“Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper missed the playoffs for the first time in his coaching career. But Cooper got one heck of a consolation prize. Cooper will be the head coach of Team Canada for the World Championships next month in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany. He will lead a staff that includes Gerard Gallant, Dave Hakstol, and Dave King. Cooper, from Prince George, B.C, will be in his first stint with Team Canada. He served as an assistant for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey in September.” [Tampa Bay Times]
Our resident numbers expert uses data to create the optimal Tampa Bay Lightning lineup. “Identifying which players are most likely to be successful together is a huge part of player evaluation. Using this type of approach will lead to better decisions in free agency and better day to day decision making in lineup construction.” [Raw Charge]
I had the chance to write a few more transcripts of the exit interviews.
Steve Yzerman: “We as a team, we got humbled a little bit here. I know there was a lot of injuries, but ultimately I don’t think injuries are the reason we did not make the playoffs. It didn’t help by any means, but we’ve got to figure out ways to win games. There’s teams that are in the playoffs today that battled, overcame similar situation to us this year to make it into the playoffs.” [Raw Charge]
Jon Cooper: “You look at this season and think, ‘It was good. It just wasn’t good enough.’ That has to change. We’ve set a standard here that is extremely high. I guess this was - to me this is our mulligan. Now we’ve got to come back next year with a renewed focus and understand there’s going to be competition for jobs. We’ve got to be better. That’s it.” [Raw Charge]
Victor Hedman: “Just inconsistency. Not good enough in the first half of the season. We put ourselves in this position. We were behind for most of the year. It’s a tough league to make the playoffs, especially when you put yourself in a position like that. That’s got to be a lesson learned for us. You’re going to see a hungry motivated team coming into next year.” [Raw Charge]
With all the re-assigned players making their way back to Syracuse plus players joining the team from junior hockey, Crunch practice looks pretty busy.
Goalie prospect Connor Ingram joined the Syracuse Crunch as they gear up for their playoff push. Ingram will be observing and learning from the veterans this season, but he may be the Crunch’s starting goaltender next year. "I think these next couple of weeks will tell me if I'm ready or if I need to work on things. I think as a person, I'm ready for this, my maturity level and that kind of thing. I could be here and live here. So that's a good thing for me. As far as my play, you can always get better, especially coming right out of junior it's a big step. So I think I've got a ways to go before that happens.'' [Syracuse.com]
Mathieu Joseph (#21) scored three goals and Bokondji Imama (#51) picked up two assists as the Saint John Sea Dogs routed the Val-d’Or Foreurs 7-3. Joseph's hat-trick earned him second star honors. Saint John leads the series 3-0. [Video highlights in French]
Boris Katchouk (#12 in white) scored a goal as his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds lost 4-2 to the Owen Sound Attack. The series is tied at 2-2.
Matt Spencer (#27) picked up an assist as his Peterborough Petes defeated the Kingston Frontenacs 3-1. Christopher Paquette (#12) was held off the score sheet. Peterborough leads the series 3-0.
Anthony Cirelli (#22 in white) scored a goal to help the Erie Otters defeat Mitchell Stephens and the London Knights 3-1. Erik Cernak (#14), Taylor Raddysh (#17), and Mitchell Stephens (#67 in green) were held off the score sheet. Erie leads the series 2-1.
“An ongoing battle with cancer won’t be keeping Dave Strader out of the broadcast booth this spring. Strader, who has been fighting a rare and incurable form of bile duct cancer since last June, announced on Monday that he will be returning to the booth for NBC when the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway this week.” [Fox Sports]
The good folks over at Puck Daddy think that Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov should be on the short list for NHL awards this year. [Puck Daddy]
“Two Russian hockey players, including a Chicago Blackhawks draft pick, quit talks with NHL teams after the league announced it would not restructure its season around the 2018 Winter Olympics, their agent said Tuesday.” [Yahoo! Sports]