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Posted On Tuesday, 10.21.2014 / 3:18 PM

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

Fast starts not uncommon for Sharks forward Marleau

San Jose Sharks left wing Patrick Marleau is off to another strong start. This is not a surprise.

Marleau enters the Sharks' game Tuesday at the Boston Bruins with four goals and three assists for seven points in six games. Two of his goals and three of his points have come on the power play.

It's his most productive first six games of the season since last season, when he had six goals and three assists in the first six. That was his best start since, you guessed it, the season before, when he shot out of the lockout with nine goals and five assists in the first six games.

"There is no 'Wow, look what he's doing' factor because that's what we expect from him day in and day out," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He showed up in camp in real good condition, like he always does. His mindset was very good, very determined. He's playing with a couple good players right now that help him out. It's not a surprise to anyone in the locker room that he's playing the way he is."

Marleau has been playing with Logan Couture and Matt Nieto, neither of whom are off to a hot start. Couture has one goal and three assists; Nieto has one goal and two assists, but he hasn't had a point in the past three games.

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.21.2014 / 9:51 AM

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

Spezza confident Stars' top-heavy lineup can work

Jason Spezza isn't worried about the Dallas Stars becoming a one-line team if coach Lindy Ruff continues to use him with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Spezza cited his experience as reason No. 1 for why he thinks the Stars can make it work for the long haul with a top-heavy lineup.

"Hey, me, Heater [Dany Heatley] and Alfie [Daniel Alfredsson] played together in Ottawa and we got to the Stanley Cup Final and had a great regular season," Spezza said Monday. "If you can find a way to win games you might as well use it."

Spezza said it's too early to compare playing with Seguin and Benn to playing with Heatley and Alfredsson.

He has played only one full game with Seguin and Benn, though they combined for two goals and seven assists in that game. He played the majority of the 2006-07 season with Heatley and Alfredsson and they helped the Ottawa Senators win the Prince of Wales Trophy.

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Posted On Sunday, 10.19.2014 / 3:37 PM

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

At the Rink: Sharks at Rangers

San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan is sticking with his goalie rotation Sunday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Alex Stalock is back in the net after making 42 saves in a 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Stalock has stopped 72 of 75 shots, including 30 of 30 for a shutout against the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 11. He has a .960 save percentage and 1.44 goals-against average. Antti Niemi made 35 saves in a 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Saturday.

The Sharks have not lost in regulation this season.

"Alex will play here and he'll get another opportunity to help us find a way to be successful," McLellan said. "We believe in both of them."

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Posted On Friday, 10.17.2014 / 4:26 PM

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

Devils' Severson playing tough minutes, producing

NEWARK, N.J. -- Tuesday he got a chance to go head-to-head against Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. Two nights later his assignment was to play against Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.

No one can accuse New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer of hiding 20-year-old rookie defenseman Damon Severson. Then again, DeBoer is smart enough to know that he never had to even think about hiding Severson.

In addition to scoring three goals in his first four NHL games, a feat Severson called surreal and lucky, he has played difficult minutes against the League's two best goal scorers.

Damon Severson
Defense - NJD
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 4
SOG: 15 | +/-: 5
"It was great," Severson said. "Seeing them on TV is one thing, but getting to actually play against them in real life is another thing."

Severson was on the ice for all or part of 16 of Ovechkin's 20 shifts in Washington's 6-2 win against the Devils on Thursday. He was on the ice for 14 of Stamkos' 19 shifts in the Devils' 2-1 win at Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

He actually outscored Ovechkin 2-1 and outshot Ovechkin 8-5. He was even against Stamkos as neither put the puck in the net.

"We've asked him to play some tough minutes against great players," DeBoer said. "We asked him to play against Ovechkin the other night and that could be overwhelming for a veteran defenseman never mind a rookie. He just has a composure about him that it hasn't seemed to bother him yet. We'll just take it day by day here and hope he keeps going."

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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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Quote of the Day

I mean, hockey had to change the rules because of Marty, and that's impressive. I got two Stanley Cup rings because of the guy. Look at the banners of [Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko] and Marty is right up there when you think about the New Jersey Devils; he was part of the core group and he'll go down as one of the greatest goalies ever.

— New Jersey Devils center Scott Gomez on former teammate Martin Brodeur, who will announce his retirement Thursday