Caps, Rangers prepare for block party


The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals have two great goaltenders in Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby, but their netminders also get a lot of support. In the first round of the playoffs, the Rangers and Capitals led the league with 155 and 139 blocked shots respectively.

To put that in perspective, their first round opponents – the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators – only blocked a combined 172 shots.

“It’s definitely huge. Everyone knows that. Everyone knows you have to pay, [to] sacrifice to win in the playoffs,” goaltender Holtby said. “We did that in the first round. Obviously, the Rangers are known for doing it. It’s a challenge for our guys to get it through and on [Henrik] Lundqvist, and I don’t think we’ll be taking any steps back in terms of sacrificing.”

Of course, with both teams trying to get in front of as many shots as possible, they’ll have to modify their offensive strategy a bit to compensate.

“You have to try to miss the net a little bit. You just have to the shoot by the block,” Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. “You can’t hit the net as much so you have to miss the net by 10 feet and then hopefully it bounces back out in front.”

It’s worth noting that Washington and New York also employed a pretty physical style of play in the first round. This might turn into a painful series for those on the ice.

Flames acquire Freddie Hamilton, brother of Dougie

Freddie Hamilton
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Roughly three months after acquiring Dougie Hamilton, the Calgary Flames have brought his brother on board too.

Freddie Hamilton was pried away from the Colorado Avalanche for the cost a 2016 conditional seventh-round draft pick, per the Avalanche’s website. The Flames announced that he will report to AHL Stockton.

Freddie, who is the older of the two at 23, is a center that excelled offensively in the OHL and has chipped in at the AHL level. However, he has just one point in 29 contests with Colorado and the San Jose Sharks.

This is obviously not a big trade, but perhaps Freddie will eventually become a solid member of the Flames’ supporting cast. If nothing else, it didn’t cost Calgary much to reunite the brothers. The duo previously played together with the Niagara IceDogs.

Fabbri primed to make Blues in significant role

Jason Demers, Robby Fabbri
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With the start of the regular season just around the corner, it looks like Robby Fabbri will not only make his NHL debut on Thursday, but also get meaningful minutes.

During Sunday’s practice the 19-year-old forward played alongside Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz. Nothing is set in stone, but that combination did gel.

“I think we want to look at what the combinations look like now rather than do it at the start of the season,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’re looking at a hard match line and we’re also looking at taking advantage of speed and skill off the rush.

“I really liked what I saw today. I really liked Lehtera’s line, they looked very dynamic off the rush.”

The top line of Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, and Vladimir Tarasenko seems like a good bet to play together for the time being. Jori Lehtera and Jaden Schwartz will stick together on the second line while Dmitrij Jaskin and David Backes can expect to be regular partners on the third unit. The X-factors will be Fabbri and Troy Brouwer as Hitchcock has left the door open to alternating between the two of them on the second and third line depending on the opponent.

Fabbri was taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and is looking to make the leap after a brief stint in the AHL last season. At the OHL level, he’s been a dominate force with the Guelph Storm, scoring 25 goals and 51 points in 30 games in 2014-15.