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Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 3:00 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - 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 / - 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 / - 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 / - 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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Posted On Monday, 12.09.2013 / 4:28 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Stars becoming a factor

The usual suspects are there in the Central Division -- the Chicago Blackhawks, the St. Louis Blues, the Colorado Avalanche -- but lately the Dallas Stars have been surging up the standings and playing extremely well. When you take into account how many games the Stars have played, they're right in the thick of the race and I don't see them going away.

I really like this team. I like their speed, and obviously Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have magic together. The Stars have a pretty good mobile defense, their goaltending has been very good and rookie Valeri Nichushkin has been awesome. He's a monster and he's got a huge reach that has made him very effective for someone new to the NHL. The Stars have some great young players like Brenden Dillon on defense, and if one of the teams above them falters, the Stars can catch them.

I don't think I see St. Louis and Chicago having a problem staying above Dallas. Colorado is a young team that will have its ups and downs and the Minnesota Wild have looked really good at times but they've also struggled at times. Dallas is going to have a lot of points even if it doesn't make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Stars are going to force teams to play well. You won't back into the playoffs in the West. You're going to have to play well all season long, and teams like Dallas are proof of that.

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Posted On Monday, 12.02.2013 / 3:02 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Blackhawks show champs' mentality

The annual "Circus Trip," in which the Chicago Blackhawks go on a long road trip so Barnum and Bailey's can occupy the United Center, is a rite of fall for the Hawks. Trips that long are not easy. Just two years ago Chicago had a lengthy road trip that coincided with a nine-game losing streak which led to rumors coach Joel Quenneville's job was on the line.

This season, Chicago's "Circus Trip" pitted it against stiff competition, including the Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes, to add to the rigors of seven games and nearly two weeks living out of a suitcase. The Blackhawks may have dropped the first game, but they responded, amazingly, by winning the last six in a row, including a dominant 5-2 win in Phoenix against the stingy Coyotes to put an exclamation point on the trip.

To me, this says that not only are the Blackhawks a team you need to consider on the short list of Stanley Cup contenders -- after all, we already know that -- but this team is now a little tougher than it used to be. The Blackhawks are turning into the Detroit Red Wings of the late 1990s or the New York Islanders of the early 1980s. They expect to win every game and they expect to have a shot at the Stanley Cup every year. They've got that mentality where they think, "Why can't we win every year? Why should we have a down year?"

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Posted On Monday, 11.25.2013 / 5:04 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Don't overlook Wild in the West

As if the Western Conference didn't have enough teams playing well lately, the Minnesota Wild over the last two weeks have played their way into the mix. I was very high on Minnesota last season after it added Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, but it looks like it took them a year to put it together and there are a few reasons why.

Obviously, a big reason is goalie Josh Harding, who has played exceptionally, and he did suffer an injury this past weekend, but the Wild have pretty deep goaltending with Niklas Backstrom behind him. Not many teams in the NHL have better goaltending than Minnesota.

Another big reason is their young players, especially Mikael Granlund. I thought Granlund was going to explode on the scene last season, and it's taken him a while, but he's playing very well this season, which makes the Wild a much deeper offensive team on the whole. Mikko Koivu is also playing better this season. I've been a fan of his for a number of years because he is immensely talented, but he hadn't quite put it together.

Then you look at Ryan Suter. It's hard to say this, but I think Suter is playing better than he did last season. Right now he'd be my pick for the Norris Trophy, and while he's putting up huge minutes every night, I don't think he's going to end up burning out. Suter plays huge minutes, but they aren't physical minutes. He doesn't pound his body like Zdeno Chara or P.K. Subban. He is such a skilled guy that he intercepts passes, he uses stick checking and he's a beautiful skater. He uses his body very well and cuts off angles, but at the same time I can't ever remember seeing him get drilled or drilling somebody else. Because of that, I don't think his body will wear down like someone else's might with those types of minutes.

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Posted On Monday, 11.18.2013 / 2:08 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: An active and wild first 20 games

We've reached the quarter-mark of the season and it has been a crazy 20 games so far. I think the most noteworthy and surprising thing this season, though, has been the total dominance of the Western Conference. You sometimes see a season where one conference is better than the other, but the way the West has just totally dominated inter-conference play is really amazing.

Obviously there are periods where one individual team is head and shoulders above the rest of the League. The Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders both had stretches like that in the 1980s. We always have one team that is dominant for a period of time, but for the whole conference to be this strong is crazy. You could easily say the four best teams in the NHL all play in the West. The truly amazing thing is it's not just five or six teams, either. Teams competing for the eighth spot in the West now are on pace for 110 points. That's an amazingly high number. I know a lot of that comes out of three-point games, but we've had three-point games for over a decade now and we've never seen anything quite like this.

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Posted On Thursday, 11.14.2013 / 11:58 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Best of Movember: Top moustaches of All-Time

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.13.2013 / 1:21 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose on Flyers vs. Penguins

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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