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Features

Russia all business preparing to play Slovenia

Wednesday, 02.12.2014 / 4:50 AM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

SOCHI -- After two days as the friendly hosts and main attraction at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the Russia men's ice hockey team has turned its focus to why they're actually here and the enormous task they have in front of them.

Russia opens the tournament Thursday against Slovenia (7:30 a.m. ET, MSNBC, CBC), starting what they hope and expect to be an 11-day journey to the top of the medal stand.

The time for advertisements and all-inclusive, unifying press conferences in front of hundreds of media members, some acting as fans, is over.

"I think we have to put everything behind us and just focus on the little details of the game, just play your game you know," Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov said. "If we're going to play like a team everything is going to be OK."

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Non-Olympians balance rest, conditioning

Wednesday, 02.12.2014 / 3:18 AM / 2014 Olympics

While 140 or so NHL players skate for their countries at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the rest are enjoying a chance to rest, relax and gear up for the sprint to the end of the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It comes at a perfect time of the season. It's been a busy schedule," Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen told the team website. "It feels like last season with the frequency of the games. It takes a toll. It comes at a perfect time of the year when you're starting to bog down a little bit. Recharge mentally and physically and preparing for that big push in the spring."

The break in the schedule began Sunday, and teams can't begin practicing again until Feb. 19. Play resumes on Feb. 25 when the Carolina Hurricanes visit the Buffalo Sabres in a game that had to be rescheduled from last month due to a snowstorm. Eight teams resume the following night, but most don't return to action until Feb. 27, meaning that teams can hold as many as seven practices before resuming play.

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Over the Boards: Subban set to do whatever it takes

Wednesday, 02.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

SOCHI -- P.K. Subban might be the next Drew Doughty for the Canadian Olympic team. The Montreal Canadiens star defenseman also might just be a seventh or eighth defensemen for the duration of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Last season's Norris Trophy winner won't mind either way.

Subban, arguably the most polarizing and debated player on the Canadian roster, appears to be coming into his first Olympic tournament with no ego of which to speak. He is filled by the long-anticipated feeling of excitement to be here and the tantalizing idea of how he might be able to contribute to a gold-medal performance, but he said he has no expectations for what his role might be and no demands on what it should be.

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AHL All-Stars edge Färjestad BK in skills competition

Tuesday, 02.11.2014 / 9:00 PM / AHL Update

NHL.com

Hometown captain Jason Jaffray played the role of hero as the American Hockey League All-Star team earned a thrilling 18-17 victory against Färjestad BK of the Swedish Elite League in the 2014 AHL All-Star Skills Competition at Mile One Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland Tuesday evening.

Jaffray, the AHL's All-Star captain who also wears the "C" for the St. John's IceCaps, scored at the end of the fourth round of the AHL Live Breakaway Relay event to tie the score, then converted in the third sudden-death shootout round to give the AHL the win. The victory against their Swedish guests marked the first part of the two-day 2014 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Assante Wealth Management.

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NHL Network unveils plans for Olympic program

30-minute live show from Sochi to debut Feb. 12 in U.S., Canada

Tuesday, 02.11.2014 / 4:00 PM / NHL Network

NHL.com

NEW YORK – NHL Network will air a new half-hour live program during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, the National Hockey League announced today. From Feb. 12 through Feb. 23, NHL Tonight: 2014 Sochi Edition presented by McDonald's will chronicle the men's Olympic ice hockey tournament through interviews, game analysis, news and highlights.

Hosted by Kathryn Tappen live from Sochi, NHL Tonight: 2014 Sochi Edition will bring viewers the latest in the men's Olympic hockey competition. Joining Tappen from NHL Network's studio in Toronto will be co-hosts EJ Hradek and Mark Roe and analysts Mike Johnson, Jamie McLennan and Kevin Weekes.

"NHL Tonight: 2014 Sochi Edition will serve hockey fans with game highlights and exclusive player interviews away from the rink," said Bob Chesterman, NHL Senior Vice President of Programming and Production. "Hockey fans can expect the NHL Network to serve as the perfect complement to NBC's and CBC's coverage of the men's Olympic hockey tournament."

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Avs' Johnson suspended two games for slashing

Tuesday, 02.11.2014 / 3:24 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL.com

NEW YORK - Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson has been suspended for two games, without pay, for slashing New York Islanders forward Frans Nielsen during NHL Game No. 878 in New York on Saturday, Feb. 8, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 12:09 of the third period. Johnson was assessed a minor penalty for slashing.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and based on his average annual salary, Johnson will forfeit $38,461.54. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

For a full explanation of the decision, complete with video, please click on the following link: http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=60&id=560334&lang=en.

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Olympic dream to be delayed for Canada scratches

Tuesday, 02.11.2014 / 1:49 PM / 2014 Olympics

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

SOCHI -- The Olympic dream is getting closer to reality for Canada with their first game coming Thursday against Norway (noon ET, USA).

Two players, however, will have to wait at least another day.

The identities of the two players coach Mike Babcock will need to scratch for Canada's first game became a little clearer after practice Tuesday.

In all likelihood it will be one of Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning) or Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche) at forward, and one of Dan Hamhuis (Vancouver Canucks) or P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens) on defense.

It's the unfortunate reality of having a 25-man roster and a 23-man lineup, but it's not one the players affected by it are dwelling on.

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Potential U.S. top line poised to produce in Sochi

Tuesday, 02.11.2014 / 1:39 PM / 2014 Olympics

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

SOCHI -- For the second straight day, San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski skated between two Toronto Maple Leafs teammates, James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel, during United States practice at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Coach Dan Bylsma switched players on the other three lines, but that trio remained the same. Should they play together Thursday in the team's opening game against Slovakia, van Riemsdyk, Pavelski and Kessel could be the line with the most NHL goals this season of any in the tournament.

"Well, we better score then," Pavelski said when informed of his trio's scoring prowess. "We've better find ways to score. There's a lot of hard work that has been put in during the year and they're both great players."

Kessel is second in the League this season with 31 goals. Pavelski is tied for fourth with 29, and van Riemsdyk checks in tied for 13th with 24. That's 84 goals, and it is more than any other trio that has practiced together in Sochi leading up to the start of the tournament Wednesday.

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Sweden's hopes lifted with Lundqvist's resurgence

Tuesday, 02.11.2014 / 1:06 PM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

SOCHI -- The Swedes might have been wondering if their gold-medal expectations were too high had the opening of the men's hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics been scheduled for early last month instead of Wednesday.

Henrik Lundqvist was scuffling in net and struggling to help the New York Rangers stay above water in the improving Metropolitan Division. He was having a poor season not only by his standards, but even by the standards typically set for an average NHL goalie, certainly one who hasn't been a Vezina Trophy winner and a repeat finalist.

He was never seriously in jeopardy of losing his job as Sweden's No. 1 goalie, but the thought of playing in the Olympics was so hard for Lundqvist to fathom at the time because of how engrossed he was in trying to solve the riddle that had become his surprisingly erratic play in a season that appeared close to going off the rails.

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Bylsma, Americans face vexing decision in goal

Tuesday, 02.11.2014 / 12:21 PM / 2014 Olympics

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

SOCHI -- United States coach Dan Bylsma knows of all the decisions he makes, none will be dissected as much as the one which determines who plays goal in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

In fact, the decision could define his legacy as coach of the U.S. team.

That, simply, is the lot of a coach. Bylsma understands that and accepts it. But he doesn't have to love it.

Coaches make hundreds of decisions about their teams on an almost daily basis, but outsiders fixate on the goalie decisions because, in the game today, no player has a bigger impact than a goalie on the top of his profession.

The Americans may know this better than anyone.

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Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals