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Canadian Olympians trust, believe in Babcock

Monday, 01.20.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Mike Babcock likes to say that gold-medal preparation yields gold-medal results. The players who were with him at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics can claim that they have their gold medals in part because of that very philosophy.

Canada won gold four years ago and will try to defend it next month with Babcock behind the bench at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"Everything was laid out there for us when we got to the Olympics," Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith told NHL.com. "We were very well-prepared in what we wanted to accomplish on the ice as far as our systems and the way we wanted to play as a team. It was also communicated to us very clearly about what the other team's tendencies were, how they played their systems and the players on their team. That was one thing that stood out for me was how well prepared we were as players."

That preparation has players like Keith and the 10 others who played for Canada in Vancouver trusting that Babcock again is the ideal coach for them in a short tournament.


With Kreider's help, Nash finds scoring touch

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 11:45 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Even when he struggled early this season, scoring seven goals in his first 26 games and missing 17 additional games with a concussion, Rick Nash figured he'd eventually start lighting the lamp again. But it's the presence of one of the New York Rangers' bright young stars that is helping the five-time All-Star through a scoring stretch that is among the best of his impressive career.

"I think the only change from watching video clips is I'm playing on the inside more," Nash said after scoring two goals in a 4-1 win against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. "I could sense when I first came back [from injury] I was on the outside a lot. I think now I'm trying to get to the inside and make things happen."

With seven goals in his past eight games, that space inside is enabled in part by the presence of linemate Chris Kreider.


Analysis: Blackhawks continue to raise the bar

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 10:28 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks spent the weekend reminding the rest of the NHL why they are the defending champions. The Boston Bruins made some progress in trying to find their way without Dennis Seidenberg.

Chicago dominated the League-leading Anaheim Ducks for about 55 minutes Friday, with only a strong night from goaltender Jonas Hiller and a couple of quick lapses keeping the Blackhawks from a more lopsided victory than the 4-2 final score. The Blackhawks began the game Sunday in the same manner, but the Bruins eventually provided a stern test before Chicago prevailed 3-2 in a shootout at United Center.

"I think these matchups were something that might have sparked us a little bit," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "To go head-to-head with Anaheim, a team that has had a lot of success, and has been winning a lot of games lately, I think we were ready for that one. It was the same with the matchup we had [Sunday]. We've got to keep up with that effort regardless of who we're playing."


Capitals' Ovechkin to appear on NBC's Today Show

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 5:47 PM / News


Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will be a guest on NBC's Today Show on Monday in the 7:30 a.m. (ET) half-hour live from Rockefeller Center in New York City. Ovechkin will be interviewed by hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie about his recent selection to represent Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Ovechkin will be making his third Olympic appearance and was the first Russian to carry the Olympic Torch in a ceremony at Olympia, Greece, on Sept., 29, 2013. He has represented Russia in three World Junior Championships, nine World Championships and the World Cup of Hockey. His mother, Tatyana Ovechkina, is a two-time women's basketball gold medalist with the Soviet Union in 1976 and 1980.

Since entering the NHL in 2005-06, Ovechkin leads all players in goals, points, power-play goals, power-play points and game-winning goals. He leads the League with 34 goals this season.


Visnovsky returns to practice with Islanders

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 4:58 PM / News


New York Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky practiced Sunday for the first time since sustaining a concussion on Oct. 19 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I feel like a hockey player right now because when I wake up, my legs are sore, not just my head," Visnovsky, who wore a yellow, no-contact jersey, told the Islanders' official website. "My body feels like it did before and it's a great feeling. I am happy to skate with the guys."

Visnovsky returned to the ice this past week to skate on his own and passed his most recent neurological exam. Islanders coach Jack Capuano put no timetable on his return.


Bruins lose McQuaid with undisclosed injury

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 3:07 PM / News

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO - Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid left the game Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks with an undisclosed injury in the second period and did not return.

McQuaid played 8:57 and 12 shifts, picking up a secondary assist on the first of two goals by Brad Marchand, before leaving the game. Boston is also missing Dougie Hamilton (concussion) and lost defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for the season in late December to a knee injury.


Crosby named captain of Team Canada

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 1:14 PM / 2014 Olympics


Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby was named captain of the Canadian team that will compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The announcement was made by Hockey Canada on Sunday morning.

"It's definitely a huge honor," Crosby said. "I think playing for Team Canada and playing in the Olympics is a great opportunity, but being able to be named the captain, I think, is definitely an honor."

This will be the first time in Crosby's career that he will captain Canada's team during international play. He was an alternate captain for Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, when he scored the game-winning goal in overtime that defeated the United States 3-2 and won the goal medal for the Canadians. He was also Canada's alternate captain at the 2006 World Championships, where at the age of 18 he became the youngest player to ever lead the tournament in scoring with 16 points (eight goals, eight assists).


Sunday Long Read: Roots take hold in California

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Emerson Etem could have gravitated toward a number of sports. He sometimes played soccer and tennis when he was younger, and his parents and sister have backgrounds in rowing and swimming.

Actually, if it wasn't for his chosen profession, Etem might not have ended up in sports at all.

"I think I'd be an artist," Etem said. "Or maybe a surfer."

Instead, Etem followed his brother Martin and put on roller-hockey skates at the YMCA in his hometown of Long Beach, Calif.


Alec Martinez: Transplant finds hockey home

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Alec Martinez - Special to NHL.com

Alec Martinez is a fifth-year defenseman for the Los Angeles Kings. He grew up in Michigan but spent his junior-high years playing for the Junior San Jose Sharks and Santa Clara Blackhawks before his family moved back to the Midwest. He was a fixture during the Kings' 2011-12 Stanley Cup championship run.

My father, Frank, worked for General Motors for 30 years and he got transferred. GM had a joint venture with Toyota just outside of Fremont, Calif., and my family had to move out here for two or three years before we moved back to Michigan.

The hockey scene was a lot different. In Michigan, there were a lot more teams and lot more kids played. There were only a select few clubs in Northern California, so you had to come down to L.A. a lot. In Michigan, in terms of tournaments growing up, you don't really have to leave except for Chicago or Toronto. But, really, that's not very far. When you move to California, the tournaments are in Alaska or Las Vegas.


Jonathon Blum: The accidental hockey player

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Jonathon Blum - Special to NHL.com

Jonathon Blum was born in Long Beach, Calif., and grew up in nearby Rancho Santa Margarita. He was a first-round pick of the Nashville Predators in the 2007 NHL Draft. The defenseman played 91 NHL games for the Predators before recently returning to the League with the Minnesota Wild.

Playing hockey where I grew up wasn't traditional at all, for sure. I owe a lot to my parents. It's very expensive playing in Southern California, traveling four or five times a year just to help me develop, paying for lessons. The ice time was $600, $700 an hour back then.

I was probably about 5 or 6 years old when I started. We lived on a cul de sac and there were probably about 10 or 15 kids on my block. When school was done we'd get on rollerblades or sneakers and we'd play street hockey or roller hockey. If we didn't have nets we'd use little sewer holes as nets and try to shoot the balls into them. That's how I started.

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It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery