NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 2, 2016

Latest on Connor McDavid and Jaromir Jagr, Russia & Finland announce World Cup of Hockey rosters and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.  NHL HIGHLIGHTS. EDMONTON SUN: Connor McDavid scored twice to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 2-1 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres. It was the first NHL game between McDavid (the […]

Barkov, Rask will lead Finland at World Cup

Finland's initial World Cup of Hockey roster announced Wednesday features 10 forwards, four defensemen, and two goalies.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask - who shut out the U.S. in the bronze-medal game at the Sochi Olympics, making 27 saves in a 5-0 win - will be back in the crease. Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne was also named to the team. Up front, Leo Komarov will represent the Maple Leafs at the tournament in Toronto.

Forwards

Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
Joonas Donskoi, San Jose Sharks
Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning
Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild
Jussi Jokinen, Florida Panthers
Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild
Leo Komarov, Toronto Maple Leafs
Lauri Korpikoski, Edmonton Oilers
Jori Lehtera, St. Louis Blues
Teuvo Teravainen, Chicago Blackhawks

Defensemen

Esa Lindell, Texas Stars (AHL) – Dallas Stars hold NHL rights
Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins
Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres
Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks

Goalies

Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

Related: World Cup of Hockey roster announcements schedule

Finland was the runner-up at the last World Cup, held in 2004.

The tournament begins on Sept. 17. Final 23-man rosters must be announced no later than June 1.

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World Cup roster announcements schedule

The World Cup of hockey will become more of a reality Wednesday, as initial 16-man rosters for the eight participating teams will be announced.

Canada's roster drops at 6:05 p.m. ET (Sporstnet) and the Unites States' at 6:45 p.m. ET (Sportscenter).

Schedule

  • Russia, 3 a.m.
  • Finland, 4 a.m.
  • Czech Republic, 11 a.m.
  • Sweden, 1 p.m.
  • Europe, 4:30 p.m.
  • North America, 5:15 p.m.
  • Canada: 6:05 p.m.
  • USA: 6:45 p.m.

Roster Projections

The World Cup runs Sept. 17 through Oct. 1 in Toronto.

Canada, the U.S., Czech Republic, and Team Europe comprise Group A, while Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Team North America make up Group B. The final will be a best-of-three.

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Goaltending could be Stars’ undoing come playoff time

The Dallas Stars thought they addressed their big area of weakness, goaltending, in the offseason, but shaky play between the pipes continues to haunt the club.

The Master Plan

After his club finished next to last in team save percentage last season (.895), general manager Jim Nill decided to compliment incumbent Kari Lehtonen with the acquisition of Antti Niemi from San Jose.

At the time, Nill contended the NHL had become a two-goalie league, and that a healthy measure of competition would be beneficial for both Lehtonen and Niemi.

The GM was so confident in this philosophy that he, with the blessing of owner Tom Gaglardi, put pen to paper on a three-year, $13.5-million contract for Niemi, even with Lehtonen already signed through to the end of 2017-18 with a cap hit of $5.9 million.

Add it all up, and the Stars entered the season with a supposed 1A/1B goalie combo carrying a combined salary cap hit of $10.4 million.

Where They Stand

With 17 games remaining in the regular season, the Stars have posted a record of 38-20-7, good for a share of the Central Division lead in points along with Chicago and St. Louis.

Following a loss to Nashville on Tuesday, however, Dallas has gone 3-5-2 over the past 10 games, allowing 40 goals against over that span.

It's an ugly stretch, and it certainly hasn't helped the overall numbers posted by Lehtonen and Niemi to date.

Player Games Played Record Save % GAA Shutouts
Antti Niemi 42 22-12-6 .903 2.72 3
Kari Lehtonen 31 16-8-1 .906 2.93 1

What's boosting the Stars is their elite-level offense, which ranks first in the NHL with 209 goals, four more than Washington, albeit in three more games played.

That's all well and good, but Dallas finished last season in the second spot in terms of goals for (one behind Tampa Bay) yet failed to qualify for the playoffs after finishing the regular season with a plus-1 goal differential.

The Outlook

Based on the NHL's current playoff format, the Stars would have to beat two divisional opponents to advance to the Western Conference finals. Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, and Minnesota have better team save percentages to date, and even Colorado's goalies - a team now on the outside looking in - have performed better than the Stars' duo.

At present, only five teams have allowed more goals than the Stars, and while the addition of the shot-blocking Kris Russell is expected to shore up the defense, the Stars' strong regular season could very well translate into a first-or second-round playoff exit if the goaltenders don't improve.

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