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(Page 17 of 22)
30 in 30

Flyers hope shake-up proves prelude to Cup run

Sunday, 08.21.2011 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

For much of the 2010-11 season, the Philadelphia Flyers had the look of a Stanley Cup Final team.

They were atop the Eastern Conference, featured a deep, talented group of forwards that filled the nets and had a six-man defense corps that was the envy of most teams in the League.

After a 4-2 win at the New York Rangers on Feb. 20, the Flyers had 83 points and a six-point lead in the East. However, they went 8-8-7 the rest of the way, and while they still finished second in the conference, something had changed, and it manifested during the Flyers' second-round playoff loss to the Boston Bruins.
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Sens getting younger, but are they getting better?

Saturday, 08.20.2011 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

There is a youth movement going on in Canada's capital city, and a new coach to oversee it.

FACTS & FIGURES

Record: 32-40-10, 74 points, 13th in East

Coach:
Paul MacLean (1st season)

Interesting fact: Ottawa's AHL affiliate, the B-Sens, won the Calder Cup this summer for the first time in franchise history. The team was led by many players who appeared in games for Ottawa this season, including Erik Condra, Zack Smith and Colin Greening.
For the second time in three years, the Ottawa Senators failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season -- a fact that cost coach Cory Clouston his job. But with former Detroit assistant Paul MacLean the new bench boss in Ottawa, the Senators -- whose AHL affiliate is coming off its first Calder Cup championship -- are hopeful that good times are ahead.

MacLean, 53, spent the past six seasons as Mike Babcock's assistant in Detroit and helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup in 2008. It's his first head-coaching gig in the NHL, but he did lead the UHL's Quad City Mallards to a stunning .787 winning percentage (112-27-9) over two seasons at the turn of the century.

It will be MacLean's job to oversee the maturation of what will be a young team with a lot of promise. Sure, veteran mainstays such as Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Chris Phillips are back, but eight players are 25 or younger. That doesn't include 21-year-old Nikita Filatov, who was acquired via trade from Columbus on draft weekend.
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Rangers will rely on Richards, better health

Friday, 08.19.2011 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

The New York Rangers didn't clinch a 2011 playoff spot until hours after they finished their regular-season schedule with an afternoon victory, as they needed a loss by the Carolina Hurricanes later that night to sneak into the postseason.

FACTS & FIGURES

Record: 44-33-5, 93 points, eighth in East

Coach:
John Tortorella (4th season)

Interesting fact: New York will open the season with a game on Oct. 7 against the Los Angeles Kings at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. The trip will be extra sweet for All-Star goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who will be playing in his home country for the first time as an NHL player.
With the improvements the Rangers made during the offseason, they probably won't require any help in reaching the playoffs for a second straight season.

Brad Richards was the crown jewel of this summer's free-agent frenzy, and the Rangers beat out the Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames for his services. They added toughness and playoff experience by signing free-agent winger Mike Rupp. They also retained all of their restricted free agents.

The Rangers were hampered throughout the 2010-11 season by injuries and inconsistent scoring. Nearly every key member of the team missed significant time with an ailment, and while the Rangers finished 14th in the League in goals, they had a hard time scoring three in a game most nights.

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Isles want to accelerate path back to playoffs

Thursday, 08.18.2011 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The time is now for the New York Islanders.

For a franchise that still doesn't have a deal in place for a new building, it is imperative that the Islanders accelerate what has been a slow and steady rebuilding process and qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007.
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DeBoer's task: Get Devils back into playoffs

Wednesday, 08.17.2011 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The New Jersey Devils couldn't catch a break in the first half of the 2010-11 season, even after the summertime re-signing of Russian superstar Ilya Kovalchuk to a mammoth 15-year, $100 million contract that took nearly the entire summer to complete.

Instead, they suffered subpar performances under new coach John MacLean, lost star forward Zach Parise to injury 12 games into the season, saw Kovalchuk struggle in the early going, and found themselves in last place in the Eastern Conference at 9-22-2 by the time Christmas rolled around.

It was around that time General Manager Lou Lamoriello opted to fire MacLean and rehire Jacques Lemaire in a last-ditch effort to qualify for the playoffs.
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As Preds try to move forward, depth will be tested

Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

In many ways, the 2010-11 season was a high point in the history of the Nashville Predators.

For the first time in the organization's 13-year history, they made it to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That achievement came courtesy of a thrilling six-game victory against the higher-seeded Anaheim Ducks.

Unfortunately, the euphoria lasted just two weeks, as the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks used an unforgettable series from Ryan Kesler to advance to the Western Conference Finals with a six-game victory against the Preds.

So while there was obvious joy at advancing past another hurdle -- the Predators had lost the previous five first-round series they contested -- there was also a period of introspection caused by the what-ifs that follow any hard-fought loss in the playoffs.
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After rough ending, Habs aim to bounce back

Monday, 08.15.2011 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Frank Mentesana - NHL.com Staff Writer

The way last season ended for the Montreal Canadiens, the organization and its fans were left wondering, "What if?"
 
What if just one of the three overtime games in their first-round series with the Boston Bruins had gone their way?

What if Tim Thomas hadn't made an incredible save in double overtime of Game 5 to prevent the Habs from taking a 3-2 series edge?

And the biggest question of all: What if Montreal had been able to put the B's away after returning home with a 2-0 series lead? If it had, the Stanley Cup Playoffs would have had an entirely different look, and hockey's greatest prize would be residing somewhere other than in Boston.
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Will Wild's summer makeover spring success?

Sunday, 08.14.2011 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Minnesota Wild underwent a summer of dramatic changes in hope of returning to the postseason for the first time since 2008.

The Wild finished 12th in the Western Conference last season, 11 points behind Chicago for the final playoff spot. Minnesota was undone by a myriad of issues, from unstable goaltending to an anemic offense that scored the second-fewest goals in the conference.

The reaction by general manager Chuck Fletcher was a wholesale makeover on the ice and on the bench in a span of just a few weeks. Coach Todd Richards was replaced by Mike Yeo, who ran the Wild's AHL affiliate in Houston last season. Fletcher also traded cornerstone defenseman Brent Burns and dynamic forward Martin Havlat to San Jose in separate deals.
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Moves show Kings serious about taking next step

Saturday, 08.13.2011 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

While the 2010-11 Kings couldn't match their 101-point output from the previous campaign, it still proved to be a landmark season in Los Angeles.

It marked the first time in a decade the Kings made the playoffs in consecutive seasons, as well as the first time in franchise history the team posted consecutive seasons of more than 45 wins. That success also translated at the gate, where the Kings sold out their final 18 home games and 35 of 41.

Unfortunately, it also marked the second straight season the Kings lost in the opening round of the playoffs. 
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Remodeled Panthers hope to end playoff drought

Friday, 08.12.2011 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

There isn't another franchise in the NHL that's had more futility recently than the Florida Panthers. They've made the playoffs just three times in their 17 seasons and haven't reached the postseason since 2000, the longest drought in League history.

In his second year as general manager of the Panthers, Dale Tallon spent the offseason doing everything he could to construct a winning team. There could be about a dozen new faces -- including a new coach in Kevin Dineen -- at the BankAtlantic Center, a sign that times are changing in South Florida.

For all the talent Tallon acquired in June and July, the Panthers didn't clean house entirely.

Their three leading scorers -- centers Stephen Weiss and Mike Santorelli along with David Booth -- remain with the team. All three had at least 20 goals last season and could improve on their totals with the influx of offensive talent acquired by Tallon.
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Quote of the Day

A piece of scar tissue breaks off, pinches the nerve, and every time you move your leg it's almost like having a root canal in your stomach and groin.

— Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss on his sports hernia surgery