Mario Lemieux and Ron Francis headline Penguins roster for 2011 Winter Classic alumni game

The 2011 Winter Classic is sure to be a huge spectacle in Pittsburgh on New Year’s Day with the Penguins and Sidney Crosby taking on the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin, the day before is shaping up to be a spectacle all its own.

On December 31st the Penguins and Capitals will have a game between respective members of their alumni. If you think that this sounds like a great idea given some of the stars in the Penguins and Caps history, you’d be 100% right. The Penguins are sparing no expense in trying to ice one of the best alumni teams ever assembled.

Mario Lemieux will be joined by fellow Hall of Famers Paul Coffey, Ron Francis and Bryan Trottier and “youngster” Bill Guerin as the Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni team takes on the Washington Capitals Alumni Dec. 31 at Heinz Field as part of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic weekend.

Uh… Wow. Full rosters for both teams will be available in the near future but for now we’ve got this to get us excited.

Getting Lemieux and Francis out there is impressive in its own right but adding Coffey and Trottier, both who made their name with different dynasties in the 80s (Coffey with Edmonton and Trottier with the Islanders) it’s an incredible assembly of hall of fame talent. Bill Guerin getting to suit up as an alumni so soon after retiring from the NHL makes for a nice perk. Let’s just go ahead and say he’ll probably be the guy doing the bulk of the scoring.

If you’re wondering who the Caps will throw out there against this insane crew, all that is known as of now is 80s and 90s great Peter Bondra. As for who else we’d like to see out there from both teams, our lists are huge. Right off the top of our head though we’re hoping that the goalies facing off against each other are Tom Barrasso for Pittsburgh and Olaf Kolzig for Washington.

We’d also really enjoy seeing tough guys Ulf Samuelsson and Dale Hunter get out there and throw down for old time sake, but getting Samuelsson away from the Coyotes bench where he’s an assistant coach might be tough. Perhaps ESPN analyst Matthew Barnaby can get the call in his place.

This is one moment where we’re really upset that Jaromir Jagr is playing in the KHL as having him able to suit up for both teams to get booed by their fans would be hilariously entertaining all on its own. Of course, the thought of getting Lemieux and Jagr together one more time, even in an old timers game setting like this, would be amazing.

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    2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs second-round schedule

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    Time to get your ducks in a row (Anaheim or otherwise), as the second-round schedule has been released.

    As you can see, the West series begin on Wednesday while the East ones kick into gear on Thursday. Read up on the matchups here.

    For the sixth consecutive year, every Stanley Cup playoff game will be presented nationally across the platforms of NBC Sports Group and select NBCUniversal networks.

    (Games listed by date, start time, teams and network.)

    EASTERN CONFERENCE

    Date TIME (ET) #1 Washington vs. #2 Pittsburgh Networks
    Thursday, April 27 7:30 p.m. Pittsburgh at Washington NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Saturday, April 29 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at Washington NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
    Monday, May 1 7:30 p.m. Washington at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Wednesday, May 3 7:30 p.m. Washington at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    *Saturday, May 6 TBD Pittsburgh at Washington TBD
    *Monday, May 8 TBD Washington at Pittsburgh TBD
    *Wednesday, May 10 TBD Pittsburgh at Washington TBD

    Date TIME (ET) #2 Ottawa vs. #4 NY Rangers Networks
    Thursday, April 27 7 p.m. NY Rangers at Ottawa CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports
    Saturday, April 29 3 p.m. NY Rangers at Ottawa NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
    Tuesday, May 2 7 p.m. Ottawa at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Thursday, May 4 7:30 p.m. Ottawa at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    *Saturday, May 6 TBD NY Rangers at Ottawa TBD
    *Tuesday, May 9 TBD Ottawa at NY Rangers TBD
    *Thursday, May 11 TBD NY Rangers at Ottawa TBD

    WESTERN CONFERENCE

    Date TIME (ET) #1 Anaheim vs. #2 Edmonton Networks
    Wednesday, April 26 10:30 p.m. Edmonton at Anaheim NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Friday, April 28 10:30 p.m. Edmonton at Anaheim NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Sunday, April 30 7 p.m. Anaheim at Edmonton NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Wednesday, May 3 10 p.m. Anaheim at Edmonton NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    *Friday, May 5 TBD Edmonton at Anaheim TBD
    *Sunday, May 7 TBD Anaheim at Edmonton TBD
    *Wednesday, May 10 TBD Edmonton at Anaheim TBD

    Date TIME (ET) #3 St. Louis vs. #4 Nashville Networks
    Wednesday, April 26 8 p.m. Nashville at St. Louis NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Friday, April 28 8 p.m. Nashville at St. Louis NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Sunday, April 30 3 p.m. St. Louis at Nashville NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Tuesday, May 2 9:30 p.m. St. Louis at Nashville NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    *Friday, May 5 TBD Nashville at St. Louis TBD
    *Sunday, May 7 TBD St. Louis at Nashville TBD
    *Tuesday, May 9 TBD Nashville at St. Louis TBD

    Starting time and national broadcast information for games listed TBD will be announced when available.

    2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second-round matchups

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    Want to know when and how to watch each game? Check out the second-round schedule here.

    Eastern Conference

    Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

    Washington really had to sweat it against Toronto, but while the journey took more twists and turns than expected, both juggernauts ended up in a position to justify their statuses as favorites.

    During the Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby runs for the franchises, the Penguins won both second-round series (first in 2009 and then last year). In each case, Pittsburgh went on to win the Stanley Cup.

    Will the Capitals finally break through in what might be their best chance ever? There isn’t a better way for them to truly prove their mettle than to do so against a Penguins team that looks dangerous, even with key injuries to consider.

    Ottawa Senators vs. New York Rangers

    Both teams beat higher seeds in the first round, surprising at least some. There are some fun storylines here, from a clash of two star Swedes (Erik Karlsson vs. Henrik Lundqvist) to fun trade talk involving Mika Zibanejad and Derick Brassard.

    On paper, these teams aren’t as linked as the other East series, but playoff glory can make franchises become hated rivals in little time.

    Western Conference

    Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

    So much orange. So many goals?

    With the Blackhawks, Kings, Wild and Sharks out, the Ducks get home-ice in the West and probably rank as the most familiar contender in a conference that seems heavy on “new blood.” Then again, they’re still driven by a red-hot Ryan Getzlaf, but this isn’t the same Anaheim squad as the last time they made a longer run.

    Speaking of new blood, it’s unavoidable to describe the Oilers any other way. Edmonton hopes to keep its first playoff run in more than a decade going, and this series might actually be a better showcase for Connor McDavid than those tighter games vs. the Sharks.

    St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

    Is there a matchup of goalies on hotter streaks right now than Jake Allen vs. Pekka Rinne? These “underdogs” held the top teams in the Central Division to one playoff victory combined.

    While there are plenty of carryover characters from previous postseason editions of the Blues (Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen) and the Predators (Roman Josi), there’s also a new Blues coach in Mike Yeo and newly featured Nashville pieces such as P.K. Subban.

    Which team will go deeper than many outside of their locker room expected? We’ll find out.

    Capitals close out Maple Leafs after one last OT classic

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs couldn’t grab the torch from the Washington Capitals in this series, but they put up a tremendous struggle.

    Auston Matthews continued to make an impression with a goal in his fourth consecutive game, yet it wasn’t enough to send this scintillating series to a Game 7. Instead, Marcus Johansson collected tying and game-winning goals, leading Washington to a 2-1 OT win to take the series 4-2.

    Here is video of the tally that ended Toronto’s season:

    While the Capitals taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins is “expected,” the path to get there wasn’t as many drew it up. Toronto gave Washington all it can handle in a series that tied a record with five trips beyond regulation.

    The Maple Leafs can take heart in pushing the play for large spans of the series, although there have also been spans where it felt like the Caps found that extra gear.

    Toronto fans who’ve been longing for a return to playoff glory must be experiencing mixed feelings. This young bunch achieved more than just about anyone expected, particularly in this series against the Presidents’ Trophy winners. That might be why it burns, though; Buds fans deal with the bitter feeling of so close.

    Then again, the Capitals know all about that. They hope to avoid repeating such history in this huge opportunity. Perhaps facing a far tougher-than-expected challenge to start things off might be a blessing in disguise?

    Capitals’ Schmidt hurt by Leafs’ Komarov; Record 18th playoff game to OT

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    Now, players are known to at least try to return to games after injuries, sometimes ultimately leaving such efforts unsuccessful.

    So, it’s possible that the Washington Capitals should still be concerned about defenseman Nate Schmidt. The solid depth blueliner was helped off the ice after a hit by Leo Komarov of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the good news is that he was at least able to make his way back for a spin later on in the same third period.

    Does that mean he’ll be OK? We’ll see. The game is entering OT – the 18th of this round, a new NHL record – so a possible Schmidt injury could put Washington at a disadvantage during “free hockey.”

    It makes sense that Toronto and Washington made it a new record, as this is the fifth time in six games that they beyond regulation in this series. Wow.