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NHL Teamwork

Ovi has led Russian contingency to Washington

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 5:01 PM / NHL Teamwork

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

There once was a time when Detroit was at the center of a Russian hockey revolution and the "Russian Five" helped the Red Wings to the top of the NHL.

In recent years, the greatest contingent of Russian players on this continent has shifted East to Washington, D.C., and no player has been more responsible for that than Alex Ovechkin. The Capitals have dressed as many as five Russians at a time, and guys like Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Semyon Varlamov, Viktor Kozlov and Sergei Fedorov have been pivotal to the franchise's resurgence in the past five seasons.

Ovechkin is not only the face of the franchise, he is the reason why there is likely to be more Russians playing hockey in America's capitol city in the future. While other teams have taken fewer Russian players in the NHL Entry Draft in recent years, general manager George McPhee's stance has been that Ovechkin's presence will help in recruiting players to play for the Capitals.

"When I was younger, my favorite player was Mario Lemieux, but as I've gotten older I think the Russian colony here in Washington has become my favorites," former Capitals prospect Dmitry Kugryshev said during one of the team's developmental camps.

Elias-Sykora combo a classic one for Devils

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 4:38 PM / NHL Teamwork

David Kalan - Staff Writer

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In Patrik Elias' hockey career, few people are likely to know him quite as well as Petr Sykora. The two were born seven months apart in what was then Czechoslovakia, and both first appeared in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils in 1995-96.

As a result, the two have long been known to be fast friends off the ice and have had impressive chemistry on it. In the Devils' 2000 Stanley Cup run, Elias and Sykora teamed with Jason Arnott to form the team's top line, and even though Sykora was watching in the hospital after an earlier hit in Game 6 when Elias fed Arnott for the Cup clincher, it was evident the line's chemistry was still there. A year later, Elias and Sykora memorably assisted on each other's goals while leading the Devils to a comeback win in Game 4 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Final. It goes without saying that New Jersey wouldn't have gotten a sniff of Lord Stanley without the relationship the two Czech wingers displayed both on and off the ice. 

Leafs' 1942 comeback was ultimate playoff rally

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Teamwork

John Kreiser - Columnist

Imagine the task that confronted the Toronto Maple Leafs after Game 3 of the 1942 Stanley Cup Final. Not only had they blown a 2-0 lead in Game 3 and lost 5-2 at Detroit, but they trailed the series 3-0 -- a deficit no team had ever overcome.

To make matters even worse, Game 4 was scheduled for the Olympia in Detroit, where the Wings enjoyed a tremendous home-ice advantage.

Not a promising situation -- so Leafs coach Hap Day decided to think outside the box.

Habs defied odds beating record-setting 1971 B's

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Teamwork

John Kreiser - Columnist

The task that confronted the Montreal Canadiens in their opening-round playoff series against Boston in 1971 was simple: All they had to do to advance was beat the defending Stanley Cup champs, who had just shattered the NHL record for goals scored and goals for-goals against margin -- and had record-setters in Phil Esposito (76 goals, 152 points) and Bobby Orr (102 assists). Oh, and Montreal's starting goaltender was a rookie who had played all of six NHL games (though he did win all six).

The kid goaltender, Ken Dryden didn't get off to an auspicious start. The Bruins beat the Canadiens 3-1 in the opener, then took a 5-1 lead midway in the second period of Game 2 -- only to see the Canadiens score six unanswered goals, five in the third period, for a 7-5 victory. Henri Richard started the comeback with an unassisted goal at 15:33 of the second period, and Jean Beliveau scored twice in the third.

Halak, Elliott emerge as great tandem in St. Louis

Monday, 12.19.2011 / 10:11 PM / NHL Teamwork

Davis Harper - Staff Writer

As October turned into November under the Gateway Arch, the mission to get the St. Louis Blues to the playoffs was already suffering from lack of execution.

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch headline on Nov. 8 summed it up well: "Too many problems to pinpoint Blues' woes."

Despite the additions of key veterans that signaled a newfound playoff focus, the Blues were a pedestrian 6-7-0 through 13 games. They were last on the power play and 27th on the penalty kill.

Goalie change sparked Isles 1975 legendary upset

Monday, 12.19.2011 / 4:37 PM / NHL Teamwork

John Kreiser - Columnist

The 1975 New York Islanders weren't even supposed to have gotten to the Stanley Cup Playoffs quarterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The third-year Isles weren't expected to get past their big-city rivals, the Rangers, in the best-of-three preliminary round -- but they did, winning Game 3 in overtime at Madison Square Garden in a game then-Isles GM Bill Torrey later called "the biggest win in franchise history."

But a series against the Penguins was no bargain.

Bossy and Trottier were study in instant chemistry

Monday, 12.19.2011 / 4:29 PM / NHL Teamwork

John Kreiser - Columnist

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Bread and butter. Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy. Two combinations that are perfect together.

In fact, New York Islanders teammate Garry Howatt actually nicknamed the two "bread and butter" -- and not only because they were the bread and butter of one of the NHL's greatest dynasties, but because they were almost as inseparable off the ice as they were on it.

Trottier actually arrived on Long Island in 1975, giving him a two-year head start on Bossy, who was taken late in the first round in 1977. In a masterstroke, Islanders coach Al Arbour put Bossy, a right wing, on a line with Trottier in the middle and Clark Gillies on the left. But it was the pairing of Trottier, one of the NHL's most unselfish passers, and Bossy, a sniper supreme, that made the Islanders' attack go.

Nearly impossible situation turns into historic victory

Monday, 12.19.2011 / 4:19 PM / NHL Teamwork

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

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The Philadelphia Flyers' 2009-10 season had more twists and turns than a pretzel factory and more ups and downs than a child's trampoline party.
No better example of that came in the team's conference semifinal series with the Boston Bruins.
The Flyers, who only got into the playoffs with a final-day shootout win against the New York Rangers, became the first team to advance to the second round with a five-game first-round series victory against the New Jersey Devils. That meant a nine-day layoff, and the rust showed early.

Legion of Doom: Disparate parts made new whole

Monday, 12.19.2011 / 4:11 PM / NHL Teamwork

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

When Bob Clarke started his second tenure as general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1994, he inherited a roster that was led by superstar center Eric Lindros. However, Clarke knew Lindros couldn't win games by himself, and started looking for some help.
"Lindros was going against the biggest players from the other teams, and he needed help," he said in a June 1995 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. "His line had to have more size."

Which teams have the best scoring tandems?

Sunday, 12.18.2011 / 10:00 PM / NHL Teamwork

Davis Harper - Staff Writer

Evgeni Malkin
Center - PIT
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 36
SOG: 124 | +/-: 4
Picture the following scenario: A forward gets on a hot streak, and the rest of his line – and maybe even a blueliner or two – warm themselves around his fire. Happens every season, right?

So far this season, six teams are adding a slight wrinkle to that narrative: two guys on a torrid pace – feeding off one another's soaring confidence – are setting the goal-scoring pace for the entire League.

The duos, in order of production: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp, Chicago, 35 goals; Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, Toronto, 34 goals; Evgeni Malkin and James Neal, Pittsburgh, 33 goals; Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay, 31 goals; Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia, 31 goals; Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza, Ottawa, 31 goals.


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