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(Page 104 of 174)
Features

Wild have new look going up against Avalanche

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 1:47 AM / Avalanche vs Wild - 2014 SCP First Round

NHL.com

It took until the very last day of the NHL regular season to determine that these teams would meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Colorado Avalanche became the 2013-14 Central Division champions when the St. Louis Blues lost 3-0 to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon. Led by first-year coach Patrick Roy, it was yet another remarkable achievement by the Avalanche this season after they finished with the second-fewest points in the NHL in 2012-13.

The Minnesota Wild have qualified for the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. After signing forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter to identical 13-year, $98 million contracts in the summer of 2012, the Wild ended a four-year playoff drought but were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round in five games.

When the puck drops on Game 1, it will be the first time the Avalanche and Wild have shared the same sheet of ice since Jan. 30. They played five games against each other in a two-month span, with two of the games requiring shootouts. Colorado finished 4-0-1 against Minnesota; rookie Nathan MacKinnon had two game-winning goals.

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Playoffs latest chapter in big year for Stars' Benn

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 1:30 AM / Ducks vs Stars - 2014 SCP First Round

Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- This has already been a landmark season for Jamie Benn.

In September, the Dallas Stars left wing was named captain. In February, Benn represented Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, scoring two goals for the gold-medal winner.

Friday, after the Stars defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-0 at American Airlines Center, Benn learned what it felt like to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time when Dallas qualified for the postseason, snapping a six-year playoff drought.

"Obviously, proud of the way our team played, excited for what's to come. It's a great opportunity for this group of guys that we have," Benn said. "We know that we can beat any team. We have a confident group."


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Sharks' Vlasic finds spotlight with his effective ways

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:59 AM / Sharks vs Kings - 2014 SCP First Round

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- While playing hockey as a young boy in Montreal, San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic was different from most of the other kids on the ice, who loved scoring goals and racking up points.

Vlasic produced plenty of points, but what drove him was his absolute hatred for giving up goals.

"I wasn't big on points," Vlasic said after a morning skate at SAP Center. "I did get a lot growing up, but I remember between 7 and 11 or maybe even earlier that that, every time I was on the ice for a goal against I'd cry because I hate being minus. I was big on making sure that didn't happen. It's still big for me."

He doesn't cry as much these days, but not much else has changed in Vlasic's approach to the game. He still despises giving up goals.

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Why the Penguins will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:55 AM / Penguins vs Blue Jackets - 2014 SCP First Round

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

The Pittsburgh Penguins will win the Stanley Cup this year because they lost out on a chance to play for it last season.

The humiliation from a four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final hasn’t been forgotten and the pain remains fresh for a team that won three-quarters of its regular-season games in 2012-13 but saw its postseason dreams end in disappointment and recrimination.

Pittsburgh could do nothing right against the Bruins, managing just two goals in the four games, and none from its two superstars: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

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Penguins seeking chemistry from third, fourth lines

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:50 AM / Penguins vs Blue Jackets - 2014 SCP First Round

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are in a familiar position after another successful regular season.

The Penguins enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Eastern Conference's second seed. They only spent one day out of first place in the Metropolitan Division after October, trailing the Washington Capitals by one point on Nov. 18.

Top center Sidney Crosby finished as the NHL's scoring champion, while linemate Chris Kunitz broke his previous career highs of 26 goals and 61 points. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, facing pressure stemming from a lackluster postseason and without a veteran backup after a training-camp injury to Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), enjoyed one of his best regular seasons.

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Why the Kings will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:50 AM / Sharks vs Kings - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The Los Angeles Kings were overwhelmed by the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final last season. They couldn't compete with Chicago's skill and didn't have enough firepower to match the Blackhawks, especially with Mike Richards missing three games because of a head injury.

Jonathan Quick and L.A.'s defense didn't bend much, but without enough offensive support, Chicago eventually extinguished the Kings from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a five-game series, including a double-overtime Game 5.

That won't happen to the Kings this spring, not against Chicago or any team. Los Angeles is the best possession team in the NHL, as deep as anyone down the middle, and is backed by a world-class goaltender. That hat trick of attributes will lead the Kings to their second Stanley Cup championship in three years.

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X-Factor: Changes in Martinez's game pays dividends

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:45 AM / Sharks vs Kings - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

A minor change in Alec Martinez's mindset coming out of the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics led to a major breakthrough in his game, lifting the Los Angeles Kings defenseman into a more prominent role heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Alec Martinez
Defense - LAK
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 22
SOG: 79 | +/-: 17
"It's no secret that teams are focused on blocking shots and guys are really good at it, so as defensemen we had to focus on getting more shots through," Martinez told NHL.com. "I've just been trying to get 'em to the net. With our style of play, the forwards get in on the forecheck and you want to grind teams down, so if we can make that low-to-high play and get that shot through we can create some scoring opportunities."

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Doughty's all-round game key to Kings' success

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:40 AM / Sharks vs Kings - 2014 SCP First Round

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter was talking to reporters after the morning skate March 29 when Drew Doughty walked past the scrum.

Dressed in shorts, t-shirt and a cap turned backward, the smiling Doughty turned to Sutter just before he ducked out the door.

"See you tomorrow!" Doughty said.

"See you tonight," Sutter said.

Doughty was joking, of course. But he could have shown up for that night's game, played more than 25 minutes and never had to consult with Sutter. Doughty is a Sutter favorite and needs little coaching in this, perhaps the finest all-around season of his young career.

That's saying something for a player whose resume already includes a Stanley Cup title and two Olympic gold medals. Doughty turned 24 in December and begins a quest for a second Cup ring when the Kings play the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round. There is also a possible trip to the NHL Awards show in June.

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X-Factor: Penguins' Fleury must silence critics

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:35 AM / Penguins vs Blue Jackets - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Marc-Andre Fleury's resume includes a Stanley Cup championship, two appearances in the Stanley Cup Final and close to 300 regular-season wins in more than 500 appearances. For most goalies, a resume like that would be enough to quiet any critics, to silence any doubters heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Marc-Andre Fleury
Goalie - PIT
RECORD: 39-18-5
GAA: 2.37 | SVP: 0.915
Not for Fleury. Not even close.

Fleury's championship ring, 45 wins in 80 postseason appearances, and 288 regular-season victories won't help the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in their Eastern Conference First Round series, which begins Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC). In fact, if Fleury doesn't play better than he has in recent postseasons, the Penguins may not make it out of the first round.

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Why the Blue Jackets will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:30 AM / Penguins vs Blue Jackets - 2014 SCP First Round

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Columbus Blue Jackets will need to use that us-against-the-world mentality from the opening faceoff of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

At the start of the season, the Blue Jackets were long shots to make the postseason, but the fact they are now among the remaining 16 teams still standing speaks to the character and never-say-quit attitude needed this time of the year.

That is the attitude which will carry Columbus to its first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

The fact that so few are giving the Blue Jackets a legitimate shot at making a serious postseason run will be a prime motivator, as will the opportunity to catch opponents looking ahead to the next challenge.

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Quote of the Day

I kept refreshing the page on the NHL website after the second round and I was shocked he lasted that long. I'm sure the Coyotes were pretty happy to get him. He's such a good player and he plays big in big games.

— Arizona forward Henrik Samuelsson on prospect Edgars Kulda being drafted by the Coyotes