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(Page 92 of 177)
Features

Why the Avalanche will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:41 AM / Avalanche vs Wild - 2014 SCP First Round

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Patrick Roy’s incredible resume as a Hall of Fame hockey player includes twice leading an NHL team on an unexpected run to capture the Stanley Cup and twice helping the Colorado Avalanche to win the NHL's coveted championship trophy.

Roy is in his first season as a coach at the NHL level, but he's accumulated lots of playoff experience in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. With the help of a talented collection of forwards and one of the best young goaltenders in the League, Roy is in position to lead the Avalanche to a third Cup victory in franchise history.

Like the Montreal Canadiens teams in 1986 and 1993, which featured Roy in net, the Avalanche will need their goaltender to lead the way. Semyon Varlamov was a potential star while playing for the Washington Capitals, but he had a breakout season in 2013-14 under the tutelage of Roy and goaltending coach Francois Allaire.

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Foundation pays dividends for Avalanche's Varlamov

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:39 AM / Avalanche vs Wild - 2014 SCP First Round

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- Even new Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy wasn't certain what to expect from goalie Semyon Varlamov this season.

"There were a lot of question marks, and I think he responded to all the question marks," Roy said. "He worked so hard. He was really determined to turn things around and play with consistency, and that's what he's been doing. He was very determined to make a turn here, and he did. I appreciate what he’s been doing since the start of the year. He’s been a difference maker."

Crediting Roy and veteran goalie coach Francois Allaire for tweaking his style and raising his confidence level, Varlamov has put together the best season of his six-year NHL career. He established a career high for wins (41), eclipsing by one the single-season franchise record Roy set in 2000-01 when the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup for the second time, and he held opponents to two goals or fewer 30 times.

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X-Factor: Wild's Haula needs to provide depth up front

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:32 AM / Avalanche vs Wild - 2014 SCP First Round

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Erik Haula's rookie season didn't get off to the best of starts.

The 23-year-old spent much of the first half of this season in the American Hockey League and struggled through a 12-game scoring drought in December and January shortly after being called up by the Minnesota Wild.

He was a healthy scratch in consecutive games in mid-March, but since being reinserted into the lineup on March 22, Haula has slowly started finding his stride. Lately, he has been deployed in the middle and if he can provide some much-needed depth at center, the Wild might find enough chemistry up front to get past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Why the Wild will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:31 AM / Avalanche vs Wild - 2014 SCP First Round

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Last season, the Minnesota Wild's first Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance in five years was a short one when they lost in five games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The Wild team that lost in the opening round last season has a different feel to it this time around. So different, in fact, that Minnesota will win its first playoff series since 2003, and the state will host a Stanley Cup Final for the first time since the Minnesota North Stars faced the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991.

A quick scan of the current roster reveals plenty of world-class talent to lead this team to the 2014 Stanley Cup championship. But, there are certain intangibles that will also assist a Cup run in the State of Hockey.

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Goalie quartet has helped pave Wild's way to playoffs

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:29 AM / Avalanche vs Wild - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo has preached taking it one game at time to his team throughout the season.

The team's goaltenders have had no choice but to accept the message as gospel.

In a roller-coaster season where the Wild's fortune has turned several times, they've gotten important contributions from goaltenders throughout, something not totally unexpected when the season began back in October.

However, the sheer number of players to step between the pipes this season has been a stunning development.

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X-Factor: Blackhawks need Bickell's best to repeat

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:25 AM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell has big shoes to fill. They happen to be his own.

"I don't just want to be a one-hit wonder," Bickell told NHL.com.

Bickell soared up the charts last season with his performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He played a starring role in Chicago's championship run with nine goals, including two game-winners and the tying goal with 76 seconds left in Chicago's Cup-clinching win in Boston. He also had eight assists for 17 points in 23 games, playing top-line minutes with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on many nights.

His memorable postseason earned Bickell a four-year contract extension worth $16 million. He hasn't been memorable since, but the Blackhawks need him to be now because they know how important a 6-foot-4, 233-pound power forward with skill around the net is to their championship hopes.


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Why the Red Wings will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:22 AM / Bruins vs Red Wings - 2014 SCP First Round

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

These aren't your typical Detroit Red Wings of yesteryear preparing to represent Hockeytown in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Still, every current player, no matter how young or old, maintains the championship state of mind on which this franchise has prided itself for the better part of the past two decades.

The Red Wings were able to extend their NHL record of playoff appearances to 23 seasons this year due in large part to the play of call-ups from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids.

It's a credit to the managerial team and scouting staff, the coaches in Grand Rapids and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock after Detroit set an unofficial team record this season for man-games lost to injury.

Babcock refused to make any excuses.

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X-Factor: Red Wings need Nyquist to extend heroics

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:22 AM / Bruins vs Red Wings - 2014 SCP First Round

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

All season, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has begged his young players to grab hold of something in order to make a statement at a time when the team was ravaged by injuries.

Swedish sensation Gustav Nyquist took that message to heart.

Nyquist turned out to be another gem uncovered by the organization, chosen in the fourth-round (No. 121) of the 2008 NHL Draft. Now in his second NHL season, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound forward has been an absolute force during the absence of offensive linchpins Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to injury for much of the season.

"He's got some skill, he's obviously a real good player," Babcock said. "He's led everywhere he's ever played in scoring. The problem with the NHL is you have to come up and grab hold of something. We called [Joakim Andersson] up for a game, and he stuck with us because he grabbed hold of something. That's what Gus had to do."

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X-Factor: Wisniewski pacing Blue Jackets' back line

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:18 AM / Penguins vs Blue Jackets - 2014 SCP First Round

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

When the Columbus Blue Jackets signed James Wisniewski to a six-year contract in 2011, the expectations were he would play a significant role in the top defensive pair.

A transformed Wisniewski will enter the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs a much more confident player, making big contributions on the top pair in the wake of his finest offensive season as a professional.

"The biggest thing for me right now is winning," Wisniewski told The Columbus Dispatch. "Yeah, the numbers are there, and it's good to see that. But if I'm playing the right way and producing, I feel like I'll be helping my team win

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Rangers hope slow start is in St. Louis' rear-view

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:16 AM / Rangers vs Flyers - 2014 SCP First Round

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Following the first trade of his 15-year NHL career, Martin St. Louis figured there would be a tough transition.

During 13 memorable seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he won the Stanley Cup, a Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player and two Art Ross Trophies as the League's leading scorer. Then, on March 5, he was traded to the New York Rangers. The fact that St. Louis wanted the trade did not make the move any easier.

Professionally, the trade was seen as a move that could potentially put the Rangers over the top in their quest for the Stanley Cup. Personally, it was a time of great upheaval for the star.

St. Louis slumped early in his Rangers tenure, but his recent play is giving fans hope that the Stanley Cup could be coming back to Broadway for the first time in 20 years.

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Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals