About Michael Caples

Michael Caples was born just minutes outside of Detroit and the Canadian border, into a family that introduced him to hockey the day he was born.

By the age of three, Michael could recite every NHL club, where they were from, and the primary colors in each jersey. He has worked for the Red Wings’ official website since 2008 and has contributed articles for LAKings.com, Michigan Hockey, and various other sports publications.

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Team Canada tabs Pietrangelo for World Juniors Print
Central
Written by Blake Benzel   
Thursday, 03 December 2009 11:03

Central Division notebook:

There are certain moments in a player's career that he will remember forever. Playing in the Olympics. Playing for Lord Stanley's Cup. And, if you're still waiting for your 20th birthday, playing at the World Junior Championship is as big as it gets.

For St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, included Tuesday on Team Canada's preliminary roster for the WJC, could foretell the second time that he's competed in the event.

"I'm just excited to go and try to make a difference," the 19-year-old told STLToday.com. "It's a great tournament and, being in Canada again, that makes it that more special. No doubt I'd like to be here playing every game but at the same time, this is going to help me. I'm going to be playing with some of the best (junior) players in the world."

Despite remaining with the Blues thus far this season (he's eligible to return to juniors), Pietrangelo has been a healthy scratch in nine of the Blues' last 10 games. If he's chosen for the final roster, the WJC could be not just an honor — but an opportunity for development.

Blues president John Davidson called the WJC a wonderful stage, saying, "In Canada, it's such a tradition. It just captures the whole country. That in itself is a good experience factor."

Pietrangelo had a goal and three points with a plus-1 rating in last year's WJC and, with that previous experience, should be a shoo-in to make the final roster. He has averaged more than 16 minutes of ice time for the Blues, but is the team's eighth defenseman in terms of games played, unusual for a developing player.

One reason is that Pietrangelo's 10th game with the Blues will activate his free agency clock, a critical decision for the fourth overall pick in the 2008 entry draft. The Blues seem to be evaluating what they feel is best for his long-term career: To stay with the team or to return to the Niagara IceDogs. That decision, however, won't come until after the WJC.

Said Davidson, "We'll see where our club is at that time."

CHICAGO

The Blackhawks agreed to a five-year contract extension with captain Jonathan Toews, a 13-year contract extension with alternate captain Duncan Keith and a five-year contact extension with right wing Patrick Kane on Thursday. Keith will reportedly earn $72 million, while Kane and Toews will earn $31.5 million each. ... With Tuesday's 4-3 shootout victory over the Blue Jackets, head coach Joel Quenneville earned his 500th career victory in the NHL. The victory ties Quenneville with Toe Blake for 13th on the all-time list and is sixth among active coaches.  With his next victory, Quenneville will move into a tie with Pat Burns for 12th all-time. ... Free-agent signee Marian Hossa had been silent on the scoresheet after scoring two goals in his first game before tallying two assists in Tuesday's victory over Columbus. ... ‘Hawks prospects Shawn Lalonde and Dylan Olsen have been tabbed by Team Canada to participate in the National Junior selection camp later this month. Lalonde, 19, has seven goals and 15 assists in 21 games this season for Bellville of the Ontario Hockey League while Olsen, 18, has eight assists and 27 penalty minutes in 12 games for Minnesota-Duluth of the WCHA.

COLUMBUS

D Rostislav Klesla will miss at least six weeks with a torn left groin and a torn stomach muscle. Klesla sustained the injury in the first period of the team's 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. ... With his 11th-round shootout loss to Chicago, goaltender Steve Mason is now 0-5 this season in the shootout. ... Blue Jackets prospects John Moore and Nikita Filatov have been named to the preliminary WJC rosters of the United States and Russia, respectively. Moore has three goals and 14 assists, 26 penalty minutes and is plus-1 in 25 games this season with Kitchner of the Ontario Hockey League. Filatov has five goals and five assists in six games with CSKA of the Kontinental Hockey League. ... Forward R.J. Umberger, who is playing for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team, will have a chance to showcase himself for general manager Brian Burke on Thursday in Toronto.  Burke is GM for both the Maple Leafs and Team USA. ... Defenseman Kris Russell has two goals and four points in the last two games after being a healthy scratch in five of the previous six.

DETROIT

F Patrick Eaves will miss Thursday's game against the Edmonton Oilers, while D Brian Rafalski is questionable. Eaves will sit due to a sore left ankle, while Rafalski experienced stiffness in his back during Wednesday's practice. D Jakub Kindl is expected to be recalled from AHL Grand Rapids if Rafalski cannot play. ... G Jimmy Howard is giving Chris Osgood a run for his money for the starting position. Howard is 7-2-1 in his last 10 games with a 2.40 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. ... F Valtteri Filppula was fitted with a soft cast for his wrist on Monday.  He is expected to return to the lineup by the end of December.  Filppula broke his wrist in a game against Edmonton on Oct. 29. ... In a hope to generate more offense from Pavel Datsyuk's line, the Wings have inserted rookie forward Ville Leino in place of Todd Bertuzzi.  Bertuzzi will play in Leino's spot on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary.

NASHVILLE

The Predators' top line tallied nine points in the team's 5-4 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday. Steve Sullivan tallied a goal and three assists, Jason Arnott added two goals and an assist, and J.P. Dumont added two assists. ... Prospects Ryan Ellis and Gabriel Bourque were named to Team Canada's selection camp roster for the WJC, while Mattias Ekholm was named to Team Sweden's. Ellis has 19 assists and 22 points with a plus-21 rating in 18 games this season for OHL Windsor and Bourque has 24 assists and 36 points in 26 games for Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Ekholm has 11 assists and 12 points while averaging 23:17 in ice time as a junior in the Swedish Elite League. ... With their overtime loss to Minnesota, Nashville has now picked up a point in its third straight road game.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 03 December 2009 18:17