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Over the Boards
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Over the Boards

Over the Boards: Playoffs taught Avalanche lessons

Wednesday, 07.23.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov still sighs and struggles to speak about the pain he felt the night of April 30, the agony he and his teammates took into the offseason after their heartbreaking exit from the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It was a nightmare for all of us, especially for me," Varlamov said.

Leading by a goal against the Minnesota Wild with less than three minutes left in regulation of Game 7 in the Western Conference First Round series, it was right there for the taking for the Avalanche. They had played at a surprisingly high level all season and needed to keep it up for a few more minutes to advance in the playoffs for the first time in six years and face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

It didn't happen, and maybe -- as coach Patrick Roy has rationalized over and over, in public and one can only assume in private as well -- it didn't happen for a reason.

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Over the Boards: Expectations rise for Lightning

Thursday, 07.10.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Jon Cooper walked right into the question. And he knew it too.

Cooper, the coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was talking about going through the stages in his career that led him to the 2014 NHL Awards as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award. He was talking about doubting himself at each stage, overcoming the insecurity and realizing he can deliver the goods and hang with the best coaches in the business, because right now he is one of them.

"In the big picture this year I feel confident that I belong," Cooper said.

As soon as he stopped talking, the following question came at him fast. It was about the next stage, which has to be winning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Cooper smiled and laughed, and then he agreed.

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Over the Boards: Alzner assesses Capitals' struggles

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner believes honesty in the face of adversity is the best policy a player and a team can have. Alzner's problem is he doesn't think his team has fully bought into that policy.

"We don't always admit to our mistakes, own up to them and fix them," Alzner told NHL.com from Prudential Center last Friday. "We just push them under the rug and worry about it later."

The Capitals won't be able to push away their problems anymore.

After heading into the season thinking they could compete with the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are now longshots to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs; they staved off elimination with a 4-1 win Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues and are four points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second and final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with three games left for each team.

The Washington organization has questions to answer as it nears the end of a disappointing regular season and what will likely be a longer-than-anticipated offseason.

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Over the Boards: Boudreau reflects on historic rally

Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 2:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said his team's historic come-from-behind 5-4 overtime win Monday against the Winnipeg Jets reminds him of Game 4 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers.

"We were down [3-0] in Game 4 to the Rangers in New York," said Boudreau, who was Capitals coach from 2007-2011. "We scored three in the third, [Jason] Chimera scored in [double] overtime, and we won."

On Monday, the Ducks trailed 4-0 before Nick Bonino scored with 2:16 remaining in the second period. Anaheim scored three times in the third, including Corey Perry's game-tying goal with 22.7 seconds left, to force overtime. Stephane Robidas' goal 16 seconds into overtime capped the Ducks' largest comeback victory in franchise history.


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Over the Boards: Three trades, three winners

Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- More than two years later, the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings have no complaints about the returns they got in what amounted to three blockbuster deals involving star forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. If the Columbus Blue Jackets become a perennial Stanley Cup Playoff contender with Jack Johnson as their cornerstone defensemen, they won't have any reason to gripe either.

All three teams could be in the playoffs this season.

"If you look at [the trades], it's worked out well for everybody," Philadelphia assistant general manager Ron Hextall told NHL.com before watching the Kings beat the Flyers 3-2 on Monday.


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Over the Boards: Giroux fuels Flyers' resurgence

Wednesday, 03.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- During an interview that lasted less than six minutes Tuesday morning, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux used the word "we" 18 times and "team" 10 times.

What he wouldn't do, even when pressed, is talk about himself.

That's not surprising because Giroux has always been a team-first guy, but it is ironic considering everyone else in the Philadelphia dressing room has no problem saying Giroux is the player at the heart of the team's turnaround this season.

"When he's going, everyone is going," Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds said.


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Over the Boards: Kuemper fighting for No. 1 job

Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- When Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher traded Matt Hackett at the NHL Trade Deadline last season, he was sending a signal to Darcy Kuemper that he would be the marquee goalie in the organization's developmental system and featured between the pipes with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League.

It's fair to say things have changed since then.

Less than a year after Fletcher dealt Hackett to the Buffalo Sabres, Kuemper is Minnesota's No. 1 goalie, facing the challenge of giving the team a chance to win every game he starts as they creep closer to a second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Over the last few seasons, Matt Hackett played more games than Darcy in the American League, and Darcy had to go to the ECHL and play overage as a junior," Fletcher told NHL.com. "He had never been our marquee guy in the developmental system. We really felt he needed that. He needed a year where he'd be a 40-50 game guy for his development, knowing fairly soon he'd challenge in Minnesota. Now, of course, the future came very quickly."


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Over the Boards: Red Wings focused on playoff streak

Wednesday, 03.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Detroit Red Wings were in the same situation last year as they are now. They were facing pressure to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, to extend their record streak of postseason appearances, without much time to make sure it happened.

The Red Wings eventually had to win their final four regular-season games and get some help to make the playoffs for a 22nd straight season, but they pulled it off with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup.

Zetterberg and Datsyuk are watching these days, out of the lineup with injuries, so if Detroit is going to extend its playoff streak to 23 seasons, it will have to rely on something it hasn't had much patience for in previous seasons: youth.

"I think it's intriguing," Red Wings veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall said Tuesday, a few hours before Detroit lost 4-3 to the New Jersey Devils. "The way these [young] guys have played, the way they have stepped up since getting the chance, it's great to see the confidence. They just want more and more."

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Over the Boards: Subban set to do whatever it takes

Wednesday, 02.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

SOCHI -- P.K. Subban might be the next Drew Doughty for the Canadian Olympic team. The Montreal Canadiens star defenseman also might just be a seventh or eighth defensemen for the duration of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Last season's Norris Trophy winner won't mind either way.

Subban, arguably the most polarizing and debated player on the Canadian roster, appears to be coming into his first Olympic tournament with no ego of which to speak. He is filled by the long-anticipated feeling of excitement to be here and the tantalizing idea of how he might be able to contribute to a gold-medal performance, but he said he has no expectations for what his role might be and no demands on what it should be.

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Over the Boards: Olympic break provides respite

Wednesday, 02.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

While the world gets ready to turn its attention to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the majority of players and coaches in the NHL will soon have nothing to do.

The NHL's Olympic break begins after the final buzzer sounds Saturday night and continues until 2 p.m. on Feb. 19. That's when coaches can get their teams back together, or at least the players who aren't still in Sochi, and resume practicing to prep for the re-opening of the regular-season schedule, which for most teams won't be until Feb. 26 or 27.

For the players it's a chance to unwind away from the rink, get some fun in the sun, maybe take a golf trip or spend some time with family. Most coaches will be doing the same thing, but mentally getting away from the game won't be as simple.

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Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threatening illness