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Posted On Wednesday, 12.31.2014 / 6:47 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

NHL considers allowing sunglasses at Winter Classic

WASHINGTON -- The question was set up on a tee for Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner to knock it out of the park.

He crushed it.

Every Capitals player was issued Oakley sunglasses on Wednesday, but Alzner was the only player to wear them during the practice at Nationals Park. Alzner was asked why he was the only one who did.

"Because I'm the only smart one," Alzner joked.

OK, we'll leave the IQ tests for another day. On Wednesday, though, Alzner's solution to practicing in the sun became the envy of his teammates, and also brought about a legitimate question:

Is it legal for players to wear sunglasses during the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Thursday at Nationals Park if the sun is as bright and the glare on the ice as challenging as it was Wednesday. The forecast calls for a sunny day.

The answer is that the NHL is currently considering it, according to Kris King, the senior vice president of hockey operations. No decision had been made as of Wednesday night.

Posted On Wednesday, 12.31.2014 / 5:41 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Blackhawks' Richards a veteran of outdoor games

WASHINGTON -- Chicago Blackhawks center Brad Richards has become an outdoor-game regular. He's also undefeated in these games.

The 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park on Thursday will be Richards' fourth career outdoor game and third in just over 11 months. His previous three came while he was a member of the New York Rangers.

Richards made his outdoor debut in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic in Philadelphia, a 3-2 win for the Rangers thanks to Richards' game-winning goal at 5:21 of the third period.

He also played in both 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series games at Yankee Stadium. The Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils 7-4 on Jan. 26, and the New York Islanders 2-1 three nights later.

Posted On Wednesday, 12.31.2014 / 5:17 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Capitals to honor Chicago manager with helmet decal

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals have put a white decal with the initials 'CR' in red on the back of the helmets they will wear in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Thursday to honor Clint Reif, the Chicago Blackhawks assistant equipment manager who recently passed away at the age of 34.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said the idea to put the sticker on the helmet came from the Capitals training staff.

"I think what you find in this community--the hockey community--it's a lot smaller than people think, and the trainers are very close. They're very tight just like all the players are across the league, the coaches; all that," Trotz said. "When a member goes down they all want to show the respect."

Posted On Wednesday, 12.31.2014 / 2:40 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Capitals' Orpik a game-time decision vs. Blackhawks

WASHINGTON -- Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik will skate in warmups Thursday at Nationals Park and will be a game-time decision for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Orpik sustained a knee injury Monday in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders.

"Brooks Orpik is taking warm-up and then he will tell me if he's playing," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "He's feeling much better and we will not put him at risk."

Orpik did not participate in practice Wednesday as he stayed back at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., to receive treatment on his injured knee.

Posted On Monday, 12.29.2014 / 12:40 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Capitals' Trotz keeps tabs on former team

Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz has figured out that cutting ties with an organization after 17 years isn't easy, so he has stopped trying.

Trotz said he has made time to follow the Nashville Predators this season, and he likely always will, particularly because after nearly two decades with the franchise he now calls Nashville home.

"I check the scores. I've talked to [Predators general manager] David Poile a few times," Trotz said. "I thought at first if they had success I'd be a little bit jealous, but I haven't been at all. I'm actually cheering like heck for them because of the relationship I have with David and a lot of the staff there, and all the players."

Trotz said he has enjoyed seeing goalie Pekka Rinne's strong return to the net this season after missing most of last season following hip surgery and a subsequent infection.

Rinne is the biggest reason why the Predators are second in the Central Division with 48 points. He has 23 wins, including three shutouts, a 1.81 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in 30 starts this season.

Posted On Wednesday, 12.24.2014 / 10:20 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Rosen's mailbag - Dec. 24, 2014

Here is the Dec. 24 edition of Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday during the season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

Will my #SJSharks finally win a significant playoff series? -- @Doug_WilsonGM

Well, this is on you Doug. This is your team. This is your roster. You put it together…

OK, I know you're just a parody account of San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, but this is on him anyway because this is his team, his roster, all of his players. To answer your question, I think the Sharks have won a few significant series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They did get to the Western Conference Final twice. That's significant. But for this team with this collection of talent, obviously just getting to the Western Conference Final twice is not good enough. And not getting back there since 2011 definitely is not good enough. The West is tough, but the Sharks should have done more with their talent by now. I'm not breaking any ground by saying that.

With that said, I don't think this is the season the Sharks win a significant playoff series. They look better now than they did early in the season, but I need to see them play consistent for 40-50 games before I buy in. And even then they still have to prove it in the playoffs. I'm leery about their goaltending and their young players. They talk about rebuilding on the fly, and to do that you have to go through some growing pains with your young players. It's hard to say that they're ready to beat teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues or even the Anaheim Ducks in the playoffs.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.23.2014 / 5:39 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Capitals at Rangers

NEW YORK -- They didn't want to actually come out and call it the biggest game of the season to date, but it's hard to find a game on the New York Rangers schedule that has been bigger than the one they will play Tuesday at Madison Square Garden against the Washington Capitals.

"It's hard to say, but it is an important game," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "We're playing a team that is right there with us."

The Capitals should feel the same way considering where each team is in the standings, the hot streak both teams have been on, the rivalry that has blossomed from four meetings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the past six seasons, and the fact that their three-day holiday break begins after the game is over.

Washington enters the Garden with a two-point lead on the Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers have two games in hand, but Washington has one more regulation/overtime victory.

The Capitals have won three consecutive games and have points in nine straight (7-0-2); the Rangers have won six games in a row.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.23.2014 / 1:22 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Rangers' Boyle hopes holiday break revives game

NEW YORK -- Defenseman Dan Boyle is hoping the three-day holiday break helps revive his immune system so his energy returns to a normal level because he's admittedly been scuffling and hasn't delivered to the New York Rangers the type of offensive game he's capable of providing.

Boyle has two goals and no assists in 15 games this season. He has no points in the past seven games since returning from a two-game absence because he was sick.

"The last couple weeks, and I don't want to sound like it's making excuses, but I don't know what I have, if it's a cold or a New York flu," Boyle told Tuesday. "I've been fighting it a little bit energy wise. I guess I'm fine, but since I missed those two games definitely energy-wise I'm not where I need to be or want to be so it's been a little bit of a battle."

Posted On Sunday, 12.21.2014 / 6:04 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Hurricanes at Rangers

NEW YORK -- Right wing Alexander Semin will return to the Carolina Hurricanes lineup Sunday against the New York Rangers after sitting out the past six games with a lower-body injury.

In addition, Hurricanes defenseman John-Michael Liles will be back after missing three games with an upper-body injury.

The Rangers defeated the Hurricanes 3-2 in a shootout Saturday for their fifth consecutive victory.

Semin will start the game at Madison Square Garden on a line with Patrick Dwyer and Riley Nash. Liles will play alongside Tim Gleason. Semin has one goal in 21 games this season. He had three previous injuries that kept him out of the lineup for a total of five games.

Posted On Saturday, 12.20.2014 / 11:16 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Is a hot streak coming for Capitals' Ovechkin?

NEWARK, N.J. -- Here's Alex Ovechkin's explanation of his highlight-reel goal in the third period Saturday at Prudential Center:

"When you feel good, everything working well, those kinds of moments happen," Ovechkin said.

Here's why that explanation, as mundane as it is, is telling of how Ovechkin feels about the game and how the puck feels on his stick:

"He's been getting some great chances," Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.

Yes he has. The fact that one finally went in is a great sign for the Capitals, because when Ovechkin is feeling the puck, feeling good about his shot, his overall game, and he gets the result, a hot streak is typically in the offing.

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Quote of the Day

He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow. I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense... I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver.

— Coyotes GM Don Maloney on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson