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NHL Insider

Penguins' Perron raising his game alongside Crosby

Wednesday, 02.04.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Once David Perron got over his mixed emotions about being traded again, the Pittsburgh Penguins right wing started to feel something quite different on Jan. 2, something he hadn't felt in a long time.

"I was probably the happiest guy in hockey that day," Perron told NHL.com last week before Pittsburgh's game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

Nobody can blame him if he was. He went from last place to the Stanley Cup chase. He was moved out of a difficult situation with the Edmonton Oilers so he could become the right wing on a line with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

No offense to Leon Draisaitl and Matt Fraser, who were Perron's linemates for his last game with the Oilers, but playing with them is not like playing with Crosby and Chris Kunitz in Pittsburgh.

"Stepping into the room the first day, the way the room is shaped in Pittsburgh it's kind of rounded a little bit, and you could feel the confidence from the guys," Perron said. "I was sitting there going, 'This is awesome. This is going to be a lot of fun.' It just made me feel comfortable right away."

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Rangers playing faster, better with Vigneault as coach

Wednesday, 02.04.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- When Alain Vigneault was hired to coach the New York Rangers before the 2013-14 season, he wasn't taking over a rebuilding project. The Rangers had reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs the three seasons prior, and seven out of the past eight.

Still, there were areas in need of fixing and a coach was needed that preached a philosophy that addressed the Rangers' weaknesses. When the Rangers host the Boston Bruins in the NBCSN Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET), it will be Vigneault's 131st regular-season game with the Rangers, and the difference since he took over has been night and day.

Under Vigneault the Rangers have blossomed into one of the better offensive teams in the League. New York is averaging its most goals per game (2.98) since it scored 3.05 per game in the 2005-06 season. And while it's team speed that paces the Rangers, it's their coach's system that, more than a season and a half into his tenure, has them running at top speed.

"It's no secret, and you see all the teams in the League that are capable of playing a high-pace game," Vigneault said recently. "They're all teams that have a five-man unit. When they don't have the puck, to get it back, whether it's in their zone, the neutral zone or on the forecheck, but when their transition game is there it's from a breakout, to the transition to the neutral zone to the offensive zone."

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Bruins' Chara back in form after early-season injury

Wednesday, 02.04.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

At first it seemed like life for the Boston Bruins without injured defenseman Zdeno Chara would be OK.

Chara tore a ligament in his knee in a loss to the New York Islanders on Oct. 23 but the Bruins won six of their next seven games. It looked like maybe the Bruins, who have Chara signed through the 2017-18 season at an NHL salary-cap charge of just less than $7 million, were fast-forwarding to the part of their history where they don't rely on their 6-foot-9 Norris Trophy-winning defenseman as much.

Then reality hit.

The Bruins managed a winning record (11-7-1) in the 19 games Chara missed during his seven weeks on the sidelines but were 2-4-1 in the seven games before his return Dec. 11. Then integrating Chara into the lineup proved problematic; Boston went 0-1-2 in his first three games back.

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Busy month could precede NHL Trade Deadline

Tuesday, 02.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Every Stanley Cup contender in every season is interested in filling a need for top-end talent or depth to solidify its position before the trade deadline passes, but the run-up to 2015 NHL Trade Deadline, which is 3 p.m. ET on March 2, likely will put the focus on the sellers for two reasons:

1. Connor McDavid

2. Jack Eichel

"We're having a poor year and there are certain rewards for being real bad this year. I think we're all aware of that," Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said last week on TSN 1200 Radio in Ottawa. "If we ever had to have a down year this is probably as good as any of them."

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Wild goalie Dubnyk feeling comfortable, confident

Tuesday, 02.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- The designs on the front of Devan Dubnyk's mask have changed a lot over the past two seasons, but as he remodeled his look again after a trade to the Minnesota Wild last month, the portrait of his 17-month-old son on the back remained a constant.

Whether Dubnyk needed perspective amid a nightmare season in 2013-14 that included time in the American Hockey League, inspiration to get back to the NHL, or a break from the mental grind of goaltending now that he is back, he could find it in his son, Nathaniel.

"To see him is the best part of your day so it doesn't matter what else is going on, you can forget about it," Dubnyk said. "In order to come to the rink focused every game you have to be able to let it go on the days between, otherwise you tire out mentally. So to have him there and see him helps, no matter how much other stuff is going on."
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Analysis: Capitals' Ovechkin joins elite company

Sunday, 02.01.2015 / 1:46 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Alex Ovechkin has reached the point in his career when comparisons and context on a generational level can give way to a much bigger range of time.

The Washington Capitals forward scored his 30th goal the season in the first period Sunday against the St. Louis Blues. It is the 10th time in his 10 seasons that Ovechkin has reached 30 goals.

He became the fifth player in the history of the NHL have accomplished that, joining Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Mike Gartner. It is a feat of ability, consistency, durability and longevity. It is also an accomplishment buttresses the case for Ovechkin in any discussion about the greatest goal-scorers of all time.

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Green doing more for Capitals with less ice time

Sunday, 02.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals assistant coach Todd Reirden firmly believes in devising a plan for each of his defensemen, tailoring them to best accentuate each player's strengths.

Regarding Mike Green, that meant redefining his role.

"The key for Mike in talking to him this summer, even prior to getting here, is he wanted to win more hockey games," Reirden said. "However that is going to happen, he wanted to win more hockey games, as long as the plan was clear in how we were going to use him, how we were going to use all of our defensemen."

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Brodeur learning on fly in Blues front office

Saturday, 01.31.2015 / 7:11 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- The last time Martin Brodeur had three games in three nights was more than 20 years ago when he played in the American Hockey League.

But Brodeur, in his new role as adviser to the general manager of the St. Louis Blues, was seated next to GM Doug Armstrong in the press box at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday to watch the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs.

"It's four in four because we played Thursday too," Armstrong said.

After 22 seasons of watching NHL hockey from the top of his goal crease, Brodeur is getting a crash course in evaluating games from the top of the arena. He announced his retirement as a player Thursday to work in the Blues front office and that night was next to Armstrong to watch St. Louis host the Nashville Predators.

The next night he traveled with the Blues to see them play the Carolina Hurricanes. With the Blues off Saturday, he and Armstrong took a train from Washington to Philadelphia. They'll leave late Saturday night and be back in Washington in time for the Blues' game against the Washington Capitals on Sunday (1 p.m.; NBCSN).

"There's no nights off when you're on the road," Armstrong said.

That's one of the many adjustments for Brodeur.

"It's fun," the 42-year-old said. "I'm learning, asking a lot of questions. It's something that has really interested me. The last three days have been fun, being involved."

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Containing Ovechkin unique challenge for Canadiens

Saturday, 01.31.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec -- When facing an elite scorer, a common last-gasp tactic is to hit him early, hit him hard, and hit him often.

Assuming you can catch him, the strategy should bear fruit as the star player will begin to wear down, and ultimately, or hopefully, become a little tentative to go to the areas of the ice where he can hurt you.

As the Montreal Canadiens prepare to face Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at Bell Centre on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, SN), they know that is not an approach that will slow down the hottest goal scorer in the NHL.

The problem with hitting Ovechkin is not catching him; it's avoiding hurting yourself while doing it.

"I've lined up beside him a few times," Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher said after practice Friday. "I actually tried to hit him a couple of times. That didn't go well."

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Brodeur made early impression on Penguins' Crosby

Friday, 01.30.2015 / 2:14 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby can recall like it was yesterday his NHL debut against one of the greatest goaltenders in the history of the game.

It was Oct. 5, 2005 at what was then known as Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., against New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. Crosby would finish his rookie season with 39 goals and 102 points, but Brodeur had his number on this day in a 5-1 win for the Devils.

"I had a great chance on my first shift and he made the save; that will always be a big memory for me," Crosby said. "When I look back on that moment, it's the only time I can remember smiling or laughing at missing a scoring chance. It was my first NHL game, my first shift and you get robbed by Martin Brodeur.

"It could be a lot worse."

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