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Features

Unmasked: Old-school style helped Brodeur stand out

Thursday, 01.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

Martin Brodeur's place among the top NHL goaltenders of all-time may be up for debate, but most in the goal-preventing world agree there will probably never be another goalie like Brodeur, who called it quits on his 21-year career on Thursday.

It's not just the staggering numbers and accolades Brodeur amassed during a career spent almost entirely with the New Jersey Devils, a list that includes the most wins (691) and shutouts (125) in NHL history, as well as three Stanley Cups and four Vezina Trophies.

Records are made to be broken, after all. It isn't likely, however, that these goaltending records will fall to another goalie using the old-style technique employed by Brodeur during his two-decade stay with the Devils and a short stint this season with the St. Louis Blues.

Brodeur rejected the butterfly revolution at a time when his peers were starting to embrace it. He remained on his skates when everyone else was learning to play from their knees. Brodeur did add some butterfly elements late in his career, but never fully adopted them.

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Canadiens need to bring their best for stretch run

Thursday, 01.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec – The Montreal Canadiens came back from the All-Star break dealing with the same questions they faced when they left.

After their final game before the break on Jan. 20, a 2-1 overtime win against the Nashville Predators in which they were outshot by a healthy 37-27 margin, Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty suggested the possibility that his teammates may suffer from overconfidence playing in front of All-Star goaltender Carey Price.

When the Predators took a 1-0 lead in the second period of that game last week, they led 26-6 in shots, and Price was the only reason that game remained scoreless as long as it did.

In their first game back following the break Tuesday, the Canadiens defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2 while being outshot by a 42-26 margin. The difference, again, was Price.

This time, it is Canadiens forward Lars Eller wondering if maybe Price's brilliance has an impact on how his team plays in front of him.

Eller was asked after practice Wednesday if he is concerned with how Montreal has been playing lately. Eller said he wasn't because he's seen how good the Canadiens can be, particularly in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season when they reached the Eastern Conference Final before bowing out against their opponents Thursday, the New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, SNE, MSG).

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Finland's Rantanen put on show at World Juniors

Thursday, 01.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Finland didn't do much celebrating at the conclusion of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

After winning a gold medal at the 2014 WJC, Finland struggled to find any level of consistency at this year's tournament and finished seventh.

However, forward Mikko Rantanen made quite the impression as one of the youngest players on the team.

In the eyes of some scouts, the 18-year-old left-shot right wing was Finland's best player. He had four of Finland's eight goals at the WJC, and proved to be fast, energetic and reliable player at each end of the ice for Finland.

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Stars center Spezza glad to finally return to Ottawa

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 6:09 PM / NHL Insider

Chris Stevenson - NHL.com Correspondent

OTTAWA -- For the second time in less than two months, the Ottawa Senators will welcome back a former captain Thursday.

Jason Spezza, who asked to be traded last summer after one season as Senators captain, returns to Canadian Tire Centre with the Dallas Stars.

"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)," Spezza said. "This is a little bit of the closing of the book on the move. That's kind of how I'm looking at it."

Spezza will play Thursday after sustaining a broken nose and a cut that required stitches when he was checked into the boards by Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin on Tuesday.


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Fantasy top 60 'D': Hidden gems for second half

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with in-depth defensemen analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer will be your go-to guy for fantasy blue line advice all season long.

The All-Star break is typically looked at as the halfway point of the season, but in reality most teams are already closer to 50 games played. With that in mind, it is time to start taking a hard look at your fantasy rosters and identifying areas you can shore up via trade and/or waiver wire pick-ups.

Believe it or not, you can find significant value this late in the season if you know where to look for it. There are players that might have dealt with injuries through the first half who are getting healthy, or those who will change zip codes via trade.

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Capitals' Alzner, Carlson benefit from new 'D' partners

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- For years, Karl Alzner and John Carlson were almost inseparable on the ice.

Fans in Washington referred to them as "Carlzner," and they evolved together from top prospects with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League to the Washington Capitals' top defensive pairing. When coach Barry Trotz and his assistant in charge of defensemen, Todd Reirden, came to Washington this offseason, they decided it was time for a change.

Alzner and Carlson haven't taken a regular shift together in a single game this season. And yet each is playing much better than he has in recent seasons. Part of that is because of their new partners, veterans Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, who signed with the Capitals as free agents this summer.

"I think it was important that we separate those two," Trotz said. "When you get into having a partner for so long, and they both grew up together, they're both roughly the same age, I think you can miss some things. Having a guy like Brooks or [Niskanen], coming from another organization, being a little bit older and maybe a bit more experience, can really benefit the two younger guys who have played together a long time."


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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Pittsburgh Penguins enter the second half of the season trying keep pace in what has become a heated race in the Metropolitan Division. The Washington Capitals entered the All-Star break with points in eight of 10 games and are one of four teams vying for a division title.

Pittsburgh (27-12-8) has earned at least one point in eight of its past 10 games, including a 5-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. Washington (24-14-9), which lost its fourth straight game (0-3-1), 4-3 at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, fell five points behind the second-place Penguins in the Metropolitan.

The Capitals will try to get back on track when they host the Penguins in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader at Verizon Center (NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN1, 8 p.m. ET).

On the West Coast, the Chicago Blackhawks will face the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center (NBCSN, SN, SN1, 10:30 p.m. ET). Chicago (30-15-2) won back-to-back games entering the break and is tied for second place in the Central Division. The Kings (20-15-12) have won twice in their past 10 and entered the second half on the outside of the Stanley Cup Playoff race.

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Kings need another fast finish to make playoffs

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Recent history shows that the Los Angeles Kings can bank on a strong finish to ramp into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They finished the 2011-12 season with a 9-2-3 run to squeak in and went on to win their first Cup. Last season they went 15-6-2 after the Sochi Olympics en route to their second Cup.

But Kings captain Dustin Brown acknowledged that history works against them as they regroup for the post-All Star break run to the finish, starting Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Staples Center (NBCSN, SN, SN1, 10:30 p.m. ET).

"The bigger challenge is [that] in 2012 we were the L.A. Kings who hadn't won anything," Brown said. "Now it makes it harder. Everyone's ready for you. Everyone knows the position we're in and I'm sure there's a lot of teams that would love to take points from us and prevent us from doing what we want to do."

The Kings (52 points) return to action out of a playoff spot. Coach Darryl Sutter always points to the 100-point threshold for making the postseason; to reach that mark the Kings would have to win two out of three the rest of the way.

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Penguins coach Johnston expects improvement

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Through the Pittsburgh Penguins' first 47 games last season, they sat atop the Metropolitan Division with a 16-point lead on the second-place Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins had an eight-point advantage on the Boston Bruins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and they had gone 7-2-1 in their previous 10 games despite being ravaged by injuries through the first few months of the season.

Behind the bench was Dan Bylsma, the winningest coach in Penguins history.

Pittsburgh is again near the top of the division and conference standings through 47 games this season under new coach Mike Johnston, but heading into Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN1) success hasn't come as easily as it seemed to last season.

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Devils recall Brodeur as 'one of greatest goalies ever'

Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 6:30 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The news that St. Louis Blues goaltender Martin Brodeur is ready to retire didn't take many of his former New Jersey Devils teammates by surprise.

Those who played with Brodeur in New Jersey discussed one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history after practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Tuesday.

"I mean, hockey had to change the rules because of Marty, and that's impressive," forward Scott Gomez said. "I got two Stanley Cup rings because of the guy. Look at the banners of [Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko] and Marty is right up there when you think about the New Jersey Devils; he was part of the core group and he'll go down as one of the greatest goalies ever."

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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