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Features

Canadiens' five questions revolve around new captain

Thursday, 08.21.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

In each of the two seasons since Marc Bergevin took over as general manager and Michel Therrien as coach of the Montreal Canadiens, they have made a significant leap forward.

Two years ago, the Canadiens went from last place in the Eastern Conference to winning their division before bowing out in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Last season, the Canadiens finished third in the Atlantic Division, but reached the Eastern Conference Final before being knocked out in six games by the New York Rangers.

The next step will be a difficult one for the Canadiens, but the answers to these five questions may determine whether they are ready for it.

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Near miss leads to greater expectations for Canadiens

Thursday, 08.21.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

The Montreal Canadiens entered the 2013-14 season coming off an impressive turnaround, jumping from last place in the Eastern Conference to the second seed in the East in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Canadiens were eliminated in five games in the first round of the 2013 playoffs by the Ottawa Senators, so general manager Marc Bergevin and coach Michel Therrien both attempted to temper expectations for their team in Montreal, a city hungry for a Stanley Cup contender.

Bergevin and Therrien each constantly repeated last season that the goal for the Canadiens was simply to qualify for the playoffs and see where that led them.

It led them farther than the Canadiens have been since their last Stanley Cup in 1993, coming two wins shy of reaching the Final in losing in six games to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.

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Canadiens' Galchenyuk poised for breakout season

Thursday, 08.21.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

The Montreal Canadiens went through one of the worst seasons in franchise history in 2011-12, but the reward was the chance to select Alex Galchenyuk with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, who was hired seven weeks prior to that draft, never had any doubts about Galchenyuk's potential to become an impact player in the League despite a torn anterior cruciate ligament that cost him all but eight games with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League in his draft year.

"It was the look in his eyes," Bergevin said the night of the 2012 draft. "Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player."

This might be the season Galchenyuk becomes not only a hockey player, but a star hockey player.

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2013 draft class leads Canadiens' top 10 prospects

Thursday, 08.21.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

There may come a time when the Montreal Canadiens will look back on the 2013 NHL Draft with great pride, knowing the organization hit the jackpot.

Five of the eight players picked that weekend are considered high-end prospects expected to have an impact with the big club in very short order. Canadiens director of player development Martin Lapointe singled out two players from that 2013 draft class that made quite an impression during the team's recent development camp, forwards Jacob De La Rose and Michael McCarron.

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Over the Boards: Bruins believe in Ferguson's ability

Wednesday, 08.20.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

John Ferguson Jr.'s major miscalculation eight years ago as the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs has served to stabilize the Boston Bruins goaltending for what should be years to come. Now that Ferguson has joined the Bruins as executive director of player personnel, he finally can cash in on the ability of the best player he drafted in his nearly five years in Toronto.

Yes, we're talking about the trade of Tuukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft from June 24, 2006. Maple Leafs fans can proceed with caution through the next several paragraphs.

Ferguson thought he was doing the right thing when he traded Rask to the Bruins for Raycroft. He thought Justin Pogge was the future No. 1 goalie in Toronto, meaning Rask, the No. 21 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, was expendable, especially if the return was Raycroft, a goalie who was supposed to be entering his prime.

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Red Wings counting on 'kids' to maintain playoff run

Wednesday, 08.20.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The Detroit Red Wings used to rely solely on their veteran stars to guide them into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and to sometimes take them on a deep run. They also used to play in the Western Conference. Those are memories now.

Change came to Hockeytown last season, when the Red Wings moved to the Eastern Conference and made the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive season on the backs of young players coach Mike Babcock still calls "kids."

They struggled in the playoffs and Detroit was knocked out quickly, losing in five games to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round, but for the development of the team, how the Red Wings got there was as important as getting there.

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Healthy Zetterberg, Datsyuk keys to Red Wings lineup

Wednesday, 08.20.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Detroit Red Wings' move to the Eastern Conference was expected to be met with domination by a franchise that has been a stalwart among the elite in the Western Conference for years.

Detroit pushed the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks to the limit in 2013, and the reloaded Red Wings, complete with the additions of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss and a few younger players who played so well in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, were expected to challenge for the top spot in the conference.

It didn't go that way, in part because of an avalanche of injuries to key players. The Red Wings kept their incredible postseason streak (23 seasons) alive, but lost in the first round to the Boston Bruins.

General manager Ken Holland has been trying to upgrade the defense corps through free agency for three years but hasn't been able to. The forward group looks deep and talented, as several prospects have proven they can play at this level in the past two seasons.

Whether Detroit can be more than a fringe playoff team could depend on better health and possibly an addition on defense at some point during the season.

Here's a look at the projected 2014-15 lineup for the Red Wings:

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Veterans' health tops Red Wings' five questions

Wednesday, 08.20.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told anyone who would listen last season that even with significant injuries to veteran stars his team was going to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Babcock was right. The Red Wings went to the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive season.

To extend the streak to 24 seasons, and to give Babcock a jolt of confidence to add to his optimism, the Red Wings will need positive answers to the following five questions:

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Red Wings' Weiss ready to leave last season behind

Wednesday, 08.20.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Bring up last season during a phone conversation with Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss and as he talks you can picture him squirming on the other end, recalling the pain that used to shoot through his lower body and the multiple surgeries he had to hopefully correct it.

"I really have tried not to think about last year at all," Weiss said. "I don't really know why that happened. I try to do everything in my power to make sure those things don't happen, and when they do it's pretty frustrating."

The Red Wings signed Weiss to a five-year, $24.5 million contract last summer thinking he would be their No. 2 center, affording coach Mike Babcock the ability to play Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together on the first line.

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Mantha leads list of Red Wings' top 10 prospects

Wednesday, 08.20.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

To say the Detroit Red Wings struggled with injuries last season is putting the deluge of trips to the trainer's room lightly.

However, there was a silver lining to all the ailments. It meant 12 rookies got into the lineup at some point, including nine who made their NHL debuts. It might not have been ideal, but general manager Ken Holland, coach Mike Babcock and their staffs got ample opportunity to see what the future could look like.

"It was a great learning experience about our prospects," Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer said. "We got a firsthand glimpse of what guys can really do. Thanks to so many injuries and so many voids to be filled in one season, we really got to learn about our guys, what they potentially can bring at the next level."

Here's a look at the Red Wings' top 10 prospects, according to NHL.com:

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Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure