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Posted On Wednesday, 01.25.2012 / 11:14 AM

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

Melrose: Best Save, Goal, Coach before All-Star break

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 5:49 PM

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

Melrose: Who I like in the All-Star Skills Competition

With All-Star Weekend coming up in Ottawa there are so many great events we'll get to watch. One of the best is the annual NHL All-Star Skills Competition, which will happen Saturday night at Scotiabank Place. Because the captains haven't drafted their teams yet, it's hard to predict who will win each event, but for the more individual competitions, I know who I like.

Here are the people I expect to shine Saturday night:

Hardest shot: There are a lot of people who can slap the puck pretty hard, but to me there are just two guys that matter in this competition: Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara. It came down to those two last year and it was Chara that took it all, breaking his own record for the win at 105.9 miles per hour. This time around though, I like Weber to win the rematch, and I'll take him in the hardest shot competition.

Fastest skater: There are plenty of guys to watch out for here, but I know who I like and it's the local boy, Erik Karlsson from the Senators. This kid can fly, and kid might be the key word there. With these events, a lot of older guys don't want to do it, so I'm leaning toward the younger guys. If Marian Gaborik was in it, I would think he'd be one of the guys that would be right there, as would someone like Marian Hossa or Brian Campbell. But I think the younger guys are the ones who will get the spotlight -- after all, last year's final round was between Michael Grabner and Taylor Hall. I could see someone like Tyler Seguin getting in the mix, too, but I think it's Karlsson in this one.

Shooting Accuracy: I really like this event. I think it's more of a hockey contest than just some made-up drill, because you have to catch the pass, shoot the puck, and your timing is definitely involved, too. For this one I'm going to go out on a little bit of a limb and say Jason Pominville. I don't think anyone is talking about Buffalo unless we're talking about negative stuff, but Pominville is definitely one of the bright lights for the Sabres. If you watch his goals, they all go at an area. They're upstairs and they're rockets over the goalie's shoulder. Guys who can shoot like that are the ones who do well here -- guys like Jarome Iginla or Claude Giroux. I like Pominville this time around.

The Breakaway Challenge and Elimination Shootout are hard events to predict, but if I was going to pick a forward to watch in those I think my first guy would be Patrick Kane. He's just awesome. I know he's not scoring goals like he normally does this season, but if you saw that move he made on Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom in the shootout recently, you know he's still got it. That was tremendous. He might be the most dangerous guy on a breakaway in the League. I like the moves Tyler Seguin has, too, and of course Pavel Datsyuk has to be in the mix, but if I really wanted to pick one guy to look out for it would be Patrick Kane.

As for the Challenge Relay, without knowing who is on Team Alfredsson and who is on Team Chara, it's impossible to know who can win, but the guys I would look for in those events are the quick, smaller guys. Bigger players like Chara are mobile, but sometimes their mass is just too large and they can't turn quick enough to make a difference. The smaller, shorter guys who have a low center of gravity and not as big an area to turn are the ones to look out for, and I really think Phil Kessel is a guy who would be great in this kind of event. Datsyuk and Kane are also players to look out for in an event like this, but for a guy his size with those skills and the way he's playing this season, I think Kessel will be a huge factor.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 11:10 AM

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

Melrose votes Karlsson as Fantasy Draft top pick

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Posted On Friday, 01.20.2012 / 11:06 AM

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

Melrose Match Up: Rangers at Bruins

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Posted On Friday, 01.20.2012 / 10:59 AM

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

Barry Melrose joins CISCO NHL Live via Telepresence

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Posted On Friday, 01.20.2012 / 9:30 AM

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

Barry's Mullet of the Week: Evgeni Malkin

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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 12:39 PM

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

Barry Melrose's midseason awards

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Posted On Monday, 01.09.2012 / 3:00 AM

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

My All-Stars at the season's midway point

With last week's Winter Classic and the regular season's official midway point coming at the conclusion of games Monday night, it's time for the focus to shift to the NHL's next big event, when the best in the game will take the ice together at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Place.

The pieces are already falling into place as the big event approaches, with the fans picking their first six All-Stars last week and Rangers coach John Tortorella sealing up a spot as one of the bench bosses for the game on Jan. 29. Soon we'll find out the rest of the All-Stars being selected and the captains before the fun of All-Star Weekend gets underway.

Because of the NHL All-Star Fantasy Player Draft the teams won't be divided between the Eastern and Western Conferences, but with no real way to split the pool up without knowing who is going to Ottawa, I'm going to stick with the old format and give you my East and West All-Stars so far in 2011-12.

Eastern Conference

Forwards


Steven Stamkos
Center - TBL
GOALS: 28 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 45
SOG: 139 | +/-: 6
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning -- This one is a no-brainer. The No. 1 overall pick in 2008 has blossomed into one of the League's elite scorers down in Tampa Bay, leading the League with 28 goals and dishing out 17 assists to go with it. And has anyone been hotter than Stamkos lately? He has 8 goals in his last six games.

Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs -- Kessel started off as the hottest player in the NHL and he hasn't cooled off since. He's trying to lead the Leafs back to the playoffs for the first time in a long time and if they finally break the drought, it will be in large part due to his 24 goals and 24 assists. His 48 points are tied for second in the NHL, and he's scored in each of his last four games.

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers -- Philly got quite a scare when Giroux was diagnosed with a concussion earlier this season and it's a pretty safe bet there was some easy breathing when he wound up missing less than two weeks. Giroux has broken out in a big way this season with 18 goals and 30 assists. Playing with an all-time great like Jaromir Jagr certainly hasn't hurt, but Giroux is looking like a star for years to come.

Defensemen

Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
-- You could talk about how Chara is a major physical presence on the Bruins' blue line, how he's the captain of the defending champions or how he's on pace to break his career high in points. But to really know why he might be the best D-man in the game, look no further than his plus-minus, which, at plus-27, is the second-best in the NHL.

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators -- Sometimes you see a player voted in by the fans because he's a hometown favorite and not because he's earned it, but Karlsson has definitely earned it. He's played solid defense all season for Ottawa and the only person with more assists than him in the entire League is Henrik Sedin. Giroux, Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Sedin, Evgeni Malkin -- those guys are all looking up at Karlsson.

Goalie

Tim Thomas
Goalie - BOS
RECORD: 17-7-0
GAA: 1.99 | SVP: 0.938
Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins -- There are 21 goalies in the League who have played in more games this season than Thomas, who has been splitting time with Tuukka Rask to keep his 37-year-old body fresh for a playoff run. But despite only playing in 26 games, Thomas has 17 wins. His .938 save percentage, 1.99 goals-against average and 4 shutouts are all in the top five in the League.

Western Conference

Forwards

Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks -- Another year, another big season for each of the Sedins. Daniel isn't on pace to break his career high of 104 points from last season when he won the Art Ross Trophy, but 47 points in 41 games isn't bad either, and it's certainly deserving of a place on my Western Conference All-Star team.

Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks -- The Sedins had to play apart for the first time in last season's All-Star Game and with the player draft it could happen again, but I won't be the person splitting them up. Henrik and Daniel might be in a personal fight to see who gets the Art Ross Trophy each season and this year Henrik has the upper hand. His 49 points are the most in the League.

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks -- Toews is one of the bright young stars of our game and each season, he just gets better. This year he's on pace for his best season yet, and he's among the top goal scorers in the League. He's a great scorer, but what really sets him apart from other forwards is how good he is both ways. He might be the best two-way center in the League.

Defensemen

Shea Weber
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 30
SOG: 114 | +/-: 12
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators -- After being a Norris Trophy finalist last year, Weber is probably going to be in the discussion again this summer. He's shown himself to be a leader in Music City, and his 21 assists are tied for third most among defensemen despite him missing a few games due to a concussion recently.

Kevin Bieksa, Vancouver Canucks
-- To win in the NHL, you need a solid man on the blue line and Bieksa has been as solid as they come this season. Bieksa has helped out offensively with 25 points, but he's provided a physical presence while shutting down the opposition's top players each night.

Goalie

Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings -- Detroit's having a great year and you can look between the pipes for one of the big reasons why. No one in the NHL has more wins than Howard's 24, and the only team in the League with a better goal differential than the Wings won the Stanley Cup last spring.

Those are the guys I would put out there if I was looking for the top six players in each conference. I know it isn't the same as the first six players voted on by the fans last week, but that's fine. The All-Star Game is a time for the fans to have fun watching the players they love. Anything that makes the game better for the fans I'm all for.

Here's hoping we'll be in for another great show later this month.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 3:13 PM

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

Shopping with Barry: Accessories

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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 3:12 PM

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

Shopping with Barry: Shirts

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Quote of the Day

You don't see many. The [Drew] Doughtys, the [P.K.] Subbans, those are guys that create offense from the back and then on top of that ability, the size that he has. In the West you play against some pretty big players, and being able to clear the crease and contain the [Ryan] Getzlafs and the [Corey] Perrys and [Anze] Kopitars and players like that, we're excited about him going back there.

— Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Brent Burns returning back to defense