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NHL Players Association head 'optimistic' about participation in South Korea Olympics

NHL Players Association head 'optimistic' about participation in South Korea Olympics

The 2018 Olympics in South Korea has been a bone of contention between the NHL owners, who don't want the season interrupted, and their players.

Speaking to assembled media at the Centennial Classic on New Year's Day, NHL Players Association head Donald Fehr expressed optimism that players will be able to participate. 

Via ESPN:

I'm more optimistic now that I ever have been, at least as far as we're concerned, that we'll be able to reach an appropriate agreement with the IIHF to allow for the players to go... "You get a sense of things as they go along, you get a sense of things and how they're likely to end up; doesn't mean you're always right, but you get a sense of things.

The situation is a complicated one on both sides. 

NHL owners are concerned about the expenses of interrupting the NHL season for the Olympics (including travel, lodgings and insurance), which the IOC has said it would not reimburse after doing so for previous Winter Games.

There's also the question of player health, with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman articulated in his remarks the same day. 

Absent some compelling reason, I'm not sure there's a whole lot of sentiment on the part of the clubs to go through the disruption of taking three almost weeks off during the season. We've been there, done that five times and while Vancouver and Salt Lake City were different, when you're halfway around the world [in Pyeongchang] it's not the easiest thing to have in our season. Not just the risk of injury ... the compression to the regular season is something that concerns us.

The NHL had previously offered to include a group of international games in the schedule (Olympics, World Cup of Hockey, etc) in exchange for a three-year extension of the current CBA.

The players union rejected that proposal, but Fehr suggested an agreement could be reached that would allow a "long-term international program" independent of the CBA. He also said he was hopeful that the sides could negotiate for the IIHF to cover expenses associated with NHL players participating in the Winter Games. 

At some point, the back-and-forth over these Olympics has to end. There's no real firm deadline, though ESPN reports that involved parties believe a decision must come by the end of January. 

The verdict here really matters to the Capitals. Capitain Alex Ovechkin, for one, has said he will play for team Russia regardless of whether the NHL participates. He joked that he could even be retired by 2018. Hopefully, if Fehr has his way, that won't have to happen. 

Ovechkin has the backing of Capitals owner Ted Leonsis on his decision. 

Other team cornerstones routinely represent their countries in international competition as well. Nicklas Backstrom is a perennial member of team Sweden, while starting goalie Braden Holtby represented team Canada in the recent World Cup of Hockey. 

MORE CAPITALS: 3 bold predictions: Cooling the red-hot Maple Leafs

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Capitals vs. Flyers Game 20: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

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Capitals vs. Flyers Game 20: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The Caps are no longer on a six-game winning streak after losing in a shootout 4-3 to the Arizona Coyotes Monday night.

But now, they'll look to start a new winning streak Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers who have a winning streak of their own totaling four games.

The Capitals won all four games against the Flyers last season and look to continue that trend in the City of Brotherly Love. Washington will look to get on track Wednesday night.

Here's how to watch Wednesday's matchup.

CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME 20: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

When: Wednesday, November 13, 7:30 p.m.

TV Channel: Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports. (NBC Sports channel finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers on the NBC Sports live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-FLYERS TV SCHEDULE:

The Capitals-Flyers matchup will be on NBC Sports as the primetime matchup on Wednesday Night Hockey. Pre and post-game coverage will be on NBC Sports Washington Plus.

6:30 PM: Caps Faceoff Live (NBC Sports Washington Plus)

7:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live  (NBC Sports Washington Plus)

7:30 PM: Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers (NBC Sports)

10:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live (NBC Sports Washington Plus)

10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live (NBC Sports Washington Plus)

CAPITALS-FLYERS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals:

LW Carl Hagelin: upper-body injury, day-to-day

C Nic Dowd: lower-body injury, day-to-day

Flyers:

C Scott Laughton: finger injury, out indefinitely

D Samuel Morin, knee surgery, out for season

C Nolan Patrick, head injury, week-to-week

CAPITALS-FLYERS PLAYERS TO WATCH:

John Carlson, D, Capitals (8-21-29)

Carlson has been electric thus far leading the league with 21 assists, and leads the Capitals in goal and with 29 points. That is currently six points more than Capitals star player and captain Alex Ovechkin.

Carter Hart, G, Flyers

Hart stopped 26 shots to help the Flyers win their fourth straight win in the victory over the Bruins. 

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Playing with Siegenthaler, Nick Jensen may finally have found his fit in Washington

Playing with Siegenthaler, Nick Jensen may finally have found his fit in Washington

ARLINGTON, Va. -- It would be fair to say that Nick Jensen’s time with the Capitals did not start the way either he or the team had hoped. Brought in at the 2019 trade deadline, Jensen was playing top-pair minutes with the Detroit Red Wings. In Washington, however, it was a struggle to find the best fit for him in the lineup. Originally given a top-four role coming out of training camp this season, Jensen was eventually supplanted on the second pair by Radko Gudas. Now he sits on the third pair with Jonas Siegenthaler.

But as significant as Jensen’s falling down the lineup has been, just as significant has been the positive strides his game has taken in recent weeks.

“I've liked how he's played with [Jonas] Siegenthaler,” head coach Todd Reirden said. “So that's been a good look. I think it's allowed both of them to settle into their game.”

Stepping into a new team on the fly after getting traded to the Caps was a struggle for Jensen and it was made worse by the constant shuffling of the blue line.

An injury to Michal Kempny forced Reirden to keep switching his defensive pairs in search of the right combination through the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs. The effect that had on Jensen’s adjustment to his new team was not lost on him.

“I think the biggest change was just playing with different guys,” Jensen told NBC Sports Washington. “The D-partner I played with pretty steady in Detroit, we worked pretty well together...I feel like I was always on the same page with my D-partner which led to a lot of success for me there. It was kind of the difference coming over is just getting used to playing with different guys.”

Jensen played with Siegenthaler, Dmitry Orlov, Brooks Orpik and on the first pair with John Carlson playing on his off-side on the left, and that was just last season in only 20 regular-season games with Washington and seven more in the playoffs.

This season, Jensen had the benefit of a training camp and time to adjust to the team which he says has helped him settle in.

“I feel a lot more comfortable,” he said. “In 15 games last year I had more points than I do now, but I feel more comfortable in a sense of being out on the ice and how our team plays and moving the puck and trying to get it out of the D-zone which is one of my primary concerns when I'm out on the ice is getting the puck out of the D-zone and getting it into the forwards' hands. I feel a lot more comfortable this year and I'm getting used to how our team plays and how our forwards play and how we all gel together.”

But the biggest factor of all in how he has played may be the chemistry he has finally found with a defense partner.

Jensen started the season with Orlov on a pair that just did not seem to fit. Now with Siegenthaler, however, Jensen finally seems to be finding his way.

“I think it took a couple, or one or two games I think,” Siegenthaler said, “But I think now I kind of know where he stands, how he skates, how he wants the puck and everything. Smart player.”

Finding chemistry on a defensive pair is a good first step for Jensen finally fitting in with his new surroundings. Having said that, Reirden cautioned that for him to be truly successful in Washington, Jensen will need to eventually be able to play a variety of roles and with different partners, not just Siegenthaler.

“We need to continue to figure out ways to magnify [Jenssen’s strengths] as does he and be able to understand the role that he has on our team,” Reirden said. “Some nights, that's going to be playing with Orlov, some nights that's going to be playing with Siegenthaler. It's going to change. There's injuries and there's things that go on, different matchups that set up differently.”

But for a player who, for the first 40 games with the Caps, just did not seem to fit, finding chemistry with Siegenthaler is an important first step.

“I feel like all our D are very obviously super capable of playing defense,” Jensen said, “And I'm feeling pretty comfortable playing with the D-partner I'm playing with right now.”

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