Posted On Monday, 03.04.2013 / 12:59 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Blackhawks continue to amaze

With just a few minutes left in the third period of their game with the Detroit Red Wings yesterday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks were down 1-0 and all I could think was they had played so well in that game they should have been ahead 3-1 or 4-1. I actually didn't think a loss in regulation would have been the worst thing for Chicago. It would have gotten a monkey off their back since they're going to lose in regulation sooner or later. This streak won't last for 48 games and the Blackhawks were going to win a bunch more games this season regardless of what happened yesterday.

But then Patrick Kane tied the game, he eventually won it in the shootout and a day later the streak continues.

What might be most amazing about this is that there's no shame in losing to Detroit, which is a great hockey club, but now that Chicago survived Sunday, its upcoming schedule isn't nearly as daunting. The Blackhawks play a talented, but struggling Minnesota team Tuesday night and their next four after that are a home-and-home with Colorado, a home game against Edmonton and a trip to Columbus. After Wednesday, Chicago won't have a back-to-back for more than a month, just one of the Blackhawks' next five games is against a team currently in the West's top eight and four of those games are against teams that currently occupy the bottom three spots in the Western Conference standings.

Obviously, it would be getting ahead of ourselves to predict that Chicago could run this streak from 22 games to 27 that easily, but the schedule sets up the possibility that if the Blackhawks continue to play as well as they did against Detroit, they could extend this more than just another game or two.

And what evidence is there to convince you that they won't? This team has got everything. The stars are great, the goaltending between Corey Crawford and Ray Emery has been great and their depth is unbelievable. The Blackhawks have had 12 guys score game-winning goals this season, which is just phenomenal, and they're starting to look very, very similar to the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2010. The depth that team had on its third and fourth lines and eventually traded away to fit under the cap seems to finally be back, and they're just as deep on defense, too. Michal Rozsival and Nick Leddy might be the top pair on a few teams in the NHL, and they would certainly be third and fourth defenseman on most. On Chicago they're the fifth and sixth defensemen because the team is just that deep.

After the comeback Chicago had Sunday afternoon, the aura of invincibility the Blackhawks have around them is just that much stronger. This is a team that expects to win every game and they expect something will happen to get it done for them. That's a great mindset when you're that confident and you can see it in how Chicago plays. Everybody wants the puck. On teams that are struggling no one wants the puck because they don't want to be the guy that makes a mistake. On this team everyone wants to be the guy that makes a difference. That's how you become a good team and the confidence it instills is just filtering down throughout the roster. Take a look at Rozsival. He's doing things he's never done before. He's cycling and dropping the puck and playing with confidence we haven't seen from him in a long time. Playing for a winning team has that kind of impact.

This stretch isn't a fluke. This team is for real and it has everything. The Blackhawks will lose a game in regulation eventually, but they're too strong to let it overwhelm them. I can't see this team just suddenly losing five or six in a row. One loss isn't going to change the mindset of the Chicago Blackhawks.

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Posted On Monday, 03.04.2013 / 12:37 PM

By Neil Acharya - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Maple Leafs could get Frattin back vs. Devils

TORONTO -- Whether forward Matt Frattin returns to the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup will be a game-time decision according to senior vice-president and general manager Dave Nonis. Frattin has not played since Feb. 11 because of a knee injury, but was on the ice at the morning skate.

If he does play, he is expected to skate on a line with Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur. Kadri, coming off his first career hat trick, is excited at the prospect of reuniting with Frattin.

"I can't wait, I've been waiting for him to come back since he went down," Kadri said. "He is a good player and obviously we have some chemistry together and hopefully we pick up where we left off."

In the event Frattin is unable to play, it is likely that Jay McClement will be inserted on the wing and David Steckel will center the fourth line between Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren.

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Posted On Monday, 03.04.2013 / 12:18 PM

By Staff -  / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Predators claim Butler off waivers from Devils

The Nashville Predators on Monday claimed right wing Bobby Butler off waivers from the New Jersey Devils.

Butler was the extra forward on the ice with the Devils during the team's morning skate on Monday at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. New Jersey is scheduled to play the Maple Leafs on Monday. He was placed on waivers by the Devils on Sunday.

Butler, who spent three seasons with the Ottawa Senators before being signed to a two-way contract by the Devils on Aug. 9, has one goal, two points and a minus-6 rating in 14 games in New Jersey this season.

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Posted On Monday, 03.04.2013 / 11:52 AM

By Staff -  / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Report: Read practicing with contact for Flyers

The Courier-Post is reporting that Philadelphia Flyers right wing Matt Read, who has been sidelined since late last month with an upper body injury, is on the ice Monday practicing in a white, contact-allowed jersey, at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J.

Read suffered torn rib cage muscles on Feb. 20 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and was expected to miss six weeks.

At the time of his injury, Read had seven goals and 13 points in 18 games for the Flyers.

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Posted On Monday, 03.04.2013 / 10:50 AM

By Staff -  / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Maple Leafs trade Brown to Oilers for draft pick

The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded forward Mike Brown to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.

If the Oilers qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, they will give the Maple Leafs their third-round pick in 2014, according to reports.

Brown is known for his toughness and willingness to fight, and has amassed 70 penalty minutes along with one assist in 12 games this season.

The trade is conditional on Brown passing a physical by noon Tuesday.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.03.2013 / 8:04 PM - 2012-2013 Situation Room blog

MTL @ BOS - 11:03 of the First Period

At 11:03 of the first period in the Canadiens/Bruins game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Montreal forward David Desharnais' centering pass deflected off Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk's stick and into the Boston net. Good Goal Montreal.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.03.2013 / 8:00 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Snowstorm in Alberta delayed Canucks

CALGARY -- A snowstorm in southern Alberta grounded the Vancouver Canucks.

Expecting to depart for Calgary after their 5-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, the Canucks were stuck in Vancouver as they waited for weather conditions to improve prior to their game against the Calgary Flames 8 p.m. ET Sunday at Scotiabank Saddledome.

On the Canucks' official Twitter account, the club announced its flight was scheduled to depart at 3:45 p.m. ET.

The game began on time.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.03.2013 / 6:43 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Panthers goalie coach relieved as backup

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers goalie coach Robb Tallas served as his team's backup goalie for the first 16:16 of Sunday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes before his place was taken by Jacob Markstrom.

Tallas, 39, was signed to a one-day tryout after Markstrom's equipment was left off his flight from San Antonio to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday. Markstrom had been called up from San Antonio, the Panthers' American Hockey League affiliate, to replace Jose Theodore, who sustained a leg injury in Saturday's 6-2 loss against Carolina.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.03.2013 / 5:33 PM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Sabres' Vanek out vs. Rangers

NEW YORK -- The Buffalo Sabres will be without leading scorer Thomas Vanek for a second straight game, coach Ron Rolston announced Sunday prior to his team's game against the New York Rangers.

Vanek was absent from the Sabres' 4-3 shootout victory against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, and the team hoped he'd able to face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Rolston said Vanek is close but just not ready.

"We're hoping [for Tuesday at the Carolina Hurricanes]," Rolston said. "For his best interest and the best interest of the team, we decided to hold him out [Sunday]. He won't be able to go, but we're very hopeful he'll be able to go on Tuesday."

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Posted On Sunday, 03.03.2013 / 5:21 PM - 2012-2013 Situation Room blog

STL @ DAL - 8:59 of the Third Period

At 8:59 of the third period in the Blues/Stars game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that St Louis forward Adam Cracknell kicked the puck with his left skate into the net. According to Rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net." No Goal St Louis.

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He stuck his neck out there for us. I don't know what's wrong with him, but you see he was in pain. But he went back in there. He's a tough guy. You've got to give him credit for helping the boys out.

— Panthers forward Brandon Pirri on goalie Roberto Luongo, who returned to game on Tuesday against Maple Leafs after leaving earlier in the contest with an injury
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