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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 2:21 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Some teams happy to see 2011 go

It was a heck of a year for hockey in 2011, but it was certainly better for some teams than others. As we saw the Bruins and Canucks battle it out for the Cup this spring, there were plenty of other teams looking at draft boards and planning how to be better in 2012 and beyond. Now that 2012 is just about here, we're going to take a look at the top five teams that wish 2012 didn't have to come, and the top five teams that can't wait for the calendar to turn over.
Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 9:35 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Matchup: Flyers at Rangers

Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 4:11 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Matchup: Blackhawks at Penguins

Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 12:00 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Giving the gifts

The holidays are right around the corner with both Hanukkah and Christmas coming this week. In the spirit of the season, I'm putting on my Santa costume on and telling different teams and players in the NHL that have been nice this year what they can expect to find under their trees on Sunday morning.

Toronto Maple Leafs:
I dug in my archives and I found the parade route that the Leafs used in 1967 when they won their last title. Everyone in Toronto thinks the Leafs are going to win the Stanley Cup this year, so I want to do my part and make sure they're ready to march down Young Street like they did in '67. The people in Toronto have been long suffering, and it's not right that the last parade in Toronto was for a baseball team. I think that's got to change, so I'm going to do all I can for the people of Toronto and help out the Leafs and their fans with the actual parade route, so they'll be ready if it ever happens.

Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks:
I'm going to give these teams three free sessions with self-help guru Tony Robbins, because right now they are both screwed up mentally. Neither team has any confidence and both lose games when they have the lead going into the third period. So these teams just need mental makeovers. I know Tony and I know in three sessions, he'll be able to change both of those teams. Books will be given out and available at each session signed outside the door.

Nashville Predators:
Carrie Underwood is going to write a new song for the Predators and it's going to be called "Love and Pekka Rinne will keep us playing into May." Mike Fisher will be the tall, dark handsome guy in the video who says nothing and just smiles the whole time.

Philadelphia Flyers: I'm going to bring back Ed Van Impe to make a comeback in place of Chris Pronger. He's going to supply that nasty defenseman that slashes everything that moves around the front of the net. With Pronger out for the rest of the year, I had to do something for the Flyers because we saw last year in the playoffs that it's not the same defense without Pronger. Without Pronger I put the Flyers down in that second tier of teams. I'd put the Bruins, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Vancouver in that upper tier. The Flyers are now in that level beneath them with teams like the Rangers. The Pronger injury is catastrophic.

Evgeni Malkin: I'm going to continue to give Malkin superpowers until Sidney Crosby comes back. Malkin's been just great every game since Sidney's been gone. He had a hat trick Saturday night, Wednesday night he was fantastic in a losing effort. He's just playing awesome hockey right now. Pittsburgh is certainly a playoff team, but to be a Stanley Cup team, Malkin's going to have to be the guy that leads them. Arguably Pittsburgh's got its two best players out right now in Crosby and Kris Letang, but they're still scoring in bunches every night, and to keep doing it Malkin will have to keep playing at a high level.

Boston Bruins: I'm giving these guys nothing. I gave them the Stanley Cup last year and I also gave them Tyler Seguin, so I think that's enough to hold them over for another Christmas.

St. Louis Blues: I'm giving the Blues the exact same thing. I already gave them Ken Hitchcock and Brian Elliott, which has completely turned the team around. They have been overserved already. Right now, Brian is the most confident he's ever been and he's played well for stretches before with Ottawa. With a guy with his history, you're certainly taking a sigh of relief after each good game, but St. Louis is playing a good style of hockey right now and Elliott and Hitchcock are big reasons why.

Teemu Selanne and the Winnipeg fans: These two got their Christmas present this weekend when I gave them Teemu's emotional return to Winnipeg Saturday night. It was a magical night, the city came out and responded, a lot of great memories were rekindled and Teemu was cheered every time he touched the puck. The Winnipeg fans certainly loved the win, but I think they would almost have loved to see Teemu score a hat trick in a win for Anaheim just as much. It was a great night for Winnipeg, a great night for Teemu and a great night for the NHL.

New Jersey Devils: I'm going to give this team a return to their previous glory for Ilya Kovalchuk and Marty Brodeur. I think Kovalchuk is starting to come out of it, but for New Jersey to make the playoffs, these two guys will have to be the players of old, so that's the Christmas present I'm going to give the fans and players in New Jersey. If you really sit back and look at the play of Marty and Johan Hedberg, Hedberg should be playing more. You want to play Marty, but when he struggles you feel bad when you pull him. As a coach you don't want to put him in that situation, but hopefully with Santa's help, Marty will regain his greatness for the last 50 games of the season.

Detroit Red Wings: I'm going to give them access to the Fountain of Youth for one more year. They had that six-game losing streak at the beginning of the year, and boy did it wake them up. They look like the old Detroit Red Wings. Jimmy Howard has been good all year long -- probably their most consistent player -- but not Datsyuk's back, Zetterberg is flying, Franzen is scoring and Lidstrom and Kronwall and Stuart are giving them good play and the team looks great.

Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders: I know it's been a tough year for them, but I'm going to give them a great Christmas present: a lottery pick. Those will be the three teams that have the best opportunity to get a lottery pick come next June. I think the Islanders are a team that isn't ready to compete for a playoff spot just yet, Columbus is just in too big of a hole and Carolina is just a mess right now, particularly with Skinner and Pitkanen out. But if you're looking for a silver lining, these three teams are all going to get very good players next June -- and in the case of New York and Columbus, it might be the piece that finally pushes them into the top eight consistently.

New York Rangers: I'm going to give them the return of Marc Staal. I really like the Rangers. I think they're really close to being a really good team. Richards is becoming a bigger factor every game, Girardi is one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL, they play with some grit and some character and they've always had the goaltender. If you put Staal back in that lineup, I think this will be a team that can do some damage come playoff time.

All in all though, this has been a great season so far for the NHL and only people like Jacques Martin or Randy Carlyle have gotten any coal. Bruce Boudreau got an exception. With a glance into Santa's crystal ball, the gifts I'm giving this holiday season will make sure the rest of the season is even better than what we've had so far.

Posted On Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 10:53 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Matchup: Bruins at Flyers

Posted On Friday, 12.16.2011 / 12:40 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Mullet of the Week

Posted On Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 11:07 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry's Best: This week's best players

Posted On Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 11:05 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place: Barry talks coaching changes

Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 9:00 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry Melrose's all-time Tiny Team

Earlier this week, I gave you my greatest team of big men of all-time. Now it's time to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and check out the tiny team. A lot of you will notice that I have a few players missing like Dino Ciccarelli and Martin St. Louis. I thought of Dino and Marty, and they probably would have been the next guys on the team, but on the numbers my forwards have them beat. For the sake of Ciccarelli and St. Louis, I'll just say they were too tall to make the team.

Here's my greatest team of little guys in NHL history.

Gump Worsley, G -- Worsley was 5-foot-7, one of the most famous goaltenders in history, and he had one of the greatest nicknames in the history of the game. How many of us have pretended to be Gump Worsley playing in the backyard? He's one of the great characters of our sport, and he had some of the greatest lines. When he played for the Rangers someone asked him which defense in the League scared him the most and Gump turned and said, "My own." That's the type of guy he was. Again, though, he was a great goaltender. His numbers are fantastic. When there were six teams he was always one of the six No. 1 goaltenders in the NHL and he was just a great personality.

Curt Giles, D -- Curt was 5-8 and he was on those good Minnesota North Stars teams that went to the Stanley Cup Final in 1981 and again in 1991, and he played a lot of minutes. He was a defensive defenseman, but he was very physical for his size. It was amazing to think that a 5-8 defenseman at that time -- that was a real tough era in the NHL, and he was certainly able to hold his own despite being that small.

Lars-Erik Sjoberg, D -- I played with this guy in Winnipeg. He's 5-8 and I know a lot of people won't know him because he only played one year in the NHL, but if you look at the history of Swedish hockey or the WHA, where he played for a number of years, he was always one of the best defensemen. He was one of the stars of the Swedish national teams that went to the Olympics in those years. He played the power play and was gritty and that was a tough time in hockey. It was a physical time and a nasty time and Sjoberg played against everybody and played very well. I caught him at the end of his career, but he was a great teammate and a very underrated hockey player.

Marcel Dionne, F -- He was 5-8, but he also had over 700 goals and is probably the greatest player never to win the Stanley Cup. He was part of the Triple Crown line in Los Angeles, which was arguably the best line in the NHL for a period of time, he was very quick and he was a shorter guy but he was square. He had immense power in his legs like Sidney Crosby. He was a great skater and very tough to play against if you were a defenseman. People probably don't give him the respect he deserves because he played in Los Angeles and didn't have a lot of playoff success, but this is one of the great players to ever play in our sport.

Yvan Cournoyer, F -- "The Roadrunner" was 5-7 and was a captain for a few years of those great Montreal teams. After Beliveau left and Henri Richard left he was the guy. There aren't many captains of the Montreal Canadiens. He scored over 400 goals and was one of the fastest skaters ever to play the game. He played in the '72 series and he played with a straight stick, which allowed him to use his backhand as effectively as his forehand. He was one of the last guys in the League to do it that way and he was great when he was doing it that way.

Theo Fleury, F -- Theo, at 5-6, is the shortest player on my team. I was coaching Medicine Hat the first time I saw Theo Fleury and he was a menace up in Moose Jaw, and I could not believe it the first time I saw him play. Our team was real good in Medicine Hat, we won the Memorial Cup, and that night Fleury scored a hat trick against us. The guy was unbelievable. He was so fast, so brave, and an unbelievable competitor. I just loved watching him play. I didn't like coaching against him, but he was one of my favorite guys to watch. We all remember when he scored that playoff goal in overtime and slid down the ice on his knees and fist-pumped at the world. He was an unbelievable, emotional player who played with a lot of heart and character, so he makes up my tiny line.
Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 4:30 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry's Mullet of the Week: Sidney Crosby

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Quote of the Day

It's cool when you think about how many great American players have played the game and the two players that were at that 18-game point streak and what they've done in their careers. It's pretty cool right now, but it was kind of overshadowed by the loss.

— Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after breaking the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Kings
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