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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Monday, 02.03.2014 / 4:55 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Jets making West race interesting

Since Paul Maurice took over in Winnipeg, there haven't been many teams hotter in the NHL than the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets have gone 8-2-0 since Maurice took over and while the Stanley Cup Playoffs are probably still a long shot, the Jets are starting to make it interesting.

If you look at the reasons why, you probably have to start with goaltending. The Jets have gotten some very strong performances over that stretch from Ondrej Pavelec and Al Montoya, and teams that can score goals by the bucket, like the Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks, have been held to one or two goals when they've played them. But perhaps the biggest reason for the change is just that Maurice is a good coach. He came in there, didn't panic, didn't make a ton of changes and just added some confidence and gave the players a fresh voice to listen to.

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POSTED ON Monday, 01.27.2014 / 3:36 PM

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

Melrose Minute: L.A. to Bronx in 24-hour whirlwind

In my career in hockey, I've done quite a bit of traveling, but I've had few experiences quite like what happened this weekend when I was in both Los Angeles and New York for the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. I experienced two wild scenes in cities 3,000 miles apart and had very little sleep in between, but if I ever had the opportunity, I would do it all over again. Here's a little taste of what it's like to cover hockey in America's two biggest cities in half a day's time.

When you were at the game between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings in Dodger Stadium, you could definitely tell there was some Hollywood to it. I was going up in an elevator and I opened the door and there was Cuba Gooding Jr. You open another door and there's Colin Hanks. Another door? Matthew Perry. This was a scene that had that Hollywood influence and that made it special. The park was beautiful too. The green grass contouring the white ice, the mountains beyond the outfield, the overlook of downtown L.A., all this combined to make the view spectacular.

Before the game you had Kerri Walsh Jennings, arguably the best beach volleyball player in the world, playing on the field, you had kids on the roller hockey rink, 10 people throwing around a football or a Frisbee. It really captured what L.A. is all about, what California is all about, and then there was hockey at the end of it. It was pretty neat, but really it was totally different. You can't do what they did in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia or Boston. Instead of L.A. trying to be those cities, L.A. was L.A. It really hit the mark. They thought of everything. That's what L.A. does. They do events all the time and they know how to do them well. This was just another example.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.25.2014 / 3:00 AM

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

Melrose Minute: Excitement builds at Yankee Stadium

Whether or not you're from New York, whether or not you care about any of the teams involved, I don't see how you cannot get excited about the two 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series games being played between the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils over the next few days.

The games are being played in Yankee Stadium, a beautiful building and arguably the most famous stadium in America. The setting for it will be great, but what really sets these two games apart from the rest of the Stadium Series is that the teams playing in Los Angeles and the teams playing in Chicago probably are all going to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In New York, all three teams are in the hunt but making the playoffs is no guarantee.

For the Rangers, Islanders and Devils, these games are going to be pivotal in the standings. The race for the wild-card spots is very tight and all three teams playing in the Stadium Series New York games are involved. That's going to add an extra angle of excitement when the Devils and Rangers take the ice Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC) as well as when the Rangers and Islanders face off Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2).

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POSTED ON Friday, 01.24.2014 / 3:00 AM

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

Melrose Minute: L.A. doing outdoor hockey its way

In this sport you always hear it. You always hear that hockey belongs in the cold. Yes, traditionally that's where it's played because, of course, you have to have ice to play the game. But that mold is going to get broken this Saturday when the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series kicks off in Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS2).

Think about it. We're sitting here talking about a game at Dodger Stadium where two of the best teams in the NHL are going to play. Both of those teams have won the Stanley Cup in recent memory, and you could make an argument that either one is the best team in the NHL this season. That is amazing. It's amazing that southern California is the center of the hockey world right now and it's amazing that the NHL is scheduling major outdoor events to be held in Los Angeles.

I have to be honest; there is some sense of gratification here. I remember when I took over as coach of the L.A. Kings in 1992 people said to me, "Barry, you can't win there. Not consistently. They've had good teams there but it's just not conducive to winning. It's too soft of a place. It's too free of a place."

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.21.2014 / 2:33 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Mason signing shrewd by Flyers

Ever since Ron Hextall left the Philadelphia Flyers' net has been a revolving door with names like Michael Leighton, Robert Esche and Roman Cechmanek, but it appears Philly may finally have found its man. The Flyers signed goalie Steve Mason to a three-year, $12.3 million contract and I'd say not only does it look like a good deal for Mason, but it looks like a solid, sensible move for Philadelphia.

Mason has had his troubles, but this is now the second time he's been excellent in net in his career after winning the Calder Trophy with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009. This year he's played very well and he's been, by far, the Flyers' best, most consistent player. There haven't been very many nights this season when Philly hasn't gotten good goaltending, and since this is the second time in a still very young career that Mason has excelled, this could be the player he's really going to be. I think with maturity he's learned how to handle the rough patches better, and now that he's learned that the Flyers were smart to lock him up.

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POSTED ON Monday, 01.13.2014 / 3:11 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Maurice the right call in Winnipeg

The biggest news in the NHL this weekend had to be the changes made by the Winnipeg Jets, and frankly it's hard to be surprised. When Claude Noel was fired as coach Sunday morning and replaced with Paul Maurice it was the culmination of what had been a very difficult first half of the season for Winnipeg. And if you watched Noel's press conference after the Jets lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets, 6-3, Saturday night, you probably saw the writing on the wall.

It was one of those news conferences where the coach was very honest. He said the Jets had lost their confidence, that they weren't a good team right now and they could barely pass the puck. Those are not the things that happen in a winning organization and this is a tough business. Success in the NHL is judged on wins and losses, and this is a team that has spent some money locking up its core players with little to show for it. Winnipeg had gotten to the point where something had to change, and this was the change general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and the front office decided to make.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 3:00 AM

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

Melrose Minute: My midseason awards, Cup Finalists

With the New Year behind us there are still many great events left on the NHL calendar for 2013-14. The Coors Light NHL Stadium Series and 2014 Sochi Olympics are right on the horizon, to say nothing of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but as we look back at the first half of the season there are already many exciting storylines and many great races brewing.

Here are my picks for the NHL's major regular season awards and who I think will be meeting in June for the Stanley Cup.

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POSTED ON Monday, 01.06.2014 / 3:00 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Chemistry a question for Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been one of the most amazing stories in the NHL this season and continue to dominate the Metropolitan Division despite being riddled with injuries. On Sunday, two of the biggest missing pieces in Pittsburgh came back when Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang returned to the lineup. The return was a good one as the pair combined for four points in a 6-5 win against the Winnipeg Jets, but where some people see a strong team that only gets stronger, I see the potential for a drop-off.

A lot of times when a star player gets hurt and then returns, all of a sudden the guys that were so important to your success decide they aren't important anymore. Subconsciously they think that when reinforcements arrive they can ease up and take down their intensity. Very often you see a drop-off when key players return from injury and this is a reason why.

On the other side of the coin, how much better can Pittsburgh really play? The Penguins' record without all of those players was unbelievable and players like Brandon Sutter, Jussi Jokinen, Matt Niskanen and Deryk Engelland made a huge impact. What happens when a team playing so well together gets its chemistry disrupted? What happens when a defense that was completely beaten up gets three or four injured top-four defenseman back suddenly, as the Penguins have with Letang, Brooks Orpik and Rob Scuderi? You may have already seen the answer on Sunday. Even though the Penguins won, they gave up five goals.


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POSTED ON Monday, 12.30.2013 / 12:46 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Winter Classic atmosphere is special

After months of waiting, the big day in Ann Arbor, Mich., is almost here. On Wednesday morning the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will face off in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS), and it should be an amazing scene in an amazing building.

When it comes to outdoor games, of course the biggest concern is almost always going to be the weather. Sometimes that can affect the game like the rain did in Pittsburgh three years ago and it will certainly impact players, but personally, that's what I love about games like this. I like the fact that it's not going to be perfect. I like the fact that there might be snow, and that you'll see guys with cold breath coming out of their mouths and steam coming off their heads. Those are the images that make the event. It's not perfect. It's not controllable. That's what makes this so exciting compared to a regular-season NHL game.

Every building in the League is exactly the same now. They all hold 20,000 people, they're all bright, they all have the same-sized rink and they all have good ice. When the Leafs and Wings take the ice at Michigan Stadium, it won't be controllable and there will be elements the players aren't used to. That's what makes it so great.


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POSTED ON Monday, 12.16.2013 / 3:56 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Blackhawks' big loss not a bad thing

The Chicago Blackhawks were flying high until Saturday night, when they got a rude awakening thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 7-3 loss. If I were a Blackhawks fan, I wouldn't be terribly worried about that loss lingering. Sometimes those things happen in a long season, and the fact Chicago came right back and beat the Los Angeles Kings 24 hours later would seem to indicate things are fine, but games like that loss to Toronto are important because they provide a teaching moment to teams that might not think they need them otherwise.

I say it all the time: The time to coach is when a team loses. When you're rolling like Chicago has been most of the season, the players know everything. Everything's great, they're playing great, the system's great. The players just throw the sticks out there and win. When you lose 7-3, though, that's a good opportunity for coach Joel Quenneville to remind his team to stay focused. In the NHL, no matter who you play, you can never take a night off.

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I was in there icing my face as she was trying to push a baby out.

— Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf on going to the hospital with a facial laceration while his wife was in labor following Game 1 on Wednesday