When someone as important to the Dallas Stars as Kari Lehtonen gets injured at the World Championships, one of the questions that almost always follows is why send the NHL players over to the tournament in the first place?
A big part of the answer is the importance of international hockey to the European players. There's a reason that, health and NHL playoffs allowing, the best Swedish, Finnish, Russian and Czech players are mainstays at the tournaments even if the top Americans and Canadians aren't.
But from an NHL club standpoint, playing in a short-term tournament with the WCs with so many must-win games is a decent substitute for Stanley Cup playoff experience. When a player like Jamie Benn has never made it to the NHL post-season, at least he is getting the experience of single-elimination games somewhere, as Mike Heika details in this blog post.
``It's great,'' (Stars general manager Joe) Nieuwendyk said. ``A player like Loui Eriksson, he really is becoming one of the leaders for his country. Goose is doing the same for the U.S. Kari, he's playing in a pressure-cooker over there, because every game is big for Finland. That's great experience.''
The Stanley Cup playoffs are all about how you react to winning and losing. Watch a few rounds, and you'll see the teams that survive are the ones who learn from the losses.
Pool play at the tournament ends Tuesday and the elimination rounds start Thursday.
- One of the last cuts from the NHL squad at training camp, Colton Sceviour got off to a bit of a slow start in the AHL but came on strong at the end of the year. [ESPN Dallas]
- Ready to crank up your rumor mill? The Stars are rumored to be among the teams interested in the contract negotiations between the Nashville Predators and Ryan Suter. [The Fourth Period]
- Heika explores the longer-term implications of the four former Dallas Stars getting involved with the Allen Americans in this paywalled article. [DallasNews.com]
- Finland was rolling along just fine at the World Championships until the last two games, and their slump hit an apex Sunday with a 5-0 loss to the United States. No word on Kari Lehtonen and what his apparent lower-body injury was. [NHL.com]
- Some of the final Stars prospects in action this season had their season end last weekend. Jamie Oleksiak and Brett Ritchie got the Niagra IceDogs to the OHL Finals but not beyond as they lost 4 games to 1 to the London Knights. [ESPN Dallas]
- Jonathan Quick came out on the right side in the Game 1 battle, but he did have a very embarrassing gaffe along the way. [Puck Daddy]
- This article talks about the likelihood of this Stanley Cup being hoisted by an American-born captain for the first time since Derian Hatcher did it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Hatcher is still the only American-born captain of a Cup-winner, yes? [SB Nation]
- I miss Ilya Bryzgalov and his crazy Russian accented quote machine already. [Backhand Shelf]
- Todd over at Thursday Morning Cupcheck has a transcript of all that went on in that Helsinki nightclub involving Jamie Benn. [Thursday Morning Cupcheck]
- Mike Modano calls in from a wind tunnel to talk about getting involved with the Allen Americans with the guys on NHL Live.