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Senators coming off another summer of change

Saturday, 09.20.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Sean Farrell - Correspondent continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The Ottawa Senators are at a crossroads as they embark on the 2014-15 season. Will they continue along the path of inconsistent play that plagued them throughout last season and ultimately left them short of a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third time in the past six years, or will they recover to become the "Pesky Sens" that advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2013?

Ottawa followed up a season-opening win with just three more victories in its next 13 games (3-6-4). The Senators went 7-10-3 from mid-November until late December, and a 7-2 road loss to the Boston Bruins before the break for the Sochi Olympics began another bad run. Their ill-timed 2-8-2 skid included a crushing 5-4 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on March 15, when Ottawa blew a three-goal lead with less than four minutes remaining in the third period.


Jets' Wheeler focused on playing beyond 82 games

Saturday, 09.20.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Davis Harper - Staff Writer continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Blake Wheeler wants you to know that he's got a great job, and nobody -- not his Winnipeg Jets teammates, not the prospects in St. John's, not you -- is taking it off his hands anytime soon.

"You always have that feeling from when you were a young player in the League," Wheeler said. "You never want to miss a shift, you never want to miss a rep, because there's always somebody gunning for your job. So the more you can be on the ice, the better. You never want to miss any time."

Since entering the NHL with the Boston Bruins in 2008-09, Wheeler barely has. In six seasons, the 28-year-old has missed four games. He last sat out on Jan. 17, 2012, after being hit in the throat with a puck two games prior. Over the 166 consecutive games since, Wheeler has solidified his position as one of the most reliable and consistent performers in the League.


Karlsson looks forward to long career with Senators

Saturday, 09.20.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Brian Hunter - Staff Writer continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Erik Karlsson has watched as the longtime face of the Ottawa Senators has changed during the past 15 months.

The changes began when Daniel Alfredsson stunned many who thought he would sport the Senators crest for life when he signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings on July 5, 2013. This summer the Senators honored the trade request of Jason Spezza, who had succeeded Alfredsson as captain, sending him to the Dallas Stars.


With Kuemper, Bryzgalov, Wild shore up goaltending

Friday, 09.19.2014 / 6:24 PM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

The Minnesota Wild had three goaltenders on hand Friday when they hit the ice for the first time at training camp. But they weren't the three general manager Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo were banking on all summer.

Darcy Kuemper arrived at camp after signing a two-year, one-way contract worth $2.5 million. Also present was Ilya Bryzgalov, who went 7-1-3 down the stretch last season with the Wild, wasn't re-signed, but was invited to camp on a tryout contract this week after Josh Harding broke his right foot in an off-ice incident.

Harding, who's expected to miss at least two months, has been suspended by the Wild. He was expected to compete with Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom for the starting job.

Kuemper, who was 12-8-4 after Harding and Backstrom were lost to season-ending injuries in 2013-14, was happy to be back.

"It was a longer summer than I expected it to be, but I'm super-excited to get it done and to be back here," he said after practice at Xcel Energy Center. "Now that it's over, I'm just looking forward to the season and trying to pick up where we were last year and build off the success we've been having lately."


MacLean, Ryan trying to evolve to best fit Senators

Friday, 09.19.2014 / 4:43 PM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Chris Stevenson - Correspondent

OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean and forward Bobby Ryan are looking at evolving their identities this season.

For MacLean, the NHL's coach of the year two seasons ago, it's a softening of the edge he felt was needed last season, but one that turned out to be too sharp.

For Ryan, who is coming off surgery for a sports hernia, it's an expanded role as he enters the last season of his contract and ponders his future and how he might fit into the Senators' picture over the long term. He can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2014-15 season.

How well the two grow and adapt to changing roles will go a long way toward determining the Senators' success this season, and, ultimately Ryan's future with the team.

As the Senators prepared to take off Friday for Newfoundland and a doubleheader of preseason games against the New York Islanders on Monday, MacLean was asked how he could be a better coach this season.

"Win more games?" he said. "Besides that? I think I just have to be myself. We ask the players to be themselves. I think it's important that I be myself and do what I do."


Kraft Hockeyville comes at right time for Sylvan Lake

Friday, 09.19.2014 / 1:21 PM / Kraft Hockeyville 2014

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

The Stanley Cup was in Sylvan Lake, Alberta for the second time in three summers when then-Los Angeles Kings forward Colin Fraser brought it to the small town between Calgary and Edmonton last month.

It will be back next week, and lots of NHL players will be joining it when Sylvan Lake becomes the setting for Kraft Hockeyville 2014. The four-day hockey festival starts Sunday and culminates Wednesday when the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes square off in a preseason game at the Sylvan Lake Multiplex.


Talented crop of rookies has fantasy upside

Matt Sitkoff - Contributor

We've already broken down the 2014 draftees and who can have an immediate impact on the fantasy landscape. Realistically, any of these players could find their name on the fantasy rookie of the year trophy, as Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche did last season.

However, with two of last season's Calder Trophy finalists being an undrafted free agent (Tyler Johnson) and a seventh-round pick in 2011 (Ondrej Palat), we see that rookie production doesn't always come from freshly drafted players.


Faulk focused on helping Hurricanes make playoffs

Friday, 09.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Davis Harper - Staff Writer continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk is accustomed to strong starts and even stronger finishes.

In his first international appearance for the United States as an 18-year-old, Faulk scored the game-winning goal to give the Americans the gold medal at the 2010 IIHF U-18 World Championship.

A year later, as a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Faulk played a key role in the Bulldogs' run to their first NCAA championship. That summer, the Hurricanes, who had selected Faulk in the second round (No. 37) in the 2010 NHL Draft, signed him to a three-year entry-level contract. Again, Faulk announced himself immediately, scoring 22 points in 66 games in 2011-12.


Bernier hoping to lead Maple Leafs back to playoffs

Friday, 09.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Despite setting career highs in games, wins and saves in his first season with the Toronto Maple Leafs after five with the Los Angeles Kings, goalie Jonathan Bernier knows how his 2013-14 campaign will mostly be remembered.

He struggled with injuries late in the season and Toronto lost 12 of its final 14 games to fall out of the race for a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We've just got to learn from it, move on. I think as a group we'll be stronger with the way we ended our season," Bernier said. "I think I was a lot more tired at the beginning of the season. [In Los Angeles], I wasn't playing that many games. But it was really good to get back in that game mode."


Fast start, physical play keys to Hurricanes' success

Friday, 09.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Davis Harper - Staff Writer continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

After seeing their team miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past five seasons, Carolina Hurricanes fans will settle for no less than a return to the postseason in 2014-15.

Bill Peters, who enters his first season as an NHL coach after three spent assisting Mike Babcock and the Detroit Red Wings, is right there with them. Peters said a playoff appearance would require consistent effort, mental toughness and a will to win. Now it's up to Peters and his staff to infuse the Hurricanes, a team largely unchanged from the one which finished last season 13th in the Eastern Conference, with these qualities.

As training camp gives way to the regular season, here are three keys for the Hurricanes entering the season:

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Quote of the Day

I've got a lot of experience and there's a lot of young guys. It's even making me excited a little more. It's kind of a new life. At my age, I feel like I know a lot of things what to do, but I just cannot do it anymore. It's a lot easier to tell them what to do because they've still got the legs and hands to do it. I just know things, but I cannot do them anymore.

— Jaromir Jagr after making his Panthers debut in a win against the Sabres on Saturday
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