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Posted On Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 2:27 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 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:

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 9:17 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 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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Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 2:55 PM

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

Red Wings' Zidlicky has possible future in Detroit

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Marek Zidlicky has fit in so well with the Detroit Red Wings since being acquired on March 2 that it wouldn't be a surprise to see general manager Ken Holland try to re-sign the veteran defenseman before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Zidlicky has seven points on three goals and four assists in seven games with the Red Wings.

"There's no doubt certainly it's a possibility," Holland said Tuesday from the general managers' meetings. "Now the player has to weigh in."

Holland indicated the possibility exists for the Red Wings to try to re-sign forward Erik Cole, who they also acquired on March 2, but Zidlicky in particularly has filled a big hole as a right-handed shooting defenseman who could quarterback Detroit's power play.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.12.2015 / 4:40 PM

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

Parise: Wild getting more than just saves from Dubnyk

Devan Dubnyk has done more than just stop the puck to give the Minnesota Wild a chance to securing a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Left wing Zach Parise said Dubnyk has also given the Wild confidence to rediscover the way they feel they need to play in front of the goalie.

That, as much as stopping the puck, is the impact quality goaltending can have on any team.

The Wild weren't getting quality goaltending before Dubnyk arrived on Jan. 14, and they were a mess with an 18-19-5 record and .893 save percentage that led to 3.0 goals-against per game.

The Wild have gone 19-4-2 since Dubnyk made his debut on Jan. 15. Dubnyk has started every game and has a .937 save percentage and 1.67 goals-against average.

Minnesota is on pace to be the first wild card in the playoffs from the Western Conference.

"When he came in and made some big stops in his first couple games it let us take a deep breath," Parise said. "It had felt like every mistake we were making was magnified and ending up in the back of our net. I'm not saying that's the goalie's fault, because when we were losing we started to really change the way we played. Not even realizing we started to cheat on the offensive and we weren't playing a winning style of hockey. Now we've gotten back to that, so I think that's put less pressure on our goalies. We have kind of rediscovered our game to play the way that makes us a good hockey team."

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Posted On Thursday, 03.12.2015 / 3:00 AM

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

Stastny leading the Blues in a different way

Even though Paul Stastny was a veteran and the big-ticket free agent signee, it would have been hard for him to force his way into a leadership role with the St. Louis Blues this season considering he was the new guy in a room already filled with leaders such as David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo, Alex Steen and Barret Jackman.

So instead of trying to upset the leadership hierarchy of his new team, Stastny has found another way to be an important leader for the Blues.

"He has really taken [Dmitrij] Jaskin and [Patrik] Berglund under his wing and tried to help them become a line," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He's kind of been the quarterback of those two guys to coordinate good play, and they've given us good minutes every night for the last little while.

"I think he's taken to heart leading a smaller group of athletes rather than the bigger group."

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.11.2015 / 5:00 PM

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

Niedermayer happy filling part-time role with Ducks

Scott Niedermayer may one day want to take on a heavier role as a coach or executive in the NHL, but for now the Hall of Fame defenseman is content with being a part-time assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks.

"I'm comfortable with it for sure," Niedermayer said this past weekend following an event to honor the New Jersey Devils 1995 Stanley Cup championship team.

Niedermayer is in his third season on the Ducks coaching staff, but his role is limited to mostly home games and home practices.

"I'm busy at home still," said Niedermayer, who is married with four kids. "I'm realizing what a tough job it is the coaching staff has. It's a difficult job, a lot of moving pieces there. I'm enjoying my position."

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.11.2015 / 1:58 PM

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

Rosen's mailbag - March 11, 2015

Here is the March 11 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:

Why does Bruce Boudreau's team always choke in the playoffs? Case in point, his Caps team and his current Ducks team? -- @StevieSaidYup

Let's give his current Anaheim Ducks team a break considering it's only March 11 and they haven't had a chance to lose in the Stanley Cup Playoffs yet. I also wouldn't say his team last season choked. Yes, they lost 6-2 in Game 7 to the Los Angeles Kings at home, but it was in the Western Conference Second Round and they lost in seven to the eventual Stanley Cup champions. And they were down 2-0 in the series before winning Games 3, 4 and 5. And they had a rookie goalie in John Gibson. I'm willing to give that team a pass.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.10.2015 / 9:38 AM

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

Fetisov talks Russian stars, national team struggles

Viacheslav Fetisov doesn't get to watch too much of the NHL these days, what with the fact he lives in Russia, works as a senator in his country's upper house of parliament, as well as a myriad of other projects.

Simply put, Fetisov, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Detroit Red Wings, doesn't have the time to follow the NHL as closely as he once did. However, Fetisov still takes a great deal of pride in learning about the successes of some of Russia's top players in the NHL.

"Pavel Datsyuk made himself a valuable hockey player in the history of this game," Fetisov said during a recent interview at the NHL office in Manhattan. "I'm happy for [Alex] Ovechkin and [Evgeni] Malkin and how they present themselves and got success. I'm happy for them and I wish them all the best. I also admire Ilya Kovalchuk. I put him on the team when I was coaching the Olympics in 2002. He's a very likable guy and a good hockey player. He's a character."

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.04.2015 / 1:48 PM

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

Rosen's mailbag - March 4, 2015

Here is the March 4 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:

With Mark Giordano's injury, who becomes the frontrunner in the Norris Trophy race? -- @matszabqc

If I had a vote (I do not) and I had to vote today (I still do not) I'd vote Drew Doughty as the winner followed by Kris Letang and Duncan Keith. In that order, in fact. At least to me Giordano wasn't the runaway frontrunner before he got hurt. He was likely going to be a finalist, and maybe he would have been the favorite by the end of the season, but it wasn't a lock.

Doughty is as important to the Los Angeles Kings as any player is to his team this season. He plays a lot of minutes (29:25 per game), but he does more in his minutes than maybe any other defenseman in the League. He is a possession monster, evidenced by his 56.79 SAT percentage and his 57.60 SAT close percentage. Simply put, Doughty plays less defense and more offense when he's on the ice, which is the entire point of the game. Nobody wants to play defense. The best defenseman drive their team's offense. Doughty does that without sacrificing his game when the Kings don't have the puck. He is starting more in the defensive zone than he has in recent seasons, and yet he has 38 points on a team with the 18th best offense in the NHL.

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.04.2015 / 11:22 AM

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

Babcock confident newcomers fit in Red Wings lineup

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is confident that where he is starting forward Erik Cole and defenseman Marek Zidlicky on Wednesday against the New York Rangers (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN) could have some staying power because this is not a plug-'em-in, wait-and-see scenario.

Cole will play on the left wing with center Henrik Zetterberg and right wing Justin Abdelkader. He'll also play on the power play with Zetterberg, Abdelkader, Gustav Nyquist and Niklas Kronwall.

Zetterberg, who has been out for the past four games with a head injury, is expected to return against the Rangers.

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Quote of the Day

It's not always going to be pretty, especially against a great goalie [Lundqvist] like that. My goals are never how you draw them up. It's just a matter of grinding it out and trying to create havoc in front and good things happen.

— Capitals forward Jay Beagle on scoring in their Game 3 victory against the Rangers on Monday