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(Page 140 of 178)
Features

Atlantic: Bruins bound for top-two seed

Monday, 02.24.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Boston Bruins are well on the way to their third division title in four seasons.

They have established themselves as the class of the Atlantic Division. Though they haven't commanded their division the way the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks have, the Bruins return for the final weeks of the season comfortably in front and in position to be no worse than the second seed in the Eastern Conference when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in April.

After the Bruins, there are three distinct sub-layers in the Atlantic.

The surprising Tampa Bay Lightning return from the Olympic break second in the division, one point ahead of the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs. The injury-plagued Detroit Red Wings own the second of the conference's two wild-card spots, but the Ottawa Senators are one of three teams that trail Detroit by one point.

The Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres appear to have no chance to make the postseason; the Sabres own the League's worst record and their 38 points are nine fewer than any other team.

Here's a look at the eight Atlantic teams as they prepare for the stretch run:

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Blackhawks' Raanta honors Belfour with new mask

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Antti Raanta had a surprise in store for his Chicago Blackhawks teammates Sunday afternoon when they returned to practice after the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Instead of his normal mask, the Finnish rookie goaltender sported a throwback design reminiscent of former star Eddie Belfour. It was designed by Raanta's Phoenix-based mask painter for him to wear in the next installment of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, an outdoor game March 1 at Soldier Field between the Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins.

"If you think about great Chicago Blackhawks [goaltenders], you think of Eddie Belfour and everybody says 'Eddie the Eagle,'" Raanta said. "I didn't have any ideas for the outdoor game mask and I was thinking it would be nice to respect a great goalkeeper in that kind of game. So, I got the idea for the mask from the Phoenix guy who painted it. He said it would be pretty awesome and it turned out to be pretty awesome. I don't know what Eddie thinks about that, but I hope he likes it."

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NHL season resumes Tuesday in Buffalo

Sunday, 02.23.2014 / 2:03 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Once the NHL roster freeze ends at 12:01 a.m. ET Monday, the League formally re-opens for business following a two-week break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

And with the lifting of roster freezes, rumors and activity leading up to the March 5 NHL Trade Deadline will reach a fever pitch. Among the names who could be on the move are Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, New York Rangers forward Ryan Callahan, New York Islanders forward Thomas Vanek and defenseman Andrew MacDonald, and perhaps New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.

The games resume Tuesday when the Carolina Hurricanes play the Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) in a matchup originally scheduled for Jan. 7 at First Niagara Center until it was postponed due to a snowstorm. The Hurricanes returned to practice Thursday and the Sabres on Friday, when interim coach Ted Nolan returned from his stint coaching Latvia at the Olympics.

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Missing Backstrom, depth, lead to Sweden's undoing

Sunday, 02.23.2014 / 1:34 PM / 2014 Olympics

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

SOCHI -- Sweden's task of toppling Canada already was a giant one without world-class centers Henrik Sedin and Henrik Zetterberg, but losing the services of Nicklas Backstrom right before the gold-medal game Sunday at Bolshoy Ice Dome made the job even more difficult.

After about 10 minutes of even play Canada controlled the contest and claimed gold with a dominant performance. The Swedes, without their top three centers, struggled to generate offense in the final 50 minutes and were overwhelmed by Canada's depth, particularly down the middle.

Backstrom was suspended for the game by the International Olympic Committee for a doping-control violation, Sweden general manager Tommy Boustedt said. Swedish team doctor Bjorn Waldeback said the positive test was for an elevated level of pseudoephedrine, a substance found in the allergy medication Backstrom takes.

"I think if we are going to compete with Canada we need all of our best players here and that didn't happen," Sweden coach Par Marts said. "We had some injuries, and of course Backstrom, that happened with him and of course that affected us. We are only human beings sitting in there."

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Canada's defense, puck-possession led to gold medal

Sunday, 02.23.2014 / 1:33 PM / 2014 Olympics

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

SOCHI -- Sidney Crosby played on what may have been the greatest team Canada ever has sent to an international hockey tournament, the 2005 IIHF World Junior Championship team that was stacked with future NHL stars and steamrolled its way to the gold medal.

Crosby was joined by five of his teammates from that 2005 team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and he thinks the team that won gold for Canada on Sunday might be even better.

"As far as defensively, we didn't give up much, especially the last three games here," Crosby said. "The Latvia game, I don't know if a lot of people gave us credit for shutting that team down with 15 shots or whatever [actually 16]. Our [defensemen] were so good, our goaltending was so strong, our forwards … were playing in the offensive end and they were so good at getting us out [of our end].

"Yeah, I think defensively we were pretty dominant all the way through."

Canada allowed three goals on 129 shots in six Olympic games, a team save percentage of .977, and allowed none in its final 164:19 of play.

It was a defensive Picasso.

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Failed test keeps Backstrom from Olympic final

Sunday, 02.23.2014 / 12:48 PM / 2014 Olympics

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

SOCHI -- Sweden center Nicklas Backstrom missed the gold-medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Sunday against Canada because of a failed doping-control test, Swedish hockey officials said.

The positive test was for excess levels of pseudoephedrine, which was the result of an over-the-counter allergy medicine being taken by the player, Swedish team doctor Bjorn Waldeback said during a press conference Sunday. Waldeback said the medicine was Zyrtec-D, which Backstrom has taken intermittently during the past seven years, according to his NHL club, the Washington Capitals.

According to Swedish hockey general manager Tommy Boustedt, the suspension was levied Sunday by the International Olympic committee, the governing body for all Olympic competition. It came less than two hours before the game, after a hearing with the IOC disciplinary committee.

Backstrom said he last was tested Wednesday after Sweden defeated Slovenia in the quarterfinals.

Sweden lost the gold-medal game to Canada 3-0 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

"I want to say I have absolutely nothing to hide; I have allergy problems," Backstrom said at a press conference after the game. "I've taken Zyrtec-D for many years. It was a little shocking to me, to be honest with you, but at the same time I am here right now and I've got to deal with it."

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Yzerman won't return as Canada's GM

Sunday, 02.23.2014 / 12:00 PM / 2014 Olympics

NHL.com

Steve Yzerman said Sunday that he will not return as the executive director for Canada's Olympic team in 2018. He made the announcement following Canada's 3-0 victory against Sweden in the gold-medal game of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Yzerman, 48, also was the executive director of the Canada's gold medal-winning team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

"Time to move on," Yzerman told reporters while adding it was time to let someone else get a shot at it.

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Statement from the Capitals on Nicklas Backstrom

Sunday, 02.23.2014 / 11:46 AM / 2014 Olympics

NHL.com

ARLINGTON, Va. Nicklas Backstrom did not participate in Team Sweden's Olympic gold-medal game on Sunday due to the allergy medication he has been taking intermittently for seven years, including this season while playing for the Washington Capitals to combat severe allergies. The medicine was approved by the Swedish national team. It is not anticipated that this will impact his participation in NHL games.

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Statement regarding Nicklas Backstrom

Sunday, 02.23.2014 / 11:34 AM / 2014 Olympics

NHL.com

SOCHI, RUSSIA - National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly today released the following statement regarding Nicklas Backstrom:

"We understand that Nicklas Backstrom tested positive for a substance banned 'in competition' by the International Olympic Committee. It is our further understanding that the positive test was the result of a common allergy medication taken by the player knowingly, with the approval of the team doctor and without the intention of gaining an illegal or improper performance-enhancing benefit. In addition, the specific substance that resulted in the positive test is not currently on the League's Prohibited Substances List.

"Subject to confirmation of the facts as we understand them, and given the fact that the substance is neither prohibited in the NHL nor was used in an improper manner here, we do not anticipate there being any consequences relative to Nicklas' eligibility to participate in games for the Washington Capitals."

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Price, Karlsson, Kessel named Olympics' best

Sunday, 02.23.2014 / 10:10 AM / 2014 Olympics

NHL.com

Canada goaltender Carey Price, who posted back-to-back shutouts in the semifinals and gold-medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, was named the best goaltender at the tournament.

Price finished the Olympics with a shutout streak of 164 minutes, 19 seconds. The last goal he allowed was to Latvia's Lauris Darzins with 4:19 remaining in the first period of the quarterfinals. He made 31 saves in a 1-0 blanking of the United States in the semifinal and made 24 saves against Sweden in a 3-0 win in the gold-medal game Sunday.

The Montreal Canadiens goaltender finished the tournament with a 5-0 record, a 0.59 goals-against average and .972 save percentage. He allowed three goals on 106 shots.

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Quote of the Day

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— Ryan Kesler on his transition to the Anaheim Ducks