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Daily Primer Jan. 24: Stadium Series tuneup

Friday, 01.24.2014 / 1:42 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

The New Jersey Devils are eager to take the ice at Yankee Stadium for their Coors Light NHL Stadium Series matchup against the New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon. But there's the little matter of a game against the Washington Capitals at Prudential Center to take care of first.

New Jersey is sixth in the Metropolitan Division but trails the second-place Rangers by only four points and can catch their biggest rival by beating the Capitals and winning in regulation Sunday. The Capitals have fallen to seventh in the division with 52 points and have dropped six games in a row, the past four in regulation.

Here's a look at all of the action Friday:


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Rangers need points from outdoor games

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers need victories as they try to hang onto a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Having lost back-to-back games at Madison Square Garden, they'll try to bounce back when they play their next two games outdoors.

The Rangers face the New Jersey Devils on Sunday and the New York Islanders on Wednesday. Both games will be played at Yankee Stadium as part of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. After a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis on Thursday, the Rangers' next practice is slated for Saturday at the stadium, and it's dawning on them what the experience will be like.

"We'll see on Saturday when we get to go there and skate. I think it will start to settle in once we get there," defenseman Marc Staal said. "We'll regroup tomorrow and get back to work."


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In the Cage: Turnarounds for Pavelec, Lundqvist

Thursday, 01.23.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Thursday during the season, Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy goaltenders in NHL.com's weekly segment: "In the Cage." From updated goalie rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Goldman will be your fantasy goalie expert all season long.

Over the past few weeks, two goalies on opposite ends of the fantasy value spectrum have experienced positive turnarounds. This happens throughout the season for most of the top-30 fantasy goalies, but because of the workload these two carry, the timing may be shedding light on at least one hidden gem.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec has mostly been a fantasy dud this season. He had just 11 wins in his first 35 games and suffered an NHL-high 19 losses. Allowing an average of more than three goals a game, his ownership was hovering around the 60-percent mark in Yahoo Fantasy leagues.

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Prospector Files: Twin engines power Salisbury

Thursday, 01.23.2014 / 9:00 AM / Prospector Files

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Forward Mitchell Smith of Salisbury School in Connecticut was the final player ranked on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of the top draft-eligible skaters in North America at No. 210 earlier this month.

What makes the 5-foot-11, 182-pound senior an easy target for discussion, however, doesn't have anything to do with that distinction. What does is the fact his twin brother and linemate, Evan Smith (6-0, 190), is ranked six spots ahead of him at No. 204.

"They both can play a little center and wing, and they are players that really grow on you for a couple of reasons," Central Scouting's David Gregory told NHL.com. "First, they're not the biggest kids, but they work so hard and are not afraid to be proactively physical.

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Ducks hope to avoid pitfalls of 2010 Capitals

Thursday, 01.23.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- See if this scenario sounds familiar: There is an NHL team that just completed an incredible run of success to vault to the top of the League standings as the Olympic break approaches.

Yes, that team in 2014 is the Anaheim Ducks, which won 18 of 19 games before losing Friday to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Ducks still lead the Blackhawks by four points for the top spot in the standings and have won 19 of 22 games as they prepare to face the rival Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night and as the 2014 Sochi Olympics draw near.

This is almost the exact same situation from four years ago for the Washington Capitals, who used a 14-game winning streak to surge to the top of the NHL as the Vancouver Games beckoned.

"It is very similar," said Ducks center Mathieu Perreault, who bounced between Washington and its American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears, in 2009-10. "In Washington it was the same thing. We would get production from throughout all of the lineup, fourth line, third line. It seems like every night there is a line that steps up and gets big goals."

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Nash finding game, rewarding Hockey Canada's faith

Thursday, 01.23.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

New York Rangers right wing Rick Nash is playing like a guy determined to make Steve Yzerman and Mike Babcock look smart for selecting him to play for Canada in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

After initially slumping in his return to the lineup after a near six-week absence because of a concussion, Nash has scored two goals in each of the past two games, five in the past three and nine over the past nine to give himself a team-leading 16 goals despite the fact he missed 17 games with his injury.

"They called me and said based off my past performances that I'm a big part to the team," Nash said of the Canadian Olympic team. "It was definitely reassuring and an honor. They stuck their head out there to put me on the team, to put my name out there, and now I have to prove that I belong there."

Nash has rediscovered his old form because he's using the power part of his game to generate quality scoring chances, but that's not necessarily why he was picked to play in his third Olympics.

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Blues to accompany Schwartz to honor late sister

Thursday, 01.23.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

St. Louis Blues forward Jaden Schwartz never did get an opportunity to visit the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., where his older sister starred for the women's hockey team for three seasons.

That was before she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December 2008. Mandi Schwartz lost her 27-month battle with cancer in April 2011; she passed away in the presence of family and friends, including her mother Carol, father Rick, and brothers Jaden and Rylan.

"Mandi never gave up," Jaden said of his sister. "She inspired me a lot and I learned a lot from her. Before she got sick, I wasn't really aware of cancer or knew a lot about it, but when something like that happens you learn a lot and want to do things to help whenever you can."

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New ice at Dodger Stadium gets top marks in first test

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

LOS ANGELES -- Virtually everyone who took the ice at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday was impressed by the quality of the sheet Dan Craig has groomed in the middle of the iconic ballpark's infield.

"I was surprised at how good the ice was because I know the [ice resurfacer] has only been on the ice once and it has been mostly spraying for days," said Luc Robitaille, the president of business operations for the Los Angeles Kings and a Hall of Fame player. "I was shocked how level it was and how good a job Dan had already done because usually the first time you step on the ice it's never really good. It takes a few days, so this is great."

Robitaille spent a couple of hours on the ice, taking part in a short skate with Craig in the late afternoon and then playing in a pair of games of pickup hockey. With 1,431 regular-season games on his NHL resume, Robitaille should be considered a good judge of the quality of the Dodger Stadium surface that will host the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the Kings and the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

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Celebrities take over Dodger Stadium ice

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

LOS ANGELES -- From the moment the NHL announced Dodger Stadium as one of the sites for the inaugural 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, Luc Robitaille has tried to imagine what would take place.

Robitaille invited 30 or so of his of his friends to Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night to give the ice its first game action, an hour-long shinny session featuring Hollywood celebrities and former NHL players.

"We got a good group of friends together," Robitaille said after the spirited game was over. "I'm glad all these guys got to enjoy it and feel it because it is certainly something that is going to be memorable for a long time.

"I can't wait to see Saturday, it's going to be absolutely amazing with the crowd here. It's going to be something so special. We just have to take a few minutes to enjoy it."

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Daily Primer Jan. 23: NHL's top two scorers face off

Wednesday, 01.22.2014 / 11:37 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Sidney Crosby's closest pursuer in the NHL scoring race will have a chance to gain some ground Thursday.

Crosby and John Tavares will oppose each other when the Pittsburgh Penguins come to Nassau Coliseum for a game against the New York Islanders (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN2). Crosby leads the NHL with 69 points, including a goal in the Penguins' 5-1 home victory against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. Tavares is second with 62 points and had three assists Tuesday in the Islanders' come-from-behind 5-3 victory against the New York Rangers. He has 18 points in 11 games since the start of the new year; Crosby has 10 points in eight 2014 games for the Penguins.

Here's a look at all of the action on a busy Thursday:

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I was in there icing my face as she was trying to push a baby out.

— Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf on going to the hospital with a facial laceration while his wife was in labor following Game 1 on Wednesday