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Lammikko Joins Finland At Worlds; Ekman-Larsson Named Sweden's Captain

May 13, 2022, 1:50 PM ET [309 Comments]
Carol Schram
Vancouver Canucks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Well, ESPN and TNT are getting maximum value out of the first round of the playoffs in the first season of their new U.S. TV deal.

I liked the playoffs starting on a Monday this year, instead of the usual Wednesday. I felt like the intrigue had already ramped up by Games 3 and 4, last weekend.

I also love the fact that the scheduling has been consistent, with games every two days in basically the same timeslots. The staggered start times are also outstanding. For someone like me, who tries to watch every series, this has made things much easier to follow. I would think the teams appreciate it too.

And now, the networks get the payoff. We're into the second weekend, with six of eight series still to be settled. The highest stakes, on the biggest platforms.

Pittsburgh, Florida and Calgary will try to clinch in their Game 6s on Friday night. Any team that doesn't, I presume, will play a Game 7 on Sunday.

St. Louis was the only team to close out its series on Thursday night. So, Boston and Carolina, Tampa Bay and Toronto and Los Angeles and Edmonton will all play Game 7s on Saturday.

Last year, we had two Game 7s — Montreal/Toronto and Minnesota/Vegas. Three series finished in six games, one in five, and there were two sweeps. So despite all the hand-wringing about too many blowout games last week, we've been served up a pretty tasty platter of suspense and excitement so far.

As far as my bracket goes — so far, so good. But that could change dramatically by the end of the weekend.

Next up on the agenda, we have morning hockey back on TV for the next two weeks, as the World Championship gets underway from Finland on Friday.

We've got another late-breaking addition to the festivities, as Juho Lammikko has joined Team Finland.

Lammikko is a restricted free agent this summer, which makes his participation a little unusual. Players without contracts for next season are often reluctant to suit up in the tournament, due to the risk of a possible injury.

But I guess the lure of playing for his country on home soil in Finland was too much to resist. He got to do that in 2016, as part of that star-laden Finnish World Junior team that also included players like Sebastian Aho, Mikko Rantanen, Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi, Roope Hintz and — yes — Olli Juolevi.

At this year's tournament, the Finns are one of the favourites to win gold, following up on their Olympic championship from Beijing in February.

This will be Lammikko's second World Championship. He was also part of the squad that beat out Canada for gold in 2019 in Slovakia.

The Finns are opening their tournament on Friday morning, against Norway.

The other big Canucks news is that Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been named captain of Team Sweden.

He also wore the 'C' in 2019.

All told, this is Ekman-Larsson's seventh World Championship. He has two gold medals, from 2017 and 2018, and a silver from 2011.

Of course, the other player of interest on Sweden's roster is forward Linus Karlsson. In a new piece at The Athletic, Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report that the Canucks only retain Karlsson's signing rights until June 1, but say they believe that a two-year deal is "all but agreed to," and will be announced after Karlsson's duties with his national team are complete.

The gold-medal game is scheduled for May 29. Chances are, the earliest the Swedes would be finished would be the 26th, if they lost in their quarterfinal game.

You'll have to be up very early — or late — if you want to catch Sweden's tournament-opening game against Austria live. It goes Friday night/Saturday morning at 2:20 a.m. PT.

And speaking of June 1 deadlines, Rob Simpson of Vancouver Hockey Now was the first to get Bruce Boudreau on the phone this week. He has since made similar comments to other outlets, but here's the money quote:

"I’m just taking a breather here, the plan and desire is to come back."

Simpson — and others — have reported that a couple of details still need to be worked out, but those details do not involve money or the term of the contract. Coaching staff, perhaps?

EDIT: The Canucks announced late Friday morning that Boudreau will return next season.

Drance and Dhaliwal also mentioned that the Canucks have cleaned house this week in the human performance department, dismissing strength and conditioning director Roger Takahashi, head athletic trainer Jon Sanderson and assistant athletic therapist Dave Zarn.

According to the Canucks' off-season calendar, the club's pro scouting meetings are taking place this weekend, from Friday to Sunday.

Simpson says that "Boudreau hopes to nail down a couple of items with management next week and would like to have things settled within the next ten days if possible."

Finally — here's a fun edition of 'Canucks in Cars' with Tyler Myers and Luke Schenn. The two share memories of being drafted together in 2008, including their visit to Detroit to speak with Don Cherry at the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, and Schenn talks about how he drank champagne out of the Stanley Cup with a straw when his brother Brayden won the trophy in 2019 — thus, preserving his own opportunity to win twice with Tampa Bay.

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» Canucks hold 15th spot in 2022 Draft Lottery, Linus Karlsson to rep Sweden