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Posted On Monday, 07.07.2014 / 2:10 PM

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

Melrose: Upgraded Stars make Central even tougher

One of the greatest things about following the NHL is that, really, the season never stops. The Los Angeles Kings may have won the 2014 Stanley Cup championship, but the calendar has still been busy, and teams are already gearing up for 2014-15. We saw that this past week as major names changed locations during the start of the free-agent signing period.

Here are some of the biggest things I've seen since July 1:

THE STARS ARE SHINING

No team in the League, in my estimation, changed themselves for the better this past week like the Dallas Stars. Adding Jason Spezza in a trade with the Ottawa Senators was the biggest move so far this offseason as far as I'm concerned. This really changes that team. Dallas was already on the upswing, having returned to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and looking good doing it. Now though, when you add Spezza and Ales Hemsky to that team, there's another very good team out there in the West. In theory, Dallas has added 60 goals to an already potent offense.

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Posted On Monday, 06.23.2014 / 4:08 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Picking the NHL Awards winners

We have a big weekend coming up with the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia, but before everyone heads to the City of Brotherly Love, one of the League's other major events will be happening Tuesday in Las Vegas at the annual NHL Awards (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC).

Here is who I think will take home the hardware.

Hart Trophy

Nominees: Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Claude Giroux

Pick: Crosby. It's important to remember that these awards are voted on before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and are meant to reflect achievement in the regular season. If you look at the regular season, Crosby's League-leading 104 points (36 goals, 68 assists) was just so dominant you've got to think he's the pick. Getzlaf had a great season and Giroux was fantastic for two-thirds of the season, but I think Crosby is the guy. People might love him or hate him, but if you're being objective you can't ignore his accomplishments.

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Posted On Sunday, 06.15.2014 / 4:08 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Coaches excel in thrilling Cup Final

Well, after a thrilling regular season and an even more exciting Stanley Cup Playoff tournament, the ride is over for 2013-14 and the Los Angeles Kings are the last team left standing. The 2014 Stanley Cup Final ended in one of the most exciting games we've ever seen when Alec Martinez beat Henrik Lundqvist in the second overtime of Game 5 to lift the Kings to their second championship in three seasons.

As we reflect on an amazing postseason, this is what I took from this series and what I see for its two participants going forward:

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Posted On Monday, 06.09.2014 / 1:01 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Kings continue to find a way to win

We are two games into the 2014 Stanley Cup Final and there are plenty of things to talk about. As the series shifts to New York for Game 3 at Madison Square Garden on Monday night (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), the New York Rangers will need a big win against the Los Angeles Kings on home ice to breathe life back into their Cup chances.

Here is my take on what we saw in L.A.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.04.2014 / 5:24 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Fatigue shouldn't factor into Final

After a lengthy regular season and three thrilling rounds of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we've finally arrived at the last showdown. The Los Angeles Kings are in the hunt for their second Stanley Cup title in three seasons, and to earn it they'll have to go through a gutsy New York Rangers team that has made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final and only gotten better along the way.

As these two teams face off for the greatest trophy in sports, here is what I'm watching.

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Posted On Monday, 05.26.2014 / 1:25 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Blackhawks' Toews best in business

As the conference finals continue, the plot is thickening both in the East and the West. After Martin St. Louis' overtime-winner on Sunday night the New York Rangers are now one win away from their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in 20 years, and the past two champions are locked up in a tight battle for a spot of their own.

Here are the things that have caught my eye in the NHL's final four:

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Posted On Monday, 05.19.2014 / 2:21 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Canadiens in trouble without Price

Make no mistake. When Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien told the media Monday that goalie Carey Price would miss the remainder of the Eastern Conference Final, it completely changed the complexion of this series.

Already down 1-0 after losing Game 1 at home Saturday, the Canadiens sustained a huge, huge loss with the injury to Price. After seeing how Montreal played in Game 1, I didn't think the Habs looked like a team that could beat the New York Rangers even with Price in net, but losing him makes it that much easier for New York.

Backup goalie Peter Budaj is adequate, but he's not Price, one of the best goaltenders in the sport. With the way the Rangers play, their goals are so ugly and slimy, they are very difficult to play against. They score those ugly goals. That was already causing trouble for Price in Game 1 before he was injured in a collision with Rangers forward Chris Kreider, but I have a hard time seeing Budaj faring any better against that kind of team.

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Posted On Monday, 05.12.2014 / 3:02 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Starting Gibson pays off for Ducks

The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is coming to a close this week, and what a second round it's been so far. We've got one series guaranteed to go seven games and three more that very well could. In addition, there's no shortage of storylines to watch as four different divisional rivalries reach their respective climaxes.

Here's what's catching my eye this week:

WINNING ONE FOR THE GIB-BER

Everyone in hockey has known about Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson for a long time. Every NHL team would love to have him in their organization, and Saturday night you saw why. The kid's an elite goaltender, he looked great in his playoff debut, he looked very confident and moved very well. It was a performance that not only may have saved the Ducks' season, but also paid off for coach Bruce Boudreau. Putting in Gibson to start Game 4 was a risky move, but Boudreau had the guts to do it and it paid off.

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Posted On Monday, 05.05.2014 / 2:21 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Canadiens let golden opportunity slip

All four series in the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs are underway, and even though the Chicago Blackhawks currently have a 2-0 series lead on the Minnesota Wild, nearly every game has been tight and exciting and each series is full of storylines.

As we get ready to see the Anaheim Ducks try to rebound from their Game 1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, and watch the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers shift their series to Madison Square Garden, here are some of the things I'm thinking about.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.29.2014 / 2:10 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Blackhawks just too much for Blues

The first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs is just about in the books, but it's already been an incredibly revealing two weeks. With the field nearly narrowed down from 16 teams to eight, here are the things I'm thinking about.

DON'T BLOW UP THE BLUES

This was a devastating loss for the St. Louis Blues. There is no way to sugarcoat it. If you're up two games to none and you're one of the best teams in the NHL, the series you're playing should be just about over. To lose a first-round series is one thing, but to lose it the way they did, considering the same thing happened to them a year ago against the Los Angeles Kings, is certainly another.

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Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley