHL breaks for the Olympics. Here's how the entire Canadian team has performed since the roster was named on Jan. 7.
Goalies (W-L-OTL/SOL, goals-against average, save percentage)
Defence (goals, assists, points, plus-minus)
Forwards (goals, assists, points, plus-minus)
Nashville Predators general manager David Poile hopes to join the United States men's hockey team at some point in Sochi. But for now he is recovering back in the U.S. after getting hit in the face by an errant puck while watching his Predators practise in Minnesota last Thursday.
Poile, who will turn 64 on Friday, required two surgeries and stitches in a Minnesota hospital to repair injuries to his face and eye area.
When we return
The NHL doesn't return to action until Feb. 25, when the Carolina Hurricanes visit the Buffalo Sabres. Here are five storylines to follow in the final seven weeks of the season.
1. The stumbling Vancouver Canucks hit the break having lost seven in a row and have fallen out of the top-eight playoff spots in the Western Conference. Can head coach John Tortorella get his club back on track? Meanwhile, after a rough 2-6-0 start to the capaign, old Canucks coach Alain Vigneault has steered the New York Rangers to a 29-18-3 run that has them firmly in the playoff picture in the East. The Canucks and Rangers meet in Vancouver on April 1.
2. The up-and-down season continues for the Ottawa Senators without Daniel Alfredsson and the same goes for the Detroit Red Wings with Daniel Alfredsson, who has 14 goals and 35 points in 46 games with his new club. One team could make the playoffs at the expense of the other. Eighth-place Detroit has a game in hand and a slim one-point lead on the Senators. These teams meet in Ottawa on Feb. 27.
3. The Winnipeg Jets dropped their last two games before the break, but overall they have gone an impressive 9-3-1 under new coach Paul Maurice to push themselves back into the playoff picture in the West. They sit 11th in the conference, two points behind the eighth-place Dallas Stars. But the Jets have played two more games than Dallas. Winnipeg finishes its schedule with 12 games at home and 10 on the road.
4. The Olympic trade freeze lifts on Feb. 23 at midnight ET, giving NHL general managers 10 days before the March 5 trade deadline at 3 p.m. ET. It will be interesting to see where high profile players like Ryan Miller and Matt Moulson with the Buffalo Sabres, and Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers wind up. Of the four Girardi is the most likely to sign a contract extension to stay with his team.
5. The rest of the NHL was shocked to find out Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Kris Letang had suffered a stroke. As he receives treatment for his condition, Letang will miss a minimum six weeks. The 26-year-old already has been absent for 24 games this season because of knee and upper-body ailments as well as the recent setback. But the Penguins have gone 18-5-1 without their star defenceman and 22-10-2 with him in the lineup.
The persistence of Brouillette
After 490 regular season and playoff games in seven years and eight teams in the ECHL and AHL, Julien Brouillette of St-Esprit, Que. scored his first NHL goal in his second game on Saturday after picking up an assist in his NHL debut two nights earlier.
The former Chicoutimi Sagueneens defenceman went undrafted. He started his pro career with the Columbia Inferno to the Charlotte Checkers, Providence Wolf Pack, the Greenville Road Warriors, back to Charlotte, Lake Erie Monsters, Hershey Bears, Reading Royals, back to Hershey before the Capitals called him up last week.
With his parents Lucy and Alain, who had driven in from the family farm in Quebec, in the stands, Brouillette, 27, broke open a goal-less game with less than 10 minutes left with a point shot to spark the Capitals to a 3-0 win against the New Jersey Devils.
By the Numbers
20 - Years, a record, between Olympic Games for 42-year-old Czech Petr Nedved. He settled for silver with Canada at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.
41 - Age of Russian Yekaterina Pashkevich, making her the oldest woman to play in a hockey game in Olympic history.
43 - Age of Finland's Teemu Selanne, making him the oldest player in the men's Olympic hockey tournament.
6 - Olympic Games for Selanne, which equals a record held by fellow countryman Raimo Helminen.
37 - Points registered in Selanne's previous five Olympics, which is a record. He has scored 20 goals and 17 assists.
30 - NHL teams each will be represented by at least one player in Sochi.
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