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Posted On Tuesday, 11.11.2014 / 3:20 PM

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

Penguins penalty kill producing positive results

NEW YORK -- Goals get celebrated, so it's no surprise the Pittsburgh Penguins power play has gotten more attention than their equally impressive penalty kill.

The Penguins are on a record-setting power-play pace at 37.5 percent coming into their game Tuesday against the New York Rangers. The 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens have the modern-era record for the best power play over a full season in NHL history at 31.88 percent.

But to ignore what the Penguins have done on the penalty kill, particularly their perfection in the past 10 games, is to ignore 50 percent of what has made Pittsburgh's special teams the best in the NHL this season.

The Penguins are third on the penalty kill (88.5 percent) and carry a streak of 37 consecutive successful kills into Madison Square Garden. They set a club record Saturday with their 10th consecutive game without allowing a power-play goal.

Pittsburgh has outscored the opposition 15-0 in special teams in the past 10 games. It is 8-1-1 in those games and is currently riding a seven-game winning streak.

Posted On Tuesday, 11.11.2014 / 1:48 PM

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

At the Rink: Penguins at Rangers

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers center Derek Stepan is learning the inevitable lesson that coming back from an extended absence because of an injury is hard work and requires as much mental stamina as it does physical stamina.

Stepan will play his third game of the season Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden.

He returned last Saturday at the Toronto Maple Leafs, and played again Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers. He had an assist in New York's 5-4 loss to Toronto, but his missed defensive assignment on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins resulted in Edmonton's first goal in the Oilers' 3-1 win.

"I wish I could tell you right now, 'Hey, we had back-to-back and now I can start going,'" Stepan said. "I wish I could say that I got my two games in and now I'm ready to go, but ideally I need to find ways to play 60 minutes, closer to what I did in Toronto, and just slowly start getting my game back."

Stepan missed the first 11 games of the season after fracturing his right leg in training camp. He previously had not missed a regular-season game in his career, a span of 294 games.

Posted On Monday, 11.10.2014 / 10:32 AM

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

Oilers' Nugent-Hopkins makes strides in fourth season

NEW YORK -- Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is starting to show why he declined an invitation from Hockey Canada to play in the 2014 IIHF World Championship in order to dedicate himself to his offseason strength and conditioning training program.

Further proof came Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, where Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, scored a goal, had an assist, and overall showed his strength on the puck and on his skates in a 3-1 win against the New York Rangers.

Nugent-Hopkins has nine points in his past 10 games. He's noticeably thicker in his upper body without his pads and sweater on, and he showed the Rangers how much more powerful he is on the ice, prompting coach Dallas Eakins to offer this analysis:

"This kid is coming like gangbusters right now," Eakins said.

Posted On Sunday, 11.09.2014 / 4:20 PM

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

At the Rink: Oilers at Rangers

NEW YORK -- Goalie Viktor Fasth will start opposite fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist for the first time in his career Sunday when the Edmonton Oilers take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Fasth, a native of Kalix, Sweden, will start for the second straight game and third time in the past four. He made 29 saves in a 3-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. Fasth has never faced the Rangers in his career.

"We thought he was real solid [Friday] and he's feeling really good about his game," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said Sunday, according to the Oilers website. "We were feeling good about his game and thought it was important to let him roll with it."

Lundqvist got Saturday off at Air Canada Centre, when Cam Talbot played in a 5-4 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was not happy with the defensive performance in front of Talbot against the Maple Leafs. He was particularly disappointed that the forwards did not get in shooting lanes, a problem Vigneault said has persisted for the past couple of games.

Posted On Wednesday, 11.05.2014 / 6:49 PM

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

Red Wings' Babcock hopes Jurco scratch pays off

NEW YORK – Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he's not sure he should have scratched Tomas Jurco on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, but if it produces the result he thinks he can produce, the questionable move will pay dividends.

Jurco has no goals and two assists in 12 games. He had eight goals and 15 points in 36 games last season.

Jurco was robbed by Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson at 6:11 of the third period Tuesday. He went in on a 2-on-1 with Darren Helm and got off a hard, quick wrist shot that Anderson stopped with a rising stacked pad save. Detroit lost 3-1.

Posted On Wednesday, 11.05.2014 / 6:33 PM

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

At the Rink: Red Wings at Rangers

NEW YORK -- Detroit Red Wings forward Daniel Cleary will make his season debut Wednesday against the New York Rangers (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA, SN1). It's his first game since Jan. 28.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock said he's putting Cleary in the lineup because he's there to be a leader and the Red Wings need one after the way Babcock felt they played in a 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, when they were outshot 16-2 in the first period.

"I just think that [Tuesday] night we weren't prepared, we didn't play hard enough," Babcock said. "It was un-Red Wing like. To me, that start is unacceptable, and a big part of what Dan Cleary is supposed to provide here is leadership and helping young guys be better. I'm sure he can do that."

Posted On Wednesday, 11.05.2014 / 10:17 AM

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

Rosen's mailbag - Nov. 5, 2014

Here is the Nov. 5 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 'Scorey' Perry over or under 50 goals this season? -- @KrohnDominic

Over. He's on pace for 69 goals if he plays in all 82 games. He won't get 69, but the way he's scoring goals now, I don't think 60 is out of the question. For my money Perry is right with Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin as the best pure goal scorers in the NHL. He might be ahead of them, but I'm not ready to name a No. 1 yet because Stamkos missed most of last season. Perry constantly is around the net. He's quick on the breakout. He can shoot off the rush as well as anyone. It helps that he plays with Ryan Getzlaf. They make each other better. I think he gets to 50 easy, and challenges 60.

Posted On Tuesday, 11.04.2014 / 10:20 AM

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

Blues' Lehtera sharpening his game to match skates

NEW YORK -- Jori Lehtera arrived in NHL this season with the goal of becoming a full-time player with the St. Louis Blues in his mind and 80 pre-sharpened sets of skate blades in his luggage. And yes, one definitely has to do with the other.

"I played last four years in Russia after my first year I went to [Finnish] national team and the equipment guy there told me I played the whole season with the same sharpening on my skates that the goalies had," Lehtera told "After that I hooked up with this guy in Finland and he gave me the sponsor so I can use these blades and he sharpens them for me."

The hollow on Lehtera's skate blade in his first season in the KHL was flat, so it made cutting through the ice and turning much more taxing on his legs. Since he's been using his pre-sharpened blades he said he is faster and doesn't feel nearly the amount of stress in his legs.

That's why he has continued to use the Ramonedge blades, which he said are wider than the normal blade and require a different sharpening technique. He has them pre-sharpened by a friend of his in Finland.

Lehtera said he has a sponsorship agreement with Ramonedge so he can use the blades for free. He said he knows Kimmo Timonen and Mikael Granlund use the same blades.

Posted On Monday, 11.03.2014 / 7:03 PM

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

Rangers forward Zuccarello out vs. Blues

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello is not in the lineup Monday against the St. Louis Blues because of an undisclosed injury. Right wing Ryan Malone is in the lineup in Zuccarello's place.

Malone was placed on waivers Sunday and cleared at noon ET Monday. He has no points and is minus-3 in five games.

Malone will start on the fourth line with Chris Mueller and Tanner Glass.

Posted On Monday, 11.03.2014 / 4:12 PM

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

Blues' Backes could be moving to right wing

NEW YORK -- St. Louis Blues captain David Backes should expect to find himself on the right wing when center Paul Stastny returns to the lineup, perhaps as early as Thursday.

Stastny went through a rigorous physical testing Monday to evaluate his readiness to return from a shoulder injury he sustained Oct. 18 against the Arizona Coyotes. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said it's unlikely he will play Tuesday at the New Jersey Devils, but later in the week is possible.

St. Louis starts a five-game homestand Thursday against New Jersey. It plays the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

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Quote of the Day

I spent a long summer thinking about that playoff series and what could have been. [The Blackhawks] ended up being the Stanley Cup champions, so we know we lost to a very good team. It's tough to know how close we were, and it motivates us for this year.

— Nashville captain Shea Weber in an interview with the Predators website