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NHL Insider

Capitals' top line has had revolving cast at right wing

Monday, 02.23.2015 / 9:20 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

PHILADELPHIA -- During the Washington Capitals pre-game line rushes against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, Andre Burakovsky skated with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, completing the Capitals first line.

Coach Barry Trotz ultimately scratched Burakovsky after deciding Washington was in need of a jump-start, inserting Jay Beagle into the starting lineup instead. Beagle's stint on the line was short-lived; Marcus Johansson replaced him after two shifts and a holding penalty, remaining there for the rest of Washington’s 3-2 loss.

"I think we weren't sharp at all," said Backstrom, who was held without a point after having seven in his previous four games. "It doesn't matter who plays with us, to be honest with you."

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After Sochi, Price has become one of League's best

Monday, 02.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

A year ago this week, the 2014 Sochi Olympics entered the knockout round. To celebrate, NHL.com looks at three players who used one of hockey's biggest stages to grab the spotlight and parlay their celebrity into the 2014-15 NHL season.

Today, we look at Canada goalie Carey Price, who led his team to its second straight gold medal.

When Carey Price left for the 2014 Sochi Olympics it was unclear whether he or the incumbent, Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers, would be the starting goaltender for Canada.

It was the one position that most of the hockey world thought was a potential weakness for the powerhouse team from Canada.

When Price returned to the Montreal Canadiens a few weeks later he did so with a gold medal hanging around his neck, having been named the top goaltender of the Olympic tournament after a 3-0 shutout against Sweden in the gold-medal game, which was played one year ago Monday.

Price stopped 103 of 106 shots in five starts in Sochi and 70 of 71 shots in three elimination games, making the pretournament chatter about Canada’s goaltending seem rather silly.

"I was pretty confident in my abilities going into the tournament," Price said. "I knew the group of players I was playing behind, I knew it was going to be a really good opportunity to win. That was the mentality that I had, and all I had to do was just do my part. Fortunately for me things went well, the team played really well in front of me, and everything was done exactly as planned."

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Flyers' Simmonds now scoring threat in all situations

Sunday, 02.22.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The past three seasons have seen Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds emerge as one of the biggest power-play threats in the NHL.

Entering the Flyers game Sunday against the Washington Capitals (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), he's tied for third in the League with 12 power-play goals; his 33 goals on the man-advantage since the start of the 2012-13 season are third, behind Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (57) and Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks (37).

For long stretches, however, the power play has been the chief place Simmonds had been productive; of his 14 goals in a 49-game stretch between Oct. 14 and Feb. 5, five came at even strength.

In his past six games, however, he has four goals, with three of them coming at 5-on-5 play.

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Blackhawks' Hossa remains elite two-way talent

Sunday, 02.22.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Like most players, Marian Hossa was powerless to stop what happened late in the first period of a game at United Center this past Wednesday.

Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk, a relentless puck hound, used a jabbing stick lift to rip the puck from the Chicago Blackhawks forward in the defensive zone. Datsyuk quickly headed the other way, looking for the kind of play he's turned into key goals numerous times in his career.

Hossa had other ideas, and unlike most players, he was able to recover.

Just as he did during practices with the Red Wings in 2007-08, Hossa chased Datsyuk. He closed the gap through the neutral zone and caught the speedy Russian at the Chicago blue line. Hossa, a 36-year old right wing, returned the favor with a strip of his own inside the left circle, sending the puck the other way with a stretch pass.

The crowd roared. Hossa felt a sense of relief and accomplishment.

"He's one of the best," he said of Datsyuk, a three-time winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward. "I had the chance to play with [him] in Detroit and we'd play keep-aways after practices, because he's one of the best in the League. I learned from him quite a bit."

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Jamie Benn growing into role as captain of Stars

Sunday, 02.22.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent

DALLAS -- Last season was a giant learning experience for Jamie Benn.

But considering it was the start of what likely will be a long run as captain of the Dallas Stars, Benn viewed it as very productive.

Benn, a fifth-round pick (No. 129) in the 2007 NHL Draft, is in his sixth season in the League. He is second on Dallas with 58 points (23 goals, 35 assists), tied for ninth in the NHL.

Last season, Benn was a big reason the Stars made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years; they were defeated by the Anaheim Ducks in a six-game Western Conference First Round series.

The Stars, who lost in overtime to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at American Airlines Center, complete a back-to-back Sunday at the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).


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Kane sees Sabres as 'headed in the right direction'

Saturday, 02.21.2015 / 3:26 PM / NHL Insider

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Forward Evander Kane was formally introduced as a member of the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday and said he's ready to move on to this opportunity.

"It's definitely exciting to be here and meet the guys and see the city a little bit," Kane said at First Niagara Center. "The facility that they have here, it's pretty phenomenal. My excitement was definitely met since first coming here."

The Sabres acquired Kane on Feb. 11, with defenseman Zach Bogosian, from the Winnipeg Jets in a trade for defenseman Tyler Myers, forward Drew Stafford, forward prospects forwards Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux, and a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

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'Red Army' film focused on legendary Russian team

Saturday, 02.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Gabe Polsky grew up in the United States a child of parents from the former Soviet Union. He said his family's history and his heritage never really interested him for the most part, but one thing that did catch his attention was his hockey coach at age 13, also from the Soviet Union.

"It was kind of eye-opening, the style of play that he taught and the school of hockey he taught," Polsky told NHL.com. "It was really encouraging of creativity, and all these unusual training methods.

"[Anatoli] Tarasov's sort of school of hockey."

Polsky went on to play college hockey at Yale before entering a career in filmmaking. And it's that upbringing, one that combined a passion for hockey with a developed curiosity in Russian and Soviet culture, which led him to direct the documentary "Red Army," which explores one of hockey's most dominant international teams.

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'Red Army' director delves into Soviet hockey legends

Saturday, 02.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Marrazza - NHL.com Staff Writer

In North America, the hockey teams that once represented the former Soviet Union have long had a reputation: Robotic. Emotionless. Dominant.

Westerners have long respected the former Soviet Union's national teams as some of the most prolific in hockey history. Yet despite the esteem in which Soviet hockey is widely held, many Westerners still are not sure how to feel about those teams. In the end, the prevalent feeling in the West was that the Soviet teams were hyper-efficient, machine-like units, but that at the end of the day they could never equal the heart and desire shown by the U.S. Miracle on Ice team at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics or the grit displayed by Canada in the 1972 Summit Series.

Director Gabe Polsky's documentary "Red Army" places a magnifying glass over Soviet hockey's most-storied figures, using archival footage and thorough exclusive interviews to delve inside the psyche of the men and teams that made the Soviets legends.

A 35-year-old former Yale hockey player whose Ukrainian-immigrant parents raised him in Chicago, Polsky recently discussed "Red Army" with NHL.com.

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Blues' Lehtera adjusting to North America, NHL life

Saturday, 02.21.2015 / 2:50 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- It's been a year since St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera made a name for himself in front of what would turn out to be his future employers in the NHL.

For Lehtera, 27, the competition of representing Finland at the 2014 Sochi Olympics now seems like a distant memory.

It was a good first impression for the Helsinki, Finland native, who holds a key top-six role for the Blues, for what he hopes parlays into a prolonged NHL career.

The Blues (38-16-4), who hold one of the NHL's best records, were impressed after Lehtera scored a goal and had three assists in six games to help Finland win bronze in Sochi, and he went on to score three goals and 12 points in 10 games at the 2014 IIHF World Championship.

The Blues were impressed enough to sign Lehtera to a two-year, $5.5 million contract even though he had no NHL experience.

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New stats on NHL.com provide wealth of insight

Friday, 02.20.2015 / 6:47 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Hockey debates have been about feel as much as fact for much of their history. But that is changing.

Is Drew Doughty or Duncan Keith more valuable to his team? Is Wayne Gretzky or Gordie Howe the best player in hockey history? Where do Mario Lemieux or Sidney Crosby fit into that discussion? How do the career statistics of Steven Stamkos compare to other Canadian centers who are 6-foot-1 or taller and born in the 1990s?

Help is on the way. The new NHL.com statistics page (NHL.com/stats) debuted a wealth of information and tools Friday on an enhanced stats page. But even more data is coming, which will aid in any debate or answer any question regardless of era.

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