1. Yzerman and Co. ready to go
Canadian Olympic men’s hockey team executive director Steve Yzerman, his management team and head coach Mike Babcock arrive in Saskatoon on Tuesday evening to make their final tweaks to the 23-player roster.
The goaltending is set with Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo and Marc-Andre Fleury. The defence appears to be down to one decision. Brent Seabrook or Drew Doughty will join Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Duncan Keith, Shea Weber, Dan Boyle and Jay Bouwmeester.
Up front, the locks are Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton, Corey Perry, Rick Nash, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Mike Richards and Martin St. Louis. In the mix for the other three positions are: Brad Richards, Jordan Staal, Eric Staal, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Smyth, Shane Doan and Brendan Morrow.
2. Plenty of problems in Edmonton
Maybe the sight of Pat Quinn’s former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, in town for a game on Wednesday, will wake up his current squad, the struggling Edmonton Oilers.
In the meantime, Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini has been working the phones, trying to acquire a centre and a defenceman to help his team, which is mired in a seven-game losing streak.
The Oilers have been horrible in special-team situations and on faceoffs and as a result their confidence is in tatters. To emphasize these factors, take a glance at their last win, a 5-3 win in St. Louis on Dec. 11.
In that game, the Oilers overcame a 3-0 deficit. They killed off a Sheldon Souray roughing penalty late in the second period and then scored five unanswered goals. They won 40 of 67 draws in the game.
Since then, the Oilers have been abysmal at the faceoff dot. They have gone 2-for-24 on the power play and surrendered nine goals in 29 man-short situations.
3. Iginla and Souray meet again
When the Flames beat up on the Oilers 4-1 in Edmonton on Monday, it was the first meeting between the rivals since Calgary’s Jarome Iginla tripped Oilers defenceman Sheldon Souray into the end boards in a race for the puck. Iginla revealed that he apologized to Souray for the incident that caused him to miss 16 games with a concussion.
"I touched base with him," Iginla told the Edmonton Sun. "I apologized for having my stick in there and told him it was an accident. I've known him since junior, I've played with him in a lot of different things and we're both from this area."
The 32-year-old Iginla was raised in Edmonton, while the 33-year-old Souray is from Elk Point, 250 kilometres east of Edmonton.
4. Caps trade popular captain
Chris Clark, who was dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday along with defenceman Milan Jurcina in exchange for Jason Chimera, was a popular player in the Washington Capitals dressing room.
But the trade made sense for the Eastern Conference-leading Capitals for a few reasons. Washington had a surplus of defenceman and Jurcina, who is eligible to become an unrestricted defenceman on July 1, wasn’t playing. Chimera gives the Capitals speed and the exchange of players frees up more than $2 million US in salary cap space.
This transaction, coupled with getting rid of veteran Michael Nylander a few weeks ago, allows Capitals general manager George McPhee to add talent at the NHL trade deadline.
5. Running back to Saskatoon
Before Canada’s match against the rival United States on New Year’s Eve at the world juniors, Hockey Canada will honour former coach Dick Todd and several of the players from the 1990 and 1991 gold-medal winning teams.
When the tournament was in Saskatoon in 1991, Canada captured back-to-back gold for the first time and also won the championship for the first time on home ice. The players who were repeat winners on that team were Trevor Kidd, Patrice Brisebois, Mike Craig, Kent Manderville, Eric Lindros, Kris Draper and Steven Rice.
Besides, Todd, an assistant coach in 1990 and head coach in 1991, Mike Murray (public relations manager for the 1990 team), and Jeff Thomas (trainer with 1991 team), 11 players are expected to attend the reunion: Mike Needham, Dave Chyzowski, Stewart Malgunas and Jason Herter from the 1990 team; Scott Thornton, Mike Sillinger, Pat Falloon, Karl Dykhuis and Chris Snell from the 1991 team; as well as Kidd and Rice.