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Features

Penguins prospect Pouliot on path to NHL

Friday, 12.19.2014 / 12:20 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

For a 20-year-old, Derrick Pouliot has a pretty impressive resume.

The Saskatchewan native starred in the Western Hockey League with the powerhouse Portland Winterhawks after they drafted him first overall in the 2009 bantam draft. He put up 205 points over 247 games and was recognized as the top defenseman in the entire Canadian Hockey League last season.

He's won gold with Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and made four trips to the WHL finals, winning the league title in 2013. He played in the 2012 CHL Top Prospects Game, and was selected to both the 2013 Memorial Cup All-Star Team and the 2014 WHL First All-Star Team.

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Hot fantasy topics: Rinne, Shattenkirk shining

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Here's a look at five of the hottest topics in fantasy hockey right now.

1. The No. 1 fantasy player

Has anyone outside of fantasy owners that have him on their teams realized that Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne is the No. 1 overall fantasy player? His owners continually point out how amazing he's been, but it's been a quiet type of amazing. Rinne is the prime reason the Predators are having so much success this season, and it's his consistency that separates him from every other goalie.

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Matthews' skill has him pointed toward U.S. WJC team

Friday, 12.19.2014 / 11:37 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Auston Matthews may be the youngest player at the U.S. National Junior Camp but he'll likely have a big role on the U.S. team at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo: Tom Sorensen)

BOSTON -- Center Auston Matthews is the youngest player taking part in the United States National Junior Team selection camp this week at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University.

It also appears he'll be a big part of the U.S. team that plays in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, which begins Dec. 26 in Toronto and Montreal.

If top 2015 NHL Draft prospect Jack Eichel doesn't become the first American-born player since 2007 to be the first pick of an NHL draft, than Matthews, 17, could earn that distinction at the 2016 draft. Matthews missed the cut for the 2015 draft by two days.

Don Granato, who coaches Matthews on the United States National Team Development Program under-18 team in Ann Arbor, Mich., said the future is limitless for Matthews, a 6-foot, 199-pound left-handed shot.

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U.S. defensemen key to World Junior fortunes

Friday, 12.19.2014 / 10:00 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- On the way to the 2013 gold medal, the United States World Junior Team set a standard by allowing nine goals in seven games.

In addition to goaltender John Gibson's performance, the United States benefited from a nearly perfect balance of all the elements of the game on its defense, led by current Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones and Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba.

One year after the United States lost in the 2014 quarterfinals to Russia and failed to bring home a medal, it's again in search of that perfect mix of defensemen who can suffocate the opposition's scoring and push the tempo to contribute to the offense.

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DeBoer, Devils positive despite injuries, losses

Friday, 12.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Before the calendar turns, the New Jersey Devils need a turnaround.

Eight points out of the second Stanley Cup Playoff wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Devils are back at Prudential Center after playing 15 of their previous 20 games on the road.

A 5-11-4 record during that stretch did not deter coach Peter DeBoer. Combined with the upcoming three-day Christmas break and a road game against the New York Rangers on Dec. 27, the Devils will remain in the New York metropolitan area until a New Year's Eve game at the Detroit Red Wings.

"Six points out with 50 games left (before a 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday), I don’t care what anybody says about history or anything like that. That's not an insurmountable amount of points," DeBoer said. "But we have to start winning games. We have to string four or five wins. We've played 10 more road games than home games, so the table is set for us. We have to make sure that we get it done."

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Positioning, speed keys to Red Wings' stingy defense

Friday, 12.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Paul Harris - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- A big part of the Detroit Red Wings' success this season has been limiting their opponents' shots on goal and scoring chances.

Detroit (17-7-8) is allowing an average of 27.4 shots per game entering Friday against the New York Islanders. That's fourth in the NHL, trailing the Minnesota Wild (25.9). Tampa Bay Lighthing (27.2) and St. Louis Blues (27.2).

A key component of that is the spacing between the Red Wings' forwards and defensemen when they are forechecking and their opponents are attempting to come out of their own zone with the puck.

"I think their defensemen are really good in the way they play in the offensive zone," Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "And the defense play up in the neutral zone and they force you to dump it in. They don't spread out a lot when they're in the offensive zone."

That's the goal, according to Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall.

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Super 16: Isles' Okposo has uneven start to season

Friday, 12.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Kyle Okposo had the best season of his career in 2013-14 for the New York Islanders, finishing with 27 goals and 69 points in 71 games. He moved to the top line next to John Tavares, and then continued to produce after the Islanders superstar was injured at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

On the surface, it looks pretty similar for Okposo this season. He has 27 points in 31 games, but only seven goals. More of a playmaker than a scorer anyway, a regression in goals could have been expected considering he shot nearly four percent better than his career average in 2013-14.

Okposo's point total this season is being propped up in part by 12 on the power play. He's averaging 6.0 points per 60 minutes with the extra man, which is nearly double last season (3.2). Check out his goal and point production at even strength in the accompanying table.

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Emrick, McGuire reflect on past Winter Classics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Pierre McGuire's favorite NHL Winter Classic moment is one he experienced from six time zones and approximately 4,200 miles away.

"I wasn't at the first one in Buffalo and I was watching it in Prague, and it was late at night," McGuire, NBC's Inside-the-Glass analyst, said on a media conference call Thursday. "The call I will always remember, 'Here's Crosby, with the game on his stick.' It was my great partner for the last 10 years, 'Doc' Emrick, making that call."

Mike 'Doc' Emrick, NBC's lead NHL broadcaster, was putting words to the incredible pictures McGuire was seeing on his television; Crosby at center ice in the middle of a Buffalo blizzard, ready to bear down on Ryan Miller for what turned out to be the shootout winner and the snow globe image for the NHL's new signature regular-season event.

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Winter Classic ice-building process remains on track

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON – At 1 p.m. Thursday, the sun hung above home plate at Nationals Park during the fourth day of rink building for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, flooding most of the soon-to-be-completed playing surface with light. The temperature hovered in the mid 40s, made chillier by a noticeable breeze.

With puck drop scheduled for that time on Jan. 1 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals, such weather on New Year's Day would suffice, though a few tweaks would be preferred.

"I would say a perfect day is 30 degrees and overcast, a little bit of snow," NHL Executive Vice President of Events Don Renzulli said.

Game-day forecasts call for partly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 20s to mid 30s, according to Renzulli, though it is too early for those models to be concrete.

On the field, the construction crew, headed by senior director of facilities operations Dan Craig, continued to place the aluminum trays that will eventually maintain the ideal 22-degree temperature of the ice.

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Panthers' Luongo underrated

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 12:12 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com's Evan Sporer will provide you with in-depth analysis of goaltenders. From updated weekly top-30 rankings to trending players and more, Sporer will be your go-to guy for advice on fantasy goalies all season long.

There's just something about Roberto Luongo that brings about debate in most hockey circles.

For whatever reason, a segment of hockey's talking heads has difficulty placing Luongo exactly where he belongs: as the greatest goalie since the turn of the century of his generation.

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Quote of the Day

I might have blacked out. I was pretty pumped.

— New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid on his first NHL win Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning
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