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Posted On Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 12:38 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Rangers at Islanders

The New York Islanders entered the All-Star break atop the Metropolitan Division, but they begin the second half of their season against the New York Rangers at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday without right wing Kyle Okposo.

The Islanders (31-14-1) will be without Okposo, who has 44 points in 46 games, for the next 6-8 weeks because of an upper-body injury, the team announced after practice Monday. Okposo was placed on injured reserve Tuesday retroactive to Jan. 19.

"It's a huge loss … [he's] one of our leaders and certainly brings so much to the table, not only his goal-scoring and his offensive ability, but he just works so hard on his game and sets an example in so many ways," center John Tavares said of Okposo. "He's just a bull on the puck and on the wall and he's done a lot of gritty things too. He's blocked a lot of shots for us this year and playing a lot of minutes.

"It gives some guys some more opportunity … [they've] got to look forward to that and try to grasp that."

Posted On Saturday, 01.03.2015 / 2:19 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sabres at Rangers

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle missed practice Friday for personal reasons but is expected to play against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Boyle was one of a handful of Rangers who participated in an optional morning skate and told reporters afterward that he was ready to go.

"Something personal came up and I had to take care of it," Boyle said. "It was a tough couple of days but we'll get through it.

"I've been feeling better I think in the last handful of games than I have in a while. But I'm playing the way that I need to play in order for this team to win and that's keeping it simple, so it's a little bit different than what I'm used to. But you can't argue with nine wins in 10 games."

The Rangers (20-11-4) saw their eight-game winning streak end last Monday at the Dallas Stars in a 3-2 loss, but they bounced back with a 5-2 win at the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. Boyle entered that game with assists in three straight games but did not register a point against the Panthers.

Posted On Thursday, 01.01.2015 / 6:09 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Memorable day for Capitals owner Leonsis

WASHINGTON -- After months of preparation, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis saw a dream come to fruition Thursday: the Capitals hosted, and more importantly, won the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Leonsis was all smiles in the Capitals' dressing room at Nationals Park after Troy Brouwer's goal with 12.9 seconds remaining in the third period gave Washington a 3-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks in front of a raucous crowd of 42,832.

"I knew that our fans would fill the stands, be a sea of red," Leonsis said. "I knew that the NHL really has their execution of this event down. And we were good hosts. We spent a lot of time, I personally spent a lot of time, walking around the building. I saw all the care over every detail."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.30.2014 / 5:47 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Skating outside brings back memories for Bondra

WASHINGTON -- Peter Bondra spent 14 seasons playing for the Washington Capitals and has watched them become part of the fabric of the community in this historic city.

So it was no surprise to see Bondra, 46, smiling ear to ear Tuesday, when he was able to skate on the fresh sheet of ice with a small gathering of former teammates and media members at Nationals Park, two days before the Capitals host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"I think it's a big event, especially for Washington," Bondra said. "D.C. has become a hockey town and they've got a great team. I mean, they've got Alex Ovechkin, so it's going to bring attention. Nationals Park, we're just a couple of blocks from the White House. This is going to be a really great festivity.

"You go to Verizon [Center] for a regular-season game, and it gets a lot of attention. People are excited about the upcoming Winter Classic. You see a lot of dark red colors in the building and Winter Classic colors. This means a lot. I'm very excited. As a hockey fan, you get to come here and watch Washington and Chicago? Wow. Two good teams. This is really becoming a holiday of hockey."

Posted On Monday, 12.29.2014 / 12:48 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Capitals at Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- After a brief stint on injured reserve, Jaroslav Halak is back.

The New York Islanders No. 1 goaltender, who missed the past two games because of a lower-body injury, was activated off IR on Sunday and will start Monday against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum.

Halak is 18-6-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 24 games this season. He has won his past four starts and has allowed two goals or fewer in each of them. In his past 19 starts, Halak has 17 wins.

New York (23-11-1) lost its past two games without Halak, including a 4-3 shootout defeat at the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday when the Islanders blew a 3-0 lead in the third period.

"It was a good time for us to just give him a couple more days after the small break that we had," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "He's healthy and ready to go."

Posted On Monday, 12.15.2014 / 4:47 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Devils at Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Barring a meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New Jersey Devils will play their final game at Nassau Coliseum on Monday against the New York Islanders.

That means Long Island native Keith Kinkaid has one last chance to play at the arena where he watched games growing up. His wish is about to be granted.

Kinkaid, who was raised about 30 minutes east of the Coliseum in Farmingville, N.Y., will start in goal for the Devils, who are playing their sixth game in 10 days. The Islanders are moving to Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season.

"My whole life I was going to Islander games," said Kinkaid, whose father is a former season-ticket holder. "It's fun to actually be able to play [at Nassau Coliseum].

"It's always been my dream to play on that ice and play on any NHL ice. It's a dream come true to play on the ice I grew up watching all the time. It's going to be a fun atmosphere. This place can get loud. I'm very excited."

Posted On Monday, 11.24.2014 / 1:23 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At The Rink: Flyers at Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald has gotten ready to play hockey at Nassau Coliseum hundreds of time over the course of his career. But on Monday, he'll be doing it in the visitor's dressing room for the first time.

MacDonald, who played 295 games over six seasons with the New York Islanders before being traded to Philadelphia last March, will face his former team for the first time Monday.

"It's going to be different obviously, first time back and everything," MacDonald said. "But I think both sides have moved on. It's been quite a bit of time since I left now. For us, we're just worried about playing well and getting two points."

Posted On Thursday, 06.12.2014 / 1:13 AM

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

St. Louis scores 11th playoff game-winner

NEW YORK -- Martin St. Louis may be closing in on his 39th birthday, but the New York Rangers' right wing continues to produce.

His goal at 6:27 of the second period proved to be the game-winner Wednesday night in a 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden. It was the 11th game-winning goal of St. Louis' postseason career.

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).

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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He plays the way that we want to play and he's a leader on the ice. It's those components we feel were the dynamic of what we wanted in our captain.

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