Tale of the Tape: Rangers vs Capitals

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On Saturday, the New York Rangers will host the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal (3:00 pm ET, NBC). Here’s a look at recent history between the two clubs.

Leading scorers

New York: Brad Richards (2G-3A-5PTS) | Washington: Alex Ovechkin (2G-3A-5PTS)

Starting goalies

New York: Henrik Lundqvist (4-3, 1.70 GAA) | Washington: Braden Holtby (4-3, 2.00 GAA)

Nov. 25,2011 – Rangers 6, Capitals 3. This was one of Bruce Boudreau’s final games before he was relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Washington Capitals. After a scoreless 20 minutes, the Rangers came out strong in the second period. Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov, and Ruslan Fedotenko each scored a goal by 7:55 of the frame.

Washington battled back with goals from Troy Brouwer and John Carlson roughly four minutes apart in the second. That narrowed the Rangers lead to just one goal, but that’s as close as the Capitals ever got.

Ryan Callahan stood out with three assists in the contest and broke a streak of being handed a penalty in four straight games.

Dec. 28, 2011 – Capitals 4, Rangers 1. Washington got a bit of revenge a month later. Alexander Semin, who was just beginning to break out of an early season funk, led the charge for the Capitals with two goals. Alex Ovechkin recorded two assists as part of his season-high seven-game point streak.

On the Rangers end, Brandon Dubinsky was the only one that managed to beat Washington goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Ryan Callahan assisted on the goal to bring him up to four points in two games against the Capitals.

Feb. 12, 2012 – Rangers 3, Capitals 2. Alexander Semin netted another goal against the Rangers, but it wasn’t enough this time around.

New York’s Brandon Dubinsky had a big game with two assists and Brandon Prust’s shorthanded goal proved to be the game-winner. Ryan Callahan provided the first goal of the game to once again be a factor against Washington.

April 7, 2012 – Capitals 4, Rangers 1. With the Capitals still fighting for playoff positioning going into the final day of the regular season, it’s not surprising that they managed to win this contest.

Washington was hot out of the gate, with early goals from Alex Ovechkin and Mathieu Perreault. John Carlson got one past Henrik Lundqvist with the man advantage to give the Capitals’ a 3-0 lead going into the first intermission.

This was the first and only time that the Rangers faced Washington goaltender Braden Holtby in the regular season. They outshot the Capitals in every period, but Holtby made 35 saves to led the Capitals to victory.

Injuries

New York: Brian Boyle (concussion), Steve Eminger (ankle), Mats Zuccarello (wrist), Michael Sauer (concussion)

Washington: Tomas Vokoun (groin)

Oilers re-sign Pakarinen for one year

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The Edmonton Oilers have given winger Iiro Pakarinen a one-year contract extension.

From the release:

Pakarinen just finished his third season with the Oilers organization, appearing in 14 regular season games in 2016-17, posting four points (2 goals, 2 assists).  The 25 year old forward missed 53 games due to an injury suffered during the pre-season. He appeared in one playoff game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Oilers brought Pakarinen over from Finland in 2014. Since then, he’s split his North American career between the AHL and NHL while drawing praise for his versatility and hard-nosed style.

Per CapFriendly, Pakarinen’s cap hit will be $750,000 in 2017-18. It’s a one-way deal.

Market heating up for prized Czech d-man Rutta

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Coming off an impressive performance for the Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship, Jan Rutta is now being courted by a number of NHL clubs.

Per The Athletic, the Blackhawks are in contention for securing Rutta’s services. That comes on the heels of earlier reports from TSN’s Darren Dreger, who said there are “multiple” offers for the 26-year-old, including ones from Edmonton and Calgary.

“He’s a steady defenseman with size, and he had a strong finish of the season,” an NHL scout told The Athletic. “He was very good in the playoffs and played his best at the Worlds.”

Rutta, who was never drafted by an NHL club, has spent his professional career with Czech League outfit Pirati Chomutov. He’s blossomed into a talented offensive defenseman — finishing second among Czech League d-men with 32 points in 46 games this year — and, as mentioned above, has good size at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.

Last week, Rutta’s agent — longtime Octagon Hockey representative Allan Walsh — tweeted that his client would make a decision on NHL offers soon.

 

Sharks keep stockpiling European free agents, land Sandberg

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Doug Wilson is at it again.

On Thursday, the Sharks GM confirmed yesterday’s news — the signing of Czech d-man Radim Simek — and announced that Swedish forward Filip Sandberg had agreed to a two-year deal.

“Filip is a very creative player who sees the ice well and can create offense in limited space,” Wilson said in a release. “He plays a high-pressure, puck-pursuit game and his battle level is something we have been impressed with, especially against older players.

“We are excited for him to join our organization.”

Sandberg, 22, is fresh off a Swedish League title with HV71. The club announced Sandberg would be headed overseas last week, but didn’t divulge what team had signed him.

It wasn’t surprising NHL clubs had interest. Sandberg had a good offensive campaign in Sweden, scoring 25 points in 52 regular season games, then broke out for six goals and 14 points in 16 playoff contests.

Prior to this year, Sandberg twice represented Sweden at the World Juniors, including the 2013 tournament where the country won silver. He finished with two goals in six games playing alongside the likes of Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask.

As for Simek, he inked a one-year deal.

“Radim is a quick transition defenseman who drives the play offensively and plays with a physical edge,” said Wilson. “We like his offensive instincts especially on special teams and think his game will translate well in North America.”

Simek just finished representing his native Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship, where he had two points in eight games.

According to a report from Radio Praha, the Sharks beat out the Rangers to acquire Simek. Passed over in his draft year, the 24-year-old has spent his entire pro career with Liberec Bili Tygri.

As mentioned above, Wilson has done well finding European skaters in their early-to-mid-20s, ones that can contribute right away at the NHL level: Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen, most specifically.

The hope now is that Simek and Sandberg will continue that trend.

Avs dismiss three from coaching staff, but Bednar remains

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Colorado GM Joe Sakic said there would be turnover this offseason, but that head coach Jared Bednar was safe.

On Tuesday, Sakic followed through.

The Avs have parted ways with two of Bednar’s assistants — Tim Army and Dave Farrish — and also relieved goalie coach Francois Allaire of his duties.

Army, 54, has been with the club for the last six years, having previously served as the head coach at Providence. He served under three different head coaches in Colorado — Bednar, Patrick Roy and Joe Sacco — and was largely tasked with running the team’s power play (which finished 30th in the NHL this year).

Farrish, 60, just wrapped his second year on the job with the Avs after coming over from Toronto. A veteran of nearly 30 years in coaching, Farrish was brought aboard by Roy, and brought “a wealth of experience and hockey knowledge to our organization.” A journeyman blueliner who playecd 430 games at the NHL level, Farrish ran the club’s defense last season.

Allaire, 57, has been coaching goalies at the NHL level for over 25 years, with previous stops in Montreal, Anaheim and Toronto. His ties to Roy ran deep — he mentored the former Avs coach with the Canadiens, and the pair won two Stanley Cups together (in 1986 and ’93). Allaire has been with the Avs for the last four years, on the heels of an acrimonious departure from Toronto.

Today’s shakeup is a significant one, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. Bednar was essentially forced into retaining all of Roy’s staff following the latter’s shock resignation last August, and probably wants to bring in some of his own guys.

Sakic, meanwhile, had to make some sort of changes after the worst regular season in franchise history — and today’s could just be the tip of the iceberg.

Related: Avs president gives Sakic vote of confidence