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(Page 119 of 169)
Features

Goalie quartet has helped pave Wild's way to playoffs

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:29 AM / Avalanche vs Wild - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo has preached taking it one game at time to his team throughout the season.

The team's goaltenders have had no choice but to accept the message as gospel.

In a roller-coaster season where the Wild's fortune has turned several times, they've gotten important contributions from goaltenders throughout, something not totally unexpected when the season began back in October.

However, the sheer number of players to step between the pipes this season has been a stunning development.

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X-Factor: Blackhawks need Bickell's best to repeat

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:25 AM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell has big shoes to fill. They happen to be his own.

"I don't just want to be a one-hit wonder," Bickell told NHL.com.

Bickell soared up the charts last season with his performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He played a starring role in Chicago's championship run with nine goals, including two game-winners and the tying goal with 76 seconds left in Chicago's Cup-clinching win in Boston. He also had eight assists for 17 points in 23 games, playing top-line minutes with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on many nights.

His memorable postseason earned Bickell a four-year contract extension worth $16 million. He hasn't been memorable since, but the Blackhawks need him to be now because they know how important a 6-foot-4, 233-pound power forward with skill around the net is to their championship hopes.


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Why the Red Wings will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:22 AM / Bruins vs Red Wings - 2014 SCP First Round

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

These aren't your typical Detroit Red Wings of yesteryear preparing to represent Hockeytown in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Still, every current player, no matter how young or old, maintains the championship state of mind on which this franchise has prided itself for the better part of the past two decades.

The Red Wings were able to extend their NHL record of playoff appearances to 23 seasons this year due in large part to the play of call-ups from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids.

It's a credit to the managerial team and scouting staff, the coaches in Grand Rapids and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock after Detroit set an unofficial team record this season for man-games lost to injury.

Babcock refused to make any excuses.

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X-Factor: Red Wings need Nyquist to extend heroics

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:22 AM / Bruins vs Red Wings - 2014 SCP First Round

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

All season, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has begged his young players to grab hold of something in order to make a statement at a time when the team was ravaged by injuries.

Swedish sensation Gustav Nyquist took that message to heart.

Nyquist turned out to be another gem uncovered by the organization, chosen in the fourth-round (No. 121) of the 2008 NHL Draft. Now in his second NHL season, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound forward has been an absolute force during the absence of offensive linchpins Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to injury for much of the season.

"He's got some skill, he's obviously a real good player," Babcock said. "He's led everywhere he's ever played in scoring. The problem with the NHL is you have to come up and grab hold of something. We called [Joakim Andersson] up for a game, and he stuck with us because he grabbed hold of something. That's what Gus had to do."

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X-Factor: Wisniewski pacing Blue Jackets' back line

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:18 AM / Penguins vs Blue Jackets - 2014 SCP First Round

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

When the Columbus Blue Jackets signed James Wisniewski to a six-year contract in 2011, the expectations were he would play a significant role in the top defensive pair.

A transformed Wisniewski will enter the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs a much more confident player, making big contributions on the top pair in the wake of his finest offensive season as a professional.

"The biggest thing for me right now is winning," Wisniewski told The Columbus Dispatch. "Yeah, the numbers are there, and it's good to see that. But if I'm playing the right way and producing, I feel like I'll be helping my team win

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Rangers hope slow start is in St. Louis' rear-view

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:16 AM / Rangers vs Flyers - 2014 SCP First Round

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Following the first trade of his 15-year NHL career, Martin St. Louis figured there would be a tough transition.

During 13 memorable seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he won the Stanley Cup, a Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player and two Art Ross Trophies as the League's leading scorer. Then, on March 5, he was traded to the New York Rangers. The fact that St. Louis wanted the trade did not make the move any easier.

Professionally, the trade was seen as a move that could potentially put the Rangers over the top in their quest for the Stanley Cup. Personally, it was a time of great upheaval for the star.

St. Louis slumped early in his Rangers tenure, but his recent play is giving fans hope that the Stanley Cup could be coming back to Broadway for the first time in 20 years.

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Why the Rangers will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:13 AM / Rangers vs Flyers - 2014 SCP First Round

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

For the eighth time in the past nine seasons, the New York Rangers are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But, in all that time, they've never advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. That's about to change.

For much of his first season behind the Rangers bench, coach Alain Vigneault has rolled four forward lines and three defense pairings with remarkable consistency. That depth and the standout play of one of the world's best goaltenders will make this a memorable spring at Madison Square Garden.

As always, the Rangers' hopes of winning the Stanley Cup hinge on the play of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Of course, they call him the King for a reason. After some stumbles out of the gate, Lundqvist has enjoyed a historic season that is worthy of a championship finale.


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More mature Price at top of game for Canadiens

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:07 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

There was a time in Carey Price's life when he thought none of this would be happening.

The starting goaltender and undisputed most valuable player of the Montreal Canadiens has lived through a lifetime's worth of experiences in his seven NHL seasons, playing what might be the most pressure-packed position in all professional sports.

Montreal is a city where anything less than elite play from the team's goaltender is not tolerated. Price's play during those seven seasons has not always met those exacting standards.

But as he prepares to lead the Canadiens into the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Price appears to have won over the city, and with good reason.

He is one of the world's best at his position, an Olympic gold medalist who is among the NHL leaders in save percentage (.927) and wins (34).

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X-Factor: Plekanec's two-way play ideal for Canadiens

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:06 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien will be tasked with figuring out a way to stop Tampa Bay Lightning scoring machine Steven Stamkos in the Eastern Conference First Round series between the Atlantic Division teams.

Luckily for Therrien, he'll have a one-man solution sitting on his bench.

Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec is one of the NHL's top two-way forwards, as comfortable on the penalty kill as he is on the power play and routinely given the task by Therrien to shut down the opposing team's top offensive threat.

In this series, that assignment will almost assuredly be to check Stamkos, making Plekanec perhaps the most important forward for the Canadiens.


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X-Factor: Nichushkin finds comfort level with Stars

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:02 AM / Ducks vs Stars - 2014 SCP First Round

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Dallas Stars are young, fast and dangerous. It begins with their top-line punch of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, but there are more reasons why Dallas is back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years.

One is right wing Valeri Nichushkin. The 19-year-old was selected with the No. 10 pick at the 2013 NHL Draft and immediately made the jump to hockey's highest level. He did not look out of place, scoring 14 goals and 20 assists. Even more impressive, Nichushkin boasted a plus-21 rating, showing the ability to play well at each end of the ice despite his young age. For most players his age, it takes some time to learn how to play responsibly in the defensive zone.

Now, on an even bigger stage, the Stars will depend on Nichushkin to help them advance past the Western Conference First Round. The skilled wing is likely to skate on the Stars' top line alongside the aforementioned Seguin and Benn, which should give Nichushkin an opportunity to convert on some quality scoring opportunities.

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Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential