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Features

Super 16: Isles' Okposo has uneven start to season

Friday, 12.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Kyle Okposo had the best season of his career in 2013-14 for the New York Islanders, finishing with 27 goals and 69 points in 71 games. He moved to the top line next to John Tavares, and then continued to produce after the Islanders superstar was injured at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

On the surface, it looks pretty similar for Okposo this season. He has 27 points in 31 games, but only seven goals. More of a playmaker than a scorer anyway, a regression in goals could have been expected considering he shot nearly four percent better than his career average in 2013-14.

Okposo's point total this season is being propped up in part by 12 on the power play. He's averaging 6.0 points per 60 minutes with the extra man, which is nearly double last season (3.2). Check out his goal and point production at even strength in the accompanying table.

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Emrick, McGuire reflect on past Winter Classics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Pierre McGuire's favorite NHL Winter Classic moment is one he experienced from six time zones and approximately 4,200 miles away.

"I wasn't at the first one in Buffalo and I was watching it in Prague, and it was late at night," McGuire, NBC's Inside-the-Glass analyst, said on a media conference call Thursday. "The call I will always remember, 'Here's Crosby, with the game on his stick.' It was my great partner for the last 10 years, 'Doc' Emrick, making that call."

Mike 'Doc' Emrick, NBC's lead NHL broadcaster, was putting words to the incredible pictures McGuire was seeing on his television; Crosby at center ice in the middle of a Buffalo blizzard, ready to bear down on Ryan Miller for what turned out to be the shootout winner and the snow globe image for the NHL's new signature regular-season event.

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Winter Classic ice-building process remains on track

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON – At 1 p.m. Thursday, the sun hung above home plate at Nationals Park during the fourth day of rink building for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, flooding most of the soon-to-be-completed playing surface with light. The temperature hovered in the mid 40s, made chillier by a noticeable breeze.

With puck drop scheduled for that time on Jan. 1 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals, such weather on New Year's Day would suffice, though a few tweaks would be preferred.

"I would say a perfect day is 30 degrees and overcast, a little bit of snow," NHL Executive Vice President of Events Don Renzulli said.

Game-day forecasts call for partly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 20s to mid 30s, according to Renzulli, though it is too early for those models to be concrete.

On the field, the construction crew, headed by senior director of facilities operations Dan Craig, continued to place the aluminum trays that will eventually maintain the ideal 22-degree temperature of the ice.

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Panthers' Luongo underrated

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 12:12 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com'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.

There's just something about Roberto Luongo that brings about debate in most hockey circles.

For whatever reason, a segment of hockey's talking heads has difficulty placing Luongo exactly where he belongs: as the greatest goalie since the turn of the century of his generation.

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NHL names Constellation its official energy provider

Constellation will offset carbon footprint across all 30 team markets

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 11:36 AM / NHL Green

NHL.com

NEW YORK – In keeping with its priorities to reduce its environmental impact and accelerate a greater movement toward a healthier planet, the National Hockey League (NHL®) today named Constellation, a leading competitive energy and services company, as its official preferred energy provider. Constellation will work with the NHL to conduct energy efficiency analyses and recommend energy management strategies for the League's facilities. At the NHL's request, Constellation will also provide Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Carbon Offsets to match the League's estimated total carbon footprint – 550,000 metric tons – for the 2014-15 season.

"Our partnership with Constellation advances our commitment to promoting responsible energy use by the NHL, including our teams, our venues and our fans," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Our sport was born on frozen ponds and relies on winter weather. Everyone who loves our game will benefit by taking an active role in preserving the environment and the roots of the game."

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Canadiens to honor Koivu for work on, off ice

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- The similarities are striking, albeit unmentionable.

A week after the Montreal Canadiens did a masterful job celebrating the life of the franchise's greatest ambassador and captain, they will attempt to do it again Thursday for another giant figure in Canadiens history prior to their game at Bell Centre against the Anaheim Ducks.

No, Saku Koivu cannot be compared to Jean Beliveau. Nobody can.

But if there is one Canadiens player who has come close since Beliveau's retirement as a player in 1971, or as close as can be reasonably expected of a human being, a strong argument could be made that it is Koivu.

Beliveau and Koivu captained the Canadiens for 10 years and was the best player on his respective team for a number of those years.

But the biggest legacy in the cases of each man is his spirit of generosity, involvement in the community, and genuine desire to make a difference in people’s lives.

"I think [Koivu] was a great captain," said Dr. David Mulder, the Canadiens' longtime chief surgeon who had unique relationships with Koivu and Beliveau. "I think there was only one Jean Beliveau."

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Pickard opens eyes as feel-good story for Avalanche

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- There were no great expectations for Calvin Pickard when he reported to Colorado Avalanche training camp in September, not with Vezina Trophy finalist Semyon Varlamov and recent trade acquisition Reto Berra as the top two goalies.

"I wanted to make a good impression and make a statement that I'm close and ready to play at this level," Pickard said this week.

He probably didn't do either in his one preseason appearance, a 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks when he allowed four goals on 27 shots, but circumstances can change dramatically, and they certainly have for Pickard.

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Unmasked: Analytics provide new evaluation tools

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

Analytics and advanced statistics have boomed in popularity across the NHL during the past couple seasons, with more and more stories either dedicated to or including shot-based numbers such as Corsi and Fenwick as indicators of puck possession as well as predictors of success for teams and players.

So what about the goaltenders? Are there metrics suitable for evaluating them?

In a perfect world there would be some kind of goaltender rating which factors in everything, similar to the quarterback rating used in the NFL.

In reality, as Columbus Blue Jackets goaltending coach Ian Clark once explained, the position may be too dynamic for one definitive statistical measure because there are so many outside variables which can affect each goalie's statistical performance.

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Harkins draws inspiration, drive from father, brother

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

Forward Jansen Harkins of the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League has developed into a top prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft, but he isn't above asking his father for advice during rides to the rink, just like he did as a kid.

It's a perk that comes when your father, former NHL player Todd Harkins, doubles not only as his ride to and from the rink most days, but also as his team's general manager.

"He knows what it takes and how hard you have to work," said Jansen, who earned an A rating on NHL Central Scouting’s November players to watch list. "He's really instilled that [work ethic] in me my whole life. He's always been around coaching me and teaching me. He's been a lot of help to me. And now I have him up in Prince George living with me.

"It's nice to have someone I can talk to and relate to what I'm going through. It's awesome."

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Predators' Neal fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment

Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 5:00 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL.com

NEW YORKNashville Predators forward James Neal has been fined $2,000 as supplementary discipline under NHL Rule 64 (Diving/Embellishment), the National Hockey League announced today.

Revised for the 2014-15 season following offseason approval by the League's Board of Governors and the National Hockey League Players' Association, NHL Rule 64 is designed to bring attention to and more seriously penalize players (and teams) who repeatedly dive and embellish in an attempt to draw penalties.

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Quote of the Day

If you want to prove people wrong, you've just got to go out and do it. Yeah, we blew 3-2 series leads the last two years, but no one is going remember that if we go out there on Saturday night and beat these guys and go play in the Stanley Cup Final. We need to get back to work and we'll start to do that tomorrow.

— Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri following a loss to the Blackhawks in Game 6 on Wednesday