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Posted On Monday, 12.15.2014 / 2:05 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Penguins persevering without Crosby

On Sunday the Pittsburgh Penguins announced Sidney Crosby was the latest player in the NHL to have contracted the mumps. Now, you didn't exactly need to be Dr. Kildare to figure that one out, but this whole thing is just crazy. I've been in the NHL as a player, coach or analyst since 1979 and I've been in professional hockey since 1976. I can't remember a player getting mumps. Ever. How many do we have now?

It's a totally bizarre phenomenon, but in the case of the Penguins, what I think you'll see is another stretch that is just a tribute to the great depth this team has. Crosby has been out the past few games, but this team continues to win, dig deep and get points in the standings. It's difficult to lose one of the best players in the world, but this team has the players to weather that storm. Patric Hornqvist adds to that depth, but guys like Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz will carry Pittsburgh through.

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Posted On Monday, 12.08.2014 / 2:14 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Injury to Ducks' Perry alters West race

There are a few individual players who have had a major impact in the NHL recently, either by being in the lineup or by being out of it. Today we're going to take a look at two guys who will have a big influence on the final standings, and another guy who is so good, you wonder if he might make a difference even if his team doesn't.

WOUNDED DUCK

Corey Perry missed the Anaheim Ducks game against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday with a knee injury and there's some uncertainty as to how long he could be out. Because the differences and the advantages each of the top teams have are so small, I think losing a 50-goal scorer like Perry will have a significant impact on the Ducks. It doesn't matter how good you are -- and the Ducks are certainly good -- Perry is a lot of offense to replace. Not having him out there also affects guys like Ryan Getzlaf and hurts Anaheim's power play.

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Posted On Monday, 12.01.2014 / 1:16 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose: 'Circus Trip' shows Blackhawks are no joke

It's been another wild week in the NHL, from Martin St. Louis returning to Tampa Bay to the power going out in Detroit. Here are some things I've been thinking about.

SURVIVING THE CIRCUS

Each season, the Chicago Blackhawks "Circus Trip" is a litmus test for how that team is going to do, and this year, considering how Chicago was struggling amid big expectations, it might have been a bigger test than usual.

I think they passed.

The Blackhawks won five of six games on the trek, including sweeping the final two games on a back-to-back against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. Sometimes teams send a message to the entire League, and that was a message. I don't know that anyone doubted the Blackhawks would be in the mix this season, but after an inconsistent six weeks to start 2014-15, Chicago now looks like it will compete for the Stanley Cup this spring yet again.

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Posted On Monday, 11.24.2014 / 1:50 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Islanders, Flames look to be true contenders

We're at the first-quarter mark of the 2014-15 NHL season. While some traditional contenders out West are still having trouble getting their footing, new ones are appearing and we just may be seeing a changing of the guard in the East.

Let's take a look.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

The Pittsburgh Penguins might have company. For most of this season the Penguins have looked like the team to beat in the Metropolitan Division, but this past weekend the New York Islanders emphatically put their stamp on the race, sweeping a home-and-home against Pittsburgh and scoring four goals in each game. Not only that, but the Islanders held Sidney Crosby to just one shot and no points during the two games. That's something not many teams in the NHL can say.

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Posted On Monday, 11.17.2014 / 2:59 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Penguins still face playoff questions

This week I'm taking a look at one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference, a surprise struggler in the West and an unsung goalie who just keeps impressing. Let's get right to it.

ARE THE PENS MIGHTIER?

The Pittsburgh Penguins have spent the past few regular seasons looking like a top-tier team only to suffer a surprising postseason flameout. This season, once again the Penguins are looking unbeatable, but the big question is: "Will this time be different?" I think the Penguins have to be considered a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, but the regular season has never been a problem for Pittsburgh. Once again, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are going to be the big test, particularly in net where Marc-Andre Fleury will need to prove his worth after signing a big contract extension recently.

The Penguins look awesome right now. They're winning low-scoring games, they're winning high-scoring games, their power play has been phenomenal and it looks as though they haven't missed Brooks Orpik or Matt Niskanen on the blue line. It appears they're really taking to heart what coach Mike Johnston asked them to do offensively and defensively. Ultimately, the need for a new message might make the difference for this team. Dan Bylsma is a great coach, but sometimes a shakeup is necessary. Beyond that, though, Pittsburgh does look sharper on defense. They don't take as many chances and the chances they take are high-percentage chances. Fleury isn't left out to dry by as many odd-man rushes as he used to be.

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Posted On Monday, 11.10.2014 / 2:22 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Why Predators, Flames are surprising

Lately two unsung teams in the Western Conference have been surprising and holding steady near the top of the standings. This week, I'm going to take a look at what these teams are doing that's keeping them up there.

GETTING THEIR 'VILLE

The Nashville Predators made a huge statement Saturday when they beat the St. Louis Blues and took over first place in the Central Division. Now, I don't know that the Predators will stay up there all season. Are they as good as the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks or Chicago Blackhawks? They've still got to show me that, but they've definitely looked better than the Colorado Avalanche or Dallas Stars, and they are looking like a real threat to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It seems pretty clear this team has responded to new coach Peter Laviolette. They're a different team to watch offensively, and with Pekka Rinne, who has been as good as anybody in the NHL the past five seasons when he's healthy, it's no surprise the goaltending is great every night. Add in a tremendous defense with Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Seth Jones and you can see that Nashville is still the good team defensively we're used to seeing, but now it's scoring goals.

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Posted On Monday, 11.03.2014 / 2:42 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Early contenders and pretenders

We're almost a month into the 2014-15 NHL season and not only are we seeing who contenders and pretenders are, we're seeing which teams we thought would contend are struggling to fulfill expectations.

Let's take a look at some of the teams that are impressing and some that are struggling to stay afloat.

LIGHTNING STRIKES

For a while it looked like the Atlantic Division would be a two-team race between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, assuming Boston didn't just run away with it. Well, it may still be a two-team race, but it might be Montreal and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning have a lot of weapons. Steven Stamkos gets all the ink, but Ben Bishop has proved he's as good a goaltender as there is in the Eastern Conference, they have tons of scoring up front, I love the addition of Jason Garrison and his rocket shot on the blue line, and Victor Hedman's return will only make Tampa Bay better.

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Posted On Monday, 10.27.2014 / 1:12 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Proud of Canada in wake of attack

As a born Canadian, I could not help but be impacted and moved by the events in Ottawa this past week. When something like this happens there are a lot of thoughts that run through your mind as a hockey player or coach, as a Canadian or, most importantly, as a person.

When I first heard of the attack on the parliament building in Ottawa on Oct. 22, I talked with many close friends in Canada and the feeling that came over them was just shock. This is not supposed to happen in Canada. We're the world's peacekeepers. Whenever international peacekeepers are sent into a country in turmoil, Canadians are usually a big part of that group, and with that mindset, things like the attack in Ottawa just aren't supposed to happen here.

After the initial shock though, the strongest feeling was pride. You were proud at how Canadians handled the attack and how the nation responded with its observance and with the ceremonies across the NHL before games on Saturday night. The fact that it happened in Canada was very sobering. It brings home what people in the United States or other countries have felt. You know terrorism can happen on your shores. That was something of a wakeup call, but the response, both by the country and by the League, was one that emboldens you.

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Posted On Monday, 10.20.2014 / 1:54 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Surprising teams in the early stages

We're almost two weeks into the 2014-15 NHL season, and after a few early surprises the wheat is starting to get separated from the chaff. That doesn't mean there aren't some unusual teams in the mix. Here are three teams we may not be accustomed to seeing where they are that caught my eye.

ISLANDERS RISING

Two years ago, the New York Islanders pushed the heavily-favored Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and looked to be on the rise. Last season though, an injury to forward John Tavares left them out of the postseason. Well, the Islanders look like a playoff team again and after this fast start I don't see them falling apart or drifting away.

Simply put, they look great. Tavares is all the way back from his injury and recent trades for Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy have already paid dividends offensively and defensively. Brock Nelson has been great, Kyle Okposo is playing well and Jaroslav Halak has been excellent in net. Halak has always been a good goaltender, at times unbelievably good, and I think bringing him in along with Boychuk and Leddy has solved a lot of their problems on the back end.

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Posted On Monday, 10.13.2014 / 2:37 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Canadiens close to being East's best

We're less than a week into the season and already there's plenty to talk about. We've had some surprises, some comebacks and a whole lot of offense in places we never expected. The New Jersey Devils scoring six goals on opening night? That used to be a month for the Devils. Some things, however, aren't that surprising. The depth of the Western Conference is obvious and the Eastern Conference still looks wide open, though a new team looks like it may be joining the Boston Bruins at the top of the heap.

Let's get right to it.

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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday