Posted On Wednesday, 06.11.2014 / 1:23 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014 Stanley Cup Final blog

Kings' Toffoli brushes nerves aside as Game 4 nears

NEW YORK -- Most of the players on the Los Angeles Kings roster slept well Tuesday night. After all, they've been in this position before, one win away from the Stanley Cup.

But when the Kings beat the New Jersey Devils for the championship in 2012, right wing Tyler Toffoli hadn't reached the NHL yet. He had just completed his final season of junior hockey, when he had 100 points (52 goals, 48 assists) in 65 games for the Ottawa 67's in the Ontario Hockey League.

This time around, Toffoli has played a huge role in the Kings' success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 22-year-old has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 24 games for Los Angeles, which can win the Cup with a victory in Game 4 against the New York Rangers on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

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Posted On Tuesday, 06.10.2014 / 4:38 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014 Stanley Cup Final blog

Kings recognize special opportunity in front of them

NEW YORK -- Many players, coaches and general managers go their entire career without reaching a Stanley Cup Final, let alone winning a championship.

But the Los Angeles Kings find themselves in the fortunate position of going for their second crown in three seasons when they face the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

It's a remarkable story being written by Los Angeles, which replaced coach Terry Murray with Darryl Sutter in December 2011, when it resided in 12th place in the Western Conference. The Kings would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season and reached the conference final in 2013 before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks.

This postseason, the Kings became the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s, and did so each time on the road. Now they're up 3-0 on the Rangers and one win away from another Cup. They realize how special this is.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.06.2014 / 2:28 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - Road to Sochi blog

Islanders' Tavares gained familiarity with St. Louis

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders captain John Tavares spent Thursday morning preparing for a game against the Calgary Flames later that night at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, so he had no idea that Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis had been selected to replace Steven Stamkos on Canada's roster at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Stamkos, who sustained a broken tibia in a game against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 11, did everything he could to work his way back into Tampa Bay's lineup before the Olympics so he could represent Canada at the Olympics. But it was announced Wednesday that Stamkos has not been medically cleared to play.

St. Louis, who leads the Lightning with 54 points (25 goals, 29 assists) in 56 games, was originally left off the roster when it was announced by Hockey Canada last month. The 38-year-old and Tavares, 23, were roommates at Canada's orientation camp last summer.

"It's great for Marty and well deserved," Tavares said after being informed of the news by a reporter. "He's a tremendous person and I think he's proven throughout his career what he's accomplished and the impact he can make on a team like that and a tournament like this.

"[He's] just a great guy. I think he doesn't take anything for granted. He's worked for everything he's got. I think he's always had that kind of mindset. He's a lot of fun to be around too. He's not this old guy, grumpy guy. He's fun and energetic and extremely hard-working."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.25.2014 / 11:26 AM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Islanders focus on improvements before facing Blues

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders built an early 2-0 lead against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but some costly turnovers in the defensive zone ultimately led to two valuable points in the standings slip away in a 6-4 loss.

New York coach Jack Capuano spent Friday going over video with his players, particularly rookie defensemen Matt Donovan and Calvin de Haan, who each played more than 20 minutes Thursday. They will pair together again Saturday when the Islanders (21-25-7) host the St. Louis Blues.

"They made a couple [mistakes] last game," Capuano said. "All we can do is continue to work with them. I'm not afraid to play young guys. But for our coaching staff, it's constant learning for those guys. They have some tendencies. Every player has a tendency, our guys have a couple. We have to break some of those habits.

"Early on [in the season], I thought they got down. But this time around, especially Matt since he's come up from his recall, he's responded real well after the shifts that he's made some blunders."

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 6:58 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Buzzer in OT a buzz kill for Red Wings

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Perhaps the outcome would have been different for Henrik Zetterberg and the Detroit Red Wings had they not had to change sides halfway through overtime Wednesday.

Playing in snowy, windy conditions at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs took turns skating into the wind during the overtime period. As the game clock wound down to 2:30 in the overtime session, Zetterberg poked a loose puck in the neutral zone past Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson and appeared to be set to go in on a breakaway.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 11:20 AM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Spectator Plaza adds ambience to Winter Classic

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Toronto native Neil McNeil picked up his son at a New Year's Eve party at 2:30 Wednesday morning and immediately hit the road to make the roughly five-hour drive to Michigan Stadium, anxiously awaiting the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic to watch their Toronto Maple Leafs face the Detroit Red Wings.

Little did McNeil know when he secured his tickets that the scene would be as picturesque as it was Wednesday morning, between the live music and the fan experience at Spectator Plaza, along with a light snowfall. It truly is a winter wonderland.

McNeil, who dressed appropriately and topped his outfit with a referee's bathrobe, is spending the morning simply absorbing it all. The Spectator Plaza footprint included beer and food vendors, live music and various hockey-related games.

"This is perfect," said McNeil, who works for a couple of hockey rinks in Toronto. "We were prepared for the worst, but walking around today, it's very comfortable. If this is the worst it gets, it's going to be an amazing day. Little bit of flurries, but not enough to shovel the ice too much. It really lends to the ambience. We've heard about games in the past where they were worried about the ice being soft, [but] that won't be the case today."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 8:15 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Domi enjoying retirement, start of son's career

DETROIT -- Tie Domi was a fan favorite during his playing days, when he racked up 3,515 penalty minutes in 1,020 NHL games.

Nearly eight years have passed since the 44-year-old played in the NHL, and Domi has moved on. Instead of dwelling on how much he misses the old days, he's turned his attention to his family. And while he won't be playing, Domi could find himself back in NHL rinks soon. Only this time, he'll be watching his son.

Domi is the father of 18-year-old Max Domi, who was a first-round selection (No. 12) of the Phoenix Coyotes at the 2013 NHL Draft. The 5-foot-9 center is in his third season with the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League, where he has 46 points (18 goals, 28 assists) in 30 games this season.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 7:30 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Nieuwendyk has fun in Alumni Showdown

DETROIT -- Joe Nieuwendyk hasn't played in an NHL game since the 2006-07 season, but he was able to get the competitive juices flowing Tuesday.

Nieuwendyk represented the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second game of the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park, where the Leafs rallied from a 5-1 deficit before suffering a 6-5 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

The 47-year-old was one of many Hall of Fame players to take the ice in the second game.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 7:23 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

McCabe's scoring touch extends a magical day

DETROIT -- Bryan McCabe hadn't scored a goal in a competitive game since he played for the New York Rangers during the 2010-11 season, his last in the NHL.

But on Tuesday, his goal with two seconds remaining sent the second game of the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park past regulation.

The Alumni Showdown was a big part of the festivities this week that will be capped by the 2014 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, which the Maple Leafs and Red Wings will play Wednesday in front of what is expected to be a record crowd at Michigan Stadium.

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Posted On Sunday, 12.29.2013 / 6:51 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - Road to Sochi blog

Islanders' Okposo in mix for U.S. Olympic roster spot

As a team, the New York Islanders have not been able to build off what they accomplished last season, when they qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007.

But right wing Kyle Okposo continues to make strides, so much so that the Minnesota native is meriting serious consideration to be named later this week to the United States roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Skating on the top line alongside Thomas Vanek and John Tavares, the 25-year-old ranks second on the Islanders with 34 points (12 goals, 22 assists) in 39 games. He had 24 points (four goals) in 48 games last season.

Okposo's 34 points have him in the top five among American skaters this season.

"It's in the back of your mind, obviously," Okposo said of making the Olympic team, which will be named immediately following the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Wednesday. "World Junior tournament is going on right now, so I've been following that a little bit. You think about the international competition a little bit, but I'm here with the Islanders, and I'm still going to keep playing well."

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Quote of the Day

He scores 50 goals, they go in, they go in, and they go in. And I think, 'Why can't I do that?'

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