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Posted On Thursday, 10.10.2013 / 12:24 PM

By Adam Vingan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Oates feels Capitals' even-strength play will improve

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates would not have been criticized -- perhaps even lauded -- if he shuffled his forward lines after his team's slow offensive start at even strength.

Through three games, Washington's offense has been buoyed by its NHL-leading power play, which has accounted for six of its nine goals this season. That leaves just three goals scored at 5-on-5, tied for the third-fewest in the NHL.

Yet after three consecutive days of practice, the Capitals' forward lines, minus one change to the fourth line ahead of their game Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes, remain intact.

"I'm a very patient guy when it comes to that," Oates said earlier this week. "You've got to give a guy a fair amount of time to let everything happen."


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Posted On Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 4:10 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks, Blues looking to heat up rivalry

ST. LOUIS -- Maxim Lapierre has seen the rivalry with the Chicago Blackhawks from a different perspective as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

Blackhawks fans might consider the Detroit Red Wings their main rival. But from a players' perspective, it was the Canucks. And the hatred was clear from both sides.

Now playing for the Blues after signing a two-year contract over the summer, Lapierre feels like he could be witnessing the rebirth of the St. Louis-Chicago rivalry.

The two Central Division foes will renew acquaintances tonight when the Blues host the Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET as NBCSN's featured "Wednesday Night Rivalry" matchup.

Lapierre knows all about rivalries with Chicago.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 4:08 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Senators' Spezza will sit out against Kings

LOS ANGELES -- Jason Spezza appeared fine in the morning skate Wednesday, a day after he went through a full practice. So it was with slight surprise that the Ottawa Senators captain said he wouldn't play Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings because of his sore groin.

"We're going to err on the side of caution. Just to make sure, I guess," Spezza said. "They're worried that by taking the extra game [Wednesday] it gives me a few extra days and hopefully I'll never have to talk about my groin ever again."

Spezza smiled when asked if he had to be talked into sitting out. Ottawa doesn't play again until Saturday at the San Jose Sharks.

"We had some good discussions this morning, and just decided it's the best move for the team," Spezza said. "It's the best move to make sure this gets healed, goes away. It's gotten better. It's improved. We're trying to make sure it's a non-subject moving forward."

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 2:31 PM

By Matt Sitkoff -  NHL.com Contributor /NHL.com - NHL Live blog

NHL Live: E.J. Hradek's Wednesday game picks

E.J. Hradek Game Picks Wednesday October 9th:

Chicago Blackhawks vs St. Louis Blues - Blues

Montreal Canadiens vs Calgary Flames - Canadiens

Ottawa Senators vs Los Angeles Kings - Kings

E.J.'s Season Record: 25-5-0

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 2:15 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks' Sharp remains ready to face Blues

ST. LOUIS -- The availability of Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp is status quo: The veteran left wing is still in a holding pattern.

Sharp, whose wife Abby is due to give birth of the couple's second daughter soon, was awaiting word from the Blackhawks' public-relations staff. But as of early Wednesday afternoon, there was no indication whether Sharp would have to fly back to Chicago or not.

Sharp has indicated that if he had to miss a game, he would. Skipping the game Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) was a possibility, but Sharp is with the team and skated in the morning.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 2:04 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

MacDonald, Price set to face off in Calgary

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames will stick with the same lineup used in the team's 5-4 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday when they host the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS).

Joey MacDonald will get his third straight start in net for the Flames. In two games this season, the 33-year-old is 1-0-1 with a 3.93 goals-against average and .867 save percentage this season.

Carey Price also is expected to make his third straight start. In two games this season he is 1-1-0 with a 2.52 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 1:54 PM

By Steve Mears -  NHL Live host /NHL.com - NHL Live blog

McGuire, Olczyk join NHL Live to discuss Rivalry Night

It's Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN as the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues square off for the 287th time. We'll have that game and much more covered on NHL Live, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network. Pierre McGuire, who will be "Inside the Glass" for the Central Division rivalry game, will stop by the show.

Also, we'll be joined by Eddie Olczyk for a preview from St. Louis as the Blues look for their first 3-0 start since 1993. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks have won five of their last seven against the Blues and will try to improve to 2-0-1 overall on the young season. It's a classic rivalry and should be an incredibly physical game as usual. These competitors will play four more times this season, including next Thursday in Chicago.

Remember to submit your #AskEJ questions through Twitter via @NHLNetwork or @EJHradek_NHL, and join the conversation on Twitter as we ask you to pick the game of the night.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 1:38 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames' Street enjoying first-line assignment

CALGARY -- Ben Street will be the first to admit he isn't the likeliest of first-line candidates, but the forward is relishing in his opportunity to be just that with the Calgary Flames.

Street is expected to center Curtis Glencross and David Jones for a second straight game when the Flames host the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS).

"In my wildest dreams you kind of imagine it," Street said. "If you had told me that in the third game of the year I was in that position I would've taken it, but I wouldn't have believed you. I'll take it. I keep trying to get better and make sure I don't relinquish that spot."


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Posted On Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 1:29 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Fantasy Insider /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Missed out on Hertl? Add Jokinen

If you're a fantasy owner who witnessed Tomas Hertl's four-goal masterpiece for the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, chances are you scurried to the waiver wire to check his availability.

But with Hertl now owned in over 50 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues, your late bid for this single-game impact player was likely unsuccesful. Luckily, there's another readily-available player on a high-caliber line who can pay both immediate and long-term dividends.

Jussi Jokinen, owned in only 28 percent of leagues, notched his second hat trick in just over two weeks. The first came in a preseason game on Sept. 21, so this was the first to count in fantasy leagues.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 3:00 AM

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

Weekes: Blackhawks-Blues could be playoff preview

This week's Wednesday Night Rivalry doesn't just feature a classic matchup straight out of the old Norris Division. It also features two of the best teams in the NHL as the Chicago Blackhawks visit the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Both these teams are off to good starts, but I'm especially curious about St. Louis. The Blues do a lot of things well to be a successful team in the League. The question is how close is this team to taking the next step? I believe the Blues are much closer, but where are they now in relation to the Los Angeles Kings or the Blackhawks? We just might find out Wednesday.

A major key will be the play of goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who I expect will have a nice bounce-back year. He spent a lot of time in St. Louis working with their trainer trying to rehabilitate his injuries and get into better shape. Hopefully that will serve him well.

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Quote of the Day

I don’t know if it was more relief for me that [Stamkos] scored or the power play scored. It was a whole compilation of Alka Seltzer.

— Lightning coach Jon Cooper after Steven Stamkos broke a long scoring drought and Tampa Bay's struggling power play scored four times in Game 2 at Montreal