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Features

Capitals face tough road trip before Winter Classic

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The remainder of the Washington Capitals' road to the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will wind through the Metropolitan Division, a weeklong journey that could have sizable implications.

Before the Capitals host the Chicago Blackhawks on New Year's Day at Nationals Park (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA), they conclude their December schedule with three straight road games against divisional opponents.

"We're aware of the situation here that we have a big schedule coming up here," Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said. "We've got to be focused and make sure we're not taking it lightly. Every point is important right now. We've got to be sharp here."

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Five Questions: Blackhawks CEO on Winter Classic

Tuesday, 12.23.2014 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Chicago Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough:

John McDonough walked through the doors at United Center as president of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007 with big dreams, big aspirations. He wanted to not just turn around the Blackhawks from their moribund days, he wanted to turn them into a well-recognized and highly respected global brand.

McDonough has seen his dreams become reality.

The Blackhawks hosted the 2009 NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. That was their welcome back, their return to relevance. They won the Stanley Cup in 2010; it was their first championship since 1961. They won it again in 2013, and they're favored to do so again in 2015. They hosted a Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game at Soldier Field last season.

On New Year's Day their brand will be back on the national stage in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park. The Blackhawks will be the visitors against the Washington Capitals.

McDonough spoke to NHL.com on Monday about Chicago's involvement in the Winter Classic, what it gains, tangible or intangible, from being in the game, and how the organization can continue to build the Blackhawks brand based on being involved in yet another major NHL event.

Here are Five Questions with … John McDonough:

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Lightning rookie Drouin adjusts to learning curve

Tuesday, 12.23.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

You can imagine Tampa Bay Lightning rookie Jonathan Drouin's reaction when he found out he was going to be scratched Nov. 15 against the New York Islanders. Think of a look of perplexity and surprise, and you'll have an idea.

"It's the first time I ever got scratched, so it was weird," Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, told NHL.com.

But not totally unexpected based on how Drouin had been playing.

"We had gone over a lot of things with him and ultimately I think he knew it was coming, to be honest," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Was he surprised? I'm sure he was in the sense that he was getting scratched, but I don't think that he argued. He wasn't like, 'I can't believe it.' I'm sure he was more like, 'I can't believe it has come to this.'"

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Winter Classic rink progressing in spite of elements

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- A damp and frigid day in Washington did not delay the progress being made on the rink for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, to be played between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals at Nationals Park on New Year's Day (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA).

"Right now we're in good shape," NHL senior director of facilities operation Dan Craig said. "We're not quite at half an inch [of ice], very close to half an inch right now."

Over the weekend, installation of the boards and aluminum trays that regulate the temperature of the ice surface were completed. The crew began spraying water on the playing surface to create the ice, which will ultimately be about two inches thick.

Elsewhere around the ballpark, some décor elements had already been installed, such as detailing on both dugouts and a large banner featuring the NHL Winter Classic logo in left field.

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NHL unveils architectural rendering of 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

NHL.com

Architectural rendering of 2015 NHL Winter Classic.

Architectural rendering of 2015 NHL Winter
Classic
(Click to enlarge)

NEW YORK – The National Hockey League® today unveiled an architectural rendering of the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, the much-anticipated outdoor match-up between the Chicago Blackhawks® and Washington Capitals® on New Year's Day.

Hockey's biggest stars – including Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – will take center stage as the Blackhawks and Capitals meet in Washington, D.C. at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals. The event will be broadcast live nationally on NBC in the United States and on CBC and TVA in Canada on 1 p.m. ET on Jan. 1. Sirius XM Satellite Radio will provide radio coverage.

The 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® continues the tradition the NHL® has established of hosting a regular-season game outdoors at the onset of the new year to celebrate the origin and traditions of hockey.

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Zepp's odyssey results in first NHL win with Flyers

Monday, 12.22.2014 / 1:07 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Rob Zepp was just looking for an opportunity.

After 13 seasons bouncing around hockey leagues in North America and Europe, the 33-year-old finally got his chance to play in an NHL game Sunday. Making his debut with the Philadelphia Flyers, he made 25 saves in a 4-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.

"I said to [my teammates] that I appreciate this more than anyone knows," Zepp said after the game Sunday. "I've been playing hockey for 26 years trying to get here. To be able to be here and play, the game wasn't perfect, but then to get the win at the end like that was perfect."

Zepp was born in Scarborough, Ontario, and grew up in nearby Newmarket. He starred for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, leading the OHL in goals-against average twice and winning the Canadian Hockey League scholar-athlete award. He was drafted twice by NHL teams; by the Atlanta Thrashers in the fourth round (No. 99) of the 1999 NHL Draft and by the Carolina Hurricanes in the fourth round (No. 110) of the 2001 NHL Draft.

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Fantasy All-Access: Fisher stepping up for Predators

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

Every Monday, NHL.com contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.

The holiday season is upon us, and that means a perfect time to pass out some fantasy hockey gifts to some players in much need for a holiday boost.

We are giving the present of good health to Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry. He has been a fantasy stud with 22 points in 23 games, but has missed 12 games this season due to the mumps and a knee sprain. A healthy Perry will go a long way to a fantasy championship.

A gift of a goal for Calgary Flames defenseman Kris Russell, who has played in 33 games this season and has the most assists (14) without scoring a goal. His fantasy status would be boosted if he started finding the net.

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Doubling back: Projecting 2015 All-Star participants

Monday, 12.22.2014 / 9:45 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Columbus is a little more than a month away, so it is time for another round of projections for who might end up in the midseason showcase.

Here is our first projection from November. This time, it will be Arpon Basu, Corey Masisak and Dan Rosen of NHL.com making their picks.

The exercise was pretty simple. All three chose the 42 players (12 forwards, six defensemen and three goalies in each conference) they felt most deserved to be named to the All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena on Jan. 25.

Players who were named on the most lists were part of the team, and because each player was voted in order of priority, a simple tiebreaker was used to determine the final spots if too many players were named to the same number of ballots. The individual ballots are displayed at the bottom of the story.

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Drafted prospects expected to take star turns at WJC

Monday, 12.22.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

NHL fans certainly are interested in the current fortune of their favorite team, but there's always a question of what the future could look like.

That's what makes the annual IIHF World Junior Championship such a popular, entertaining tournament.

The elite under-20 international event is stocked with top prospects and future pros at all positions.

A number of those players already have been drafted, with a few already having the chance to showcase their potential in the NHL. Here are 10 worth keeping an eye on when the 2015 WJC starts Dec. 26 in Montreal and Toronto.

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Canada's McDavid gets assist in return from injury

Sunday, 12.21.2014 / 10:35 PM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Chris Stevenson - NHL.com Correspondent

OTTAWA -- Canada forward Connor McDavid shook off the rust after a five-week layoff in a 5-2 win against Sweden on Sunday in an exhibition game ahead of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

McDavid, 17, played for the first time since breaking a bone in his right hand in a fight while playing for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League on Nov. 11. He had an assist on Canada's fourth goal, scored by Anaheim Ducks prospect Shea Theodore, in front of 13,826 at Canadian Tire Centre.

"Not playing in 40 days, you're about as rusty as you can possible get," McDavid said. "I thought my legs felt pretty good. The game speed was pretty high. Some plays happened pretty quick, but overall I thought it went all right."

Projected to be a top pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, McDavid played on a line with Ottawa Senators forward Curtis Lazar and forward Nick Ritchie, an Anaheim Ducks prospect.

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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic