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Bruins' Bergeron on pace to win third straight Selke

Wednesday, 01.13.2016 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

David Satriano - Staff Writer

The Boston Bruins did not get off to a good start this season. They went 0-3-0 allowing 16 goals (including three while shorthanded) and more than 30 shots per game. Since an 8-8-1 start, they've rebounded to go 13-7-4 and some of that has to do with the improved defensive game, of which forward Patrice Bergeron has been a key component.

There's a reason Bergeron has won the Selke Trophy each of the past two seasons and in three of the past four, and why, at the halfway point of the season, he's a favorite to win it again. Not only has he won 575 faceoffs (second in the League) for a 56.7 percent rate, he's excelled in defensive-zone faceoffs, winning 60.1 percent (205 of 341).

Last season, he finished sixth in SAT% (shot attempts percentage at 5-on-5) among forwards who played at least 50 games (58.09 percent). That number has slipped to 53.05 percent this season, but Bergeron has had a huge impact on the Bruins defensively.

Flyers' Voracek, Couturier excelling after line changes

Wednesday, 01.13.2016 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said he wasn't sure what it would be like on the left side of the ice.

Voracek had been a right wing for as long as he had played hockey, and it worked pretty well for him. Last season, he played in his first NHL All-Star Game and finished fourth in the League in scoring.

But after Voracek scored one goal in his first 30 games this season, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol made a change prior to the Dec. 15 game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Voracek was going to play left wing.

Hakstol believed Voracek was skilled and smart enough to make whatever adjustments would be needed. Voracek, though, wasn't sure how, or if, the position switch would work.

"I thought it was going to be way harder," he said. "Because I never played it. ... It's a big change."

Change has been good. Voracek had a goal and two assists against the Hurricanes in his first game at his new position. And in 10 games as a left wing entering the Flyers' Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports), he has three goals and seven assists.

Matthews consensus No. 1 in initial 2016 mock draft

Wednesday, 01.13.2016 / 3:00 AM / 2016 NHL Draft

Center Auston Matthews entered the 2015-16 season regarded as the top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft.

His play this season, especially at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, has cemented his spot at the top of the draft list.

That includes the initial mock drafts for's draft experts, Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale, who each believe Matthews will be the first player picked when the 30 teams meet June 24-25 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.

Blackhawks coach Quenneville gets milestone win

Wednesday, 01.13.2016 / 1:21 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- There were some tense moments before it became official, but Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville finally capped a memorable day by achieving a career milestone at United Center on Tuesday.

The Blackhawks' 3-2 win against the Nashville Predators pushed Quenneville's career record as an NHL coach to 782-451-110 with 77 ties, tying him with Al Arbour for second all-time in career wins. Earlier in the day, Quenneville signed a three-year contract extension that extends through the 2019-20 season.

The only NHL coach with more career victories is Scotty Bowman (1,244), now a Blackhawks special adviser. In his eighth season in Chicago, Quenneville got his 344th win as Blackhawks coach. He also had 307 wins with the St. Louis Blues (1996-2004) and 131 with the Colorado Avalanche (2005-08).

Blackhawks' Quenneville ties for 2nd in all-time wins

Tuesday, 01.12.2016 / 12:29 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- In a city that adores championship coaches, Joel Quenneville, who has led the Chicago Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup titles in the past six seasons, has become synonymous with the first letter of his last name.

Quenneville is better known as "Q" or "Coach Q," in Chicago because the Blackhawks have won a lot in his eight seasons as their coach, including those Cup triumphs in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

He has earned a spot on Chicago's coaching Mount Rushmore along with George Halas and Mike Ditka of the Bears and former Bulls coach Phil Jackson.

"Joel Quenneville is the guy that got the Blackhawks over the 49-year [Cup drought]," said Grant DePorter, CEO of Harry Caray's Restaurant Group and founder of the Chicago Sports Museum. "Once you do that, you can be immortalized in Chicago history."

Quenneville, 57, tied Al Arbour for second all-time in NHL regular-season coaching wins with 782 on Tuesday when the Blackhawks defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2 at United Center. The only coach with more is Scotty Bowman (1,244), currently a Blackhawks senior adviser. 

Five NHL team records that may never be matched

Tuesday, 01.12.2016 / 12:20 PM / NHL Insider

The Florida Panthers were as dominant as they ever have been in winning a franchise-best 12 games, a streak that ended Monday with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on the second night of a back-to-back swing through Western Canada.

During the dozen-game run the Panthers scored three or more goals eight times, allowed one or fewer goals eight times, posted two shutouts, won six one-goal games and won six games on the road. Yet they still came up five short of the record for the League's longest winning streak, a 17-game run by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins.

In fact, despite all their dominance the Panthers only got 70 percent of the way to the Penguins' record win streak, becoming one of nine teams win 12 straight.

Fantasy top 100 forwards: Positive regression trends

Tuesday, 01.12.2016 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider

Every Tuesday during the season, fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen provides in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top-100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen is your go-to guy for fantasy forward advice all season long.

The midway point of the season is an appropriate time to evaluate abnormally high and low shooting percentages and see where regression to the mean can help predict fantasy value.

Although there can be exceptions, history provides a strong indication of shooting percentage trends. Last season, the shooting percentage leader among those with 200-plus shots on goal was Steven Stamkos (16 percent), with no other player above 14.3. Two seasons ago, two players eclipsed 16 percent: Joe Pavelski (18.2) and Chris Kunitz (16.1).

At the midway point of 2015-16, nine players are on pace for more than 200 SOG with shooting rates above 16 percent. Three of them (Pavelski, 19.4; Mike Hoffman, 18.3; Jamie Benn, 18.1) are upwards of 18 percent, difficult to sustain with a high SOG volume. Regardless, these are three of the most valuable League-wide, and thus heavily owned in fantasy leagues.

On the flip side, five of 53 forwards with 200 or more SOG (Jeff Skinner, Henrik Zetterberg, Jason Pominville, Patrick Sharp, Nathan Gerbe) finished with a shooting percentage of less than 8.0 percent last season. Two seasons ago, seven qualifying players finished below that threshold. At the halfway mark this season, 13 forwards are shooting under that mark. That's likely to change for the better, and fantasy owners would be wise to take advantage.

Here are a few of those forwards with steady SOG volumes who could benefit from a shooting percentage correction in the second half. Line situations only help these players' chances of seeing positive regression.

Five Questions: Doan on Coyotes' surprising first half

Tuesday, 01.12.2016 / 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 edition features Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan:

Though Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan has given some thought to his future beyond this season, the present is just too exciting and meaningful to be kept up at night thinking about what's next, about whether he wants to keep playing.

"I haven't made a decision one way or the other," said Doan, 39, who is in the final year of his contract. "This year is a long ways from being over."

Maybe longer than was originally expected.

'Soul on Ice' film tells story of black players in hockey

Tuesday, 01.12.2016 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

The history of black players in hockey, and the importance it can play in teaching aspiring players, is so important to Kwame Mason that he risked his own financial security to tell the story.

When the idea of telling a narrative about the black experience in hockey took hold in Mason's mind, the erstwhile radio DJ in Edmonton took the ultimate plunge.

"I sold my condo, which is not advice I would give a first-time filmmaker, took all my money out and started working on the project," said Mason, 42.

The result is "Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future," which explores the experiences of black players at all levels of hockey. The film, which received the People's Choice Award for feature film at the Edmonton International Film Festival, delves into the black experience throughout the history of hockey and how those experiences have encouraged more participation in the game.

Panthers' Gallant leads Adams race at halfway point

Tuesday, 01.12.2016 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Jon Lane - Staff Writer

The Florida Panthers were in a precarious position on Thanksgiving.

At 8-9-4, they were 16 points behind the Montreal Canadiens in the Atlantic Division. Instead of building on last season when the Panthers won 38 games and finished seven points out of the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, they lost nine of 12 and were five points out of the playoff race.

At the turn of the New Year, the Panthers were enjoying the longest winning streak in their 23-year history that lifted them to the top of the division. Their 11 wins and 22 points (11-3-0) in December were the highest win and point totals in their history. They became the first team in the NHL this season to win 10 consecutive games, passing nine-game runs by the Canadiens, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. Including coach Gerard Gallant, they're sending four representatives (Jaromir Jagr, Aaron Ekblad and Roberto Luongo) to the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game.

The rise of the Panthers has Gallant leading the Jack Adams Award race as the League's top coach halfway through the season.

"I knew we had a good team," Gallant told the Miami Herald, "but I didn't think we'd be in first place right now. I'm sure there aren't many other people who thought we would, either."

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