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Around the League notebook for Wednesday, March 4

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 9:14 AM / News

NHL.com

HAMMOND, SENATORS EXTEND STREAKS TO NARROW GAP IN EAST

Andrew Hammond made 35 saves, including 15 in the first period, to help the Ottawa Senators defeat the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. The Senators completed their road trip with a 4-0-1 record and stretched their overall point streak to seven games (6-0-1).

* At 28-23-11 (67 points), the Senators pulled within four points of the idle Boston Bruins (31-22-9, 71 points) for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The clubs face off two more times this season at Canadian Tire Centre: March 10 and March 19.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Senators earned a point in each game of a road trip (minimum five games) for the first time since Feb. 11-17, 2009 (also 4-0-1). However, this is the first time the Senators have accomplished the feat with the same goaltender recording each decision.

* Hammond has been in net for each game during the Senators' seven-game point streak (6-0-1). Elias says he is the first goaltender to earn a point in his first seven career decisions, in consecutive team games, since Jim Carey with the Washington Capitals from March 2-13, 1995 (also 6-0-1).

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Unmasked: Situation shows need for third goalie

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

It shouldn't have taken craziness in the Florida Panthers crease on Tuesday to remind teams of the importance of always having three NHL-capable goaltenders in their organization.

OK, it's rare to need three in the same game, which happened when Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya were injured against the Toronto Maple Leafs, setting off a wild scramble that saw each of them play while injured and 41-year-old goalie coach Robb Tallas gear up.

It's also becoming increasingly rare for a team to make it through an entire NHL season without using a third goaltender.

Six teams this season have played only two goalies, and that number will drop when Dan Ellis, who was called up by the Panthers on Wednesday, starts Thursday against the Dallas Stars. The Stars have used four goalies this season, one of six teams to do so. It will become seven teams when the New York Islanders use Michal Neuvirth.

So far this season, 87 goalies have appeared in at least one NHL game. Last season, 97 goalies got into a game, and three teams (the New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks) got through the season playing two.

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Hitchcock changed Blues into Stanley Cup contender

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- From the moment Ken Hitchcock was named St. Louis Blues coach in 2011, the idea was for him to help drive them back to respectability.

With the Blues set to play the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, SN360), it was another day of preparation Wednesday for what they have been striving for: to be among, if not the best in the League with hopes of an extended run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Hitchcock, who is 697-423-95 with 88 ties in 18 seasons, hopes people don't judge the Blues and their body of work simply on playoff success.

The work has been arduous at times, and there certainly have been challenges, but the rewards of having them on the cusp of success has been rewarding.

"I don't think you can guarantee any success in the postseason; every team tries for six weeks," Hitchcock said. "I think your body of work, I'm like everybody else living in St. Louis; we want to have more success in the postseason than we've ever had, unlike everybody else. But your body of work tells you everything about the coaching staff."

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All-around play of Penguins' Letang calls for Norris

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

With three-quarters of the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

Kris Letang has developed a reputation for being an offensive defenseman, a player who can contribute on the score sheet from his position on the blue line. And lately, when it comes to awarding the distinction of best defenseman in the NHL, offense has been a major component of the conversation.

The past five Norris Trophy winners have finished either first or second among defensemen in scoring, three times leading defensemen in points (Duncan Keith in 2013-14, P.K. Subban in 2012-13, and Erik Karlsson in 2011-12). It's created some conversation about what criteria is and is not factoring into the voting.

Letang leads defensemen in scoring this season, but it's what he's added to his game at the other end of the ice, and how well-rounded it has become that makes him the Norris favorite at this point.

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Crouse gained confidence with complete effort at WJC

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Prior to the start of selection camp for the Canadian National Junior Team in December, director of player personnel Ryan Jankowski informed forward Lawson Crouse that doing the three things he does best would better serve his chances of earning a roster spot for the World Junior Championship.

The checklist included being first on the forecheck, finishing his checks and putting "the odd puck in the net in the blue paint." Nothing new to Crouse, since he considers himself an energy guy capable of doing the little things necessary to succeed. He also has one heck of a shot.

While no one would mistake Crouse for fellow 2015 NHL Draft-eligible center Connor McDavid, he did exactly what he was told to do and as a result played a vital fourth-line role in a gold medal-winning performance.

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Coyotes to honor Roenick, don throwback jerseys

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Coming from the Chicago Blackhawks, an Original Six franchise with history and tradition, to the Arizona desert and a team in its inaugural season was a big change in itself for Jeremy Roenick 19 years ago.

But when he was introduced at a press conference as a new Phoenix Coyote in August 1996, Roenick had another surprise waiting: the color-splashed, kachina-inspired sweater he slipped into in front of the cameras.

But there was one more surprise: He loved the "RoboCoyote" right away.

"I know that jersey gets a lot of grief, but I liked it. I liked it from the first time I saw it," Roenick said. "Not everyone liked them and it was about 50-50 in the dressing room. There was a lot of, 'I can't believe we have to wear this thing.' I don't think (Coyotes captain) Keith Tkachuk liked them very much, but he doesn't like anything, so what's new?

"But to me, they were creative and unique and they were colorful. They stood out."

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Islanders' Martin suspended one game for kneeing

Wednesday, 03.04.2015 / 8:06 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORK -- New York Islanders forward Matt Martin has been suspended for one game, without pay, for kneeing Dallas Stars defenseman Trevor Daley during NHL Game No. 948 in Dallas on Tuesday, March 3, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 1:48 of the first period. Martin was assessed a major penalty for kneeing and a game misconduct.

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Bergeron likely next Bruins captain: report

Wednesday, 03.04.2015 / 7:53 PM / News

NHL.com

Patrice Bergeron is likely to be captain of the Boston Bruins someday, coach Claude Julien told CSN New England on Tuesday.

"It's probably undeniable that down the road when [current captain Zdeno Chara] is done with his career, if Bergeron is here it would be pretty hard to not make him the next captain," Julien told CSNNE.com. "So I think he feels comfortable in dealing with issues that maybe he didn't two or three years ago.

"I think that's just a player being a little more of a veteran player every year, and that we've got some young players that need some leadership. So he's kind of taken over a little bit."

Chara, a defenseman who turns 38 on March 18, has been Bruins captain since the 2006-07 season. He has three years remaining on his contract.

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Blue Jackets forward Clarkson to miss 4-6 weeks

Wednesday, 03.04.2015 / 4:41 PM / News

ColumbusBlueJackets.com

COLUMBUS, OHIO --- Columbus Blue Jackets right wing David Clarkson will be sidelined four to six weeks due to a torn oblique muscle suffered in Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Capitals, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.

Clarkson, 30, collected 14 penalty minutes in three games with the Blue Jackets after being acquired by the club on February 26 from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for right wing Nathan Horton. He has registered 112 goals and 84 assists for 196 points with 969 penalty minutes in 547 career NHL games, including 10-5-15 and 106 penalty minutes in 61 games this season.

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Panthers' Luongo, Montoya day-to-day; Ellis recalled

Wednesday, 03.04.2015 / 3:50 PM / News

NHL.com

Florida Panthers goalies Roberto Luongo (upper body) and Al Montoya (lower body) are each considered day-to-day after sustaining injuries Tuesday in a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, coach Gerard Gallant said Wednesday.

Montoya is likely out weeks, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie, and Luongo is having tests on his shoulder and will see an orthopedist.

Veteran Dan Ellis was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League and will start Thursday against the Dallas Stars. The Panthers (28-23-13, 69 points) continue a season-long seven-game homestand sitting two points behind the Boston Bruins for the second Eastern Conference wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We're extremely confident in [Ellis]," Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson told the Panthers website. "It's going to bring that urgency into this dressing room going forward. At the end of the day, we understand our playoffs start now for the rest of the season to get in that final spot, and if not we can get up higher. Having that urgency in that dressing room is going to be really good for our organization."

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Quote of the Day

It's something that you don't really envision starting this way, but when you put the work in you don't feel like it's unwarranted. You definitely don't envision it unfolding this way, but you do think you can be successful at this level.

— Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who defeated the Jets on Wednesday to improve to 6-0-1 since making his first NHL start on Feb. 18