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Landeskog: Avalanche still have a long way to go

Monday, 09.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog certainly didn't like the feeling he had as he skated off the ice at Pepsi Center on the final day of April.

The Avalanche had four one-goal leads in Game 7 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Minnesota Wild but couldn't hold any of them. The game ended 5:02 into overtime on a goal by the Wild's Nino Niederreiter.

The end left a sour taste after what had been an outstanding regular season that saw the Avalanche tie a franchise record with 52 victories, win their first division title since 2003 and make the Stanley Cup Playoffs one season after finishing with the second-fewest points in the NHL.

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Goaltending, youth keys to success for Avalanche

Monday, 09.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The goal for the Colorado Avalanche last season was to return to respectability and earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, targets that were achieved under former star goalie and rookie coach Patrick Roy, who guided the team to a 52-22-8 record and won the Jack Adams Award.

The objective this season is to build on that success, even if it doesn't result in another Central Division championship, and to make a deep run in the postseason.

"I know why I was coach of the year, because I have a special group," Roy said. "They're the ones who were the difference last year, the ones who came to camp with a purpose and wanted to be different. As a coach you establish some values that you want to have, and these guys did that perfectly. We certainly have different words that we use -- partnership, trust and respect -- and these guys have bought into that.

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Established Avalanche now focus on going further

Monday, 09.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Duplicating last season's success will be difficult for the Colorado Avalanche following their surprising Central Division championship, franchise record-tying 52 wins and first Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance in four years.

Patrick Roy was awarded the Jack Adams Trophy in his first season as Avalanche coach after guiding the team to a 52-22-8 record and 112 points, the second-highest total in franchise history, and re-energizing what had been an indifferent fan base. The Avalanche lost in seven games to the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference First Round, but the experience was viewed as a necessary step in a young team's development.

One year after saying he hoped the Avalanche could "shock the world of hockey," Roy said the goal this season is to qualify for the playoffs again and make a deeper postseason run despite rugged competition in the division and Western Conference.

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Blues need more from goalies, centers to succeed

Monday, 09.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

When the St. Louis Blues skated off the ice at United Center in April following a Game 6 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference First Round, it signified another disappointing exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a promising regular season.

It marked the third straight season the Blues were eliminated earlier than expected.

After losing to the Los Angeles Kings the previous two seasons and the Blackhawks last spring, the players took the onus on themselves to make marked improvements. It was time to look in the mirror.

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Additions at center have Blues eager to take next step

Monday, 09.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Ken Hitchcock sat at his desk recently, beginning his fourth season as coach of the St. Louis Blues, and he couldn't recall a time when his players came to training camp in better shape and in a better frame of mind.

The 62-year-old, who coached the Blues to the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past three seasons, has stood by and watched his core group of players grow up.

The Blues, who have been eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings (2012 and '13) and Chicago Blackhawks (2014) the past three seasons, in the past would often soak up all the attention received as Stanley Cup favorites. Because they hadn't qualified for the playoffs in five of the six seasons prior to this three-year run, the players became a bit overwhelmed by the attention they were receiving.

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Cool in the clutch, Blues' Oshie has eyes on Cup

Monday, 09.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

There are those who are cool under pressure, and then there is T.J. Oshie.

The St. Louis Blues wing seems to live for the high-stress moments, on the ice and off it. At his day job, Oshie has grown into a bankable NHL star thanks to his skills in the shootout. Away from the arena, Oshie has embraced becoming a fiancé, a father and a pillar of the St. Louis community in a span of months with even greater calm and confidence.

Over six NHL seasons, Oshie is 27-for-48 (56.2 percent) in shootouts, including 9-for-12 last season. At the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Oshie's prowess approached legendary status when he converted four of six shootout attempts to lift the United States past Russia, 3-2.

"It's the one thing in hockey where I'm very confident I'm going to score every time," Oshie said. "I think it's a big part of the game. [The Blues] used to not practice it ever, but over the last couple seasons I've been telling the coaches and goalie coaches, 'Hey, these are points, so we need to work on it.'"

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Quote of the Day

It was a big dream. [Messi] is probably the best athlete out there, so it's a big honor, for [Kuznetzov] as well. It's maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the best player in soccer right now. I'm a big Barcelona fan and Messi fan, so it's huge. You can take [Michael] Jordan, [Mark] Messier, [Wayne] Gretzky, those kinds of [people]. It's an honor to meet. It's nice to be in that position.

— Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin told told Monumental Network after meeting soccer star Lionel Messi prior to Argentina's practice at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. on Friday
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