Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Morgan Rielly is pretty excited to be back in the mix after missing five-plus months of playing time after undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament earlier this season.
Rielly played five playoff games for the Warriors and produced three assists but the simple fact he was back on the ice was certainly a positive sign. Now he's going through the rigors that is the NHL Scouting Combine this week in an attempt to show NHL scouts and general managers that he is 100 percent.
"I think it's important just to prove that you're healthy and you're here and you have a pretty good attitude," Rielly told NHL.com. "I don't think this week will make or break anybody, but it's important to come and have a positive attitude."
Really, a positive attitude is all that the 5-foot-11 1/2, 190-pound left-hander has exhibited throughout the most trying season of his hockey career.
Alex Galchenyuk is a forward for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot, 198-pound forward was born in Milwaukee but is of Russian decent -- his father, Alexander, spent five of his 22 professional seasons playing in the U.S. Alex was the first pick of the 2010 OHL draft, and last season had 31 goals and 52 assists in 68 games. He had 2 goals and an assist in five games for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and returned to take part in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August. Despite suffering a major knee injury that nearly ended his season before it really began, Galchenyuk has maintained a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
It's Day 2 for me at the NHL Scouting Combine. Day 1 was tough. Well, not really tough. It was just exciting. A long day -- probably the longest day of my life so far. I had nine interviews. It was long, and it was longer because I had big breaks. I had a lot of time, and it got boring. I wish each one was right after the other, 1-2-3. But it was good.
No interesting questions to report. I was waiting for that the whole day yesterday, some weird, weird questions, because I've heard about them in the past. But so far this year, no. No weird questions.
I have seven interviews today, and they're spaced out a bit better today. I think I have one break, from 12 to 4 p.m., but that's not too bad.
Someone asked me if this is what I thought it would be like, and I'd say kind of yes and kind of no. I thought it would be like the Research and Development Camp -- same hotel, lot of media and GMs and players walking around. But obviously this is more NHL people here. I didn't know what to expect. I'd never been to Combine before. Now I know what's happening.
I have 22 interviews in all, and then I have my fitness testing Friday morning. I've heard about the bike tests, but I'm not nervous. I'm just really excited for it. You're going to do some stuff and a lot of people are going to watch you. I'm new to the experience, like I was new to the interviews. I'm just waiting and I want to see what's going to happen.
TORONTO -- The two bike tests -- the Wingate Cycle Ergometer and the VO2 Max test -- are the double-feature horror show at the annual NHL Scouting Combine. Every player has to go through it, and all greet it with some level of trepidation.
Well, not every player. Barrie Colts forward Tanner Pearson is excused from the bike tests while he recovers from the broken right ankle that ended his season.
Pearson told NHL.com he's been skating since the beginning of the month, and while he's close to 100-percent healed, he's still doing strengthening and balance work in his leg. Because of that, Pearson will sit out the jumping and bike portions of the fitness testing.
NEWARK, N.J. --Johan Hedberg was the eager one. The backup goalie was the first Devil on the ice for the morning skate Wednesday.
He came on at 10:09 a.m. ET, and soon enough his teammates joined him. It's an optional skate for New Jersey, but of the players expected to be in the lineup for Game 1 against the Kings (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) only Marek Zidlicky is not skating.
Jacob Trouba is a defenseman for the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program of the United States Hockey League. The 6-foot-2, 193-pound native of Rochester, Mich., was the youngest player on the U.S. National Junior Team at the 2012 World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta. He also won his second straight gold medal for Team USA at the Under-18 World Championship in Czech Republic, connecting for one goal, three points and a plus-5 rating in six games. Trouba has agreed to give fans a players' perspective while attending the 2012 NHL Combine, scheduled May 28-June 2, by maintaining a blog of his experiences. Check back often.
Hi everyone. I just concluded my first day of interviews here at the NHL Combine in Toronto. I have 21 interviews scheduled -- 10 of those were on Tuesday.
I must say that each team is different. Some are laid back and some are intense. You get hot in those rooms, that's for sure! The one question that really got me was 'What is success?' I wasn't really prepared for that, so that was one I really had to think about. Boston gave a test that involved colors that was pretty hard and I messed up a lot on that.
It was all cool though, but I was certainly nervous at the start. In the morning, I woke up and spilled toothpaste all over my shirt … so I had to change shirts. That's one shirt down. I think tomorrow will be a lot better because I'll know what to expect. It's something you don't get to do every day, so you just have to have fun with it. Wednesday [six interviews] will be a lot easier.
I know a lot of the guys are thinking about the fitness tests and while I am too, I just feel like I'll be able to rely on the hard work I put in the last two years [with the NTDP] to get me through these tests and show what I have. I didn't work that hard for nothing. I think, historically, the NTDP guys have done well at these tests, and a big reason for that is because of what the program has you do. That's the type of work I've put in the last two years in the program.
On Tuesday night, a few of the NTDP guys got together with several of the Swedish players (Filip Forsberg, Oscar Dansk and Ludwig Bystrom) and we went out to dinner. It was pretty cool.
TORONTO -- Defenseman Patrick Sieloff of the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program on Monday turned down a scholarship offer to Miami University of Ohio and instead will play for the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires in 2012-13.
"It came down to the fact I wanted to play in the NHL and I feel like this is the fastest route," Sieloff told NHL.com. "I feel like the school part would get in the way a little bit because school is a little hard for me. I felt like school will always be there but hockey won't. There's going to be a point in time when hockey ends, whether we like it or not. I feel like I want to make the best of this for as long as I can go, and am looking forward and really excited to play in Windsor."
The Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils have never faced each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they don't have a lot of history against each other in the regular season either. The teams have met just 57 times in the 29 seasons since the then-Colorado Rockies moved to New Jersey in 1982.
But both teams have had unexpected playoff runs this postseason -- their combined finish in the overall standings (22) is the lowest for the two teams in the Final since Pittsburgh (7) and Minnesota (16) in 1991. The Devils would match their own mark for the lowest seed to win a Stanley Cup; the Kings, seeded No. 8 in the West, would easily be the lowest-seeded club to win it all.
With predictions coming from every angle on who will win the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, the Miss USA pageant saw a unique opportunity. On the eve of the Final, the organizers polled the 51 contestants in the 2012 edition of the contest to see who they favored to win the Cup.
Miss California, Natalie Pack, and Miss New Jersey, Michelle Leonardo, weren't shy about favoring their home-state teams, even posing for photos wearing their respective team's jersey.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Mark Fayne may have a finer appreciation for being drafted by New Jersey Devils CEO/president/general manager Lou Lamoriello than some of his teammates.
In four years playing at Providence College, the second-year defenseman was inundated with the Lamoriello legend. The man who has headed the Devils front office for over two decades was a fixture in Rhode Island and brought the Providence hockey program to its greatest heights.
Born and raised in the area, Lamoriello was a player and coach on the Providence hockey team and still holds the school record for coaching wins. After coaching a 1982-83 squad considered the best in school history, he stepped down to become the school's athletic director.
In 2009, Lamoriello earned the Vanguard Award for lifetime achievement at the annual Cox Rhode Island Sports Awards. A product of nearby Nashua, NH, Fayne appreciated Lamoriello's legacy long before arriving in New Jersey.
"Being at Providence, there is so much influence he still has there. Just seeing his name all over the rink," Fayne said. "The Hockey East [championship] trophy is the Lou Lamoriello Trophy, so that's what I was playing for for four years."
Fayne hasn't been alone in his appreciation for his boss. His former Providence teammate Matt Taormina has also broken in on the Devils defensive corp following four years playing with the Fryars.
"He was actually a partner of mine for two years," Fayne said. "It's really great."
JR: No. 1, they have to understand what they do very well and stop the Devils from playing their game, basically beat them at their own game. The Devils have an extremely good forecheck. They use their speed to get in on the defense, cause havoc, crate turnovers. The Kings have to make sure they really hold the gaps, hold the blue lines. They have to make sure the Devils dump the puck in and they have to get a lot of support from their centermen. One thing that will be really hard for them is the pressure. The Kings are going to get more pressure than they have all playoffs so far, and they have to make quick, good decisions with the puck. Obviously they have to have good goaltending, but first and foremost they have to make sure that they control the puck and possess the puck as much as they possibly can against a very good offensive team in the Devils.
NHL.com: What is the key to the Kings controlling the puck?
JR: Their game has been very good, very tight. Defensively they've been very good. But where they have been so much better against Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix is their ability to make good decisions with the puck. They move the puck, make the smart, easy decision. They are not forcing pucks. They are doing things very quickly, and when you do things quickly it frustrates the other team. The other team can work so hard on the forecheck, but when that puck is moved quick, accurately and smartly, you're going to beat the forecheck. The other team is going to exert a lot of energy, but not get anything done. I think that's what the Kings have to do, step that up just one more level, which you need to do in order to win in the Final.
NHL.com: What kind of pressure will it put on the Devils if they're able to do all that?
JR: It means the puck will be going the complete opposite way, and that's what the Kings have done so well. They're working together as units of five. It's not one or two guys working hard one shift. All five of them are working in unison. A team gets by one roadblock, and there is another one there. A team gets by that one, and there is another one there. Then if you get past the three walls, you've got a goaltender that has just been unbelievable.
NHL.com: Let's flip it, what do the Devils have to do to win Game 1?
JR: They have to outwork the Kings. The Kings, in my opinion, have been the hardest-working team in the playoffs so far. The Devils have to outwork them. They have to make sure they stay out of the penalty box, stay disciplined, but they have to continue their forecheck. Their forecheck has been so good. Their power play has to be very good, which will be tough because the Kings' penalty kill has been the best in the playoffs. But, all in all, they have to find a way to beat Jonathan Quick. They've got to get in his face.
NHL.com: The Canucks, Blues and Coyotes couldn't do that consistently. How can the Devils get in Quick's face?
JR: With Quick it's all second effort, secondary opportunities. The points have to shoot for deflections. They can't shoot to score because it's not too often that a defenseman is going to score from the blue line on a direct shot. They have to shoot for deflections and it's secondary. It's rebound to top shelf, rebound to top shelf. He covers the lower half of the net so well and he's so good laterally that it has to be a bang-bang play to get in the net, or it's not going to get there.
NHL.com: If the Devils can get to Quick, what kind of pressure does that put on the rest of the Kings?
JR: Well, the Kings haven't really been under duress at all in these playoffs. The Devils have. They've played a seven-game series. They've been down in series. They've been down in games. They've had to battle back. The Kings haven't had that. When you haven't had that deficit, that mentality or mind frame, that benefits the New Jersey Devils.
It's something that you don't really envision starting this way, but when you put the work in you don't feel like it's unwarranted. You definitely don't envision it unfolding this way, but you do think you can be successful at this level.
— Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who defeated the Jets on Wednesday to improve to 6-0-1 since making his first NHL start on Feb. 18