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.
J.T. Miller and Team USA showed they belonged in the semi-finals of the 2013 World Junior Championship this morning, dominating Canada in a 5-1 victory. Team USA lost to both Canada and Russia by identical 2-1 scores in pool play, and needed wins over Germany and Slovakia just to make the single elimination tournament. Since then, Team USA has outscored opponents 12-1 en route to the finals.
Miller, who played his best game of the tournament this morning (something we say after every game), finished with two assists, a +3 rating, two shots on goal, and nine face off wins (out of 12 total). Miller assisted on the final two USA goals, and was on the ice for the final three goals.
Team USA will face the defending champion Swedes Saturday morning at 8am EST. The game will be on TSN, NHLN, and NHL.com
Team USA, who escaped pool play as the third team out of Pool B, showed that they are still a hockey powerhouse, as they routed the Czech Republic 7-0 in the quarterfinals of the World Junior Championship.
J.T. Miller, who has been playing better with each passing game, scored a powerplay goal and added two powerplay assists in the victory. Miller finished with an even rating (all points on the powerplay), but did lose 10 of 15 face offs.
Team USA will face off against Canada in the semi-finals tomorrow morning at 4am EST. The game will be on TSN, NHLN, and online at NHL.com
J.T. Miller Team USA routed Peter Ceresnak and Team Slovakia by a score of 9-3, propelling USA to the medal round and eliminating Slovakia from competition. Miller finished the contests with two assists, 2 PIMs, a +2 rating, three shots on goal, and 14 face offs won (out of 18 total). Peter Ceresnak finished the contest with an assist and a +1 rating, which is impressive considering the USA scored nine goals.
Throughout pool play, Miller and Ceresnak were looked at as team leaders and played in multiple situations, including the powerplay and penalty kill. Team USA has incredible depth, which limited Miller’s playing time a bit (although he is wearing a ‘A’), but Slovakia does not have that depth. Ceresnak was one of their leading defensemen.
Miller finished pool play with a line of 1-2-3, 2 PIMs, 11 shots, and a +1 rating. Ceresnak finished with a line of 1-1-2, 0 PIMs, 7 shots, and a +1 rating.
Team USA will face the second place team in Pool A, which is the Czech Republic. The game will be on Wednesday at 3pm local time, of which I have no idea what time that is here.
Peter Ceresnak continued his strong play in the WJC, netting the overtime winner in today’s 2-1 victory over Germany. Slovakia will play the USA next on New Year’s Eve, and the winner will advance to the medal round.
In addition to the overtime winner, Ceresnak finished with five shots on goal and an even rating. Ceresnak’s goal was on the powerplay, and the defenseman was also on the ice for Germany’s lone goal on the powerplay. Ceresnak continues to be one of the most heavily relied upon defensemen for the Slovaks, playing in all situations.
Team USA lost its second straight game by a score of 2-1, this time to the Canadians. Team Canada jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by future NHLers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton) and Ryan Strome (Islanders). The US was held scoreless on 17 shots through two periods before Jacob Trouba finally broke through in the third with a powerplay goal. That would be all the scoring for the US.
J.T. Miller was held scoreless for a second straight game, and finished the game with three shots on goal, and five face off wins (of 11 total). Miller was also on the ice for both Canada goals, thus finishing with a -2 rating.
Team USA’s World Junior life depends on the game against Slovakia tomorrow night. A win against the Slovaks means the USA makes it to the medal round. A loss means they are sent home.
J.T. Miller and the USA World Junior team lost to Russia in regulation by a score of 2-1. The goalies were the story of this game, as Andrei Makarov and John Gibson put on a show for the fans. The shot totals weren’t overwhelming, but each goalie turned away numerous quality scoring chances. USA falls to 1-1 in pool play, with Canada up next on Sunday at 4:30am.
As for Miller, the Rangers prospect was held scoreless, and finished with an even rating and three shots on goal. Miller also went 10-7 on face offs.
The US team will need a regulation win against Canada to ensure a spot in the playoff round.
Peter Ceresnak and Slovakia were handed their second loss –their first in regulation– this morning when they lost to Canada by a score of 6-3. Slovakia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, but Canada stormed back with four goals in the second and never looked back.
Ceresnak was held off the board (not uncommon for the defensive defenseman), and finished with an even rating and two shots on goal. Ceresnak was on the ice for both of Slovakia’s first period goals, one coming on the powerplay. However, he was also on the ice for two of Canada’s four second period goals, both on the powerplay. Ceresnak was also on the ice for Canada’s sixth goal, this one at even strength.
Slovakia’s next game in pool play is on Sunday against Germany. The USA takes on Russia in 10 minutes (9am EST) on the NHL network.