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Posted On Wednesday, 12.24.2014 / 10:20 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Rosen's mailbag - Dec. 24, 2014

Here is the Dec. 24 edition of Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday during the season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

Will my #SJSharks finally win a significant playoff series? -- @Doug_WilsonGM

Well, this is on you Doug. This is your team. This is your roster. You put it together…

OK, I know you're just a parody account of San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, but this is on him anyway because this is his team, his roster, all of his players. To answer your question, I think the Sharks have won a few significant series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They did get to the Western Conference Final twice. That's significant. But for this team with this collection of talent, obviously just getting to the Western Conference Final twice is not good enough. And not getting back there since 2011 definitely is not good enough. The West is tough, but the Sharks should have done more with their talent by now. I'm not breaking any ground by saying that.

With that said, I don't think this is the season the Sharks win a significant playoff series. They look better now than they did early in the season, but I need to see them play consistent for 40-50 games before I buy in. And even then they still have to prove it in the playoffs. I'm leery about their goaltending and their young players. They talk about rebuilding on the fly, and to do that you have to go through some growing pains with your young players. It's hard to say that they're ready to beat teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues or even the Anaheim Ducks in the playoffs.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.23.2014 / 5:39 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Capitals at Rangers

NEW YORK -- They didn't want to actually come out and call it the biggest game of the season to date, but it's hard to find a game on the New York Rangers schedule that has been bigger than the one they will play Tuesday at Madison Square Garden against the Washington Capitals.

"It's hard to say, but it is an important game," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "We're playing a team that is right there with us."

The Capitals should feel the same way considering where each team is in the standings, the hot streak both teams have been on, the rivalry that has blossomed from four meetings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the past six seasons, and the fact that their three-day holiday break begins after the game is over.

Washington enters the Garden with a two-point lead on the Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers have two games in hand, but Washington has one more regulation/overtime victory.

The Capitals have won three consecutive games and have points in nine straight (7-0-2); the Rangers have won six games in a row.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.23.2014 / 1:22 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Rangers' Boyle hopes holiday break revives game

NEW YORK -- Defenseman Dan Boyle is hoping the three-day holiday break helps revive his immune system so his energy returns to a normal level because he's admittedly been scuffling and hasn't delivered to the New York Rangers the type of offensive game he's capable of providing.

Boyle has two goals and no assists in 15 games this season. He has no points in the past seven games since returning from a two-game absence because he was sick.

"The last couple weeks, and I don't want to sound like it's making excuses, but I don't know what I have, if it's a cold or a New York flu," Boyle told NHL.com Tuesday. "I've been fighting it a little bit energy wise. I guess I'm fine, but since I missed those two games definitely energy-wise I'm not where I need to be or want to be so it's been a little bit of a battle."

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Posted On Sunday, 12.21.2014 / 6:04 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Hurricanes at Rangers

NEW YORK -- Right wing Alexander Semin will return to the Carolina Hurricanes lineup Sunday against the New York Rangers after sitting out the past six games with a lower-body injury.

In addition, Hurricanes defenseman John-Michael Liles will be back after missing three games with an upper-body injury.

The Rangers defeated the Hurricanes 3-2 in a shootout Saturday for their fifth consecutive victory.

Semin will start the game at Madison Square Garden on a line with Patrick Dwyer and Riley Nash. Liles will play alongside Tim Gleason. Semin has one goal in 21 games this season. He had three previous injuries that kept him out of the lineup for a total of five games.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.20.2014 / 11:16 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Is a hot streak coming for Capitals' Ovechkin?

NEWARK, N.J. -- Here's Alex Ovechkin's explanation of his highlight-reel goal in the third period Saturday at Prudential Center:

"When you feel good, everything working well, those kinds of moments happen," Ovechkin said.

Here's why that explanation, as mundane as it is, is telling of how Ovechkin feels about the game and how the puck feels on his stick:

"He's been getting some great chances," Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.

Yes he has. The fact that one finally went in is a great sign for the Capitals, because when Ovechkin is feeling the puck, feeling good about his shot, his overall game, and he gets the result, a hot streak is typically in the offing.

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Posted On Friday, 12.19.2014 / 1:12 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Devils' Schneider thankful for rest, still feels fresh

NEWARK, N.J. -- Other than Keith Kinkaid and likely his family, nobody is happier about the rookie goalie's rapid ascent to No. 2 on the New Jersey Devils depth chart than Cory Schneider.

If not for Kinkaid, who will make his third start in the past six games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, Schneider might still be on pace to start 80 games this season, an unreasonable task to ask of any goalie at any level.

"I was on pace for that, wasn't I?" Schneider said with a laugh Friday morning.

Not that he would have complained, particularly after fighting for every minute he could get in the net over the past four seasons, first with Roberto Luongo in Vancouver and then last season with Martin Brodeur in New Jersey.

But Schneider is also a realist, and a former backup, so he knows how important it is to have one.

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Posted On Friday, 12.19.2014 / 12:45 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Lightning at Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer hasn't done Keith Kinkaid any favors with the starts he's given the rookie goalie in the past two weeks.

Kinkaid made his first career start Dec. 9 against the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks, who had won six in a row when they took the ice against Kinkaid and the Devils. He followed that with a start at Nassau Coliseum against the New York Islanders, the second place team in the Metropolitan Division.

Kinkaid's welcome-to-the-NHL tour continues Friday at Prudential Center, where he faces Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the first-place team in the Atlantic Division.

"I'm not really thinking about it. I just want to play my game," Kinkaid said. "I could have had two wins in the first two games and it would have turned out a little bit better. I'll take it as a compliment playing against these teams, and I just want to give the boys a shot to win. Hopefully we can pot a few goals tonight."

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Posted On Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 11:53 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Senators goalie Anderson laments miss at empty net

NEWARK, N.J. -- Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson nearly provided a highlight of the year Wednesday night at the end of a game that was devoid of great moments.

A little harder and a little to the left and Anderson would have had done it.

"It was so close," Anderson said of his shot attempt at an empty net that went wide right with 51.8 seconds remaining in Ottawa's 2-0 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. "You wait a whole career for a chance like that and it may never happen again, a chance to take a shot at the end. It's just unfortunate. It wasn't my day."

Anderson definitely shot to score. He said he had thoughts in his head of Patrick Roy talking about the missed opportunities he had during his career. He thought this was his moment.

Anderson caught Eric Gelinas' 80-foot slap shot in his glove, quickly dropped the puck to the ice, and from the top of his crease lifted it down toward the empty net almost 200 feet away.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 10:58 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Stars' Ruff on growing pains, positive signs, adversity

This week's Five Questions featured Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill discussing the patience required when you're an executive trying to build a winner and dealing with the peaks and valleys that make the ride to consistency a bumpy one.

You can read that Q&A right here.

To add to it, Stars coach Lindy Ruff also talked with NHL.com about the trials and tribulations his team has experienced so far this season after its surprising run to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 7:27 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Rosen's mailbag - Dec. 17, 2014

Here is the Dec. 17 edition of Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday during the season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

If the Chicago Blackhawks continue to play the way they have can anyone beat them in a seven-game series? -- @jhoman29

I picked the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup, so you know my answer to this question right off the hop. But I'll assume here you don't necessarily care about my pick, but more about the way the Blackhawks are playing. So here is your answer:

Nobody can beat them in a seven-game series when they are playing the brand of hockey they're playing now. Nobody as in NOBODY!

The Blackhawks have Patrick Kane on their second line because Marian Hossa is on their top line. They have Patrick Sharp, a four-time 30-goal scorer, playing out of position on the third line right now because their depth is so great. Ben Smith on the fourth line is perfect for Chicago because he can skate, has some speed and skill, but understands his role is to check. That's unbelievable depth at right wing.

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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic