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Over the Boards
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Over the Boards

Over the Boards: Alzner assesses Capitals' struggles

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner believes honesty in the face of adversity is the best policy a player and a team can have. Alzner's problem is he doesn't think his team has fully bought into that policy.

"We don't always admit to our mistakes, own up to them and fix them," Alzner told NHL.com from Prudential Center last Friday. "We just push them under the rug and worry about it later."

The Capitals won't be able to push away their problems anymore.

After heading into the season thinking they could compete with the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are now longshots to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs; they staved off elimination with a 4-1 win Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues and are four points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second and final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with three games left for each team.

The Washington organization has questions to answer as it nears the end of a disappointing regular season and what will likely be a longer-than-anticipated offseason.

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Over the Boards: Boudreau reflects on historic rally

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 2:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said his team's historic come-from-behind 5-4 overtime win Monday against the Winnipeg Jets reminds him of Game 4 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers.

"We were down [3-0] in Game 4 to the Rangers in New York," said Boudreau, who was Capitals coach from 2007-2011. "We scored three in the third, [Jason] Chimera scored in [double] overtime, and we won."

On Monday, the Ducks trailed 4-0 before Nick Bonino scored with 2:16 remaining in the second period. Anaheim scored three times in the third, including Corey Perry's game-tying goal with 22.7 seconds left, to force overtime. Stephane Robidas' goal 16 seconds into overtime capped the Ducks' largest comeback victory in franchise history.


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Over the Boards: Three trades, three winners

Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- More than two years later, the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings have no complaints about the returns they got in what amounted to three blockbuster deals involving star forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. If the Columbus Blue Jackets become a perennial Stanley Cup Playoff contender with Jack Johnson as their cornerstone defensemen, they won't have any reason to gripe either.

All three teams could be in the playoffs this season.

"If you look at [the trades], it's worked out well for everybody," Philadelphia assistant general manager Ron Hextall told NHL.com before watching the Kings beat the Flyers 3-2 on Monday.


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Over the Boards: Giroux fuels Flyers' resurgence

Wednesday, 03.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- During an interview that lasted less than six minutes Tuesday morning, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux used the word "we" 18 times and "team" 10 times.

What he wouldn't do, even when pressed, is talk about himself.

That's not surprising because Giroux has always been a team-first guy, but it is ironic considering everyone else in the Philadelphia dressing room has no problem saying Giroux is the player at the heart of the team's turnaround this season.

"When he's going, everyone is going," Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds said.


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Over the Boards: Kuemper fighting for No. 1 job

Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- When Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher traded Matt Hackett at the NHL Trade Deadline last season, he was sending a signal to Darcy Kuemper that he would be the marquee goalie in the organization's developmental system and featured between the pipes with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League.

It's fair to say things have changed since then.

Less than a year after Fletcher dealt Hackett to the Buffalo Sabres, Kuemper is Minnesota's No. 1 goalie, facing the challenge of giving the team a chance to win every game he starts as they creep closer to a second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Over the last few seasons, Matt Hackett played more games than Darcy in the American League, and Darcy had to go to the ECHL and play overage as a junior," Fletcher told NHL.com. "He had never been our marquee guy in the developmental system. We really felt he needed that. He needed a year where he'd be a 40-50 game guy for his development, knowing fairly soon he'd challenge in Minnesota. Now, of course, the future came very quickly."


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Over the Boards: Red Wings focused on playoff streak

Wednesday, 03.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Detroit Red Wings were in the same situation last year as they are now. They were facing pressure to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, to extend their record streak of postseason appearances, without much time to make sure it happened.

The Red Wings eventually had to win their final four regular-season games and get some help to make the playoffs for a 22nd straight season, but they pulled it off with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup.

Zetterberg and Datsyuk are watching these days, out of the lineup with injuries, so if Detroit is going to extend its playoff streak to 23 seasons, it will have to rely on something it hasn't had much patience for in previous seasons: youth.

"I think it's intriguing," Red Wings veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall said Tuesday, a few hours before Detroit lost 4-3 to the New Jersey Devils. "The way these [young] guys have played, the way they have stepped up since getting the chance, it's great to see the confidence. They just want more and more."

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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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Over the Boards: Olympic break provides respite

Wednesday, 02.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

While the world gets ready to turn its attention to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the majority of players and coaches in the NHL will soon have nothing to do.

The NHL's Olympic break begins after the final buzzer sounds Saturday night and continues until 2 p.m. on Feb. 19. That's when coaches can get their teams back together, or at least the players who aren't still in Sochi, and resume practicing to prep for the re-opening of the regular-season schedule, which for most teams won't be until Feb. 26 or 27.

For the players it's a chance to unwind away from the rink, get some fun in the sun, maybe take a golf trip or spend some time with family. Most coaches will be doing the same thing, but mentally getting away from the game won't be as simple.

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Over the Boards: Ducks deep at center

Wednesday, 01.29.2014 / 2:15 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Look no farther than Nick Bonino's stat line this season if you want to analyze just how deep the Anaheim Ducks are at center.

Bonino, considered the Ducks' third- or fourth-line center, depending on the game, opponent and his linemates, would lead eight teams in scoring right now despite being 77th among centers in ice time per game (16:27).

He has 40 points, which is third on the Ducks behind fellow center Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry. Bonino is one of five centers who routinely make coach Bruce Boudreau's job one of the easiest yet toughest in the NHL.

"When you've got that many guys that can play minutes, I mean, Bruce has a task every night," Getzlaf said.

The Ducks talk about their four-line balance as one of the main reasons for their success this season. They wouldn't have that four-line balance without at least four centers Boudreau trusts in nearly all situations.

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Over the Boards: Grand impact in Detroit

Wednesday, 01.15.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

It's partly by choice and partly because they have had no choice, but as many as 10 players who were part of the Grand Rapids Griffins' Calder Cup championship team last season have been playing key roles in helping the Detroit Red Wings stay in the hunt for a record 23rd consecutive berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.

"I looked the other day we had eight guys from that team in our lineup," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told NHL.com. "Any way you look at it that's a chunk, and with that lineup we were able to win in Los Angeles (3-1) and lose 1-0 in Anaheim in a game I thought we could have easily won. They're ready to play."

They have had no choice but to be ready with all the injuries the Red Wings have endured this season to players such as Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Jimmy Howard, Johan Franzen, Daniel Alfredsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Stephen Weiss and Brendan Smith.

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Quote of the Day

When we started our journey we made a commitment to our fans to be relevant and to see the Chicago Blackhawks become the best professional hockey organization. There are not two finer symbols of that than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The commitment we have made to these incredible young men is equal to the commitment they have made to our team, our fans, our entire organization and the city of Chicago.

— Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz on signing Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to contract extensions