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Stanley Cup Final
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Russia, Sweden open WJC with wins

Friday, 12.26.2014 / 10:00 PM / 2015 World Junior Championship

NHL.com Staff

Russia erased an early two-goal deficit and scored on each of its shootout attempts to defeat Denmark 3-2 on Friday in the opening game of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

In the second game in Group B, Sweden got two goals from Adrian Kempe and defeated the Czech Republic 5-2. Sweden (1-0-0) leads the group with three points, Russia (1-0-0) has two, Denmark (0-0-1) has one and the Czech Republic (0-1-0) none.

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Analysis: Reasons for Devils' firing of Peter DeBoer

Friday, 12.26.2014 / 7:22 PM / News

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

General manager Lou Lamoriello knew swift and definitive action was necessary as the New Jersey Devils struggled to keep pace in the Metropolitan Division and saw their hopes for a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs recede each day.

Lamoriello’s response came Friday with the firing of coach Peter DeBoer, who was in his fourth season in New Jersey. No replacement was named and Lamoriello said he will not comment further until he addresses the players Saturday morning.

The Devils have not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2012, when DeBoer, in his first season in New Jersey, led them to the Final. New Jersey is on the verge of missing the playoffs for the third straight season. Prior to 2013-14, the Devils had not missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1985-87.

DeBoer's replacement will inherit a team that's seventh in the Metropolitan Division with 31 points, nine points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, despite playing the most games in the conference.

The new coach will also inherit a team that lacks a true No. 1 center and a No. 1 defenseman. He'll take over a team that is 28th in the NHL in offense and features a 42-year-old, Jaromir Jagr, tied for its lead in scoring.

How is it that a team two victories from winning the Stanley Cup less than three years ago could fall so far in such a short period of time with the same coach and general manager?

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U.S. tops Finland in shootout to win WJC opener

Friday, 12.26.2014 / 7:15 PM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Jack Eichel knew the spotlight would be glaring.

As a top-two prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft, one wearing the captain's "C" on his United States jersey at the IIHF 2015 World Junior Championships, the eyes of the world are going to be picking apart everything Eichel does during this high-profile tournament.

On opening day, Eichel not only gave them no reason to look away, he justified all the attention with a masterful performance to help lead the U.S. to a tournament-opening 2-1 shootout win against defending champion Finland on Friday.

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Panthers prospect Grimaldi fine-tuning game in AHL

Friday, 12.26.2014 / 12:07 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Before Rocco Grimaldi arrived under his tutelage, San Antonio Rampage coach Tom Rowe already knew a fair amount about what exactly the 5-foot-6 wing could do on the ice.

"I watched him on video quite a bit, and I'd watch him on TV, which sometimes isn't the best way to do it, but it gives you a good idea," Rowe said. "I loved the fact that he's quick, and he moved the puck well and could beat guys one-on-one. Those were the things that stood out to me."

Finding Grimaldi wasn't hard. A product of the U.S. National Team Development Program and the University of North Dakota, the California-born 21-year-old had already won three gold medals in international play before the Florida Panthers selected him No. 33 at the 2011 NHL Draft. He added a fourth gold medal with the United States at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships, scoring twice in a 3-1 win against Sweden in the final game.

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Penguins' Downie, Greiss test positive for mumps

Friday, 12.26.2014 / 11:20 AM / News

PittsburghPenguins.com

Steve Downie and Thomas Greiss have tested positive for the mumps and remain in isolation, Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford announced.

Brandon Sutter tested negative and has been cleared to return to the team.

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Resilient Crawford focused ahead of Winter Classic

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- It's difficult to find a word that adequately describes the season Corey Crawford is having for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Impressive, steady and dazzling could all work for the majority of his outings. In 20 games, Chicago's No.1 goalie is 12-6-2 with a 2.00 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage, and one shutout. He's playing noticeably better under the guidance of first-year Blackhawks goaltending coach Jimmy Waite, and is a big reason Chicago is leading the NHL in penalty-killing.

"Commend him on getting off to a great start," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Crawford earlier this season. "His focus has been excellent every day on the ice, the practice days as well, but he really seems like he’s concentrating on the next shots, the next situations. His preparation has been excellent."

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Super 16: Plenty to play for at the holiday break

Friday, 12.26.2014 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

If recent history is correct, the number of teams that can win the Stanley Cup is quite large. Expand "recent history" to the past 15 years, and it looks more like the pool of potential Cup winners is a little smaller.

Three times in the past five years, the eventual NHL champion was far from the top of the League standings at the holiday break. In 2012, the Los Angeles Kings had just changed coaches when everyone scattered for a few days in late December. In 2009, the Pittsburgh Penguins were still two months from hiring Dan Bylsma to replace Michel Therrien.
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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Schneider needs time

Thursday, 12.25.2014 / 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.

Of the items on the checklist for New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer to begin the regular season was to make sure goaltender Cory Schneider knew he was the team's starting goalie.

He's accomplished that and more. Schneider started the Devils' first 20 games of the season, a stretch that broke Martin Brodeur's New Jersey record for most consecutive starts.
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Finland faces challenge for World Juniors repeat

Thursday, 12.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Finland National Junior Team will look to become the first in seven years to win back-to-back gold medals when the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship takes center stage this week in Montreal and Toronto.

Canada was the most recent repeat champion, winning five straight golds between 2005 and 2009. They'll be one of nine other teams looking to deny the Finns a second straight gold medal at the 11-day event, which runs Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, 2015. 

The Group A field, which consists of Finland, Canada, the United States, Slovakia and Germany, will play preliminary-round games at Bell Centre in Montreal.

The schedule-makers provided quite an offering for fans on opening day with the defending champion Finns playing against the United States at 3 p.m. ET (NHLN-US, NHL.com).

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Unmasked: Canada playing catch up in goal

Thursday, 12.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

There may not be the crisis declared by some observers after Canada stretched its gold-medal drought to five years at the IIHF World Junior Championship with a non-podium finish in 2014. But as the country prepares to host the 2015 tournament after two years without any medal, there is little question Canada has lagged behind in the goaltender arms race.

The fact Hockey Canada has spent two years building a national goaltending development model, which will include the country's first goalie-coach certification program, is as strong an admission as possible.

Sweden instituted a similar national plan a decade ago and its formation is credited for its rise up the international goaltending ranks, just as Finland improved its goaltending with the introduction of their groundbreaking program almost 20 years earlier.

So it's not surprising Hockey Canada recently sent a six-person advisory group to those countries to learn more about their goaltending programs.

"This is stuff that should have been done 10 years ago but better late than never," said Corey Hirsch, a former NHL goalie and goalie coach who is now consulting for Hockey Canada and was on the trip to Scandinavia. "We recognized it and we're doing something about it."

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Quote of the Day

If you want to prove people wrong, you've just got to go out and do it. Yeah, we blew 3-2 series leads the last two years, but no one is going remember that if we go out there on Saturday night and beat these guys and go play in the Stanley Cup Final. We need to get back to work and we'll start to do that tomorrow.

— Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri following a loss to the Blackhawks in Game 6 on Wednesday