Capitals

Kane scores, Blackhawks beat Blues 3-2

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Kane scores, Blackhawks beat Blues 3-2

CHICAGO (AP) Right from the start, the Chicago Blackhawks knew they would be tested.

Clearly, they were ready.

Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook and Viktor Stalberg scored to back Corey Crawford, and Chicago hung on to beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Tuesday night.

``There are a lot of positive things that you could look at our game right now and say we're doing things well in certain areas,'' Jonathan Toews said.

They're getting off to strong starts in games. They're off to a strong start, period, actually.

The Blackhawks looked sharp in their home opener after impressive wins at defending champion Los Angeles and Phoenix, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round last season.

This time, they took out the reigning Central division champions, another impressive win for a team that has its sights set high.

``They were a lot of top opponents right out of the gate, but I like the focus of our team right off the bat, the contributions we're getting from a lot of guys,'' coach Joel Quenneville said. ``It's a positive start, we're happy, but let's keep trying to get better.''

Kane scored in the first period, Seabrook deflected a shot into the net with his skate in the second and Stalberg came through early in the third to make it 3-0.

Crawford made 32 saves and was in line for his first shutout since March 2011 when Andy McDonald beat him with a wrist shot shortly after Stalberg scored. T.J. Oshie pulled the Blues within one when he fired in a rebound of David Peron's shot on a power play with 5:07 left.

Brian Elliott made 24 saves, but the Blues took their first loss after beating Detroit and Nashville.

``We were light with the puck, particularly in the offensive zone,'' coach Ken Hitchcock said. ``It wasn't what we did in our zone, it's what we did entering their zone and they transitioned quick. They caught us for odd-man rushes early.''

It was another good showing by the Blackhawks after they scored 11 goals in their first two games and sparked memories of the high-powered team that won the Stanley Cup in 2010.

``We just have to remind ourselves every night that it's about us preparing ourselves to play and worrying about our own game, our own locker room,'' Toews said. ``If we do that, there's little things that we want to take note of when we play certain teams. Other than that, it's just about us in this locker room. It doesn't matter who we play out there. We've got to set that standard for how we're going to play every single night.''

That's something he felt slipped at times last season. They had a big lull, dropping nine in a row at one point, before regrouping to finish with the fifth-most points in the Western Conference (101).

So far, though, they seem to be meeting their standards.

Playing against the team that allowed the fewest goals in the league last season, they set the tempo in the early going and grabbed a 1-0 lead 7:20 in when Kane cut across the crease on a 3-on-0 rush. He took a feed from Patrick Sharp and beat Elliott with a backhand for his second goal of the season.

``I don't know if I've ever seen a 3-on-0 in our league,'' Quenneville said.

The Blues came on late in the period, but Crawford made two great saves seconds apart when he stopped Alexander Steen and sprawled out to block Vladimir Tarasenko on the rebound.

The Blackhawks caught a break early in the second when Steen fired at an empty net with Crawford out of position. The puck deflected off Chicago center Marcus Kruger's stick and fluttered into Keith's chest, preserving the lead for Chicago.

The Blackhawks added to it midway through the period on a power play when Keith fired a low laser from the blue line through a screen. The puck deflected off Seabrook's skate and slipped between Elliott's pads, making it 2-0.

Stalberg beat Elliott glove side just over two minutes into the third, with McDonald spoiling the shutout bid about 21/2 minutes after that.

``We were mismanaging the puck (in the first period) and poor reads,'' Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. ``I think we just didn't play our game. We didn't play smart and we gave them too many odd-man rushes.''

Notes: Blackhawks F Daniel Carcillo missed his second straight game with a right knee injury, and D Steve Montador remains sidelined by a concussion he suffered last season. ... Blues have not won in Chicago since Feb. 3, 2010. ... This was the 282nd meeting between St. Louis and Chicago. The Blues have played the Blackhawks more than any other team. ... Steen played in his 500th game.

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The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

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USA TODAY Sports

The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

Congratulations! You just got a new job. There’s just one catch: it’s in a new city.

Oh, and by the way, you start tomorrow. Good luck.

That would be a pretty big shock for anyone, but it is the reality that hockey players constantly face and one that is exacerbated as the trade deadline approaches.

“I know fans and media get really excited about it, but they're not the ones that have to pick up and move their families,” Brooks Orpik said following Sunday’s practice. “I think players are looked at as kind of objects at times, just a number. People don't know there's a human side to trades.”

This season’s NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. on Monday. Until then, every locker room faces a degree of uncertainty.

RELATED: KEMPNY GETS QUICK PROMOTION TO THE TOP-FOUR

Almost no player or prospect is untouchable. Even if there are no rumors surrounding a team or things seem set, the threat of a trade hangs over the heads of the players like the sword of Damocles until the deadline finally comes and goes.

Even for those players who know they won’t be moved or who can’t be moved because of various clauses in their contracts, it still remains a stressful time as they could still see friends shipped to another city.

“I think what happens on that day is all the players, as soon as they get off the ice at morning skate, they're all looking at their phones and trying to see what happens,” Barry Trotz said. “They want to see what happens around the league.”

Sure, a player can go from a last place team to a contender. On the surface, they should be happy. Behind the scenes, however, midseason trades always carry family implications.

“It's tough on guys,” Orpik said. “Guys have kids in schools or have roots in the community of the teams they play for. As fun as it is for some people, I think as players it can definitely be nerve-wracking for people.”

MORE CAPITALS: TRADE TO CAPS POTENTIALLY OFFERS JERABEK WHAT HE NEVER GOT IN MONTREAL

When those trades do happen, they obviously can throw a player’s life upside-down.

For those players who are not traded, the team has to adjust both to losing familiar faces and to embracing new ones into the locker room.

“When someone comes into a new group, it's not much changed except for obviously a new piece,” Jay Beagle said. “But it's definitely harder on them so you try to make it as easy as possible on them.”

Thus far, the Capitals have added defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek over the past week. While both trades were done in exchange for draft picks, Taylor Chorney was a casualty of the trades as he was placed on waivers to make room for the new additions and was claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“It's tough losing guys, especially guys that are well-liked in our room,” Orpik said. “Taylor Chorney is a really well-liked guy so I think that impacted us a little bit.”

On Monday, fans, analysts, players and coaches alike will all be frantically checking their phones looking for the latest trade news, but while the deadline brings excitement for fans, it bears very different feelings for the players involved. Those players are people working a job and those trades mean uprooting their life in a matter of days. Regardless of whether a player is better off in terms of the team situation, there is still a human cost to doing business.

“It can affect certain guys because their names are obviously spread all over the place,” Trotz said. “They're human too. They pretend to not hear it, but they do.”

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Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

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Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

After two games, it looks like Michal Kempny is already moving up in the lineup.

At Sunday’s practice, Kempny played on the team's second defensive pairing, lining up on the left of John Carlson. Previously, the Czech defenseman had been playing on the right of Brooks Orpik. The move to the left allows him to play on his natural side as he is a left-handed shot.

Here are the pairs from Sunday’s practice:

Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Christian Djoos
Jakub Jerabek – Madison Bowey

Acquired on Monday from the Chicago Blackhawks, Kempny has played in two games for the Capitals and has received glowing reviews thus far.

“He's a really good pro, that's what sticks out,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He takes care of himself, he works at his game off the ice and with the guys, he has fit in very well.”

RELATED: THE TRADE TO WASHINGTON OFFERS JERABEK THE CHANCE HE NEVER SEEMED TO GET IN MONTREAL

“I've gotten to play a little bit with [Kempny] the last couple games,” Brooks Orpik said. “I think he's a guy that, he moves pretty well and he moves the puck pretty well and likes to keep things pretty simple. He's very consistent and predictable so he's very easy to play with.”

When the Capitals first acquired Kempny, it seemed like the best fit for him would be alongside Carlson. It’s a natural fit with Kempny being a left-shot and Carlson a righty. It also bumps down Christian Djoos to a third-pair role which is preferable to having a rookie in the top-four come the playoffs.

Should Kempny play well with Carlson, that would likely solidify Washington’s top two pairs. The Orlov-Niskanen pair was not going to be changed and Carlson was going to be on the second pair. The only question was who would ultimately play with him in the postseason?

The third pair, however, remains a work in progress.

The Caps will have to wait at least another day for the debut of their second recent acquisition as Jakub Jerabek cannot yet play due to visa issues and will miss Monday's game, reports Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Considering the issues Washington has had on defense, they would not have brought in another defenseman just to be a healthy scratch. He will get his shot to earn a spot in the lineup.

With two new defensemen in tow, obviously the team will need to experiment over the next few days and weeks to find the right combinations.

“We're going to have to probably spend at least the next 10 to 12 games doing that and then we'll have to sort of settle in,” Trotz said. “With eight defenseman, you sort of want to see which guys you’re going to play and who to play as partners and sort of a little bit of ranking. If someone goes down, who's filling that extra role?”

MORE CAPITALS: WHY THERE'S NO REASON FOR CAPS FANS TO WORRY