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Posted On Saturday, 06.02.2012 / 6:49 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Young Russian goalie Vasilevski is the great unknown

It's amazing to think how much differently Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevski might have been viewed had he not pulled himself from the semifinal round game of the 2012 World Junior Championship in Calgary with just six minutes remaining in the third period.

Some may look at Vasilevski's decision to take himself out of the game at the 14:17 mark, and his country clinging to a 6-5 lead over Canada, as a move to help a seemingly winded Russian squad.

Others may view it as a sign of giving up or quitting. Either way, Vasilevski, who made 44 saves in the game, was replaced by Andrei Makarov, who closed out the victory in splendid fashion with seven saves.

Both Vasilevski and Makarov are eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft in June. But Vasilevski is the one viewed by many as a potential first-round selection.
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Posted On Friday, 06.01.2012 / 10:07 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Red Wings prepared to find that diamond in the rough

Just because the Detroit Red Wings aren't making a pick in the first round of the NHL Draft for the second straight season, doesn't mean Director of Amateur Scouting Joe McDonnell can take the weekend off.

McDonnell and part of his scouting staff were front and center at the fitness-testing portion of the NHL Scouting Combine this weekend at the Toronto International Centre. The objective is simple -- find a diamond in the rough in the later rounds.

"We don't have a first round pick this year, so we're picking No. 49 [overall]," McDonnell told NHL.com. "You still want to check the kids out but for us, most of the kids that are here and are high-end guys that had injuries, we're never going to get a shot at anyway. So there's no one particular guy we're looking at."
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Posted On Friday, 06.01.2012 / 6:55 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Evans glad to see current Kings making history

It remains perhaps the greatest moment in Los Angeles Kings history. From his perfect shot to his euphoric celebration, Daryl Evans' overtime goal completed the Kings' historic comeback from a 5-0 third-period deficit against the Edmonton Oilers on April 10, 1982 -- a game forever known in L.A. as the "Miracle on Manchester."

Thirty years later, fresh off Anze Kopitar's show-stopping overtime goal in Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, Evans is thrilled to see this year's Kings writing a new chapter in the franchise's history.

"There have been a lot of big plays. You go back to the beginning of the playoffs, when Jarret Stoll got the game-winner in overtime against Vancouver. Then [Dustin] Penner's [series-clinching] goal against Phoenix," said Evans, who now does color commentary on the Kings' radio broadcasts. "You know that these are going to be moments that go down in Kings history."

If there's anyone who knows about Kings history, it's Evans. His goal remains one of the marquee moments in franchise history, and he played parts of four seasons with the team before spending the last 13 seasons in the radio booth. He has also served as a power skating consultant for the team since 2007. But it's his historic OT winner that he's still best known for, a distinction he doesn't shy away from.

"It comes up a lot, especially at this time of year. It comes to the forefront in the playoffs. I never get tired of talking about it," Evans told NHL.com. "Edmonton that year finished 46 points ahead of us in the regular season. It really was a remarkable evening. It was capped off by a great finish with the game winning goal."

Incredible as that goal may have been, it could be eclipsed by Kopitar's Game 1 overtime winner against New Jersey. How the series ends could ultimately dictate how that goal is remembered, but Evans knew it was a special play the moment he saw it.

"It's only the first game of the series," he said, "but these are the goals and moments that Kings fans will always remember."

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Posted On Friday, 06.01.2012 / 6:31 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Tampa Bay will be very busy at NHL Draft

The Tampa Bay Lightning might just be the busiest team at the 2012 NHL Draft.

It's easy to see why with possibly six picks over the opening two rounds. Entering this year's Draft, slated June 22-23 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman will have two first-round picks and three, possibly four, in the second.

With this many picks at his disposal, Tampa Bay Director of Amateur Scouting, Al Murray, certainly has his work cut out.

"Steve has put us in a position with two first-round picks and three seconds, maybe a fourth, so we're going to be able to get a little bit of everything if we want," Murray told NHL.com. "We can go for a defenseman, a goalie, a center or wing or just load up at a certain position. We're entering the Draft pretty open-minded and trying to rank the best 40 players of the group."
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Posted On Friday, 06.01.2012 / 5:20 PM

By Ryan Murray -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Ryan Murray draft blog

Ryan Murray pushes himself to the limit at Combine

Defenseman Ryan Murray is captain of the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League. The 6-foot, 182-pound native of Saskatchewan won a bronze medal playing for Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship and was also the second-youngest player to ever appear for Canada at the Men's World Championships. Despite his busy schedule, Murray submitted one final blog on Friday upon his completion of the 2012 NHL Scouting Combine.

Hi everyone. The NHL Combine has come and gone.

I got a good sleep [Thursday] night and wasn't too nervous. I think I had a little too much to eat [Friday] morning though. I had a big breakfast and that didn't hold up too well -- after the Wingate test I felt good for a couple minutes. I felt that wasn't so hard, and then went into the back room and started getting nauseous and, as soon as I sat down, felt really dizzy and just wasn't feeling well. So I figured I'd just force it out since I was going to do the VO2 Max next.

I kind of knew what to expect a little bit. I knew it would be tough and it was.

At the start of the testing, there are scouts everywhere just sort of staring at you as you're going through the testing and it's a bit intimidating, but I just tried to block them out and focus on the test. I thought the Wingate wasn't that hard because it was only 30 seconds; I just closed my eyes and just went as hard as I could. I thought the VO2 was harder.

During the VO2, at around the eight-minute mark, you're trying to keep up with the RPM's and going absolutely full out and you're breathing through the tube and it's a little different because they're plugging your nose. You're trying to get air and going so long, you completely max your body out.

Overall, I had fun and despite being a little nervous for the first couple of interviews, I was fine after the first two or three. It was most of the same stuff and I just felt more comfortable. I got to meet some new guys here at the testing and it was very tough, but very satisfying afterwards when you can kind of take a seat. I can honestly say I really pushed my body to the limit.

Thanks for reading my blog during the NHL Combine. Next up ... the NHL Draft.
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Posted On Friday, 06.01.2012 / 5:12 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Physical testing can reveal strength of character

TORONTO -- While NHL scouts, general managers and strength coaches are focused on the physical attributes of the prospects taking part in the fitness testing portion of the NHL Scouting Combine, at times there are other traits that come shining through during the exercise.

Ottawa Senators director of player personnel Pierre Dorion shared one such instance of that occurring, and it involves a player that now has become part of the NHL's elite.

In 2006, Dorion and current Senators assistant GM Tim Murray were working for the New York Rangers when they were eyeing a slender forward prospect preparing for the bench press test.
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Posted On Friday, 06.01.2012 / 4:33 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - World According to JR

JR: Onus on Devils to convert on their chances

NEWARK, N.J. -- For the Kings to win their 10th straight road game in these playoffs and take a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, NBC Sports analyst Jeremy Roenick said they don't have to change much from their Game 1 performance.

Roenick is instead putting the onus on the Devils to capitalize when they have the chance and establish their forecheck from the get-go in Game 2 Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

For more of Roenick's thoughts heading into Game 2, check out this Q&A he did with NHL.com:

NHL.com: What do the Devils have to do to win Game 2?

STANLEY CUP FINAL - KINGS VS. DEVILS

Devils focus on more sustained attack

By Darren Pang - Special to NHL.com
Hockey analyst Darren Pang discusses some key adjustments the Devils need to make in order to bounce back in Game 2. READ MORE ›
JR: Obviously this is the biggest game of their season. You can't fall down 2-0 to a team as hot as the L.A. Kings. For me, what I saw last game, the opportunities that were missed by the Devils -- open nets, missed passes, quality, quality scoring chances that they had that had they converted it would have been a much different game -- they have to convert on those in Game 2. Both teams had quality chances, but the Devils especially. David Clarkson had a couple. Zach Parise had a golden one that he just couldn't get a stick on it. I think a lot of it had to do with the ice conditions, the puck was bouncing a lot. The players won't blame it, but I think the ice was to blame for some bad bounces that helped keep the puck out of the net. Regardless, they have to convert on all those chances.

NHL.com:
How do they go about getting more chances than they had in Game 1, because they had only 18 shots on goal?

JR: I think they have to get on their forecheck harder. I don't think they put enough pressure on L.A.'s defense. They made a couple of big mistakes. Their 'D' got beat on the first goal by a hard forecheck, a turnover, and the puck goes to the back of the net without the proper coverage. They have to tighten up and put more pressure on the L.A. defense to create more turnovers.

NHL.com: If they are able to do that, do you think it'll be enough to win against a Kings team that is finding a way in just about every game it plays?

JR: It's going to give them the best opportunity. You can't say it for sure it will be enough, because you can't predict the future, but it will give the Kings a lot more to handle. I do think Jersey has the ability to forecheck harder and they have to test them to that capacity. If they don't, L.A. will continue to pick them apart.

NHL.com: What do the Kings have to do to take a 2-0 lead in the series?

JR: I don't think they have to change much. They moved the puck well. They stayed out of the penalty box. They got some really good forechecking in. They created some good scoring opportunities. All in all, they have to make sure they don't turn the puck over in neutral ice. Sometimes when Jersey got more chances the puck was turned over in neutral ice, either by the defense or the centerman, and then the Devils were able to transition very quickly.

NHL.com: How do the Kings avoid the pitfalls of those turnovers considering you know the Devils are going to want to pounce?

JR: For me, it's about making sure they control the puck and control the blue lines. The blue lines are very important. And they really just have to play as sturdy a defensive game and as boring a game as they possibly can to get the fans nervous, restless and quiet. Maybe they can steal another game out of the Devils building.

NHL.com: The Kings have been at their best in Game 2s. Does that matter now? Does it give them a psychological advantage?

JR: No, I don't think it does. I really think the Kings are in a zone physically, mentally. I don't think they're looking at it being Game 1, Game 2 or Game 3. They are taking it one game at a time. They're keeping it simple. They are moving the puck well. They don't care if they're up or down, they're just playing a hockey game, one at a time. Darryl Sutter is making third and fourth lines feel like they're a huge part of this team, and he's challenging the top lines to be better. That's a beautiful way to bring the whole team into the mix. I think Darryl Sutter deserves a lot of credit for bringing in a very strong mentality in that locker room.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 06.01.2012 / 4:19 PM

By Colin Fraser -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - 2012 Stanley Cup Final player blogs

Fraser: Kings take Manhattan on off day

Thursday was a day off and a pretty light day at the rink. We had an optional skate and I think most of the guys opted to stay off the ice to get some maintenance, play some soccer and just kind of hang out and recharge.

When we're on the road, practices are always later in the day, normally in the afternoon. Obviously, the home team gets the earlier ice time. Yesterday our practice was scheduled for 2 p.m., so we got to the rink at about 1 p.m. Normally, with practice, it would be a light practice -- a quick on and off.

When we got to the rink, we played some soccer outside the dressing room, did some stretching, some guys went and got ice -- whatever guys had to do get themselves ready.
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Posted On Friday, 06.01.2012 / 4:14 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Grigorenko almost healed from mono

TORONTO -- Mikhail Grigorenko sat out the fitness testing of the Scouting Combine while he continues to recover from a bout of mononucleosis. However, he assured NHL decision-makers he would be 100 percent before teams are scheduled to report to training camps in September. In fact, the Quebec Remparts center said he'd be ready to go by the time teams hold summer rookie camps.

"Mini-camp will be in two months or something, so I'll be ready," he said. "In a few days I will start to train, so I have all summer to train."

Grigorenko said he didn't even know he was sick until after the Remparts lost to the Halifax Mooseheads in the quarterfinals of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs. He had 10 points in 11 games, but just three goals, leading some to question his work ethic.
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Posted On Friday, 06.01.2012 / 3:58 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Girgensons ready to eat

TORONTO -- As exciting as the Scouting Combine experience has been for Dubuque center  Zemgus Girgensons, he's looking forward to next week when he can do something really special -- chew his food.

Girgensons broke his jaw more than a month ago in a USHL playoff game, and said he hasn't been able to chew his food since then.

"I just started eating this week," he said. "I wasn't able to chew for five weeks."

Girgensons said he lost 10-15 pounds on his liquid diet, and because of that he skipped the fitness testing portion of the Scouting Combine.

"I'm not 100-percent ready," he said. "I'm not doing anything if I can't show my best."
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Quote of the Day

It's a date that's been circled on my calendar, so it's kind of nice to have it here and get it over with (Thursday). This is a little bit of the closing of the book on the move. That's kind of how I'm looking at it.

— Stars forward Jason Spezza on returning to Ottawa for the first time to face the Senators