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(Page 126 of 168)
Features

Doughty's all-round game key to Kings' success

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:40 AM / Sharks vs Kings - 2014 SCP First Round

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter was talking to reporters after the morning skate March 29 when Drew Doughty walked past the scrum.

Dressed in shorts, t-shirt and a cap turned backward, the smiling Doughty turned to Sutter just before he ducked out the door.

"See you tomorrow!" Doughty said.

"See you tonight," Sutter said.

Doughty was joking, of course. But he could have shown up for that night's game, played more than 25 minutes and never had to consult with Sutter. Doughty is a Sutter favorite and needs little coaching in this, perhaps the finest all-around season of his young career.

That's saying something for a player whose resume already includes a Stanley Cup title and two Olympic gold medals. Doughty turned 24 in December and begins a quest for a second Cup ring when the Kings play the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round. There is also a possible trip to the NHL Awards show in June.

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X-Factor: Penguins' Fleury must silence critics

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:35 AM / Penguins vs Blue Jackets - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Marc-Andre Fleury's resume includes a Stanley Cup championship, two appearances in the Stanley Cup Final and close to 300 regular-season wins in more than 500 appearances. For most goalies, a resume like that would be enough to quiet any critics, to silence any doubters heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Marc-Andre Fleury
Goalie - PIT
RECORD: 39-18-5
GAA: 2.37 | SVP: 0.915
Not for Fleury. Not even close.

Fleury's championship ring, 45 wins in 80 postseason appearances, and 288 regular-season victories won't help the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in their Eastern Conference First Round series, which begins Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC). In fact, if Fleury doesn't play better than he has in recent postseasons, the Penguins may not make it out of the first round.

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Why the Blue Jackets will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:30 AM / Penguins vs Blue Jackets - 2014 SCP First Round

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Columbus Blue Jackets will need to use that us-against-the-world mentality from the opening faceoff of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

At the start of the season, the Blue Jackets were long shots to make the postseason, but the fact they are now among the remaining 16 teams still standing speaks to the character and never-say-quit attitude needed this time of the year.

That is the attitude which will carry Columbus to its first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

The fact that so few are giving the Blue Jackets a legitimate shot at making a serious postseason run will be a prime motivator, as will the opportunity to catch opponents looking ahead to the next challenge.

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X-Factor: Lecavalier adds punch to Flyers' fourth line

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:20 AM / Rangers vs Flyers - 2014 SCP First Round

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

In his 15 NHL seasons, Vincent Lecavalier has crafted an impressive resume, one which includes a Rocket Richard Trophy, a Stanley Cup and appearances in four NHL All-Star Games.

Those accomplishments came playing center, generally on his team's top line. Yet, in his first season with the Philadelphia Flyers, he was spending significant time at left wing on the second line. It wasn't a natural fit for Lecavalier.

"If you'd ask me what position I'd want to play, obviously I'd say center," he said March 18.

On March 28, he got his wish, to a degree. He was back at center, but on the fourth line.

It was a seismic blow to a player of Lecavalier's stature. But rather than sulk, he used it as motivation to spark his best play of the season. While the shift down the lineup cut into his ice time, he remains a viable threat at full strength or on the power play and will stay play a big role in the Flyers' quest to bring the Stanley Cup to Philadelphia for the first time since 1975.

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Why the Flyers will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:15 AM / Rangers vs Flyers - 2014 SCP First Round

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

When Claude Giroux finished practice Oct. 21, the standings showed his Philadelphia Flyers were 1-7-0.

Their two points were the fewest in the NHL, they already had changed coaches, and Giroux, two seasons removed from being the League's third-leading scorer, had zero goals, three assists and a minus-5 rating.

Most already had written the Flyers off for a second straight postseason on the sidelines, but all Giroux had to do was glance at a calendar.

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Goals could be plentiful in Ducks-Stars series

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:14 AM / Ducks vs Stars - 2014 SCP First Round

NHL.com

The Anaheim Ducks were back among the top teams in the Western Conference for a second straight season but are hoping for a better conclusion after an opening-round exit in 2013. To do so, they'll have to defeat the Dallas Stars, a team back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six seasons and that boasts one of the most exciting duos in the sport.

Anaheim stormed to the top of the NHL standings and was 36-8-5 at one point before a two-month bout with mediocrity. The Ducks rebounded near the end of the season to reclaim the top spot in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference.

The Ducks were one of the top offensive clubs in the League, led by a dominant duo of their own, forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and great depth at forward. Anaheim's ability to remain near the top of the NHL standings was in part because of the best goaltending depth in the League.st, so the majority of the pressure will be on the Ducks.

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Why the Lightning will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:05 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

The Tampa Bay Lightning will win the Stanley Cup because they lost their best player.

There isn't a more battle-tested team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs than the Lightning, and getting past all the adversity they experienced this season will give them the wherewithal and confidence to overcome any they might face in the postseason.

When Steven Stamkos broke his leg after a violent collision with a goal post in a 3-0 road loss to the Boston Bruins on Nov. 11, it set off a chain reaction of events which have placed the Lightning on more solid footing than they were prior to the injury and placed them in position to make a run at the Stanley Cup.

The day after arguably the most potent goal-scoring machine in the world was lost, Lightning coach Jon Cooper met the media in Montreal.

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X-Factor: Callahan a game-changer for Lightning

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:00 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

Ryan Callahan could not have joined the Tampa Bay Lightning under worse circumstances.

Embroiled in very public contract negotiations with the New York Rangers for weeks leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline, Callahan and his expiring contract were acquired by Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman in exchange for Martin St. Louis in a swap of team captains on March 5.

Callahan's departure from Manhattan was always seen as a distinct possibility, if not a probability, but the decision by St. Louis to request a trade to New York blindsided the Lightning fan base. It was something completely out of left field.

Gone was St. Louis, a hero from Tampa Bay's run to the Stanley Cup and a player who defied the odds to become a star in the NHL thanks largely to the opportunity afforded him by the franchise from which he orchestrated his own departure.

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Despite long odds, Palat has emerged for Lightning

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 12:00 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

Ondrej Palat sat there and waited.

He waited some more.

As the 2011 NHL Draft was rolling through its second day about 4,500 miles away in St. Paul Minn., Palat was at home in Frydek-Mistek, Czech Republic, wondering, waiting to see if he would take another step toward his dream of an NHL career.

Palat had left his home two years earlier to play for the Drummondville Voltigueurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In his second season, he put up 96 points in 61 games, tying him for the team scoring lead with current Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier, the No. 8 pick in 2011.

After being ignored twice by the NHL, surely this would be enough for someone to take notice, right?

Sitting in front of his laptop, Palat watched as the second round ended, then the third, and the fourth, fifth and sixth as well without his name popping up on his computer screen.

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Blue Jackets trying to end Penguins' dominance

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 11:45 PM / Penguins vs Blue Jackets - 2014 SCP First Round

NHL.com

Looking at the season series between Metropolitan Division rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets, there is little to suggest the teams are evenly matched.

They played each other five times and five times Pittsburgh emerged victorious, Trailing for 56 seconds in the 300 minutes of the series.

Riding a top-end power-play, the Penguins outscored the Blue Jackets, 16-7. Five of those goals came on the 19 power-play attempts Pittsburgh had in the series. By contrast, Columbus scored one power-play goal, on 14 attempts.

Plus, this matchup has been one-sided for quite some time. Since Sidney Crosby joined the League, he has lost to Columbus once in regulation, during his rookie season.

But the Blue Jackets are not ready to concede anything. As they look at the series, they see a couple of things in their favor.

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Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players