Flyers, Avs add chemistry as Canada goes for world championship gold

Flyers, Avs dominate Canada's worlds squad

The Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado Avalanche didn’t make the NHL playoffs. Instead, they’ve set up shop on Team Canada.

Five Flyers and four Avalanche are on coach Jon Cooper’s squad for the IIHF world championship that opens Friday in Paris and Cologne, Germany.

“On the two power-play units especially, there’s one with nearly all Philadelphia players and the other with nearly all Colorado players,” defenceman Mike Matheson of the Florida Panthers said this week. “I think the coaches and management have done a good job of finding a group of guys who already have chemistry.

“That makes a difference in a short tournament.”

The Flyers are all forwards â€” Claude Giroux, who was named team captain, Wayne Simmonds, Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn. The Avalanche contingent includes goalie Calvin Pickard, defenceman Tyson Barrie and forwards Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon.

There are also three Winnipeg Jets in goalie Eric Comrie, defenceman Josh Morrissey and centre Mark Scheifele.

It may have helped that Canada’s general manager Ron Hextall is also GM in Philadelphia. 

Canada will be gunning for a third straight world championship gold medal at the 16-team tournament, after topping Finland 2-0 in last year’s final and going undefeated in 2015.

They look to have drawn the weaker of the two eight-team preliminary round groups.

They open Friday in Paris against the Czech Republic, followed by clashes with Slovenia, Belarus, France, Switzerland, Norway and Finland.

The United States, Sweden and Russia are in the Cologne-based group along with Germany, Latvia, Denmark, Slovakia and Italy.

The top four from each group advance to the quarter-finals on May 18. The semifinals are on May 20 in Cologne with the final a day later, also in the German city.

Canada dominated the Swiss 4-1 in their lone pre-tournament game on Tuesday in Geneva, outshooting them 41-17. Giroux and Simmonds each picked up a goal and an assist.

“It gives us a lot of confidence going into the tournament with the ability we have,” Matheson said after the game. “Switzerland has a very good team and they’ve had a long training camp to get ready.”

Chad Johnson of the Calgary Flames will likely be the starting goaltender, backed up by Pickard and Comrie, who spent most of the season with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.

The defence so far has Barrie, Morrissey, Matheson and his Panthers teammate Jason Demers, Calvin de Haan of the New York Islanders and Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks.

Besides the Philadelphia and Colorado players, a strong group of forwards includes Scheifele, Brayden Point and Alex Killorn of Cooper’s Tampa Bay Lightning, Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes and Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres.

Four players have already won a gold medal for Canada this season as Vlasic, Giroux, Duchene and O’Reilly played in the World Cup of Hockey in September. Couturier, MacKinnon and Scheifele played for Team North America in the World Cup. Vlasic and Duchene were also on Canada’s 2014 Olympic gold medal squad.

There are five players back from last year’s world championship gold medal team — Pickard, Matheson, Duchene, O’Reilly and Scheifele.

Copper’s assistants are Gerard Gallant, international hockey veteran Dave King and Dave Hakstol of the Flyers, who will get a look at half of his NHL squad at the world championship.

In the tournament opener, Flyers Radko Gudas and Jakub Voracek will play for the Czech Republic. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare plays for France, Valtteri Filppula for Finland and Ivan Provorov and Roman Lyubimov for Russia.

Other NHL players on the Czech side include goalie Petr Mrazek of the Detroit Red Wings and forwards Tomas Plekanec of the Montreal Canadiens and David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins.

Russia’s team is drawn mostly from the KHL, but has three Lightning players in goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and forwards Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov to go with Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Americans have 19 NHLers on coach Jeff Blashill’s 23-man roster including Jack Eichel of Buffalo, Dylan Larkin Detroit, Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and three Jets â€” Connor Hellebuyck, Jacob Trouba and Andrew Copp.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Stewart Taylor left a musical legacy behind

The Cranbrook musical community is mourning the passage of one of its central personalities

Kootenay Boundary swears in 7 new directors

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary swears in 7 new directors and 6 returning directors

More Kootenay-Columbia students for a third straight year

Enrolment across School District 20 is up 175 students since 2016

Stolen vintage motorcyle returned undamaged in Nakusp

The thieves were unable to start the antique racer and abandoned it in a vacant Nakusp garage

Trail Smoke Eaters grind out win over Vernon Vipers

Trail Smoke Eaters Kent Johnson scored the game winner in a 3-2 victory over the Vernon Vipers

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Sunrise ceremony at B.C. legislature honours Louis Riel

Nov. 16 marks the 133th anniversary of the Métis leader’s death

California wildfire death toll hits 63

Sheriff says hundreds still missing in nation’s deadliest wildfire

Harsh storms have nearly tripled power outages in last five years, BC Hydro says

More frequent and severe storms have damaged Hydro’s electrical systems since 2013

Trudeau to meet key Pacific trade partners at APEC leaders’ summit

Canada became one of the first six countries to ratify the CPTPP

Judge orders White House to return press pass to CNN’s Acosta

U.S. District Court Judge will decide on White House press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta

WikiLeaks chief could see charges, US court filing suggests

Charges against Julian Assange could help illuminate the question of whether Russia co-ordinated with the Trump campaign

Federal MPs denounce controversial Facebook post targeting Sajjan

Okanagan Conservatives apologize for controversial Facebook post

Canada has enough pipelines to get the moon

Pipelines totalling 840,000 kilometres run across Canada

Most Read