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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 02.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Chicago Blackhawks have won back-to-back games and are four points shy of second place in the Central Division. The Detroit Red Wings have lost three in a row and are about to begin a grueling six-game road trip against Western Conference teams.

Chicago (35-18-4) has earned points in six straight games, including a 2-1 shootout victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. The Red Wings have scored five goals over their three-game skid. Detroit (31-14-10), which is coming off a 2-0 loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, trail Montreal by six points in the Atlantic Division and the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning by four.

The Blackhawks, who are 2-0-2 in the first half of their eight-game homestand, will try to continue their winning ways when they host the Red Wings in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader at United Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).

In the nightcap, the Los Angeles Kings will face the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center (NBCSN, 10 p.m. ET). Los Angeles (26-18-12) extended its win streak to five with a 3-2 victory against the Lightning on Monday. The surge has allowed the Kings to pull within two points of the San Jose Sharks for the second wild-card spot in the West. The Avalanche (24-22-11) will be seeking their third straight win after defeating the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 on Monday.

Here are five things to watch in the two Wednesday Night Rivalry games:

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Iginla believes Avalanche heading in right direction

Wednesday, 02.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- It's been a disappointing season for the Colorado Avalanche, to say the least. They're last in the Central Division following a surprising first-place finish a year ago and have plenty of work to do to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But veteran forward Jarome Iginla, who signed a three-year, $16 million contract as a free agent July 1, said he has no regrets about joining the Avalanche and hasn't given up hope about climbing back into the playoff picture.

The Avalanche (24-22-11) trail the Vancouver Canucks by seven points for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference and figure they'll need 36 points in the final 25 games to make it.

"Hopefully we light it up the rest of the year," Iginla, 37, told NHL.com. "We're not writing the year off yet. We're still looking to have a great finish."

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Red Wings' Zetterberg healthy, producing at elite level

Wednesday, 02.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Paul Harris - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- Henrik Zetterberg feels better physically this season than he has in a long time.

That's in direct contrast to 2013-14, when the Detroit Red Wings captain continued to deal with a back issue that nagged him for the previous few years.

Finally, after Sweden's first game of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Zetterberg's back had enough.

He came back to the United States, where he had surgery to remove part of a disc that was rubbing against a nerve, and he missed the rest of the regular season. He returned in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the final two games of Detroit's five-game loss to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Zetterberg, 34, who was limited to 45 regular-season games, didn't really know what to expect coming into 2014-15, his 12th NHL season.

"It's been good, it's been fun to be playing," Zetterberg said. "Last year I just want to scratch from the memory bank. This year coming in I didn't really know how to feel. I've been skating well. I've been feeling good health-wise."

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Doug Wilson reflects on Sharks' long journey

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Doug Wilson and the San Jose Sharks have shared many firsts.

In 1991, Wilson was a member of the first Sharks team. He was there when the Sharks played their first game against the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 4, 1991, and there the next night when the Sharks played their first game on home ice against those same Canucks.

He was there Oct. 8 when the Sharks won their first game against the Calgary Flames, 4-3, at Cow Palace in Daly City, Calif., where they played their home games their first two seasons; Wilson assisted on the first goal of the game. Wilson was the Sharks' first captain and their first representative in an NHL All-Star Game.

So it's only fitting that 22 years after he retired from his playing career, Wilson is Sharks general manager when they host their first outdoor game, the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21 (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports 2).

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Sharks, Kings conquer slumps in EPIX episode 3

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

If the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the events of the past week may be remembered as critical for each team.

The third episode of "EPIX Presents Road to the NHL Stadium Series" chronicles the Sharks' search for answers while they slumped and the Kings' rise after struggles of their own. Along the way, there is lots of storytelling away from the ice.

It begins with an inside look at a San Jose power-play meeting, a scene that is one of the most revealing of this genre for the NHL. Sharks coach Todd McLellan has video and facts prepared as he implores them to place more value on their extra-man opportunities.

McLellan asks defenseman Brent Burns if there are any teams in the NHL that can place five better players on the ice than San Jose's top power-play unit. Burns' response, "No," and McLellan's retort, "No, not even [expletive] close," illuminates the frustrations for everyone involved as they watch video and the coach meticulously points out mistakes.

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Preparations for Stadium Series game are on schedule

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Don Renzulli, the NHL's executive vice president of events, got a pleasant surprise when he headed to work at Levi's Stadium on Tuesday.

The skies were overcast and the temperature was cool enough to need a jacket during the day for the first time since preparations began in earnest eight days ago for the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings.

"This is perfect weather for a hockey game; overcast," Renzulli said.

And not bad weather for making ice at the home of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.

Workmen continued walking up and down the rink, spraying water from an eight-foot wide wand and thickening the sheet of ice for Saturday night's game.

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NHL Network, NHL.com, NHL Social unveil programming plans for 2015 NHL Stadium Series

Countdown to game day includes exclusive live coverage of the rink build via NHL.com's Stadium Series web cam

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORK – The National Hockey League's takeover of Levi's® Stadium for the much-anticipated 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ outdoor game between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, Feb. 21, will continue with on-the-ground, live coverage from NHL.com, NHL Network and NHL Social.

NHL.com

The NHL.com/StadiumSeries site is the official online destination for the event. Fans can watch the Levi's® Stadium rink take shape through the lens of the exclusive 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ webcam, view time-lapse footage of the rink build presented by Levi's®, read features about participating players and teams, watch live coverage of team practices and pregame shows, get weather updates and much more. Postgame, NHL.com will feature highlights, analysis, blogs and feature stories. In addition, NHL.com/StadiumSeries also features a comprehensive list of reminders about stadium policies, traffic, parking, security and other helpful information for fans attending the game.

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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Don't sleep on Panthers

Tuesday, 02.17.2015 / 12:03 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen will provide you with in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top 100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen will be your go-to guy for fantasy forward advice all season long.

You can't always judge a book by its cover in fantasy hockey.

No one is mistaking the 2014-15 Florida Panthers for an offensive juggernaut. Their 2.36 goals-per-game average ranks 25th out of 30 teams and they haven't had much of a presence in these top 100 fantasy forward rankings.

But that's not to say their forward group won't be fantasy relevant down the stretch. The Panthers happen to have two under-the-radar forwards who can aid your fantasy squad in the goal-scoring department.

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Five Questions: McLellan on Stadium Series hype

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Todd McLellan was hoping the schedule would be kinder to the San Jose Sharks, that it would allow them to be home this week to enjoy the buildup and be a part of the hype leading into their 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game against the Los Angeles Kings at Levi's Field on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA2).

McLellan didn't get what he wanted. He's on the road with his team for a game against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday and the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

By the time the Sharks return home, the rink at Levi's Field will be finished and ready for them to skate on Friday. The media will already be in town. The hype machine will already be blasting, even without the home team in the same time zone.

So instead of having the benefit of being at home to promote arguably the biggest hockey event to ever come to Northern California, McLellan is finding the positives in being on the road this week.

"I think it would be to our benefit to be at home as far as promoting it and getting our players out and taking in the whole week of excitement, but we don't have that luxury so maybe we have to look at it from another perspective," McLellan told NHL.com. "That's being on the road, you won't have the distraction. You're just on the road playing hockey. That can be the positive."

The question for McLellan now is, in what shape will the Sharks return for the big game?

The Sharks are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday when they were plagued by many of the same warts and inconsistencies that have been plaguing them all season. They flew to Nashville on Monday in second place in the Pacific Division; they woke up Tuesday in fourth place.

"We're all over the map too much," McLellan said.

McLellan spoke to NHL.com about how the Sharks are preparing for the Stadium Series game and what some of his concerns are in the following Q&A.

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Devils' Jagr remains valuable commodity at age 43

Tuesday, 02.17.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils right wing Jaromir Jagr continues to be defiant against Father Time, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the now 43-year-old could be one of the most influential players to change teams prior to the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline on March 2 at 3 p.m. ET.

Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello hasn't said he is going to trade Jagr, nor has Jagr made public any request to be traded, but New Jersey's position in the standings (seventh in the Metropolitan Division) and Jagr's position as a player on a one-year contract who can still score makes him a valuable commodity as the deadline nears.

"He's got it, he's still got it," Devils forward Dainius Zubrus said. "He's still doing it."

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Quote of the Day

Sick. I said a couple of bad words in Russian, but I said, 'Sick.'

— Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov on Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal in Game 2 against Rangers on Saturday