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McDavid-Eichel matchup could be top moment of WJC

Thursday, 12.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

There will come a time in the late afternoon on New Year's Eve when the roar of the crowd at Bell Centre in Montreal will equal the decibel meter in Times Square in New York City just as the clock strikes midnight to usher in the new year.

It will happen when 17-year-old Connor McDavid of Canada and 18-year-old American Jack Eichel, the projected top two picks in the 2015 NHL Draft, go head-to-head chasing a puck into a corner during preliminary-round action in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.


McDavid, Eichel two of top 2015 prospects at WJC

Wednesday, 12.24.2014 / 3:08 PM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will head an impressive group of 2015 NHL Draft prospects playing at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Both players gained valuable experience at the 2014 WJC in Sweden, McDavid for Canada and Eichel for the United States. The expectations will be ramped up this year as the players, expected to be the first two picks of the draft, will be playing in the tournament in the hockey hotbeds of Toronto and Montreal, starting Dec. 26.

Defenseman Aaron Ekblad was selected by the Florida Panthers with the first pick of the 2014 NHL Draft in part because of a nice showing at the 2014 WJC; he had one goal, two points and eight shots on goal. Canada coach Brent Sutter thought so highly of Ekblad that he had him in a top-four role.


Scott suspended four games for punching opponent

Wednesday, 12.24.2014 / 2:00 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NEW YORKSan Jose Sharks forward John Scott has been suspended for four games, without pay, for punching an unsuspecting opponent and causing an injury (Rule 46.15) to Anaheim Ducks forward Tim Jackman during NHL Game No. 501 in Anaheim on Monday, Dec. 22, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 8:18 of the second period.


Blackhawks' Erixon hoping for Winter Classic chance

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Tim Erixon was so close to experiencing an NHL outdoor game that he practically could feel the cold air against his face.

It was 2011-12, Erixon's first season with the New York Rangers. However, he played 18 games for New York between trips to Connecticut of the American Hockey League.

One of the demotions stung a little more than the others. It happened Dec. 28, 2011, days before the Rangers were to play the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic. The Rangers won the game 3-2 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

"I got sent down [a few days] before, so I never got to experience it," said Erixon, now a 24-year-old who was acquired by the Blackhawks on Dec. 14 in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. "It was my first year [in the NHL]. I got sent down right before the trip, the day before we were going to leave."

Erixon was dealt to the Blue Jackets the next season. He'd stashed thoughts of playing outside in the back of his mind until his latest career transaction brought them rushing back to the forefront.

He'll have a chance to make his NHL outdoor hockey debut at the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, on Jan. 1, 2015 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., against the Washington Capitals.


Fantasy top 60 'D': Faulk rising in the ranks

Wednesday, 12.24.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - Correspondent

Every Wednesday during the season, fantasy hockey correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with in-depth defensemen analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer will be your go-to guy for fantasy blue line advice all season long.


Coming into each fantasy season there are always a couple of players that are primed for a breakout. Maybe they finished the prior season on a hot streak. Maybe they moved to a new team, or in the case of the Carolina Hurricanes' Justin Faulk, they just have all the tools to be an impact offensive player.

Harnessing those tools sometimes takes some effort and that is what we have seen with Faulk during his career.

Ten who could surprise at 2015 World Juniors

Wednesday, 12.24.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

The Finnish National Junior Team received quite a few surprise performances on the way to its gold medal-winning effort at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.

Goaltender Juuse Saros stole the show when he made 35 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against Sweden in the gold-medal game. Saros, who was selected in the fourth round (No. 99) by the Nashville Predators in the 2013 NHL Draft, finished 5-1 with a 1.57 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in six games. He was named to the tournament All-Star Team.

It's not uncommon to have a player jump off the score sheet in unexpected fashion at the World Juniors.

Switzerland's Nino Niederreiter, who now plays for the Minnesota Wild, is the poster boy for coming out of the woodwork at the event.

It was Niederreiter's performance for Switzerland at the 2010 WJC that ultimately placed him in the crosshairs of scouts and coaches leading up to the 2010 draft. He had six goals and 10 points in seven games, including the game-tying and overtime goal in the quarterfinals against Russia, and was named to the tournament All-Star team. Although the Swiss placed fourth in the tournament, Niederreiter opened eyes and went on to become the highest-drafted Swiss-born player ever, going No. 5 to the New York Islanders.

Here are 10 players who could surprise at the 2015 WJC (listed alphabetically):


U.S. goalies Demko, Gillies share special bond

Wednesday, 12.24.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Evan Sporer - Staff Writer

Thatcher Demko made his collegiate debut at Boston College on Oct. 13, 2013, backstopping the Eagles to a 7-2 victory against Rensselaer. Demko was the best goalie on the ice that day, but whether or not he was the best goalie at Conte Forum was up for debate, as Jon Gillies of Providence College was tucked away high in the stands as a spectator.

Gillies had met Demko in August at a United States World Junior evaluation camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. The two developed a relationship and often text each other. Gillies said he knew how eager Demko was to get into his first game and made the near-hour drive from his campus to Chestnut Hill, Mass.

"We hit it off from the beginning; we see a lot of things the same way," Gillies told "It's kind of grown from there, and it's been fun to share some things with him over the last couple of years."

Gillies was the starting goalie at the 2014 World Junior Championship for a United States team that finished fifth. Demko, the third goalie on that team and the only returning American goalie for the 2015 WJC, is expected to be the starter for the U.S. when the tournament starts Dec. 26.


Heavy hearts for Blackhawks on way to Winter Classic

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The camera abruptly zoomed in on Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville's face, so close that you could see the tears that hadn't yet dropped out of the bottom of his eyelids. This was the picture of a man, not just a coach, dealing with the stark reality of life and death amidst the whirlwind of an NHL season.

Clint Reif, an unheralded member of the Blackhawks family as their assistant equipment manager, was found dead in his home Sunday morning. He was 34 years old.

Earlier in the week Reif was doing what he loved to do, preparing the equipment, the jerseys, pants, socks, skates, everything, alone at United Center while the Blackhawks attended a season-ticket holder function at Navy Pier.

The EPIX cameras were with Reif while he worked. He dished on players, providing some insight into the inner workings of the Blackhawks and the personalities that made work never feel like work.

Then Reif was suddenly gone, so Quenneville had to stand in front of the media and talk about his loss prior to Chicago's game Sunday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. His eyes welled up while he stood at the podium. He was a picture of shock and sadness.


Sharks' Scott to have phone hearing Wednesday

Tuesday, 12.23.2014 / 8:13 PM / Department of Player Safety News

San Jose Sharks forward John Scott will have a phone hearing Wednesday for punching Anaheim Ducks right wing Tim Jackman during a game at Honda Center on Monday.

Scott did not receive a penalty on the play, but will speak with the Department of Player Safety for punching an unsuspecting player.

The Ducks won the game in overtime, 3-2.


EPIX to air second episode of Winter Classic series

As the journey toward Nationals Park on New Year's Day continues for the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks, the second episode of "EPIX Presents Road to the NHL Winter Classic" examines the truths of winning and losing, teamwork and toughness, and the reality that occasionally the game can take a backseat to family, friendship, loved ones and, unfortunately, lost ones.

Some of the highlights in the second episode of the four-part series, which airs Tuesday night on EPIX, include family skates for both the Blackhawks and Capitals, featuring the loved ones and the little ones that are rarely seen but so important in the lives of the players and coaches.

There are light-hearted moments, such as Alex Ovechkin walking through the concourse at Verizon Center while attending a Washington Wizards game in search of ice cream. There is a segment on Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, who is affectionately known as "The Mutt" for his uncanny ways of getting under your skin by running his mouth and never holding back. Capitals rookies Michael Latta and Tom Wilson are shown during a lunch in Columbus talking about how pickles are made.

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Quote of the Day

It was a different game in the past, that's for sure. It's not exactly what I was expecting but I think the experience paid off for a lot of our guys that realized what it takes in a Game 7. Realistically the effort we put forward, we might not even had to put 60 [minutes], but we just couldn't get a couple bounces to go our way and we just kept pushing.

— Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby on Washington's play in Game 7 vs. the Islanders