Tag Archives: Raty

February 20 – Day 132 – Bronze OAR fourth for the Finns?

Tuesdays are usually chock full of action, and that’s definitely true today with the Olympics still in full swing. In total, there’s 14 tilts eligible for the distinct honor of being named DtFR’s Game of the Day.

We start with the Olympics. The rest of the men’s quarterfinals are slated to be played this morning at 7:10 a.m. Eastern time. Finland squares off against host South Korea for a chance to  play Canada, and Sweden awaits the winner of Switzerland vs. Germany.

In NHL action, there’s nine games to be played this fine evening, starting with four (Florida at Toronto, Columbus at New Jersey, Montréal at Philadelphia [RDS/TSN2] and Tampa Bay at Washington [TVAS]) at 7 p.m. and Nashville at Detroit half an hour later. Next up are two puck drops scheduled for 8 p.m. (San Jose at St. Louis and Los Angeles at Winnipeg), with Boston at Edmonton waiting an hour before getting underway. Finally, Colorado at Vancouver completes the night’s action at 10 p.m. All times Eastern.

But wait, there’s still more hockey on today’s schedule, as there’s three games yet to be played in PyeongChang. The Czech Republic will play Team USA at 10:10 p.m. in the men’s quarterfinals, followed by the OAR vs. the winner of last night’s Slovenia-Norway match at 2:40 a.m. Also at 2:40 a.m. is the women’s bronze medal game between Finland and the OAR. All times Eastern.

Beyond the Olympic games – all of which are important – I’m most drawn to the activity in Missouri due to the Blues and Sharks being tied at 72 points apiece. However, which game do we ultimately go with?

Since medals are being handed out in the wee hours of the morning, it’s hard to ignore the Olympics. Let’s head over to Kwandong Hockey Centre to see how this game goes down!

 

Before we get underway, it should be pointed out that all stats were collected before the fifth-place game between Switzerland and Japan. The potential for either team to fall above or behind Finland and/or the OAR in a given statistic is slim, but still mathematically possible.

By simply looking at statistics, the loser of this game seems to be abundantly clear. The Olympic Athletes from Russia had a terrible group stage, losing all three games in Group A with a combined goal-differential of -14 (eclipsed only by Korea’s -19 in its opening three tilts). While the OAR did manage to upset Switzerland 6-2 in the quarterfinals, they were swiftly knocked out of gold medal contention in the semifinals by losing a 5-0 to the Canadians.

The OAR rank seventh out of eight teams in the three statistics I consider most important in determining the quality of a team: goals per game, goals against per game and shots against per game.

Offensively, Большая красная машина – The Big Red Machine – has averaged only 1.4 goals per game. They have only one weapon of any real significance in F Anna Shokhina, as she’s scored three of the OAR’s seven goals en route to 3-2-5 totals for the tournament.

Make sure you read that correctly: Shokhina has five points, while the OAR have only seven goals to their credit for the entire tournament. To keep a long story short, the OAR are effectively helpless when she’s not on the ice.

Allowing 40.2 shots against per game, the defense has been no better than the offense in The Big Red Machine’s first five games. That’s made life exceedingly difficult for G Nadezhda Morozova, and she may have stolen the only game she could against the Swiss. Morozova has posted a measly .889 save percentage for the tournament, which doesn’t pair well with her 3.98 GAA. Those defensive efforts combine for the OAR allowing 4.4 goals against per game.

Meanwhile, Finland has simply fallen victim to the fate that befalls almost every national women’s hockey team in the world during the Olympics: it’s not from North America. With the exception of games against the United States and Canada, the Naisleijonat – Lady Lions – have earned two victories in two tries.

However, in tournaments with only eight teams, squaring off against the two best squads in the world is unavoidable, hence the reason Finland finds itself playing only for bronze.

The Finns’ biggest strength is almost certainly their attack, as the 2.8 goals they average per game is the fifth-best of all eight teams at the Olympics. The Lady Lions’ brightest star has been first-liner F Riikka Valila with her 4-1-5 totals, but linemate F Michelle Karvinen has also been stellar with her 3-2-5 marks. Both have averaged a point-per-game this tournament and show no signs of slowing down.

Naisleijonat isn’t quite as spectacular on the defensive end having allowed a third-worst 31.6 shots against per game, but they’ve been more than bailed out by the solid play of G Noora Raty. She’s posted a .911 save percentage in her 295:25 of action, good enough for a 2.84 GAA. As such, Finland allows an average of only 2.8 goals against per game.

It was only six days ago that these teams last saw each other in Group A play, and it’s a tilt the OAR would much rather forget. Led by a dominant two-goal performance by Karvinen, Finland easily handled the OAR to a 5-1 victory.

Of course, that game counted only for seeding. With hardware on the line and a victory against Switzerland under their belt, I expect a much better showing from the OAR.

However, don’t misread that and think I’m picking the OAR to win this game. Finland is far and away the superior team in this match, and they look to be an almost certain lock for their third Olympic bronze medal.


Team USA turned on the jets in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day, as the Americans beat Slovakia 5-1 at Gangneung Hockey Centre in the qualification round of the men’s Olympic tournament to advance to a quarterfinal matchup against the Czech Republic.

Team USA was the first to get on the board, but they didn’t score until the 1:36 mark of the second period. F Troy Terry (a fifth-round pick by the Ducks in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft) drove through the center of the zone for a solid scoring opportunity, but he did too much and slid his backhanded shot past the goal post and into the boards. The loose puck bounced back above the goal line, eventually ending up on Bruins prospect F Ryan Donato’s (D Matt Gilroy and Terry) stick for him to beat G Jan Laco to the far post.

Arguably the biggest event of the game occurred only 26 seconds later. F Ladislav Nagy ended up in G Ryan Zapolski’s crease, making contact leaving Zapolski with an injury to his left knee. Before play was stopped, another D Michal Cajkovsky hit Donato in the head with his shoulder, drawing blood. Much to backup G Brandon Maxwell’s chagrin, neither player’s ailments took them out of action. However, Cajkovsky did earn himself a 25-minute match penalty, removing him from play.

That whole sequence left Team USA with a five-on-three advantage, which they converted into a goal only 17 seconds later. Doing his best W Alex Ovechkin impression, D James Wisniewski (Terry) one-timed a slap shot from the left face-off circle to beat Laco for what proved to be the game-winning goal. F Mark Arcobello set the score at 3-0 with 6:30 remaining in the frame by flipping a snap shot past Laco’s glove.

Slovakia finally found a goal with 3:06 remaining in the second. with  F Jordan Greenway (a second-round pick by the Wild in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft) in the penalty box for slashing and F Tomas Surovy acting as a screen, D Peter Ceresnak (D Dominik Granak and Nagy) ripped a slap shot from the blue line to pull the Slovaks back within a 3-1 deficit.

A little bit of tic-tac-goal is what led to Team USA’s fourth goal of the game, probably the prettiest tally I’ve seen at this tournament. F Broc Little slid a one-touch pass right across Laco’s crease, setting up F Garrett Roe (Little and F Brian O’Neill) to elevate his shot over the netminder’s right pad. To keep with tradition of scoring two goals against Slovakia, Donato (Wisniewski) scored the Americans’ last goal, setting the 5-1 final score and locking up a date with the Czechs.

Zapolski earned the victory after saving 22-of-23 shots faced (.957 save percentage), leaving the loss to Laco, who saved 28-of-33 (.848).

That’s four-straight wins by teams officially designated the road team at the Olympics in the DtFR Game of the Day series. As such, the visitors have pulled within 18 points of the 70-45-17 hosts.

February 16 – Day 128 – Scandinavian showdown

Happy Friday! Settle in and catch up on some puck this weekend.

Like we’ve been doing all week, the day’s action begins at 7:10 a.m. Eastern time in South Korea with Group C play of the men’s Olympic tournament. The Finns are squaring off against Norway and group-leading Sweden is taking on the Germans.

Back on our side of the Pacific Ocean, four games have been scheduled for our viewing pleasure, all starting half an hour after the game before them. We start with Philadelphia at Columbus (TVAS) at 7 p.m., trailed by and the New York Islanders at Carolina half an hour later. Colorado at Winnipeg follows suit at 8 p.m., while tonight’s nightcap – St. Louis at Dallas (NHLN) – finds an early 8:30 p.m. start. All times Eastern.

Back at the Olympics, we have two games scheduled for 10:10 p.m. One involves the Canadian men taking on the Czech Republic, but the most important of that time slot is the OAR vs. Switzerland in the women’s quarterfinals. Similarly, two final games are slated for 2:40 a.m. Saturday morning, one involving Finland vs. Sweden in the other women’s quarterfinal and South Korea vs. Switzerland in men’s group play. All times Eastern.

What a tough selection. There’s at least two big NHL games today (I’d argue that all four are important, but I’ll let you be the judge), while I expect the Scandinavian women’s quarterfinal to be a closely contested match.

Since no teams are getting eliminated from contention today in the NHL, I think we have to hone in on the Olympic playoff game. Off to PyeongChang!

 

If only DtFR got airline miles for the Game of the Day series… I could have a really nice vacation this summer. Time to take the European tennis tour I’ve always dreamed of!

Between these two teams, Sweden easily looked the better of the two in the group stage. Damkronorna‘s (the Lady Crowns) offense ranked (t)second-best at the Olympics by averaging 3.67 goals per game, while their defense allowed an average of only one goal against in their three showings – the (t)third-best effort in PyeongChang.

Offensively, the Lady Crowns are led by the indomitable F Pernilla Winberg, who has posted wildly impressive 2-1-3 totals in her first three showings. However, she’s not the only one averaging a point per game, as D Elin Lundberg (1-2-3), F Fanny Rask (1-2-3) and F Erika Grahm (0-3-3) are all matching her in that effort. In total, 16 of Sweden’s 20 skaters have found their way onto the scorecard, an impressive total given only three games have been played.

The Lady Crowns have also been an imposing presence in their own zone. Though the Swedish defense did allow 32.33 shots against-per-game in the group stage (third-worst among the six teams to advance to the knockout round), they’ve had the distinct luxury of G Sara Grahn dominating her crease to keep opposing offenses at bay.

With the exception of leaving the ice for 62 seconds against Switzerland to make way for a sixth skater, Grahn has been involved in every second of Sweden’s three opening games – and with good reason. Posting one shutout and allowing only one even-strength goal, she’s posted an impressive .969 save percentage and 1.01 GAA.

Meanwhile, Finland enters this game as the third place team from Group A play having earned a 1-0-0-2 record (1-2-0 if you want to put it in NHL format).

Statistically, Naisleijonat looks to be the second-worst team of the six that qualified for the knockout round. Their 2.33 goals per game, 2.67 goals against per game and 33 shots allowed per game are all superior to only the OAR, the very team they beat on the last day of group play.

Offensively, the Finns are led by a trio of skaters averaging a point per game. Of those, F Michelle  Karvinen and F Riikka Valila have been most impressive with their 2-1-3 totals, but F Petra Nieminen has also been solid with her 1-2-3 effort.

As for the defensive end, the Lady Lions’ leader in net is none other than G Noora Raty, who started all three of Finland’s group stage games. Though she’s allowed seven total goals in her three appearances, it’s been largely because her defense has been trying to bolster their applications for Swiss passports (it’s a long-winded Swiss cheese joke) by allowing so many shots. Given the pressure, Raty has actually performed fairly well, posting a solid .929 save percentage and 2.39 GAA.

Now that all those numbers are out of the way, we almost need to entirely throw them out the window.

Wait, what?

We need to remember something about the characters of the two very different groups from which these teams came. Sverige – that’s Swedish for “Sweden” – had the luxury of playing against the Japanese and Koreans in Group B, two teams that did not challenge Damkronorna whatsoever but allowed them to inflate their numbers. That was made very apparent when Sweden and Switzerland squared off, as the Swiss were able to pull off a tight 2-1 victory with only 8:32 remaining in regulation, due largely to the fact that Grahm’s tripping penalty cost Sweden the game-winning power play goal.

Meanwhile, as one of the top-four ranked teams in the world, Naisleijonat was thrust into the unenviable position of being in Group A with Teams USA and Canada. Against those powerhouses, the Lady Lions struggled mightily, scoring one goal apiece against either side. However, Suomi – you guessed it, it’s “Finland” in Finnish – showcased why it had earned its world rank by dominating the Olympic Athletes from Russia to a 5-1 victory, leading many, or at least me, to think that they are a far better side than the North Americans allowed them to seem.

Long story short, I think it’s safe to say that the Finns and Swedes are a better, more competitive matchup than they’ve seen for most of the tournament. While their statistics from the group stage might highlight either team’s particular strengths and weakness, I don’t think we should expect either team to have such a distinctly pronounced advantage over the other.

Finland’s very real chance at beating Sweden is made no more apparent than the last three results between them, as it’s the Lady Lions that swept the Lady Crowns at the 2017 Four Nations Cup. In the group stage of that tournament, the Finns beat the Swedes 3-1, followed by a 2-1 overtime victory in the third-place game. Going back even further, Finland posted a dominant 4-0 victory over Sweden in the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship quarterfinals.

Keeping in mind these recent results, I think I have to lean towards Finland taking this game. However, I’m not 100 percent confident in that pick, as Sweden, even though it lost, had a solid showing against Switzerland and is more than capable of holding its own against its Scandinavian neighbor.

Whichever team wins this game will lock itself into a matchup with the United States of America in the semifinals. Additionally, qualifying for the semifinals ensures a team the shot at a medal, whether it be the Olympic Finals or the Bronze Medal Game.


With a three-point performance by First Star of the Game C Nico Hischier, the New Jersey Devils beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 at Prudential Center in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

Two goals were struck in the first period, but fans that left their seats to get a jump on first intermission concessions wouldn’t have known it. With 2:40 remaining in the frame, F Jeff Skinner (C Victor Rask and RW Justin Williams) broke the scoreless tie with a wrist shot, but Jersey drew even only 2:21 later with a snap shot from Third Star D Damon Severson (Hischier).

It took far less time to find the first marker of the second period, and it was in this frame that the game-winning goal was struck. Second Star RW Stefan Noesen (C Travis Zajac and LW Miles Wood) broke the draw at the 6:48 mark, but just like in the first period, the game was tied once again soon after. Only 55 seconds after the horn stopped blaring for Noesen, D Brett Pesce (D Jaccob Slavin and Williams) scored his third goal of the season to pull the Canes back even.

The game-winning goal belonged to W Kyle Palmieri (Hischier and D John Moore), a wrister struck with 2:32 remaining in the second period. It was one of those second chance goals, as Hischier somehow lost control of an attempted wrap-around shot in G Scott Darling‘s crease. However, with Darling already committed to saving that attempt, it left Palmieri with the opportunity to beat Darling five-hole.

The Devils continued to apply pressure in the third period, scoring two goals in the ninth minute to set the 5-2 final score. Hischier (F Taylor Hall and G Keith Kinkaid) and Noesen (Severson) provided the insurance tallies.

Kinkaid earned the victory after saving 27-of-29 shots faced (.931 save percentage), leaving the loss to Darling, who stopped 17-of-22 (.773).

Home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series are reestablishing their dominance lately, as they’ve earned points in three-consecutive games. As such, they’ve improved their record to 70-41-17, giving them a 26-point advantage over the roadies.

February 12 – Day 124 – Welcome to South Korea

Since I did this last Monday, I suppose I’ll do it again today: including today, there’s only 15 days until the NHL Trade Deadline. Be on your toes, because things are going to start happening before you know it.

As we’ve been doing since the Olympics began, we started today’s action at 7:10 a.m. Eastern time in PyeongChang when fifth-ranked Sweden took on the host unified Korean women’s team. The visiting Swedes showed no mercy, as they dominated Korea to an 8-0 victory. That will set up a Group B-determining game between Sweden and Switzerland tomorrow.

Back home in the NHL, there’s three games on the schedule, starting with Tampa Bay at Toronto (NHLN/TVAS) at 7 p.m. Eastern time. Tonight’s co-nightcaps – Florida at Edmonton and Chicago at Arizona – drop the puck two hours later to close out the evening.

Lastly, we’ll include the first of two games going down in Group A of the women’s Olympic tournament before the sun comes up on North America’s east coast. Second-ranked Canada is taking on third-ranked Finland at 2:40 a.m. Eastern time.

Here’s the list of games that are drawing my attention:

  • Sweden vs. Korea: It’s the Koreans’ second chance to defend home ice. Can they do it?
  • Chicago at Arizona: W Anthony Duclair was part of the Coyotes’ future… until he was traded to the Blackhawks last month.
  • Canada vs. Finland: Another regulation win by the Canadians would earn them a bye into the semifinals of the knockout round.

You’ll notice I didn’t include the Atlantic Division game between the Bolts and Leafs. Considering we’ve featured those teams a combined three times in the past eight days, I think we can let some of the other teams have a turn.

Did I sound like your kindergarten teacher there?

Anyways, of our remaining tilts, there’s only one is worthy of Game of the Day honors. Grab your coffee – and tune your TV to NBCSN if you’re in the United States – because we’re staying up late!

 

Oh boy, the first time the DtFR Game of the Day series has featured something outside the NHL!

After only one game played apiece by the teams in Group A, Team Canada comes into tonight’s fixture in first place. Though they’re tied with Team USA in the points category, Canada’s +5 goal-differential is three tallies superior to the effort of the Americans.

As the numbers currently stand right now (again, there’s only been six games played at the Olympics so far), Canada is employing the tournament’s second best offense by scoring five goals in one game (Switzerland is leading the way in offensive production by averaging 5.5 goals per game).

Leading that charge is none other than F Rebecca Johnston, who scored two of Canada’s goals – including the game-winner at the 1:55 mark of the second period – and provided an assist on a third against the Olympic Athletes from Russia.

F Marie-Philip Poulin (the Sidney Crosby of women’s hockey according to the CBC in 2010) was also very successful in that opening bout, as the captain provided three assists. Of those assists, two were for Canadian sniper F Melodie Daoust, who matched Johnston’s goal-scoring effort by burying two of her three shots.

Though she only has assists to her name right now, don’t think that Poulin isn’t willing to make her own plays. After all, she scored the gold medal-winning goal in both the 2010 Vancouver and the 2014 Sochi Games – not to mention the game-tying goal in Sochi as well.

Of note, the Canadian’s power play seems fully capable of taking advantage of any uneven scenarios. They managed to score on two of their seven power plays for a 28.6 percent success rate, the second-best at the Olympics.

Defensively, the Canadians are no slouches either, as they held the OAR to only 18 shots on goal – all of which were saved by G Ann-Renee Desbiens.

Meanwhile, third place Finland had its hands full against the United States in their first showing at these Olympic Games. Though the Finns scored the first goal of the game with six ticks left on the first period clock, the Americans stormed back to take a 3-1 victory.

F Venla Hovi scored that goal with assists from F Petra Nieminen and F Linda Valimaki, and that top line – not to mention the other three – will need to perform even better for a chance to beat Canada.

Of course, almost every Finnish national team of either sex has had some of the best goaltending in the world at its disposal, and that looks to be the same for this year’s women’s side. Although she ended up with the loss, G Noora Raty performed solidly against the Americans, saving 39-of-41 for a .951 save percentage. With eight different Canadians finding the scorecard in their opening match, Raty will be front and center this evening.

The last time Canada and Finland squared off was November 10, 2017 in the Four Nations Cup in Wesley Chapel, Fla. Canada dominated that game to a 4-0 victory. Both Meghan Agosta (0-2-2) and Poulin (1-1-2) registered two points apiece, and G Genevieve Lacasse posted the eight-save shutout. Raty saved 24-of-28 (.857 save percentage) in the loss.

Considering the Canadians are riding a two-game winning streak against Finland, it’s hard to imagine the Naiseleijonat pulling off the upset. Canada’s defense limiting the Lady Lions to only eight shots in their last meeting is very telling, and I predict a similar showing tonight.


Having trailed 2-0 in the third period, the San Jose Sharks came back to beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 after a shootout at Honda Center in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

The first of Anaheim’s goals was struck only 2:39 into the game. With his 15th marker of the season, Second Star of the Game RW Ondrej Kase (C Adam Henrique and LW Nick Ritchie) took credit with a snap shot.

The Ducks’ final goal of the match wasn’t registered until the 6:28 mark of the third period, scored by a D Cam Fowler (Kase and Ritchie) wrist shot. San Jose’s comeback began 4:28 later courtesy of a F Logan Couture (F Tomas Hertl and D Marc-Edouard Vlasic) slap shot, but it didn’t level the game at 2-2 until only 54 seconds remained in regulation. With G Martin Jones pulled for the extra attacker, First Star W Timo Meier (Couture and D Brent Burns) buried a tip-in to force what proved to be a scoreless three-on-three overtime.

That forced yet another shootout in the series between these two teams this season, their third in four meetings. As hosts, the Ducks had the option of shooting first or second…

  1. Head Coach Randy Carlyle elected to shoot first, sending Henrique to center ice. His clapper was saved by Jones.
  2. F Joe Pavelski had the opportunity to earn an early shootout lead, and he did just that by sneaking his shot past Third Star G John Gibson.
  3. Having scored a team-leading 22 goals on the season, F Rickard Rakell seemed like a logical choice to keep Anaheim alive in the shootout. Unfortunately, his attempt found iron instead of the net, giving the Sharks a make-to-win situation.
  4. Who else to take such an opportunity than Couture? He added to his two-point night by winning the game with the final shootout goal.

Jones earned the victory after saving 25-of-27 shots faced (.926 save percentage), leaving the shootout loss to Gibson, who saved 33-of-35 (.949).

The Sharks’ victory means road teams in the DtFR Game of the Day have earned at least a point in four of the last five games. As such, the roadies have pulled within 25 points of the 68-40-16 hosts.