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Posted On Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 2:10 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

McDavid, Strome among elite at Top Prospects Game

ST. CATHARINES, Ontario -- Erie Otters captain Connor McDavid headlines an impressive list of 2015 NHL Draft-eligible prospects set to impress at the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Meridian Centre on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, SN, TVA Sports).

The pressure of performing in front of an estimated 250-plus NHL scouts shouldn't be cause for concern for McDavid. He's been under the microscope the past three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, and recently helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in a title game played at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

McDavid, who will serve as captain for Team Bobby Orr, is the No. 1-ranked prospect on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of North American skaters eligible for 2015 NHL Draft.

Competing against Otters teammate and good friend Dylan Strome in the Top Prospects Game is a bit of a concern for McDavid, however.

"It'll be weird; he's one of my best friends," McDavid said. "I find him hilarious and can hardly take him seriously so it'll be different lining up against him. But fun."

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 2:03 PM

By Chris Stevenson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Maple Leafs at Senators

OTTAWA -- The latest chapter of the Battle of Ontario has an air of desperation about it.

The Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs each are badly in need of a win heading into their game Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, SN, TVA Sports) at Canadian Tire Centre.

It is the last game for each team before the All-Star break, which ends Jan. 26.

The Maple Leafs have lost five games in a row, have been shut out three times in that streak and have scored two goals.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 12:23 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Ottawa goalie Herbst added to Top Prospects Game

ST. CATHARINES, Ontario -- Goaltender Liam Herbst of the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League will serve as an injury replacement at the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Meridian Centre on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, SN, TVA Sports).

Herbst (6-foot-4, 194 pounds) will replace Barrie Colts goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who was sent home because of an illness. Blackwood spoke to reporters Tuesday but admitted at the time he was ill.

Blackwood is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top North American goaltenders for the 2015 NHL Draft.

Herbst, No. 14 on the midterm list, is 12-5-2 with a 2.78 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 12:18 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blackhawks at Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang could play against the Chicago Blackhawks at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Letang participated in Pittsburgh's optional morning skate after leaving its game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Letang sustained an undisclosed injury after Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo hit him into the boards in the first period of the Penguins' 3-2 overtime loss.

Penguins coach Mike Johnston said Letang skated Wednesday to get some activity and that he still is undergoing some tests and will be a game-time decision.

"It's good to see him skating around and looking good out there," Penguins forward Zach Sill said. "I didn't know [if Letang would be OK]. I just saw him this morning and it was good seeing him this morning. But I didn't hear anything last night."

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 11:56 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Live blog

NHL Live previews Rivarly Night doubleheader

NHL Live with Steve Mears and E.J. Hradek, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, sets up the final day of NHL action prior to the All-Star break.

Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press will join us to preview the Winnipeg Jets game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It's also Rivalry Night on NBCSN with a doubleheader. NBCSN analyst Pierre McGuire will offer his thoughts on the early game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks, and Los Angeles Kings commentator Daryl Evans will preview the Kings showdown against the rival San Jose Sharks.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 11:33 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Beauvillier excited as captain for Team Cherry

ST. CATHARINES, Ontario -- Shawinigan Cataractes left wing Anthony Beauvillier was taken completely by surprise when he learned he would serve as captain for Team Don Cherry at the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at the Meridian Centre on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet, TVA Sports).

"I didn't think about being named captain but am very proud, especially since the captain for Team [Bobby] Orr is Connor McDavid," Beauvillier said. "It's an honor. I've seen Don Cherry on television a lot, so to have a chance to meet him will be great as it will be for everyone in the locker room."

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 11:25 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Top prospects to have on- and off-ice skills tested

ST. CATHARINES, Ontario -- Before the top prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft from the Canadian Hockey League showcase their abilities at the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, they'll undergo a series of on- and off-ice tests that will provide NHL scouts and general managers an in-depth profile on each player.

All 40 of the players competing in the game Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, SN, TVA Sports) will be put through those tests Wednesday at Meridian Centre, home of the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League.

The tests will be conducted by Sport Testing Inc., which has been conducting similar tests on players in all three leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League for the past five years, as well as at the bantam and minor-midget levels.

"We have been impressed with Sport Testing's professionalism at our events and their accuracy in assessing player potential," CHL President David Branch said. "Their data reports are a blueprint to on-ice success and will showcase our players to NHL scouts. Sport Testing also gives quantifiable skill and fitness targets to the rest of the CHL players and those young athletes hoping to one day join our league."

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 9:27 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Rosen's mailbag - Jan. 21, 2015

Here is the Jan. 21 edition of Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday during the season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

Are the Islanders in the conversation for the Stanley Cup? -- @IanBirny

The Islanders are in the conversation as a contender at this point in the season. To say they're in the conversation for the Stanley Cup is premature because I don't think that conversation starts until the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin and we get to see the matchups, health of each team, the way each team is trending, the goaltending, etc.

That said, I have been thoroughly impressed by the Islanders this season. I love the way they play, with speed and relentless pressure. They smother everyone in their path with a fast and fun brand of hockey to watch. They are getting contributions from up and down the lineup. Their fourth line has been a gamechanger at times. They shoot from everywhere and are always getting to the net.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 3:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: Pluses, minuses for Sharks, Kings

Each Wednesday throughout the regular season Kevin Weekes will be offering his pluses and minuses for the teams competing in the NBCSN Wednesday Night Rivalry game in his Weekes on the Web blog. Weekes will also be assisting fans with three must-watch elements of the game.

This quote from San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan courtesy of the San Jose Mercury News is telling.

"I'm concerned about our drive right now, the life that we bring to the rink and to the games," McLellan said. "I don't know if you want to call it passion, but just that internal drive per person isn't where it needs to be right now. And these are important games."

A coach questioning his team's drive should be enough to light a fire under the players. The Sharks will need that fire to ignite them Wednesday night, when they play the Los Angeles Kings at SAP Center (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.20.2015 / 11:49 PM

By Sean McCullen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Letang absence would shuffle D-men

Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Christian Ehrhoff (67 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) and Paul Martin (3 percent owned) each figure to get more power-play time if Kris Letang misses games after he was injured on a hit by Philadelphia Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo late in the first period of a 3-2 overtime loss Tuesday.

Penguins coach Mike Johnston did not have an update on Letang after the game.

Martin played 8:10 and Ehrhoff 7:24 with the man-advantage after Letang exited. Each obviously would benefit from more time on the Penguins' sixth-ranked power play, which has scored on 22.4 percent of its chances, but playing on the top unit with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin would be even more helpful.

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Quote of the Day

This is a great day for me. This is something I've been thinking about for a long time. This is a great opportunity that the St. Louis Blues organization, (owner) Tom Stillman and Doug Armstrong are giving me and trusting me in doing...This is going to be a great challenge for me.

— Martin Brodeur, after announcing his retirement as an NHL player and becoming a senior adviser with the Blues on Thursday