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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 11:58 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

U.S. ready for tougher foe in Sweden

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The U.S. team will see a higher level of competition Thursday when they face Sweden here at Herb Brooks Arena.

The 2012 World Junior Championship gold medalists have six players in Lake Placid from last year's team, and are coming into Thursday's game after a full day away from the rink.

"Sweden has had some really quality practice time," U.S. coach Phil Housley told NHL.com. "You can see it in their breakouts, their transition game. Certainly this is a really good test for us. Just watching them the last couple days, they seem to be in sync. All their passing, they move the puck extremely well. So you can see they've spent time together."

There will be a few changes to the lineup, especially on defense, as Seth Jones, Jacob Trouba and Patrick Sieloff will be on the ice. That trio all stands at least 6-feet tall and around 200 pounds. That's Housley's plan for countering Sweden's size and skill up front.

"They transition so well," Housley said. "It goes back to making the right decisions in the neutral zone. They also shoot the puck a lot. They attack the net well. Our [defensemen] are going to have to pick up guys behind them. We're going to have to contain them, keep them to the outside. They have some big forwards that can control the puck. We're going to have to shore up our [defensive] zone and try to eliminate their chances."

One of the things that won't change for the U.S. is the starting goalie. John Gibson, who allowed one goal on 13 shots in 35 minutes of play Wednesday against Finland, will start Thursday against Sweden. Garret Sparks, who stopped nine of 10 shots in relief of Gibson on Wednesday, will dress as the backup.

"We want to give him work," Housley said of Gibson, one of three players in camp who was on the U.S. World Junior team last year. "He's been there before; it's a big game, so to speak. Sweden is a very good team. We want to give him some work. Gibson and Sparks have played extremely well. Yesterday was a great test for them at key times of the game and they came through it for us. We want to see more of Gibby [Gibson] playing against really stiff competition."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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POSTED ON Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 11:44 AM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Summer with Stanley blog

Lombardi brings Cup home to Ludlow

Ludlow, Massachusetts welcomes home Kings GM and resident Dean Lombardi on his day with the Stanley Cup. (Photo: Tal Pinchevsky/NHL.com)

Ludlow, Mass., is a short drive from the Basketball Hall of Fame in nearby Springfield. But the discussion today is all hockey, as Los Angeles Kings general manager and Ludlow resident Dean Lombardi enjoys his day with the Stanley Cup.

The Cup last came to this area in 1995, when it was hosted by nearby Wilbraham. On Thursday, residents lined up at least two hours in advance at the Polish American Citizens Club, where Lombardi is expected to bring the Cup by at noon. A local fundraiser is being held with a charity auction, in which locals will have the chance to win autographed Kings jerseys.

Prior to his arrival at the hall, Lombardi took the Cup to nearby hospitals before spending time with his first hockey coach, Tony Costa, who is known locally as the godfather of Ludlow hockey.

Lombardi is scheduled to spend five hours with the Cup at the Citizens Club, so stay tuned for more information at NHL.com.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 10:42 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Back to work, as Sweden prepares for U.S.

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The Sweden players and staff spent Wednesday enjoying the picturesque scenery here in Lake Placid.

But Thursday morning it was time to get back to work, as the team had a game against the U.S. Thursday afternoon to get ready for.

Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg said the biggest thing he's looking for is a better start to the game. His team routed Finland 8-2 on Tuesday, but Ronnberg said he wasn't happy with his team's effort in the opening 20 minutes.

"I think we were playing sloppy," Ronnberg told NHL.com. "We weren't focused, we weren't ready to work hard enough. We allowed the Finns to outplay us, and that's not the way we would have liked it."

Of the 22 players Sweden brought here, Ronnberg said 10-15 will make the team that goes to Russia for the 2013 World Junior Championship. Among the group here is Mika Zibanejad, who scored the overtime goal that won the gold medal.

Ronnberg, though, isn't sure he'll have Zibanejad for a repeat attempt at the gold. Taken with the sixth pick of the 2011 draft by the Ottawa Senators, Zibanejad started last season in the NHL before being returned to Djurgardens in the Swedish Elite League after nine games with the Senators.

"We are not counting on Mika for the World Juniors," Ronnberg said, "but if he's available I'm more than pleased [to have him]."

Ronnberg also said St. Louis Blues prospect Niklas Lundstrom will start in goal while Oscar Dansk rests a minor knee injury. Dansk was hurt in Tuesday's 8-2 win against Finland.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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POSTED ON Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 10:00 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Sweden goalie Dansk banged up

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- When Sweden faces the U.S. on Thursday at Herb Brooks Arena, St. Louis Blues prospect Niklas Lundstrom will be in goal.

Oscar Dansk, taken by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the first pick of the second round at the 2012 NHL Draft, sustained a minor knee injury during Tuesday's 8-2 win against Finland.

"Oscar is suffering from a small injury in his knee so we're going to rest him [Thursday]," Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg told NHL.com.

Lundstrom, a fifth-round pick of the Blues in 2011, stopped 25 of 26 shots in a 5-1 win against a Team USA split squad Monday.

Ronnberg said he's been happy with what he's seen from both his goaltenders in Lake Placid.

"I like them both," he said. "I think they are well-educated. We have a really good number of good goalie coaches in Sweden and that reflects on the goalies. Those guys are well-educated, they're good in the basics, they have a good game plan in how they should play in all situations. They give us the chance to win every night."

Ronnberg said there are two other goalies he'll evaluate at the next camp, in the Czech Republic in September, and it could be one of the more difficult decisions he has to make in building a team that can compete for a second-straight gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship.

"I have more guys at home," Ronnberg said. "We'll see. It's a hard situation to pick the best two."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 8:43 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

USA goalies impress against Finland

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- John Gibson stopped 12 of 13 shots in just over 35 minutes of action Wednesday in Team USA's 5-2 win against Finland. While it's assumed the starting job for the United States at the 2013 World Junior Championship is Gibson's to lose, the Anaheim Ducks prospect isn't ready to put himself in any spot in the lineup just yet.

"Obviously I've had conversations with the coaching staff, but regardless of what's said I want to play my best and not really think about No. 1 or whatever," Gibson told NHL.com. "I just want to go out and play and earn my spot."

His best save came midway through the first period, when Finland's Robert Leino got loose on a shorthanded breakaway, but Gibson got his pads on Leino's shot.

Gibson was replaced by Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Garret Sparks with 4:49 left in the second period and he stopped nine of the 10 shots he faced. The only puck to get past Sparks was with two minutes left in the second when Miro Aaltonen beat him between his pads on a mini-break.

He recovered to make a nice save on Buffalo Sabres top prospect Joel Armia early in the third when the U.S. team led 3-2, then in the final minute he did the splits to stop a drive by Finland captain and Pittsburgh Penguins first-round pick Olli Maatta on a five-on-three Finland advantage.

U.S. coach Phil Housley said he was happy with how both his netminders played.

"For the most part the goals that they got we sort of gave it to them," he said. "As far as our goaltenders, they're making stops at the right time. Both of them made key stops when they were in the net at times in the game where we needed a big save."

With the U.S. team playing again Wednesday, it's expected Jon Gillies and/or Anthony Stolarz will get the chance in goal. With two games left to evaluate the 34 players at camp, Housley has said he wants to get every player an opportunity in a game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 8:31 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Finland ready for some rest

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- After three games in three days, Finland coach Harri Lindell is looking forward to getting his team some rest.

"We need that, absolutely," he told NHL.com after his team's 5-2 loss to the United States on Wednesday. "We need it. Let's see if we can find something special for the team to get their thoughts away from hockey and just relax."

Finland lost 5-4 to a U.S. split squad Monday, then was routed 8-2 by Sweden on Tuesday.

Lindell said despite the loss Wednesday he was happy with how his team played.

"This game was a very tough game because it was the third game in three days," he said. "It was a great team we were playing against. … We were trying to be mentally prepared

for this game, [and] I think we got a response there."

One place the Finns didn't respond was on special teams. They went 0-for-4 with the man advantage, including a power play 20 seconds into the game and another that was called with 0.6 seconds left in the first period.

That performance came after they went 0-for-7 against the USA Blue team Monday and didn't have a power play against Sweden.

Compounding the problem Wednesday was a stretch of four minutes midway through the first that saw the Finns down a man for all but six seconds.

Lindell said he hopes the time off cures those issues as well as allows him to get forward Miikka Salomaki back in the lineup.

The Nashville Predators' 2011 second-round pick was expected to play a top-two-line role for the Finns, but was a late scratch from Tuesday's game and didn't play Wednesday due to what Lindell said was an upper-body injury. Lindell said it's not a serious injury, but he found no need to risk making it worse at this time of year. He said there's a chance Salomaki could play Friday against Sweden or Saturday against the United States.

"If it was a playoff game or a championship game, he could play," Lindell said. "We don't want to risk him because he's important player. There will be a good chance he can play one or two more games."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 6:09 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

U.S. defeats Finland, 5-2

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The United States wrapped its 5-2 win against Finland with a pair of goals 1:05 apart in the third period.

Nicolas Kerdiles scored from the right side off a Tyler Biggs rebound at 14:59 to push the U.S. lead to 4-2. Moments later, Stefan Noesen was stopped twice in front of the Finland net, but he scored on his third chance to close the scoring at 16:04.

Garret Sparks made the lead stand up, with his best saves coming when he stopped Joel Armia on the doorstep with 13:40 left, then in the final minute when he did the splits to stop an Olli Maatta blast with the Finns skating on a five-on-three advantage.

Things got chippy in the game's final seconds when Finland's Heikki Liedes was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for a hit from behind on U.S. defenseman Connor Murphy.

We'll have more in a bit from both locker rooms.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 5:31 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Summer with Stanley blog

Kompon's day with Cup ends his L.A. journey

When former Los Angeles Kings assistant coach Jamie Kompon was asked where he wanted to enjoy his day with the Stanley Cup, he didn't hesitate to say "St. Louis."

It was there he started his NHL career when St. Louis Blues coach Joel Quenneville hired him in 1997. Monday morning, almost exactly 14 years after arriving in the Gateway City, Kompon received the Cup there, ending one remarkable chapter in Los Angeles as another is about to begin.

Kompon left the Blues after being hired as an assistant on Marc Crawford's L.A. staff in 2006, brought in to groom second-year forward Dustin Brown and a rookie center named Anze Kopitar. Six years later, Kopitar and Brown are the only players remaining from that 2006-07 squad, and two big reasons the Kings are Stanley Cup champions.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 5:25 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

U.S. leads Finland 3-2 after two periods

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Sean Kuraly, a San Jose Sharks 2011 fifth-round pick, scored his team-high fifth goal of the camp to put the U.S. ahead.

Kuraly led a rush with linemates Mario Lucia and Stefan Noesen. Lucia fired a shot on net that Finland goalie Richard Ullberg stopped, but Kuraly pounced on the rebound, spun to create space for himself and fired a shot past Ullberg at 6:28.

Calgary Flames prospect John Gaudreau put the U.S. up 3-1 when he scored off the rush at 16:14, but Finland answered at 18:00 when Miro Aaltonen scored his second of the game. He had a mini-break, deked goalie Garret Sparks to the ice and slipped the puck between his pads to make it 3-2.

Sparks, a Toronto Maple Leafs seventh-round pick in 2011, replaced John Gibson in goal with 4:49 left in the period. He'll likely play the remainder of the game as coach Phil Housley uses the final period as a chance to evaluate one of the three candidates who will serve as Gibson's backup in Russia.

More after the third period.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 4:43 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Team USA and Finland tied 1-1 after one period

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The U.S. opened the scoring but Finland answered with a late goal to send the teams off tied 1-1 after 20 minutes here at Herb Brooks Arena.

Stefan Matteau banged in a loose puck in the crease to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead at 15:00 of the period, but Miro Aaltonen snapped a shot past U.S. goalie John Gibson from the high slot at 18:16 to make it 1-1.

Each team had chances to take control earlier in the first. The U.S. went 0-for-3 on the power play, including a four-minute span midway through the period that saw the Americans up a man for all but six seconds.

Finland had a shorthanded chance with 6:35 left when Robert Leino got loose on a breakaway, but Gibson denied him with his right pad.

Finland had a power play just 20 seconds into the game but couldn't take advantage. The Finns will have another power play to start the second as J.T. Miller was whistled for slashing with 0.6 seconds left in the first.

More after the second period.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory