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Posted On Friday, 01.16.2015 / 1:14 PM

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

Islanders winning with shoot-first mentality

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano is constantly harping on his players to have a shoot-first mentality. There is plenty of evidence the Islanders have bought in.

The Islanders have outshot their opponent in 14 consecutive games by a combined 495-322, an average of 35.3 shots on goal per game and 23.0 against. They are plus-222 in total shot attempts in that stretch (893-671), averaging 63.7 attempts for versus 47.9 attempts against.

Considering the shot differential, it's not surprising the Islanders are 10-3-1 in their past 14 games, and have catapulted into first place in the Eastern Conference with 59 points heading into their game Friday against the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins (58 points) at Nassau Coliseum.

Overall, the Islanders are second in shots on goal per game (32.9) and tied for first in shots against (26.9) this season. They have the best shot differential in the NHL (plus-260) and have outshot the opponent in 31 of 43 games. They are tied for sixth in the League with 128 goals.

Posted On Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 12:55 PM

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

Veteran forward Gomez rekindling old magic with Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Scott Gomez was close to working in television this season as an analyst for the MSG Network. Instead he's centering one of the New Jersey Devils top-two lines and has been producing at better than a point-per-game pace since the calendar turned to 2015.

"He's been, for a lot of people, a pleasant surprise," Devils forward Patrik Elias said.

Gomez met with producers from the MSG Network prior to the season at the suggestion of Ken Daneyko, who is in his first season as Devils television color commentator. Gomez was interested in what they had to say about a potential role as an analyst on Devils games.

"I had a decision to make," Gomez said. "They gave me a month to make a decision. They were awesome about it but I still knew I could play, so I thanked them for thinking of me."

Posted On Wednesday, 01.14.2015 / 12:33 AM

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

Rosen's mailbag - Jan. 14, 2015

Here is the Jan. 14 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:

Hearing so many "Babcock to…" stories. Is there really any doubt he'll stay in Detroit? Surely he can at least leverage rumors. -- @r0bertwaters

There is plenty of doubt about Mike Babcock's future in Detroit. He is not signed after this season. He doesn't want to negotiate during the season. He has offered no indication one way or the other about staying or leaving. He has told me that he knows he has it good in Detroit and the grass isn't always greener on the other side, but that doesn't mean he isn't thinking about leaving. There will be a lot of money coming his way regardless of what decision he makes. The biggest thing for Babcock is does he think he can win the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings, or is he up for a challenge in a different market. Clearly the Toronto Maple Leafs are thinking about going all in on Babcock. Why else would they name Peter Horachek the interim coach for the rest of the season? There are good coaches available such as Peter DeBoer, Dan Bylsma and Paul MacLean, but the Maple Leafs are waiting for Babcock before they make any decision. So, yes, there is plenty of doubt about his future in Detroit. He hasn't done anything to erase that doubt either.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.13.2015 / 1:30 PM

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

At the Rink: Islanders at Rangers

NEW YORK -- The signs of a big regular-season game were present Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

Media outlets that don't typically cover the morning skates were in attendance with cameras and reporters asking questions, trying to feed the hype machine for the latest game in the rivalry between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders. Typical clichés from the players were followed by atypical hype for a mid-January game. Even the coaches got into the build-up.

The Islanders and Rangers each have at least 50 points at the midway point in the season for the first time since 1978-79, so naturally their game Tuesday at the Garden is being billed locally as one for bragging rights, not to mention two more crucial points in the tightening Metropolitan Division standings.

The Islanders lead the division with 57 points in 42 games. The Rangers have won 13 of their past 14 games, including five in a row, to close the gap to five points; 12 points separated the Islanders and Rangers on Dec. 8, when the Rangers started their hot streak.

Posted On Monday, 01.12.2015 / 3:08 PM

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

Sabres view Myers as cornerstone piece in rebuild

Tyler Myers' play started to go backwards when the Buffalo Sabres began their fall down the Eastern Conference standings five years ago. Now that Myers is on the rise again, the Sabres should end up using him as a cornerstone piece in their rebuild.

"Hopefully we will become [a top team] in another two years or so and then you'll see the true importance of Tyler Myers and what he really means," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.

Buffalo general manager Tim Murray is thinking along the same lines.

Murray has no desire to trade Myers, the 2009-10 Calder Trophy winner who is an improving 24-year-old defenseman, one of the bright spots in an expectedly difficult season for the Sabres, and signed through 2017-18 with a reasonable $5.5 million salary-cap charge.

Posted On Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 11:38 AM

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

Rosen's mailbag - Jan. 7, 2015

Here is the Jan. 7 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 New York Islanders need to acquire a defenseman and/or forward before the deadline? -- @CVancheri

I'm not sure they NEED to acquire anybody, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised if general manager Garth Snow was active before the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. ET on March 2. Snow has obviously shown he isn't afraid to make a move to improve his team. That's the benefit of having a lot of assets in either draft picks or prospects.

If Snow is looking to make another splash, I'd look for a left wing to play on the top line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. Easier said than done, though, and I wouldn't pay a premium price for it. Right now a premium price for a top-six wing is a first-round pick plus a player. The bar was set when the Pittsburgh Penguins anted that up to acquire David Perron from the Edmonton Oilers.

Snow might also look to acquire a depth defenseman, a veteran who could play on the third pair, maybe help out on the penalty kill, which hasn't been good.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 11:47 PM

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

Ducks giving new definition to finding ways to win

Look up and down the NHL team statistics page and you won't find the Anaheim Ducks in the top-10 in any of the key categories such as goals for, goals against, power play, penalty kill, shots for and shots against.

Now look at the standings and you'll see the Ducks at the top of the League with 58 points entering their game Wednesday against the New York Rangers (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

How is that possible?

Simple, really. The Ducks are strangely good in one-goal games, as in completely dominant to the point where they are almost unbeatable.

Anaheim is 20-0-6 in one-goal games this season. That means 46 of the Ducks' 58 points have come in games decided by one goal, including 17 that have finished in regulation or overtime. Anaheim is 15-0-2 in those games, and has won five of nine shootouts.

"We find a way," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I guess that's the No. 1 thing, but you sure don't want to just find a way all year long, you want to do it playing perfect."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 11:23 PM

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

Devils' Elias receives special text, reaches milestone

NEWARK, N.J -- New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias received a text message Tuesday from former teammate Zach Parise with a prediction that he would score two goals and get an assist against the Buffalo Sabres to reach 400 goals, 600 assists and 1,000 points for his NHL career.

"He called two plus one so I could get all of it out of the way," Elias said. "I'll take it [anyway]."

So Parise was slightly off as Elias scored one goal and had two assists in a 4-1 win to reach the 1,000 points in his 1,187th game, all with the Devils.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 5:28 PM

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

At the Rink: Sabres at Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have a chance to string together consecutive wins for the first time since mid-November when they play the slumping Buffalo Sabres at Prudential Center on Tuesday.

The Devils did a lot right in defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 on Saturday, one of their most complete performances of the season. It won't matter if they stumble against one of the four teams below them in the NHL standings.

Buffalo is 1-7-1 in its past nine games and comes off a 6-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday. The Sabres will get defenseman Tyler Myers back in the lineup after he missed the past seven games with a lower-body injury. However, forward Drew Stafford left the Sabres to be with his wife, who gave birth to a boy Tuesday.

New Jersey hasn't won two in a row since Nov. 11-14. It is 6-13-5 in 24 games since that streak.

Posted On Monday, 01.05.2015 / 4:15 PM

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

Lightning's Palat should be among Selke candidates

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat might be a longshot to win the Selke Trophy at any point in his career for one reason only:

He's not a center.

The Selke Trophy has been awarded to a center for 10 consecutive seasons and 27 of the past 32 seasons because typically when you talk about forwards who play as many as 20 minutes per game, on the power play and on the penalty kill, and who are used in close situations (down a goal or up a goal) late in games, you're talking about centers.

Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar are the gold standard in the League today. Pavel Datsyuk won the Selke Trophy three consecutive seasons from 2007-09. Ryan Kesler, the Selke winner in 2010, still has a major impact all over the ice.

But Palat's impact all across the ice can't be denied either.

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Quote of the Day

That's today's game. That's one of the things you have to deal with when you're a championship team. Guys are going to earn more money based on their performance and what they've achieved, [and] deservedly so. [Saad] falls into that category.

— Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Brandon Saad, who was traded by Chicago to the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason