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Features

Shattenkirk's defensive gem paid off for Blues

Saturday, 10.18.2014 / 3:00 AM / Defenders of the Ice

NHL.com

The St. Louis Blues lost to the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 in a shootout Thursday at Staples Center.

They can thank defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk for the one point they got out of the game against the defending Stanley Cup champions. It was Shattenkirk’s extra effort late in the second period that kept the game scoreless.

Shattenkirk, who’s in his fifth NHL season, denied Kings forward Jeff Carter on a prime scoring chance with less than a minute left in the second period.

Carter moved in behind Shattenkirk after Kings defenseman Alec Martinez stripped the defenseman of the puck near the blue line in the St. Louis zone.

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Devils take mostly positives from four-game road trip

Friday, 10.17.2014 / 4:08 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- When the 2014-15 schedule came out in June, New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer immediately noticed a major challenge his team would have to overcome.

DeBoer looked down the schedule to mid-December and counted 21 road games in 17 buildings. He counted 11 games at Prudential Center.

He knew right then that if the Devils were going to give themselves a fighting chance to break a two-year Stanley Cup Playoff drought, the longest the franchise has had in 27 years, they were going to have to pick up points in a lot of unfriendly buildings, including 11 in the Eastern Conference, in the first two-plus months of the season.

They're off to a good start.

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Demers, Sharks shake off first loss, key in on Devils

Friday, 10.17.2014 / 3:18 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- There's no better tonic for a loss than to get right back on the ice in an attempt to make amends.

At least that's how San Jose Sharks defenseman Jason Demers views the situation when asked about his team's demeanor 24 hours after losing its first game of the season, 4-3 to the New York Islanders in a shootout Thursday.

The Sharks (3-0-1) will play the New Jersey Devils (3-1-0) at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Saturday.

"We did some good things and maybe they out-skated us a little bit in certain areas," Demers told NHL.com during an off-day visit to The NHL Powered by Reebok Store. "You know as a team the odds of going 82-0 are pretty tough, so eventually you might drop a few, but it's how you bounce back.

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Panthers' Ekblad, Sabres' Reinhart focused on future

Friday, 10.17.2014 / 2:58 PM / NHL Insider

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- When the Florida Panthers visit the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, the highlight of the matchup involves the top two players selected in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, selected first, and Sabres forward Sam Reinhart, selected second, will face off against each other for the first time in their pro careers. While they are good friends and were roommates while trying out for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, they're focused on what lies ahead in their careers.

"I come into every single game with just an attitude that I want to come out, be positive, work hard and be enthusiastic about the game every shift," Ekblad said. "And that's kind of the mentality I have going into every game. I don't really think about who I'm playing against. You can't cheat against everyone; you have to play in this League because everyone is so good."

The top two picks in the draft haven't played against each other this early in a season since Oct. 11, 1997, when top pick Joe Thornton, then of the Boston Bruins, faced second pick and future teammate Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks.

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Capitals defense prospect Carrick has bright future

Friday, 10.17.2014 / 1:14 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

While Connor Carrick was waiting to hear his name called at the 2012 NHL Draft, his younger brother, Hunter, was sitting beside him, listening to hundreds of names he didn't recognize.

Joining in with the spirited crowd in Pittsburgh, Hunter began playfully booing each team that was called, eliciting a warning from his older brother that he'd better not boo when a team took him.

Five rounds later, Carrick was shaking hands with George McPhee, then the general manager of the Washington Capitals, and letting his new team in on a secret.

"I ratted my brother out," Carrick said. "I let them know, 'Hey, this kid was booing your staff.' He was as red as a goal light."

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Islanders, Hedman among burning fantasy questions

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

It's been 10 days since the season began. Ten. Don't start panicking if your fantasy team isn't in first place as you expected them to be. Don't go dropping San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture because he has one point in four games. And no, New York Islanders sensation Brock Nelson isn't going to lead the NHL in points.

These are a couple samples of the many questions or concerns that have been raised to me on Twitter regarding fantasy hockey since the season started 10 days ago. It's a long season. Have some patience and give your team a little breathing room.

With that said, there have been storylines galore to start this season. Here's a look at five of the biggest questions in fantasy hockey right now.

1. What's the deal with Boychuk and Nelson?

The Islanders are off to a great start, and to no surprise John Tavares has been at the center of a lot of that success. But on the other hand, Nelson and newcomer Johnny Boychuk have been extremely pleasant surprises to fantasy owners to this point. Boychuk is currently the No. 4 overall fantasy player. He's second among defensemen with six points, he has a plus-5 rating and his five power-play points are tied for the lead among d-men. Boychuk has never had more than 23 points in any single season, so expecting him to keep at this pace is absurd. However, he is receiving a career-best 3:00 of power-play ice time per game on a unit that includes Tavares, so there's a chance he could post 30-40 points and carry solid fantasy value. As for Nelson, 23, he's been anchoring the team's second line and has four goals and seven points in four games. His ownership has soared up to 46 percent, but again, expecting him to continue to put up these kind of gaudy numbers is likely unrealistic. Nelson has four goals on five shots! Nelson is capable of a 20-goal, 50-point season, but both he and Boychuk make ideal sell-high candidates for fantasy owners right now.

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Super 16: Analytics say rest goalies on back-to-backs

Friday, 10.17.2014 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

As more people embrace the idea of analytics in hockey, one of the things they find out is it's more about ideas than statistics.

It's not all about a player's Corsi numbers; it is about his puck possession numbers and the principle of keeping the puck as a fundamental part of the way the game should be played. There are lots of principles in hockey analytics. Most started as an idea, and then someone or someones sought out a way to prove them.

One such idea is teams should never play the same goalie when faced with games on back-to-back nights. The premise of this is pretty simple: Goalies tax their body a great deal in any given NHL game, and when they do so on back-to-back nights it decreases their ability to perform at an optimal level.

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Lucic, Bruins fall short again facing Canadiens

Friday, 10.17.2014 / 12:37 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Milan Lucic came so close to coming out of it unscathed.

After a summer of hearing about the remarks he made in the handshake line at the end of the Boston Bruins' loss in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Montreal Canadiens, Lucic was facing those Canadiens again for the first time Thursday, and all eyes were on him.

On his first shift of the game, Lucic picked up the puck with speed and entered the Canadiens zone only to have his nemesis, Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin, knock him down with a solid shoulder check.

The sellout Bell Centre crowd of 21,273 fans roared its approval, but Lucic did nothing to retaliate. In fact, Lucic was on his best behavior for most of the night, focused on helping the Bruins win more so than exacting any sort of revenge for a playoff loss five months earlier.

But in the final minutes, with the Bruins trailing 5-4 but taking the play to the Canadiens in an effort to tie the game, Lucic was faced with an opportunity too difficult to resist.

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Canadiens learned much from knocking out Bruins

Thursday, 10.16.2014 / 12:36 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- No one needs to be reminded of what happened the last time the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins were on the ice for a meaningful game.

Hands were shaken; things were said.

Ever since May 14, when the Canadiens eliminated the Bruins from the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-1 victory at TD Garden in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series, culminating with some menacing words from Boston forward Milan Lucic in the handshake line, the next meeting between the longtime rivals has been circled on the calendar of all involved.

That includes the Canadiens players.

"Obviously when the season starts you're not looking too far down the road, but now that it's here, with what happened last year, I think both teams are going to be really excited for it," Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said. "I think any time Montreal and Boston are playing each other there's a little more to it with the rivalry that comes with it. I've only been a part of it for … this is my third year and I fully understand what the games are like. They're a little more intense. There's a little bit of hatred between the two teams. But there's a lot of respect as well."

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Backups prove worth early

Thursday, 10.16.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with in-depth goalie analysis. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Goldman will be your go-to guy for fantasy goalie advice all season long.

Since 2010, due to factors like sheer skill, injuries and better goalie coaching in the minors, the overall usage of rookies and backups has been steadily rising.

Last season was a great example, as a large class of 26 rookies posted a cumulative .912 save percentage (6,089 saves on 6,676 shots) and played in 20.7 percent of the NHL's total games (254 of 1,230).

This season may be no different, as 21 teams have already used both goalies, including four rookies.

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Quote of the Day

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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