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Malkin back at Penguins practice, could play Game 1

Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 2:10 PM / Penguins vs Blue Jackets - 2014 SCP First Round

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin returned to practice Tuesday after missing the final 11 games of the regular season.

Malkin sustained a foot injury during his first shift in Pittsburgh's 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues on March 23. He had skated on his own prior to practices and game-day skates recently, and participated in Pittsburgh's morning skate Sunday, but Tuesday marked his official return to practice.

He said he felt good during the practice, but stopped short of saying he would play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC). In 11 games without Malkin, the Penguins went 5-4-2 averaging 2.27 goals per game during regulation.

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2013-14 NHL.com Fantasy Hockey Awards

Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

NHL.com Fantasy Hockey Staff

With the 2013-14 regular season now in our rearview mirror, it's time for our team of NHL.com Fantasy Hockey insiders to reflect on the players that have defined the fantasy landscape -- for better or worse.

Our fantasy experts -- Matt Cubeta, Pete JensenMatt Sitkoff, Brian Metzer and Justin Goldman -- have cast their votes, outlining the best fantasy players at each position based on eligibility in Yahoo! leagues.

The list of year-end awards is also complete with the biggest underachievers and most notable fantasy rookies, as well as sleeper and bounceback candidates to keep an eye on for next season.

So, as we officially say goodbye to another compelling fantasy hockey season, here are the 2013-14 NHL.com Fantasy Hockey awards.

NOTE: If a player is listed at multiple positions in Yahoo! Leagues, then it is the writer's choice to nominate that player for any eligible positional fantasy award.

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Senators owner Melnyk says MacLean will return

Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 11:32 AM / News

NHL.com

Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean will return next season, owner Eugene Melnyk confirmed during a conference call Tuesday.

"Paul is our coach and he's going to be our coach going into next year," Melnyk said, though he added "changes will need to happen."

One year after making the Stanley Cup Playoffs and eliminating the Montreal Canadiens in a first-round upset, the Senators finished 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 37-31-14 record.

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Five Questions: Bruins' Iginla set to chase elusive Cup

Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Jarome Iginla won't dare talk about it yet, not before playing his first game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Boston Bruins, but he knows his best shot to win a championship might be right now, this spring, with the deepest team he's ever played for.

The Bruins are the Presidents' Trophy winners. They have the ability to roll four lines and three defense pairs in front of a potential Vezina Trophy winner in Tuukka Rask. They also have a potential Selke Trophy finalist in Patrice Bergeron and former Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara, who might be in line to win it again.

Nine players on the Bruins scored at least 40 points. Iginla and Bergeron led the team with 30 goals each. David Krejci had 50 assists. Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith scored at least 20 goals.

"I think we've got a really good team and a really good shot," Iginla told NHL.com. "I understand playing and watching over the years that you've gotta get some good breaks, but with this group we're going to work hard and there is a lot of experience, guys who have won before and have been close. There are a few of us new guys who haven't, so we're hungry too."

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Rangers' McDonagh healthy, ready to face Flyers

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 11:31 PM / Rangers vs Flyers - 2014 SCP First Round

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh spent the past two weeks playing the role of observer, a dichotomy to his reputation of an iron man, when an injured shoulder sustained on April 1 against the Vancouver Canucks forced him to the press box at Madison Square Garden.

Sitting high atop his perch, McDonagh studied what became a polished product while the regular season drew to a close and took notes on what he can add to his burgeoning game. The Rangers often discuss the tempo of their team and the desire to play hard, play fast and transition quickly. To see that style unfold from a different perspective, McDonagh came away astonished at what's possible if the Rangers are firing on all cylinders.

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'A Season Like No Other' loaded with highlights

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 8:30 PM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL.com

NEW YORK -- Following are some highlights of the 2013-14 National Hockey League regular season, which concluded yesterday:

RECORD ATTENDANCE

A total of 21,758,902 fans filled NHL venues to 96% of capacity in 2013-14. The total figure includes the 376,837 who packed the six Winter Classic, Heritage Classic and Stadium Series games. Had those six games instead been played before a sellout crowd at the designated home team’s arena, the attendance figure (21,492,671) still would have exceeded the previous single-season high of 21,475,223 set in 2008-09.

RIVALRY-DRIVEN REALIGNMENT, PLAYOFF FORMAT

Realignment and a revised playoff format that emphasizes rivalries has resulted in a tantalizing list of first-round playoff matchups that features:

* the first postseason meeting of the ‘Original Six’ Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings since 1957

* the inaugural clash between Eastern Conference newcomers the Columbus Blue Jackets and their closest geographic rival just 185 miles to the east -- the Pittsburgh Penguins

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Trotz out as Predators coach after 15 years

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 6:50 PM / News

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- In what can only be described as a heart-felt love letter to the Nashville Predators and the city he called home for 17 years, Barry Trotz said an emotional goodbye on Monday to the organization that he coached from its inception, a span of 1,196 regular-season games.

"I'm from Dauphin, Manitoba, and I didn't know much about Nashville," Trotz said. "I was in Portland, Maine, working for their minor-league team. I never thought I could find a better place, better people. Come to Nashville, I found out. It's incredible."

Always among the most accommodating and thoughtful coaches in the NHL with the media, Trotz proved no different on a day when general manager David Poile announced that the Predators would seek a new coach after 15 seasons, 557 wins and seven appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs under Trotz.

Trotz, who was offered a different job within the organization, said he had "zero ill will" towards the franchise, but that he wants to coach next season and would accept a position if offered one. Poile said he would grant another NHL team permission to talk to Trotz if the Predators are asked.

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Sharks' Hertl hoping to make impact against Kings

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 6:22 PM / Sharks vs Kings - 2014 SCP First Round

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl may be an NHL rookie from the Czech Republic, but no one has to tell him about the heated rivalry that exists between his team and the Los Angeles Kings.

In a Dec. 19 game against the Kings at Staples Center, Hertl took a knee-on-knee hit from Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown. Hertl severely damaged two ligaments in his right knee, underwent surgery on Dec. 31 and missed 45 games.

Hertl returned for San Jose's final two regular-season games, and after back-to-back solid performances appears likely to be in the lineup Thursday night at SAP Center for Game 1 against the Kings (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) in a Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round series.

"It's personal," Hertl said after practice Monday. "It's L.A. … For me, it's more motivation because (it's) L.A. I want to beat L.A."

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Capitals' Oates wants to see Ovechkin's game evolve

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 6:21 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- As reasons for the Washington Capitals' exclusion from the Stanley Cup Playoffs are bandied about, many will inevitably circle back to Alex Ovechkin.

The electric superstar forward has long been a lightning rod for criticism, a distinction that will not change this offseason after Washington missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

"It's part of my job," Ovechkin said Monday as the Capitals dispersed for the summer. "I'm captain of the team and of course I have to take responsibility, I have to take criticism."

Ovechkin earned his fourth-career Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy with 51 goals this season, becoming the 11th player in NHL history to score at least 50 goals in five separate seasons.

Yet Washington's underachieving season and his minus-35 rating, the third-worst in the NHL, overshadowed that personal achievement. Ovechkin narrowly avoided becoming the first player to ever lead the League in goals while also having the worst plus-minus rating.

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Tortorella: 'Stale' Canucks must add element of youth

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 6:05 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella said he didn't plan to lobby for his job when he met with new president Trevor Linden this week, but he certainly didn't pull any punches when speaking to the media Monday about the present state of the Canucks.

Tortorella accepted some of the blame for missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs in his first season as Canucks coach, but also made it clear that an aging core needs to change and stop living off a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.

"I felt from Day 1 that it's stale," Tortorella said. "That's not their fault. This is a group that has been together for a long time. It's stale. It needs youth. It needs a change. I felt that from Day 1. We're not in 2011. We have to stop talking about 2011. The team needs to be retooled. It's a young man's game."

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Quote of the Day

When we started our journey we made a commitment to our fans to be relevant and to see the Chicago Blackhawks become the best professional hockey organization. There are not two finer symbols of that than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The commitment we have made to these incredible young men is equal to the commitment they have made to our team, our fans, our entire organization and the city of Chicago.

— Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz on signing Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to contract extensions