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2015 NHL Draft
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Features

Blackhawks' Kane cleared to return for Game 1

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 6:23 PM / Predators vs Blackhawks - 2015 SCP First Round

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane has been cleared to play in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Nashville Predators, the Blackhawks announced.

Kane, who sustained a fractured left collarbone Feb. 24 against the Florida Panthers, was a full participant in practice Monday. It was the first time since his surgery Feb. 25 that he practiced without wearing a white, non-contact jersey.

“Patrick has been working extremely diligently with his rehabilitation and has recently returned to full-contact practice without any difficulty," Blackhawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement. "After discussions with Patrick and the team, and examining Patrick today, we collectively feel it is appropriate, with minimal risk, for him to return to full participation.”

Kane didn't take any full hits in practice Monday. He seemed unsure afterward whether he would be able to join the rest of the Blackhawks for their first game of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN360, CSN-CH, FS-TN).

"I'm not really sure," Kane said. "We're not at that point yet. That's something that has to be discussed with a lot of different people internally, and ultimately at the end I have to feel like I can play and feel good out there. I have to feel safe too. That's probably one of the most important things right now."

Capitals confident with Trotz behind bench for playoffs

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 5:42 PM / Capitals vs Islanders - 2015 SCP First Round

Katie Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and failing to advance past the Eastern Conference Second Round in six previous appearances, the Washington Capitals believe they have what it takes to go all the way.

"I think we're optimistic that the style we play is more suited to the playoffs than we've ever had in the past," Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said.

When the Capitals host the New York Islanders in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series on Wednesday, they'll be looking to start writing a new page to their history.

Once regarded as a one-dimensional offensive powerhouse, Washington has earned a reputation across the NHL as a tough, hard-hitting team that's still a scoring threat.

"In the past we were maybe sort of a rush team," forward Brooks Laich said. "I don't think we're as high flying, high octane [an] offense as we once were, but I think we're a lot more difficult to play against this way. It should bode well for a sustained playoff run."


Bruins humbled as postseason streak comes to end

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 4:20 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was blunt when asked to assess the season that concluded Saturday because the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins each won their games and eliminated the Bruins from contention for a place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Well, what's failed, F? Because you know, if you don't make the playoffs, you've failed," Rask said at TD Garden on Monday. "You know, it doesn't matter what happened, if you don't make the playoffs you've failed. I mean, if we were to make the playoffs, who knows what could have happened. So the line there is very thin, and we really felt like we had a group of guys to make a good run in the playoffs. But we failed because we didn't make the playoffs and we'll never find out."

The Bruins, who held their breakup day Monday, had good reason to believe they might've had a run in them. Most of the core of the team was part of a Stanley Cup championship in 2011, an Eastern Conference title in 2013 and a Presidents' Trophy win 12 months ago. Boston reached the playoffs seven straight seasons before this one.

Hitchcock not revealing Game 1 goaltender for Blues

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:07 PM / Blues vs Wild - 2015 SCP First Round

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has kept everyone guessing regarding his starting goalie for Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN360, FS-N, FW-MW, FS-WI).

The veteran coach continued the guessing game Monday, but judging by Hitchcock's comments after practice, veteran Brian Elliott may have the slight edge over Jake Allen as to who starts Game 1 at Scottrade Center.

Elliott, who made 23 saves to defeat the Wild 4-2 in the regular-season finale on Saturday, is 7-2-0 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .895 save percentage with two shutouts against Minnesota. He was 6-0-0 against the Wild before back-to-back losses against them, 3-1 on March 14 and 6-3 on March 21.

Allen, who is 4-1-1 overall in his past six starts, is 1-0-0 with a 2.38 GAA and .920 save percentage in two appearances (one start) against the Wild.

Crosby confident in Penguins' chances vs. Rangers

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 2:21 PM / Rangers vs Penguins - 2015 SCP First Round

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby is aware of what happened a year ago. He doesn't think it matters.

The New York Rangers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Second Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs after trailing the series, 3-1. The series loss led to sweeping change throughout the Penguins organization, from a new general manager and coach to a retooled roster.

Crosby has gone back and watched tape from that series. Other Penguins, such as defenseman Ben Lovejoy, have said it hasn't been mentioned in the locker room. Either way, the Penguins hope the outcome can be different when they play the Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round, starting with Game 1 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, ROOT, MSG).

Whether the series last year has been widely discussed amongst the Penguins or not, Crosby thinks they can learn a few lessons to avoid an early exit this time.

Canadiens' Pacioretty practices, status uncertain

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 2:13 PM / Canadiens vs Senators - 2015 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec – Max Pacioretty might be ready for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Montreal Canadiens left wing and leading scorer took another step towards a return to the lineup Monday when he practiced with his teammates for the first time since he sustained an upper-body injury April 5.

It was Pacioretty’s third straight day on the ice and he said he was able to skate at 100 percent exertion for the second straight day, though he has not yet been cleared to take contact.

Senators' Karlsson deserves second Norris Trophy

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

It has been an unpredictable season for the top defensemen in the NHL.

Injuries have derailed the chase for the Norris Trophy for Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames, Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues and Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins finished second in the voting last season and while he too was injured, was probably not going to be part of the discussion anyway.

Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber was considered a favorite for the award shortly after Giordano was injured, but his team faded at the end of the season and several advanced statistics don't agree with that sentiment.

Before the season, Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings was pegged as the favorite by NHL.com. Doughty has never won the trophy, but the argument that he was the best defenseman in the sport became a popular one while the Kings marched to their second Stanley Cup title in three years last spring.

Doughty has had a phenomenal year, especially considering the amount of ice time he had to shoulder while the Kings dealt with injuries to Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez, and Slava Voynov being suspended for 76 games. He would be a fine choice for the 2015 Norris Trophy, but he is not the pick for NHL.com.

That would be Ottawa Senators talisman Erik Karlsson. Though Karlsson led all defensemen in points with 66 that is not the primary reason he deserves to win the Norris Trophy for the second time in his career.

Flames resurgence has Hartley leader for Jack Adams

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

Few if anyone outside of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, believed in the 2014-15 Calgary Flames.

The Flames were in their second full season without longtime franchise face Jarome Iginla, traded prior to the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline, and finished 27th in the League last season. A rebuilding project was in its infancy stage with a ways to go before they were to even sniff a chance at the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Or so it seemed.

Calgary responded to the skeptics by going 32-24-4 by Feb. 25, one point out of the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. But they were declared finished after captain and Norris Trophy contender Mark Giordano sustained a torn biceps muscle in the final minute of a 3-1 win against the New Jersey Devils.

Bruins' Bergeron remains favorite for Selke Trophy

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

The phrase "hard to play against" takes on many different meanings in hockey, depending on who is defining it.

Some think it means playing a physical, bruising style of hockey. Others think it means playing at a higher tempo, one that is difficult to keep up with.

Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron is hard to play against because he executes every phase of the game so well. He is the best defensive forward in the NHL, makes life difficult for the top offensive forwards in the League on a nightly basis and is the favorite for the Selke Trophy.

Price's value to Canadiens makes him choice for Hart

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

With the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

There isn't a team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that relied on its goaltending more than the Montreal Canadiens did in the regular season. There wasn't a goalie better in the regular season than Montreal's Carey Price.

Do the math and it should be easy to determine who the Hart Trophy winner will be for the 2014-15 season. Price should be the first goaltender to be named the League's most valuable player since Jose Theodore did it in 2001-02 with the Canadiens.

"When he came back from the Olympics, winning that gold medal gave him the confidence to be a winner," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said last week. "Certainly he's a true leader for us, and as far as we're concerned he's the best player in the world. He's got an impact on every game with his leadership and he's calm. Our team plays with a lot of confidence when he's out there."

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Quote of the Day

There's standards that this team is going to play to and there are expectations. We're going to hold these guys accountable to high standards.

— Coach Dave Lowry on Canada's junior team, the defending IIHF World Junior champions