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Features

Inside the matchup: Blackhawks vs. Rangers

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 10:46 AM / Tale of the Tape

John Kreiser - NHL.com Managing Editor

The Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers play for the second time in 10 days in a Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports).

The Rangers defeated the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime at United Center on March 8. It started a five-game winning streak that has carried New York to the top of the NHL standings. The Rangers have allowed three goals during the streak.

The Blackhawks also are perfect since that loss. Their 4-1 win against the New York Islanders on Tuesday was their third in a row; they've allowed four goals in the three wins.

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Five things to watch when Blackhawks face Rangers

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

It may very well be a preview of the Stanley Cup Final when the New York Rangers host the Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden. This week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN1) features two of the top teams in the NHL, each of which seems primed to play deep into the spring.

With the Rangers atop the League standings and the Blackhawks battling for position in the Central Division, there's plenty at stake for each team.

Here are five things to watch between the Rangers and Blackhawks:

1. Who replaces St. Louis?

The Rangers recently lost defenseman Kevin Klein for 3-4 weeks because of an upper-body injury, and now they'll be without forward Martin St. Louis, who sustained a lower-body injury late in a 2-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Sunday.

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Richards chasing Cup with Blackhawks after Rangers

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Brad Richards saw this kind of season coming for the New York Rangers back in 2011, when he chose to sign with them instead of multiple suitors as an unrestricted free agent.

But less than a year after helping New York advance to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, Richards will play at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday as the third-line center for the Chicago Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN1).

The Rangers, who lead the NHL with 95 points, bought out the remaining six years of Richards' nine-year, $60 million contract last summer.

Richards signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks to continue his Stanley Cup quest, and said he harbors no hard feelings toward the Rangers.

"The only negative thing [in New York] was we were three wins away from winning a championship in an Original Six city, a great city, and that's why I was lucky enough to pick and choose this summer and come to an Original Six city here, a great historic franchise," said Richards, whose Rangers lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games. "That's the only thing that's left out. It would have been nice to close the deal and do that, but a lot of players say that every year."

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Kopitar, Gaborik searching for chemistry with Kings

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik were briefly neighbors in the popular town of Manhattan Beach, Calif., when Kopitar was remodeling a home earlier this season. It's a natural fit: The two are cut from the same cloth, elite European players who enjoy anonymity in Southern California.

But the buddy-movie notion of the two taking Kopitar's dog, Gustl, for a walk on the strand is slightly farfetched.

"We haven't gotten that far yet," Kopitar said.

That also might apply to their ongoing chemistry project this season for the Los Angeles Kings. After Gaborik and Kopitar clicked in last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two will continue searching for that mesh when the Kings look to continue their climb up the Western Conference standings Wednesday at the Anaheim Ducks (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

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Closer Look: Blackhawks, Rangers like to play fast

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / Closer Look

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Pace and tempo are concepts talked about in hockey, but somewhat difficult to define. There are no statistics or metrics for pace like ones which exist in basketball, yet there are still teams that carry a reputation for wanting to play fast.

Two teams unafraid to play a quicker game are the New York Rangers and the Chicago Blackhawks. When they play Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports), each team will rely on how it exits the defensive zone to push the pace.

At their best, the Rangers and Blackhawks don't spend much time between the blue lines. With good puck-moving defensemen, and systems preaching a quick, north-south game through the neutral zone, each team looks to go on the attack as soon as it wins the puck in its defensive zone.

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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Gaudreau eyes rookie lore

Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 12:00 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.

Once upon a time this season, Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg was the clear front-runner for the Calder Trophy. But his ongoing slump and a late push by "Johnny Hockey" will make for an interesting race to the finish.

Not only has Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau found his way back into the rookie-of-the-year race during Forsberg's dry spell, but the Boston College product is also on pace to reach rarefied air among first-year players of recent seasons.

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Maple Leafs' Kadri facing Player Safety hearing

Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 10:26 AM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL.com

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri will have a hearing Wednesday with the NHL Department of Player Safety for an illegal check to the head of Edmonton Oilers forward Matt Fraser during a game at Rexall Place on Monday.

Fraser was hit by Kadri at 10:58 of the third period in Edmonton's 4-1 win. Kadri received a two-minute minor penalty for an illegal check to the head.

Fraser left the game and did not return.

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Canucks honoring Quinn on St. Patrick's Day

Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- There weren't a lot of dry eyes at Rogers Arena after the Vancouver Canucks mourned the death of Pat Quinn on Nov. 25 with a moment of silence and a stirring rendition of "Danny Boy."

Now, almost four months after Quinn died at age 71 following a lengthy illness, the Canucks hope to replace the tears with smiles as they celebrate the life and legacy of Quinn, their beloved former coach, general manager and president on Tuesday.

It's hard to imagine a more fitting day to remember and honor Quinn.

Not only are the Canucks playing the Philadelphia Flyers, who Quinn started his coaching career with, but it is also St. Patrick's Day, the perfect time celebrate a man known affectionately as "The Big Irishman."

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Five Questions: Flames' Treliving eager for stretch run

Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 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. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving:

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Brad Treliving still has hair, which in it of itself is impressive considering the Calgary Flames have been winning games this season. One would have thought by now the stress would be showing on the 45-year-old first year general manager in Calgary.

It's not. He's fine. He's measured and he's realistic about the Flames, but Treliving is also excited and eager to see how the team will finish the regular season and if it will be good enough to secure a trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Rutherford confident Penguins are ready for playoffs

Monday, 03.16.2015 / 5:45 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Pittsburgh Penguins may have lost a pair of home games in the span of 24 hours last weekend, but general manager Jim Rutherford believes they are ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A shutout loss to the Boston Bruins in a Saturday matinee, and a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in a nationally televised afternoon game on Sunday, sounded some alarm bells around a team which has struggled for consistency all season.

Rutherford, however, was not concerned when he arrived for the start of the spring installment of the NHL's general managers meetings. The Penguins are 39-20-10 and in third place in the Metropolitan Division, two points behind the New York Islanders with two games in hand. The Washington Capitals, which holds the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, is four points behind the Penguins.

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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