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2015 NHL Draft
Posted On Tuesday, 05.12.2015 / 1:52 PM

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

Melrose: Fine line separating Rangers, Capitals

In a result that should really surprise no one, the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals will be playing a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third time in four seasons on Wednesday. This has been a tight, tremendously entertaining series -- each game has been decided by one goal -- and if you've seen all the games, they're exactly alike. It's battles in front of the net, goaltending, who can get their power play going that night and who can make fewer mistakes. These games haven't been track meets and the play has been so close and physically tight that avoiding mistakes has been imperative.

If you look at Game 6, Washington gave up two goals in the opening two minutes of a period and one goal in the last minute. That's a cardinal sin. You just can't do that. Troy Brouwer took a bad penalty. You can't do that in a series like this. The Capitals lost a draw cleanly in the last 10 seconds of a period. You can't do that either. You've got to tie that up. On Sunday, Washington was guilty of some glaring mistakes. When the Capitals have won in this series, the Rangers have been the team making mistakes.

Those little things on the margins are where Game 7 will be decided. It will be battles along the walls, battles in front of the net and low scoring. I expect to see a carbon copy of the first six games.

Posted On Tuesday, 05.12.2015 / 1:03 PM

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

Melrose: Lightning in driver's seat entering Game 6

I know I say this all the time, but I really believe it. It's really hard to defeat an NHL team four times in a row. I know the Chicago Blackhawks just did that to the Minnesota Wild, but there's a reason it doesn't happen more frequently. These teams are all pretty good.

That, to me, explains why the Tampa Bay Lightning couldn't sweep the Montreal Canadiens and why I have a hard time seeing the Canadiens ultimately rallying to win this series. When you take a look at Games 4 and 5 of this series, you have to wonder, "Can you beat Carey Price four times in a row?" I find it hard to believe you can. Yes, I know the Lightning swept the season series, but aside from their first game back in October all of those games were close and one went to overtime.

The past two games, I think, have been a case of Montreal being due. The Canadiens put some things together and their best players started playing some better games. Max Pacioretty, P.K. Subban and Price all started getting their acts together and the Lightning were off their game a bit, in particular Ben Bishop, who was chased in Game 4. Since the start of that game Bishop has been outplayed twice by Price and that could be what ultimately decides this series. If Bishop is as good as Price, there is a good chance the series ends Tuesday.

Posted On Tuesday, 05.05.2015 / 2:10 PM

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

Melrose: Flames struggling with Ducks' size

The Calgary Flames are a great story and have been all season, but after watching their first two games against the Anaheim Ducks in their Second Round Western Conference series, I can't imagine this not being a quick series. The Flames have just been manhandled and pushed around, they're starting to get hit by injuries and players like Jiri Hudler, even if they are playing, clearly aren't 100 percent.

The biggest issue for Calgary, however, is clearly Anaheim's size. The Ducks are just so big. The Flames just can't play against the size of that Ryan Getzlaf line, and the second line with Ryan Kesler has plenty of physical presence, too. In many situations the Ducks' forwards are bigger than the Flames' defensemen. That kind of mismatch doesn't happen often, and what really makes life tough for Calgary is that the Ducks can skate, too. This isn't a big, lumbering lineup the Ducks have. It's big and fast, too.

Posted On Monday, 05.04.2015 / 1:42 PM

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

Melrose: Expect Rangers-Capitals to go six or seven

As we all get ready for Game 3 between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals on Monday at Verizon Center, the first two games of the series made two things clear to me. The first is that this series is going to go six or seven games, and the second is that it will probably be the best series we see in the Eastern Conference Second Round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Game 1 was a thriller, but the way the Rangers bounced back from a tough loss in the series opener was impressive. This team made it to the Stanley Cup Final a year ago and it has a number of high-character individuals in the dressing room. Obviously, I know Martin St. Louis a bit and I know what he's made of, but Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh aren't going to quit either. That kind of character filters down to the rest of the lineup and that was evident in Game 2 on Saturday.

Posted On Monday, 04.27.2015 / 12:52 PM

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

Melrose: Another chance for Capitals to get it right

There is almost nothing in sports better than a Game 7 and we've got one tonight at Verizon Center when the Washington Capitals host the New York Islanders (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, CSN-DC). This has been a great series so far, but what I'm looking for tonight isn't just who will win. We know who the Islanders are. We know they're a young team on the rise looking to make that next step. The Capitals, though, are a team that has been in the mix for years now and we're looking to see if the latest retooling is finally the right one.

This team is supposed to be different. Barry Trotz is supposed to have made this team different. The players sing his praises, but now is the time to show us. Is this team different from the ones Bruce Boudreau had that fell short? Is it different from the teams Adam Oates and Dale Hunter had that didn't match expectations? This is their chance to prove it. The Capitals have Game 7 in their building. Both teams are good, both have played well, but now is when we see if the Capitals are a different team than they used to be.

Posted On Monday, 04.20.2015 / 1:16 PM

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

Melrose: Ducks impressive, but Jets still dangerous

After the first week of games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the one thing that seems clear is there is no real favorite out there. The Chicago Blackhawks might be the only team with a real bona fide championship pedigree with its current core, but they have goaltending issues. The New York Rangers haven't really looked like they did in the regular season so far. The Pittsburgh Penguins are unpredictable. The St. Louis Blues should be among the contenders, as should the Montreal Canadiens, but it's tough to put stock in teams you haven't seen win it before.

Honestly, the team that has really jumped out at me has been the Anaheim Ducks. It looked like they were in for a really tough series with the Winnipeg Jets, and it has been tough so far, but the Ducks are playing well. Their great players, guys like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler, have been showing up and the goaltending has been good. They're playing a big, physical team in Winnipeg and have managed to win both games they've played. The only other team to do that has been Montreal, which hasn't looked like it's been challenged physically nearly as much as Anaheim.

Posted On Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 1:04 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Banking on Senators to pull an upset

After 1,230 regular-season games, the best part of the year is here. The 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Wednesday, and while there are certainly favorites -- I'm looking at you, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks -- the field is as wide open as ever. Most first-round series are tough to read and I wouldn't be surprised if all four in the Western Conference went seven games.

The best part about the playoffs, though, is that no one really knows how it's going to shake out, including me, but I'm going to take my best stab at it anyway. Here are my picks for the first round of the 2015 postseason.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Ottawa Senators over Montreal Canadiens -- I always talk about how the way you're playing is more important than where you finish, and no one on this planet is hotter than the Senators right now. Andrew Hammond is playing great, they're getting goals from a lot of different guys, Erik Karlsson has been great and they've just got that youthful exuberance that can be so dangerous come playoff time. Montreal is capable of beating anybody with Carey Price in net, but if Price struggles the tables can turn fast. Don't forget, Max Pacioretty's status will have a huge impact in this series. If he's not 100 percent, that's a huge issue for the Canadiens. Even if he is, it may not be enough to stop Ottawa from achieving the upset. The Senators just have one of those auras about them right now.

Posted On Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:28 PM

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

Melrose: Time for Shanahan to make mark in Toronto

There was big news in the NHL on Sunday, when the day after the regular season ended the Toronto Maple Leafs fired general manager Dave Nonis and interim coach Peter Horachek. While this signals significant changes coming for Toronto, you can't be surprised to see it happen. You can't be bad and finish the way Toronto did and not have something like this happen in response.

This was a season that started with optimism for the Maple Leafs. They had a relatively decent start and it looked like former coach Randy Carlyle had things going well and then the whole team just blew up. I don't think anyone in the hockey world is surprised that this is the response. Now it's on Brendan Shanahan to remake this team in his mold and with his guys. He's going to put his mark on this franchise with the hires he's about to make in the front office, and when that happens it will fully be his team.

Posted On Monday, 04.06.2015 / 2:08 PM

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

Melrose: Slumping Penguins could miss playoffs

The last few years we've talked about the Pittsburgh Penguins and generally said they had to prove it to us in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The thing is, though, the "in the playoffs" part never seemed to be a question. Even as recently as two weeks ago the idea of the Penguins missing the postseason might have seemed ridiculous, but suddenly they've lost nine of their past 12 games and we now have to ask it.

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins actually miss the playoffs?

With the Boston Bruins streaking and the Ottawa Senators playing very well despite their overtime loss Monday, Pittsburgh's tumble down the standings is suddenly making it seem very possible. The Penguins' loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday must have been an especially tough pill to swallow. Pittsburgh dominated the opening period and ended up outshooting Philadelphia 47-20 only to lose 4-1 to its hated in-state rival.

Posted On Monday, 03.30.2015 / 1:30 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Panthers would be wise to keep Jagr

Last week word came out of south Florida that the Florida Panthers were interested in bringing Jaromir Jagr back for the 2015-16 season. Jagr turns 44 next season, but despite his age he's proven to be a valuable commodity, and I said back when the Panthers acquired him in February that I thought he could be a valuable addition to the team. So far it looks like he has been.

The Panthers aren't entirely out of the mix for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, particularly after a big win Sunday night and with a big game against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNW, FS-F, NESN), but making the playoffs will probably mean running the table. That's tough to do. Jagr's impact, however, doesn't have to be limited to this playoff race. The Panthers have plenty of young kids, but what's the use in having 12 good young forwards without anyone showing them how to win? Someone has to teach the young players in Florida how to be pros, how to play hard every night, how to take care of yourself off the ice.

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Quote of the Day

After being through it and seeing the other [outdoor] games on TV, just the atmosphere is spectacular. To stand here -- and we are essentially almost on the blue line -- and look up [into the stands] and knowing it is going to be packed and playing our biggest rival in this setting is going to be pretty special.

— Bruins president Cam Neely on the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between Boston and Montreal at Gillette Stadium on
Jan. 1, 2016