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Blues acquire forward Cracknell from Blue Jackets

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 4:00 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

NHL.com

The St. Louis Blues acquired forward Adam Cracknell from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday for future considerations.

The Blues assigned Cracknell to Peoria of the American Hockey League.

Cracknell had one assist and a minus-8 rating in 17 games with the Blue Jackets this season; he has three goals and seven points in 18 games with Springfield of the AHL.

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Ducks goalie Bryzgalov to sit out rest of season

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 1:34 PM / News

AnaheimDucks.com

The Ducks announced today that goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will return to his family home in Philadelphia and not play for the remainder of the regular season. Bryzgalov was assigned to Norfolk on Feb. 24 and made the decision after discussing the situation with his family and agent Ritch Winter.

Bryzgalov and Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray made the following comments:

"At the beginning of the NHL season, I spent all of my time with my wife and my children," said Bryzgalov. "I drove my son and daughter to their practices and games and enjoyed life. I had no plans to return to the NHL this season until the Ducks reached out to my agent, Ritch Winter. I agreed to return because of my respect for the Ducks organization, the quality of the team they had assembled and my long relationship with Bob Murray and the team. Given the way things have worked out, I have decided to return home to be with my wife and children, who did not move with me to Anaheim. It’s not the way I had hoped things would work out. But when you can return to a family you love, could life be any better?"

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Fleury saves day for Penguins with breakaway stop

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 12:20 PM / Top Performer

NHL.com

The Pittsburgh Penguins successfully averted a season sweep by the Washington Capitals with a 4-3 win Wednesday at Verizon Center. The victory was sweet given the fact the Capitals had outscored the Penguins 10-1 in the previous three games. It also earned Pittsburgh its third straight win and a three-point lead over the Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves, including a huge stop on Joel Ward on a 2-on-0 shorthanded breakaway in the second period to preserve a 3-1 lead.

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Canucks' Lack gets job done

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com's Evan Sporer will provide you with in-depth analysis of goaltenders. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Sporer will be your go-to guy for advice on fantasy goalies all season long.

Whatever problems the Vancouver Canucks have encountered the past few seasons, they've always had a very strong backup plan when it comes to their goaltending situation.

In fact, in some cases "Plan B" was, even in smaller sample sizes, outperforming the starter.

So while the Canucks stand to lose a veteran goalie in Ryan Miller for the next 4-6 weeks, their crease will be just fine with Eddie Lack and the recently recalled Jacob Markstrom.

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Unmasked: For Bruins' Rask, the defense can't rest

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

For the Boston Bruins to hold on to the final Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, goaltender Tuukka Rask is probably going to need to play like the Vezina Trophy winner he was last season.

For that to happen, Rask will probably need the Bruins defense to revert, and stick, to its signature stingy ways.

Well into his worst season statistically since becoming Boston's No. 1 goaltender, Rask is honest about how his game suffered early this season. The frank Finn talks openly about the link between his poor start and a defense that lost Johnny Boychuk to trade on the eve of the season, captain Zdeno Chara to a knee injury for 19 games three weeks after the season started, and Adam McQuaid to a finger injury from mid-November to the New Year.

Rask didn't excuse his own role in the early stumbles, saying he felt good but the Bruins needed more and he "just wasn't able to be great out there." Like most things surrounding goaltending, Rask's performance through January did not exist in a vacuum.

"I've always played my best when I am aggressive and challenging," Rask told NHL.com. "But when you have new guys on the back end trying to find their game and comfort zone, it makes the goalie's job different too. You can't be as aggressive as you normally are because you have to be ready for passes to the backdoor and loose pucks that normally get cleared. There's been a lot of that."

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Wild's Scandella credits playoff series for growth

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

The turning point of Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella's NHL career isn't hard to find.

After spending all but six games of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season in the American Hockey League, Scandella was recalled by the Wild in time to play against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

An injury forced coach Mike Yeo to put Scandella in the lineup for Game 1 despite him not having played a game with the Wild in nearly three months. He responded with a goal in Game 2 and an assist in Game 5.

After spending three seasons shuttling back and forth between the Houston Aeros of the AHL and the Wild, Scandella finally had arrived. He hasn't left since, developing into a key part of the Wild defense heading into their game Thursday at the Nashville Predators (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

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Merkley getting ahead by watching, listening to others

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

Nicholas Merkley is months away from hearing his name called at the 2015 NHL Draft. But he's already seen what it will take to be a National Hockey League player.

Spending his summers training alongside Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers and Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, the 17-year-old has a good understanding about what it's going to take for him to get to the next level.

"It's pretty cool seeing them in the gym every day," Merkley said. "Obviously you're star-struck but you're trying to focus on your workout and things like that. It's good to see how hard they work on the gym and on the ice.

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Around the League notebook for Wednesday, Feb. 25

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 1:50 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

PENGUINS SOLVE CAPITALS, PAD LEAD IN METROPOLITAN

Ahead 3-2, Chris Kunitz scored the game-winning goal at 7:12 of the third period to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to their third straight victory and snap a three-game slide against the Washington Capitals in their final game of the season (PIT: 1-3-0; WSH: 3-1-0).

* The Penguins (35-17-9, 79 points) increased their lead to three points over the Capitals (33-19-10, 76 points) for third place in the Metropolitan Division, where the top four teams are separated by six points:

* Kunitz scored his first goal since Jan. 30 at the New Jersey Devils, ending an 11-game drought. It was his 39th career game-winning goal and fifth this season (tied for PIT lead w/ Blake Comeau).

* Sidney Crosby reached the 20-goal mark for the eighth time in 10 NHL seasons. Per Elias Sports Bureau, only Mario Lemieux (12), Jaromir Jagr (11), Rick Kehoe (9) and Jean Pronovost (9) have more 20-goal seasons with the Penguins. Crosby leads the Penguins and is tied with Alex Ovechkin for fifth in League scoring with 62 points (20 goals, 42 assists) in 57 games.

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Kings acquire defenseman Sekera from Hurricanes

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 11:50 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

NHL.com

The Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday acquired defenseman Andrej Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes in a trade for a first-round draft pick and a prospect.

Sekera, 28, has 19 points in 57 games this season and was second on the Hurricanes in average ice time at 22:46. Last season he set career highs with 11 goals and 44 points.

The Kings are playing without two defensemen, injured Alec Martinez (concussion symptoms) and suspended Slava Voynov.

"I think it's the one area of the team that we felt was the one area that could be targeted in terms of an upgrade," Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi said, according to LA Kings Insider. "… I think the thing about [Sekera], No. 1, he's a competitive guy. We have no issues as far as him fitting in here with this group. No question he’s going to be hungry. I think whenever you look at your back end, it's a mix-type thing, and I think [there are] things he can bring to us. … He's very mobile, and even though he's not big (6 feet, 201 pounds), he certainly competes. He's a smart player."

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Hockey pioneer James reveals rough journey in book

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 9:07 PM / NHL Insider

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- One night during Val James' rookie season with the Buffalo Sabres in 1982, he was faced with a test of character.

The opening pages of James' new book, "Black Ice: The Val James Story," explains how following a game against the Boston Bruins, the Sabres bus was blocked by angry fans who threw a beer bottle into the windshield and demanded James, then 25 years old, show his face.

James, who is black, headed to the front of the bus with the intent of confronting the mob before he was ordered back to his seat by coach Scotty Bowman.

"That would have been a stupid move on my part," James said here Wednesday. "I have to thank Mr. Bowman for seeing through all my anger and rage. I wasn't really mad. I was more ashamed and upset that my own countrymen would do that to me after I made it to the pinnacle of hockey. I was very disappointed. I don't blame the whole city of Boston, just a certain few.

"In a situation like that, it takes a lot of discipline."

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Quote of the Day

We have no doubt how he can play. You don't, with four teams that are left, you're not getting here without good goaltending. All great goalies left, and [Bishop] is a top-tier goaltender in this league and he's shown it.

— Lightning coach Jon Cooper on goalie Ben Bishop, who shut out the Rangers in Game 5