Stanley Cup Final
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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Schneider needs time

Thursday, 12.25.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Evan Sporer - Staff Writer

Every Thursday during the season,'s Evan Sporer will provide you with in-depth analysis of goaltenders. From updated weekly top-30 rankings to trending players and more, Sporer will be your go-to guy for advice on fantasy goalies all season long.

Of the items on the checklist for New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer to begin the regular season was to make sure goaltender Cory Schneider knew he was the team's starting goalie.

He's accomplished that and more. Schneider started the Devils' first 20 games of the season, a stretch that broke Martin Brodeur's New Jersey record for most consecutive starts.

Finland faces challenge for World Juniors repeat

Thursday, 12.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

The Finland National Junior Team will look to become the first in seven years to win back-to-back gold medals when the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship takes center stage this week in Montreal and Toronto.

Canada was the most recent repeat champion, winning five straight golds between 2005 and 2009. They'll be one of nine other teams looking to deny the Finns a second straight gold medal at the 11-day event, which runs Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, 2015. 

The Group A field, which consists of Finland, Canada, the United States, Slovakia and Germany, will play preliminary-round games at Bell Centre in Montreal.

The schedule-makers provided quite an offering for fans on opening day with the defending champion Finns playing against the United States at 3 p.m. ET (NHLN-US,


Unmasked: Canada playing catch up in goal

Thursday, 12.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

There may not be the crisis declared by some observers after Canada stretched its gold-medal drought to five years at the IIHF World Junior Championship with a non-podium finish in 2014. But as the country prepares to host the 2015 tournament after two years without any medal, there is little question Canada has lagged behind in the goaltender arms race.

The fact Hockey Canada has spent two years building a national goaltending development model, which will include the country's first goalie-coach certification program, is as strong an admission as possible.

Sweden instituted a similar national plan a decade ago and its formation is credited for its rise up the international goaltending ranks, just as Finland improved its goaltending with the introduction of their groundbreaking program almost 20 years earlier.

So it's not surprising Hockey Canada recently sent a six-person advisory group to those countries to learn more about their goaltending programs.

"This is stuff that should have been done 10 years ago but better late than never," said Corey Hirsch, a former NHL goalie and goalie coach who is now consulting for Hockey Canada and was on the trip to Scandinavia. "We recognized it and we're doing something about it."


Group B favorite Sweden aims to reclaim WJC gold

Thursday, 12.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The journey is different but the destination remains the same for Sweden.

As the host nation for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, Sweden was counted among the favorites. And they lived up to challenge, reaching the gold-medal game for the third straight year.

But much like 2013, when Sweden lost to the United States in the championship game in Russia, Sweden this time lost to Finland 3-2 in overtime.

While the 2014 WJC didn't end the way Sweden wanted, it's something the players and coaching staff have no intention of reliving heading into the 2015 tournament, which will be held in Montreal and Toronto.


McDavid-Eichel matchup could be top moment of WJC

Thursday, 12.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

There will come a time in the late afternoon on New Year's Eve when the roar of the crowd at Bell Centre in Montreal will equal the decibel meter in Times Square in New York City just as the clock strikes midnight to usher in the new year.

It will happen when 17-year-old Connor McDavid of Canada and 18-year-old American Jack Eichel, the projected top two picks in the 2015 NHL Draft, go head-to-head chasing a puck into a corner during preliminary-round action in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.


McDavid, Eichel two of top 2015 prospects at WJC

Wednesday, 12.24.2014 / 3:08 PM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will head an impressive group of 2015 NHL Draft prospects playing at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Both players gained valuable experience at the 2014 WJC in Sweden, McDavid for Canada and Eichel for the United States. The expectations will be ramped up this year as the players, expected to be the first two picks of the draft, will be playing in the tournament in the hockey hotbeds of Toronto and Montreal, starting Dec. 26.

Defenseman Aaron Ekblad was selected by the Florida Panthers with the first pick of the 2014 NHL Draft in part because of a nice showing at the 2014 WJC; he had one goal, two points and eight shots on goal. Canada coach Brent Sutter thought so highly of Ekblad that he had him in a top-four role.


Scott suspended four games for punching opponent

Wednesday, 12.24.2014 / 2:00 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NEW YORKSan Jose Sharks forward John Scott has been suspended for four games, without pay, for punching an unsuspecting opponent and causing an injury (Rule 46.15) to Anaheim Ducks forward Tim Jackman during NHL Game No. 501 in Anaheim on Monday, Dec. 22, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 8:18 of the second period.


Blackhawks' Erixon hoping for Winter Classic chance

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Tim Erixon was so close to experiencing an NHL outdoor game that he practically could feel the cold air against his face.

It was 2011-12, Erixon's first season with the New York Rangers. However, he played 18 games for New York between trips to Connecticut of the American Hockey League.

One of the demotions stung a little more than the others. It happened Dec. 28, 2011, days before the Rangers were to play the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic. The Rangers won the game 3-2 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

"I got sent down [a few days] before, so I never got to experience it," said Erixon, now a 24-year-old who was acquired by the Blackhawks on Dec. 14 in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. "It was my first year [in the NHL]. I got sent down right before the trip, the day before we were going to leave."

Erixon was dealt to the Blue Jackets the next season. He'd stashed thoughts of playing outside in the back of his mind until his latest career transaction brought them rushing back to the forefront.

He'll have a chance to make his NHL outdoor hockey debut at the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, on Jan. 1, 2015 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., against the Washington Capitals.


Fantasy top 60 'D': Faulk rising in the ranks

Wednesday, 12.24.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - Correspondent

Every Wednesday during the season, fantasy hockey correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with in-depth defensemen analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer will be your go-to guy for fantasy blue line advice all season long.


Coming into each fantasy season there are always a couple of players that are primed for a breakout. Maybe they finished the prior season on a hot streak. Maybe they moved to a new team, or in the case of the Carolina Hurricanes' Justin Faulk, they just have all the tools to be an impact offensive player.

Harnessing those tools sometimes takes some effort and that is what we have seen with Faulk during his career.

Ten who could surprise at 2015 World Juniors

Wednesday, 12.24.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

The Finnish National Junior Team received quite a few surprise performances on the way to its gold medal-winning effort at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.

Goaltender Juuse Saros stole the show when he made 35 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against Sweden in the gold-medal game. Saros, who was selected in the fourth round (No. 99) by the Nashville Predators in the 2013 NHL Draft, finished 5-1 with a 1.57 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in six games. He was named to the tournament All-Star Team.

It's not uncommon to have a player jump off the score sheet in unexpected fashion at the World Juniors.

Switzerland's Nino Niederreiter, who now plays for the Minnesota Wild, is the poster boy for coming out of the woodwork at the event.

It was Niederreiter's performance for Switzerland at the 2010 WJC that ultimately placed him in the crosshairs of scouts and coaches leading up to the 2010 draft. He had six goals and 10 points in seven games, including the game-tying and overtime goal in the quarterfinals against Russia, and was named to the tournament All-Star team. Although the Swiss placed fourth in the tournament, Niederreiter opened eyes and went on to become the highest-drafted Swiss-born player ever, going No. 5 to the New York Islanders.

Here are 10 players who could surprise at the 2015 WJC (listed alphabetically):

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Quote of the Day

You know what? We've played in some pretty special buildings along this playoff run so far. You start in Detroit, you go to Montreal, you come here … I think it's the first team to beat three Original Six teams to get to the Final if I'm not mistaken. That says how tough the road has been. Those are tough places to win.

— Lightning forward Steven Stamkos after Game 7 win vs. Rangers on Friday in New York