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2015 NHL Draft
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Features

Lightning's Gudlevskis reflects on storybook night

Friday, 02.20.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

A year ago this week, the 2014 Sochi Olympics entered the knockout round. To celebrate, NHL.com looks at three players who used one of hockey's biggest stages to grab the spotlight and parlay their celebrity into the 2014-15 NHL season.

Today, we look at Latvia goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, who went from unheralded backup to Olympic star with his performance against Canada in the quarterfinals.

Not long after upsetting Switzerland in the qualification round of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Latvia coach Ted Nolan made up his mind.

On tap in the quarterfinals was Canada, the favorite to win the gold medal for the second consecutive Olympic Games. Nolan turned to an unknown goalie named Kristers Gudlevskis, who in his Olympic debut allowed five goals to eventual silver-medal winner Sweden.

Latvia's top goalie was Edgars Masalskis, who made 32 saves in the win that eliminated Switzerland, but Nolan's instincts led him to Gudlevskis. Nolan's reasoning suggested not playing Masalskis in consecutive games of the grueling tournament. His gut told him plainly that it was Gudlevskis' time.

"I told him there would be a big moment for you coming up in the Olympics," said Nolan, coach of the Buffalo Sabres. "We knew we would play him in that game [against Canada] because of his size and athleticism, and youthful enthusiasm. Youthful enthusiasm sometimes overcomes that lack of experience sometimes."

American hockey has grown up since Miracle on Ice

Friday, 02.20.2015 / 3:00 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Mike Eruzione and Mark Johnson were quick to mention it, and each continued to stress the point: The Miracle on Ice -- the United States' win against the heavily favored Soviet Union at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics -- may be the defining moment in American hockey history, but without a number of other big moments, the story would be incomplete.

"As great as the Soviet victory was, I think sometimes what gets lost in the shuffle is how important that game was against Sweden, and the game against Czechoslovakia," Eruzione said Monday. "Sometimes a lot of the success of our team gets lost in one game.

"I want people to remember it was a series of events and a series of games."

Super 16: Maple Leafs have advantages if they rebuild

Friday, 02.20.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Toronto Maple Leafs made a significant trade this week, sending defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli to the Nashville Predators.

There has been plenty of speculation about the direction of the Maple Leafs in the wake of that trade. Although not yet eliminated, Toronto is likely going to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons. For the second consecutive season, a collapse has derailed a campaign that began with success in the standings despite analytics suggesting it was unsustainable.

Toronto has a new team president, Brendan Shanahan, and a new, much-publicized analytics department headed by Kyle Dubas. What's unclear is, are the Maple Leafs ready to commence a legitimate, full-scale rebuilding project?

The Maple Leafs do have young talent, and they have been close (again, in the standings) to a playoff spot in recent years. They also have little salary-cap space and a roster that is not a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

Ice surface at Levi's Stadium ready for big test

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Dan Craig's ice is ready for its test day.

"It's good that it's time to skate," said Craig, the NHL's Senior Director of Facilities Operations and the person in charge of the rink build for the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game Saturday at Levi's Stadium between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 2).

Craig gave his ice a small test Thursday when he was the first person to skate on it around 6 p.m. PT. The media in attendance chipped in for an hour after that when the NHL opened the ice for a media skate. But the real test comes Friday, when the Sharks and Kings each practice.

Shark Head moves to Levi's Stadium for Sharks-Kings

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The famous Shark Head has arrived at Levi's Stadium. Now it's really a San Jose Sharks home game.

Even though there is no roof at Levi's Stadium, meaning there is no way to drop the Shark Head to the ice to make the famous entry way for the home team as they have at SAP Center, the Sharks still decided the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 2) couldn't go on without their most recognizable symbol on site.

The Shark Head was transported from SAP Center to Levi's Stadium on Thursday.

Fantasy top 30 goalies: Don't doubt Bruins' Rask

Thursday, 02.19.2015 / 12:15 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.

For Tuukka Rask, it was a matter of when, not if.

There are many factors out of a goaltender's control that affect his play. A lot needs to happen before a team can generate a scoring chance, and for the most part none of that has to do with a goaltender, down to which of his teammates are on the ice.

It's part of what makes goaltending a bit unpredictable, but as far as repeatability goes Rask has been one of the more consistent and one of the best goalies in all of hockey recently. Rask is quite good at his job, but thanks to some missing co-workers, and a bit of un-Rask-like play, many fantasy owners were scratching their heads when it came to the Boston Bruins goalie early this season.

Top performer: Ovechkin's goal sparks Capitals

Thursday, 02.19.2015 / 12:00 PM / Top Performer

NHL.com

Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL with 37 goals, many of them the highlight-reel variety. Goal No. 37 Tuesday in the Washington Capitals' 3-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins was no different.

Ovechkin beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on a breakaway to spark the Capitals to a win that moved them to within one point of third-place Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division.

Ovechkin scored his League-leading 17th power-play goal late in the first period. After a Penguins turnover, Ovechkin gathered the puck, split two Penguins skaters and skated alone toward Fleury. He faked and went to his backhand, depositing the puck just under the crossbar, a goal confirmed by video review.

Levi's Stadium to evoke Northern California landscape

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings at Levi's Stadium on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 2) is not only considered a pivotal regular-season showdown, but an event that will resonate with fans and players for quite some time.

Playing a prominent role in that process are Populous and Infinite Scale, the architecture and graphic firms responsible for the many design elements surrounding the rink that will pay tribute to the wide-ranging topography unique to Northern California.

Populous senior associate Bobby Sloan believes this Stadium Series game could surpass anything ever achieved at an NHL outdoor event. Sloan would know, since he has been the lead architect technician for the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and NHL Stadium Series since the very beginning.

Unmasked: New technique helped Dubnyk rebound

Thursday, 02.19.2015 / 9:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk has answered a lot of questions about how he turned his career around this season.

How exactly did he go from being out of the NHL at the end of last season to one of the League’s hottest goalies in February, helping turn the Wild's season around since a mid-January trade from the Arizona Coyotes with a 11-2-1 run?

For the most part, the answers have focused on Arizona giving him a chance as a free agent to start the season, and Coyotes goalie coach Sean Burke restoring his confidence. There were also some small tweaks and a better understanding about managing depth in his crease from Burke, but for the most part Dubnyk said he hasn't made any radical style alterations since transitioning his game to the NHL under then-Edmonton Oilers goalie coach Frederic Chabot.

There was, however, one significant change this summer.

Stadium Series return to roots for wrestler Young

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Eric Young may be famous for his prowess in a wrestling ring, but long before he won the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling world heavyweight championship, he was a kid growing up in Canada with a passion for hockey.

"We played as much hockey as everything; that was the only thing to do," Young, who grew up in Florence, Ontario, told NHL.com. "You play road hockey in the summer, and when it gets cold enough and the river freezes and floods the field you play pond hockey."

Even though Young traded in his skates for wrestling boots, he said he still roots for his childhood team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. After moving to Nashville in 2004, he also became a Nashville Predators fan.

On Saturday, Young will be one of about 70,000 expected at Levi's Stadium for the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series when the San Jose Sharks take on the Los Angeles Kings (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 2).

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Quote of the Day

Hopefully [Jonathan] has a year that pushes us, that is the organization, to speak to him next summer and looking for [a long-term contract]. Because the thought process is trying to get a goaltender, and hopefully it's Jonathan, to be the stabilizer for this franchise.

— Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello on goaltender Jonathan Bernier