Jason Brough

Postponed Caps-Ducks game could be played April 10

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, it “sounds like” the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks will make up their postponed game on April 10, the day after what supposed to be the last day of the regular season.

The two teams were originally scheduled to play Jan. 22 in Washington, until a snowstorm changed things.

It was noted by the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan that the NBA’s Washington Wizards have changed their start time on April 10 to noon, which would allow the Caps and Ducks to play in the evening at Verizon Center.

The Ducks play in Colorado on April 9, while the Caps are in St. Louis. All 30 teams are in action that day. The first day of the playoffs is April 13.

Two other postponed games — Flyers at Islanders on Jan. 23; Pittsburgh at Washington on Jan. 24 — still need to be rescheduled as well. Though at least neither of the visiting teams are from the West Coast.

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    After 37-game absence, McDavid is ‘ready to go’

    EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) Connor McDavid practiced Monday with the Edmonton Oilers, and the rookie center says he is ready to return after breaking his left collarbone.

    The No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft got hurt when he was ridden hard into the boards in the second period of a 4-2 victory against Philadelphia on Nov. 3. He has missed 37 games, almost half a season.

    “He is ready to go,” coach Todd McLellan said after McDavid centered a line between Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot in practice.

    McDavid, who spent the last week practicing with the Oilers’ AHL team in Bakersfield, was asked if he was nervous heading into just the 14th game of his NHL career.

    “Anxious is probably the better word,” he said. “I’m excited. It feels like my first game all over again.”

    He said he’s not going to let the injury play on his mind when the puck drops Tuesday night against Columbus.

    “The doctors wouldn’t let me play if I wasn’t 100 percent,” he said. “They say it’s safe to play, so it’s safe to play.”

    McDavid, 19, has five goals and 12 points in 13 games. He also has a plus-four rating with six penalty minutes.

    He hasn’t played one shift with Eberle, who was out for the start of the season with a shoulder injury. By the time Eberle came back, McDavid was out.

    McDavid believes they’ll mesh well.

    “He has got those quick great hands and a deceiving shot that fools goalies a lot of the time,” McDavid said. “If you get him the puck in a good spot, you know he’s going to finish it.”

    Eberle says it may be easier for McDavid to get back to game speed given that all NHL players are coming off the All-Star break.

    “With his speed and the way he thinks the game he’ll be fine,” Eberle said.

    McLellan said the plan for McDavid is to “open the door and say go,” but said they’ll be watching his minutes to see how he is doing.

    “The way he skated today I’m not as worried about Connor as I am the other 19 that have been off a week,” he said.

    With 13 games in February, Devils enter ‘make-or-break time’

    NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 02:  Head coach John Hynes of the New Jersey Devils talks with Kyle Palmieri #21,John Moore #2 and Adam Henrique #14 during a time out against the Dallas Stars on January 2,2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.The New Jersey Devils defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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    NEWARK, N.J. (AP) After missing the playoffs the previous three seasons, the New Jersey Devils shook up their organization.

    They moved Ray Shero into the general manager’s job, made John Hynes the NHL’s youngest coach and made a couple of offseason moves that didn’t seem all that earthshattering.

    Fast forward to the All-Star break, and the Devils (25-20-5) are threatening to end their playoff drought. They are on the cusp of a postseason berth heading into Tuesday night’s game at the Prudential Center against the rival New York Rangers.

    It is the very beginning of a challenging February for New Jersey, which plays 13 games this month, including eight against teams above the Devils in the standings. Five of those eight games are against either the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals or the Rangers, who are 6-0-2 against the Devils dating to December 2013.

    “It’s sort of make-or-break time for us to make the playoffs this next stretch,” said Devils forward Lee Stempniak, who came to camp on a tryout basis and now has 14 goals. “It’s in division games so those are points where you beat the teams you’re chasing and you close the gap pretty quickly, and if you lose, it can run away from you pretty quickly. We know the importance of the games coming up.”

    While the Devils have picked up their scoring slightly this season, the backbone of the team is All-Star goaltender Cory Schneider and a young defense mentored by veteran Andy Greene.

    Schneider is 22-15-5 with a 2.03 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. New Jersey’s total of 114 goals allowed is tied for the sixth fewest in the league, only 11 more than No. 1 Washington.

    The Devils have scored just 112 goals, fourth fewest in the league, but they remain in contention.

    It’s something few expected looking at the Devils in training camp.

    Forward Mike Cammalleri was coming off a 27-goal season, Schneider had emerged as a top goaltender and there was a lot of potential with the young defense that featured Adam Larsson and Damon Severson. But there also were a lot of questions that have been answered.

    Kyle Palmieri, acquired in a trade with Anaheim, has a career-high 20 goals, six more than his previous best. Stempniak is considered one of the top free-agent additions, and defenseman David Schlemko, who signed in September, has been steady. Even pesky former Penguin Bobby Farmham scored his first seven NHL goals after being claimed on waivers.

    “I think we looked in training camp and we knew we had the guys to do it,” Palmieri said. “I think early on it was us accepting how our team needed to play and how we need to compete to win games. We were able to use some of that momentum from early success and build our way into still being in the race. Thirty-two games is a long way and it starts with tomorrow night’s game.”

    Hynes is downplaying the big picture and telling his team to focus on the present.

    “We’re going to do what we have done all year long, which is try to get better every day, and make sure we are doing the right things,” Hynes said.

    If the Devils can keep that approach they can remain competitive every night.

    “For us it’s not a fluke,” Stempniak said. “We have gotten better each week of the season and I think we are right there. We have a lot of work ahead of us. It’s certainly not a fluke and we have a lot of belief that we are a playoff team.”

    Related: Cammalleri on IR with hand injury

    Players deserve plenty of credit for ‘unbelievable’ All-Star Weekend

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    NASHVILLE — Brent Burns couldn’t say enough good things about the folks who organized the 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend.

    “It was great. The city of Nashville did themselves proud,” said the Sharks defenseman with the big beard and all the tattoos. “It was unbelievable. The location. All the events. The NHL did a great job. It’s easy to get to everything. The food’s been great. The people have been awesome.”

    He was right on all accounts, of course. It was a fantastic time in Nashville. One of the best All-Star weekends ever.

    But Burns, a.k.a. Chewbacca, and his fellow players deserve a lot of the credit, too. After all, they were the ones who showed the fans their personalities on Saturday. And they were the ones who embraced the new 3-on-3 format on Sunday.

    And, of course, they were the ones who rallied around John Scott and helped turn what had been an embarrassing story for the NHL into a pretty great one. Instead of spending their time criticizing the league’s handling of the situation, they chose to hype Scott up.

    Likewise, Scott deserves credit for choosing the high road. He said his piece in the Players’ Tribune. He let it go after that, taking the commissioner at his word that the league was happy to have him in Nashville.

    “In my opinion this is the new NHL,” P.K. Subban, a.k.a. Jaromir Jagrtold reporters. “This is what it’s about. You look at professional sports, the more athletes can engage and interact with the fan base, the more you’re going to get out of it, right? The more you’re going to get out of your league, the more revenues grow, in my opinion. That’s the game now. Fans want to be able to interact with players and get to know them. I think the All-Star Game is a great opportunity to do that, no matter what the format is.”

    New All-Star Game format proves to be a winner

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    NASHVILLE — So much for the defeatist theory that the All-Star Game was beyond saving.

    Sunday at Bridgestone Arena, fans were treated to 60 minutes of compelling and entertaining hockey. No word of a lie, there was genuine intensity and competitiveness on display out there. Heck, Patrice Bergeron might have earned a few Selke Trophy votes.

    Oh, and John Scott was the MVP. That was a pretty good story, too. Especially considering nothing came easy out there. He had to work for his two goals. Even found himself a fight.

    “It was fun, we were trying to win,” said Anaheim’s Corey Perry, who scored the only goal in Team Pacific’s 1-0 victory over Team Atlantic in the final.

    “You want to win. At the end of the day, you want to win.”

    Except, as we all know, that hasn’t always been the case in the All-Star Game. Last year in Columbus, the final score was 17-12. Defense wasn’t merely optional; it was nonexistent.

    That’s why they changed the format to three-on-three and came up with a million bucks for the winners.

    “And that’s what everybody was embracing,” said Perry. “I think after last year and changing it up and coming into a different format, I thought it was great.”

    Was he tired after the game?

    “It was getting tough out there,” he said. “Last minute and 20 seconds in your own end. It gets tiring.”

    “We were mucking and grinding,” joked Sharks defenseman Brent Burns. “We wanted to represent our division. That’s the way we roll over there. Every night. Tough game.”

    On Saturday, Burns had bristled when it was suggested that the effort level had been lacking in previous All-Star Games.

    “Would you prefer a 1-0 game?” he asked.

    Which is kinda funny in hindsight. Though to be fair, 23 goals were scored today. Seven in the first mini-game; 15 in the second; and just the one in the final. Overall, there was no shortage of offense. No shortage of fun, either.

    Ultimately, what today proved was that there was a happy medium to be found between the hard-working, shot-blocking, all-business hockey we see in the regular season and playoffs, and the lackluster shinny we saw last year in Columbus.

    “I think it just enabled you to work harder,” said Burns of the move to three-on-three. “You know, five on five…it’s sometimes hard to hack a guy down after he’s made a nice move to get a breakaway. You kind of want to let him ride that out and show the fans what he can do. Three-on-three enabled that a little bit more.”