Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
 
SHARE
Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 7:05 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Vasilevski overshadowed by Kuznetsov's performance

It's not hard to go overlooked when your teammate puts up 9 points in one game.

But that doesn't mean the goaltending of Andrei Vasilevski thus far at the 2012 World Junior Championship has gone unnoticed by his fellow Russians.

Though it was Yevgeni Kuznetsov recording 9 points in Russia's 14-0 rout of Latvia Thursday, the game also marked the second of back-to-back shutouts for Vasilevski.

Vasilevski, who has started two of Russia's three games in the tournament, has yet to allow a goal at the World Juniors, turning aside 70 straight shots en route to a pair of blankings against both Switzerland and Latvia.

The fact that a puck still hasn't gotten by Vasilevski hasn't been lost on his teammates.

"It's good for us," said Alexander Khokhlachev, who has 3 goals and three games for Russia. "When we come here we have some questions about goaltenders but he's played great for us. He's a young guy and he has two games, two shutouts."

Only two goaltenders – Latvia’s Kristers Gudlevskis (85) and Denmark’s Sebastian Feuk (122) have faced more shots than Vasilevski, who has yet to show a blemish on the scoresheet.

"We kept high hopes for our goalie," Kuznetsov said through a translator. "He's a young guy, so hopefully it'll continue that way."

It hasn't been the quantity of saves from Vasilevski, but the timeliness of his stops that has coach Valeri Bragin beaming about his goaltender.

"It's most important in the moments where you need your goalie to play well and he played well," Bragin said through a translator. "He played good when he needed to play good."

Vasilevski's next test will come against Sweden on New Year's Eve. He will need to be equally as good for Russia with the potential of first place in Group A on the line.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 1:55 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Kuznetsov turns in dominating performance

The Russians knew their captain was good.

But nine points good?

Yevgeni Kuznetsov, the only returning player from Russia’s gold medal-winning squad last year, came within one point of Peter Forsberg’s all-time tournament record of 10 against Japan at the 1993 World Junior Championship with his performance Thursday night -- much to the awe and delight of his teammates.

“It was like ‘Are you kidding me, what are you doing?” Nail Yakupov said after the game. “He’s amazing, you know? He did everything today. He’s a great player. It’s his second World Juniors and he plays in the KHL. He plays like an NHL player.”

After being held off the scoresheet through the first 20 minutes by Latvia, Kuznetsov exploded, recording points on six straight Russian goals before adding three more points – including his hat trick goal -- in the third period.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 1:46 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Grigorenko injured in Russian rout

Though Russia handed Latvia a lopsided 14-0 defeat Thursday night, the reigning world champions may have suffered a big loss.

Early in the second period, forward Mikhail Grigorenko collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija at the Russian blue line, sending the 2012 draft-eligible prospect to the ice in pain. Grigorenko did not return to the game and his status for the tournament is in doubt.

"There was an injury around the ankle," Russia coach Valeri Bragin said through a translator after the game. "We don't know about it right now. We'll see tomorrow morning."

When asked if Grigorenko could be lost for the duration of the World Juniors, Bragin confirmed.

"It's possible."

Grigorenko has two goals and four points in three games for the undefeated Russians.

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 4:25 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden's Friberg channels 'Tiger' for goal celebration

Tiger Williams was the first.
 
Max Friberg has now become the latest.
 
The Swedish sensation revived the scoring celebration of the former NHL enforcer, taking to riding his stick in Williams-esque fashion after scoring what looked like the game clincher in the shootout in a 4-3 victory over Switzerland Wednesday night in Calgary.
 
“It was just something that came up in my mind,” Friberg said. “It was nothing against the other team. I was very impressed by their game. I was just happy and I had no teammates to celebrate, so I had to do something.”
 
Switzerland responded with a shootout goal of its own before Sebastian Collberg iced the game for Sweden.
 
Friberg admitted the idea for the celebration, which drew a chorus of boos from the crowd, came from time spent on the Internet.
 
“I watch a lot of video clips on YouTube so I’d seen it a couple times,” Friberg said. “I thought they would like it but they booed instead.”
 
Though he never saw Friberg’s post-goal performance, Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg defended his player’s actions.
 
“I didn’t see it actually,” Ronnberg said. “I heard they were booing, I thought it was because they missed the shot. He’s a humble kid. I don’t think he did it to humiliate somebody or offend somebody.”

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 12:44 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Slovakia avoids scare from Latvia

CALGARY -- It was a bigger scare than Slovakia would have preferred in its 2012 World Junior Championship debut.

Tied 1-1 with Latvia after 40 minutes, Slovak forward Marek Tvrdon scored the game-winner 2:02 into the third period and goalie Juraj Simboch kicked out 25 shots en route to a 3-1 win at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night.

"We had a really tough time at the beginning of the game," Slovak coach Ernest Bokros said through a translator. "It was really tough to get into the game. After the first period we talked to the boys and they played better. We told our guys to keep focused and keep going. It was an important game for us since we want to try to stay in the group. We don't want to get eliminated. We told guys to keep going."    

Tomas Jurco also scored for Slovakia and Michael Toman added an empty-netter with 37.3 seconds remaining to clinch the victory. Juris Ziemins had the lone goal for Latvia.

"Everybody tried hard," Latvian captain Kristians Pelss said. "One shot changed the whole game. It's a difficult game because we could win this game. Hopefully the next game will be better."

Tvrdon broke the tie when he lifted a third rebound attempt over Latvian goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis during a scramble to give Slovakia. It was only the second of 44 shots to beat Gudlevskis.  

Latvia tried to answer back. Ziemins had Simboch sprawling midway through the period, but couldn't beat the post. It was as close as the Latvians would come to tying the game before Toman hit the vacated net in the final minute.

Slovakia carried the play through the scoreless first period and into the second, it was Latvia that got on the board first.

Minutes after Gudlevskis turned aside Slovakia's second 3-on-1 attempt of the game, Ziemins put Latvia up 1-0 when the puck caromed off the end boards, under the stick of Simboch and onto the stick of Ziemins, who lifted it into the top corner at 6:41 to give Latvia its first lead of the tournament.

The combination of 2012 Draft eligible forward Zemgus Girgensons and David Straupe almost made it 2-0 on the next shift. Girgensons took the puck out of the corner and drove to the net but was denied by Simboch. Straupe then slid the rebound just past the far post.

After Gudlevskis stopped Vladimir Dolnik on a breakaway, Slovakia finally solved him on the power play. Jurco deflected Martin Marincin's blast from the point behind Gudlevskis with 4:32 remaining in the period to make it 1-1.

Both teams now turn their attention to Russia. Slovakia faces the Russians on Wednesday, while Latvia gets the day off before facing them on Thursday.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 11:36 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Latvia, Slovakia all even after two

Though Slovakia was able to carry over the jump shown in the final minutes of the first period, it was Latvia who managed to get on the board first Tuesday night in Calgary.

Minutes after Latvian goaltender Kristers Gudlevis turned aside Slovakia's second 3-on-1 attempt of the game, Juris Ziemins put Latvia up, 1-0.

The puck careened off the end boards, under the stick of Slovak goalie Juraj Simboch and onto the stick of Ziemins, who lifted it top corner at 6:41 to give Latvia its first lead of the tournament.

The combination of 2012 Draft eligible forward Zemgus Girgensons and David Straupe almost made it 2-0 on the next shift.

Taking the puck out of the corner and driving to the net, Girgensons was stopped by the Slovak goalie. Straupe slid the rebound just passed the far post, keeping Slovakia within one.

After stopping Vladimir Dolnik on a breakaway, Slovakia finally solved Gudlevis on the power play. Tomas Jurco deflected Martin Marincin's blast from the point behind Gudlevis with 4:32 remaining in the period to make it 1-1.


Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 10:53 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Latvia, Slovakia scoreless after one

After a slow start from both teams in Calgary, Latvia and Slovakia managed to find their feet in a competitive first period that was scoreless despite a combined 25 shots.
 
It took Latvia until the 7:27 mark to mark its first shot on goal on Slovak starter Juraj Simboch, while Slovakia managed to get just two pucks on Latvia's Kristers Gudlevskis in the first half of the period.

Though it took them longer than they'd like to record their first shot of the game, the Latvians carried the pace through the first 20 minutes.

Robert Lipsbergs, who had a pair of goals in Latvia's opener against Sweden, almost put his country up near the midway mark of the first. Streaking in on his off wing, Lipsbergs fired a shot off the pad Slovakia starter Juraj Simboch, gathered his own rebound, but was denied again.

When Slovak defenseman Peter Bezuska misplayed the puck at the offensive blue line, Latvian captain Kristians Pelss was able to break in alone on Simboch, who also denied him with his pad, one of 12 first period saves.

Killing its third penalty of the period, Slovakia responded.

Stepping out of the penalty box with four minutes remaining in the period, Tomas Matousek jumped into a 3-on-1 rush led by Richard Mraz. Mraz dropped the puck to Matousek in the high slot, but was denied by Kristers Gudlevskis.

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 6:38 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Bartschi has home-ice edge in Calgary

Calgary is more than 4,800 miles from Switzerland, but Sven Bartschi still has home-ice advantage.

Bartschi, selected by the Calgary Flames in the first round (No. 13) of the 2011 NHL Draft, said fans are making him feel at home as Switzerland tackles preliminary-round action at the World Junior Championship in Calgary.

But that doesn't mean there isn't added pressure for the native of Langenthal, who is the main attraction of Group A with Canada skating in Edmonton until after the new year.

"I want to enjoy the whole thing," Bartschi said. "I don't want to put too much pressure on myself because it's in Calgary. It's a big Christmas gift for me to come down here and play at the 'dome."

The "dome" Bartschi is referring to is Scotiabank Saddledome - home of the Calgary Flames. It was also the same place the boisterous crowd of 15,390 that was cheering on Bartschi and the Swiss in their tournament opener against Russia, a 3-0 loss.

But Bartschi wasn't willing to take all the credit.

Given the nature of Canada's rivalry with Russia coupled by Russia's come-from-behind gold medal victory over Canada at last year's World Juniors in Buffalo may have helped the Swiss, Bartschi said.

"I think the whole crowd was behind us and cheered us on because of the rivalry between Russia and Canada," he said. "Still, it was a lot of fun out here."

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 5:42 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Girgensons already hearing Nino comparisons

CALGARY - Latvian forward Zemgus Girgensons is well aware of the comparison he’s facing at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Two years ago, a draft eligible Nino Niederreiter grabbed headlines as he pulled Switzerland to a fourth-place finish at the World Juniors, the country’s best finish since 1998. Some five months later, Niederreiter was chosen fifth overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders.

Now, many expect Girgensons to have the same breakthrough performance that Niederreiter put together two years prior.

“It puts big pressure on me but it’s not a big deal,” said Girgensons, who scored in Latvia’s 9-4 tournament-opening loss to Sweden Monday. “I’m just going to do my best, that’s it. I just don’t try to think about it that much and try to play my game and do my best and help the team to perform good.”

Niederreiter exploded for six goals and 10 points in seven games at the 2010 tournament en route to being named to the media’s all-star team.

Girgensons doesn’t have to match Niederreiter’s outburst at the World Juniors in order to be a high pick in the 2012 draft. In fact, he’s already well on his way to accomplishing the feat, according to NHL Central Scouting's Dave Gregory.

"Zemgus is someone who's going to push being a real high-end rank for us all year," said Gregory in November. "We saw him at the Research, Development and Orientation Camp and he was impressive there with arguably some of the best available draft-eligible kids.”
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 1:13 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden's Larsson exits game against Latvia

Forward Johan Larsson left Sweden’s 9-4 victory over Latvia in the first period for what the team is calling a precautionary move.

The team isn’t concerned with their captain, who assisted on Max Friberg’s first goal before leaving the game with what the team is calling a contusion on his thigh.

“He had a hit on his thigh in the first period,” said team doctor Bjorn Sandstrom. “That’s why he didn’t play anymore. I don’t think it’s a dangerous injury. I’m not very worried about him.”

Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg wasn’t about to take a chance with Larsson on tournament's opening day.

“He got a small injury in the first but we don’t take any chances this early in the tournament,” coach Roger Ronnberg said.

The team is already playing without 2012 draft eligible forward Pontus Aberg, who was knocked out of the World Junior Championship before the tournament got underway.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
First | Prev | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | Next | Last
Quote of the Day

I've got a lot of experience and there's a lot of young guys. It's even making me excited a little more. It's kind of a new life. At my age, I feel like I know a lot of things what to do, but I just cannot do it anymore. It's a lot easier to tell them what to do because they've still got the legs and hands to do it. I just know things, but I cannot do them anymore.

— Jaromir Jagr after making his Panthers debut in a win against the Sabres on Saturday