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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 7:27 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 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.

Posted On Friday, 12.12.2014 / 4:58 PM

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

Benn: Stars have to change their mindset

The first step to finding a solution to a problem is identifying you have a problem. The Dallas Stars have a problem, and they know it.

"Pretty much we simply have to play better team defense," Stars captain Jamie Benn said during a phone conversation Friday.

Nobody will dispute that.

The Stars have allowed five goals in five of their past six games. Not surprisingly, they're 0-5 in those games.

Go back 22 games and they've allowed 78 goals, an average of 3.54 per game. That they're scoring 2.59 per game in the past 22 games, a reasonable number if you have a good defense, is totally irrelevant.

The Stars are 6-13-3 since opening the season with a 4-1-2 record in their first seven games.

Posted On Thursday, 12.11.2014 / 2:28 PM

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

Pavelski seeing positive signs in Sharks play

Five wins in six games, even if the one loss was against the last-place Edmonton Oilers, might be a sign that the San Jose Sharks are starting to turn the corner this season after a rocky start.

"It's definitely coming," Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said about consistency during a phone interview Wednesday night.

The Sharks, who play Thursday at home against the Minnesota Wild, have beaten the Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and Oilers in regulation since Nov. 29. They were 6-10-3 in their previous 19 games.

San Jose (15-11-4) has 34 points through 30 games, good for fourth in the Pacific Division.

"I think with the fact that we're winning a lot of these games in regulation speaks to that [consistency] too," Pavelski said. "We're not giving up a big number of goals. We're scoring a few. Guys are able to finish games off. We've had scoring from all the lines, and you need that, especially in this league right now."

Nobody is ready to suggest the Sharks are out of the woods or can even keep doing what they're doing now. Remember, they went 4-0-1 in their first five games before earning 15 out of a possible 38 points from Oct. 19 through Nov. 26.

Posted On Wednesday, 12.10.2014 / 3:25 PM

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

Jets buying into Maurice's defensive system

Since being hired as coach of the Winnipeg Jets in January, Paul Maurice has been focused on implementing a defensive structure within the team that would reduce the number of games that they were chasing in the third period.

Maurice's objective was built from his years coaching the Carolina Hurricanes and facing the Atlanta Thrashers in the old Southeast Division.

"I probably, for whatever reason, watched the Atlanta Thrashers and then the Winnipeg Jets as much or more than as any other team in the National Hockey League because they kept adding these good young players in Atlanta," Maurice said during a phone conversation Wednesday. "We went a long stretch where we beat them every game, but for 10 or 15 minutes in the game we couldn't get close to them. They were snapping it around. But because they were chasing a lot of games they were working hard and giving up a ton of chances, but getting a ton of chances. At the end of the day that's not a good recipe. We wanted to make sure we implemented a foundation of a game, like what do we do when we don't have the puck. We're still early on in this process."

Posted On Wednesday, 12.10.2014 / 12:25 PM

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

Rosen's mailbag - Dec. 10, 2014

Here is the Dec. 10 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:

Any more news out of Arizona on the trade front? -- @KylePineda2

All quiet for now as far as I can tell, but clearly at this point in the season general manager Don Maloney is in full evaluation mode, trying to identify who should stay, who could go and what he could get back in return. The issue is the Coyotes' sale to potential majority owner Andrew Barroway. That might be holding things up a bit in Arizona. Commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier this week that the sale "is still tracking" but isn't done yet. If and when that becomes official the Coyotes could hit the market in a big way, perhaps to the point where they sell assets to try to get into the race for top 2015 NHL Draft prospects Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.09.2014 / 11:27 PM

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

Kinkaid gives Devils a reason to keep him around

NEWARK, N.J. -- Goalie Keith Kinkaid admitted he was frustrated and disappointed after his last stint with the New Jersey Devils, one that yielded two relief appearances in seven games before he was sent back to Albany of the American Hockey League on Nov. 17.

Given the opportunity to show what he has Tuesday, Kinkaid gave coach Peter DeBoer and general manager Lou Lamoriello a reason to keep him around for another start or two, if not more.

Kinkaid made 37 saves in his first career NHL start hours after he was recalled from Albany. He didn't get a win; the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Devils 3-2 in a shootout. But he was hardly at fault for the loss.

"We know the goalie is not the problem," Devils right wing Jaromir Jagr said.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.09.2014 / 5:02 PM

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

At the Rink: Blackhawks at Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Chicago Blackhawks are playing so well that they can't even find room in their top-six group of forwards for a four-time 30-goal scorer who was good enough to be one of 14 forwards to play for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Patrick Sharp will return to Chicago's lineup Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center after missing the previous 14 games, but he'll be back as a third-line right wing. Sharp was a second-line left wing before he hurt his right knee in a 5-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 4.

Sharp had 78 points in 82 games last season and nine points in 13 games this season before the injury.

"I expect him to bring some pace, energy, [to] play his game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He should get a normal workload and he should be ready."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.09.2014 / 3:21 PM

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

Blackhawks' Richards gets comfortable by moving on

NEWARK, N.J. -- Brad Richards' toughest adjustment after losing in the Stanley Cup Final last season wasn't joining the Chicago Blackhawks, it was leaving the New York Rangers.

Richards was issued a compliance buyout by the Rangers. He had six years and $27 million left on a nine-year, $60 million contract he signed July 2, 2011.

"In New York, the way it ended two years ago and the way it ended last year, the whole buyout thing took on a life of its own," Richards said prior to playing the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday. "I had to forget about that and realize that I've still got lots of hockey left. If my salary was different no one would be talking about any of it. It's just part of the business.

"I wouldn't change it. I miss New York. I loved playing there. I wish it never had to come to that, but as soon as the lockout was lifted my fate was pretty much sealed there. I guess you've gotta deal with it, but I still had lots of confidence I could play and hopefully there's lots of hockey left."

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.

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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Quote of the Day

I first met him when I was 19 years old and he coached me for 13 consecutive years. I don't know how many athletes who have had that pleasure. Al Arbour was a man that left us not only feeling like champions, but left us with a lot of great memories that we can carry on through life.

— Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin on former coach Al Arbour, who passed away Friday at the age of 82