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Posted On Thursday, 10.16.2014 / 3:20 PM

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

Stempniak a surprising bright spot for Rangers

NEW YORK -- With two goals and four points in four games, forward Lee Stempniak has been one of the bright spots in an otherwise difficult start to the season for the New York Rangers.

Some of what Stempniak has been doing has come as a surprise to coach Alain Vigneault considering the scouting reports he received on Stempniak in the offseason.

"He competes harder when he doesn't have the puck than I thought, to protect it and to get it back, from what I had heard," Vigneault said Thursday. "Obviously we did a little bit of homework before signing him. But [he's a] smart player and he's been very effective for us."

Lee Stempniak
Right Wing - NYR
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 4
SOG: 14 | +/-: -1
Vigneault wouldn't go into detail when he was asked for specifics about what he had heard about Stempniak's game, but he did talk about how surprised he has been with Stempniak, who had 341 points in 637 regular season games with five teams before signing a one-year, $900,000 with the Rangers on July 19.

"Everybody talked about his skill set, his shot, his knowledge of the game, [but] there were some concerns maybe that sometimes he wouldn't hang on to [the puck] as long as he could," Vigneault said. "But he has. He's taken checks to make plays. He's done a good job for us so far."

Stempniak said he was attracted to the Rangers because of the style Vigneault has them playing. He got a taste for it during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, when he played for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.16.2014 / 1:26 PM

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

At the Rink: Hurricanes at Rangers

NEW YORK -- The Carolina Hurricanes will be short two more key players Thursday at Madison Square Garden. That makes six regulars out of the lineup for a team that is entering its fourth game.

Defensemen Andrej Sekera and John-Michael Liles will not play against the New York Rangers because of upper-body injuries. They join a list of walking wounded that already included Jordan Staal (leg), Eric Staal (upper body), Jeff Skinner (concussion) and Patrick Dwyer (groin).

Skinner and Sekera participated in Carolina's morning skate, but Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said they are day-to-day. The goal is for them to be able to play Tuesday at the Winnipeg Jets. The Staals, Liles and Dwyer did make the trip to New York.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.15.2014 / 9:23 AM

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

Rosen's mailbag - Oct. 15, 2014

Here is the Oct. 15 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 do you think about a Tyler Myers trade? Is it the right move for the Buffalo Sabres? Which teams should be interested? -- @LundStian

How long have we been hearing about Myers getting traded out of Buffalo? Three years? Maybe two? It seems inevitable that it's going to happen, and I'd be OK with it from a Sabres standpoint.

Myers still is a young defenseman at 24 years old, but he's in his sixth season and he's been underwhelming and mistake-prone for the past four. He has talent that still is salvageable, but it might take a fresh start in a winning environment to get the best out of Myers.

The Sabres are struggling, as expected. They are rebuilding. Normally you'd like to rebuild around a 6-foot-8, 219-pound defenseman who can skate, move the puck and who should be coming into his prime. But Myers may not be able to become a top defenseman in Buffalo.

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.14.2014 / 2:10 PM

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

Babcock: Red Wings speed can be a huge asset

n comparing the Detroit Red Wings lineup at the start of last season to the start of this season, coach Mike Babcock sees one glaring change that he thinks should become a big-time strength for the Red Wings this season.

Speed. Lots and lots of speed.

"We're just a way faster team than we were," Babcock said in a phone interview after practice Tuesday. "For example, when we're out penalty killing the guys who penalty killed last year were first-year players; this year they're second-year players. They're quicker, more sure of themselves."

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Posted On Monday, 10.13.2014 / 3:50 PM

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

Murray close to returning for Blue Jackets

Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards provided some injury updates during a conversation Monday.

Richards said defenseman Ryan Murray isn't expected to play Tuesday against the Dallas Stars, but he's hoping to have Murray back in the lineup soon. Murray hasn't played this season because of a knee injury.

Murray, 21, had 21 points and averaged 19:52 of ice time in 66 games last season.

"Ryan Murray is progressing," Richards said. "He's out skating with us every day. He seems to be doing a little bit more each and every day. There's no initial time frame but we're hoping maybe sometime soon."

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Posted On Monday, 10.13.2014 / 1:45 PM

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

McDonagh: Rangers must get back 'in sync'

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh isn't interested in talking about what happened to his team at this time last year, but considering the results of the past two games he can't be all that surprised those memories and stories have bubbled back up.

After opening the season with a 3-2 win against the St. Louis Blues, the Rangers have lost 5-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets and 6-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They started last season with regulation losses in six of their first eight games, and allowed five or more goals in three straight.

"We've got a lot of guys back and we went through a similar thing last year, but I think last year was more of a debacle than this year," McDonagh said. "I really don't want to talk any more about last year because this is a new group and we're trying to find our game, find our rhythm. It's there in spurts, very little spurts, but as a whole we need everybody to get in sync here."

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Posted On Sunday, 10.12.2014 / 7:10 PM

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

At the Rink: Maple Leafs at Rangers

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Rick Nash is in the lineup Sunday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden despite his wife going into labor earlier in the day.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said approximately two hours prior to the game that Nash would be a game-time decision, but the coach also said the latest word was that Nash's wife, Jessica, might not give birth until Monday, in which case he would make it to the arena in time to play.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.08.2014 / 5:45 PM

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

Sharks' McLellan upbeat, excited to be in L.A.

LOS ANGELES -- San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan is embracing the chance to be a part of the Los Angeles Kings big night.

"We're entertainers," McLellan said Wednesday morning. "We come to the rink and we perform for the fans, whether they're the road fans or the home fans. And this should be a very entertaining game. It's a great rivalry and it should be the opening game, at least out west."

When the puck finally drops at Staples Center, McLellan wants his players to use to their advantage the raw emotion they'll inevitable feel knowing the Kings are raising their Stanley Cup championship banner, raising it almost right in the face of the Sharks. He wants his players to use to their advantage the bitter and still fresh memories of what could have been for the Sharks last season.

They blew a 3-0 series lead to the Kings in the Western Conference First Round. They have been reminded about that a lot in the lead-up to this game.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.08.2014 / 11:00 AM

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

Rosen's mailbag - Oct. 8, 2014

Here is the Oct. 8 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:

The New Jersey Devils appear to have four young defensemen and three veterans in their top seven. How do you see the playing time being split up? Is Eric Gelinas most likely to sit? Peter DeBoer seems to favor Jon Merrill and Damon Severson might be the best. -- @MattSuszko

First off, this should be an exciting time for Devils fans because their defense is loaded with potential. I would not be surprised if the three veterans -- Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky -- paired with three young players. I'm not 100-percent certain of DeBoer's affinity for having three lefty-righty pairs, but it could work as the Devils will have four lefties and three righties. In this equation, it's possible that Gelinas sits as the fourth lefty. It won't be Greene, Salvador or Merrill. That would put Severson in the opening-night lineup. But that's just my theory.

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.07.2014 / 1:00 PM

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

Maple Leafs' Dubas on analytics, publicity and more

Kyle Dubas' stock in the hockey world soared during the summer as he went from a bright, young executive in the Ontario Hockey League to a bright, young executive in the National Hockey League in what seemed like a blink of an eye.

Dubas, the assistant general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs, sat down with NHL.com for a 20-minute interview inside Air Canada Centre at the start of training camp. He talked about everything his new job has to offer, including the challenges.

Some of what he spoke about was included in a feature on the developing three-way relationship between Dubas, Toronto president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Dave Nonis.

Here are five questions and answers that were left on the proverbial editing-room floor. It's Dubas talking about the publicity he has received since being hired in July and labeled as the Maple Leafs' new analytics guru, analytics in general, how he is integrating change into the organization and more:

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Quote of the Day

I always feel the pressure to produce offensively. It's disappointing and frustrating when you can't help out your team the way you're supposed to.

— Rangers forward Rick Nash on scoring twice in a 5-1 Game 4 victory against the Lightning on Friday