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Quick Strikes: Russia, Canada advance to semis at World Championships while USA does not

The two hockey supergiants (with plenty of Bolts on either side) are poised to battle in the Final this Sunday.

Russia v United States: Quarter Final - 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Slovakia
BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA - MAY 23: Nikita Kucherov #86 of Russia skates against of United States during the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Slovakia quarter final game between Russia and United States at Ondrej Nepela Arena on May 23, 2019 in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

The Bolts

Yesterday, it was Victor Hedman’s turn to take his parents to see the teacher and get his player grades from the season that was. This year there were no surprises from the star pupil, which isn’t a problem, per se, but it was just ordinarily special. Know what I mean? [Raw Charge]

Every time we do player grades, the question always comes up of what do you use for the scale. The answer is always “it’s up to you.” So for me, I try to look at a player from what I expected of the player before the season and how they stacked up to that. It means that a player that did exactly what I expected them to do earns a C from me. And even then, I still admit some biases come into play when I’m writing down my grades for players.

This was really cool. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Louis Domingue invited several artists, kids, who are battling cancer as a thank you for helping him create his Hockey Fights Cancer mask. They got commemorative gifts and took pictures and it was just a whole bunch of love.

Let’s also take “Not Today, Satan” for 500, Alex.

The Bolts at the World Championships

The Bolts are doing well at the World Championships. Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy and co. have yet to drop a game. They will now play Finland, who knocked out Sweden in the quarterfinals. [Raw Charge]

Anthony Cirelli finished the group stage with 4 (3+1) points and has been effective for his team. Mathieu Joseph has 2 points so far, playing mostly on the fourth line.

Vasy gave a post-game interview after their 4-3 win over the USA in the quarterfinals. His answer for beating them was adorably simple. [English Russian Federation Website]

Yes, the opponents are very strong, and it was a tense game. The most important thing is that we won. How did we beat the Americans? We scored more goals. This was one of the toughest matches at this competition, but the most important games are ahead of us. We have to forget about this victory and look forward. Was I nervous in the closing stages? I simply tried to play my game. The guys did a great job, especially taking into account the strength of the opponents.

He’s not a Bolt (yet?) but Evgeny Kuznetsov is a pure and wholesome human being.

The Game

We got two coaching hires yesterday. First, DJ Smith has moved from Toronto to Ottawa after agreeing with Eugene Melnyk and the Senators to be their new head coach. [Silver Seven Sens]

Smith has spent the last four years in Toronto as an assistant under Mike Babcock, responsible for the defence and penalty kill according to Behind the Benches. Prior to that he was head coach for the Oshawa Generals for three years, a stint that included OHL Coach of the Year honours in 2013-14, and a Memorial Cup win in 2014-15 and an overall 135-53-3-13 record. He also spent six years behind the bench of his hometown Windsor Spitfires as an assistant.

Hours later, the Maple Leafs announced that they have replaced Smith’s colleague Jim Hiller, who oversaw the offense and power play in Toronto, with former Florida Panthers assistant coach Paul McFarland. Smith was in charge of the defense in Toronto and all signs point to AHL coach Sheldon Keefe getting his job once the Marlies finish their Calder Cup playoff run one way or another. [Pension Plan Puppets]

McFarland, who ran the power play on the Panthers, comes to a Leafs team that had an excellent power play by shot metrics, but disappointed people when judged by success percentage. The Panthers power play was second to Tampa last year with a 27% success percentage, while the Leafs were at 22% in eighth place. Florida had 58 more power play opportunities over the Leafs as well.

There are rumors swirling everywhere that the Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild are about to make a massive trade involving Phil Kessel, Jason Zucker, and Jack Johnson. The deal might die if Kessel, a Wisconsin native, refuses to waive his no-trade clause.

Achariya: Do we want Radko Gudas?

Alan: no

[Broad Street Hockey]

With the above in mind, it’s easy to see that Fletcher’s easiest path to putting his stamp and/or improving the Flyers going into next season will be via the trade market. While there are plenty of players across the league that should be available via trade, and Jason has looked all around the league at those, Fletcher also has some players on his roster that could very well be on the trade block themselves. First up was Shayne Gostisbehere, next was Jakub Voracek. Now it’s time to return to the defense and take a look at Radko Gudas.

Highlight of the Night: the Boston Bruins got bored of waiting for the Stanley Cup Finals so they played a scrimmage in front of a packed house at TD Garden. Brad Marchand ended up getting hurt in the game.