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Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 2:20 PM

By Staff -  / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Isles' Okposo moves on after missing Olympic team

New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo waited like everyone else for the announcement of the United States team that will compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He was hoping he'd be named to the team, hopes that gained momentum the past couple of weeks.

Okposo's resume is impressive. His 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) through 41 games is tied for 12th in the League and he has five goals and six assists during his current seven-game point streak.

At the conclusion of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, names were called in alphabetical order. There were two players with O at the start of their last name, but it was Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik and St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie.

Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 2:16 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild place Konopka on waivers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With goaltender Josh Harding under the weather and the Minnesota Wild in need of a roster spot for an extra goalie, the Wild placed forward Zenon Konopka on waivers Thursday prior to the team's game against the Buffalo Sabres.

A gritty fourth-liner who excels in the faceoff circle, Konopka has one goal and one assist in 36 games. He's in the final season of a two-year contract and is making $925,000 this season.

Konopka leads the Wild with 55 penalty minutes and his 65.7-percent faceoff success rate is the best in the NHL among players to take at least 200 faceoffs.

Should Konopka clear waivers, the Wild would have the option of assigning him to the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild. Coach Mike Yeo said he hasn't thought that far ahead, however.

Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 1:46 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Russia rides power-play goals to WJC semifinals

Russia defenseman Nikita Zadorov scored two second-period power-play goals to help rally his team to a 5-3 victory against the United States in the quarterfinals of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship at Malmo Isstadion in Malmo, Sweden on Thursday.

The triumph enables Russia to advance to the semifinals on Saturday against the winner of the quarterfinal later Thursday between Sweden and Slovakia (1:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US). The Russians lost 3-2 to Sweden in the final game of the preliminary round in the Group B pool Tuesday.

"We want to play Sweden," Zadorov told the IIHF website. "It was a close game last time and we're going to watch some video and play better."

After earning medals in two of the past three World Junior tournaments, including the gold at the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia, the Americans will go home this year without a medal.

Stefan Matteau had a goal and an assist, and Ryan Hartman and Nicolas Kerdiles also scored for the U.S. Goalie Jon Gillies made 20 saves.

Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 1:35 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Discipline, penalty kill send U.S. home early from WJC

The trip home this year for the United States National Junior Team will not be nearly as memorable as the one the team made last year.

After celebrating a third gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship, the United States will arrive home empty-handed in 2014 after dropping a 5-3 quarterfinal game against Russia on Thursday at Malmo Isstadion in Malmo, Sweden.

"It's definitely disappointing," U.S. forward Ryan Hartman told "We came in with a goal to win gold and obviously fell short. It's a learning experience for the guys coming back next year; it's a good learning tool for them."

Hartman, U.S. captain Riley Barber and goalie Jon Gillies were the three returnees from the team that won the gold last year in Ufa, Russia. Hartman pointed to struggles on the penalty kill that led to the early dismissal this year.

Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 1:13 PM

By Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Filppula on cusp of top 100 overall

When Steven Stamkos went down to injury, the Tampa Bay Lightning needed Valtteri Filppula, their five-year, $25 million man, to step up to the plate and deliver.

Filppula has answered the call with balanced point production and clutch goal-scoring, enabling the Lightning to stay near the top of the Eastern Conference standings despite losing one of the NHL's elite forwards for an extended timeframe.

The Finnish-born forward had his 10th multi-point game of the season (T-17th in the League) Wednesday when his team triumphed on the road against the Vancouver Canucks. Filppula, who has points in seven of his past eight games with a total of 12 in that span, is one of 24 players League-wide with 15-plus goals and 15-plus assists.

Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 12:56 PM

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

Capitals rearrange lines in search of goals

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals put a combined 85 shots on goal in back-to-back games Sunday and Monday against the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators.

Though the Capitals had their most shots on goal over a two-game span since firing 91 total on March 8-10, 2010 (according to Elias Sports Bureau), they could only muster two goals in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Sabres and a 3-1 loss to the Senators.

Losses notwithstanding, coach Adam Oates said he was pleased with his team's output and even more so with the quality of shots taken, saying Wednesday "we had the most Grade As we've had."

Yet Oates and his players are keenly aware that an exorbitant amount of shots means little if they are not going in. Players said they need to make more of an effort to attack the net with vigor, making life for opposing goaltenders difficult and scoring dirty goals as a result.

Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 12:56 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Bruins reward Svedberg with start in goal

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins will star the new year with a new goaltender.

Rookie Niklas Svedberg has been recalled from Providence of the American Hockey League and is scheduled to start against the Nashville Predators on Thursday at TD Garden.

The Bruins' other goaltenders, Tuukka Rask and Chad Johnson, are healthy, but the Bruins wanted to reward Svedberg for his solid play last season and this season with some NHL experience in his second season of North American hockey.

The 24-year-old signed as a free agent out of Sweden in May 2012.

"It's feeling good. Right now I'm just trying to stay calm, focus on the game, what I'm going to do out there," Svedberg said. "That's my only focus right now and we'll see after the game."

Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 12:06 PM

By Staff -  / - NHL Live blog

NHL Live breaks down U.S. Olympic roster

The United States team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics has been announced, and U.S. general manager David Polie will call into NHL Live (5 p.m. ET, NHL Network) to discuss the selections and the difficult process of picking the perfect team.

We've reached the halfway point of the regular season. E.J. Hradek and Ken Daneyko will look back at the best moments of the first half and give out their first-half awards. In addition, former Los Angeles Kings forward and current analyst Jim Fox joins the show from Scotttrade Center before the Kings' game against the St. Louis Blues to talk about the imminent return of goalie Jonathan Quick and the performance of rookie Martin Jones in his absence.

Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 10:42 AM

By Staff -  / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues recall Allen from AHL

The St. Louis Blues on Thursday recalled goaltender Jake Allen from their American Hockey League team, the Chicago Wolves.

Allen is third in the AHL with a 2.17 goals-against average. In 23 games he's 14-7-2 with a .922 save percentage and two shutouts.

The 23-year-old made his NHL debut last season, going 9-4-1 in 15 games, with a 2.46 GAA and .905 save percentage. He led all NHL rookies in wins, GAA and save percentage.

Posted On Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 10:37 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Sutter puts Canada through rough practice

Since Brent Sutter was named coach of Canada's team for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, he has preached getting better every day.

That included Wednesday, when he put his team through a rough practice in preparation for its quarterfinal game against Switzerland on Thursday (11 a.m. ET, NHLN-US) at Malmo Isstadion in Malmo, Sweden.

"When you get to this point, every game is like a Game 7," Sutter told Canadian Press. "We have to make sure our emotions are in control and our details are good. It doesn't matter who your opponent is, you have to be at the top of your game. We've got to practice like it's for keeps. You can't just turn a switch on."

Canada rallied for a 3-2 win against the United States on Tuesday to earn the top spot in Group A and a medal-round opener against Switzerland, which finished fourth in Group B.

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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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