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2014 NHL Draft
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(Page 161 of 251)
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Penguins defenseman Letang returning to lineup

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 12:47 PM / News

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Defenseman Kris Letang will return to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2), 10 weeks after having a stroke.

"Kris has been cleared almost for a few weeks now to be back practicing with us with contact," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said. "The doctors had left it up to him when he felt he was ready to play and come back. Kris has been bugging me for a little while here to return to play. I talked to him on the road trip, talked to him again [Tuesday]. He feels real good on and off the ice, so he'll be back playing this evening.

"I'm excited for him because I think the main thing is health-wise he feels good, and everything is trending in the right direction for him short term and long term."

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Osiecki to coach 2015 U.S. World Junior team

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 12:22 PM / News

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Mark Osiecki, who has been a part of championship teams at almost every level of his hockey career, will look to add another next winter.

USA Hockey on Wednesday named Osiecki, 45, coach of the United States team for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Osiecki is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

"I'm thrilled to accept the role of head coach for the U.S. National Junior Team," Osiecki said. "Each time I've been on the Team USA staff it's been an extremely rewarding experience. I will incorporate a lot of what I learned from Phil Housley, Keith Allain and Dean Blais at previous tournaments, as well as what I gained from Mike Eaves at Wisconsin. We have great emerging young talent across the country and I can't wait to start working with them in Lake Placid this August."

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On the 'D'-fence: Final rankings and a look ahead

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Jim Morrison, front man of the classic band The Doors, once penned these haunting words:

"This is the end

Beautiful friend

This is the end

My only friend, the end"

They are very fitting for where we are today -- the end of the fantasy hockey season. While most leagues have already wrapped, others are going through their championship rounds and will end this weekend.

It seems as if it were just yesterday that we posted our preseason defensemen rankings, and now we are about to cross the finish line on another season. While some have won and some have lost, here's hoping these rankings helped you on a weekly basis as you encountered tough decisions on who to acquire, who to drop and who to ride for the duration of each scoring period.

It has been an exciting ride as we saw the Ottawa Senators' Erik Karlsson reclaim the throne atop of the defensive heap, the Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien put up career numbers while earning eligibility on the right wing in most formats and Victor Hedman far surpassed expectations in helping the Tampa Bay Lightning weather the loss of Steven Stamkos.

Nine of our preseason top 15 have managed to rank in the top 13 scorers at the position as of April 8, but there were also plenty of surprises at the position that will change the face of our rankings well into the future. While the structure of many blue lines around the NHL is sure to change over the summer, below is where we feel the position stands as the season concludes.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs clinching scenarios: April 9

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 11:39 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com

The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets can clinch Stanley Cup Playoffs berths Wednesday, while the Anaheim Ducks can clinch the Pacific Division title. Here are the scenarios:

DETROIT RED WINGS

The Red Wings would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they get at least one point against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

The Blue Jackets would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they defeat the Dallas Stars in any fashion.

ANAHEIM DUCKS

The Ducks would clinch the Pacific Division title if they defeat the San Jose Sharks in any fashion. That result also would clinch a first-round matchup between the Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, with the Sharks having home-ice advantage.

NOTE: A loss by the Red Wings in any fashion would clinch a first-round matchup between the Canadiens and Lightning, with home-ice advantage to be determined.

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Refusal to quit among reasons Wild back in playoffs

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 9:01 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

After going four seasons without qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Minnesota Wild are in the postseason for the second straight season. They clinched their spot after defeating the Boston Bruins 4-3 in a shootout Tuesday.

Last season the Wild made their first trip to the playoffs since 2008. The return was short-lived as Minnesota lost in five games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. One season later Minnesota is hoping to win a playoff series for the first time since 2003, when they lost to the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final.

The 2013-14 Minnesota Wild retained the core that led it back to the playoffs the previous season. But a number of other elements, including an infusion of youth, brought postseason hockey back to Minnesota.

Here are five reasons the Wild are headed back to the playoffs:

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Daily Primer April 9: Last chance for Sharks

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com

The San Jose Sharks will get one last crack at a possible Pacific Division title in the finale of the NHL's five-game schedule Wednesday night.

San Jose (49-21-9) can move within a point of first place in the Pacific when it visits the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. Anaheim (51-20-8) is three points ahead of the Sharks and each team has three games remaining.

The Ducks would clinch the Pacific Division title if they defeat the Sharks in any fashion. That result also would clinch a first-round matchup between the Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, with the Sharks having home-ice advantage.

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Tale of the Tape: Red Wings visit Penguins

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / Tale of the Tape

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Detroit Red Wings make their only regular-season visit to Consol Energy Center when they face the Pittsburgh Penguins in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN2). But it's not impossible that the Red Wings could be back next week for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pittsburgh has locked up the Metropolitan Division title and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins' first-round opponent will be the first wild-card finisher, a position Detroit holds entering the game. The Red Wings begin the night with 90 points, one more than the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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Over the Boards: Alzner assesses Capitals' struggles

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner believes honesty in the face of adversity is the best policy a player and a team can have. Alzner's problem is he doesn't think his team has fully bought into that policy.

"We don't always admit to our mistakes, own up to them and fix them," Alzner told NHL.com from Prudential Center last Friday. "We just push them under the rug and worry about it later."

The Capitals won't be able to push away their problems anymore.

After heading into the season thinking they could compete with the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are now longshots to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs; they staved off elimination with a 4-1 win Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues and are four points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second and final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with three games left for each team.

The Washington organization has questions to answer as it nears the end of a disappointing regular season and what will likely be a longer-than-anticipated offseason.

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Union joins perennial powers in Frozen Four field

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Boston College, Minnesota and North Dakota are three of the glory programs of NCAA men's hockey. They've combined for 65 Frozen Four appearances, and every year but one since 1997 at least one of them has been among the last four teams playing.

However, only one college hockey team this season won its regular-season and playoff conference championship: Union College. Though the Dutchmen might not have the cache of the other teams in Philadelphia for the 2014 Frozen Four, they have just as good a chance of adding an NCAA title to the school trophy case.

Union was the top-ranked team in the final USCHO.com poll, earning 31 of 50 first-place votes. They went 30-6-4 to finish first in the East Coast Athletic Conference and beat Colgate in the conference tournament final. Wins against Vermont and Providence in the East Regional earned Union its second trip to the Frozen Four in the past three years.

Union will play in the first semifinal Thursday, against Boston College (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2), with Minnesota facing North Dakota (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) in the second game. The winners will play Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

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Rivalry Night Faceoff: Malkin vs. Datsyuk

Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

To help celebrate NBC Rivalry Night, NHL.com will look at a rivalry within the rivalry of the featured game on Wednesday nights. For this week, we are trying to determine which superstar Russian center will have the biggest effect on his team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins or Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings.

It's been a star-crossed season for Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings. Injuries have taken their toll on the superstar centers. But as the Stanley Cup Playoffs approach, each are doing what they can to positively impact their team.

Datsyuk returned to the lineup April 4 after a five-week absence to allow an injury to his right knee to heal and will use the last days of the regular season to fine-tune his game for the postseason.

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Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie