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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
(Page 9 of 17)
2013-2014 Season Preview

30 in 15: Blue Jackets aim to build on fast finish

Sunday, 09.22.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

For a team whose entire Stanley Cup Playoff history consists of being swept in one first-round series four years ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets are generating a lot of buzz.

In a way, that's understandable. After all, the Blue Jackets overcame an awful start last season to tie the Minnesota Wild for eighth place in the Western Conference, losing out on the final playoff berth on a tiebreaker. Realignment has also moved them to the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference, cutting down on travel (and late-night TV games for their fans).

Most of Columbus' 55 points came during the last two months of the 48-game schedule; the Blue Jackets went 20-5-3 in March and April after a 4-12-4 start.

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30 in 15: Blue Jackets look for Johansen to break out

Sunday, 09.22.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Ryan Johansen appears bigger and stronger coming into the 2013-14 season. The Columbus Blue Jackets hope that means he's ready to fulfill the promise that led them to make him the fourth player taken in the 2010 NHL Draft.

The Blue Jackets have been waiting for Johansen to become an impact player. They thought they saw signs of progress when he became a shutdown center during the late-season surge that ended with the team coming up just short of their second-ever Stanley Cup Playoff berth.

"I think Ryan Johansen took a step last year," coach Todd Richards said.

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30 in 15: Coyotes regroup seeking return to playoffs

Sunday, 09.22.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Since 2009, the partnership of coach Dave Tippett and general manager Don Maloney has made the Phoenix Coyotes among the NHL's most consistent teams. But in a lockout-shortened season that did not afford them much of a training camp, the Coyotes struggled out of the gate and failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since Tippett arrived.

With a full training camp to work with entering an 82-game schedule, Tippett has made it clear Phoenix has every intention of returning to the postseason.

"I've already had a good discussion with some of our players that missing the playoffs for this organization is unacceptable," Tippett told NHL.com. "Even though it was a shortened season and there were some outside factors involved, we're not a team that wants to make excuses. We want to get back into the playoffs. That will be our goal going into the start of the year."

The Coyotes will rely on the core that made them such a tough team to play against. It now includes a marquee free agent and a number of prized prospects.

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30 in 15: Coyotes will rely on top line, Smith rebound

Sunday, 09.22.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

After making the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of Dave Tippett's first three seasons behind their bench, culminating in an appearance in the 2012 Western Conference Final, the Phoenix Coyotes experienced a sudden fall during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

With goaltender Mike Smith struggling through injuries and inconsistency and the team's offense suddenly failing to find scoring at opportune moments, Phoenix failed to gain any traction and missed the postseason.

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30 in 15: Coyotes' Smith looks to regain '11-12 form

Sunday, 09.22.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The first thing that stands out is the hair. Or lack thereof.

The curly, shoulder-length look Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith had since arriving in Arizona two years ago, which was then repurposed to a "mullethawk" so famous it had its own Twitter account, is gone. He reported the news to heartbroken followers last week and unveiled the new 'do in a local pizza commercial before training camp opened.

"I'm 31 years old, I have two kids, just bought a house out here in the desert … I had to grow up sooner or later," Smith said. "It's sure a lot cooler, especially around here this time of year. The guys were joking that I'd lost some weight, but it's not body mass. It was all hair."

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30 in 15: Miele hoping for full season with Coyotes

Sunday, 09.22.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

On a Phoenix Coyotes team expected to feature a strong combination of veterans and prospects, forward Andy Miele lies somewhere in the middle.

The 2011 Hobey Baker Award winner as college hockey's top Division I player while with Miami University, Miele was signed as a free agent and has put up solid numbers with the Coyotes' American Hockey League affiliate in Portland. But in eight NHL games, including one last season, he has not scored a point.

After signing a one-year contract extension with the Coyotes in July, Miele, 25, could be running out of opportunities.

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30 in 15: Moulson thriving as wingman to Tavares

Saturday, 09.21.2013 / 9:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

In hockey, as in life, timing is everything. Matt Moulson is a perfect example.

The New York Islanders' forward is one of those guys who's easy to overlook. He's not especially big, not especially fast and doesn't have the kind of big shot that makes goaltenders worry every time he touches the puck. He played in college at Cornell, was a ninth-round draft pick (by the Pittsburgh Penguins) that was never signed and almost saw his NHL dreams expire four years ago when the Los Angeles Kings let him walk away.

Luckily for the Islanders, they had made John Tavares the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft a few days before Moulson became a free agent.

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Canucks' skilled, strong Kassian work in progress

Saturday, 09.21.2013 / 9:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks captain Henrik Sedin was rattling off a list of the considerable talents of his new linemate, Zack Kassian, when a suggested comparable froze him like a Zdeno Chara cross check.

For everything Kassian may become, for all the Canucks are counting on the 22-year-old to be this season, a Todd Bertuzzi comparison went too far.

"Bert is maybe the best player I've played with, it's tough to get up to his level," Sedin cautioned. "But [Kassian] has the same body, good hands, and he can fly out there. He has all the tools, but it's going to be a work in progress."

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Blue Jackets' Murray starting to display full skill set

Saturday, 09.21.2013 / 9:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- The long-anticipated debut of defenseman Ryan Murray in a Columbus Blue Jackets uniform got off to a rocky start Sunday, but the ending in the first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins gave the fans in Nationwide Arena a glimpse of the future.

Murray, the second pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, showed he is recovered fully from a serious shoulder injury that sidelined him for most of last season.

In his debut preseason game, the 19-year-old (he turns 20 on Sept. 27) played most of the game paired with veteran James Wisniewski and scored at 4:38 of overtime off a pass by RJ Umberger.

"The first couple of shifts I made some pretty brain-dead plays," Murray said. "I didn't do too great. I felt a little nervous at the start. It was a good way to finish … not the greatest start."

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30 in 15: Nichushkin getting his chance with Stars

Saturday, 09.21.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The Dallas Stars' offseason was marked by a series of additions to their roster. But none was bigger than rookie Valeri Nichushkin, at least in stature.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Russian forward fell to the Stars at the 2013 NHL Draft, who took the top prospect with the 10th pick. From the moment he slipped on their jersey, the Stars couldn't hide their excitement at getting the hulking forward who won the rookie of the month award three times last season with Chelyabinsk in the Kontinental Hockey League.

"We're excited. We think he's very close [to NHL-ready], but I don't want to put expectations on him, either," Stars general manager Jim Nill told NHL.com. "I want to be careful. He's going to get every opportunity in the world to be on the team. We want to keep him around for a while."

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I was in there icing my face as she was trying to push a baby out.

— Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf on going to the hospital with a facial laceration while his wife was in labor following Game 1 on Wednesday