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Stanley Cup Final
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Features

Lightning D-man Stralman effective in many roles

Friday, 03.20.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Corey Long - NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- When defenseman Anton Stralman signed a five-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on the opening day of NHL free agency last July, he did so with the hopes of becoming a top-pair defenseman.

Nine months later, Stralman has exceeded expectations in many ways. He has played in all 71 games and held the Lightning blue line together when it was dealing with injuries to Victor Hedman, Matthew Carle and recently acquired Braydon Coburn.

It's the opportunity that Stralman, a 28-year-old native of Tibro, Sweden, has embraced. He has remained a steady presence on defense and become a valuable part of the power play. He has matched a career high with 34 points (six goals) and is plus-20 averaging about 22 minutes a game.

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Barrie improving his defensive game for Avalanche

Friday, 03.20.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- Like most young defensemen, Tyson Barrie struggles at times in his end. But he's improved so much since the beginning of the season that Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy no longer considers him to be a defensive liability.

"It can be tough," Barrie said. "Earlier, I was having some problems with it. It's something you work on, watching video and working with the coaches. The offensive instincts, you don't want to mess with those too much. You learn, try not to be reckless. It's something I'll need to focus on my whole career."

Barrie, 23, has the offensive part down. A fluid skater and puck-handler, he has five goals and 10 assists in his past 14 games and is among the NHL's top-scoring defensemen with 11 goals and 35 assists (46 points) in 68 games.

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Super 16: Second place in '15 draft not bad place to be

Friday, 03.20.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Connor McDavid's credentials to be the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft are beyond reproach. The sensational center for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League is one of the most-hyped prospects of the past 25 years, reaching a level only Eric Lindros, Sidney Crosby and maybe John Tavares have.

Jack Eichel's resume is also pretty great. The freshman forward at Boston University is also one of the best prospects to enter the draft of the past quarter century. He'd have a chance to go No. 1 in any of the seasons since Tavares was picked in 2009, but he's likely destined to be the second half of the "McEichel" sweepstakes.

Craig Custance from ESPN.com recently wrote about the astronomical price another team would have to pay if whoever gets the No. 1 pick would consider moving it and passing on the chance to add McDavid. One general manager, Tim Murray of the Buffalo Sabres, told Custance on the record he'd try to trade for the No. 1 pick if the Sabres end up in the No. 2 spot.

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Future is now for Gibson

Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 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.

John Gibson was always the future when it came to the Anaheim Ducks' crease. The only question was, when would the future arrive?

Gibson burst onto the scene last season, a highly touted second-round pick (No. 39) from the 2011 NHL Draft who won two gold medals playing for United States junior teams in international competitions.

The rookie did not disappoint, winning his first start via an 18-save shutout against the Vancouver Canucks, and then winning his first postseason start -- another shutout -- against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

Going into this season, Anaheim had a good problem on its goalie depth chart. Gibson and Frederik Andersen each figured to compete for minutes, only an injury in November kept Gibson out for an extended period, then landed him in the American Hockey League with Andersen playing so well.

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Goalie Darling delivers to power surging Blackhawks

Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 11:45 AM / Top Performer

NHL.com

His Chicago Blackhawks facing the second of a back-to-back set against the top team in the NHL, coach Joel Quenneville decided to start rookie goalie Scott Darling over Corey Crawford against the New York Rangers on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. Crawford is 6-0-1 with a 1.13 goals-against average and .964 save percentage in his past seven games but also made 38 saves Tuesday in a win against the New York Islanders at United Center.

Starting his first game in three weeks, Darling vindicated Quenneville's decision with 25 saves in a 1-0 win against the Rangers to give Chicago its fourth straight victory for the first time since winning eight straight in late November-early December.

Darling is 7-3-0 with a 1.96 GAA, .936 save percentage and his first NHL shutout.

"I'm just thrilled; it's an amazing stage to [get a shutout] at Madison Square Garden," Darling said. "It feels great to just get back in the net and do my job. This is one of the most famous arenas in the world against one of the most iconic jerseys there is. An 'Original Six' matchup on the NBC Sports Network; you really can't ask for much more."

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Unmasked: Remarkable journey for Rangers' Skapski

Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 10:43 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Mackenzie Skapski had just won his first NHL start, but there was something the rookie goalie for the New York Rangers needed to do before the celebrations could start in earnest.

Skapski, 20, called home to share the moment with his parents. It was a conversation that left Skapski's father, Denis, a wreck.

"He was pretty happy when I talked to him, and then my mom told me later that he got pretty emotional afterward," Skapski said, noting the uncharacteristic display of emotion from his dad had other family members asking what was wrong. "I've never seen him like that personally. My mom said the only other time she's seen him like that was my bus accident."

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Bruins to contend with Hammond, surging Senators

Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand has heard of Ottawa Senators rookie goaltender Andrew Hammond, and the Bruins' leading scorer with 22 goals is impressed.

"I heard he likes to eat McDonald's. That's about it," Marchand said Wednesday after practice at Ristuccia Arena. "He's in a pretty good spot, McDonald's for life, can't argue with that one."

Hammond, nicknamed "The Hamburglar," has been given free food for life at six McDonald's locations in the Ottawa Valley. But he didn't get that reward because he's expressed a love for the food. Recently, the 27-year-old with the fast-food nickname has been as dominant as any goaltender in the NHL and he's helped the Senators stay in the race for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

In his first 12 NHL starts, Hammond is 11-0-1 with a 1.35 goals-against average and .956 save percentage. He is the second goaltender in NHL history to yield two or fewer goals in each of his first 12 starts, which ties the record of Boston's Frank Brimsek set in 1938-39.

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Pirri goes from scratch to scorer for Panthers

Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Alain Poupart - NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- This is how things have been going lately for Florida Panthers forward Brandon Pirri.

Forward Brad Boyes had just skated near the outside of the right circle when he dropped a pass near the top of the circle. Almost as quickly as Pirri received the pass, he released a wrist shot that whizzed between a couple of Montreal Canadiens players and rang in off the far post.

Just like that, Pirri had his 13th goal in 18 games, an Ovechkin-like pace that projects to 59 goals over a full NHL regular season.

"They're looking for a scorer in Florida," play-by-play voice Steve Goldstein said during the Panthers'  3-2 loss Tuesday. "He may be right here in this building. That guy."

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Top prospect Marner not letting size hold him back

Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

London Knights forward Mitchell Marner said he believes anything's possible if you're willing to put in the work.

Even for a 5-foot-11, 155-pound right-shot center who might mistakenly be overlooked at the 2015 NHL Draft because of his size.

"The NHL right now is at a point where size doesn't matter; it's all about the skill and passion," Marner said. "I think if you go out there and show that you're willing to go every shift, willing to prove a point and prove that you can hold your own, that skills are more important than the size."

Marner has not only made a believer out of a lot of scouts, but a former teammate now starring in the NHL.

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Kadri suspended four games for illegal check

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 12:54 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL.com

NEW YORKToronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri has been suspended for four games, without pay, for an illegal check to the head against Edmonton Oilers forward Matt Fraser during NHL Game No. 1039 in Edmonton on Monday, March 16, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 10:58 of the third period. Kadri was assessed a minor penalty for illegal check to the head.

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Quote of the Day

You know what? We've played in some pretty special buildings along this playoff run so far. You start in Detroit, you go to Montreal, you come here … I think it's the first team to beat three Original Six teams to get to the Final if I'm not mistaken. That says how tough the road has been. Those are tough places to win.

— Lightning forward Steven Stamkos after Game 7 win vs. Rangers on Friday in New York