Jason Brough

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Viktor Svedberg (43) fights with New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
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Blackhawks re-sign Svedberg for two more years

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The Chicago Blackhawks have come to terms with defenseman Viktor Svedberg on a two-year contract extension through 2017-18.

No financial terms have been reported.

Svedberg has split the season between the NHL and AHL Rockford, where he is right now. The big, 24-year-old Swede has two goals and two assists in 19 games for the Blackhawks.

Originally signed as a free agent on Oct. 19, 2013, Svedberg is eligible for waivers starting next season, according to CapFriendly.

Despite lowly numbers, Ruff sees Lehtonen-Niemi tandem as ‘successful’ for Stars

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff sees two good things about having Antti Niemi aboard this season.

One, despite a save percentage of just .901, the 32-year-old goalie has managed to start 39 games and win 22 times.

Two, because Niemi has been able to make all those starts, Kari Lehtonen hasn’t been overworked like he was last season.

“Last year, we couldn’t get a win out of our backup goalie and we overplayed our No. 1 goalie, and that didn’t work at all,” Ruff told the Dallas Morning News. “So I think overall, it’s been a win-win for us. I know our overall numbers aren’t as good as some of the other goalies in the league, but I look at the number of wins and say that the goalies have been successful.”

At .906, Lehtnonen’s save rate isn’t much higher than Niemi’s. In fact, it’s only higher than four of the 38 goalies league-wide that have started at least 25 games this season, with Niemi right at the bottom.

goalies

But like Ruff said, the high-scoring Stars have managed to win more than they’ve lost, and that’s the bottom line.

The lingering question — one that will be answered soon enough — is whether that way of winning can carry over into the playoffs.

For offside reviews, blue-line cameras to be added for playoffs

Linesmen Don Henderson, left, and Mike Cvik look at a monitor during a coach's challenge by the Vancouver Canucks of an onside call on a goal by Dallas Stars' Patrick Sharp during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia. The call on the ice stood and the goal was allowed. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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To help determine whether a goal was offside, there will be blue-line cameras installed in all 16 playoff rinks.

That news came out today at the NHL general managers’ meetings in Boca Raton.

From the Canadian Press:

Video coaches, who advise the head coach on whether to challenge such plays, will have access to the feeds of the new cameras. 

There will be two cameras set up for the blue lines, one on the glass boards and another four feet extended above the bench. The NHL tested the cameras at the all-star game in Nashville as well as the two most recent outdoor games.

The cameras will be adopted for the start of the next regular season across the league.

It’s hoped that the addition of the cameras will make it a “black-and-white call.”

With playoffs looming, the Caps aren’t ‘fighting for enough inches’

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Barry Trotz is trying to keep things in perspective. Even after his Capitals surrendered the first goal for the fifth straight time in Saturday’s 5-2 loss in San Jose, the veteran head coach can see the positives.

“We’d like to play with the lead,” Trotz told the Washington Post. “I think we’re a better team with a lead. We haven’t had it for a while, so we’ve been chasing the game the whole time. [But] to be 2-2-1 against the quality of opponents that we’ve played in the last five games, that’s not bad.”

He’s right — it’s “not bad.” Teams have traveled to California and fared much worse than 1-1-1 against the Ducks, Kings, and Sharks.

But considering the expectations, and with the playoffs less than a month away, Washington hockey fans are naturally an anxious bunch.

And the fact is, the Caps haven’t been their dominant selves lately. The last time they won by more than a single goal was almost a month ago, a 3-1 home victory over the Kings on Feb. 16. The last time they won by more than two goals was all the way back on Jan. 19, a 6-3 victory in Columbus.

Call it nitpicking if you want, but when a team is 49-14-5 and holds a 12-point lead in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy, there won’t be any massive deficiencies to point out. With no glaring weaknesses, there are only potential chinks in the armor.

Trotz pointed out another potential factor for the Caps as they close out the regular season.

“Everybody we’re playing is in playoff mode,” he told CSN Washington. “They’re fighting for playoff position and they’re marking us and they’re using us as a little bit of a yardstick based on our record and every game is hard. You’ve got to fight for inches and right now we’ve got some guys, they’re playing hard but we’re not fighting for enough inches.

“You’re going to have to fight for the inches in the playoffs and you’ve got to prepare that way for the playoffs.”

Washington returns home to face Carolina on Tuesday.

Related: The Caps haven’t been ‘great starters,’ and they aim to fix that

Brent Burns ‘can’t say enough’ about Paul Martin

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When Paul Martin signed with the Sharks on July 1, it didn’t exactly knock the hockey world off its axis.

It was a “nice” signing. That’s how a lot of people described it. And then they forgot about it.

But never underestimate the value of a reliable, top-four d-man.

“Paul Martin…I can’t say enough about him,” his defensive partner, Brent Burns, told the Hockey News. “How well he reads and reacts to plays – I’m an aggressive player, a little bit off-the-wall – and he knows the game so well.”

Martin — who’d often paired with another right-shooting, offensive defenseman in Pittsburgh by the name of Kris Letang — has logged just over 20 minutes a game for the Sharks. His ice time is down slightly compared to what he received with the Penguins, but that’s probably for the best as he just turned 35.

The Sharks don’t need him to play massive minutes anyway. Assuming no injuries, they’ll head into the playoffs with considerable depth on the back end. In addition to the Martin-Burns pairing, there’s the other top pairing of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun, plus a bottom tandem of Brenden Dillon and Roman Polak.