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Five Questions: Canadiens' Pacioretty on skid, Classic

Tuesday, 12.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest is a Winter Classic edition featuring Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty:

Max Pacioretty never expected his first season as captain of the Montreal Canadiens to be a smooth ride.

It's fair to assume he never expected it to be this turbulent, either.

In his first season as captain, Pacioretty has had to serve as a team spokesman on a variety of unpleasant issues, starting right in training camp when Zack Kassian was in a car accident, continuing when goaltender Carey Price was injured and then re-injured, to going through the worst stretch of losses in Pacioretty's career with the Canadiens.

Five Questions: Bruins' Vatrano on Winter Classic

Tuesday, 12.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest is a Winter Classic edition featuring Boston Bruins forward Frank Vatrano:

Rookie forward Frank Vatrano has already had two self-described "did that just really happen" moments since getting called up to the Boston Bruins in early November. A third might be coming Friday if everything stays status quo.

Vatrano, who grew up a Bruins fan living outside Springfield, Mass., in East Longmeadow, is expected to get the opportunity to live an experience he never could have dreamed of by playing for his favorite hockey team at Gillette Stadium, home of his favorite football team, in the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against the Montreal Canadiens (1 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

"I'm really excited about it," Vatrano told "It's everyone's dream to play in the NHL, but to play in the Winter Classic is like a cherry on top."

Eichel, Bennett continue to adjust to pro game

Tuesday, 12.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

One of the toughest challenges for any NHL rookie is maintaining a high level of consistency against bigger and stronger players on a nightly basis and over an entire season.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel and Calgary Flames left wing Sam Bennett are discovering it's tough to duplicate the success they each had at the collegiate and junior hockey level, respectively, in the best League in the world. It hasn't discouraged them, but each knows patience and a little persistence will pay off in the end.

It isn't as though Eichel or Bennett are struggling this season. Rather, it's more of an adjustment period.

AHL Notebook: Intriguing storylines for stretch run

Tuesday, 12.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / AHL Update

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

The American Hockey League schedule traditionally takes a long holiday break that allows its teams to reset before the games pile up in the second half of the season.

Here is a look at some of the AHL's more intriguing storylines heading into 2016 that could continue to shape the playoff picture:

The Texas Stars endured a tumultuous post-holiday return to play. Rookie forward Devin Shore had shoulder surgery and will miss the rest of the season, according to Shore ranks second in the AHL with 15 goals and has 26 points in 26 games. The Stars also have a change in net. Prospect Jack Campbell, the 11th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, was assigned to Idaho of the ECHL. Maxime Lagace was recalled from Idaho to replace him. Campbell, 23, has played parts of five AHL seasons, but he has a 4.27 goals-against average and .868 save percentage in 12 AHL games this season. He went 3-6-3 with Texas and allowed five or more goals in each of his past five starts. The Stars' 3.53 goals-against per game ranks them 29th in the AHL, though they place second in goals per game at 3.78.

WJC roundup: Canada routs Denmark; U.S. blanked

Monday, 12.28.2015 / 4:56 PM / 2016 World Junior Championship

Canadian Press

HELSINKI -- Mitchell Marner (Toronto Maple Leafs), and Dylan Strome (Arizona Coyotes) had a goal and an assist apiece as Canada rolled past Denmark 6-1 on Monday at the world junior hockey championship.

Anthony Beauvillier (New York Islanders), John Quenneville (New Jersey Devils), Mathew Barzal (New York Islanders) and Lawson Crouse (Florida Panthers) also scored for Canada (1-1) at Helsinki Ice Hall. Mason McDonald (Calgary Flames) stopped 10 shots in what is likely his last start of the preliminary round.

It's expected McDonald will give way to Mackenzie Blackwood (New Jersey Devils) on Tuesday when the Canadians face Switzerland (0-2). Blackwood had to serve the final two games of an eight-game suspension before suiting up for Canada.

Alexander True scored for Denmark (1-1), while Mathias Seldrup made 52 saves in net.

Five things learned from Day 3 of World Juniors

Monday, 12.28.2015 / 4:02 PM / 2016 World Junior Championship

Tim Wharnsby - Correspondent

Sweden goalie Linus Soderstrom channeled his inner Henrik Lundqvist against the United States on Monday at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Soderstrom, a New York Islanders prospect, idolizes Lundqvist and certainly came up with a King Henrik-like performance with 46 saves in a 1-0 victory.

Soderstrom was particularly sharp on the penalty kill. The U.S. peppered the Swedish goalie with 20 shots in 14:48 of power-play time, but he kept the Americans at bay as they went 0-for-8 in man-advantage situations.

"We did everything but score," U.S. coach Ron Wilson said. "We created opportunities and had 46 shots on goal, but you have to give their goalie credit."

Winter Classic rink on schedule as snow, ice loom

FOXBORO -- The NHL remains on schedule in building out the rink for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 1. The weather, however, could make things a bit interesting across the next 36 hours.

The Boston Bruins host the Montreal Canadiens in the annual New Year's Day affair (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"We're in pretty good shape today," Don Renzulli, the NHL's executive vice president of events, said during a Monday update at the stadium. "Obviously just trying to beat the weather that's coming in [Monday night], but as you can see we got white paint down on the rink [Sunday] night. We're putting in the lines [Monday] and we're going to work on logos late [Monday] afternoon."

NHL to host first-ever Outdoor Women's Classic presented by Scotiabank

Boston Pride (NWHL) vs. Les Canadiennes (CWHL) at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 31; Gates open at 1:30 p.m. ET

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORK - As part of the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® festivities, the National Hockey League (NHL) will host the first-ever Outdoor Women's Classic presented by Scotiabank, an abbreviated exhibition game on the outdoor rink at Gillette Stadium. Fans that have a ticket to the 2016 NHL Winter Classic® Alumni Game (3:30 p.m. ET) can use that ticket to gain early entry into the stadium to watch the Outdoor Women’s Classic (2:00 p.m. ET). Gates will open at 1:30 p.m. ET. There is no separate ticket available for the exhibition game.

Bruins alumni to make multiple public appearances leading up to 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic events

Ray Bourque, Bob Sweeney appearance to include a special surprise for Boston area youth hockey players

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORK -- In the days leading up to the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic New Year's Day outdoor game between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens and the 2016 NHL Winter Classic® Alumni Game presented by Molson Canadian set for Dec. 31 at Gillette Stadium (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Sportsnet and TVA Sports), several Bruins greats will make a series of public appearances.

Former Bruins players Ray Bourque, Rick Middleton, Terry O'Reilly and Bob Sweeney will take part in autograph signings and Q&A sessions before facing off against fellow Canadiens greats outdoors in the Alumni Game.

Panthers ride six-game win streak into Atlantic lead

Monday, 12.28.2015 / 9:30 AM / Weekly Primer

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

Ladies and gentlemen, your first-place Florida Panthers.

The Panthers are atop the Atlantic Division following their 3-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday and will go for their seventh straight win when they host the Montreal Canadiens at BB&T Center on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; RDS, SNE, FS-F). It's the Panthers' longest winning streak in eight years.

Florida, which was in 11th place in the Eastern Conference on Dec. 1, has qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs once since 2000.

"It's no fluke; for a month and a bit now we've been playing really good hockey," said defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who has five goals in his past 10 games. "We're really learning to carry that momentum and play good defensive hockey, which leads to great offensive chances."

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