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Posted On Monday, 02.10.2014 / 11:58 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 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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Posted On Monday, 01.06.2014 / 12:42 PM

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

Islanders' Okposo game-time decision; Bailey returns

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo will be a game-time decision Monday because his wife, Danielle, was at the hospital and due to give birth to the couple's first child.

Peter Regin is expected to play on the Islanders' top line with John Tavares and Thomas Vanek if Okposo is unable to go against the Dallas Stars at Nassau Coliseum.

Okposo went to the hospital Sunday night and was still there Monday morning.

"We'll know a little bit more here in a couple of hours," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said after the morning skate. "We knew going in what time she was going to go in. We knew he'd be there all night. Now it just depends on this morning, if things work out well, knock on wood, he gets his proper rest and he can play tonight."


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Posted On Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 1:34 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Alfredsson in Winter Classic lineup for Red Wings

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Detroit Red Wings forward Daniel Alfredsson is playing in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Wednesday, but center Darren Helm is not. Gustav Nyquist is playing in Helm's spot.

Alfredsson's status for the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs was in question because of back spasms that prevented him from playing Monday against the Nashville Predators.

Helm was a late scratch after skating in warm-ups. He reportedly has a sore groin and is day to day.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 5:36 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Bernier to start in goal for Maple Leafs

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Randy Carlyle didn't want to reveal his starting goalie for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, but there was a dead giveaway standing only a few feet away from the Toronto Maple Leafs coach during his post-practice press conference Tuesday.

Jonathan Bernier was waiting to talk to the media, but he also felt the need to wait until Carlyle left the press conference area before he confirmed that he'll be the Maple Leafs starter against the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium on Wednesday.

"Let's wait until Randy leaves," Bernier said laughing. "Yeah, I found out before practice so obviously it's great. It's great that he gave me the nod and being part of this whole history, it's pretty amazing."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 12:32 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Record number of tickets sold to 2014 Winter Classic

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins said Tuesday that the League has sold a record 105,500 tickets to the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. The League expects to set a record for attendance at a hockey game Wednesday when the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs square off at Michigan Stadium.

The current attendance record for a hockey game is 104,173, which was set at Michigan Stadium on Dec. 11, 2010 for The Big Chill at the Big House. A representative from Guinness World Records will be on hand Wednesday to verify the attendance at the Winter Classic to determine if the NHL beats The Big Chill record for attendance.

The tickets sold would suggest the NHL will break the record, but Collins is not ready to say that for sure.


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Quote of the Day

It's a date that's been circled on my calendar, so it's kind of nice to have it here and get it over with (Thursday). This is a little bit of the closing of the book on the move. That's kind of how I'm looking at it.

— Stars forward Jason Spezza on returning to Ottawa for the first time to face the Senators