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Raanta: Ready to be part of Winter Classic

Antti Raanta - Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta is preparing for his first Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. He's expected to back up starter Corey Crawford on Thursday against the Washington Capitals at Nationals Park, just as he did on March 1 in Chicago's Coors Light 2014 NHL Stadium Series game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Raanta agreed to offer up his opinions in blog form leading up to the main event.

CHICAGO -- Last year was my first outdoor game in the NHL, so that was a pretty unique feeling. How the winter was last year, it was snowing, so it made it even more fun. When you're a little kid, you always play outside and you always dream to be some NHL player or some hero, and you try to do those things, what you see them doing on TV.

Now it's going to be even more fun to be part of the Winter Classic.


Canada beats Finland to stay perfect at WJC

Tuesday, 12.30.2014 / 12:16 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- Canada coach Benoit Groulx has done a fair amount of line-juggling thus far at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, but there is one line he has not had to touch since the start of selection camp in Toronto early this month.

That line has given him no reason to intervene, and doesn't look as though it is about to.

Linemates Sam Reinhart, Anthony Duclair and Max Domi had two points apiece and Zach Fucale made 27 saves to lead Canada to a 4-1 win against Finland on Monday in preliminary-round play.


Demko, United States shut out Slovakia at WJC

Tuesday, 12.30.2014 / 12:15 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Sean Farrell - Correspondent

MONTREAL -- The United States made it clear it wanted a showdown of undefeated Group A teams when it plays Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Goalie Thatcher Demko made 17 saves for his first shutout, and forwards Sonny Milano, Dylan Larkin and John Hayden scored to lead the United States to a 3-0 win against Slovakia at Bell Centre on Monday.

The United States (2-1-0-0) has won its first three WJC games in six of the past eight years, including last year in Malmo, Sweden.

On Wednesday, the United States plays Canada (3-0-0-0), which defeated defending champion Finland 4-1 later Monday.


Beagle: Excited to play in second Winter Classic

Jay Beagle - Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals forward Jay Beagle is about to play in his second Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Beagle suited up for the Capitals at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh in 2011, and he's expected to be in the lineup Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationals Park.

Beagle agreed to offer up his opinions in blog form leading up to the main event.

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- We're just a few days away from the Winter Classic, and I'm feeling fortunate to be playing in another one. I was lucky a few years back to be with the Capitals when we played against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field. It was such a great experience.

As a kid growing up in Calgary, you always skate outdoors. Every chance I had, I would be on the outdoor ice. A lot of times, I can remember being out there a lot with people in my family. It was kind of a family thing; even my grandpa would be out skating with me. Skating outdoors is really where most of us learn how to play.

Playing at the Winter Classic in Pittsburgh was obviously a great experience. At that time, I was up and down a lot between Washington and Hershey in the American Hockey League. I got called up a week before the Classic and I had two good games. They kept me for the Classic and it was obviously a pretty special experience. It's something you never forget. It's pretty cool to be part of an outdoor game like that, especially one that was such a rivalry against Pittsburgh. It was a lot of fun.

The Epix guys are here filming us, but having more cameras around doesn't really change anything, at least for me personally.


Czech Republic wins in OT; Sweden triumphs

Monday, 12.29.2014 / 8:21 PM / 2015 World Junior Championship

David Pastrnak scored 1:01 into overtime to give the Czech Republic a 4-3 win against Denmark in a preliminary-round game at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Champion Championship at Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Monday.

Pastrnak (Boston Bruins) also had two assists.

The Czech Republic tied the game 3-3 with 3:02 remaining in the third period on a goal by forward Dominik Kubalik (Los Angeles Kings).


Oilers acquire Roy from Predators for Arcobello

Monday, 12.29.2014 / 6:07 PM / News

The Edmonton Oilers announced today they have acquired centre Derek Roy from the Nashville Predators, in exchange for centre Mark Arcobello.

Roy, 31, has appeared in 26 games for the Predators this season, posting 10 points (1G, 9A) and two penalty minutes.


Craig and crew prepared for outdoors, again

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

WASHINGTON -- No matter how many outdoor rinks Dan Craig builds in venues larger than any NHL arena, and he has built quite a lot of them in the past seven years, he still feels the same level of nervous excitement as the days tick off the calendar, drawing event-day closer.

"It's nerves for accomplishment is what it is," Craig, the NHL's senior director of facilities operations, told on Monday. "It's a game, and that's one of the things I never lose sight of, and within Hockey Operations, within our world, we never lose sight of it. This is a regular-season game and I want the guys to be able to play this as any regular-season game."

Except, and nobody has to tell this to Craig, it's not any regular-season game: It's the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic outside at Nationals Park on New Year's Day (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).


Kings' Voynov pleads not guilty at arraignment

Monday, 12.29.2014 / 2:48 PM / News

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov pleaded not guilty to a felony domestic violence charge Monday at his arraignment hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court in Torrance, Calif.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 28. The jury trial has been set for March 2.

Two weeks ago, at the initial arraignment hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court judge Hector M. Guzman ruled there was enough evidence presented to warrant Voynov to stand trial.

Voynov faces a maximum sentence of nine years in state prison if convicted, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.


Capitals' Barry Trotz still same coach in new city

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Not long after defenseman Matt Niskanen signed with the Washington Capitals this past summer, he paid a visit to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to get his bearings and have his first in-person player-coach conversation with Barry Trotz.

The differing backgrounds struck Niskanen almost immediately.

"I was in town looking for a place to live and I talked to him, and he was like, 'There is a lot, a lot of media here,'" Niskanen said, laughing. "He was like, 'I mean, A LOT!'"

Niskanen said he didn't laugh out loud because he didn't want to embarrass Trotz.

"But inside I was laughing," he said while laughing outwardly. "I'm talking to him thinking there were times in Pittsburgh when Sid [Crosby] was making a comeback and I couldn't even get to my stall, and I was on the other side of the room."


Oilers claim Fraser off waivers from Bruins

Monday, 12.29.2014 / 12:16 PM / News

The Edmonton Oilers announced today they have claimed winger Matt Fraser off waivers from the Boston Bruins and have placed forward Steve Pinizzotto on waivers.

Fraser, 24, has registered three goals and seven penalty minutes in 24 games with the Boston Bruins this season.

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Quote of the Day

I'm here to develop a winning culture and a winning team. There is a bright future ahead of this team.  A lot of young, great hockey players here and on the way … a fan base that's passionate about the game of hockey.

— Dan Bylsma after being introduced as new coach of the Buffalo Sabres