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Malkin looking to lead Penguins back to playoffs

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins' offense has lived and died by center Evgeni Malkin.

Sidney Crosby has returned to form with seven goals and 17 points in his past 14 games, his most productive stretch since scoring 23 points in the first 13 games of the season.

But that hasn't led to team success. In those 14 games, the Penguins went 4-8-3, not including a 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins with Crosby injured.

Malkin fully played in five of the 14 games, the first three ending with a win before losing two straight when he returned April 5 from an undisclosed injury. In the nine games Malkin was injured, including the shutout loss to Boston on March 14 when he sustained a lower-body injury on his first shift, Pittsburgh won once, putting the Stanley Cup Playoffs in some doubt.

"There are a lot of good hockey teams that have had good years that are in the exact same position as us," Crosby said. "It's going to be about who handles it the best and who plays the best at the right time."

Five teams that bolstered defense at trade deadline

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 3:00 AM / Expert Picks

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Starting with the blockbuster trade that brought Tyler Myers to the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 11, the run-up to the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline was essentially a race among contending teams to bolster their blue lines.

The Jets, Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators and Los Angeles Kings all acquired defensemen before the deadline.

In the case of trades the Penguins made with the Blues and Ducks, defensemen were swapped because of the different elements of the game they offer.

Considering what went on in the trade market more than a month ago, it's no surprise now that the defensemen traded have a chance to make a huge impact on their respective teams in the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here are the five teams that have appeared to benefit the most by bolstering their blue lines before the deadline:

Bond helped Suter, Parise navigate difficult season

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Ryan Suter can finally smile and even allow himself to laugh about what will always be an odd coincidence, because he can laugh about a lot of things now.

Time heals, winning helps, and friendship goes a long way toward turning your world right side up again after feeling like everything was falling apart.

Suter and Minnesota Wild teammate Zach Parise know this all too well.

"It's kind of weird actually if you think about that, how it's everything we've gone through together," Suter said. "But what are the odds of something like this last year happening? That's how I feel when I think about it, like, really, this is just weird."

Suter and Parise created a lasting link when they signed matching 13-year, $98 million contracts on July 4, 2012; they formed a bond only they can understand this season because each lost his father in a tragic way.

Price focused on winning Cup, not individual honors

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 2:14 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- The history of the Montreal Canadiens can be suffocating at times for the players trying to live up to it.

The franchise’s NHL-record 24 Stanley Cup banners watch over each of their home games,as do the banners commemorating the 18 players who have had their numbers retired,each of them a member of the Hall of Fame.

In the dressing room,the photos of the 44 players in team history who are in the Hall of Fame watch over them as well,their photos lined above the players’ lockers.

That history can be a burden when things are not going well.

But it also makes becoming a part of that storied history that much sweeter.

Canadiens goaltender Carey Price did that Thursday in a 4-3 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings. It was his 43rd victory of the season setting a franchise record on a team that takes records more seriously than most.

Western Conference playoff field set; pairings TBD

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 1:20 AM / Expert Picks

The eight Western Conference teams in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been determined, although the pairings have not.

The Calgary Flames earned a playoff berth for the first time since 2009 by defeating the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday, eliminating the defending Stanley Cup champions. The victory assured the Flames of finishing no worse than third in the Pacific Division.

Calgary's victory also assured the Winnipeg Jets of their first playoff berth since 2007, when the franchise was known as the Atlanta Thrashers. The Jets earned one point in a 1-0 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche, a game that ended five minutes before the Flames finished the Kings.

Five reasons Islanders clinched playoff berth

Thursday, 04.09.2015 / 11:00 PM / Expert Picks

David Satriano - Staff Writer

After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, the New York Islanders led the Metropolitan Division for a large portion of 2014-15 and clinched a berth in the postseason on Thursday.

Additions in goal and on defense, and a captain who is a Hart Trophy candidate are reasons the Islanders' last season at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island was a memorable one. New York's 43-year run there will come to an end this season.

Here are five reasons the Islanders clinched a playoff berth:

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Quote of the Day

He plays the way that we want to play and he's a leader on the ice. It's those components we feel were the dynamic of what we wanted in our captain.

— Devils coach John Hynes on defenseman Andy Greene, who was named captain Thursday
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