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Capitals' Backstrom quietly puts up big-time numbers

Wednesday, 10.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Midway through a first-period power play against the Edmonton Oilers last Wednesday, Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom contemplated his options.

Near the right half-wall where he orchestrates the Capitals power play, Backstrom's stick blade danced around the puck before he settled on defenseman John Carlson, who was lurking in the high slot with his stick cocked.

Backstrom slid an effortless pass in Carlson's direction, and the defenseman fired the puck past Edmonton goaltender Ben Scrivens to tie the game 1-1.

The assist, his 500th NHL point, was quintessential Backstrom: understated but effective. The 26-year-old's career has been characterized by such subtlety, an extension of his reserved personality.

"He is sneaky good. I knew he was, but you appreciate it more when you see it every day," said defenseman Matt Niskanen, who signed with Washington on July 1.

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Five things to watch as Capitals host Red Wings

Wednesday, 10.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Odds are there won't be any surprises Wednesday at Verizon Center, where Barry Trotz and Mike Babcock square off against one another in their latest battle of coaching wits as the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings play in the NBCSN Wednesday Night Rivalry game (7:30 p.m. ET).

Trotz, in his first season coaching the Capitals, and Babcock, in his 10th season in Detroit, are so familiar with each other they could probably switch sides and nothing would change.

Trotz's and Babcock's teams have played against each other 62 times in the past 11 regular seasons, including 60 times in the same conference and 52 times in the same division, all with Trotz as the coach of the Nashville Predators.

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Blues captain Backes leaves game with injury

Wednesday, 10.29.2014 / 1:50 AM / News

Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent

DALLAS -- St. Louis Blues captain David Backes sustained an upper-body injury in the first period Tuesday against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center. He did not return to the game.

Backes left the game with the score tied 1-1 after he hit his head on the ice following a hit away from the puck by Stars defenseman Trevor Daley.

"He's going to be re-evaluated tomorrow," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It was precautionary. We're just going to have to see what the doctors say tomorrow."

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Gordie Howe resting after stroke: report

Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 9:46 PM / News

NHL.com

Hockey Hall of Fame member Gordie Howe is resting after having a serious stroke Sunday in Texas, the Detroit News reported Tuesday.

Howe, 86, lost some function on one side of his body and has difficulty speaking, the News reported. He is resting at his daughter's home in Lubbock, Texas, his son, Dr. Murray Howe, told the newspaper.

"Basically, sometime in the early morning on Sunday, he suffered a pretty bad stroke," Murray Howe said.

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Rangers forward Moore takes time to entertain kids

Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 8:24 PM / Hockey Fights Cancer

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- If you ask New York Rangers center Dominic Moore, nobody perseveres alone, not in the fight against cancer and its devastating consequences.

Take the story of 10-year-old twin brothers Elijah and Nathaniel Blades of Freeport, N.Y. Elijah was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia two days before his fifth birthday. Once hospitalized, Elijah was separated from his brother for the first time. Although Elijah had to endure chemotherapy and its side effects, Nathaniel also fell sick because of the anxiety and the stress of seeing what his brother had to go through.

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Rangers' John Moore faces in-person hearing

Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 5:08 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL.com

New York Rangers defenseman John Moore has accepted an in-person hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety as the result of an incident with Minnesota Wild forward Erik Haula at 7:12 of the second period at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

Moore was offered the opportunity for an in-person hearing as required by provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement for any suspension that can exceed five games. The hearing will take place on Wednesday afternoon.

Moore received a match penalty on the play.

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Clock ticks for junior-aged prospects on NHL rosters

Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 5:05 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The clock could strike midnight for several top junior-aged prospects this week when general managers around the NHL are forced to make franchise-defining decisions on the immediate future of those young stars.

Will Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, chosen No. 1 in the 2014 NHL Draft, take the next step in his career? Can Jonathan Drouin, selected No. 3 by the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2013 NHL Draft, stick with the team that returned him to the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at the end of training camp in the 2013-14 preseason?

Those questions will be answered as early as Wednesday.

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Happy birthday: Draisaitl staying put with Oilers

Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 4:20 PM / NHL Insider

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers rookie center Leon Draisaitl had a memorable 19th birthday Monday.

The Oilers extended their winning streak to four games with a 3-0 victory against the Montreal Canadiens and Draisaitl was informed he would not be returned to his junior team.

Draisaitl will play his 10th game with the Oilers on Wednesday against the Nashville Predators, which activates the first year of his entry-level contract.

"He's part of our hockey team, he's earned his right to be here at practice [Tuesday] and be in the lineup [Wednesday]," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "It shouldn't be a distraction for our team. It's part of the process of us getting better. It's not a big topic at all in our room. All we are concerned with is practice [Tuesday] and the Nashville Predators [on Wednesday]."

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Red Wings assign Weiss to AHL for conditioning

Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 3:25 PM / News

DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today assigned center Stephen Weiss to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins for conditioning.

Weiss was limited to 26 games for the Red Wings in 2013-14 and did not play after Dec. 10 following hernia surgery. The 31-year-old forward recorded four points (2-2-4) and 12 penalty minutes in his first season with Detroit. A veteran of 681 NHL games since 2001-02, the Toronto, Ontario, native has 398 career points (147-251-398) with Detroit and Florida. Originally drafted by the Panthers in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Weiss is Florida's all-time leader in games played (654) and assists (249). He has skated in one game with the Red Wings this season.

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Flyers' Hextall following Kings blueprint for success

Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 3:06 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- It was the familiar and the strange all in one setting at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday morning.

There skating up and down the ice were Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, just like they did in their first six NHL seasons as members of the Philadelphia Flyers.

But Tuesday they were there as the opposition, in their fourth season together as teammates with the Los Angeles Kings.

A lot has happened for the Flyers, and Carter and Richards, since June 23, 2011. That was the day Philadelphia gave its franchise a facelift by trading its two cornerstone stars. Carter was sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Jakub Voracek and a 2011 first-round draft pick that was used on center Sean Couturier, and Richards was traded to the Kings for forwards Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn.

Later in the 2011-12 season Carter was traded to the Kings, where he and Richards helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2012. They repeated the feat in 2014.

"It's crazy how things happen," Carter said. "It's all worked out for us."

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Quote of the Day

It's something that you don't really envision starting this way, but when you put the work in you don't feel like it's unwarranted. You definitely don't envision it unfolding this way, but you do think you can be successful at this level.

— Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who defeated the Jets on Wednesday to improve to 6-0-1 since making his first NHL start on Feb. 18