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Posted On Wednesday, 01.15.2014 / 3:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst / - Weekes on the Web

Capitals vs. Penguins comes down to goalies

This week's Wednesday Night Rivalry features a great Metropolitan Division matchup with the Washington Capitals visiting the Pittsburgh Penguins (8 p.m. EST, NBCSN, RDS, TSN2).

These teams feature some of the world's best skaters, but goaltending will be the key for both. Washington's Philipp Grubauer has come in and played exceptionally well. He's forced coach Adam Oates' hand to keep playing him. Both Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby earned their right to be in the NHL, no question about it. They were both excellent down in Hershey of the American Hockey League when they were there, and Holtby has had huge playoff runs for a young goalie.

But all three Capitals goaltenders are young, and part of being a young goalie is finding that consistency in the League. I know firsthand it's difficult to achieve. Grubauer has come in and outplayed Neuvirth and Holtby, and for now he is the guy.

The Capitals need great goaltending, as does any team. Because Washington really excels on the power play and is so skilled, their 5-on-5 play is even more critical, and their goalie needs to make the saves that allow them to play to their skill set.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 11:37 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

Clarke out to impress scouts, show he belongs

CALGARY -- Saginaw Spirit left wing Blake Clarke has dealt with many off-ice distractions in what should have been a season to impress scouts considering him for the 2014 NHL Draft.

Clarke, No. 93 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, changed teams last month when the North Bay Battalion dealt him to Saginaw in exchange for forward and fellow 2012 first-round Ontario Hockey League draft pick Zach Bratina.

Clarke sustained a shoulder injury in the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Pittsburgh in September that limited him to 21 games with North Bay. He'll play for Team Orr at the 2014 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Calgary on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet) with hopes of turning some heads.

"I look at this as a big opportunity for me," Clarke said. "I was invited because people still believe in what I can be as a player in the future, so I have to prove them right.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 10:35 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

Goldobin latest Russian starring in Sarnia

CALGARY -- Sarnia Sting right wing Nikolay Goldobin knows all about Nail Yakupov and how he was selected first by the Edmonton Oilers at the 2012 NHL Draft.

Yakupov spent two seasons in Sarnia, totaling 31 goals and 69 points in 42 games during an injury-shortened 2011-12 season. As a rookie in 2010-11 he had 101 points to lead the Sting and all Ontario Hockey League first-year players. His scoring also surpassed Steven Stamkos' team records for goals (42) and points (92) by a Sarnia rookie.

Does Goldobin consider himself the best Russian out of Sarnia since Yakupov?

"I want to be drafted high, in the top five," Goldobin told "We don't talk much about Yakupov but we do talk about his play in the NHL. It's been a big transition for me playing in Canada the last two seasons. In Canada the hockey is way faster than Russia."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 10:14 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

Nedeljkovic admires Devils' Brodeur

CALGARY -- Plymouth Whalers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic never has seen live any of the three goals scored by New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, but admits to watching replays on the Internet every chance he gets.

"I've always wanted to score a goal and I keep that in the back of my head sometimes and envision myself doing it," Nedeljkovic said. "Marty was my favorite goalie growing up and still is. Just the way he plays the game and the accomplishments he'd had … it's been an incredible career."

Nedeljkovic (6-foot, 182 pounds) acknowledged he blew his one good opportunity to score a goal, during his midget-minor season.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 9:34 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - 2014 Top Prospects Game blog

De Leo a veteran of Top Prospects games

CALGARY -- When it comes to playing in prospects games, Chase De Leo is close to qualifying for veteran status.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Portland Winterhawks forward will make his second appearance in an event that pits the top peers of his age group against each other when he participates in the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet).

De Leo played in the 2013 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 26 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, but the 18-year old admitted his participation in that game doesn't give him an advantage in this one.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 9:26 PM - 2013-2014 Situation Room blog

TBL @ NYR - 10:17 of the Third Period

At 10:17 of the third period in the Lightning/Rangers game, the NHL Situation Room initiated a review because the puck was shot into the Rangers net. The referee determined that the whistle was blown prior to the shot. This is not a reviewable play, therefore the referee's call on the ice stands. No goal Tampa Bay.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 8:54 PM - 2013-2014 Situation Room blog

NJD @ MTL - 8:30 of the Second Period

At 8:30 of the second period in the Devils/Canadiens game, video review determined that Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher used his right skate to kick the puck into the net. According to Rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net." No goal Montreal.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 8:46 PM - 2013-2014 Situation Room blog

SJS @ WSH - End of Second Period

At the end of the second period in the Sharks/Capitals game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart's shot crossed the goal line after time expired. No Goal San Jose.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 8:45 PM - 2013-2014 Situation Room blog

CGY @ NSH - 14:22 of the First Period

At 14:22 of the first period in the Flames/Predators game, the NHL Situation Room initiated a review to further exam a play at the Flames net. The referee ruled that he blew the whistle prior to Predators forward Patric Hornqvist pushing Karri Ramo into the net. This is not a reviewable play therefore the call on the ice stands. No Goal Nashville.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 8:43 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Avalanche's Sarich a late scratch vs. Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The Colorado Avalanche planned to play seven defensemen Tuesday night at United Center, but Cory Sarich was a late scratch with a reported back issue.

Sarich's absence left the Avalanche with 17 skaters against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

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Quote of the Day

Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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