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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Value of backups worth noting

Thursday, 01.08.2015 / 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.

In standard fantasy hockey leagues, two goalies can be started on any given night. With a bench to fill out, most fantasy owners will carry three goalies on their roster. And that means, if you play in a league with at least 10 teams, in theory every No. 1 goalie -- by definition -- could be owned.

The question, though, is whether it's worth owning every No. 1 goalie out there, or if there are other options that could add more value to your roster?

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Connor, ready for Michigan, awaiting Draft moment

Thursday, 01.08.2015 / 10:03 AM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

As a Michigan native, Kyle Connor long has dreamed of playing hockey at the University of Michigan.

But before that happens he'll get to live another dream, hearing his name called at the 2015 NHL Draft.

Connor, a 6-foot-1, 182-pound left wing/center with the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League, earned an A rating on NHL Central Scouting's player to watch list.

"He's a solid two-way player and plays hard in both zones," Central Scouting's Greg Rajanen said. "Nice stride and quickness and good in tight with the puck. Saw him against the [United States National Team Development Program] U-18 team and elevated his game against them and wants the puck. And when he gets it he makes things happen."

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Unmasked: Can playing guitar make goalies better?

Thursday, 01.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

Whether it's New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist ripping through "Sweet Child O' Mine" on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," or Arizona Coyotes goaltending coach Sean Burke jamming on stage with Garth Brooks, the links between goaltenders and guitars appears strong.

The list of guitar-playing NHL goalies includes Ryan Miller, Cory Schneider, Mike Smith and alumni Jose Theodore and Robert Esche -- and those are just the ones we know about.

For most, music makes a nice break from the game.

"It's more of an escape mentally to relax and think about something else," Lundqvist told NHL.com. "Music to me is a release; you are just relaxing and enjoy it and don't think about the game, and that kind of helps me save energy and come back to the rink."

Whether these wanna-be shredders know it or not, there are links between their ability to catch pucks and pluck guitar strings. Being able to do one can enhance the ability to do the other. Specifically, playing guitar can give a goaltender a better glove hand, according to some experts.

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'Triplets' line adds scoring dimension for Lightning

Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 4:30 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

They have been dubbed "The Triplets," and when you see them on the ice, it's easy to understand why.

Tyler Johnson, 5-foot-10, 182 pounds.

Nikita Kucherov, 5-11, 171.

Ondrej Palat, 6-0, 180.

Not only do the three members of one of the top lines in the NHL look alike when skating for the Tampa Bay Lightning, they all share the trait of being dismissed at one time or another in their hockey careers because of their similarly slight frames.

But since Oct. 24, when coach Jon Cooper was practically forced to put them together after losing forwards Brett Connolly and J.T. Brown in the first period of a road game against the Winnipeg Jets, "The Triplets" have been terrorizing the NHL.

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Maple Leafs' Kessel aware critics 'expect more'

Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 1:26 PM / NHL Insider

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- With the Toronto Maple Leafs having made a coaching change, forward Phil Kessel, already their top scorer, is feeling additional heat to improve his play.

Kessel, who ranks 10th in NHL scoring with 18 goals and 41 points in 40 games, has one goal in his past nine games and three in his past 12.

"Obviously we haven't been winning and that's what happens; they're going to come after you," Kessel said. "It's never fun, but it's part of the business."

Former Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson suggested Tuesday during a radio interview that the core group of players on the Maple Leafs, which includes Kessel, may be uncoachable. Kessel was asked about his former coach’s statement and said, "I don't really care, to be honest with you. I didn't see it, so it doesn't really faze me."

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Fantasy top 60 'D': Barrie a bright spot for Avalanche

Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with in-depth defensemen analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer will be your go-to guy for fantasy blue line advice all season long.

UPDATED TOP 60 DEFENSEMEN RANKINGS

Patrick Roy returned to the Colorado Avalanche last season and coached them to the third-best record in the NHL and their first berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in three seasons. Many players contributed to that success, including Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon, but defensemen Tyson Barrie might have been an even bigger surprise.

Barrie, selected in the third round (No. 64) of the 2009 NHL Draft, took a few years to develop, making his debut on Feb. 7, 2012. He played 42 games over his first two seasons in the League, scoring 13 points (two goals).

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Panthers' Luongo back in Vancouver to face Canucks

Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 9:20 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo isn't sure what to expect from Vancouver Canucks fans when he returns for the first time to play his old team on Thursday.

With Luongo, it's often hard to tell the cheers from jeers anyway.

"Loos and boos all sound the same, so I won't be able to tell the difference," Luongo said. "Hopefully it's good, but that's not up to me."

Neither was his departure from Vancouver, at least not entirely.

Despite requesting a trade after losing the No. 1 job to Cory Schneider late in the 2011-12 season and enduring a two-year soap opera that followed, Luongo had come around on staying in Vancouver, maybe even finishing his career with the Canucks after Schneider was traded to the New Jersey Devils at the 2013 NHL Draft. He was the No. 1 again, but after returning from the 2014 Sochi Olympics he watched Eddie Lack play three straight games, including the Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at BC Place.

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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Boston Bruins are still trying to find their way this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins added another big piece to a puzzle general manager Jim Rutherford is trying to put together with hopes of delivering their first Stanley Cup since 2009.

Boston (19-15-6) has earned at least one point in four straight games, but it has lost three in a row (1-0-3). Pittsburgh (24-10-5), which acquired left wing David Perron from the Edmonton Oilers last Friday, is tied with the New York Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Bruins will try to get back on track when they face the Penguins in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader at Consol Energy Center (NBCSN, TVA Sports, 8 p.m. ET).

On the West Coast, the sizzling New York Rangers will face the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center (NBCSN, 10:30 p.m. ET). Behind the play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist and a rejuvenated power play, the Rangers (21-11-4) have won nine of their past 10 games. Anaheim (26-9-6) has won 20 games by one goal this season.

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Ducks' Getzlaf making another case for Hart Trophy

Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM – Corey Perry received a renewed appreciation for longtime Anaheim Ducks linemate Ryan Getzlaf when he was anchored to his couch during his bout with the mumps in November, and again in recovery from a sprained knee last month.

Perry specifically remembers the detailed, two-goal game that Getzlaf had against the Ottawa Senators on Dec.19.

"Even though we lost, individually, he was still producing," Perry said. "Those individual-type plays, sacrificing for your teammates, those are big things that stick out in my mind."

It was during Perry's 14-game absence that Getzlaf, the Ducks captain, re-asserted another case for the Hart Trophy. Getzlaf had six goals and 13 assists without Perry on his wing, and he entered Wednesday against the New York Rangers (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN) third in the NHL with 44 points.

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Penguins' Crosby producing, but it hasn't been easy

Wednesday, 01.07.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby is in a slump and entered the week tied for fourth in the NHL scoring race.

Crosby didn't earn his position among the League's point leaders through a blistering start to the season before eventually tailing off over the past few weeks. He has had what for him has been a down season since late October.

Entering the Pittsburgh Penguins' Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA SPORTS), Crosby has 43 points but has gone through lengthy goal droughts. He has been visibly frustrated on the ice several times throughout the past month while scoring two goals in 16 games.

That stretch began Nov. 26 against the Toronto Maple Leafs after scoring a goal against the Bruins two days earlier, and coincided with the beginning of Pittsburgh's recent injury troubles. At the time, Crosby's goal against Boston was his second in 12 games.

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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