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Features

Capitals celebrate franchise's 40th anniversary

Thursday, 10.09.2014 / 7:56 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals began celebrating their 40th anniversary season Thursday when they faced off against the Montreal Canadiens in their season opener at Verizon Center. It was an occasion to savor, considering the franchise's struggles during its first decade.

The Capitals finished last in their division in six of their first eight seasons. Their first-season won-lost mark of 8-67-5 represents the NHL single-season records for fewest wins and points (21) in a season.

The on-ice struggles led to low fan turnout and interest. Owner Abe Pollin threatened relocation.

But the Capitals ultimately stayed in Washington, with a big assist from a September 1982 trade with the Canadiens that brought defenseman and future Hall of Famer Rod Langway to Washington.

"[Craig Laughlin and I] get on the phone to our agents," Langway recalled, "and we said, 'Are we sure we want to be here?'"

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Kessel leads fantasy fast-starting performers

Thursday, 10.09.2014 / 11:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Getting off to a good start in fantasy hockey always is important, especially in rotisserie leagues where it's harder to make up ground as the season progresses. It doesn't hurt to have a strong beginning in head-to-head leagues either, but in this format there is a lot more luck involved and you typically see larger swings in the standings on a week-to-week basis.

Having a strong start won't just help you in the standings; it also could lead to you making trades that improve your roster. Last October St. Louis Blues forward Alexander Steen was one of the best fantasy players in the game, posting an NHL-best 11 goals, as well as five assists, a plus-7 rating and five power-play points in 10 games. He then had 22 goals and 46 points in his next 58 games; still very productive but not nearly as dominant as his October was. Steen could've fallen into the well-known "sell high" group after his fast start and you probably could've gotten a lot in return via trade if you sold him at the right moment.

Heading into this season let's see if we can find the next Steen for you. Here's a look at some interesting October stats and some players that have been known to be dominant forces during the early parts of an NHL season.

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Kings blame loss on poor preparation, not ceremony

Thursday, 10.09.2014 / 2:36 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES – Darryl Sutter walked to the podium, looked at the assembled media and broke the ice with a one-liner.

“Welcome back,” the Los Angeles Kings coach said.

It was the one light moment in a disappointing night for Sutter and the Kings, who, for the second time in three seasons, came out flat in their Stanley Cup banner-raising opener. This time, Los Angeles suffered a 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks in front of 18,514 at Staples Center.


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Kings celebrate second Cup in three seasons

Wednesday, 10.08.2014 / 11:43 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES – The Stanley Cup descended from the scoreboard Wednesday and the Los Angeles Kings raised their second Cup banner in three seasons.

In an impressive surprise prelude to the Kings’ season-opener at Staples Center, the Cup was lowered from inside the massive scoreboard, in a glass case, to center ice before captain Dustin Brown raised it to the cheers of a packed house.

It was a twist to the ceremony from two years ago. Kings players were concerned about the long wait between the ceremony and the start of the game; this time, it was shortened because the Kings did not have the rings presented to them as they did in 2012, nor did they take turns holding the Cup.

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Bad bounce ruins opener for Percy, Maple Leafs

Wednesday, 10.08.2014 / 11:23 PM / NHL Insider

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- It was all going smoothly for Toronto Maple Leafs rookie defenseman Stuart Percy in his NHL debut, and then kaboom!

Just like that, a pass by Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec intended for Alex Galchenyuk hit Percy's skate and deflected past Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier, giving the Canadiens a 4-3 win in the 2014-15 season opener. The goal came with 43 seconds left.

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Oilers' 1984 Cup team set for 30-year reunion

Wednesday, 10.08.2014 / 10:30 PM / NHL Insider

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON — If the media availability with the 1984 Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday was any indication, there will be plenty of great stories shared during the next three days.

The group that started the Oilers' dynasty is back together, 30 years after winning the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship.

"I never finished high school, so this is my first actual reunion," center Mark Messier said. "It's great to be here. I think the first thing that comes to my mind is what a great time we had back in the '80s and leading up to the Stanley Cup. We had a little bit of heartbreak until we finally won the championship in '84. And the collective group of people that are on the stage right now were all responsible for that Cup and many of the other ones."

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Maple Leafs fan spirit comes alive at NHL Face-Off

Wednesday, 10.08.2014 / 9:00 PM / 2014 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- Try as he might, Chris Martin could not score himself a ticket for the NHL season opener to see his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens.

But Martin, of Mississauga, Ontario, was not shut out completely. He and a few fans gathered in Dundas Square in the heart of downtown Toronto to experience the 2014 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off, a fan fest of the highest order. Wearing a Maple Leafs hat and No. 13 jersey with the name Sundin replaced by 'Leafsaholic' on the back, Martin and his pals were all smiles.

Oh, and his beard is dyed blue, too.

"When I was born someone game me a Leafs jersey and Leafs sock so I figure I came into the world a Maple Leafs fan and I'll go out of this world a Maple Leafs fan," Martin said. "This is sweet! This is all very exciting. It's opening night and it should be like this."

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Sabres rookie Reinhart to play with veterans

Wednesday, 10.08.2014 / 7:05 PM / NHL Insider

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO – It all starts for real Thursday for Sam Reinhart.

The Buffalo Sabres' first-round pick and the second player taken in the 2014 NHL Draft is slated to make his debut against the Columbus Blue Jackets. After a busy summer with development camp and training camp, he's ready to show what he's got.

"I came in with the mentality that I was going to soak everything in and I feel I've learned more than I could ever imagine from all the veteran guys here," Reinhart said. "I'm going to keep trying to learn every day from them and get better with their help."

Reinhart won't be the only young player on the Sabres' opening-night roster; 19-year-old defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov were first-round picks in 2013. But he'll be on a line between two more-experienced players in Cody Hodgson and captain Brian Gionta.

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'Who are these guys?': Quick primer on fresh faces

Wednesday, 10.08.2014 / 4:34 PM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The rosters are set and the 2014-15 NHL season is ready to commence.

With four games Wednesday night and 12 more Thursday, numerous players will be making their NHL debuts. Some, like the Tampa Bay Lightning's Jonathan Drouin or the Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau, entered training camp as favorites to end up on the opening night roster.

Others are more of a surprise, and earned a place on the roster when it wasn't expected. Here's a look at some of the players who might cause fans to say, "Who are these guys?"

William Karlsson, Anaheim Ducks

Karlsson, 21, was expected to battle fellow Swede Rickard Rakell for a role at center behind Ryan Getlzaf and Ryan Kesler, but both players ended up making it. A second-round pick (No. 53) in 2011, Karlsson led HV71 in scoring (37 points in 55 games) in the Swedish Hockey League in 2013-14 before putting up 12 points in 17 American Hockey League games at the end of the season.

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Canadiens' Sekac takes long road to NHL debut

Wednesday, 10.08.2014 / 2:54 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

TORONTO -- Tomas Plekanec was asked a question about his new teammate and Czech countryman Jiri Sekac during Montreal Canadiens training camp. He quickly corrected his questioner.

"Oh, you mean Forrest Gump?" Plekanec asked, a wry smile on his face.

That was the nickname given to Sekac by a Czech newspaper after he set a new Canadiens record in the beep test, a grueling exercise that measures an athlete's maximum oxygen intake, or VO2, during rookie camp last month. The test essentially entails the player running through a number of stages for as long as he can.

Sekac kept running, just like Forrest Gump did in the movie of the same name, a nickname Plekanec was only too happy to share with anyone who would listen in the hopes it would stick.

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