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Panthers' Luongo back in Vancouver to face Canucks

Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 9:20 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo isn't sure what to expect from Vancouver Canucks fans when he returns for the first time to play his old team on Thursday.

With Luongo, it's often hard to tell the cheers from jeers anyway.

"Loos and boos all sound the same, so I won't be able to tell the difference," Luongo said. "Hopefully it's good, but that's not up to me."

Neither was his departure from Vancouver, at least not entirely.

Despite requesting a trade after losing the No. 1 job to Cory Schneider late in the 2011-12 season and enduring a two-year soap opera that followed, Luongo had come around on staying in Vancouver, maybe even finishing his career with the Canucks after Schneider was traded to the New Jersey Devils at the 2013 NHL Draft. He was the No. 1 again, but after returning from the 2014 Sochi Olympics he watched Eddie Lack play three straight games, including the Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at BC Place.

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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Boston Bruins are still trying to find their way this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins added another big piece to a puzzle general manager Jim Rutherford is trying to put together with hopes of delivering their first Stanley Cup since 2009.

Boston (19-15-6) has earned at least one point in four straight games, but it has lost three in a row (1-0-3). Pittsburgh (24-10-5), which acquired left wing David Perron from the Edmonton Oilers last Friday, is tied with the New York Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Bruins will try to get back on track when they face the Penguins in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader at Consol Energy Center (NBCSN, TVA Sports, 8 p.m. ET).

On the West Coast, the sizzling New York Rangers will face the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center (NBCSN, 10:30 p.m. ET). Behind the play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist and a rejuvenated power play, the Rangers (21-11-4) have won nine of their past 10 games. Anaheim (26-9-6) has won 20 games by one goal this season.

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Ducks' Getzlaf making another case for Hart Trophy

Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM – Corey Perry received a renewed appreciation for longtime Anaheim Ducks linemate Ryan Getzlaf when he was anchored to his couch during his bout with the mumps in November, and again in recovery from a sprained knee last month.

Perry specifically remembers the detailed, two-goal game that Getzlaf had against the Ottawa Senators on Dec.19.

"Even though we lost, individually, he was still producing," Perry said. "Those individual-type plays, sacrificing for your teammates, those are big things that stick out in my mind."

It was during Perry's 14-game absence that Getzlaf, the Ducks captain, re-asserted another case for the Hart Trophy. Getzlaf had six goals and 13 assists without Perry on his wing, and he entered Wednesday against the New York Rangers (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN) third in the NHL with 44 points.

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Penguins' Crosby producing, but it hasn't been easy

Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby is in a slump and entered the week tied for fourth in the NHL scoring race.

Crosby didn't earn his position among the League's point leaders through a blistering start to the season before eventually tailing off over the past few weeks. He has had what for him has been a down season since late October.

Entering the Pittsburgh Penguins' Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA SPORTS), Crosby has 43 points but has gone through lengthy goal droughts. He has been visibly frustrated on the ice several times throughout the past month while scoring two goals in 16 games.

That stretch began Nov. 26 against the Toronto Maple Leafs after scoring a goal against the Bruins two days earlier, and coincided with the beginning of Pittsburgh's recent injury troubles. At the time, Crosby's goal against Boston was his second in 12 games.

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EPIX captures memorable day at NHL Winter Classic

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Oftentimes, the personalities and experiences around the game that fans and media don't get to see are the most interesting of all.

Watch "EPIX Presents Road to the NHL Winter Classic" to get an inside look at the personalities of the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks on their way to the NHL's signature regular-season event. REGISTER FOR YOUR EPIX FREE TRIAL ›

That's where EPIX has come in these past four weeks, serving as the window to what is usually an unseen world inside a dressing room before a game, on the ice during a game, at home with the players on off days, in the hotel, on the plane, and everywhere else they go where we don't.

The final episode of "EPIX Presents Road to the NHL Winter Classic" doesn't disappoint in bringing the viewer all of that and more. The questions you might have had once the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic was over are answered in the episode.

If you were curious about how the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks got to Nationals Park, what they saw upon arrival on the practice day and New Year's Day, and what they thought of the entire spectacle, the answers are inside the 56-minute, 34-second episode.

Hint: Capitals forward Joel Ward was blown away by the size of the Washington Nationals' clubhouse; Washington captain Alex Ovechkin couldn't stop looking around as he talked to Capitals owner Ted Leonsis about the game being a sellout; Joel Quenneville loves the fresh air, the fans, enthusiasm, hype and the fact that the game is for keeps, for two points.

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'EPIX Road to the Winter Classic' airs series finale

NHL.com

If you're wondering how the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks got to Nationals Park, what they saw upon arrival for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, and what they thought of the entire spectacle, watch the series finale of "EPIX Presents Road to the NHL Winter Classic" on Tuesday night (10 p.m. ET, Epix, Epix.com, NHL.com, NHL app).

If you're curious about how the decision was made by the NHL to proceed on time instead of delay the game because of sun, you'll find out in this episode.

The clubhouses that served as the dressing rooms for the Capitals and Blackhawks are located up a tunnel from the dugouts, nowhere near the center field wall the players came out of for the pregame introductions. If you're curious about how the players got to that center field wall, watch the show.

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Bruins look to end slump against Penguins

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 4:30 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- With the Boston Bruins in the midst of their fourth three-game losing streak of the season, seemingly everyone is looking for a way to spark the team.

The Bruins on Tuesday named principal Charlie Jacobs as chief executive officer for Delaware North's Boston Holdings, including the Bruins, TD Garden and NESN. Jacobs, the son of Bruins chairman Jeremy Jacobs, took the occasion of his promotion to publicly let everyone associated with the Bruins know their plight won't be tolerated.

"Incredible failure," Jacobs said in response to a question about the possibility the Bruins could miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "When you think about what has been put in this team in terms of the … let's discount all of the scouting, all of the drafting, all of the money spent on the player personnel, for us to be a team that's out of the playoffs is absolutely unacceptable. And everybody in the executive offices is fully aware of how I feel and they feel the same way, which brings us this evaluation process. And it's fluid right now. I can't say at any moment we have a final decision other than to say it'd be an utter disappointment and a complete failure."

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Analysis: Next Maple Leafs coach needs team to adapt

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 3:38 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle bought into the modern puck possession-based statistics because he knew his team wasn't playing the right way and because the organization was making a big push to incorporate more analytics.

Need proof? Here is what Carlyle said before this season about Toronto's collapse last season:

"We always felt we needed to change our puck possession, specifically in the offensive zone, not be a one-and-out team and not be considered a rush team, but try to create more of a cycle game, grind teams down to play with the puck more," Carlyle said. "We weren't able to do that."

So yes, Carlyle knew the Maple Leafs were a bad puck possession team last season and how that needed to change this season. He knew the Maple Leafs hired assistant general manager Kyle Dubas in part to provide statistical proof that the team was not playing a winning brand of hockey.

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WHL move could spur Draisaitl's development

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 2:11 PM / NHL Insider

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON — During his brief time coaching this season, Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish saw the extent of rookie center Leon Draisaitl's frustration with his play.

However, MacTavish would only contemplate sending Draisaitl, 19, back to junior if a contending Western Hockey League team owned his rights. Edmonton did not want Draisaitl returning to the Prince Albert Raiders this season.

"I had a real specific destination for Leon in mind and I talked to [Raiders GM] Bruno Campese saying it was very unlikely that he would be reassigned back to P.A.," MacTavish said on Tuesday. "At one of those conversations I said to Bruno that I had this specific situation that I thought was going to be ideal for Leon and if that situation was satisfied, there would be a likelihood that we would send him back."

Tuesday, the WHL announced Prince Albert traded Draisaitl's rights to the Kelowna Rockets in exchange for European import left wing Kris Schmidli, defenseman Dalton Yorke, a first-round pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, a fourth round pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft and a conditional pick.

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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Rise of Columbus' Foligno

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 12:09 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.

This fantasy season has been a big surprise party. Late-round draft picks and waiver-wire pickups have run rampant and turned out to be elite-level forwards.

No exaggeration.

In my top 20 fantasy forward rankings alone, three players (Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Johnson, Filip Forsberg) were drafted on average in the 10th round or later in Yahoo leagues.

But one player who has especially mystified fantasy owners (in a good way, if he's on your team) is Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets. All of a sudden, he's one of the most well-rounded offensive players in the game.

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Quote of the Day

For us it's a little bit different. I've never been in front of this much media. This is more than we've ever had to deal with in Tampa. I guess we're on a little bit bigger stage now. It's nice, you have to enjoy it. This doesn't happen too often.

— Lightning forward J.T. Brown after his first Media Day experience on Tuesday in preparation of Game 1 on Wednesday