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Features

Billy Smith speaks to Islanders before being honored

Saturday, 11.22.2014 / 1:13 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Billy Smith still remembers his introduction to Long Island.

"My wife and I were in Connecticut; we were going to play in New Haven. When I got to the rink, my equipment wasn't there. They told me I had to be up here for practice the next morning. I left early, but I had no idea about Long Island," he said Saturday, prior to being honored as part of the Islanders' celebration of their final season at Nassau Coliseum. "I ended up driving all the way to the end of the Island, turned around and drove all the way back and got to the rink. And I still made practice."

That was in 1972, when Smith played 37 games for an expansion team that set NHL records for most losses and fewest points. Eight years later, Smith was in goal at the Coliseum on May 24, 1980, when Bobby Nystrom's overtime goal gave the Islanders their first of four consecutive Stanley Cup championships.

"We had a good group of guys," he said. "We had 16 guys that probably played seven years together, eight years together. You do get to know each other really well."

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Bruins' Hamilton emerging as star in Chara's absence

Saturday, 11.22.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- There was a time, if you can believe it, that 6-foot-5, 212-pound Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton wasn't a towering presence.

Hamilton was in his mid-teens and a blossoming defenseman in the Mississauga Reps minor hockey system. Reps coach George Stavro estimated Hamilton was about 5-foot-10 and "maybe 160 pounds soaking wet."

Like any teenager, Hamilton was a little unsure about his future and a little bored. The Reps were loaded and dominating with Hamilton, future Carolina Hurricanes draft pick Phillip Di Giuseppe, future Minnesota Wild draft pick Tyler Graovac and Harvard recruit Mark Luzar leading the way.

Hamilton also had an itching to try something new, so Stavro allowed Hamilton to spend a season as a forward.

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Devils goalie Schneider emerging as a workhorse

Friday, 11.21.2014 / 3:19 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Cory Schneider knew the questions would come quickly when it appeared that he would be supplanting the most decorated goaltender in the history of the position for the New Jersey Devils this season.

Schneider acknowledged all along, however, that he would not be replacing Martin Brodeur. He instead had his mind set on continuing the tradition of excellence at that position for the organization.

The 28-year-old was signed to a seven-year contract extension worth a reported $42 million in July to do just that.

Still, no one really expected him to surpass Brodeur for consecutive starts to begin a season either, but that's what will happen when Schneider plays against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Friday.

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Syracuse poised to set American attendance mark

Friday, 11.21.2014 / 12:17 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

The number 28,138 is an important one in the world of professional hockey.

On April 23, 1996, the fans who filled the building now known as Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., to watch the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals set a record for the largest indoor crowd ever to see a professional hockey game in the United States.

On Saturday that record likely will be eclipsed by the Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, when they play their in-state rival, the Utica Comets, inside Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

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Callahan, hits and keepers among hot fantasy topics

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Let's jump right into the five hottest topics in fantasy hockey right now.

1. Callahan coming through in Tampa Bay

For some strange reason, several fantasy hockey owners have been reaching out to me on Twitter asking about Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan. Whether it's adding him for someone else, or trading him, or whether he can keep his hot streak going, Callahan has been a topic of discussion of late.

I'll say this: I'm a fan of Ryan Callahan. The only issue with him is that he's had difficulty avoiding injuries throughout his career. If he can stay on the ice for the Lightning, I expect an extremely productive fantasy season. He won't reach his current on-pace for stats of 38 goals, 71 points and a plus-28 rating, but he has the ability to score 30-plus with 60 points.

There are three main reasons I'm a believer in Callahan: 1) He skates on a line with Steven Stamkos; 2) He averages 3:30 of power-play ice time per game (six power-play points this season); and 3) He has a solid track record of all-around per-game production over his career.

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Super 16: No panic in Blackhawks despite slow start

Friday, 11.21.2014 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

There are not many franchises in the NHL where a 10-7-1 start to the season would elicit varying degrees of panic amongst the fan base, but the Chicago Blackhawks live in that space in 2014.

The Blackhawks have been one of the best teams in the NHL for seven seasons now, winning the Stanley Cup twice and reaching the Western Conference Final twice in the past six campaigns. There is an expectation to be playing in June 2015, or this season will be considered a failure.

So 21 points in 18 games, which as of Thursday morning was only good enough for ninth place in the West, has set off warning alarms in some homes in the greater Chicagoland area. One person who is not concerned? That would be Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman.

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Canadiens silence some whispers with loud statement

Friday, 11.21.2014 / 12:55 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty said he didn't hear the chatter, but he knew it was out there.

He knew because his Montreal Canadiens were feeling it.

The Canadiens entered this week atop the NHL standings with a rough stretch of four games staring them directly in the face: The Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues at home, the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers in a back-to-back on the road.

It was as stiff a test as they had faced and an opportunity to silence critics saying their hot start was not sustainable, that they didn't belong among the elite teams of the NHL.

In the first leg of that test, the Canadiens did not silence their critics. They empowered them.

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2015 NHL All-Star Fan Vote opens today

Enhanced interactive ballot features all 700-plus active players

Thursday, 11.20.2014 / 12:20 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

NHL.com

Top six vote-getters by position earn spot in 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game

NEW YORK – When the 2015 NHL All-Star Fan Vote™ presented by SiriusXM opens worldwide Thursday, Nov. 20, online at NHL.com/vote and via mobile phones, the interactive ballot will feature all 700-plus active players in the NHL. Past All-Stars Sidney Crosby, Ryan Miller, Steven Stamkos and Duncan Keith will compete with this season's standouts and potential All-Stars Ryan Johansen, Vladimir Tarasenko, PK Subban and Mark Giordano for spots in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game® on Sunday, Jan. 25 in Columbus (5pm ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Fans around the world will be able to vote via interactive online ballots at NHL.com/vote in English, French, German, Czech, Finnish, Russian, Slovak and Swedish and via select languages in the official NHL app for mobile phones. Voting concludes Thursday, Jan. 1, with the top six vote-getters by position – three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender – set to take part in the 2015 Honda NHL® All-Star Game. The full roster of players will be determined by the National Hockey League.

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Avoid starts in tail-end games

Thursday, 11.20.2014 / 12:05 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Through action Wednesday, 279 games of the 1,230-game regular season schedule have been played. Of those 279 games, 90 of them have come on the tail end of a back-to-back situation.

That number is pretty significant when it comes to fantasy goaltending, because it means nearly one-third of the total games played (32.2 percent) have resulted in a goalie playing behind a tired team.

For that reason alone, back-to-back situations are never easy to manage. As one NHL goalie coach in the Western Conference told us, the emphasis is almost always placed on earning a win in the first game, as it "sets the tone" for the tail-end game. That makes sense from a team perspective, but from a fantasy standpoint, goalies playing behind tired teams are struggling as a whole.

Overall, teams are just 37-45-8 in the tail-end game of a back-to-back. That includes a 12-17-0 record at home and a 25-28-8 record on the road. Of those 90 tail-end games, 51 of them have seen the tired team allow more shots compared to the previous night. That means 56.7 percent of tail-end games will see the goalie face more shots and likely more scoring chances behind a tired team.

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Projecting the 42 participants in the '15 All-Star Game

Thursday, 11.20.2014 / 12:00 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

2015 ASG ROSTER PROJECTIONS

In about two months, the NHL's top stars will convene at Nationwide Arena for the 2015 NHL All-Star Game.

It is never too early to debate who will earn a trip to All-Star Weekend, so NHL.com and NHL Network assembled a panel of five writers and analysts to project which 42 players are most deserving of a spot in Columbus. The panel includes E.J. Hradek and Kevin Weekes of NHL Network and Arpon Basu, Corey Masisak and Dan Rosen of NHL.com.

The exercise was pretty simple. All five guys chose the 42 players (12 forwards, six defensemen and three goalies in each conference) they felt most deserved to be named to the All-Star Game.

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Quote of the Day

I think that’s the sign of a good team. When you don’t play well, and you don’t stay focused and you don’t do the intangibles that it takes, you still win the hockey game.

— New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano after their win vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday
2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series