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Posted On Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 9:27 AM

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

Rosen's mailbag - Jan. 21, 2015

Here is the Jan. 21 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:

Are the Islanders in the conversation for the Stanley Cup? -- @IanBirny

The Islanders are in the conversation as a contender at this point in the season. To say they're in the conversation for the Stanley Cup is premature because I don't think that conversation starts until the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin and we get to see the matchups, health of each team, the way each team is trending, the goaltending, etc.

That said, I have been thoroughly impressed by the Islanders this season. I love the way they play, with speed and relentless pressure. They smother everyone in their path with a fast and fun brand of hockey to watch. They are getting contributions from up and down the lineup. Their fourth line has been a gamechanger at times. They shoot from everywhere and are always getting to the net.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.20.2015 / 1:38 PM

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

Q&A: Ryan discusses Ottawa's play under Cameron

NEW YORK -- The Ottawa Senators have shown marked improvements in their overall game since coach Dave Cameron took over for Paul MacLean on Dec. 8. The results, though, have been the same.

The Senators were 11-11-5 under MacLean before he was fired; they're 7-7-3 under Cameron heading into their game Tuesday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

The fact that in 17 games under Cameron the Senators have had the puck considerably more than they did in 27 games under MacLean and as a result have been able to establish more of a transition game has not shown up on the scoreboard.

The Senators are still giving up approximately the same number of goals under Cameron (2.7 per game) that they gave up under MacLean (2.66) even though under Cameron they have a better 5-on-5 Corsi-for percentage, according to War-on-ice.com, and are giving up more than five fewer shots on goal per game.

Ottawa's 5-on-5 Corsi-for percentage under Cameron is 52.5; it was 47.7 under MacLean. The Senators are allowing 29.1 shots on goal per game under Cameron; they gave up 34.4 per game under MacLean.

Bobby Ryan, who has one goal in his past seven games, spoke with NHL.com Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden to go over some of the reasons he thinks the Senators are improving under Cameron but also the frustration that comes with not getting the results.

Here's that Q&A:

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.20.2015 / 1:21 PM

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

At the Rink: Senators at Rangers

NEW YORK -- For as maddeningly inconsistent as they have been this season, the Ottawa Senators have two games before 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend that could go a long way to changing their overall team psyche and perhaps even the course of their season.

At least that's how the Senators are choosing to view their games Tuesday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden and Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre.

Ottawa is 10 points behind the Boston Bruins for the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference, but could pass Toronto and move within six points of the Bruins with back-to-back wins before the break. The Senators have won back-to-back games only three times since winning four straight from Oct. 11-18.

"It's an opportunity to finish strong," Senators center Kyle Turris said. "We feel we've been doing good things and moving in the right direction in terms of how we're playing, chances for and against, that sort of thing, but now we have to start taking advantage of our opportunities and scoring, hopefully getting a couple bounces, and start winning games. The end result is what matters."

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Posted On Friday, 01.16.2015 / 1:14 PM

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

Islanders winning with shoot-first mentality

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano is constantly harping on his players to have a shoot-first mentality. There is plenty of evidence the Islanders have bought in.

The Islanders have outshot their opponent in 14 consecutive games by a combined 495-322, an average of 35.3 shots on goal per game and 23.0 against. They are plus-222 in total shot attempts in that stretch (893-671), averaging 63.7 attempts for versus 47.9 attempts against.

Considering the shot differential, it's not surprising the Islanders are 10-3-1 in their past 14 games, and have catapulted into first place in the Eastern Conference with 59 points heading into their game Friday against the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins (58 points) at Nassau Coliseum.

Overall, the Islanders are second in shots on goal per game (32.9) and tied for first in shots against (26.9) this season. They have the best shot differential in the NHL (plus-260) and have outshot the opponent in 31 of 43 games. They are tied for sixth in the League with 128 goals.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 12:55 PM

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

Veteran forward Gomez rekindling old magic with Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Scott Gomez was close to working in television this season as an analyst for the MSG Network. Instead he's centering one of the New Jersey Devils top-two lines and has been producing at better than a point-per-game pace since the calendar turned to 2015.

"He's been, for a lot of people, a pleasant surprise," Devils forward Patrik Elias said.

Gomez met with producers from the MSG Network prior to the season at the suggestion of Ken Daneyko, who is in his first season as Devils television color commentator. Gomez was interested in what they had to say about a potential role as an analyst on Devils games.

"I had a decision to make," Gomez said. "They gave me a month to make a decision. They were awesome about it but I still knew I could play, so I thanked them for thinking of me."

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.14.2015 / 12:33 AM

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

Rosen's mailbag - Jan. 14, 2015

Here is the Jan. 14 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:

Hearing so many "Babcock to…" stories. Is there really any doubt he'll stay in Detroit? Surely he can at least leverage rumors. -- @r0bertwaters

There is plenty of doubt about Mike Babcock's future in Detroit. He is not signed after this season. He doesn't want to negotiate during the season. He has offered no indication one way or the other about staying or leaving. He has told me that he knows he has it good in Detroit and the grass isn't always greener on the other side, but that doesn't mean he isn't thinking about leaving. There will be a lot of money coming his way regardless of what decision he makes. The biggest thing for Babcock is does he think he can win the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings, or is he up for a challenge in a different market. Clearly the Toronto Maple Leafs are thinking about going all in on Babcock. Why else would they name Peter Horachek the interim coach for the rest of the season? There are good coaches available such as Peter DeBoer, Dan Bylsma and Paul MacLean, but the Maple Leafs are waiting for Babcock before they make any decision. So, yes, there is plenty of doubt about his future in Detroit. He hasn't done anything to erase that doubt either.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.13.2015 / 1:30 PM

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

At the Rink: Islanders at Rangers

NEW YORK -- The signs of a big regular-season game were present Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

Media outlets that don't typically cover the morning skates were in attendance with cameras and reporters asking questions, trying to feed the hype machine for the latest game in the rivalry between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders. Typical clichés from the players were followed by atypical hype for a mid-January game. Even the coaches got into the build-up.

The Islanders and Rangers each have at least 50 points at the midway point in the season for the first time since 1978-79, so naturally their game Tuesday at the Garden is being billed locally as one for bragging rights, not to mention two more crucial points in the tightening Metropolitan Division standings.

The Islanders lead the division with 57 points in 42 games. The Rangers have won 13 of their past 14 games, including five in a row, to close the gap to five points; 12 points separated the Islanders and Rangers on Dec. 8, when the Rangers started their hot streak.

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Posted On Monday, 01.12.2015 / 3:08 PM

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

Sabres view Myers as cornerstone piece in rebuild

Tyler Myers' play started to go backwards when the Buffalo Sabres began their fall down the Eastern Conference standings five years ago. Now that Myers is on the rise again, the Sabres should end up using him as a cornerstone piece in their rebuild.

"Hopefully we will become [a top team] in another two years or so and then you'll see the true importance of Tyler Myers and what he really means," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.

Buffalo general manager Tim Murray is thinking along the same lines.

Murray has no desire to trade Myers, the 2009-10 Calder Trophy winner who is an improving 24-year-old defenseman, one of the bright spots in an expectedly difficult season for the Sabres, and signed through 2017-18 with a reasonable $5.5 million salary-cap charge.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 11:38 AM

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

Rosen's mailbag - Jan. 7, 2015

Here is the Jan. 7 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:

Do the New York Islanders need to acquire a defenseman and/or forward before the deadline? -- @CVancheri

I'm not sure they NEED to acquire anybody, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised if general manager Garth Snow was active before the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. ET on March 2. Snow has obviously shown he isn't afraid to make a move to improve his team. That's the benefit of having a lot of assets in either draft picks or prospects.

If Snow is looking to make another splash, I'd look for a left wing to play on the top line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. Easier said than done, though, and I wouldn't pay a premium price for it. Right now a premium price for a top-six wing is a first-round pick plus a player. The bar was set when the Pittsburgh Penguins anted that up to acquire David Perron from the Edmonton Oilers.

Snow might also look to acquire a depth defenseman, a veteran who could play on the third pair, maybe help out on the penalty kill, which hasn't been good.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 11:47 PM

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

Ducks giving new definition to finding ways to win

Look up and down the NHL team statistics page and you won't find the Anaheim Ducks in the top-10 in any of the key categories such as goals for, goals against, power play, penalty kill, shots for and shots against.

Now look at the standings and you'll see the Ducks at the top of the League with 58 points entering their game Wednesday against the New York Rangers (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

How is that possible?

Simple, really. The Ducks are strangely good in one-goal games, as in completely dominant to the point where they are almost unbeatable.

Anaheim is 20-0-6 in one-goal games this season. That means 46 of the Ducks' 58 points have come in games decided by one goal, including 17 that have finished in regulation or overtime. Anaheim is 15-0-2 in those games, and has won five of nine shootouts.

"We find a way," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I guess that's the No. 1 thing, but you sure don't want to just find a way all year long, you want to do it playing perfect."

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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