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Posted On Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 11:34 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Don Cherry speaks

Don Cherry never is shy about having an opinion, whether it's on the famed Coach's Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada, or this morning at the Air Canada Centre following Team Cherry's practice prior to tonight's Top Prospects Game.

Here are a few highlights from Cherry's meeting with the media:

Still have fun doing this? "We still have a lot of fun. When you see a goaltender like that Owen Sound guy (Jordan Binnington) stand on his head, it reminds me of (Roberto) Luongo (in 1997). I remember him with Bobby Orr, we were in Maple Leafs Gardens and we outshot them 17-1 and we were losing 1-0. To see these guys coming up, you think of 2003 in Kitchener and (Ryan) Getzlaf and (Dion) Phaneuf and Marc-Andre Fleury, to see them … it's still a lot of fun."

What's your message to the kids? "We told them you can never, ever drop (in the rankings). But you can … and I go back to Dan Cleary. Dan Cleary when he came, he was from Belleville, Newfounland, not many people knew him. He had a hell of a game and he jumped like you couldn't believe. The big thing is, everything's got to be quicker because everybody is good here. You see them against their peers and the whole deal. There are going to be 200 guys here watching you. If you're a banger, you have to bang -- you have to do your thing. If you just grab your wing and go back, it doesn’t do you any good. That's why you see sort of an open-ice game."
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 11:06 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Team Cherry lines and pairings

Team Cherry just finished the game-day skate, and here are the line combinations they used:

Tomas Jurco-Sean Couturier-Shane Prince
Nicklas Jensen-Ryan Strome-Ty Rattie
Mark McNeill-Mark Scheifele-Matthew Puempel
Phillip Danault-Rickard Rakell-Tobias Rieder

Assistant coach Brian Kilrea ran the practice, and while the lines stayed intact from beginning to end, he rotated all six defenseman, so Ryan Murphy, Scott Harrington, Joe Morrow, Tyler Wotherspoon, Duncan Siemens and Myles Bell all took shifts with each other.

And Christopher Gibson and David Honzik manned the nets. They'll each play about half the game tonight, but the starter is yet to be determined.

Team Orr should be taking the ice in a bit and we'll have their lines and pairings in a while.

Also, Team Cherry coach Don Cherry held court after practice and was his usual self. Stay tuned to the blog for some of the highlights.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 12:37 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Breakaway relay steals the show

Polling a few of the prospects Tuesday night, it's obvious the Showdown Breakaway contest was the star of the show, especially Saint John's Tomas Jurco.

"The thing that Tomas Jurco did, his shootout move, that was pretty slick," said Kelowna's Shane McColgan. "That was pretty cool, never seen anybody do that. And (Sven) Baertschi told me he was going to do that one-handed thing and he pulled that off. So that was pretty cool."

"Jurco's move was pretty cool," said Saskatoon's Duncan Siemens. "When I saw him flip it up and started spinning his stick and the puck landed on it, that was like, wow. Baertschi's one-handed move was pretty cool. There was a lot of cool moves, a lot of creativity."

The one surprise entry in the event was Portland Winterhawks defenseman Joe Morrow. Morrow isn't really known as an offensive player, but he made the most of it. His highlight was a Superman dive with the puck in his left hand, and then he slid it onto his stick for a shot that was stopped.

"He had some fun with it," said Siemens. "That last one with the Superman, that's pretty fun."

Siemens and Bell were happy to limit their participation to the hardest shot contest.

"Kind of happy I didn't have to embarrass myself out there," said Bell, who won the hardest shot contest.

"I was glad I was put where I was," added Siemens. "If I could stay away form the breakaway and accuracy, I was fine.

"Just a tough break for Morrow, I guess. … Not too many d-men that have good gloves out there. There's guys like (Kitchener's Ryan) Murphy, (Montreal's Xavier) Ouellet that got some hands and some moves, but for the most part d-men aren't known for their good mitts."
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.18.2011 / 10:26 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

NexTesting 'injury'

As the first group of players was going through on-ice drills for the Nex Testing cameras, there was on near fatality -- not to a player, thankfully.

As Red Deer Rebels center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left the starting line for a speed drill, his stick caught the big digital read-out board that displays the players' times, nearly knocking it from its perch midway up the glass to the ice. Thankfully, the board survived the injury.
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Posted On Monday, 01.17.2011 / 11:12 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Top Prospect Game coaches working their own way

The Top Prospects Game is a pretty intense affair, but the coaches don't go overboard.

For the first on-ice sessions, Team Cherry coach Don Cherry didn't make it out to the MasterCard Centre tonight, leaving the on-ice work to his assistant coach, junior coaching legend Brian Kilrea.

When asked how much coaching Cherry really does, as compared to a Hockey Hall of Famer like Kilrea, Kilrea was quick to tell NHL.com with a broad smile, "This is Don's team, we're just his helpers."

On the other side, Team Orr coach Doug Gilmour was on hand, but one of his assistants, Wendel Clark, was missing.

Gilmour said he saw Clark last weekend when their sons were playing in a tournament in Kingston.

"I said are you coming out Monday," Gilmour told NHL.com. "He said no, I'll see you Wednesday."
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.29.2010 / 2:18 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Suspensions flying at World Juniors

Zack Kassian's two-game suspension for his hit on Slovakia's Petr Senkerik wasn't the only penalty dished out by the IIHF today.

A pair of Slovakia players will spend time watching, rather than playing, following their actions during Tuesday's game against the U.S. Peter Hrasko will sit for three games, and Martin Marincin was banned for four.

Hrasko was assessed a match penalty for a hit to the head and neck area of U.S. forward Jerry D'Amigo 6:42 into the game. According to the IIHF release: " Hrasko deliberately targeted the head of the American player, using his elbow and upper arm to deliver the blow and causing D’Amigo to be thrown violently into the boards. As a result, D’Amigo struck his head against the glass, sustaining an injury."

The match penalty carries with it an automatic one-game suspension. Today, IIHF head disciplinarian Dan Marouelli tacked on two extra games.

Midway through the third period, Martin Marincin received a match penalty for his hit on U.S. forward Jason Zucker, and his one-game suspension had three games tacked on. Marouelli ruled Marincin's hit on Zucker, "was a premeditated act as the puck had long left the vicinity of the play. Marincin took advantage of a defenseless and unsuspecting opponent and deliberately targeted the head and neck area, resulting in an injury to Zucker."

While D'Amigo was able to continue Tuesday, Zucker was knocked out of the game and his status for Thursday's game against Germany is unknown.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.28.2010 / 11:41 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

De Haan out for Canada?

Canada already will be without forward Zack Kassian for their next game, and they also might be without defenseman Calvin de Haan.

De Haan was forced to leave the game early in the second period with what TSN is reporting is a leg injury after he was hit hard into the boards by the Czech Republic's Michal Hlinka. De Haan limped to the bench and headed directly to the dressing room.

De Haan, taken by the New York Islanders with the 12th pick of the 2009 Entry Draft, isn't the only Isles prospect hurting -- U.S. forward Brock Nelson was held out of tonight's game with an upper-body injury. Nelson was taken by the Isles with the 30th pick of the 2010 Draft.

And at last year's tournament another Islanders prospect, defenseman Travis Hamonic suffered a serious shoulder injury playing for Canada.

Canada definitely will be without Kassian, who received a match penalty for a hit in the second period. Mike Morreale has all the details here.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.28.2010 / 9:19 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Sweden nearly finished with Russia

While most eyes are watching the U.S. and Slovakia, another group is at nearby Dwyer Arena watching one of the premiere game of Group B between Sweden and Russia.

As the game winds down, it looks like Sweden will keep pace with Canada, while Russia will fall to 0-2.

The game turned in a 3:22 span in the second half of the first period, as first Anton Lander and then Jesper Fasth scored. Robin Lehner has been perfect in goal.

Playing Canada and Sweden right off the hop was a tough draw for Russia, and it makes their final two games of the preliminary round -- against Norway on Thursday and the Czech Republic on Friday -- must-wins.

We'll be back with more later when the game ends.
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Posted On Monday, 12.27.2010 / 10:33 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

Is U.S. hurting?

According to TSN, the U.S. win against Finland might have come at a big price. Forward Jeremy Morin reportedly suffered a shoulder injury that could sideline him for the remainder of the tournament, although there has been no confirmation from USA Hockey.

Morin was an important late addition to the U.S. team after the Blackhawks released him to participate. He had been up and down between the Blackhawks and AHL Rockford all season, scoring 2 goals in nine NHL games.

Also hurt for the U.S. on Sunday was center Brock Nelson. The Islanders prospect was hit hard into the wall by a Finland player in the third period and immediately left the ice.

The U.S. will have a practice today; their next game is Tuesday against Slovakia (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US). Check back with NHL.com later in the day for the full story.
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Posted On Monday, 12.27.2010 / 9:18 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 World Junior Championship Blog

WJC is off and running

Well, that was some start to the 2011 World Junior Championship on Sunday. Canada showed its power -- literally and figuratively -- in its win against Russia, while the U.S. showed outstanding resiliency in never letting down against Finland.

From my snowbound basement, the thing that impressed me most about Canada was its work ethic. And to me, that was best shown by Casey Cizikas on a first-period penalty kill. Cizikas captured the puck in the Russia end and pinned it to the wall. He lost it, got it back and pinned it again. He won battles against two Russia forwards to keep the puck deep and single-handedly kill 30-40 seconds off Russia's power play.

It also was fun to watch local boy Marcus Foligno get off to a great start. The Buffalo native and Sabres draft pick scored Canada's first goal, and his line with Ryan Johansen and Zack Kassian, was very good.

For the U.S., this overtime win wasn't as dramatic as their last one -- the gold-medal game in Saskatoon in January -- but they displayed the same never-say-die attitude. Finland plays a tight defensive game and can be very frustrating to play against. However, the U.S. kept pressing and pressing. Kyle Palmieri had a few great chances before Nick Bjugstad won it in extra time.

Jack Campbell was solid in goal and made all the big saves, and defenseman Justin Faulk showed he can bomb the puck from the point for the first U.S. goal.

Today's a bit of a quieter day -- the only games are Slovakia vs. Germany at the HSBC Center and the Czech Republic vs. Norway from Dwyer Arena in Niagara. But stay close to NHL.com, as we'll have full coverage.

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— New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano after their win vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday
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