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Posted On Friday, 02.14.2014 / 12:12 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

U.S. to deploy two shut-down pairings against Russia

SOCHI -- The United States will try to stifle Russia's skill Saturday with two shut-down defense pairs playing in front of starting goalie Jonathan Quick.

Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin, a regular pair with the Pittsburgh Penguins, skated together in practice Friday and are expected to be together Saturday, when the Americans take on the Russians at Bolshoy Ice Dome in Group A preliminary-round play (7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC). Ryan Suter and Ryan McDonagh were the other shut-down pair.

Orpik and Martin are expected to get a lot of ice time against Russia’s top line of Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. Suter and McDonagh likely will see plenty of Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov.

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Posted On Friday, 02.14.2014 / 5:54 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

Selanne expected to play for Finland vs. Norway

SOCHI -- Finland captain Teemu Selanne is expected to play Friday against Norway (12 p.m. ET; MSNBC, SNET), one day after leaving the game against Austria with a neck injury, coach Erkka Westerlund told the Finnish media.

He skated with Aleksander Barkov and Mikael Granlund on Friday morning.

Selanne played in the first period of Finland's 8-4 win but did not return to play the rest of the game. However, he skated with the team Friday morning and is likely to play against the Norwegians.

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Posted On Friday, 02.14.2014 / 3:27 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

Subban, Duchene in for Canada vs. Austria

SOCHI -- Canada will have a different look in its second game of the preliminary round Friday night. Despite a 3-1 victory against Norway in the opener of Group B play Thursday, Canada is making three changes to its lineup for the game against Austria (noon, USA, CBC).

Hockey Canada confirmed Friday morning that Matt Duchene and P.K. Subban are in the lineup after being scratched against Norway. Duchene, of the Colorado Avalanche, replaces Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks. Montreal Canadiens defenseman Subban goes in for Dan Hamhuis of the Vancouver Canucks.

Canada also scratched Montreal goalie Carey Price, who played Thursday against Norway. Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, the gold medal-winning goalie four years ago, will start against Austria. He will be backed up by Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.13.2014 / 7:04 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Sochi Travel blog

Sochi offers breathtaking settings as well as sports

SOCHI -- For the past three days I have ventured maybe a quarter-mile from our hotel to the Black Sea coast, where we have shot some videos previewing the games. If you've watched them (you should), you've probably noticed the unbelievable setting behind me of the water glistening in the glow of the powerful sun.

The setting today was more breathtaking then even the past two days and it featured a collection of elements you likely won't find in most places.

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Posted On Monday, 02.10.2014 / 11:58 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

Datsyuk sits out Russia's first practice

SOCHI -- Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk did not practice with his Russian teammates Monday, but coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said he is hopeful Russia's captain will be ready to go by Thursday, when the host country opens the 2014 Sochi Olympics against Slovenia (7:30 a.m. ET, MSNBC, CBC).

"I don't think it's a serious problem, dangerous," Bilyaletinov said through an interpreter after practice Monday. "I think he's going to be OK."

Datsyuk missed 14 straight games with a lower-body injury before returning last week to play Detroit's final two games before the Olympic break. However, he played fewer than 15 minutes in both games.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland admitted that he is concerned about Datsyuk's health, but he understands why playing in the Olympics in his own country is important to the Russian superstar.

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Posted On Monday, 02.10.2014 / 8:45 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

Finns moving on without Koivu, Filppula

SOCHI – With three days of practice before his first game, Finland coach Erkka Westerlund has some time to iron out his lineup minus his top two centers: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Koivu and Filppula had to pull out of the Olympics with separate ankle injuries, leaving the Finns depleted down the middle and likely having to use the Wild's Mikael Granlund and the Winnipeg Jets' Olli Jokinen as their top centers.

Finland assistant coach Lauri Marjamaki said following practice Monday that he will have Granlund centering the top line with Florida Panthers rookie Aleksander Barkov on his left wing and Anaheim Ducks veteran Teemu Selanne on his right wing. Selanne is entering his sixth Olympics.

There was no word on the second line, but it's possible that Jokinen plays with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu of the Carolina Hurricanes.

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Posted On Monday, 02.03.2014 / 6:31 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

Lightning coach 'cheering' for Stamkos to play

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper is rooting for Steven Stamkos to make it to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, even though he knows the additional time off during the upcoming break would give the center's broken right leg the appropriate amount of time to heal.

Stamkos hasn't played since he crashed into the goal and broke his right tibia in a game against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Nov. 11. He is targeting the game Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings as his return date and is hopeful of it going well so he'll feel confident about playing in the Olympic tournament, which for Canada begins Feb. 13.

"I'm legitimately cheering for him to play, but you just sit here and say, 'If he was going to get hurt, why couldn't he have gotten hurt like a week-and-a-half or two weeks earlier?'" Cooper said Monday afternoon. "Or, 'Why couldn't the Olympics be a week later?' It's going to come right down to the wire on this one, but if anything [Monday], he looked pretty good in practice. It was his best day. I talked to him after and he said it was his best day yet. He was pretty encouraged."

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 12:48 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

Stars' Dillon envisions Benn on line with Perry, Getzlaf

NEW YORK -- Dallas Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon predicts Canada will use a line of Jamie Benn, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He feels for any defensemen who would have to match up against a trio like that.

"I think that line would be pretty deadly," said Dillon, who visited the NHL offices Tuesday shortly after Canada announced its Olympic roster that included Benn, the Stars captain. "Just from playing against those two [Perry and Getzlaf] on their own and adding a third guy in there who can skate just as well, make plays just as well and is just as hard to handle down low … they should be OK."

As a defenseman, how would Dillon try to handle a line as big and skilled as one that features Benn on the left, Getzlaf in the middle and Perry on the right?

"Try to keep the puck away from them as much as you can, stay on offense," he said. "Even then those guys are up there in takeaways. Those guys, they're so good and they're two right-handers and a left-handed shot tossing it in there. Perry and Getzlaf, their chemistry says something already, and then Benn, playing with him for two years now, I mean he deserves all the accolades he's starting to get. One thing in Dallas is he's flying under the radar, but I think this is so good for him."

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Posted On Monday, 01.06.2014 / 6:46 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

New dad Okposo misses Isles' game vs. Stars

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo is not in the lineup Monday night against the Dallas Stars because his wife, Danielle, gave birth to the couple's first child earlier in the day.

Okposo announced the birth of his baby girl, Elliana Okposo, on his Twitter account while the Islanders were on the ice for warmups.

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Posted On Monday, 01.06.2014 / 12:56 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Stars to have Gonchar back, possibly Daley as well

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Dallas Stars will get one veteran defenseman back in the lineup Monday night at Nassau Coliseum and coach Lindy Ruff left open the possibility of another one returning as well.

Sergei Gonchar will play against the New York Islanders after missing the past six games with a concussion. Ruff said Trevor Daley, who has missed 14 straight games with an ankle injury, will be a game-time decision.

"I'll try to start with short shifts to pick up the tempo, get in a rhythm and then you slowly get back into it," Gonchar said. "That's the only way to do it. It doesn't matter if you're older or younger, you have to be smart about it. Obviously being out for so long and playing against a fast team like the Islanders, you have to make sure that you're ready and you're doing things right from the beginning."

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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday