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NHL on NBC Spotlight

2010 Wisconsin defensemen making impact in NHL

Saturday, 03.08.2014 / 8:48 PM / NHL on NBC Spotlight

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

The University of Wisconsin Badgers came up short of their ultimate goal when they lost 5-0 to Boston College in the NCAA championship game at the 2010 Frozen Four, but they were a strong team featuring an enviable collection of talent.

That team's impact is now being felt across the NHL.

Brendan Smith of the Detroit Red Wings and Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers, who will meet Sunday at Madison Square Garden (12:30 ET; NBC, TSN2, RDS2) were a major part of that Wisconsin team's blue line. All six regulars on that defensive corps now play in the NHL or are on their way there.

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Blackhawks, Bruins set for Stanley Cup rematch

Saturday, 01.18.2014 / 7:30 PM / NHL on NBC Spotlight

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The word "respect" was used liberally at Johnny's IceHouse West on Saturday after back-to-back practices for the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins.

There were times it felt like Aretha Franklin might walk through the door wagging her finger and singing the famed song of the same name. That song, though, wouldn't have really fit the mood of the Blackhawks and Bruins, who will face each other Sunday at United Center (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) for the first time since Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.

The song "Respect" is about not getting enough of it. These former Stanley Cup Final foes have plenty of it for each other after engaging in a hard-fought, entertaining series last June.

"I think there's always going to be intensity the first time teams play each other [after a Cup Final], but intensity ... it depends what you mean by that," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "If you're talking about a lot of cheap shots and all that, I don't think that's the case here."

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Richter, Neely still excited by Rangers-Bruins rivalry

Thursday, 11.28.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL on NBC Spotlight

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

To dismiss New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins, an Original Six matchup with roots that go back to 1926, as anything but a rivalry just because they don't reside in the same division is to fail to fully grasp the sheer intensity associated with anything that's New York vs. Boston.

The Rangers and Bruins could be two teams fighting for their Stanley Cup Playoffs lives or trying desperately to avoid the cellar, but to former Rangers goalie Mike Richter, standings and status are moot. Richter recalls his second career road game, an afternoon affair against the Bruins and veteran Rejean Lemelin at the old Boston Garden on Jan. 13, 1990. He faced 37 shots in a 3-2 victory less than 24 hours after a piece of ice hit him in his eye during practice and resulted in a scratched cornea that required him to wear an eye patch for 12 hours.

Richter grew to embrace the essence of the Boston sports fan, especially in the atmosphere created inside the old Garden. Never mind that the Rangers played in the Patrick Division and the Bruins in the Adams Division. This was old-school hockey with Original Six flavor between two teams represented by fan bases that don't exchange holiday greetings.


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Rask not just product of Bruins' stingy defense

Thursday, 11.28.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL on NBC Spotlight

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The adulation from the scouting community bestowed upon Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask dates back to before he was a first-round draft pick (No. 21) of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005.

And although the native of Finland, who's now 26 years old, has mostly fulfilled the prophecies of his eventual greatness in the NHL, it can sometimes be easy to forget that behind the Bruins' perennially stingy team defense waits one of the premier goaltenders in the League.

The Bruins pride themselves on making hefty shot totals and mouth-watering scoring chances against them as rare as clear roads leaving Boston at rush hour. So although Rask led the League in goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (.931) as a rookie in 2009-10 and then carried the Bruins to within two wins of the Stanley Cup last season with a 1.88 GAA and .940 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Rask can get lost on the list of Bruins' driving forces behind Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Zdeno Chara, Selke Trophy-winning center Patrice Bergeron and others.

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Rangers' Boyle, Kreider hope to enjoy Boston holiday

Thursday, 11.28.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL on NBC Spotlight

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- At the tail end of an important five-game road trip, the New York Rangers have reached what could be a pivotal moment in their season. Their matchup Friday afternoon (1 p.m. EST, NBC, TSN) against the Boston Bruins could go a long way toward moving them up the Eastern Conference standings.

But for two Rangers forwards, visiting Boston the day after Thanksgiving also affords an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family.

"My folks noticed it [on the schedule]. They told me about it. They were excited," said Brian Boyle, a Massachusetts native who played college hockey at Boston University. "I think we're traveling that day, on Thanksgiving. It will be nice to see the family, but it's hockey season. Sometimes you miss out on things like that, but it will be nice to see them. I'm sure I'll see them all on Friday after the game."

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Blues' Elliott rebounding from early-season struggles

Sunday, 04.14.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL on NBC Spotlight

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- After winning the William M. Jennings Trophy and being the backbone of the St. Louis Blues' 49-win season a year ago, the barometer was set high for both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott.

The duo allowed 165 goals in 82 games (2.01 per game) and captured only the second Jennings Trophy in franchise history (Roman Turek claimed the award following the 1999-2000 season). They combined for a League-high 15 shutouts (Elliott nine, Halak six), which tied a modern NHL record set by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1969-70 and surpassed the franchise record of 13 set by Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante in 1968-69.

Halak and Elliott are also the first tandem in NHL history to record at least six shutouts apiece in the same season. Elliott led the League in goals-against average (1.56) and save percentage (.940).

It was only natural to raise expectations.

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Offseason work, diet change critical for Blues' Stewart

Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 7:41 PM / NHL on NBC Spotlight

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

Chris Stewart
Right Wing - STL
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 30
SOG: 69 | +/-: 2
ST. LOUIS -- Chris Stewart understood change was necessary.

The St. Louis Blues' power forward, who had just experienced a sweep with the rest of his teammates against the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, completed the most challenging season of his brief four-year career in May.

After back-to-back 28-goal seasons, there were some that projected Stewart, 25, could become the League's next 40-goal scorer. And why not -- he displayed the ability to bulldoze his way to the net and power in goals just as easily as he's displayed soft hands with a deft touch in delicate areas.

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Saad making an impact with Blackhawks

Sunday, 03.31.2013 / 2:00 AM / NHL on NBC Spotlight

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

CHICAGO -- Twenty-year-old rookie Brandon Saad has earned something so coveted and so unique, something that has nothing to do with a spot on the Chicago Blackhawks roster but everything to do with the respect of his teammates.

He has a nickname, the unofficial membership card into the NHL fraternity. He's in.

"Man-Child," Jonathan Toews tells NHL.com as he looks at Saad inside the Blackhawks dressing room at United Center.

Why "Man-Child?"

"He looks like he's 35 years old but he's 20," Toews answers, smiling. "He plays like he's a lot older than he is, too."

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Red Wings' roster busy before facing Blackhawks

Saturday, 03.30.2013 / 3:29 PM / NHL on NBC Spotlight

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- There wasn't a game Saturday at Joe Louis Arena, but it sure was a busy day on the ice and in the Detroit Red Wings locker room.

It started with rookie free-agent acquisition Dan DeKeyser, who's from suburban Detroit, signing an entry-level contract prior to his first NHL practice then leading the Red Wings in stretches before getting a stick-tap welcome.

After practice, news started breaking right there in the locker room -- Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told reporters that injured veteran forwards Johan Franzen (lower body) and Mikael Samuelsson (finger fracture) were cleared to play against the Chicago Blackhawks in Sunday's NBC Game of the Week (12:30 p.m. ET) at Joe Louis Arena.

"Samuelsson and Franzen are cleared to go," Babcock said. "So we'll decide [Sunday] morning when we get in here on a lineup and all of that. I don't even know where we are roster-wise and all of those things right there, so we have to get all of that worked out."

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Zetterberg's strong play leading Red Wings

Saturday, 02.09.2013 / 10:00 PM / NHL on NBC Spotlight

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Mike Babcock doesn't mince his words when he talks about how much captain Henrik Zetterberg has meant to the Detroit Red Wings this season.

Henrik Zetterberg
Left Wing - DET
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 16
SOG: 43 | +/-: 5

"To be honest with you, he's driving our bus big time," Babcock told NHL.com. "He's been our best player by a country mile."

Nobody should be surprised by this, considering Zetterberg has been one of the Red Wings' best players for a long time -- long enough to prompt The Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky, to say Zetterberg has been his favorite player in the NHL over the last decade.

"I think he's the best Swedish player they've ever put in the NHL," Gretzky told NHL.com.

His resume aside, Zetterberg, now 32, is leading the Red Wings with 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) through 11 games. He has points in nine of those 11 games, including a hat trick and two assists in a 5-1 win against the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 1. It was his first five-point regular-season game since Nov. 14, 2009.

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Quote of the Day

They said, 'You're going to love the city. It's smaller than Philadelphia, but you're going to love it. You're going to love the fans. Just watching the playoffs last year, the fans seemed louder there than they did anywhere. I'm really excited about that.

— Forward Scott Hartnell on his upcoming season with the Columbus Blue Jackets