Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins

Caps want Ovechkin to be “relentless” despite suspensions


Alex Ovechkin endears himself to hockey fans because he’s just as likely to clobber someone with a big hit as he is to score a dazzling goal.

The thought was that his physical style might catch up to him, but after receiving the third suspension of his NHL career, it’s hard not to wonder if lost paychecks will soften his edges instead. The Washington Capitals certainly hope not, as GM George McPhee told Stephen Whyno.

“Yeah, we’re concerned about it, certainly. But what we want him to do when he comes back is play the way he’s always played,” McPhee said. “We want him to be relentless, we want him to score goals. We want him to be physical.”

Losing Ovechkin for three games hurts, without a doubt. That being said, this absence means he won’t play again until Feb. 4 – and that might just be a good thing.

Sure, Ovechkin is only 26-years-old, but he’s put a lot of mileage on that body over the years. For example: instead of taking a break and resting his beaten-up knee after the 2011 playoffs, he jumped right to the World Championships (and went pointless in five games).

Getting an improvised vacation might just be what Ovechkin needs to get back to that driven, relentless style again. In fact, he could even channel some of that “old” Ovechkin who was a physical force like no one else in the league.

Teuvo time: Teravainen to open with Toews, Hossa

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six
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Teuvo Teravainen has played both center and right wing over the course of his brief NHL career.

Now, he’s got a new position — left wing — and a pair of shiny new linemates to boot.

Teravainen will open the year playing alongside captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa, per the Sun-Times.

The move could be a boon for the young Finn. Several ex-Chicago wingers thrived playing alongside Toews and Hossa, most notably Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of production Teravainen, who just turned 21 last month, can manufacture on Chicago’s top line. His numbers from last year weren’t spectacular (nine points in 34 games), but he did a solid job of racking up points en route to the Stanley Cup, with 10 in 18 games.

It’ll also be interesting to see how long he sticks with Toews and Hossa.

Head coach Joel Quenneville has been known as a frequent user of the line blender, often switching up his combos at at moment’s notice.

That said, Quenneville is hoping to find some stability with this new-look group.

“[Teuvo will] play there to start the season,” he said. “Hopefully, all year.”

‘Great story’ Janmark surprises, makes Dallas roster

Brian Elliott, Mattias Janmark-Nylen
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Pretty cool story out of Texas, where Mattias Janmark, the 22-year-old rookie that’s played a grand total of nine games in North America, has defied the odds to make the Stars’ opening-night roster.

“It’s a great story,” Dallas GM Jim Nill said, per the Morning News. “We really only planned to have him here for maybe two preseason games and then send him back. But he just kept being one of the best players out there, and he changed our minds.

“It’s a great example of what you can do if you just play hard.”

Nill acquired Janmark, 22, from Detroit at last year’s deadline as part of the Erik Cole trade. Nill was familiar with the Swedish forward from his time with the Wings — he was part of the front office team that drafted Janmark in ’13 — but didn’t think the deal would pay such immediate dividends.

As for Janmark, he didn’t even think he’d be in North America this year.

He has a contract with SHL club Frolunda, where he scored 36 points in 55 games last year. Given he’s barely played in the AHL — a few games with Grand Rapids, a few with Texas — Janmark figured he’d be back in Europe this season.

His strong play in the exhibition season changed all that. Janmark beat out two of Dallas’ touted prospects — former AHL rookie of the year Curtis McKenzie, and ’12 first-rounder Radek Faksa — for a roster spot, and showed good chemistry with third-line center Cody Eakin.

Janmark also performed well on a line with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.