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Posted On Monday, 12.08.2014 / 11:36 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Penguins' Crosby stuck in scoring rut

NEW YORK -- Sidney Crosby is in a scoring slump.

Those are seven words you don't write, read, say or hear together very often. But it's true. Crosby has no goals in seven consecutive games and in 17 of the past 19. He has two goals since opening the season with seven in his first eight games.

If you take it back to last season, Crosby has 10 goals in his past 44 games, including one in 13 games in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Granted it's not all bad. Crosby has 19 assists in the past 19 games, he's tied for the League lead with 35 points, and the Pittsburgh Penguins lead the Metropolitan Division with 39 points.

But make no mistake, the lack of goal production bothers Crosby.

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Posted On Monday, 12.08.2014 / 1:32 PM

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

At the Rink: Penguins at Rangers

NEW YORK -- Olli Maatta is the latest player to find his name on the Pittsburgh Penguins' growing injury report.

Maatta, the Penguins' 20-year-old defenseman, will not play Monday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Penguins injury report already featured defenseman Kris Letang (groin) and forwards Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed), Chris Kunitz (foot fracture), Beau Bennett (lower body) and Pascal Dupuis (blood clot).

Maatta didn't make the trip to New York as coach Mike Johnston said he was kept home to get a still undisclosed injury re-evaluated. Johnston said the injury is not related to Maatta's surgery earlier this season to remove a cancerous tumor from his thyroid gland.

Robert Bortuzzo, who missed the past two games serving a suspension, will take Maatta's spot in the lineup.

"I know we've had some tough injuries but I think that's every team now, or most teams," Penguins center Brandon Sutter said. "For the first 20-something [games] we were 100 percent pretty much, and then a couple guys started going down. But that's the way it works. Nothing really new for this business."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.06.2014 / 7:08 PM

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

Jagr returns to Devils lineup vs. Capitals

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils right wing Jaromir Jagr returned to the lineup Saturday against the Washington Capitals after sitting out the game Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs with the flu. New Jersey won 5-3 in Toronto without Jagr.

Jagr started the game on a line with Dainius Zubrus and Patrik Elias, who is also back in the lineup after missing the game Thursday with a groin injury.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.06.2014 / 1:37 PM

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

At the Rink: Capitals at Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils are getting at least one significant player back in their lineup Saturday with the potential for one more while the Washington Capitals are making one significant change that indicates the potential for a platoon down the road.

Devils forward Patrik Elias will play against Washington at Prudential Center after sitting out New Jersey's 5-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday with a groin injury. Elias was injured Tuesday during New Jersey's 1-0 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I felt pretty good in the morning and I'm going to go out there and try it," Elias said.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.06.2014 / 11:38 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Flames' offense from blue line is by design

The production the Calgary Flames are getting from their defensemen jump off the stats page to the point where you begin to wonder if Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell are actually playing forward.

Point in fact, at times they actually are playing forward, even if nobody is defining it that way.

Flames coach Bob Hartley encourages his defensemen to jump into the rush to create offense, but at the same time he coaches the forwards to understand that there will be times when they have to play the role of a defensemen.

It's happened a lot this season, particularly when Giordano and Brodie are on the ice.

"We laugh sometimes because we do video and early on this year we got a 2-on-1 and it's Gio and Brods who are on the 2-on-1 with our three forwards are behind them," Hartley said in a phone interview Friday. "Sometimes we get a 3-on-2 and it's Gio and Brods with another forward. On many teams you'd see one of them but that's the way we want them to play."

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Posted On Friday, 12.05.2014 / 8:21 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Parise discusses Wild's 'terrible' power play

It took less than a minute into the phone conversation Wednesday for Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise to bring up the elephant in the room. Or in this case the elephant on the line.

"Our power play is terrible," Parise said. "That's where your top guys need to get some points, get some goals and feeling good. That carries into 5-on-5. When the power play is not working that's frustrating and it can carry into the rest of the game."

The Wild entered Friday 29th in the NHL on the power play at 9.0 percent (7 for 78). They have scored a power-play goal in five of 24 games.

Parise is convinced, and it's hard to argue with him, that Minnesota's problematic power play is the main culprit for why some of the Wild's high-end offensive players have below-average offensive statistics to this point in the season.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.03.2014 / 1:49 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Blackhawks' Versteeg rewarding Quenneville's faith

Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg is thriving this season in part because coach Joel Quenneville never lost faith in him last season.

"I didn't lose my trust in his ability and his process because of what he's proven," Quenneville said of Versteeg, who has 18 points in 20 games, including 11 points in the past seven entering the game Wednesday at United Center against the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

"Where we're at today, give him some credit."

Quenneville had no choice but to lower the expectations he had for Versteeg as time wore on last season and it became more apparent that the forward was struggling with his confidence.

Versteeg, acquired by the Blackhawks in mid-November last season, was coming off surgery to repair a torn right ACL in the summer of 2013. Quenneville saw his play waning, a likely result of the operation, rehab and subsequent frustration that came with limited production.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.03.2014 / 12:28 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Rosen's mailbag - Dec. 3, 2014

Here is the Dec. 3 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:

Do the Tampa Bay Lightning strike you as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender now? Or do they need other pieces? -- @tblightning491

The Lightning don't need other pieces. They are deep, skilled and talented. They have three legitimate scoring lines. They have defensemen who pressure the puck all over the ice and pinch into the offensive zone and are able to sustain puck possession. They don't defend; they attack. They have an elite power play, an elite scorer in Steven Stamkos, and a goalie in Ben Bishop who was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season and has been solid this season. They also have a coach who appears to know how to push all the right buttons while staying on the good side of his players, an important attribute in dealing with athletes today.

But I can't say the Lightning have everything necessary to contend for the Stanley Cup this season. They are not battle-tested. They have not been hardened by a long, grueling Stanley Cup Playoff series. As individuals several players have playoff experience, but as a team they do not. That's the only thing that is keeping the Lightning back this season.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.02.2014 / 11:13 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Pressuring puck proving key to Lightning's success

NEW YORK -- In a span of 15 days the Tampa Bay Lightning scored 15 goals and beat the New York Rangers three times in regulation. A big reason is the intense and, according to Rangers center Derick Brassard, rare level of pressure the Lightning apply all over the ice.

"They play a unique style that we don't see a lot," Brassard said prior to Tampa Bay's 6-3 win against the Rangers on Monday at Madison Square Garden. "Even Pittsburgh and the other offensive teams, they don't really play like those guys. It's the way they're built. They're built with three scoring lines and one checking line. They're young, hungry, skilled with big D-men who move well and pinch everywhere. They make you make a lot of decisions."

Brassard hit on exactly how the Lightning try to play against every team. The object, or rather edict from coach Jon Cooper, is to pressure the puck whenever possible and wherever possible no matter the position.

"We try to eliminate as many odd-man rushes as we can and try to be reliable both offensively and defensively, but being aggressive in the offensive zone is usually a pretty good defensive structure," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "If you're aggressive up ice you're going to have the puck more. That's our mentality, trying to be aggressive all over the ice."

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Posted On Monday, 12.01.2014 / 1:30 PM

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

At the Rink: Lightning at Rangers

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers are looking at their game Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) as a measuring-stick game, particularly since they have lost to the Lightning twice in the past 15 days.

The Lightning still are trying to get used to being the team against which others measure themselves. It's a concept coach Jon Cooper called flattering but hard to understand, even though Tampa Bay's record and statistics suggest it should be easy to figure out.

The Lightning are tied with the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders for the most points in the Eastern Conference with 34. They lead the NHL with 15 regulation/overtime wins and are the highest scoring team in the League with 3.50 goals per game. They are third on the power play at 24.4 percent.

"I guess when you're looking at your own team and you're with them every single day you can poke holes in them," Cooper said. "I sit and watch games and I'm like, 'Geez, they look good.' I was watching the Rangers the other night and I was going, 'Holy cow, they have a heck of a hockey team and they keep shutting guys out.' Then you actually go back and say, 'Oh, we actually beat them twice.' You don't really ever think of it that way. I don't think you give your own team enough credit."

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Quote of the Day

Hockey means everything to people here [Winnipeg]. They take their team's success to heart. We've had an incredible year and they've given us incredible support.

— Jets center Mathieu Perreault after losing to the Ducks in Game 3 of their playoff series on Monday