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Posted On Monday, 10.13.2014 / 2:37 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Canadiens close to being East's best

We're less than a week into the season and already there's plenty to talk about. We've had some surprises, some comebacks and a whole lot of offense in places we never expected. The New Jersey Devils scoring six goals on opening night? That used to be a month for the Devils. Some things, however, aren't that surprising. The depth of the Western Conference is obvious and the Eastern Conference still looks wide open, though a new team looks like it may be joining the Boston Bruins at the top of the heap.

Let's get right to it.

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.07.2014 / 3:50 PM

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

Melrose picks Blackhawks to win Stanley Cup

At the start to every season, each of us tries to pick which team will be the last standing the following June. The NHL has some teams we know will be in the mix at the end, but it's always unpredictable how it will shake out, and each season we see something we haven't seen before. Each time we try to predict who will win the Stanley Cup, it becomes more and more clear that none of us really know how the season will unfold.

Of course, that doesn't mean we don't try.

If there's one thing that is clear as the 2014-15 NHL season begins, it's that there are some contenders in the East and some serious depth in the West. It's easy to say the Western Conference will have more contenders, and it is true that you can't go into a slump in the West or you'll be too far behind. Some very good teams will be on the outside looking in when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin next spring. But the Eastern Conference will be extremely competitive too for the exact same reason. The West may have more depth than the East, but those teams are still tightly bunched and evenly matched. Just as in the West, you can't afford to have a slump in the East or you might miss your chance at making a Cup run.

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.07.2014 / 2:35 PM

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

Melrose: Islanders 'much better' after defense trades

I hope you all enjoyed your summer -- it always seems too short -- but after a few months off the NHL gets back to business Wednesday. As the 2014-15 season approaches, here are some big recent moves that have been on my mind.

THE ISLANDERS GET SERIOUS

If you looked at the New York Islanders last season, you saw a team that battled a lot of issues. John Tavares missed a big portion of the season, there were other injuries and the goaltending situation wasn't great. Yet they still were a tough team to play against. Now Tavares is healthy, Jaroslav Halak should solidify New York in net, and then this week general manager Garth Snow made two moves that really improved this team.

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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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Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday