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Capitals face tough road trip before Winter Classic

Adam Vingan - 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."


Around the League notebook for Monday, Dec. 22

Tuesday, 12.23.2014 / 9:00 AM / News

NHL Public Relations


Johnny Gaudreau (3-0—3) scored three goals to send the game to overtime where Mark Giordano (1-1—2) scored the winner as the Calgary Flames won 4-3 against the Los Angeles Kings. The Flames ended an eight-game losing streak and improved to 18-15-3 (39 points this season). With the victory, Calgary also improved to a 7-3-1 record this season against Pacific Division opponents.

* Gaudreau's three-goal performance is the first hat trick of his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, at 21 years, 131 days, Gaudreau is the eighth youngest player in Calgary franchise history to record a hat trick. Gaudreau ranks second among NHL rookies in points (10-17—27) and assists and is tied for second in goals.

* The last member of the Flames to record a hat trick was also a rookie, Josh Jooris (3-0—3), who did so earlier this month on Dec. 2 in a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last team to have two different rookies record a hat trick in the same month was the 1992-93 Buffalo Sabres. Joe Juneau (3-0—3) scored three goals on Jan. 12, 1993 in a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins and Steve Heinze (3-0—3) scored three goals two days later on Jan. 14 in a 7-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.


Five Questions: Blackhawks CEO on Winter Classic

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

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer'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 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:


Lightning rookie Drouin adjusts to learning curve

Tuesday, 12.23.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - 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

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.'"


Winter Classic rink progressing in spite of elements

Adam Vingan - 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.


NHL unveils architectural rendering of 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

Architectural rendering of 2015 NHL Winter Classic.

Architectural rendering of 2015 NHL Winter
(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.


Zepp's odyssey results in first NHL win with Flyers

Monday, 12.22.2014 / 1:07 PM / NHL Insider

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.


Devils forward Cammalleri returns to practice

Monday, 12.22.2014 / 12:42 PM / News

New Jersey Devils left wing Mike Cammalleri, who has missed the past four games with a lower-body injury, returned to practice Monday, the team announced via Twitter.

Cammalleri was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 13 and is eligible to return to the lineup when ready. He was skating with Scott Gomez and Jaromir Jagr during practice on Monday, according to

Forward Patrik Elias and Martin Havlat did not practice because of illness. They are being tested for mumps and their status for Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., is unknown.


Fantasy All-Access: Fisher stepping up for Predators

Matt Sitkoff - Contributor

Every Monday, 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.


Kopitar, Voracek and Fleury named stars of the week

Monday, 12.22.2014 / 12:00 PM / News

NEW YORKLos Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, Philadelphia Flyers right wing Jakub Voracek and Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury have been named the NHL's "Three Stars" for the week ending Dec. 21.


Kopitar led the NHL with nine points and eight assists in three games, helping the Kings (17-11-6, 40 points) win two of three starts to maintain a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. He opened the week by collecting one assist in a 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues Dec. 16. Kopitar then set a career high with five points and matched a career high with four assists in a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over the Blues in the second half of their home-and-home set Dec. 18. He capped the week by posting three helpers, his sixth multi-point performance of the season, in a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes Dec. 20. The 27-year-old Jesenice, Slovenia, native has recorded consecutive three-point games for the first time since October 2009, when he had two such stretches. The 11th overall selection by the Kings in the 2005 NHL Draft, Kopitar ranks third on the club with 7-15-22 in 31 outings this season.

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Quote of the Day

I'm here to develop a winning culture and a winning team. There is a bright future ahead of this team.  A lot of young, great hockey players here and on the way … a fan base that's passionate about the game of hockey.

— Dan Bylsma after being introduced as new coach of the Buffalo Sabres