Flyers

NHL Notes: Russia names Alex Ovechkin captain for World Cup

NHL Notes: Russia names Alex Ovechkin captain for World Cup

MOSCOW -- Alex Ovechkin has been named Russia's captain for the World Cup of Hockey.

The Russian Ice Hockey Federation announced the decision Wednesday. It also says Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk will serve as the alternate captains.

The 30-year-old Ovechkin has been captain of the Washington Capitals for the past six seasons. He has 525 goals and 441 assists for 966 points in 839 NHL games and was captain when Russia won the world hockey championship in 2014.

Malkin, 30, has been an alternate captain for the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2008, winning the Stanley Cup twice in that time.

Datsyuk, 38, recently left the NHL's Detroit Red Wings to return home to Russia and play for St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League.

The World Cup begins Sept. 17 in Toronto (see full story).

Panthers: Huberdeau's extension figures announced
SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers have formally announced Jonathan Huberdeau's $35.4 million, six-year extension, making the forward yet another piece of the team's young core to be locked into a long-term deal this year.

So far in 2016, the Panthers have committed more than $184 million in contracts to five players who are all age 25 or younger. Aleksander Barkov signed an extension in January, and Aaron Ekblad, Vincent Trocheck, Reilly Smith and now Huberdeau all got extensions done this summer.

That total doesn't even count the deal Nick Bjugstad signed late in 2014, nor does it include the acquisition of All-Star defenseman Keith Yandle or the retaining of Jaromir Jagr this offseason.

The Panthers won the Atlantic Division last season, reaching the playoffs for the second time since 2000 (see full story).

Team USA: Pavelski named World Cup captain
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The United States has named Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks as its captain for the World Cup of Hockey.

Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild were named as alternate captains for the tournament, which begins Sept. 17 in Toronto. David Backes of the Boston Bruins, Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks, Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers and Zach Parise of the Wild will also be part of coach John Tortorella's leadership group.

Tortorella said it's great news that the U.S. has "plenty of leaders," adding that's the reason the leadership group includes seven players.

Pavelski became Sharks captain before last season, helping them reach the Stanley Cup final. He represented the U.S. at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.

NHL: Parros added to department of player safety
NEW YORK -- Longtime enforcer George Parros has joined the NHL's department of player safety.

NHL senior vice president of player safety Stephane Quintal announced the hire Wednesday.

Parros played 474 games over nine seasons, winning the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. He also played for the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens, finishing with 36 points and 1,092 penalty minutes.

The 36-year-old from Randolph, New Jersey, graduated from Princeton University where he majored in economics.

He joins fellow tough guy Chris Pronger in the department of player safety, which determines fines and suspensions for on-ice infractions.

Claude Julien gets last laugh in return to Boston

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AP Images

Claude Julien gets last laugh in return to Boston

BOSTON -- David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner each scored an early goal, Tuukka Rask stopped 21 shots and the Bruins beat Montreal 4-1 Wednesday night in Canadiens coach Claude Julien's return to Boston.

The surging Bruins have earned at least a point in 14 straight games (10-0-4), their longest stretch since going 15-0-1 in March 2014.

Brad Marchand added a power-play goal in the third period, David Krejci had an empty-netter and Patrice Bergeron had two assists for Boston, which posted its second win over the Canadiens in five days. The teams meet again in Montreal on Saturday night.

Jakub Jerabek scored his first NHL goal for Montreal, and Carey Price made 28 saves.

Julien, who coached Boston's Stanley Cup-winning team in 2011, was fired last Feb. 7 in his 10th season. He was replaced by assistant and current Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who opted for more up-tempo, charge-into-the-zone play from his defensemen as opposed to Julien's mostly defensive-minded style.

Rask extended his career-best point streak to 15 games (13-0-2), including a 4-3 shootout win at Montreal last Saturday (see full recap).

Ducks score 4 in 2nd period to beat Penguins
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Rickard Rakell and Adam Henrique scored 1:35 apart to Anaheim the lead during its four-goal second period, and the Ducks went on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 Wednesday night.

Chris Wagner and Ondrej Kase also scored for Anaheim in the middle period, and Hampus Lindholm added an empty-netter in the final second of the game. John Gibson stopped 30 shots to help the Ducks improve to 7-3-1 in their last 11 games.

Anaheim scored four goals in a period for first time since doing it in the third period at Buffalo last Feb. 9.

Jake Guentzel, Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game win streak. Tristan Jarry made 28 saves.

With the Ducks trailing 1-0, Rakell tied it on a redirect of a shot by Francois Beauchemin at 4:17 of the second. Henrique then put them ahead at 5:42, beating Jarry with a wraparound while the rookie was caught flatfooted at the opposite post trying to get his stick back.

Wagner scored on a short-handed breakaway to make it 3-1 at 9:24, notching the third special-teams goal of his career, all of which have come this season.

Kase's smooth breakaway backhand with 1:32 left in the period capped off the scoring deluge. Kase, who also had an assist, has five points in his last three games (see full recap).

Where is Dave Hakstol's sixth sense?

Where is Dave Hakstol's sixth sense?

VOORHEES, N.J. — Movie director M. Night Shyamalan may have created the sixth sense, and some of the more successful coaches in the NHL actually possess it. 

No, not the ability to see dead people, but rather, the recognition of assessing in-game situations and taking an immediate and proactive course of action before the team and the game itself begins to unravel.

Predators coach and former Flyers bench boss Peter Laviolette had an uncanny ability to utilize his only timeout at a moment when the team needed desperately to refocus during a stretch of poor hockey. Laviolette may have signaled for one during a lackluster first period or at the first sign of trouble in the third period.

He’d rip the gum out of his mouth and begin the process of chewing out his guys. His face would turn red and his temperature would rise as if it was measured by the red liquid in a thermometer. More often than not, Laviolette’s teams responded swiftly and appropriately to his message. He had an ability to seize the moment when others may not have seen it coming.

It’s a club Hakstol simply doesn’t have in his bag.

Hakstol prefers to hold onto his timeout predictably when the Flyers are down a goal late in the third period to draw up a play on the dry-erase board or to give his players a breather following an icing call. Rarely, if ever, is that timeout taken in an effort to overcome the opposition’s surge of momentum.

Same can be said for Hakstol’s decision to make a goaltending change.

In the Flyers' two most recent lopsided losses, both 5-1 setbacks to the Penguins and Rangers, Hakstol chose to pull Elliott after two periods with the outcomes pretty much decided heading into the third period. 

Regarding the Flyers' loss to New York Tuesday night: "We put [Elliott] in a pretty tough spot," Hakstol said postgame (see story). "Looking back on it, I could make the change after the fourth goal, but I felt like we put him in pretty tough spots tonight with the opportunities that we gave up in the first 30 minutes of the game."

While every coach seems to possess hindsight, not every coach has the appropriate sense of foresight. Goaltending changes can be the result of poor play in net and Elliott wasn’t great Tuesday night, but the decision can also take on a dual-purpose. Give the backup playing time while also attempting to ignite a spark up and down the bench.

Send a message that it’s not the goaltender’s responsibility alone for digging this hole, but since he can’t bench all 18 skaters, bench the goalie as a result of everyone else’s poor play. 

In both losses to the Penguins and Rangers, once Hakstol decided to replace Elliott with Neuvirth, the Flyers were facing a 4-1 and 5-1 deficit, respectively, heading into the third period. The coach would have had better success creating a spark by rubbing two sticks together.

Over the course of an 82-game season, it’s important for a coach to remain consistent with his message. Over the duration of a 60-minute game, that message is tailored around the team’s performance. Moments and situations elicit when a coach should be bold with his words or more reserved.

Judging by his manner and behavior behind the bench, Hakstol’s barometer rarely tilts one way or the other, and the team has seemingly taken on the personality of its coach, especially at times when urgency is required.

“It’s got to be the same this time of year,” Hakstol said when asked about the team’s mindset following a 5-1 loss. “It’s never as bad you think and it’s never as good as you think. Address the issues, be direct about it, fix them and move forward.”

However, the Flyers are now 27th in the league when trailing after the first period and 25th when trailing after two periods. Against the Penguins and Rangers, the Flyers gave themselves no chance at forcing overtime when every single point matters right now, especially against the two teams they’re chasing in the wild-card standings.      

Hakstol can attempt to correct X's and O’s, but at some point, his decision-making and ability to put his finger on the pulse of his team will become an X-factor.