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NHL Insider

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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Kings begin quest of third Cup in four seasons

Tuesday, 10.07.2014 / 9:39 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings have what the other 29 teams in the NHL want, but they'll be motivated and driven this season by the same emotion that everyone else in the NHL feels toward them.

"Jealousy," Kings forward Justin Williams said Tuesday.

Come again? Jealousy?

It's definitely fair to wonder how it is that the Kings, the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the team that will raise its second championship banner in three seasons Wednesday before their season-opener against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN1), can be jealous of anything or anybody?

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Ovechkin has memorable 'first date' with young fan

Tuesday, 10.07.2014 / 10:28 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin won't soon forget the most memorable dinner date with the "cutest little girl" he's ever met.

Ann Schaab, a 10-year-old bundle of joy who has Down syndrome, had the courage to ask Ovechkin out on a date for sushi dinner and some kickball during an American Special Hockey Association skating session with the Capitals forward Sept. 11 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va.

"I was pretty surprised when Ann skated over and asked me out during our skate," Ovechkin said. "I thought it was a good idea and decided to take her up on it."

A fourth-grade student at Fulton Elementary School in Maryland, Ann played it cool despite being in the presence of about 60 other players from the association. And Ovechkin.

"She's the cutest little girl I've ever seen," Ovechkin told "Caps Red Line." "She asked me for a date to go and eat sushi but we didn't have lots of time [Sept. 11], so we decided to bring her to the Capitals [preseason] game against the Carolina Hurricanes [Oct. 5 at Verizon Center]. We would talk before the game and then after go and spend some time to eat sushi."

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Analysis: Trotz picking right approach with Ovechkin

Monday, 10.06.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

It's not a stretch to say the developing relationship between Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz and captain Alex Ovechkin will be one of the most intriguing NHL storylines this season. It's also not a stretch to say Trotz needs to be careful with how much he tinkers with Ovechkin, because no coach wants to put the psyche and confidence of a 50-goal scorer at risk.

The latter is tied directly to the former, and each will dictate the story arc in Washington and the success or failure of the Capitals as they try to bounce back from a disappointing 2013-14 season, their first without a trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006-07.

"You can see how the organization is changing over the last couple of years," Ovechkin said. "We want to win and we want to try to find the right way. We'll see how it goes this way."

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Senators thrilled to see Karlsson named captain

Monday, 10.06.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Chris Stevenson - NHL.com Correspondent

OTTAWA -- The crisp white "C" on the left shoulder of Erik Karlsson's red sweater isn't going to stand for "Change."

When the 24-year-old defenseman was named the Ottawa Senators' ninth captain Thursday, it ended weeks of speculation about the role after Jason Spezza's one-year run ended with his trade to the Dallas Stars in July.

According to Karlsson and Senators goaltender Robin Lehner, who have known each other since they were in their mid-teens, there is no doubt how the honor will affect Karlsson.

It won't.

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Bruins reluctantly trade Boychuk to Islanders

Saturday, 10.04.2014 / 6:49 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

Johnny Boychuk
Defense - NYI
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 23
SOG: 142 | +/-: 31
BOSTON -- Teams with Stanley Cup aspirations don't generally start their season by trading a top-four defenseman.

But Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli did that Saturday when he traded Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders for the Philadelphia Flyers' second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft (previously acquired by the Islanders), the Islanders' 2016 second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick in 2015 that Boston will receive if the Islanders trade Boychuk to another Eastern Conference team this season.

Chiarelli conceded that by making this trade four days before the regular-season opener against the Flyers, he didn't make the Bruins better.

"How does it impact our team? He's very well-liked and I'm sure the guys are bummed and they're probably a little bit bummed at me for doing it," Chiarelli said at TD Garden prior to the Bruins' preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings.

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Islanders enjoy taste of Brooklyn, focus on present

Saturday, 09.27.2014 / 11:54 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- As the team bus rolled out of the Nassau Coliseum parking lot and headed west on the Long Island Expressway toward Brooklyn, New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic stared out the window and thought about the changes coming.

"Getting here, you're trying to figure out the plan of how you're going to fight the traffic to get in," Hamonic said. "Probably the train is one of the best options. I'm sure with more time it's going to feel at home."

Barclays Center started to feel a little more like home to the Islanders on Friday than it did a year ago. It was their second preseason game in as many Septembers in their future home, but this one felt different.

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Bracco makes most of chance at Prospects Game

Thursday, 09.25.2014 / 11:46 PM / NHL Insider

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Jeremy Bracco may soon be a rival of Jack Eichel and Jordan Greenway, but Thursday they were teammates making things happen offensively.

Eichel scored a goal and set up Bracco for the first of his two goals, and Greenway had two assists when Team Grier defeated Team Olczyk 6-3 in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at First Niagara Center.

Bracco welcomed the chance to line up with players he may eventually face as opponents.

"It was definitely great," Bracco said. "[Eichel's] a great player. It was a big thing for my success and [Jordan's] success. We worked for each other and played for each other, so that was definitely big for us."

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Trotz, Capitals find same page quickly at first camp

Thursday, 09.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Even a minor play in the first period of the Washington Capitals' first preseason game has value to coach Barry Trotz. He sees everything now through the same prism:

Are they getting it?

This one play in particular Sunday at Verizon Center was a sign they are.

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and defenseman Karl Alzner were tracking the puck in the defensive zone when they realized the Buffalo Sabres were positioning to try to make a play into what Trotz called a "soft area" of the zone. Ovechkin, playing deeper in the zone as he's supposed to support the defensemen, switched with Alzner, a move that threw off the Sabres. Ovechkin wound up intercepting a pass into that soft area and going the other way with the puck.

"He was taking care of his responsibility," Trotz said. "It's some things that make the game easier for us, little details that sometimes when you're playing you don't think about and you go, 'Ah, it's not going to matter that much.' But it ends up mattering enough to where it makes the game easier for you."

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Blue Jackets' identity leads to off-ice success

Wednesday, 09.24.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Columbus Blue Jackets didn't just qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and win their first two postseason games in franchise history against the favored Pittsburgh Penguins last season. They won over the city of Columbus by cultivating a blue-collar identity.

With the 2015 NHL All-Star Game coming to Columbus on Jan. 25, and the Blue Jackets looking to make the postseason in consecutive seasons for the first time, the team has been embraced by the community in a way not seen since the inaugural season of 2000-01.

"They're a hard team to play against. They beat us more than we beat them last year," forward Scott Hartnell said of the Blue Jackets after being traded to Columbus by the Philadelphia Flyers on June 23. "It was always a tough game. You were always getting checked, you were always getting hit."

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