Share this article

print logo

The Wraparound: Four Sabres in world quarters; HBK brings in HBK; Blues changing it up

It's win or go home at the world championships.

Four Sabres have advanced to Thursday's quarterfinals in Russia. Jake McCabe, Hudson Fasching and the United States will play Czechia at 9:15 a.m. on NBCSN. Ryan O'Reilly, Sam Reinhart and Canada will take on Sweden at 1:15 p.m. on NBCSN.

The Americans went 3-4 in the preliminary round. McCabe had one goal and one assist while skating 16:15 during his five games. He missed two with an injury. The 20-year-old Fasching has one assist while skating 8:20, the lowest average on the team.

Canada went 6-1 in the preliminaries. O'Reilly has two goals and four assists while skating 16:44 per game. Reinhart has two assists while skating just 6:08 as a fourth-line extra, but it appears he'll get a bump up the lineup Thursday.

The other quarterfinals feature Russia against Germany and Finland versus Denmark. The semifinals are Saturday, with the final Sunday.


So how's Phil Kessel feeling?

The oft-maligned winger had a goal and assist Wednesday night as Pittsburgh dropped Tampa Bay, 4-2, to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference final. Sidney Crosby scored with 9:50 left to put the Penguins up, 3-2.

Kessel, run out of Toronto, is third in playoff scoring with 16 points, including seven goals, in 14 games. He's apparently in good shape and in need of a mint.

The success of Kessel and linemates Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino -- known as the HBK line -- has created a new hockey fan. WWE Hall of Fame wrestler Shawn Michaels -- known as HBK for Heartbreak Kid -- has climbed aboard the Pens' bandwagon.

The Penguins had a 48-28 shot advantage Thursday.


St. Louis could have a different look in Game Three of the Western Conference final Thursday night (9 p.m., NBCSN). San Jose, which tied the series, 1-1, will host the next two.

Steve Ott, who took a questionable penalty in Game Two, could return to the sidelines.

"I think changing your lineup has a real impact," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "There can't be any emotion in the coaches' decisions at this time. You have to do what's best for your team. One of the greatest things we've had going through injuries is flexibility. That's really helped us in the playoffs.

"You put the numbers up on the board and guys haven't gotten all shook up because they're on different lines because they've played on those lines before. ... I don't know if we've been lucky or we've been experienced, but we've made adjustments all playoffs and every one of them has worked. We're probably going to have to make a few more."

There are no comments - be the first to comment