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Around the League notebook for Friday, Nov. 7

Saturday, 11.08.2014 / 1:20 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

CAPITALS RALLY TO WIN WINTER CLASSIC PREVIEW

Trailing 2-0 a minute into the second period, the Washington Capitals scored three unanswered goals late in the period and hung on to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in their only meeting before a New Year’s Day showdown at Nationals Park in Washington in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

* Braden Holtby made a season-high 38 saves to help the Capitals earn their first win since Oct. 26, snapping a 0-4-1 skid. It was Washington's first regulation win at United Center since Feb. 15, 2004.

* The Capitals scored three times in the final 4:57 of the second period, two of them in 42 seconds during the final minute by Marcus Johansson (1-1—2) and Joel Ward. Johansson stretched his point streak to four games (3-3—6) and Ward scored for the third consecutive game. He leads the Capitals with two game-winning goals.

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Red Wings goalie Gustavsson out two months

Friday, 11.07.2014 / 8:42 PM / News

NHL.com

The Detroit Red Wings expect goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to miss two months after dislocating his left shoulder, the team said Friday.

Gustavsson was injured Wednesday reaching for a rebound before Derick Brassard scored 1:50 into overtime to give the New York Rangers a 4-3 win. Gustavsson made 26 saves in his first start in five games.

General manager Ken Holland told the Red Wings website that surgery is not planned and Gustavsson will be evaluated in 4-6 weeks.

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Canadiens look for answers to power-play problems

Friday, 11.07.2014 / 8:07 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec – The Montreal Canadiens would appear to have all the tools necessary to have one of the most potent power plays in the NHL.

They have an excellent quarterback in defenseman Andrei Markov, a world-class trigger man in defenseman P.K. Subban, a disruptive net-front presence in Brendan Gallagher and one of the best shooting forwards in the NHL in Max Pacioretty.

But with this collection of talent at their disposal, the Canadiens have one of the worst power plays in the NHL. They enter their game Saturday against the Minnesota Wild (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, TVA, CITY, FS-N+) with a 7.9 percent success rate with the man-advantage.

"The power play needs to be a lot better," coach Michel Therrien said after practice Friday, during which the Canadiens spent a significant amount of time working on the power play. "We need to move the puck a lot quicker, we need to take better decisions. The power play needs to be a threat, and right now I'm not satisfied with the power play.

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Canadiens' Scherbak leads Russia Super Series roster

Friday, 11.07.2014 / 5:24 PM / News

NHL.com

Montreal Canadiens prospect Nikita Scherbak, the 26th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, was one of the players who will be part of the Russia roster that will take part in the 2014 Subway Super Series.

Scherbak has 10 goals and 20 points in 12 games with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League.

Russia will have a 23-man roster for the six-game tournament and will use 10 Russian players already skating in the Canadian Hockey League. That includes Scherbak, who only will play in the first two games, against the Western Hockey League.

Scherbak is one of seven players who have been drafted by NHL teams who will play in the Super Series. Other players already drafted are goaltender Igor Shesterkin (New York Rangers), defenseman Rushan Rafikov (Calgary Flames) and Rinat Valiev (Toronto Maple Leafs), and forwards Pavel Kraskovsky (Winnipeg Jets), Sergey Tolchinsky (Carolina Hurricanes) and Ivan Barbashev (St. Louis Blues).

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Rangers' Stepan to make season debut Saturday

Friday, 11.07.2014 / 3:29 PM / News

NHL.com

New York Rangers center Derek Stepan will make his season debut Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, coach Alain Vigneault told the Rangers website Friday.

"I think he's probably the happiest person around our surroundings today," Vigneault said. "He's been waiting for this for a long time. He's worked extremely hard. He's good to go. He's going to play [Saturday]."

Stepan has not played since sustaining a broken left fibula during a training camp conditioning drill Sept. 24. The initial diagnosis was Stepan would miss 4-6 weeks; Saturday will be six weeks and three days.

"I feel good, I feel strong," Stepan said, according to The (Bergen) Record. "It was good to get back in the mix."

Vigneault said Stepan will skate between Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello against the Maple Leafs.

"[Stepan and Kreider] have got some real good chemistry," Vigneault said. "He understands Chris well, he reads him well, he uses his speed well. [Zuccarello] I feel should fit in real nicely with that line."

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Stars should shine when Capitals visit Blackhawks

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- It's a matchup that won't lack for big names when the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals meet outside on New Year's Day at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa top the list of Chicago's elite players. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green will headline the roster for the Capitals.

The Capitals and Blackhawks will give fans a preview of that New Year's Day game Friday at United Center (8:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US). It's the only other time the teams will play this season, so it should be a good primer for the Winter Classic.

"They've obviously got some dangerous players that can hurt you pretty quick," Kane said of the Capitals. "As far as the Winter Classic goes it could be a great matchup with a lot of talent and a lot of players that can do some special things to maybe help get the fans out of their seats."

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Vande Sompel to play in two OHL Super Series games

Friday, 11.07.2014 / 2:19 PM / News

NHL.com

Mitchell Vande Sompel, a top prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft, will play in both games for the Ontario Hockey League against Russia in the 2014 Subway Super Series, the OHL announced Friday.

Vande Sompel, a defenseman with the Oshawa Generals, was added to the OHL roster for Game 3, on Nov. 13 in Peterborough, Ontario. He replaces Alexander Peters, a Dallas Stars prospect, who is unable to play because of an injury. Vande Sompel initially was named to the roster for Game 4 of the series, Nov. 17 in Kingston, Ontario.

He entered play Friday tied for the lead among OHL defensemen with 19 points in 16 games. The 5-foot-10, 182-pound defender earned a B rating from NHL Central Scouting on its preliminary players to watch list.

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Tarasenko, Luongo among hot fantasy topics

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

We've just about reached the point of no return, at least in my book. As I stated a few weeks ago, I tend to give players a 12-15 game trial every season to prove themselves. If they've performed at a high level for those 12-15 games, I have reason to believe they can continue to perform at that level for at least most of the remainder of the season. If they've struggled and disappointed in those 12-15 games, I usually start to think this might not be their season.

Of course, players will prove my benchmark wrong. Claude Giroux's 2013-14 season got off to an abysmal start when he went without a goal in his first 15 games. We all know what happened after that.

There will be Girouxs this season. At some point players like Anze Kopitar, David Backes and Gabriel Landeskog should turn things around. But for lesser-known players, the 12-15 game benchmark usually has worked for me. This is your chance to start gauging what you can expect from a player this season.

St. Louis Blues sensation Vladimir Tarasenko is the perfect example. Tarasenko's been the hottest topic in fantasy hockey this week and is the No. 2 overall fantasy player in Yahoo leagues. Will he remain a top-10 player? Maybe. But he's the type of player that has proved to me he can carry this hot start throughout the season. I'm a believer.

Let's have a look at some other hot topics in fantasy hockey right now.
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Mazanec continues North American adjustment in AHL

Friday, 11.07.2014 / 11:39 AM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Though there's no definite number, Oxford Dictionaries estimates there are over 250,000 words in the English language. That's not including slang, technical or scientific terms. For those who grow up with English as their native tongue, it's often hard to fathom just how vast the language really is, and how so many of the "rules" are broken on a sentence-by-sentence basis.

Marek Mazanec, a sixth-round pick (No. 179) of the Nashville Predators in the 2012 NHL Draft, knew just a handful of those 250,000 -- if that. After three seasons backstopping HC Plzen of the Czech Extraliga, the highest level of hockey in the Czech Republic, Mazanec split the 2013-14 season almost evenly between the Predators and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals.

The adjustment was twofold.

"Everything was new for me last year. Different country, language, people, hockey style," Mazanec said. "The hardest part was my bad English. I got lucky [with] the people in the Predators organization. Everyone tried to help me, so they made it little easier for me."

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Super 16: Blues' Tarasenko among elite Russians

Friday, 11.07.2014 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The St. Louis Blues have won six games in a row despite injuries to forwards Paul Stastny and T.J. Oshie (and a temporary absence for captain David Backes). One of the biggest reasons the Blues have stormed back near the top of the League standings after an uneven start is the play of forward Vladimir Tarasenko.

While Stastny was the headliner among the offseason additions, with forward Jori Lehtera and a full-time roster spot for goaltender Jake Allen probably next in line, one of the best reasons to think St. Louis could improve in 2014-15 was the maturation of Tarasenko and forward Jaden Schwartz. Tarasenko is off to a great start with eight goals and 14 points in 12 games, including the best goal of the season to date Monday at Madison Square Garden and then the lone goal of the game one day later across the Hudson River at Prudential Center.

Tarasenko is already one of the top Russian players in the NHL (in the NHL is an important distinction, because he was not happy with his role on the national team in February). Where does he stack up among the top Russians in the League? Here's a look at the most productive players from his homeland since Tarasenko joined the Blues at the start of the 2012-13 season:

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Quote of the Day

Hockey means everything to people here [Winnipeg]. They take their team's success to heart. We've had an incredible year and they've given us incredible support.

— Jets center Mathieu Perreault after losing to the Ducks in Game 3 of their playoff series on Monday