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Olympic hockey: Group B breakdown 02.16.10 at 1:55 pm ET
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Continuing to break down the Olympic hockey rosters, Group B looks like the deepest of the three groups. Russia is the standout favorite while the Czech Republic and Slovakia field strong teams. The joke about the group is that if the Czechs and Slovaks were still one country (Czechoslovakia) then it would be a powerhouse. Of course, that is not the case. Latvia will will attempt to fight for respectability.

Note: After the preliminary round, each of the 12 teams will be ranked on the basis of points. The top four teams advance to the quarterfinals, with the remaining teams playing to advance.

Schedule (All times ET)

Feb. 16 — Russia vs. Latvia, midnight

Feb. 17 — Czech Republic vs. Slovakia, midnight

Feb. 18 — Russia vs. Slovakia, midnight

Feb. 19 — Czech Republic vs. Latvia, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 20 — Latvia vs. Slovakia, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 21 — Russia vs. Czech Republic, 3 p.m.

Russia

Captain — Aleksey Marozov

Assistants — Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk

Goaltenders — Evgeni Nobokov, Ilya Bryzgalov, Semyom Varlamov

Players to Watch — Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Sergei Fedorov

Breakdown — Malkin, Ovechkin and Datsyuk all were finalists for the NHL’s Hart Trophy last year as the league MVP. That is about as impressive of a trio as it gets in Vancouver. The Russians have scoring power to spare but could use a top-flight goaltender to cover the back end. Nobokov is a good, serviceable NHL goaltender but he is never going to be confused with Patrick Roy. The matchup nightmare comes as the Russians roll out line after line of great goal-scorers (Kovalchuk, Ovechkin) mixed with good set-up men (Malkin). Expect the Russians to have a say in the medal rounds.

Czech Republic

Captain — Patrick Elias

Assistants — Tomas Kaberle, Jaromir Jagr

Goaltenders — Tomas Vokoun, Jakub Stepanek, Ondrej Pavelec

Players to Watch — Jagr, Vokoun, Milan Michalek

Bruins on the roster — David Krejci

Breakdown — The Greatest Show on Ice returns to North America. That, of course, means Jagr. Now plying his wares in the KHL, Jagr is one of the top five greatest players of the last 20 years and can still skate well. It will be interesting to watch him take on NHL talent again, and Group B is full of it. Krejci is an interesting member of this team and likely will serve as a second- or third-line center to try to set up Michalek and company. For the Czechs to be there in the end, it will come down to Vokoun. The backstop has played well for a bad Florida Panthers team this year and probably will appreciate having some talent in front of him for once.

Slovakia

Captain — Zdeno Chara

Assistants — Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra

Goaltenders — Jaroslav Halak, Peter Budaj, Rastislav Stana

Players to Watch — Chara, Halak, Marian Hossa, Miroslav Satan

Bruins on roster — Chara, Satan

Breakdown — The strength will be in the defense, with Chara leading the way in front of Halak or Budaj. Milan Jurcina and Andrej Sekera give the Slovakians decent depth on the blue line. The Czechs probably are a little bit deeper overall, but this is a second-tier team that could turn some heads if Hossa gets hot and one of the goaltenders can sustain a roll. Satan will play a part, but do not expect him to carry the team.

Latvia

Captain — Karlis Skrastins

Assistants — Herberts Vasiljevs, Aleksandrs Nizivijs

Goaltenders — Ervins Mustukovs, Sergejs Naumovs, Edgars Masalskis

Players to Watch — Skrastins, Oskars Bartulis, Martins Karsums

(Former) Bruins on the roster — Karsums

Breakdown — Latvia is better known as Dinamo Riga of the KHL. Fifteen players from Dinamo Riga are on the Latvian roster, including Karsums, who was assigned to HC MVD of the KHL from the Tampa Bay Lightning AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals but did not join the team and instead went to Dinamo. Bartulis and Skrastins are both defensemen and the only Latvian players currently on NHL rosters (Flyers and Stars, respectively). Latvia has never finished higher than ninth in any international competition and should get handled easily by the other three teams in the group.

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A look back at the Recchi deadline deal 02.11.10 at 9:56 am ET
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The trade rumors are flying thick across the NHL. Will Peter Chiarelli trade Tim Thomas? Does the general manager make a move for a move’s sake to shake things up? Whatever happens during the Olympic break, there will be no shortage of ink spilled what may, or may not, happen by the March 3 deadline.

The Bruins are in Tampa for Thursday’s game against the Lightning and it is worth taking a look at last year’s deadline deal that brought a Lightning player to Boston to spark the Bruins during the stretch run.

That player, of course, is veteran forward Mark Recchi.

Chiarelli brought Recchi and a 2010 second round pick to Boston last year for prospect forward Martins Karsums and defenseman Matt Lashoff.

Recchi was a cannonball for the Bruins through 18 regular season games last year. He had 10 goals and six assists down the stretch and provided a good model for the young players on the roster as he played smart with the puck and had the experience and timing to camp out in from of the goal and create chances on just about every shift. When asked about the nature of Recchi’s game heading into the playoffs former Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward laughed and said, “what can you say? He’s the ‘Recch-ing Ball.’”

Recchi added another three goals and three assists in the Bruins 11 playoff games even though it was reported that he was dealing with kidney stones towards the end of the playoff series against Carolina.

This season Recchi is not setting the world on fire with 11 goals and 18 assists through 58 games but is productive enough to justify putting him on the third line with Patrice Bergeron and (usually) Daniel Paille. At $1.7 million cap hit Recchi is not a drain on the Bruins salary cap and his stability during a season that has seen Milan Lucic and Marc Savard miss significant time with injuries has been a boon to the Boston roster.

Given Recchi’s production, was it worth giving up the two prospects and a draft pick for a year-and-a-quarter of the veteran’s presence?

Indisputably, the answer is yes.

The consensus at the time of the trade was that Lashoff, once the top blue liner in the Bruins system, had been jumped on the depth chart by Matt Hunwick and would soon be eclipsed by Johnny Boychuk. The thinking proved prescient as both Hunwick and Boychuk are reasonably productive members of Boston’s defensive corps and Lashoff is languishing in the AHL with the Norfolk Admirals.

Even on that level Lashoff has not performed well with five goals and eight assists for 13 points and an astonishing plus/minus of -20 through 46 games. Throw in 63 penalty minutes and it does not look like Lashoff will be breaking down the door in Tampa in the foreseeable future.

Karsums has been disappointing as well. Through 36 games with Norfolk he tallied four goals and 12 assists and a plus/minus of 1. On Jan. 14 he was assigned from Norfolk to HC MVD Balashikha of the Kontinental Hockey League. So, now that Karsums is plying his wares in Russia, a return to the NHL anytime soon does not look likely. Good news for the forward? He was named to Team Latvia for the upcoming Olympic games.

The bonus is the second round draft pick this summer. With the Lightning’s pick the Bruins have picks to burn through the next two years. If you consider Lashoff and Karsums extra pieces from the Bruins organization that were essentially a wash then the ability to bring in Recchi and a draft pick looks like a steal in both the short term and the long term.

UPDATE — The commenter is right. The 2010 second round draft pick indeed does go to the Bruins and not the other way around. The story has been changed accordingly.

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A first taste… 12.14.08 at 10:24 am ET
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Martins Karsums made his NHL debut on Saturday night, playing with Vladimir Sobotka and Shawn Thornton on the Bruins fourth line. He was Boston’s second round pick in 2004. In the Juniors, he was a star for the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL (see the highlight clips below).

The 22-year-old right wing played eight minutes, 52 seconds, 10 shifts while blocking a shot and doling out two hits. But he did enough to impress coach Claude Julien on Saturday before being sent back down to Providence after the game.

“I thought he was good tonight. To me, he almost had a couple of goals there. He had two real good chances to score,” Julien said.

Julien was asked if the team was sending him back down immediately.

“Have they announced that yet? Whether we’re going to keep him or not? Well, he’s going back. That’s the official announcement from the coach,” Julien said.

But don’t be surprised if Karsums get another chance in the not-too-distant future.

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