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Practice doesn't make goalies perfect: Unmasked

Thursday, 04.02.2015 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

Practice does not make perfect for an NHL goaltender. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

Most NHL practices are far from perfect for goalies, and that can be a problem. In fact, a good chunk of practice can be counterproductive to good goaltending, leaving the goalie facing situations that can create bad habits.

It is the separate sessions with the goalie coach, before and after practice, that are important.

If that sounds like a stretch, consider the fact that a large portion of NHL practice time is spent on line rushes which are only occasionally defended, often in the loosest sense of that term. The result is wave after wave of players skating in with passing options and plenty of time to dish or hold and shoot from close range.

In practice, shooters repeatedly get time and space to shoot from spots, and in situations, they might be lucky to get once or twice a season. These opportunities come without the sense of urgency associated with the backchecking pressure of a game.

It can become tempting for a goaltender to cheat in practice. In many ways, practice resembles summer shinny sessions, which many NHL goalies avoid because the only way to consistently make saves in them is to play differently than they would during a regular season.

"If guys are coming in and taking that extra two seconds to shoot and pick that corner on you, you just have to realize in a game situation they won't get that time, so you should still trust your instincts," New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said late last season. "But it is tough, especially when you play deep like me and you give up a goal because you didn't cover enough, to still stick with your structure and not start challenging. But that's the challenge."

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White overcomes illness, injury to excel for USNTDP

Thursday, 04.02.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO – When it comes to finding players who can score at a high rate in the 2015 NHL Draft, there will be a big pool to choose from. One player who may fly under the radar is forward Colin White.

White played for the United States National Under-18 Team Development Program this season and finished sixth on the team in scoring. That may not sound impressive, but White dealt with a case of mononucleosis and a wrist injury that limited his ability to play. Through all that he ended the season with 16 goals and 42 points in 45 games.

"When I'm talking about [White], there's no doubt in my mind this kid is one heck of a hockey player," Under-18 coach Don Granato said. "He's going to be a great pro player. The details you need at the professional level, he has. He does them naturally. He competes naturally. I don't care if he had 100 points, that doesn't make anybody better than anybody else at this level. It might make him only better at this level. It has no bearing on the future.

"The detail in his game, the way he focuses on game plan execution, on hockey concepts… His numbers, hey everybody's numbers could be higher, but his performance has been exceptional. And as a coach who's coached at those next levels, the appreciation I have for what he does far exceeds any point accumulation. To me he's done an unbelievable job."

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Around the League notebook for Wednesday, April 1

Thursday, 04.02.2015 / 2:11 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

DUCKS CLINCH THIRD STRAIGHT PACIFIC DIVISION TITLE

The Anaheim Ducks opened a 4-0 lead midway through the second period, powered by Corey Perry's 600th NHL point and three assists from Jakob Silfverberg, to sweep their four-game season series with the Edmonton Oilers and clinch the Pacific Division for the fourth time in Ducks history.

* The Ducks (50-22-7, 107 points), who have won four straight games and eight of their past 10, increased their lead to four points over the New York Rangers (48-21-7, 103 points) and Nashville Predators (47-22-9, 103 points) – each idle – in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

* The Ducks have finished atop the Pacific Division in each of the past three seasons (and also in 2006-07). Elias says Anaheim is the first team to win three straight division titles since the Vancouver Canucks won the Northwest Division five years in a row from 2008-09 to 2012-13.

* Anaheim has won 50 games for the second time in Ducks history (also 2013-14: 54-20-8, 116 points). The most-recent team to post back-to-back 50-win campaigns was Vancouver in 2010-11 (54-19-9) and 2011-12 (51-22-9).

* Perry (296-304—600) scored his 33rd goal of the season to become the fourth player from the 2003 NHL Draft to reach 600 points, joining Eric Staal (311-427--738), Ryan Getzlaf (207-469—676) and Thomas Vanek (297-309—606). (Via Elias)

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Ducks center Kesler scratched against Oilers

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 10:21 PM / News

NHL.com

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler was scratched from the game against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday to rest.

The move was expected because Kesler is healing from what is believed to be an arm injury. He participated in the morning skate but Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t say if Kesler would play against the Oilers at Honda Center.

Kesler has played in 78 games, the most by a Ducks player this season, along with left wing Andrew Cogliano. Kesler has 47 points, the most he’s had since scoring 49 in 2011-12.

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Suspended Kings' Voynov had Achilles surgery

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 8:36 PM / News

NHL.com

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov had surgery last week to repair a torn Achilles tendon, L.A. Kings Insider reported Wednesday.

Voynov, who is suspended by the NHL, was injured "in a recreational activity," the website said. Recovery time could be at least four months.

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Penguins' Crosby scores 300th NHL goal

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 8:30 PM / News

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby scored his 300th NHL goal Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers at Consol Energy Center.

Crosby has played in 622 games and has 849 points in 10 NHL seasons.

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Red Wings' Miller aims to play after scary injury

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 5:55 PM / News

DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT – Fear instantly filled Drew Miller's thoughts as a skate blade sliced through the right side of his face Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

"When it happened, my first reaction was, 'Oh my God, my eye is gone,'" Miller said, 17 hours after doctors needed 60 stitches to close two gruesome lacerations.

"It hit so hard … there was so much blood that I wasn't sure if it had clipped my eyeball or what had happened. I wasn't sure," Miller added. "I definitely feel very blessed that the skate didn't hit my eye. I was very lucky. Right now it's just dealing with the cut, the stitches and the soreness. Other than that my eye's good and I got on the ice today and felt pretty good."

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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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Hammond, Hudler, Dubnyk named stars for March

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 3:00 PM / News

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORKOttawa Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond, Calgary Flames center Jiri Hudler and Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk have been named the NHL's "Three Stars" for the month of March.

FIRST STAR – ANDREW HAMMOND, G, OTTAWA SENATORS

Hammond went 10-1-1 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .930 save percentage to help the Senators (38-26-12, 88 points) complete an 11-3-2 March and climb within three points of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. He allowed two or fewer goals in nine of his 12 appearances, including his first seven of the month. With his run, Hammond became the second goaltender in NHL history to yield two or fewer goals in each of his first 12 career starts (Frank Brimsek: 1938-39). Hammond also improved to 14-0-1 before suffering his first career regulation loss March 26 vs. NYR, becoming the first goaltender to record at least one point in each of his first 15 career starts since Patrick Lalime in 1996-97 (14-0-2). The 27-year-old White Rock, B.C., native has appeared in 18 games this season, compiling a 1.85 goals-against average, .938 save percentage and two shutouts. That includes an 8-0-1 record on the road, where he has a 1.08 goals-against average, .964 save percentage and both shutouts.

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Blackhawks forward Kane returns to practice

Wednesday, 04.01.2015 / 2:48 PM / News

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- It was April 1, but forward Patrick Kane joining the Chicago Blackhawks for practice Wednesday wasn't a hoax.

Kane's presence for a full team workout, wearing a white non-contact jersey, was real and impressive considering it was exactly five weeks since he had surgery Feb. 25 to repair a fractured left clavicle.

The estimated 12-week timetable hasn't changed and Kane is cleared only to take wrist shots, but seeing the highly-skilled right wing zip around the ice again, displaying elite stickhandling and mobility, was a breath of fresh air. The Blackhawks saw firsthand evidence that whenever Kane is cleared, he'll be ready to contribute right away.

"It's definitely a goal you work towards almost, to get one of your best players, if not your best player, in the lineup," forward Kris Versteeg said. "It's always something that's in the back of your mind."

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Quote of the Day

I'll be happy, believe me, if we win our last playoff game. Not taking anything away, but we've had a fairly good lead for a while now. It would be more surprising if we didn't get the division. Business as usual.

— Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau after clinching their third straight Pacific Division title