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Posted On Monday, 02.24.2014 / 1:15 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Canada's defense star of the Olympics

After two wild weeks the 2014 Sochi Olympics have come to an end, and Canada was the last team standing after a convincing win against Sweden on Sunday in the gold-medal game. Obviously if you're a native Canadian like I am it makes you extremely proud to see Canada win gold for the second consecutive Olympics and third time in the last four tournaments.

Each team in the tournament made its own mark and had its own interesting story though. Here is what stuck out to me:


I've never seen a defense dominate as much as this one did, and when I say dominate I mean in all areas of the game. Offensively they scored almost half of Canada's goals and defensively they made life easy for goalie Carey Price. While Price did a great job, Canada went into this Olympic tournament thinking goaltending might be a weak link. I think Price got a lot of help from his defense corps. Canada's defense did a great job with puck movement, picking guys up and making a great first pass out of the zone.

If you look at the goals Canada was scoring early in the tournament, Drew Doughty or Shea Weber were scoring while the forwards struggled. But even when the forwards made plays, like on Jamie Benn's game-winner against the United States, it was set up on a great pass from the blue line by Jay Bouwmeester. The more I watched those guys the more I thought this was how defense is supposed to be played. If you build a perfect defense it has to look something like this one did. Size-wise, skating ability, puck-handling, toughness, compete-level, this defense had all of those things and it's the biggest reason Canada came away with the gold medal.

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Posted On Monday, 02.17.2014 / 2:38 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: U.S. peaking, but don't forget Canada

After watching the group stage of the men's hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics there have been a lot of surprises, both good (Slovenia and Latvia have played well) and bad (Russia and Slovakia have not). With the knockout stage beginning on Tuesday, the tension will be ratcheted up another notch and so will the excitement. As we look ahead, though, the first week of the games gave us plenty to talk about.

Here are the things I've noticed so far at the Sochi Games:


We all knew the Americans were a talented team and after their performance in 2010 in Vancouver they were clearly going to be a medal contender, but I know I still thought the Canadians and the Swedes would have a leg up. That hasn't been the case. The way the United States has played, its goal-scoring, its defense, I just think they've been the best all around. They're the farthest ahead, they have the most chemistry and they have the most lines clicking.

That said, the United States didn't draw the ideal road for the knockout stages. The Americans will have to play the winner of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and both of those teams have been disappointing so far, but because neither Canada nor Finland won in regulation on Sunday, the U.S. can't avoid Canada until the gold medal game and instead is on track to face its rival up north in the semis.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.11.2014 / 3:00 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Canada primed to win gold medal again

As we get ready for the start of the Olympic Men's Hockey Tournament when Sweden and the Czech Republic face off in Sochi on Wednesday, I imagine everyone just wants to know one thing after sifting through all of the analysis: Who is going to win?

Well, I can't guarantee I know the answers to that, but I have a pretty good idea. So with no further introduction, here is how I see things shaking out at the 2014 Sochi Olympics:

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Posted On Monday, 02.10.2014 / 3:57 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Things to watch in Sochi

We're just two days away from the start of men's ice hockey at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and with NHL players once again participating, it's sure to be not just an entertaining tournament but an intense one that features the best players in the world skating for national pride.

Few things can match the excitement of the Winter Olympics, and if you doubt that just ask any American who watched the Miracle on Ice in 1980 or any Canadian how they felt four years ago in Vancouver. I'll give my preview of who I think will win each group and who will take home the gold Tuesday, but there are several interesting topics that I'll be keeping an eye on throughout the tournament:


Joe Thornton was leading the NHL in assists earlier this season and is No. 2 in the League right now. He's not playing in Sochi. James Neal is a big, physical power forward and he didn't make Canada's team. Claude Giroux didn't either. This is a sign that Hockey Canada has really changed how it makes the team. Canada has changed its thinking looking at the big ice surface and there's no doubt about it. Brent Seabrook, who was on the team four years ago, didn't make the team and he's one of the best defensemen in the NHL. This lineup definitely moves away from the more physical, grinding style Canada employed four years ago in Vancouver. If Canada was playing in Canada again you'd have those power forwards and those big, physical defensemen in the lineup. But with the international ice you don't see that now. Canada has learned in the past from its struggles on a big ice surface and that's why this team is built the way it is.

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Posted On Monday, 02.03.2014 / 4:55 PM

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

I think everyone left it out there. Every game this season, regular season and playoffs, we played as hard as we could. We're not out of the playoffs right now because of lack of effort, and that's all that we can ask of each other.

— Predators defenseman Seth Jones after Nashville was eliminated by Chicago in Game 6 on Saturday