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Posted On Tuesday, 07.07.2015 / 12:58 PM

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

Melrose: Big trades dominate offseason landscape

You might have noticed there weren't a ton of big-name free agents out there on July 1 this year. Yes, there have been a few big names that have moved around, but we haven't seen any Zach Parises or Ryan Suters getting big contracts either, and that's a sign that teams have learned to lock down their young stars early. Instead, we've seen a number of big trades. Teams have learned more and more not to let valuable pieces leave for nothing or to get something for the players they can't sign long term.

Here are some of the big moves of this offseason that I think will have an impact on the 2015-16 NHL season.

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Posted On Monday, 06.22.2015 / 2:32 PM

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

Melrose: Predicting NHL award winners

After another amazing season, a thrilling Stanley Cup Final and the anointing of a dynasty in the Chicago Blackhawks, it's time to honor all of the incredible performances from 2014-15. Wednesday night, the who's who of the NHL will gather in Las Vegas for the 2015 NHL Awards.

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Posted On Monday, 06.15.2015 / 2:00 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Crawford for Conn Smythe Trophy

The more I watch this series the more I think Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford doesn't get his due. I know he had a rocky start to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, getting supplanted at one point by backup Scott Darling. But I think he's definitely the reason Chicago is leading the Tampa Bay Lightning with a chance to win another championship in Game 6 Monday at United Center (8 pm. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

When you look at the saves Crawford made late in the second period and early in the third period in Game 5 on Saturday, it was clear he buttoned down and gave the Blackhawks a chance. Right before Blackhawks forward Antoine Vermette's game-winner, Crawford made two or three great saves that kept Game 5 tied. He was the reason the Blackhawks won that game. And with no clear-cut Conn Smythe Trophy candidate in this series, Crawford would be my pick if the Blackhawks win tonight.

Crawford doesn't receive a ton of respect as a goaltender; people like to say it's easy to play behind a team this good. But at the end of the night he wins, and this postseason he's had to make several big saves to do it behind a defense that is thinner than it's ever been. If Chicago ends up winning this series, he'll be one of two full-time starters in the League to have won the Stanley Cup twice, along with the Los Angeles Kings' Jonathan Quick. Eventually people have to realize there might be a reason.

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Posted On Monday, 06.08.2015 / 12:44 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Blackhawks stars need to step up

After two games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning have laid the groundwork for what has the look of a long, exciting, evenly-matched series. As the series shifts to the Windy City on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), here are some things I've noticed and that I'll be looking for with the best-of-7 series tied 1-1.

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Posted On Monday, 06.01.2015 / 12:40 PM

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

Melrose: Speed of Blackhawks, Lightning defines Final

When the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning open the 2015 Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports), it won't take long before you recognize how similar these two teams are. They each feature a skilled group of deep forwards, a strong, mobile defense and two solid goalies who have had some bumps in the road, but have been there for their teams when needed.

Given how balanced Chicago and Tampa Bay are, it's a bit tricky to know what we're going to see. Will we see 60 minutes of fire wagon hockey with end-to-end rushes or will the defenses each focus on locking down the opposition's top line and keep the score low? Either style of play is possible, but I think the speed the Blackhawks and Lightning each have will win out.

We're going to see tons of scoring opportunities. Each of these teams is good defensively, but it's very tough not to give up chances when you're facing top-line talent like Steven Stamkos and Patrick Kane. That doesn't mean we're going to see seven 6-5 games, but I think the opportunities to put the puck in the net will be there. Strong goaltending or collapsing, shot-blocking defense might keep the score low, but the action at the net will be there. It will be fantastic to watch.

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Posted On Monday, 05.25.2015 / 5:03 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Don't dismiss Rangers in Game 6

The Tampa Bay Lightning have won 61 times over the course of 100 regular and Stanley Cup Playoff games. If they win in the 101st, they'll be playing in the Stanley Cup Final and the Presidents' Trophy winners will be home for the summer.

That's something of a surprise considering the New York Rangers won Game 4 in Tampa in impressive fashion and had all the momentum coming back home for Game 5, but I think the Lightning realized this was a game they had to win. Coach Jon Cooper got the importance of Game 5 across to his players and they came out flying, and for some reason I don't think the Rangers matched that intensity. The Rangers played well, but the Lightning were just a little bit better.

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Posted On Monday, 05.25.2015 / 2:24 PM

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

Melrose: Blackhawks showed ultimate resilience

After four games between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks, I think it's clear we might be seeing the best series of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs right now. Both teams are fantastic and each has done something remarkable this postseason. The Ducks, midway through the Western Conference Final, still haven't lost a postseason game in regulation. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are the first team in history to win four multi-overtime games in one playoff tournament.

Those are two pretty impressive statistics that indicate not just the skill, but the character of both of these teams, and considering they had never played in the postseason before, it's amazing to watch not just how good both of these teams are, but how they're learning about the other. We talked about how the Ducks had to take time to adjust to the Blackhawks' speed in Game 1, but it looks like the Blackhawks are having to do the same thing. It's rare that Chicago has faced a team that can challenge them like this, and in the case of the Los Angeles Kings a year ago, it was a team that challenged them through its defense.

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Posted On Monday, 05.18.2015 / 4:41 PM

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

Melrose: Andersen stepped up for Ducks in Game 1

I hate to say a play in the first period is the turning point of a game, but I'm pretty sure we saw that in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final between the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks. When Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen made that huge save on Patrick Kane and deflected the puck off his goal stick, he changed the entire game. At that point the Blackhawks were really flying and getting one great chance after the other. If Kane manages to bury that puck, I think we have a different result.

This is great news for the Ducks because goaltending, if not a weakness, was at least something of a question mark heading into this series. It's been a strange season in the Anaheim net, from Jonas Hiller not getting re-signed to Andersen's great start and then John Gibson getting the job for a while. Now Andersen is back in net and he didn't have to be a great player in the first two rounds, but he did Sunday and he came through. Now he's facing a team with a ton of offensive firepower and in Game 1 he was the best player on the ice.

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Posted On Monday, 05.18.2015 / 1:48 PM

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

Melrose: Rangers experienced at shutting down stars

When the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers drop the puck on Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), I think we're likely to see a very similar game to what we saw in Game 1 on Saturday. At even strength, the Rangers have shown they're a really great team and they don't give much up. Tampa Bay's only goal in Game 1 came as a result of its power play, and otherwise I thought the Rangers had the Lightning locked down.

The thing you have to realize is the Rangers are basically getting to exercise the same strategy they've already used twice in the Stanley Cup Playoffs so far. They have to shut down the big gun. Otherwise New York is complete enough as a team that the rest will take care of itself. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers had to shut down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Against the Washington Capitals, it was shutting down Alex Ovechkin.

Now the Rangers need to shut down Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson. It's essentially the same mode and it's a lot of coach Alain Vigneault matching up certain lines and certain defensemen against certain opposing players. That kind of matching and strategy, however, breeds tight games, particularly if the Rangers won't have the advantage of last change with three games in Tampa Bay. Overall, I don't think Game 1 gave us any big surprises, and I don't see any reason to think this won't be another battle of attrition for the Rangers and another long series.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.12.2015 / 3:52 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Blackhawks vs. Ducks will be fun

The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks have been two of the giants in the Western Conference for some time now, but somehow they have never met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That will change in the 2015 Western Conference Final and for anyone who follows hockey this has to be a series you've been waiting for. These are two teams we knew were bona fide championship contenders all season, are incredibly skilled, incredibly deep and should put on a great show for the fans.

They also might be a bit rusty by the time they take the ice. Each team wrapped up its second-round series quickly and will be waiting for several days before getting the conference final underway. Despite that rust, though, those quick early series will be a boon for each team. Chicago has some players playing a ton of minutes who will need the rest and the Ducks will be able to heal up as some players, like Corey Perry, might be sore and bruised. Rest is almost never bad in the playoffs.

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Quote of the Day

It's a great feeling. I can't be more excited to be a part of a team that I absolutely love.

— Center Derek Stepan after agreeing to terms on a six-year contract with the New York Rangers