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Subban, Canadiens ready for Ovechkin, Capitals

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 4:38 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- One of the many incredible aspects of the 50-goal season put together by Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is that he has scored at least one goal against 25 of 29 teams.

Not in his career, mind you. This season.

Ovechkin will have a chance to make it 26 out of 29 on Thursday when the Capitals play the Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, RDS, SNE) at Bell Centre for the final time this season.

The Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks are the teams that have not allowed a goal to Ovechkin this season, and Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban knows it will be a big challenge to shut him out for a third time.

"I don't really like to pay special attention to certain players, but he's one of the players in the League who's had a better than average year this year," Subban said with a chuckle after practice Wednesday. "He's scored a lot of goals in the League, so you've got to pay attention to him when he's on the ice.

"I'm always the type of player who likes to get up for the better players in the League. That's how you test yourself, that's how you measure yourself. He's a great player in this League since he's come into it, and he's an impact player, so it's a challenge."

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Jets' Byfuglien faces Player Safety hearing

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 12:00 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL.com

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will have a telephone hearing Thursday with the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit against New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller during a game at MTS Centre on Tuesday.

Miller was hit by Byfuglien in front of the Winnipeg net at 17:23 of the second period. No penalty was assessed on the play and Miller remained in the game.

The following grounds are being considered for supplemental discipline: Cross checking. However, the Department of Player Safety retains the right to make adjustments to the infraction upon review.

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Fantasy top 60 'D': Niskanen heats up just in time

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 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.

Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen burst onto the fantasy scene last season as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins with his best offensive showing since 2008-09, putting up a career best numbers in goals (10), assists (36), points (46), plus-minus (33), power play assists (12) and shots on goal (162).

That he did so during a contract year helped him cash in with lucrative seven-year, $40.25 million dollar contract with the Capitals.

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Playoff Countdown: Pens fighting for second place

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 11:42 AM / Expert Picks

NHL.com

Saturday, April 11, marks the conclusion to the 2014-15 regular season. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the countdown to the end of the season and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

The Pittsburgh Penguins take center stage on a four-game night in the NHL, not only because they are part of the Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, but because they have the best chance to re-order the muddled picture for the Stanley Cup Playoff berths in the Eastern Conference.

The Penguins host their primary rival, the Philadelphia Flyers, at Consol Energy Center (8 p.m.; NBCSN, TVA, SN1) with a chance to solidify its place in the Metropolitan Division standings.

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Playoff clinching scenario for Wednesday, April 1

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 11:10 AM / Expert Picks

NHL Public Relations

With 11 days remaining in the regular season, there are 11 berths up for grabs in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There is one clinching scenario involving a game Wednesday:

* The Anaheim Ducks, who have already clinched a spot in the playoffs, would clinch the Pacific Division if they earn at least one point against the Edmonton Oilers.

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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Pittsburgh Penguins have won back-to-back games and are in a heated race to secure home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Philadelphia Flyers would like to do nothing more than to help deny them that opportunity.

Pittsburgh (42-23-11) has earned points in four of its past five games, including a 3-2 shootout victory against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

Philadelphia (30-29-17), which has points in two of its past three, is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to San Jose on Saturday. The Flyers have four games remaining against teams battling for playoff position.

The Penguins, who are 3-1-1 in their past five games, will try to secure two more points when they host the Flyers at Consol Energy Center in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN1).

"No matter how the year goes for us or them, it's always a big rivalry and heated games, a lot of emotion and intensity in them," defenseman Paul Martin said, according to the Penguins website. "I'm sure I wouldn't expect anything different."

In the nightcap, the Sharks will face the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center (NBCSN, SN1, 10:30 p.m. ET). San Jose (37-30-9) has earned points in three straight games as it tries to keep its slim playoff hopes alive.

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Eichel remains a hot topic entering NCAA Frozen Four

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Boston University senior forward Evan Rodrigues is pretty confident in the fact a team can devise a strategy to deny teammate Jack Eichel, a projected top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, for only so long.

Rodrigues said he hopes that trend continues when the Terriers play against the University of North Dakota in the semifinal round of the 2015 NCAA Frozen Four at TD Garden in Boston on April 9 (8:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2).

Boston University is headed back to the Frozen Four for the first time since winning its fifth NCAA title in 2009. North Dakota advances for the seventh time in coach Dave Hakstol's 11 years as coach.

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Defense-oriented Penguins feel they're set for playoffs

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are nearly unrecognizable.

They have been one of the NHL's more explosive teams throughout the past decade. Having forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin centering the top two lines has that effect. The tandem has combined to lead the League in points per game each of the past five seasons, with Crosby first on each occasion except 2010-11.

That production has led to Pittsburgh averaging 3.16 goals per game entering this season since Crosby's rookie year of 2005-06.

Some things stay the same. Crosby leads the NHL in scoring with 79 points, two more than Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek entering their game at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN1). But that has not translated into overall offensive success like it had in his previous nine seasons with Pittsburgh.

"I think this time of year, it's about us," Penguins assistant coach Gary Agnew said. "We've got to make sure we've got our game fine-tuned to where it has to be heading into the last couple of weeks and into the playoffs. [Wednesday] is just another fine-tune game for us."

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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Monitor late line trends

Tuesday, 03.31.2015 / 12:15 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen will provide you with in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top 100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen will be your go-to guy for fantasy forward advice all season long.

Whether early or late in the season, the right line combinations usually lead to results in fantasy hockey.

Some lines have gelled nicely for much of the year, with prime examples being Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers, to the "Triplets" line (Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov) of the Tampa Bay Lightning, to Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars.

Even in the month following the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline, Jaromir Jagr (with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau) of the Florida Panthers and Drew Stafford (with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler) of the Winnipeg Jets have emerged as difference-makers. Productivity sometimes supersedes longevity.

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Playoff Countdown: Big night for Panthers, Senators

Tuesday, 03.31.2015 / 10:57 AM / Expert Picks

NHL.com

Saturday, April 11, marks the conclusion to the 2014-15 regular season. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the countdown to the end of the season and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

Tuesday is an important night in the race for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

The Boston Bruins (38-25-13), who currently occupy that spot, along with the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers, their two closest pursuers, are all in action. The Senators (37-26-12) trail the Bruins by three points and the Panthers (35-26-15) are four back.

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Quote of the Day

It's very special, obviously; there is draft day and then there's the day that you sign your first deal. It's been a crazy couple of weeks and I'm very honored to be able to do that."

— Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid on signing his first professional contract