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Analysis: February could define Ovechkin's career

Sunday, 02.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Russian forward Alex Ovechkin is a week away from arriving at a cauldron already bubbling on his native soil, where the opportunity for a career-defining moment is waiting near a resort city on the coast of the Black Sea.

Canada's Sidney Crosby vividly remembers what that felt like four years ago when the sports world turned its collective eye to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and a hockey-mad nation looked to No. 87 and his teammates for validation.

"In some ways you have to embrace it," Crosby told NHL.com. "You want to win so bad and you know the expectation is exactly that. You have to remind yourself that that's why you're a hockey player, you want to be in those situations because everyone does care that much and they are so passionate about it.

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Sunday Long Read: Career never a job for Hitchcock

Sunday, 02.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- When it comes to hockey, Ken Hitchcock is a creature of habit.

During the season, the routine of the St. Louis Blues coach rarely changes, no matter the day's agenda.

First, Hitchcock heads to a nearby Starbucks, or any of his favorite coffee shops in the area. Then it's off to the rink, where he preps his players with video sessions while preparing for a practice or a morning skate with his assistant coaches. In the afternoon, he spends the majority of his time scouting an opponent. Then, as evening arrives, Hitchcock sends his players out on the ice or watches other NHL games.

The scenery has changed greatly since Hitchcock began the life of a full-time coach in the Western Hockey League in 1984, but the routine has rarely wavered. Why should it? Despite the fact he had no top-level experience as a player or coach, Hitchcock's routine has served him well in a long and winding career in the NHL.

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Kronwall evolves into Sweden's leader on blue line

Sunday, 02.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Swedish defenseman Niklas Kronwall was working out with the Motor City Mechanics of the United Hockey League during the early part of the NHL's Olympic break eight years ago.

Lavish it wasn't, but Kronwall, then 25, only recently had returned from knee surgery and didn't think taking a vacation while more than 100 players went to play in the 2006 Turin Olympics.

He was right.

"I kept skating with them and out of the blue I get a phone call that says, 'Hey, they might need a body out there,'" Kronwall, now 33 and an alternate captain with the Detroit Red Wings, told NHL.com. "The next day I was on a flight [to Turin]. One day I was watching it on TV and the next day I was right in there. Everything just happened so quickly. [Mattias] Ohlund went down and all of a sudden I was playing in the gold-medal game."

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Flames goaltender Ramo out with lower-body injury

Saturday, 02.01.2014 / 11:12 PM / News

NHL.com

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames goaltender Karri Ramo left the game against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night with a lower-body injury late in the first period and will not return.

Ramo left at 17:58 of the opening period after stopping all six shots faced. Reto Berra, who came on in relief, finished the period and did not face a shot.

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Daily Primer Feb. 1: Reunion in Los Angeles

Saturday, 02.01.2014 / 3:00 AM / Features

NHL.com

The Philadelphia Flyers haven't been to Los Angeles in more than three years. They'll find some familiar faces when they take the ice at Staples Center on Saturday afternoon (4 p.m. ET; NHLN-US).

Two players who were keys to the Flyers' run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, will face their former teammates in L.A. for the first time. Both were Flyers when Philadelphia came to Los Angeles on Dec. 30, 2010. The Kings got Richards from the Flyers in the summer of 2011 and obtained Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets in February 2012, a few months after the Flyers traded him. The forwards were part of the Stanley Cup-winning team in the spring of '12.

Richards and Carter aren’t the only Kings who have connections to Philadelphia: Assistant coach John Stevens played and coached the Flyers. Philadelphia also has plenty of L.A. connections: Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn came from the Kings in the trade for Richards, assistant general manager Ron Hextall held the same job with the Kings, and assistant coach Ian Laperriere spent most of his career with the Kings before finishing with the Flyers as a teammate of Carter and Richards.

Here's a look at all of the Saturday action:

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Tapped In: Sharp embraces life in Windy City

Saturday, 02.01.2014 / 3:00 AM / Tapped In

Kathryn Tappen - NHL.com Contributor

He may be considered one of Chicago's sexiest athletes as voted by publications on multiple occasions, but Patrick Sharp is all about hockey. The father of two baby girls, Sharp has two Stanley Cups, will represent Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and serves as a radio host. Yet, somehow the Chicago Blackhawks star still has time to give back to the community where he grew up. There's not much Sharp hasn't accomplished.

Kathryn Tappan: What is the best part about playing hockey in Chicago?

Patrick Sharp: The fans. The city is great, there's so much to do. But the way the fans respond to the players, especially for guys like Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and I that were here in 2005 when things weren't so good in Chicago. We really appreciate how the fans take care of us now.

KT: Two Stanley Cups for you in that city. Do you ever pinch yourself with what you've already accomplished in your career?

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Goalies, Filppula new injury concerns for Lightning

Friday, 01.31.2014 / 10:25 PM / News

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Tampa Bay Lightning backup goalie Anders Lindback is not likely to play before the Olympic break due to a lower-body injury and starting goalie Ben Bishop remains questionable to start the game Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens (1 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS), coach Jon Cooper said.

Bishop was forced to leave the game Thursday against the Ottawa Senators when he was struck in the head by the skate of teammate Nikita Kucherov. Bishop took part in the Lightning's practice at Bell Centre on Friday and said if he wakes up feeling well, he'll be able to play.

"It could have been a lot worse," Bishop said. "He kind of skimmed me. If he hit me direct on I don't know what would have happened.

"Hopefully I wake up in the morning and I feel OK. We'll have to wait and see what happens."

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Kings defenseman Regehr reaches 1,000th game

Friday, 01.31.2014 / 6:41 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The dream of making it to the NHL never wavered in Robyn Regehr's mind, even at its most dramatic point.

Like many teenage boys in Saskatchewan, Regehr began to visualize being one of the few who gets to play at the highest level of hockey. But that took a near-tragic turn when Regehr was involved in a car accident at 19 that left him with two broken legs.

"I never had a doubt [about playing] hockey again," Regehr said. "When I talked to doctors, they said it was close. I almost sliced my patella tendon. If I would have severed the patella, I probably never would have played any sport, let alone hockey again.

"I didn't really think about how long I was going to play. I just wanted a chance to play. After that, as a lot of guys say, it goes by fairly quickly."

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Stamkos takes contact in practice, not game-ready yet

Friday, 01.31.2014 / 4:38 PM / 2014 Olympics

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Steven Stamkos absorbed the most contact he's taken during his recovery from a broken right tibia at Tampa Bay Lightning practice on Friday.

The Canadian Olympic team member said after the hour-long skate that he's not quite ready to proclaim his return to NHL game action, but he's getting closer.

"I feel good. It was a good practice [Friday]," Stamkos said after the Lightning skated at Bell Centre. "I got to participate in all the drills, do a little light contact. It's still not where I want it to feel but it's definitely getting better and it's progressing. I don't feel I'm where I need to be in order to play in a game yet but it's getting there."

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Bylsma deliberate figuring out U.S. Olympic goalie

Friday, 01.31.2014 / 3:14 PM / 2014 Olympics

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick was having a great January after returning from a groin injury before an inopportune hiccup Thursday.

He was pulled from a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins after yielding three goals on seven shots in the first period. This performance stung even more than it otherwise would because Quick's future Olympic coach, Dan Bylsma, was in charge of his opponent.

"We got him [Thursday], which wasn't the best game for Jonathan," said Bylsma, the coach for the United States at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. "When I talked to him after the game he was hoping I wouldn't remember that game too closely."

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Quote of the Day

What we expected is what we got. Very mature young individual that's focused. He is on the right track. He's not only a great hockey individual, but he's a good person off the ice. He seemed to take a leadership role with this group right off the hop and ran away with it, and was vocal, was respectful, was everything it takes to be a Panther. His future looks bright.

— Florida Panthers director of player development Brian Skrudland on defenseman Aaron Ekblad's performance at development camp