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Posted On Sunday, 03.29.2015 / 10:09 PM

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

Capitals' Ovechkin closing in on 50 goals

NEW YORK -- Alex Ovechkin's next goal this season will be his 50th, marking the sixth time in his 10 NHL seasons that he has scored at least 50 goals. He has six games left to score the goal.

Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals captain, is on pace to win the Rocket Richard Trophy for the fifth time in his career. That would put him in the company of Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and Phil Esposito as the only other players in NHL history have led the League in goals in at least five seasons.

Ovechkin tried his best to downplay what another 50-goal season would mean to him when he was asked about it following his two-goal performance in Washington's 5-2 win against the New York Rangers on Sunday.

"It's a good accomplishment," Ovechkin said. "Obviously if the puck goes in the puck goes in, but I'm concentrating right now to clinch the playoffs and do that kind of stuff."

Posted On Friday, 03.27.2015 / 12:39 PM

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

Rangers' Miller playing well, learning from mistakes

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller didn't have to be told why he was sent down to the American Hockey League two weeks into the season, nor did anyone have to inform him why he was scratched four times in a span of eight games from Jan. 16 to Feb. 4.

"I'm not a guy that can afford to take games off," Miller said.

Was he guilty of that?

"Yeah, obviously," Miller said. "You're judged on how you play, it's performance-based, and I definitely don't think I brought it every game at the beginning of this year or last year."

Call it part of his learning curve if you want, but the Rangers were trying to become a top team in the Eastern Conference in the middle part of this season and there was zero trust in Miller's game from coach Alain Vigneault at that time.

Miller knew why.

"Yeah, there were no brain busters here," he said.

Posted On Wednesday, 03.25.2015 / 10:51 AM

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

Rosen's mailbag - March 25, 2015

Here is the March 25 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:

What is the biggest reason my Blues can make a run through the playoffs? Biggest reason they can't? -- @DSBerk

The biggest reason the St. Louis Blues can make a run deep in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, perhaps even to the Stanley Cup Final, is because of their depth. They have three legitimate scoring lines and as a result they play differently, or at least can play differently, than some of the more defensive-minded teams we've seen from coach Ken Hitchcock.

St. Louis' top line of David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Alexander Steen has some of the best chemistry I've seen from a forward line in the NHL this season. I call them the Blues' top line because they not only can score, but they are tasked with checking the opposition's top line. Far be it from me to give Hitchcock coaching advice, but he knows tinkering with this line typically results in him eventually going back to them because they're so good.

Posted On Tuesday, 03.24.2015 / 5:10 PM

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

Ducks' Getzlaf has Hart Trophy backer in Boudreau

NEW YORK -- The Hart Trophy debate this season includes an array of names from Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price to Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin to New York Islanders center John Tavares to Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby.

What about Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf? At least that's what Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is wondering.

"You know what, nobody seems to be talking about him this year because everybody seems to be talking about Carey Price in that respect, and Ovi," Boudreau said. "But you look and he's what, [eight] points out of the scoring lead, and our team is doing quite well. He's had an abundance of wingers and the one constant is always Ryan Getzlaf. He's our leader and our captain, and I think he deserves a lot of consideration."

Boudreau's point is well taken.

Posted On Tuesday, 03.24.2015 / 1:14 PM

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

At the Rink: Kings at Rangers

NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Kings played the way they wanted to Monday in defeating the New Jersey Devils 3-1, but the two points earned merely allowed them to keep pace in the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Western Conference because the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets also won.

The Kings are still on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. They are two points behind the Flames for third place in the Pacific Division and four points behind the Jets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.

They're trying to stay upbeat even though time is ticking and they have only 10 games remaining. They have a game in hand on the Flames and Jets.

"We have to just focus on ourselves; there's not much we can do about what other teams do," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "Obviously you kind of look at the standings this morning and see if anything happened, but besides that it's just about us winning games. If we can win every single game for the rest of this season I think we'll probably make it in. That's all we've gotta focus on doing."

Posted On Monday, 03.23.2015 / 8:03 PM

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

Yandle proves to Rangers why he's worth it

NEW YORK -- It took him until his 10th game, but defenseman Keith Yandle showed the New York Rangers on Sunday why he was worth the steep price general manager Glen Sather paid to acquire him and what he can do for a Stanley Cup contending team this spring.

Yandle came to the Rangers in a trade from the Arizona Coyotes on March 1 for top prospect Anthony Duclair, a first-round draft pick in 2016, a second-round draft pick this year, and defenseman John Moore.

He came to New York for games like he played Sunday, when Yandle's first pass and focus on the details of his offensive game were on point in a 7-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks at Madison Square Garden.

Posted On Monday, 03.23.2015 / 1:41 PM

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

At the Rink: Kings at Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards, recalled from the American Hockey League on Sunday, will be in the lineup Monday against the New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

Richards was sent to the AHL on Jan. 27 and played 16 games with Manchester, the Kings' AHL team.

The Kings are on the outside of the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Western Conference with 11 games to play. They trail the Calgary Flames by two points for third place in the Pacific Division and are four points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

Richards is expected to center the third line Monday at Prudential Center against the New Jersey Devils in what will be his first NHL game since Jan. 21. He is expected to be an important player in the Kings' final push toward a playoff berth.

Posted On Sunday, 03.22.2015 / 1:09 PM

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

At the Rink: Ducks at Rangers

NEW YORK -- Since April is a relatively slow month for the Anaheim Ducks until the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, they're treating their five-game road trip, which starts Sunday at Madison Square Garden, as their prelude to the playoffs.

The Ducks play the New York Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils over the next eight nights. They finish the regular season with four games in 11 days in April, all against teams that are currently outside of the playoff races.

Anaheim is first in the Pacific Division and with 99 points through 73 games. The Ducks will become the first team to 100 points this season with a win or overtime/shootout loss Sunday.

Posted On Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 2:27 PM

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

Rosen's mailbag - March 18, 2015

Here is the March 18 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:

Is Ken Hitchcock's lineup tweaking a good or bad idea? -- @Allen_Schneider

There are times when coaches tweak for the sake of tweaking, almost as if they're bored and they just want to tinker because they can. More often, though, coaches tweak in order to keep players on their toes and to test out other lineup combinations in case of injuries, suspensions, etc. Hitchcock knows that with the St. Louis Blues he can tweak it here and there, but always go back to old reliable. I wouldn't worry about it too much. If the Blues are healthy come time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs I have no doubt that you'll see the following top three forward lines:

Posted On Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 9:17 AM

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

Oilers GM MacTavish sees progress in Edmonton

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish expects a quiet offseason compared to what he has gone through in previous summers because he said he has seen enough positives this season to believe the rebuild is moving along in the right direction.

MacTavish said this Tuesday knowing the Oilers recently lost seven consecutive games and are last in the Western Conference and 29th in the NHL, in front of only the Buffalo Sabres. Edmonton has 50 points through 70 games, which is nine points fewer than it had through 70 games last season.

"I know people question where the team is right now because of the fact that we have been here for quite some time, but really for me it looks like it's changing and turning around," MacTavish said at the NHL general managers' meetings. "I think it'll turn quickly once we get maybe another year of development under our belt with some of the guys like [Darnell] Nurse and [Leon] Draisaitl and [Oscar] Klefbom.

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Quote of the Day

Yeah, I guess so. That empty-netter was pretty lucky, but I'll take it.

— Senators forward Mike Hoffman when asked if his two-goal game was a good way to celebrate his 26th birthday
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