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Murray suspended three games for illegal check

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 2:07 PM / NHL Department of Player Safety

NHL.com

NEW YORK -- Montreal Canadiens defenseman Douglas Murray has been suspended for three games, without pay, for an illegal check to the head of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Michael Kostka during NHL Game No. 1135 in Tampa on Tuesday, April 1, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 17:47 of the third period. Murray was assessed a match penalty for illegal check to the head.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Murray will forfeit $23,076.93. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

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In the Cage: Bryzgalov's late-season surprise value

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

In a season loaded with stretches of stellar goaltending from surprising fantasy assets, nobody will ever forget the inspirational play of Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding.

Not only has Harding earned 18 wins in just 29 games (18-7-3), but he also still holds the NHL's best goals-against average (1.65) and save percentage (.933). Unfortunately, he hasn't played since Dec. 31, 2013 due to complications with multiple sclerosis, a situation that opened the door for Darcy Kuemper to produce a breakout rookie season.

But now there is another pleasant surprise in the Wild goalie carousel: the recent play of Ilya Bryzgalov.

Since joining the Wild at the NHL Trade Deadline, Bryzgalov has gone 4-0-2 with a 2.16 GAA and .909 save percentage, including a 36-save shutout against the New York Islanders on March 18. Those stats aren't startling, but the wins have helped Minnesota cling to a wild-card spot for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference.

After being bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers at the end of last season, Bryzgalov faced an uncertain NHL future. Instead of settling for a gig in the Kontinental Hockey League, the 33-year-old spent part of his summer training with elite Swedish goalie coach Erik Granqvist. That led to an opportunity with the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers in October, where he would continue to train, this time with Wranglers goalie coach Michael Lawrence.

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Style, depth deliver Kings to fifth straight postseason

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 10:06 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

With the same core in place from their 2012 Stanley Cup championship team and a couple of rookies which have made a difference, the Los Angeles Kings have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth straight season. The Kings haven't reached the playoffs in five straight seasons since 1987-93

The Kings, who clinched Wednesday night with a 4-0 victory against the Phoenix Coyotes, will likely finish third in the Pacific Division, but could reach 100 points for the first time since 2009-10 and for the fourth time in franchise history. They need two wins to set a new club record for wins in a season and three road wins to set a new club record for road wins in a season.

How did they get it done again?

Here are five reasons why the Kings are heading back to the playoffs:

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Playoff Countdown: Stretch-run storylines

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 9:32 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The conclusion to 2013-14 NHL regular season is fast approaching. After game play Wednesday, the League is down to 88 games remaining on the schedule, with nine to be played Thursday. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff qualification, playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the 11-day countdown to the end of the season April 13 and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 16, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are so close now that you can want to reach out, grab them, pull them in and have them start today.

Patience people, patience. There are still 11 days left in the 2013-14 regular season, still so much to be decided, so much to follow.

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Blues' Miller happy to see Sabres, not play them

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When the Buffalo Sabres traded goalie Ryan Miller to the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 28, it ended nearly 15 years of Miller playing for one NHL organization.

So when Miller's new team and old team play for the first time since the trade Thursday at Scottrade Center, he'll be on the bench; Brian Elliott will make the start instead.

"It's fine," Miller said after practice Wednesday. "There will be a lot of time to worry about that later. This year it's pretty fresh leaving that situation, so maybe it's just a full break, get [Elliott] in there.

"Hopefully I get to see some of the boys for dinner or see them around the rink, catch up and see how they're doing."

Watching the Sabres without being part of the group will be something different for Miller. He was drafted by Buffalo in the fifth round (No. 138) of the 1999 NHL Draft and made his NHL debut with the Sabres during the 2002-03 season. He ranks as the Sabres' all-time leader in games played (540) and wins (284).

"It's going to be a little strange," Miller said. "There were a group of guys I played with for a number of years. It's going to be a little bit different but all great guys, all guys I count as friends. I'm looking forward to seeing them.

"On the human side of it I'm glad the guys are going to be in town. A chance to see some friends."

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Prospector Files: European draft-eligible All-Star team

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 3:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Sweden had a record number of players selected at the 2013 NHL Draft.

There were 26 players chosen from the country last year, eclipsing the former high of 25 in 2011. In all there were 46 international players chosen in the draft, which represented 21.8 percent of players picked. Three of the seven European skaters taken in the first round were from Sweden: Center Elias Lindholm (No. 5, Carolina Hurricanes), center Alexander Wennberg (No. 14, Columbus Blue Jackets) and left wing Andre Burakovsky (No. 23, Washington Capitals).

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Five-goal game showcase of Ritchie's skill, strength

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014 NHL Draft - Philadelphia - June 27-28, 2014

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Peterborough Petes coach Jody Hull is accustomed to seeing forward Nicholas Ritchie take over games as he did two months ago against the Kingston Frontenacs.

The only difference being Hull never witnessed a five-goal outburst from his 6-foot-2.25, 231-pound power forward.

Ritchie finished that Feb. 7 game with a career-high six points in a 7-6 shootout loss to Kingston. It was a remarkable display of skating, shooting and toughness from the No. 7 player on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2014 NHL Draft.

It marked the first five-goal game for an Ontario Hockey League player since Ritchie's brother, Dallas Stars prospect Brett Ritchie, scored five times for the Niagara IceDogs against the Petes on Nov. 4, 2012.

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Daily Primer April 3: Playoff preview in San Jose

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 2:00 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com

The Edmonton Oilers nearly did the San Jose Sharks a favor Wednesday night, but they blew a 2-0 lead in the third period in a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Instead, the Sharks enter Thursday three points behind the Ducks instead of one in the Pacific Division race. San Jose will look to get back within a point of Anaheim when it hosts the Los Angeles Kings at SAP Center (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

Should the Sharks (48-20-9) be unable to pass the Ducks in the standings, they would almost certainly face Los Angeles (45-26-6) in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Kings are 3-0-1 against the Sharks this season.

Here's a closer look at the action Thursday:

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Trade to Flyers revived goalie Mason's career

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 7:09 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Steve Mason
Goalie - PHI
RECORD: 31-17-7
GAA: 2.53 | SVP: 0.916
Steve Mason says he was ready to walk away from hockey. The game he'd loved since childhood had become a chore.

As the conclusion of the 2012-13 season approached, Mason was at a crossroads. Tossing his goalie pads in the trash seemed like the best, perhaps only, course of action.

One year later, Mason's angst is a distant memory. His smile is omnipresent and the pads he was ready to trash have earned him his second 30-win season. He's virtually assured of making his second trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he has a three-year contract extension with the Philadelphia Flyers that starts in July.

Thursday, Mason will celebrate the one-year anniversary of his arrival in Philadelphia. Coincidentally, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team that traded Mason to Philadelphia, will be the opposition.


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Red Wings' Babcock focused solely on the present

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 3:21 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- It was one of the most enduring images from this year's installment of HBO's "24/7: Road to the Winter Classic," which previewed the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic played between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Jan. 1.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock stood in front of a white dry-erase board in the locker room putting a patchwork of unfamiliar numbers into his lineup. He added forward Gustav Nyquist's No. 14 to the top of an injury list eight players long that was written vertically down the right side.

"These people don't matter," Babcock said, circling his hand around the injury list.

Circling his hand around the lineup, he continued: "These people matter."

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Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets