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Features

Improved scoring, shot prevention top Sabres list

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

BUFFALO – Success can be hard to come by and it has different definitions depending on the point of view. For the Buffalo Sabres, a successful 2014-15 season may not be hard to create.

The Sabres made several veteran additions in the offseason. Forwards Brian Gionta, Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick joined the ranks, along with defenseman Andrej Meszaros, and defenseman Josh Gorges was added via trade with the Montreal Canadiens.

Things could be looking up in Buffalo.

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Sabres aim to bounce back after last-place finish

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres had the worst season in franchise history in 2013-14, but there's hope that things will improve sooner rather than later.

The Sabres head into the 2014-15 season ready to grow for the future after a summer filled with changes. Numerous veteran additions give the Sabres a vaguely familiar look heading into a season that will provide a new set of challenges.

"Last year was a mess," forward Drew Stafford said. "With guys getting moved, getting out of the lineup, signing new guys, there were a lot of tryouts for spots it seemed even later on in the year or mix and matching the lineup quite a bit. … It's still going to be a challenge, it's still going to be a struggle at times, but definitely I expect it to be better than last year."

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Power play, Huberdeau's revival key for Panthers

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The Florida Panthers put on their hard hats this summer and went to work reconstructing a team that finished 29th in the overall standings. The Panthers signed six veterans on July 1; three (center Dave Bolland, defenseman Willie Mitchell, forward Shawn Thornton) have played on recent Stanley Cup-winning teams. Top-nine forward Jussi Jokinen and backup goalie Al Montoya also were added to a core that has three youngsters (Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau) on the cusp of stardom and a fourth, 2014 No. 1 draft pick Aaron Ekblad, with a chance to make the team at age 18.

The Panthers also have a new coach in Gerard Gallant, who is optimistic the franchise will return to prominence sooner than later, perhaps as soon as this season.

"We're going to work hard and get to know our players real well and put our game plan in place, and hopefully everything takes off from there," Gallant said. "We think we have a real good core here, and it's just a matter of getting off to a good start and getting confidence in our hockey players."

Here are three things that will have to happen for the Panthers' season to be successful:

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Gionta thrilled to be back home with Sabres

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Brian Gionta is eight years removed from scoring a career-high 48 goals, setting a single-season franchise record for the New Jersey Devils.

More recently, Gionta captained the Montreal Canadiens, leading the storied franchise within two wins of an appearance in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

The offseason saw Gionta become an unrestricted free agent for the second time, and now the 35-year-old native of Rochester, N.Y., has come home to write the next chapter in his career with the Buffalo Sabres.

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Five Q's: Crosby ready after changes to Penguins

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday during the regular season and every other Tuesday in the offseason. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby:

Sidney Crosby returned to Pittsburgh last week, joined his teammates on the ice for informal practices leading up to the start of training camp this week and then proclaimed his wrist healthy and himself ready to start the 2014-15 season.

When the captain arrived in town most everything around him looked familiar save for a few new teammates, except so much about his Pittsburgh Penguins has changed.

The Penguins have a new general manager (Jim Rutherford), a new coach (Mike Johnston), new assistant coaches (Rick Tocchet and Gary Agnew), and a new philosophy about how to play and how to make their way through the 82-game grind that is the NHL's regular season.

A lot of what Crosby and his teammates did under former coach Dan Bylsma and former general manager Ray Shero now has to change. The Penguins still can be called the favorite to finish first in the Metropolitan Division, but how they go about trying to win their third consecutive regular-season division title will be different.

Crosby touched on the new philosophy in Pittsburgh, Johnston and the team in an interview with NHL.com during the League's annual Player Media Tour in New York last week.

Here are Five Questions with … Sidney Crosby:

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New coach, players have Panthers feeling positive

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Gerard Gallant knows what it's like to engineer a quick turnaround.

The Montreal Canadiens hired him as an assistant coach in June 2012 after a season that saw the team finish 15th in the Eastern Conference and 28th in the NHL standings.

Working under Michel Therrien, Gallant helped lead Montreal to a first-place finish in the Northeast Division in 2012-13. Then the Canadiens made it to the Eastern Conference Final last season, sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning and stunning the Presidents' Trophy-winning Boston Bruins in seven games before falling to the New York Rangers in six.

He's tasked with a similar mission with the Florida Panthers, this time as the 13th coach in franchise history and sixth since 2003-04. Only the Buffalo Sabres (52 points) finished lower in the League standings last season than the Panthers (29-45-8, 66 points). That sparked changes on the ice and behind the bench, where Gallant receives a second chance to lead an NHL team after going 56-76-6 with four ties in parts of three seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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Bjugstad, new-look Panthers, eager to take next step

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Florida Panthers center Nick Bjugstad is anxious to begin a new season with a new coach and several new faces sprinkled throughout the lineup ready to make their mark.

"It sounds like everyone is hungry; it's not fun to lose, especially in the top League in the world," Bjugstad said. "You want to do better and I think guys are really committed to that this year. Hopefully we can turn it around and start with a clean slate and not worry about the last couple of years."

The Panthers are looking for improvement in 2014-15 after back-to-back disappointing seasons: a 30th-place finish in the League standings in 2012-13 and a 29th-place finish last season.

"I think bringing in Gerard [Gallant] as head coach and his staff, coupled with the dynamic of what our roster looks like right now and what's coming through the pipeline, will be a springboard moving forward," Panthers director of amateur scouting Scott Luce said. "I think we're going to be a significantly improved team this year but it will be tough to make the playoffs.

"I think if we can find a way to make the playoffs, it will mark the final push for us to be a consistent playoff team for the next 10 years, barring injuries or bad luck."

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Canadiens view goalie Price as one of their leaders

Monday, 09.15.2014 / 8:32 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

LAVAL, Quebec – The word "transition" was used often at the Montreal Canadiens' annual charity golf tournament on Monday.

Carey Price
Carey Price - CAREER
Goalie - MTL
RECORD: 179-137-44
GAA: 2.52 | SVP: .917
General manager Marc Bergevin and coach Michel Therrien used the word immediately to explain their decision to go without a captain for the second time in team history this season, instead naming Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban to serve as alternates.

The group represents the past, present and future of the team, and it's possible a new leader will indeed emerge from that group to replace the departed Brian Gionta and become Canadiens captain next summer.

But it is just as possible, if not likely, that the actual leader of the team was unofficially named when the team decided to forego naming a captain.

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Predators' Forsberg hoping for goals, NHL role

Monday, 09.15.2014 / 10:17 AM / Prospects

Josh Cooper - NHL.com Correspondent

ANTIOCH, Tenn. -- In one game during a rookie tournament last weekend at Ford Ice Center, Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg showed why he is a prominent as well as a frustrating prospect.

A lack of discipline put Forsberg in the penalty box against the Tampa Bay Lightning three times. An abundance of skill led to him scoring a goal in overtime, as well as assisting on a goal by Kevin Fiala.

"It was a great end for sure for me and also for the team. But three penalties was not acceptable," said Forsberg, No. 12 on the NHL.com Top 60 prospect rankings for this season.

The Predators have heaped high expectations on the 2012 first-round pick (No. 11) of the Washington Capitals, whom they acquired for Martin Erat in 2013. The 20-year-old has yet to reach those lofty levels, however, with one goal in 18 NHL games during the past two seasons.

The hope remains that the 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward can start moving forward in his development this season.

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Defenseman Gelinas signs new contract with Devils

Monday, 09.15.2014 / 10:04 AM / NHL Free Agency 2014

NHL.com

Restricted free-agent defenseman Eric Gelinas has signed a new contract, the team announced Monday. Details of the contract were not released, but NorthJersey.com reported Gelinas signed for one year at $900,000.

"Just happy to have everybody here, everybody ready," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "It's the first step towards getting our team together. We've got all our players here and now training camp begins."

Gelinas, 23, had seven goals and 29 points in 60 games last season while averaging 16:55 of ice time per game. He was fourth among all rookie defenders in goals and tied for third in points, despite playing fewer games than anyone on the list above him.

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Quote of the Day

We're buyers. We're committed to winning. That's what [owner Vinnie Viola] has said all along and what we've said all along. We want to win. We want to win a championship. We're putting the pieces together, step by step, and we're hopeful that Jaromir can lead these young guys to the promised land. It's a win-win for us.

— Panthers GM Dale Tallon on Jaromir Jagr, who he traded for from the Devils on Thursday
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