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Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Monday, 02.16.2015 / 1:34 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Wild's Dubnyk playing like an MVP

Lately, I've been asking myself this question: If the Minnesota Wild make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, is goalie Devan Dubnyk suddenly a serious contender for the Hart Trophy?

The Wild have been the hottest team in the NHL lately and they're climbing up the standings. If they do make it in, as far as I'm concerned, Dubnyk is going to be the reason why. He's been stellar since arriving, going 10-1-1 with a 1.60 goals-against average, a .938 save percentage and four shutouts, and as a result Minnesota is now on the cusp of cracking the top eight. Acquiring Dubnyk has completely changed the outlook of this team and completely changed its fortunes, and when you take that into account, as unheard of as it would be, I think you can make an argument that he's been the most valuable player in the League.

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Posted On Monday, 02.02.2015 / 2:22 PM

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

Melrose Minute: No easy answers for Maple Leafs

Every year in the NHL there are good teams and bad teams, but it's rare you find a bad team that is in as dire straits as the Toronto Maple Leafs are right now. You could easily say the Maple Leafs are playing worse than any other team in the League after a January in which they went 1-11-1. They're beaten mentally and physically and they're underperforming tremendously.

Toronto looks like it needs to completely rebuild in my opinion, but the only thing more frustrating than the Maple Leafs' record might be the reclamation project. How exactly can you blow that team up with so many guys that have huge contracts or no-movement clauses? How do you start over with so many players that are untradeable? Do you build around guys like Phil Kessel or James van Riemsdyk and try to move everyone else, or do you try to leverage young talent like Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly into high picks because they're the only valuable commodities you've got?

From the players' perspectives, it's extremely difficult to play in a situation like this mentally. There are still a ton of games left in the season, but the Maple Leafs have little to play for and are in a major market that demands success. I've been on teams that have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs and I've coached them too. It's a rough experience. In a market like Toronto, it'll be that much more difficult for the players and their fans.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 1:19 PM

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

Melrose: The Kings chase for the final playoff spot

The second half of every NHL season is full of exciting races, important questions, and major surprises, but the second half of the 2014-15 season might be more interesting than most. Many teams are in the mix, though I think the Eastern Conference is probably going to see the same eight teams we have in the postseason field now make it in April. Out west, though, there's a ton of mystery, and it almost all revolves around the defending champions.

The Los Angeles Kings are on the outside looking in as we return from the All-Star Break and while they're only one point back of the surprising Calgary Flames, there is plenty of reason for Kings general manager Dean Lombardi to start getting concerned. L.A. is going to be a very interesting team to watch because everyone just expects the Kings to turn it on and take a run at the Cup even if they've been inconsistent all season. That may happen, but one of these years it won't. The Kings can't just sit back and expect to be there.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.22.2015 / 3:00 AM

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

Melrose: All-Star Game, Columbus are perfect match

Playing and working in hockey has taken me all over. I grew up in Saskatchewan, of course. I've played in Kamloops, Winnipeg and Toronto and coached in Medicine Hat, Seattle and Los Angeles. But of all the places the sport has taken me in Canada or the United States, Ohio has become my adopted home in the U.S., without a doubt.

I played professionally for the Cincinnati Stings of the World Hockey Association in the late 1970s before I played in the NHL, and I married an Ohio girl and have been back to the state many times. Knowing Ohio as I do, I can tell anyone heading there for the first time this weekend that the Columbus Blue Jackets are going to be a great host for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The fans in Columbus have really come out and supported the Blue Jackets even as the team has struggled because of injuries this season, and that leads me to believe the venues, the events, all of them will be full of passionate fans. I think we're in for a great celebration of the NHL.

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Posted On Monday, 01.19.2015 / 2:10 PM

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

Melrose: Ducks, Kings going in opposite directions

The Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks have developed one of the best rivalries in the NHL in recent seasons, but their most recent game on Saturday might be a microcosm of where the rivalry is going. The Ducks beat the Kings in L.A. in a shootout, and I know shootouts have a certain degree of randomness, but when you look at this game and at the standings, it's hard not to see the Ducks with an edge. It's also hard not to wonder if something might be seriously wrong with the Kings.

The Ducks, to me, are the best team in the NHL. I think the Chicago Blackhawks are a team they'll have to reckon with at some point, but you have to look at the body of work and what the Ducks have been through. They've dealt with the mumps, injuries, Corey Perry being out for long periods of time, Frederik Andersen taking over a job that was essentially supposed to belong to John Gibson who couldn't perform, and yet here they are atop the standings.

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Posted On Monday, 01.12.2015 / 4:28 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Beloved Selanne honored by Ducks

There aren't very many ceremonies like the one we saw last night at Honda Center, but the NHL hasn't seen very many players like Teemu Selanne. The Anaheim Ducks put on a great ceremony Sunday when they retired Selanne's number before playing the Winnipeg Jets. It was very emotional, but it had lots of funny moments and that's just like Teemu. He was a guy who wore his heart on his sleeve, but he has a great sense of humor at the same time. You could tell he was genuinely loved by the people and his teammates. He's one of the greatest scorers the League has ever seen. His numbers bear it out, but if you've ever seen him play he could just flat out score. There aren't many players that have been better, and I thought the Ducks did a great job in showcasing that.

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Posted On Monday, 01.05.2015 / 2:06 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Surprising Predators continue to roll

Sometimes you look at the schedule and you see some teams have it worse than others. For example, last weekend the Nashville Predators had to play arguably two of the top five or six teams in the NHL, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, on the road on back-to-back days. That's a pretty tough thing to do, but you have to give Nashville a ton of credit, coming out of the two games with three points and pushing the Ducks to a shootout. Even in the Predators' 7-6 overtime win against the Kings on Saturday, in which they blew a three-goal lead late, you have to be amazed that the offense performed the way it did. After all, scoring seven goals on the Kings is nothing to sniff at.

What amazed me most about that game against the Kings is the Predators showed they can win those crazy games that happen once in a while. The Predators can't give up six goals every night and win, no team can, but it used to be that if you scored four goals on Nashville, you had the game won. If you scored three, you probably had it won. Under Peter Laviolette that's no longer the case. Players like Mike Riberio and James Neal have given that team an offensive edge didn't have before, and unlike the Barry Trotz era when the team was completely dedicated to defense, the offense takes chances now. The forwards cheat a little bit. Every great offensive player cheats a little bit, for example leaving the zone a hair early when they think the puck is going to come loose. If the cheats aren't outrageous, you can get away with it and create offense, and Nashville is doing that.

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Posted On Sunday, 01.04.2015 / 2:02 PM

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

Melrose: Stuart Scott helped change sports television

The sports world received devastating news Sunday morning when it was announced that longtime broadcaster Stuart Scott had passed away at the age of 49 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Back when I first met Stuart about 20 years ago, I had just started my move from behind the bench in the NHL to in front of the camera, something that is never an easy transition no matter how easy it might look.

When I heard the news Sunday morning, the first thing that came to mind was back when ESPN2 was starting. It first came on the air in late 1993 and grew over the first few years. I was hired very early on after the launch along with people like Kenny Mayne, Suzy Kolber, and of course Stuart. Everyone was brought in around the same time and if you remember, ESPN2 was going to be the total opposite of ESPN. Guys were going to wear denim shirts on the air; no ties. I remember Stuart's work in particular on the first few nights. He was always a good guy and he loved all sports, including hockey. He came to numerous Stanley Cup Finals, and what I really loved about him is at a time when the NHL was still growing, Stuart worked as hard on an NHL highlight for SportsCenter as he did for the NFL or the NBA.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.31.2014 / 3:00 AM

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

Melrose Minute: Ice will dictate pace of Winter Classic

The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is always a major event on the NHL calendar and this season's edition is a spectacular matchup between the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks. More importantly? It's just 24 hours away. As always, I think ice will dictate a lot of what we see. You've got two very skilled teams playing, two teams that thrive on speed, and if the ice is heavier or slow, it will affect both teams like these a lot more than it would affect a team like the New York Rangers or Los Angeles Kings. Dan Craig and his crew never cease to amaze me with how good a job they do building an NHL-quality rink in just two weeks, but it's clear that the better the ice this time around, the better the game we'll see.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.30.2014 / 11:25 AM

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

Melrose Minute: Restructured Devils at a crossroads

After a 3-1 win Monday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, I suppose you could say the New Jersey Devils' latest coaching experiment is off to a 1-1-0 start. It will be interesting to see what happens with the arrangement set up by general manager Lou Lamoriello, who brought on Scott Stevens and Adam Oates as defensive and offensive assistants, respectively, after firing coach Peter DeBoer on Friday. I've never really seen anything like this before, but I think if you look at the history of Lou, a guy who hasn't been afraid to make bold or unorthodox news, it's not that crazy.

Obviously, with Lamoriello himself on the bench, it's clear he's the ultimate authority now, and on some level that makes sense. The Devils are not a good team right now and they're at an organizational crossroads. Lamoriello needs to know which players to keep in the fold and build around and which ones should be sent off for draft picks at the trade deadline, and as he's said, there's no better place to find out about a player than on the bench. He's right on that point. You can't as easily learn about your player from the press box. You can't see what he's saying or how he responds in good times and bad times.

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Quote of the Day

We have no doubt how he can play. You don't, with four teams that are left, you're not getting here without good goaltending. All great goalies left, and [Bishop] is a top-tier goaltender in this league and he's shown it.

— Lightning coach Jon Cooper on goalie Ben Bishop, who shut out the Rangers in Game 5