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Stanley Cup Final
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NHL Insider

Subban, Canadiens ready for Ovechkin, Capitals

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 4:38 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- One of the many incredible aspects of the 50-goal season put together by Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is that he has scored at least one goal against 25 of 29 teams.

Not in his career, mind you. This season.

Ovechkin will have a chance to make it 26 out of 29 on Thursday when the Capitals play the Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, RDS, SNE) at Bell Centre for the final time this season.

The Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks are the teams that have not allowed a goal to Ovechkin this season, and Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban knows it will be a big challenge to shut him out for a third time.

"I don't really like to pay special attention to certain players, but he's one of the players in the League who's had a better than average year this year," Subban said with a chuckle after practice Wednesday. "He's scored a lot of goals in the League, so you've got to pay attention to him when he's on the ice.

"I'm always the type of player who likes to get up for the better players in the League. That's how you test yourself, that's how you measure yourself. He's a great player in this League since he's come into it, and he's an impact player, so it's a challenge."

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Defense-oriented Penguins feel they're set for playoffs

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are nearly unrecognizable.

They have been one of the NHL's more explosive teams throughout the past decade. Having forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin centering the top two lines has that effect. The tandem has combined to lead the League in points per game each of the past five seasons, with Crosby first on each occasion except 2010-11.

That production has led to Pittsburgh averaging 3.16 goals per game entering this season since Crosby's rookie year of 2005-06.

Some things stay the same. Crosby leads the NHL in scoring with 79 points, two more than Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek entering their game at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN1). But that has not translated into overall offensive success like it had in his previous nine seasons with Pittsburgh.

"I think this time of year, it's about us," Penguins assistant coach Gary Agnew said. "We've got to make sure we've got our game fine-tuned to where it has to be heading into the last couple of weeks and into the playoffs. [Wednesday] is just another fine-tune game for us."

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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Pittsburgh Penguins have won back-to-back games and are in a heated race to secure home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Philadelphia Flyers would like to do nothing more than to help deny them that opportunity.

Pittsburgh (42-23-11) has earned points in four of its past five games, including a 3-2 shootout victory against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

Philadelphia (30-29-17), which has points in two of its past three, is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to San Jose on Saturday. The Flyers have four games remaining against teams battling for playoff position.

The Penguins, who are 3-1-1 in their past five games, will try to secure two more points when they host the Flyers at Consol Energy Center in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN1).

"No matter how the year goes for us or them, it's always a big rivalry and heated games, a lot of emotion and intensity in them," defenseman Paul Martin said, according to the Penguins website. "I'm sure I wouldn't expect anything different."

In the nightcap, the Sharks will face the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center (NBCSN, SN1, 10:30 p.m. ET). San Jose (37-30-9) has earned points in three straight games as it tries to keep its slim playoff hopes alive.

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Seidenberg stepping up game at key time for Bruins

Tuesday, 03.31.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- When Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg is at his best, he's a player who punishes opponents in battles down low with his body checking and serves as a second goaltender with his shot blocking.

Seidenberg's usually at his best in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He wrote his legend during the Bruins' run to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship as sidekick to Boston captain Zdeno Chara on the No. 1 pairing. Since then Seidenberg has been a rugged pillar of stability at the most important times for the Bruins.

In case anyone missed it, the Bruins have gotten a head start on playing playoff-caliber games because they're battling the Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers and others to extend their postseason streak to eight consecutive years. And Seidenberg has again played a central role in the Bruins tightening up their defense and winning two in a row to take a three-point lead on the Senators for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Bruins also lead the Panthers by four points heading into their game at TD Garden on Tuesday (7 p.m., SNE, SNO, SNW, NESN, FS-F).

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Whirlwind trip for hockey fanatic has charitable payoff

Monday, 03.30.2015 / 4:32 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

NEWARK, N.J. -- For years, Rob Suggitt dreamed about visiting every rink in the NHL.

Finally, he acted this year and finds himself in the midst of a whirlwind, month-long tour of hockey across North America.

Suggitt, a self-professed hockey fanatic from Edmonton, is on a quest to visit 30 different NHL rinks in 30 consecutive nights. It is part bucket-list adventure and part charity fundraiser. It has also been an unforgettable experience.

"For me, it's going to be the memories of this trip," Suggitt said as he sat at the Prudential Center before a game Sunday night between the New Jersey Devils and the Anaheim Ducks. "Right now, they are just incredible. As I finish it, I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life."

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Capitals' Fehr excels in new role as checking center

Sunday, 03.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- More than 10 years have passed since defenseman Mike Green and forward Eric Fehr, now Washington Capitals teammates, played against each other in the Western Hockey League, but Green still has one regret.

"I wanted to drop the gloves with him; I really wanted to go," said Green, who was captain of the Saskatoon Blades. "But Eric, he was too busy scoring goals against us, two or three a game. He was a great goal-scorer, absolutely. We couldn't stop him."

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Thomas Vanek finally found his way with Wild

Friday, 03.27.2015 / 11:50 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Since entering the NHL as a 21-year-old with the Buffalo Sabres, Thomas Vanek has earned the reputation as one of the League's premier goal-scorers. Over that span, Vanek ranks second in power-play goals, ninth in goals and 11th in game-winning goals.

Thomas Vanek
Left Wing - MIN
GOALS: 20 | ASST: 30 | PTS: 50
SOG: 160 | +/-: -4
It's the reason the Minnesota Wild committed three years and $19.5 million to Vanek in July. But the season wasn't going according to plan for the Wild or for Vanek, who got off to one of the slowest starts of his career.

Minnesota's 16-11-1 start made it easy to forgive Vanek, who was traded twice last season after playing the first eight of his NHL career with the Sabres.

"I went from left to right, to left to right, and finding linemates hasn't been as steady as you'd want it to be," Vanek said last week. "That's what happens when you come to a new place, you try and find chemistry."

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Bruins face do-or-die stretch with playoffs at stake

Thursday, 03.26.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- A favorite tactic of heels in wrestling is to start hitting their opponent before the bell rings in order to gain an advantage.

With nine games left in the Boston Bruins' regular season, they need to gain a similar edge by playing at a higher level than they're used to performing at this time of year.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs don't begin until April 15, but for the Bruins the bell has rung. In order to qualify for the eighth straight year they have to start playing playoff-caliber hockey right now. The Bruins trail the Ottawa Senators by one point for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference after leading by seven points as recently as March 10.

The Bruins will try to snap a five-game losing streak (0-3-2) against the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden on Thursday (7 p.m.; NHLN-US, TVA Sports).

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LaFontaine savors one last visit to Nassau Coliseum

Wednesday, 03.25.2015 / 8:57 PM / NHL Insider

Pat LaFontaine - Special to NHL.com

About three months ago, I received a message from Garth Snow, the general manager of the New York Islanders, asking me to get in touch with him. He mentioned to me that the Islanders were going to be bringing back a lot of the players who have banners hanging from the rafters at Nassau Coliseum.

Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Billy Smith, Clark Gillies, Bobby Nystrom, all of those guys who won championships, along with other players from different eras were going to be brought in to say goodbye to the Old Barn and to salute the fans in the last season on Long Island.

Garth explained that they wanted to end the final season on a high note and asked me to come out for a ceremonial puck drop and to do some “meet-and-greets” with the fans and sponsors. I told Garth that I was honored by the gesture he and Charles Wang had extended to me, and it would be my pleasure to attend.

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Hammond hardly the only hero in Senators' surge

Wednesday, 03.25.2015 / 4:04 PM / NHL Insider

Chris Stevenson - NHL.com Correspondent

OTTAWA -- Andrew Hammond has captured much of the hockey world's attention during the Ottawa Senators' run from outlier to Stanley Cup Playoffs contender in the past six weeks.

Though the 27-year-old "Hamburglar" embarking on his NHL career with a 14-0-1 record as a starter might be the biggest story, there are other significant reasons the Senators have overtaken the Boston Bruins for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference.

The return of veteran defenseman Marc Methot from injury to form one of the NHL's top defensive pairings with Erik Karlsson (who's in Norris Trophy form these days), the contributions of young forwards Curtis Lazar, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone, and the coaching of Dave Cameron have been keys to the Senators resurgence.

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Quote of the Day

I look forward to the process, the battle, the pain, the fun, the journey.  It's going to be a long one but it's going to be a lot of fun. If you think there is no pain coming, there is pain coming.

— Mike Babcock, introduced as coach of the Toronto on Thursday, had a warning for fans