The ‘World’ Cup of Hockey


“There will be protests in Bratislava and Riga. #FreeLatvakia” ~ @Steve_Dangle

Well, truthfully these protests will be non existent, but a recent Steve Dangle podcast pricked my attention for an amazingly brilliant rant/argument against Gary Bettman’s tournament to stick a finger up towards the IOC by the Sportsnet Blogger, who is potentially one of my favourite bloggers out in the hockey world, and inspired me to write this opinion piece on the forthcoming World Cup of Hockey and in fairness how stupid I believe it is.

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San Jose Sharks Desperate for the Return of Logan Couture

Logan Couture San Jose Sharks

After getting off to an incredible start, 3 wins in 3 with two shutouts, the San Jose Sharks have been on the decline. In their last 12 games they have won 4 and lost 8.

The difference between those opening fixtures and now is the lack of Logan Couture. On October 15th Logan went down in training with an injury which turned out to be a fractured right fibula, at the ankle. On the 17th he underwent successful surgery but his prognosis declared him out for 4-6 weeks.

The Sharks commence a tough 6 game road trip this week, in which they will face: Detroit Red Wings – 13th, Buffalo Sabres – 14th, Boston Bruins – 17th, Philadelphia Flyers – 19th, Pittsburgh Penguins – 21st, Columbus Blue Jackets – 22nd.

The only redeeming factor about this torrid trip is that the puck drops at midnight (UK time) in each of these games so some earlier viewing for us Britain-based Sharks fans.

San Jose doesn’t play at the SAP Center again until the 25th of November, when they host current Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. But Couture may not even be back for that.

The end of his prognosis comes on November 26th, but even then added time needs to be considered for him to fully recover and get match fit.

Speaking to CSN Bay Area, coach Peter DeBoer has stated that Logan Couture will accompany the team on the road trip, but will not take to the ice prior to the squad returning to California.

At the beginning of this month Couture told CSN California that he’s still unsure about when he will return:


“I don’t know the time when I’m going to be back playing, skating or anything like that.”


Via his Twitter feed, the 9th overall pick of 2007 posted some encouraging news on the 1st November:

Though the Sharks forward only recorded a single assist in the first few games of the season his presence is clearly missed. Tomáš Hertl has been filling in as the second line center but doesn’t provide the same all-round game that Logan Couture does.

Hertl is still fairly new to the league, and serves as a great faceoff winner and sniper, but his second line team mates, Patrick Marleau especially, are far more productive offensively with a two-way playmaker like Logan on their line.

Couture is such an important player to the Sharks, he provides a keen eye for playmaking, a constant goal threat, great hockey sense, hard work at both ends of the ice and, he’s a pure team player.

The next couple of weeks still look pretty bleak for the flailing Sharks, especially as the lowest ranked team on the road trip, the Columbus Blue Jackets, defeated the Fins 5-2 at the Shark Tank earlier this month. Blue Jackets’ keeper Sergei Bobrovsky made 41 saves in that game.

It is possible that Logan Couture will return in San Jose’s last game of the month, against divisional rivals the Calgary Flames, but as DeBoer will know, he needs to be fully recovered before he skates out in an NHL game again.

Follow Ben Chopping on Twitter, and while you’re at it, follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!


Pavel Datsyuk return gives Detroit a huge boost for their tough schedule

Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings’ 4 time All-Star forward Pavel Datsyuk is expected return for the Red Wings in their game against the floundering San Jose Sharks.

Datsyuk will take to the ice for the first time since he underwent surgery, on June 26th, to repair ruptured tendons in his ankle. He was given a come back time of middle November.

He began skating again in mid-October and has been practicing with his fellow Red Wings since October 26th. General Manager Kevin Holland claimed, to, that the decision to play Pavel will be made following their practice session the day before they host the Sharks.

Coach Jeff Blashill stated that Pavel Datsyuk’s situation was still “day to day” but all reports claim that Datsyuk will skate out against San Jose.

Despite being 8-6-1, the Red Wings are second in the Atlantic Division, but face a very tough schedule, playing 6 games in 9 days. The next week-and-a-half includes trips to Boston, Ottawa, St. Louis,. The Bruins and Blues away games are tired games for Detroit.

The return of Datsyuk will do wonders for the Red Wings. His presence will greatly increase their shots per game average, in which the Michigan side are currently ranked 30th in with 25.3 Shots/GP.

The Russian skater is just an all around pest to any opposition, regularly leading the league in takeaways, constantly tricking defenders with his deft stickhandling, and he’s always looking to get on the score sheet.

Last season, despite suffering from injury, he sealed 70 points in 70 across all NHL games. His scoring prowess, along with his 13 years of NHL experience, are exactly what’s needed to help the Red Wings gain some consistency.

They won their first 3 games of the season, by a combined score of 11-4, but have failed to gain any kind of positive consistency since.

However, they come into the Sharks match up off of the back of a shutout victory against the Washington Capitals, in which they frustratingly stopped Alex Ovechkin form equaling the all time Russian goal scoring record in the NHL.

As previously stated, it’s the attack that has been struggling of late, and Blashill’s plan is to include Pavel on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg. Speaking to MLive, the Red Wings coach had this to say about his intended lines when Datsyuk returns:


“I think they’re [Datsyuk and Zetterberg] two of the smartest players in the National Hockey League, when they play together I think those smarts exponentially improve.


“We’ve talked about who’s the best partner with them. We decided this morning on Abby.


“I thought Abby [Justin Abdelkader] had one of his better games in a while against Washington. He’s been a good mix on that line in the past.”


The return of Pavel “the deke master” Datsyuk is going to be huge for the Detroit Red Wings and gives them a great chance to win the majority of their games, during the torturous 6 games in 9 days schedule.


Follow Ben Chopping on Twitter, and while you’re at it, follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!


Sharks’ Patrick Marleau is Staying in San Jose

Patrick Marleau when he was alternate captain, courtesy of

As of last night, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliote Friedman had brought up potential trade speculation that San Jose Sharks star forward Patrick Marleau has reportedly been spoken about by other teams. It was talked about briefly by Sharks Insider Kevin Kurz, who writes for, on Sharks Pregame Live, who also tweeted about it:

As well as fellow Sharks fan and reporter for, Chelena Goldman, who chimed in with this:

Eventually, after the 1-0 loss to their division rivals, the Anaheim Ducks, the 36-year-old himself was asked about it, though there wasn’t much:

Certainly not surprising for one of the two franchise players who, ever since last year, has been adamant about staying in San Jose, especially since his wife and family loves it here in the Bay Area. Could he be on the move eventually? Maybe, given that the Sharks get a good quality return for him (which is doubtful given that this is Doug Wilson we’re talking about here unless they fire him and get a new general manager). Right now, though? Doug Wilson would be out of his mind to pull the trigger on a possible trade involving Marleau.

Granted, Marleau hadn’t had a particularly good year last season (and quite frankly, neither did the whole team really), but he’s still a valuable asset to the Sharks. When he’s not scoring goals, he’s doing all the other things like skating hard on the back check. Most importantly, though, it’s his speed that still makes him one of the more effective players in the League. Not many players out there can outskate him. When he gets that going, look out because he can fly by you at a moment’s notice.

One thing about him that is concerning, though, is his streakiness. Of course, he’s not the only one who suffers the consequences of not being able to control when he gets hot and cold on the score sheet. We’re talking about one of the fastest team sports in the world, and the way the modern game is played these days, with the structure, there’s no doubt that players will have those stretches of games where they either can’t hit the net, keep hitting consecutive posts and crossbars, or face a hot goalie or great defensively structured opponent they just can’t get goals on. That’s going to happen. For Marleau though, fairly or unfairly, that’s always going to be a talking point among hockey analysts, as well as his inability to get it done in the playoffs sharing that same criticism with former captain Joe Thornton.

Regardless, I don’t see why the Sharks would trade him now. Yes, I know that the Sharks got off to their usual great start, winning four straight and then stooping down to their usual inconsistencies again, but I honestly think it won’t happen. In fact, I actually liken this to last year’s trade speculation on Thornton. It never happened and most likely won’t happen any time soon or ever. For Marleau, he’s been a lifelong Shark, drafted 2nd overall back in the ’97 NHL Entry Draft, and a cornerstone for this franchise. If the Sharks feel the need to trade him after this season given they fail to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, they might be in for a rebuild which is fine by me considering I honestly have no idea where the hell this team is at at this point. But again, for right now, he’s staying in teal.

Follow Felix Chow, and while you’re at it, follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!


Flyers on Standby

It’s been a less than stellar October for the Philadelphia Flyers. With four wins in their first ten games and one of the worst offences in the league, the Flyers seem destined to crash land at the bottom of the 2015/16 season standings. Lets look at some of the reasons Philadelphia has failed to take off.

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Is the NHL Getting Younger and Faster?

EDMONTON , AB - SEPTEMBER 21:  Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers looks for a pass in front of goalie Mason McDonald of the Calgary Flames at Rexall Place on September 21, 2015 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.(Photo by Dan Riedlhuber/Getty Images)

This young 2015-16 season saw the debut of Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres, two generational talents who will try to help their respective franchises get better. However, there were also others, including Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, Chicago’s Artemi Panarin, Arizona’s Max Domi (son of former NHLer Tie Domi), Vancouver’s Ben Hutton, Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers, St. Louis’ Colton Parayko, and Oscar Lindberg of Broadway (yes, I mean the New York Rangers).

With this influx of young players, including those from previous seasons like Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, it’s obvious that the pace of the National Hockey League is faster. It’s also affecting the decisions of many GMs of many teams. Keep in mind that there are also certain teams going through a transition phase (e.g. the San Jose Sharks). More and more teams are letting young players try their hand at the big leagues, which is also as important for their prospects as it is for them to develop in the minor leagues be it the junior level (Ontario Hockey League, Canadian Hockey League, etc.), in the American Hockey League, or in the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League).

As much as it affects the salary cap as all entry-level contracts have a base cap hit of less than $1 million, the most important impact is the style of play. While strength is still a key factor, the speed and finesse of younger players is more evident than ever. You notice how fewer veterans are able to keep up with the pace of today’s game. If you’re not effective out there on the ice, if you’re not able to react fast enough and you can’t skate hard enough for the occasional odd-man-rush or backcheck, chances are you’re not going to get very much ice time especially if you’re an old veteran player. The same is true even if you’re a more-than-capable veteran for today’s game. Also, because this is a puck possession league, the amount of skill that these younger players have to keep the puck on their sticks is absolutely phenomenal. That is another reason for the influx of youth in the NHL.

According to James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail, almost 44% of ice time this season has been by players 25 and under. That’s up 10% from the past decade. With that shift, older guys especially those 32 and older are getting the door shut on them by various teams. Former NHLer and Calgary Flame Curtis Glencross is a perfect example. The 32-year-old was an unrestricted free agent looking for teams to pick him up. However, with each and every attempt signing a professional tryout contract, he was essentially given the boot simply because teams are more and more willing to give their younger guys more ice time to make the team, especially for the future. As a result, he retired at the start of this season.

It’s a League-wide trend that will undoubtedly continue for the next couple years or so, but it’s easy to understand why given the pace and style of today’s game. Again, it’s fast. Players are more than ever prone to mistakes if they’re ever caught mishandling the puck. The ability to play a good two-way, 200-foot game is more important than ever. You have to be as good defensively, skating on the backcheck and using your stick well without taking a penalty (most of the time), as you are with either playmaking or scoring. That said, hockey sense is important and the kids playing in the NHL right now have a ton of that to go with all the talent that they have.

In my opinion, I feel like this definitely does make the game a lot more fun to watch. You have all these young players not only trying to adapt to the pace of the League but also showing what they can do, essentially impressing the coaching staff for the future of the organization while also playing to the system. Hockey’s not just about the offensive aspect where you cheer for however many goals it takes for a win, but also — again — how well you can play defensively, and today’s puck possession game is just what that is.

Follow Felix Chow, and while you’re at it, follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!


NHL IR List Takes Big Name Victims in 1st Month of Play

Ryan Kesler Hit Check Duncan Keith Ducks Blackhawks

Due to the physical, high paced, and incredibly competitive nature of the NHL injuries are a just another part of the game. Coaches and fans pray that their stars avoid the Injury Reserve list but s*** happens, and often at the most inopportune times.

Some key players have already sacrum to serious injury and their teams have suffered for it. Here are the top 5 biggest losses to NHL teams so far.



5 – New Jersey Devils, Patrik Eliáš

New Jersey’s all time leading scorer was ruled out before the season even began. The Czech center carried the knee injury into pre-season training camp and is still working on rehabilitation now.

Coach John Hynes has reported that his Eliáš’ rehab has become torpid in the last couple of weeks:


“He just continues his rehab process and right now it’s kind of just the same as it was a week ago in that we’re trying to figure out when the next progression will be to get closer to returning to play.


“Now, it’s still in that stagnated phase.”


The Devils have started quite well without Patrik, with a record of 5-4-1. Adam Henrique has stepped up well to occupy the line 1 center spot and has 9 points in the first 10 games.

With a lot of other teams in the Eastern Conference currently struggling to find form New Jersey could hold onto their wild card spot for a few more weeks to come.



4 – Chicago Blackhawks, Duncan Keith

The reigning Stanley Cup champions have lost their best defenseman, who is arguably in the top 10 of all NHL defenders as well, due to a meniscal tear sustained to Keith’s right knee. He underwent successful surgery and was placed on the long term injury reserve list on 21st October.

The Blackhawks blue liner could miss as many as 8 weeks whilst he recovers from surgery and regains fitness. During his absence David Rundblad has been dressed and brought into the 3rd line. Keith’s top line spot is being occupied by Victor Svedberg.

Chicago face some big fixtures in Keith’s absence which include home and away games against Central Division rivals St. Louis Blues, and tipped Stanley Cup contenders, the LA Kings.

Keith’s injury is a huge loss to the Blackhawks but they do have decent depth in defence, and have won all 3 games since losing the top defender.



3 – Buffalo Sabres, Robin Lehner & Evander Kane

Both new faces in Buffalo but both represent a turning point in the franchise’s history. Lehner was designated as the Sabres first choice net minder and keeper for the future.

Despite his somewhat immature past, Kane was traded in to help bring the next generation through. The 2009 4th overall pick couldn’t settle in Winnipeg, when the Atlanta Thrashers moved, but looks to play a vital role in for Buffalo this season.

Unfortunately both players are injured. Lehner sustained a lower body injury 28 minutes into his Buffalo debut. His replacement, Chad Johnson, also new to the Sabres, is 3-6-0 in the 9 games that he’s played. The ex-Ottawa keeper is not expected to return until early December.

Just 3 days after Evander Kane scored his first goal for Buffalo, against Toronto, he was checked to the boards by New Jersey’s David Schlemko, which resulted in him sustaining a knee injury. Luckily he should not require surgery and is expected to miss between 4 and 6 weeks.

The 24 year old left winger was playing a crucial role on the 2nd line, alongside Foligno and Eichel, using his very physical play to help ease the top pick into the league. He had 1 goal, 2 assists and 4 penalty minutes at the point of injury.



2 – Detroit Red Wings, Johan Franzen & Pavel Datsyuk

On the 4th October the Red Wings announced that deke-master Datsyuk would not start the season. The Russian center is expected to return early to mid November.

Johan Franzen’s injury is very worrying and has no current return date. Detroit’s win over the Maple Leafs was the winger’s first game since January, but in the following match, against the Oilers, he developed another concussion.

A hit by Rob Klinkhammer has forced Franzen onto the injury reserve since 15th October with the skater still suffering from concussion symptoms. Given that Johan is 35, this could be the injury that ends his career.

The Red Wings started the season red hot, with a 3 game win streak and 11 goals. But they seem to have run out of ideas since, winning only once in their last 6 games.

The inclusion of the two veterans would do wonders for the Red Wings goal scoring, especially the constant threat that Pavel Datsyuk brings to the ice.



1 – San Jose Sharks, Logan Couture

The Sharks started the season in perfect fashion. Smashing LA at Staples Center, then they convincingly won the next 2 games, and achieved 2 shutouts along the way.

But during a training session on the 15th October, prior to game 4 against the New Jersey Devils, Logan Couture suffered a freak injury in training which resulted in a fracture to his right fibula. Britt McHenry, of ESPN, reported that Couture:


“Got caught in a rut skating [and] the weight of a teammate falling over him snapped his fibula.” 

The center has since undergone surgery to repair the break and has been given a return time of 4 to 6 weeks.

Since number 39’s injury, the Sharks have: been shutout once; conceded 19; only scored 12; lost 4 games and; have only beaten New Jersey and Carolina. This awful streak included a 4-1 loss to LA, at the Shark Tank.

Paul Martin also missed 3 games whilst Couture was injured which helped to San Jose’s recent failings.

Though Logan Couture only had one assist prior to his injury, he averages 48 points per season so his return will be a huge boost to the San Jose Sharks.

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