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NHL on NBC: Kings visit Capitals, go for six in a row

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NBC’s coverage of the NHL continues on Sunday afternoon when the New York Rangers pay a visit to the Detroit Red Wings. You can watch all of the action on NBC starting at 12:00 p.m. ET or on our live stream here.

It’s another Star Sunday on NBC when the NHL’s best team, the Washington Capitals, plays host to the NHL’s hottest team, the Los Angeles Kings.

Sunday’s broadcast will highlight Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Kings forward Jeff Carter, two of the NHL’s top goal scorers.

As for the game itself, it’s the second game in less than 24 hours for each team after they were both winners on Saturday afternoon and is a classic matchup of high-scoring offense going against shut down defense.

After shutting out the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon — thanks to Peter Budaj‘s league-leading seventh shutout of the season — the Kings have now won five games in a row and climbing the Western Conference standings, entering the day sitting in the top wild card spot. It was a typical Kings game in that they completely shut down an opposing offense, playing the type of smothering defense that has made them a two-time Stanley Cup winner since 2011-12. It’s not always the prettiest hockey — they allowed the Flyers to get just 17 shots on goal on Saturday — but it works for them.

While the Kings have been on a bit of a roll over the past two weeks, the Capitals have been dominating the league for the better part of the past two months.

Since Dec. 1 the Capitals have put together a 22-5-4 record (that would be a 127-point pace over 82 games) to move back into the driver’s seat for the Presidents’ Trophy. Entering play on Sunday they have a three-point lead over the Minnesota Wild for the top spot in the NHL and are not that far off the pace they were on at this point a year ago when they ended up finishing the season with the league’s best record.

They were 3-2 winners in Montreal on Saturday.

The formula for the Capitals this season is very much the same. A Vezina Trophy caliber performance from Braden Holtby, whose numbers are actually better than they were a year ago when he won the award, and a balanced scoring attack that features some of the NHL’s most talented forwards combining to formone of the league’s highest scoring teams. While Ovechkin gets most of the headlines in Washington, Nicklas Backstrom is quietly putting together another magnificent season, leading the team with 52 points in 52 games.

Video: Crosby to Dan Patrick – Subban fight ‘wasn’t as bad as it looked’

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Listerine, the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, and a growing rivalry. Sidney Crosby and P.K. Subban battled it out at the highest level not so long ago, but some of that action looked worse than it actually was.

At least, that’s the message Crosby sent on “The Dan Patrick Show,” as you can enjoy in the clip above.

As a bonus, Crosby also discussed his favorite Stanley Cup traditions – hey, there can be traditions when something happens three times – and how Mario Lemieux inspires some especially creative ideas:

Rebuild on hold? Red Wings reportedly eye Girardi, Hainsey, Daley

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For the first time in ages, the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs. To some, the sliver lining was that this might send a message to management to truly commit to a rebuild.

Perhaps GM Ken Holland & Co. aren’t quite ready for that.

Look, one or even a couple of potential free agent signings won’t disqualify the Red Wings from going younger. Still, the rumored defensemen they’re targeting aren’t exactly spring chickens.

Three names floating out there are Trevor Daley, Dan Girardi, and Ron Hainsey.

Daley was mentioned by The Athletic’s Craig Custance, MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, and the Detroit Free-Press’ Helene St. James. Khan and Custance both mention Hainsey and Girardi, too.

Even in one-case mentions, the “veteran” theme continues, with Brian Campbell‘s name coming up while forward Thomas Vanek seems like at least a remote possibility to return to Detroit.

Let’s look at the ages of the defensemen mentioned, noting that Daley is older than some might have expected.

Daley – 33
Girardi – 33
Hainsey – 36
Campbell – 38

In the case of Daley and Girardi, you could also argue that each blueliner also has a lot of “mileage” for their age. Girardi, in particular, plays the sort of grinding, shot-blocking style that might have accelerated his troubles with the Rangers.

As great as experience might be, even for a “final push,” this sends a troubling signal. In Mike Green (31), Jonathan Ericsson (33), and Niklas Kronwall (36), the Red Wings already have an aging group of defensemen. Kronwall and Ericsson are dealing with injuries that may hinder them for the remainder of their careers, too.

When you also note that Holland exposed 25-year-old goalie Petr Mrazek instead of 33-year-old Jimmy Howard, the picture isn’t especially pretty.

Maybe the Red Wings can have their cake (push for a playoff rebound) and eat it too (start to transition to youth), yet it’s not necessarily the aggressive move toward a rebuild that many likely hoped to see.

At least there’s time for Holland to prove these early worries wrong.

Note: In other Red Wings news, the team signed Ben Street to a one-year extension.

Blue Jackets sign Schroeder after trading for him

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Not long after acquiring him in a minor trade from the Minnesota Wild, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Jordan Schroeder to a two-year contract.

The team confirms that it is a two-way deal for 2017-18 and then becomes one-way in 2018-19.

Schroeder is guaranteed $350K for the first year of that contract and then $650K in 2018-19, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.

The 22nd pick of the 2009 NHL Draft receives a fitting contract: he’s been a “tweener,” bouncing around the NHL and AHL. He hasn’t been able to make much of an impact, Schroeder at least provides some organizational depth.

That could come in handy, as Portzline indicates that Sam Gagner – not so surprisingly – is expected to garner a lot more attention this time around in free agency. Perhaps Schroeder could serve as insurance for Gagner?

NCAA star Spencer Foo chooses the Flames

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NCAA standout forward Spencer Foo decided to sign with the Calgary Flames, as The Sports Corporation and team confirmed. The signing might not be official until free agency kicks off on Saturday, July 1, but he apparently made his decision.

After managing 25 points in each of his first two seasons with Union College, Foo exploded in 2016-17, racking up 26 goals and 62 points. You can see some of his highlights in the video above.

He didn’t go drafted, so this could be a case of another scorer blossoming late.

Foo is an Edmonton native, so playing close to home in Calgary likely factored into his decision. He was connected to the Edmonton Oilers in earlier rumors while MLive.com’s Ansar Khan indicates that his final choice came down to the Flames or the Detroit Red Wings.

Calgary is already classifying him as a RW. Perhaps he’ll be that long-desired fit for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan? There’s another positive aspect for the Flames, as this might help to soften the blow of giving up a bundle of assets in the Travis Hamonic deal.

The Sports Corporation tweeted out a photo of Foo, 23, in a Flames jersey: