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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 11:29 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry's Best: Three intriguing trade candidates

Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 3:08 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

My favorite moments from All-Star Weekend

Every year the All-Star Game gives us tons of great moments and the 2012 NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Place was no different. A number of memories stick out in my mind, but these are the things that I'll take with me after All-Star Weekend in Ottawa.

The Alfie Lovefest: This was the best part of the weekend to me. The building was really unbelievable for Daniel Alfredsson. The standing ovation he received after he scored his first goal with 17,000 people on their feet was amazing, all weekend long he was treated so well when he stepped on the ice, and you could just see that the city is in love with him and it honors him. I know it was an All-Star Game, and it was an NHL event, but it really turned into the Daniel Alfredsson show, and he deserves it. He's been there a long time, he's been a great professional and he's been a great ambassador of our League around the world, so I don't think it bothered anyone that it turned into his show.

Tim Thomas gets No. 4: We sat down with Timmy and he let us know that he's won the last three All-Star games and he was going to play the third period in this one so he could win four. No one had ever done that before, so late in the game Timmy was only concerned with winning, even as Alfredsson's teammates tried to set him up for a hat trick in the third period. Two was enough for Alfredsson as far as Timmy was concerned. He was going to win that game and he was going to be the goalie of record four straight years.

Chara's warm welcome: Zdeno Chara learned to be a pro in Ottawa. He became a professional, he became a good player and he generally learned his craft in Ottawa and the people responded to him very well. I guarantee everybody in Ottawa wishes they still had Chara on that team, and I think he was a little apprehensive about coming back in such a high-profile role, but he was really excited about the good ovation and the good hand he got when he was announced. He may have left Ottawa, but that's part of the business, and he never badmouthed Ottawa or said it was a terrible place. Everything that came out of his mouth was about how much he loved playing there and how much he enjoyed his time in Ottawa. It was a case of handling the situation properly and at the end of the day there were no hard feelings for either side, and this weekend showed it.

The Hardest Shot:
This was really the best part of the skills competition. It's my favorite event to begin with, but when you see a record being set, that's always special, and we saw three shots break the old record in one night. It's really become the marquee event of the night with Chara and Shea Weber, and everyone's waiting to see if the record's going to get broken every year. Obviously the next step is if it's going to break 110 next year, but that was a great moment when Chara hit 108.8. It was a good, fun moment, and I think everyone will remember seeing the hardest slap shot ever taken. In addition, we were all surprised Alfie was in the hardest shot contest, too. I think most people thought high 90s would be a good showing for him since he's not known as a guy with a big shot. For him to go over 100 multiple times was pretty impressive.

The beauty of Ottawa:
Ottawa was great last weekend. It's a beautiful city and all of the scenic visuals along the Rideau Canal with the winter snow falling was very picturesque. The parliament buildings were all lit up, all the events were packed, the parties were all busy. You really have to give Ottawa an A+ for the job the city did.

Players showing their personality:
The players were a lot of fun all weekend. Marian Gaborik, in particular, for the first time really opened up and you could see his personality a little bit. He and (Henrik) Lundqvist battling back and forth on the ice and Gaborik eventually getting the hat trick was also great. Scott Hartnell's #HartnellDown campaign, when he would donate $1,000 every time he fell or scored a goal was great. Joffrey Lupul was great. There were a lot of guys having fun, and we've got to do more of that. When people see our athletes and meet our athletes and get to know our athletes, they fall in love with our athletes.

Skills on display: I also loved the skills relay on Saturday night with one-timers and pinpoint passing. That was the one drill that was what hockey players do. That's how you practice. You practice going through pylons. You practice carrying pucks through other pucks. You practice saucer passes. I thought it was a really great teaching tool for how hockey players learn their skills.

Overall, Ottawa was a great host this year and I think it gave Columbus a lot of ideas for 2013. That was one of the best parts of the weekend, too, to finally get some positive news for Columbus, which has had a tough year. Maybe this could be the start of a new period for the Jackets when they host the All-Star Game next January.

They'll just have to keep in mind that this season Ottawa gave them quite a bit to live up to.
Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 11:27 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place: Second-Half Step Ups

Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 11:23 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Match Up: Red Wings at Canucks

Posted On Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 5:21 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Six NHL facts at the All Star Break.

Posted On Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 5:00 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Cisco NHL Live: Melrose talks All-Star Game

Posted On Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 3:51 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Who I'd take in the Player Fantasy Draft

Of all the events of All-Star Weekend, one of the best is happening tonight when Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara take their turns picking teams for this weekend at the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft. Anything can happen and I know it'll be great to watch when the show comes on tonight at 8 ET (NBC Sports Network, TSN), but before we see what Alfie and Big Z do, I've got my own take on what will happen.

Here is what I would do with my first five picks if I were Alfredsson or Chara tonight.

Round 1
I'm going to assume that Alfredsson wins the coin toss because he's the local boy with the game being at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. Now, I'm a big picture guy and I would want to do what's best for the NHL. If I'm Alfredsson and I'm the NHL, I want to work it so Alfredsson gets all the Senators on one team. I want the Sens fans to get to root for their guys together, so if I'm Alfredsson, I'm taking Erik Karlsson. I want that defenseman that can skate.

If I'm Chara, I could do what Eric Staal did last year and take my goalie with the first pick since Tim Thomas is out there; me, I don't care about goalies. They mean nothing in an All-Star Game. They all play only one period and they're just trying to get through it without being embarrassed. To me they're a second thought. A team has to pick its three goalies by the 10th round, so for me, I'm picking my starting five first. Let the other team waste high picks on goalies. I'm going after skaters. If I'm Chara, I'm taking Steven Stamkos, because few can score and skate like him.

Round 2
If I'm Alfredsson, in the second round I've got to stick with my guys and I'm taking my teammate Jason Spezza. Now I've got two forwards and a defenseman as well as a goalie in my assistant captain Henrik Lundqvist. I'm on my way.

If I'm Chara, to go with Stamkos and my assistant captain Joffrey Lupul up front, I'm taking Phil Kessel. I want another flying forward and don't forget, Phil is still motivated about the All-Star Game after being embarrassed by being the last pick last year. I think he'll be fired up, and it's in Ottawa, which I think matters to a Toronto player.

Round 3
My next pick as Alfredsson is Milan Michalek. Now I've got three forwards, a great skating defenseman and all of my Ottawa players on one team. Everyone in the stands can cheer for one team this way.

Now if I'm Chara and I can put another forward up top, I'm going with Henrik Sedin, a guy I can't imagine dropping any further than this. He's simply too good a playmaker to stay unpicked for long.

Round 4
If I were Alfredsson, the next guy I would take is Dustin Byfuglien because I love a guy who plays with his size and does what he does, but with Big Buff injured I'll have to get a different physical defenseman. To fill that role I'm going to go with a big tough guy who can hit, and I'm taking Dion Phaneuf. Now I've got Alfredsson, Spezza and Michalek up front and Karlsson and Phaneuf at the back -- an all-Ontario team for a game in Ottawa.

If I'm Chara, I come back with Brian Campbell, so now I've got that skating defenseman alongside Chara. Chara's an offensive threat when he wants to be, but he doesn't lead the rush all the time. I want to give him that offensive defenseman that can do that, and that's Brian Campbell.

Round 5
Fortunately, if I'm Alfredsson I've already got my buddy in the back with fellow Swede Lundqvist in net, a player who just happens to have been the best goalie in the League this year. With that, it's time to get the second line going, and I'm going to anchor it with one of the best centers you can find, and take Claude Giroux, a boy who grew up in Ontario, with my last pick.

As for Chara, with my last choice I'm going to fill out my team at the back and take my goalie, Tim Thomas.

That's the way the teams should work out. An event like this is all about the fans, it's about making everybody happy and I think this is what would make the most people happy. Tonight we'll get the chance to see how it all works out.
Posted On Wednesday, 01.25.2012 / 11:17 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place - Second Half Guarantee

Posted On Wednesday, 01.25.2012 / 11:14 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

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

Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 5:49 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - 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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Quote of the Day

Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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