Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Monday, 03.09.2015 / 1:58 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Metropolitan race heating up

Every season the NHL features thrilling races down the stretch, but this spring the best race is looking like the Metropolitan Division. The New York Islanders have owned first place in the division for most of the season, but they've started to fade recently while the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins have surged.

The Islanders still are in first place, but I think the Rangers will end the season there. The rivals will play Tuesday (7 pm ET, NHLN-US, SN1, TVA Sports) in a game that will have massive implications. By the time it's done the Rangers could be sitting in first place.

The one thing the Rangers have to be wary of as they navigate the race is just how tight their schedule is. The Rangers have three games in hand on the Islanders -- a number that will grow to four after the Islanders play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday -- but will play their final 18 games in a 33-day span.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.01.2015 / 11:45 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Bracing for a busy trade deadline day

The NHL Trade Deadline is always a busy day on the NHL calendar, but I have a feeling this one could be busier than most. The reason for that is simple. There are just too many tight races both at the top of the standings and at the bottom, too many teams in contention, but at the same time there are several teams that already know they're sellers. You put those two things together and what you get is a lot of movement.

Obvious candidates to make moves are ones just outside the Stanley Cup Playoff field or clinging to one of the wild-card spots. Teams like the Florida Panthers or the Minnesota Wild have already started to make trades in hopes of bolstering their chances. At the same time, though, the teams at the top will all be aggressive and that's because while we know there are some prime suspects, there doesn't appear to me to be one single bona fide Stanley Cup favorite. Are we ready to say the Nashville Predators are the team to beat? Are the Chicago Blackhawks going to be the same contender without Patrick Kane for three months? Are the Montreal Canadiens or Tampa Bay Lightning ready to take that next step?

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Posted On Monday, 02.23.2015 / 2:10 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Look out, Kings have flipped switch

For weeks we've been talking about the precarious situation of the Los Angeles Kings. This is the team that has won the Stanley Cup two of the past three seasons and it has spent most of 2014-15 on the outside looking in, waiting to turn on the switch. Well, after seven consecutive wins, it looks like the switch is back on. I hate to use a cliché, but the Kings just seem like a team that, when its back is against the wall, when it gets to a point where it just absolutely has to win, it somehow manages to pull wins out of its hat.

They look like the L.A. Kings again. Their 2-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks in the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game on Saturday was an example of what we've seen over the previous six games. There was very good defense, Jonathan Quick made a few key saves, Drew Doughty was excellent and a different guy stepped up offensively. Saturday it was Kyle Clifford and Marian Gaborik. The next night it'll be Jeff Carter and Jordan Nolan. The next night it'll be Dwight King and Dustin Brown.

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Posted On Monday, 02.16.2015 / 1:34 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - 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 / - 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 / - 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 / - 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 / - 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 / - 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 / - 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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Quote of the Day

That was something I've been dreaming of, something I've told myself before the third period I was going to do ... It was an amazing feeling. It's hard to describe. I didn't believe it went in at first but when I saw all the reaction and all the fans going crazy and my teammates going crazy, it's just an unbelievable feeling. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know whether to jump or just skate and do a Theo Fleury. I don't think I'm the same caliber player he is so I couldn't do it.

— Flames forward Mikael Backlund on scoring the overtime winner against the Ducks in Gm. 3