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Features

Super 16: East gaining ground in balance of power

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

For several seasons, the NHL's balance of power has tilted to the left.

The Western Conference has won more games against their brethren in the Eastern Conference for years. The West has been home to six of the past eight Stanley Cup champions, and the two that lost had a Game 7 on home ice in the Final.

That has not changed at this point in the 2014-15 season, but the two conferences might be a little closer to equal than they were a season ago, at least at the top. The East is 112-94-22 against the West through games on Wednesday.

Basically, the Eastern teams are collecting points at an 89-point pace in games against the West. That's a slight uptick from last season, when the East teams were essentially an 86-point team against the West and Western teams were a 102-point team against the East.

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Ribeiro leads Predators' revival with own resurgence

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Robby Stanley - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- When forward Mike Ribeiro signed a one-year contract with the Nashville Predators last summer, many thought the best days of his career were behind him.

His four-year contract with the Arizona Coyotes was bought out after one season because of behavioral issues, according to Coyotes general manager Don Maloney, and his point production had slipped in each of the past two seasons.

Through the first half of this season, Ribeiro has silenced his critics, finding success on and off the ice. He focused on getting his personal life back in order in the offseason, and that was a big reason he decided to sign with the Predators in the first place. The media scrutiny isn't high here, and it's a good place to raise a family.

"It's been great," Ribeiro said. "It's pretty quiet, but it's more about work than anything else. It's a good fit for me, and the boys in the room have been great with me. I'm just happy to be here."

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Predators' Rinne favorite to win Vezina Trophy

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne was NHL.com's choice to win the Vezina Trophy at the quarter pole. He had 14 wins in 18 decisions, a 1.97 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Rinne continues to be the top goalie in the League midway through the 2014-15 season, though he is expected to miss the next 3-5 weeks with a sprained knee sustained Tuesday in a win against the Vancouver Canucks.

The 32-year-old leads the NHL with 29 victories, five more than Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen. Rinne is second in GAA (1.96) behind Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues, who has played 17 fewer games. Rinne is tied for second in save percentage (.931) with Michael Hutchinson (Winnipeg Jets) trailing Calvin Pickard (Colorado Avalanche). Pickard and Hutchinson have a combined 29 starts between them; Rinne has started 37 games.

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Blues hope Brodeur hasn't closed chapter in St. Louis

Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 1:46 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- While goalie Martin Brodeur takes a week to ponder his future, the St. Louis Blues hope the veteran comes back.

Brodeur, 42, was granted a leave of absence by the Blues on Wednesday and went back to his hometown of Saint-Leonard, Quebec to spend time with his family.

But the Blues, who host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, hope Brodeur, who has been relegated to being the No. 3 goalie, will remain with them moving forward.

"Yeah, selfishly, yeah," coach Ken Hitchcock said when asked about wanting Brodeur back.

"Kind of caught everybody off guard. We didn't know what was going on and still don't know what's going on. I've gotta tell you, him being here, man it was really helpful. It was helpful to every piece of this organization between trainers, coaches, players, management … he was a real helpful guy. He shared information that you just can't buy, you can't pay for. I'm hoping that whatever he decides with him and his family, that he comes back to us and we can help him a little bit maybe in something that he wants to do, but he can help us a bunch. Selfishly, we're hopeful that he does come back."

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Quality of competition

Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 12:00 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.

Quality of competition is a concept in hockey mostly applied to skaters.

It's easier to isolate the events of a skater's game every night than a goalie. We can look at what kind of forwards a defenseman is deployed against, and which forwards a coach matches up against their counterparts. Those are discernible segments of the game that we can analyze, and it gives us a glimpse into who is really playing the so-called tough minutes and how they fare in said instances.

For goalies, this kind of observation is a bit trickier.

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Unmasked: Flames goalie coach perseveres with MS

Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- The journey goalie Joni Ortio endured after being recalled to the Calgary Flames from Adirondack of the American Hockey League was arduous. It took the better part of two days and involved a snowstorm, a detour, and an overnight stop in Toronto, plus a connection in Winnipeg before he reached Calgary from Glen Falls, N.Y., last week.

Plus, his luggage did not arrive at the same time as the goalie. Ortio was in Calgary and back in the NHL, but his clothes, goalie sticks and contact lenses, which come in handy when your job is stopping pucks being shot up to 100 mph, were missing.

If Ortio needed a reality check on perseverance, he needed to look no further than Flames goalie coach Jordan Sigalet.

"A couple lost bags is nothing compared to what [Sigalet] has to go through," Ortio told NHL.com. "I've got so much respect for him."

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Analytics bolster Selke candidacy of Bruins' Bergeron

Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the first half of the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of its biggest storylines and award contenders.

The Boston Bruins spent part of the first half of this season without defenseman Zdeno Chara and forward David Krejci, and without goaltender Tuukka Rask stopping shots at his previously elite level.

Boston did still have center Patrice Bergeron, and one of the team's top four players performing at an elite level helped keep the Bruins from freefalling out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs chase. Chara and Krejci are back, Rask is playing well again and the Bruins are churning toward safety and an eighth consecutive postseason appearance.

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Bittner's size makes him appealing 2015 draft prospect

Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO – One of the bigger forwards eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft is Paul Bittner.

Bittner, a 6-foot-4, 202-pound left wing, plays for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. He's in his third season with the Winterhawks after coming out of Crookston High School in Minnesota and he was listed as a first-round candidate by NHL Central Scouting Service in their 2015 "Players to Watch" list.

A forward his size will earn attention from NHL scouts regardless, but it's the other skills he has to go along with it that can make him a first-round pick.

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Wild's Suter suspended two games for elbowing

Wednesday, 01.14.2015 / 7:52 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NEW YORK -- Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter has been suspended for two games, without pay, for elbowing Pittsburgh Penguins forward Steve Downie during NHL Game No. 633 in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, January 13, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 4:22 of the second period.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and based on his average annual salary, Suter will forfeit $81,058.72. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

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'Fragile' Wild believe mindset needs to change

Wednesday, 01.14.2015 / 6:58 PM / NHL Insider

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO – The Minnesota Wild looked like they were on the rise in 2013-14. This season, things have been anything but hopeful.

The Wild have lost six consecutive games and 12 of the past 14. They're in last place in the Central Division and 12th in the Western Conference.

"I think we should stop referencing last year," Wild forward Zach Parise said. "We've been doing that way too much. We give up one, two goals and mentally right now, we quit. We've been fragile and we change the way we play. That's what's killing us right now."


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Quote of the Day

I mean, any of those 14 teams (in the lottery) it would have been an absolute honor. If I am selected by Edmonton it will be amazing, a dream come true. They have a lot of amazing young players there.

— Likely No. 1 pick Connor McDavid after the Oilers won the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday