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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Saturday, 03.01.2014 / 1:24 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Maple Leafs preach attention to detail vs. Canadiens

MONTREAL -- If the Toronto Maple Leafs needed a reminder just how thin the margin is between victory and defeat, they got it in their first game back following the Olympic break.

The Maple Leafs lost 5-4 in overtime on the road against the New York Islanders on Thursday, a game where they allowed three goals off sloppy turnovers, including the overtime winner by Lubomir Visnovsky.

Coach Randy Carlyle could have taken that game and used it as an example of what happens when his team is not focusing on the right things, but he's already had enough of that material this season.

"We've had lots of those lessons," Carlyle said. "The teacher's tired of bringing the same lesson."

POSTED ON Sunday, 02.23.2014 / 7:04 AM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

Backstrom missing from Sweden lineup

SOCHI -- Sweden was without Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom for the gold medal game against Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Sunday (7 a.m. ET, NBC, CBC).

Backstrom was listed on the lineup sheet but did not come out for pre-game warmups. There was no immediate explanation for Backstrom's absence but multiple media reports cited his the reason for his absence was a migraine.

The Washington Capitals center is tied for the team with four assists in five games. Backstrom also has a plus-3 rating while averaging 18:22 of ice time per game. He had been centering Sweden's top line, between Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks and Loui Eriksson of the Boston Bruins.

Jimmie Ericsson, the only non-NHL player in Sweden's lineup, started the game in Backstrom's spot. He's the brother of Sweden teammate and Jonathan Ericsson and plays for Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League.

POSTED ON Friday, 02.21.2014 / 5:57 AM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

Canadian women provide inspiration for men's team

SOCHI -- Canada had some inspiring visitors at its pregame skate Friday.

As the team prepared for its semifinal game against the United States at the training rink of the Bolshoy Ice Dome, sitting in the stands were two key players from Canada's women's team that won gold against the U.S. in a dramatic, come-from-behind 3-2 overtime victory 12 hours earlier.

Forward Hayley Wickenheiser and starting goaltender Shannon Szabados were there to support the men in their bid to move past the U.S. and reach the gold medal game Sunday.

POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.19.2014 / 7:06 AM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

Canada's Subban takes scratching in stride

SOCHI -- Goaltender Carey Price hit the ice for Canada's pregame skate Wednesday to prepare for the quarterfinal matchup with Latvia later that night and took his usual spot in front of his net.

His Montreal Canadiens teammate, defenseman P.K. Subban, immediately skated over, grabbed a pile of pucks and offered to warm up Price prior to the skate, diligently shooting pucks first to his glove hand, then his blocker side.

This is the role Subban has been given for Canada. He is there to practice and keep the players who will participate in the games sharp.

Aside from Canada's second game of the tournament, a 6-0 win against Austria, Subban has not been in uniform for any games.

It's not easy for the reigning Norris Trophy-winner, who plays 25 minutes a night for the Canadiens and leads them in scoring with 39 points in 59 games.

POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.19.2014 / 5:32 AM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

St. Louis back in Canada lineup vs. Latvia

SOCHI -- Martin St. Louis has built a career as a high-energy player, a water bug on the ice who keeps his powerful legs moving at all times to overcome his lack of size with his overwhelming will.

A player like that requires a certain degree of rhythm to play his game.

But even though St. Louis will be in the lineup for Canada when it plays Latvia in a 2014 Sochi Olympics quarterfinal Wednesday (noon ET, MSNBC, CBC), the Tampa Bay Lightning captain will have trouble creating that rhythm he so desperately needs to be effective.

"He's just a good, veteran player," Canada coach Mike Babcock said. "The reality is we dress 13 forwards each game. One guy hardly gets on the ice. It's a hard, hard situation for people that play 22 minutes [in the NHL]. That's the way it is. You've got to find a way to help out when you get a chance."

POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 9:28 AM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

Canada juggles lines again, Kunitz back with Crosby

SOCHI -- Another day, another set of linemates for Sidney Crosby.

Canada coach Mike Babcock shuffled his deck of forwards again at practice Tuesday, reuniting the Pittsburgh Penguins duo of Chris Kunitz and Crosby on a line with Patrice Bergeron.

Crosby has had different linemates during Canada's three preliminary-round games here at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and it looks like he will again when Canada plays Latvia in the quarterfinals Wednesday (Noon ET, MSNBC, CBC).

"I think you prepared yourself for that when you got selected to the team," Kunitz said Tuesday after practice. "They're going to try to put the best combinations [for] our team … to win. Wherever they put that, now you want to go on the ice and have your best game."

POSTED ON Sunday, 02.16.2014 / 9:11 AM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

Russia's Kovalchuk returns for third period

SOCHI -- Russia forward Ilya Kovalchuk returned for the third period of his team's Group A game against Slovakia on Sunday after missing the final minutes of the second with an apparent leg injury.

Kovalchuk was fighting for a puck with Slovakia forward Richard Panik in the Russian zone when the two fell awkwardly to the ice. Kovalchuk appeared to be in pain as he writhed on the ice for a few moments, but he was able to get up and limp toward the Russian bench under his own power.

Kovalchuk remained on the bench for a few minutes testing the leg and standing on it before leaving for the dressing room.

But when the third period started Kovalchuk was on the ice for the completion of a Russia power play.

POSTED ON Sunday, 02.16.2014 / 6:14 AM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

Price in goal; Subban, St. Louis scratched for Canada

SOCHI -- It appears the starting goaltending job for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics is now Carey Price's to lose.

The Montreal Canadiens goaltender will get the nod over Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks when Canada plays Finland with first place in Group B on the line at Bolshoy Ice Dome on Sunday (12 p.m.; USA, CBC).

This game being Canada's final one before entering the knockout phase of the tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the lineup chosen by coach Mike Babcock and his coaching staff took on greater importance.

Babcock did acknowledge that reality Saturday when speaking to the media on Canada's day off, but he reminded everyone that it is now up to Price to hold on to the job he's been given.

"We had a plan coming in and we haven't changed our plan," Babcock said after Canada's morning skate Sunday. "I've said this many times; at the Olympic Games you're allowed one [goalie] change."

POSTED ON Saturday, 02.15.2014 / 5:38 AM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

Babcock to take his time on goalie, lineup decisions

SOCHI -- Mike Babcock is in no hurry.

With an entire nation wondering what Canada's coach will do in terms of his starting goaltender and lineup for the final game of preliminary-round play, Babcock said Saturday he will take all the time he has available to him prior to the showdown with Finland on Sunday (Noon ET; USA, CBC).

"Believe me, these decisions aren't easy," Babcock said. "They're difficult because they're personal, because it's about a player. When you have an interaction with a player, that's personal. But it's not about them. It's about our country and it's about making the right decisions.
POSTED ON Thursday, 02.13.2014 / 3:54 AM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Road to Sochi blog

St. Louis, Hamhuis in lineup for Canada's opener

SOCHI -- Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene will have to wait another day to make their Olympic debuts.

Canada coach Mike Babcock said Subban and Duchene will sit out its opening game of the 2014 Sochi Olympics against Norway on Thursday (12 p.m. ET, USA, CBC), but will play Friday against Austria (12 p.m. ET, USA, CBC).

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis, who was a late addition to the team when Steven Stamkos was ruled out due to injury, and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis will play Thursday, with Hamhuis making his Olympic debut.

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I didn't think it would actually work, but it ended up working, so I'm thanking my lucky stars tonight.

— Columbus forward Nick Foligno on scoring the overtime goal after telling the Blue Jackets in the locker room that he would win the game