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Boston University, Minnesota State lead NCAA field

Sunday, 03.22.2015 / 1:13 PM / NCAA Update

Jack Eichel's potential path to the 2015 Frozen Four will go through Manchester, N.H.

Eichel and Boston University will be the No. 1 seed in the Northeast Regional and open the 2015 NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament against fourth-seeded Yale at Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday after the bracket was announced Sunday. The other three top seeds are North Dakota in the West Regional, Minnesota State in the Midwest Regional and Miami (Ohio) University in the East Regional.

Minnesota State is the No. 1 overall seed in the field. The Mavericks will play fourth-seeded Rochester Institute of Technology at Compton Family Ice Arena on Notre Dame's campus Friday. Minnesota State has never won an NCAA tournament game, losing in the opening round in its previous three trips.

Sharks running out of time to make playoffs

Sunday, 03.22.2015 / 12:45 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- For the first time since 2002-03, the math does not look very good for the San Jose Sharks.

That might be why coach Todd McLellan is happy to ignore the math.

The Sharks fell six points behind the Calgary Flames for third in the Pacific Division and eight points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference on Saturday with 10 games left to play.

The Sharks 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens came minutes after the Jets finished beating the Washington Capitals 3-0 at home and hours after the Flames earned a point in a 3-2 overtime loss at home to the Columbus Blue Jackets. In that short span of time, the Sharks streak of 10 straight seasons in the playoffs came that much closer to ending.

"I'm not very good at math so I'm not doing it," McLellan said. "We've got to play a game in Ottawa [on Monday], so somebody else who knows how to add and subtract can do that for you. I'm not."

When the Sharks began this seven-game road trip in Winnipeg on March 17, they were five points out of a playoff spot with 13 games left.

Five days and three games later, the deficit increased by one point, but the number of games left to overcome it dropped significantly.

Kings recall center Mike Richards from AHL

Sunday, 03.22.2015 / 12:43 PM / News

The Los Angeles Kings recalled forward Mike Richards from Manchester of the American Hockey League, the Kings announced Sunday.

Richards had three goals and 14 points in 16 games for the Monarchs after being demoted Jan. 27. He hasn't played for the Monarchs since March 8.

Richards has five goals and 15 points in 47 games for the Kings this season. He was a key member of Los Angeles' Stanley Cup-winning team in 2012 and a valuable role player when the Kings won last season, but he was also their fourth-line center for much of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Around the League notebook for Saturday, March 21

Sunday, 03.22.2015 / 11:04 AM / News

Kyle Turris scored twice, including the tiebreaking goal in the final minute of the second period, to power the Ottawa Senators to victory to their sixth straight win and to a 14-1-1 record since Feb. 18.

* At 36-24-11 (83 points), the Senators pulled within one point of the Boston Bruins (36-24-12, 84 points), who lost in a shootout, for the final second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Ottawa won the season series (OTT: 3-2-0, BOS: 2-1-2) and holds one game in hand, but Boston owns the ROW tiebreaker (BOS: 33, OTT: 31).

* Elias says the Senators have earned at least one point in 15 of 16 games for the first time since Feb. 22 to March 24, 2007, when they advanced to their first and only appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. The last time the Senators won 14 of 16 games was from Jan. 14 to Feb. 14, 2010.

Stastny fitting in with hometown St. Louis Blues

Sunday, 03.22.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Paul Stastny entered the summer of 2014 with a choice, one that would affect his immediate NHL future.

When that choice involved a chance to go home for the 29-year-old Quebec City native who lived most of his childhood in St. Louis because his Hall of Fame father (Peter Stastny) played his final two NHL seasons with the St. Louis Blues, Stastny was excited about the next chapter in his life.

But after signing a four-year, $28 million contract with St. Louis on July 1, there were naturally expectations to live up to, most of which would come from those judging from the outside. Those expectations come with the territory when you're arguably the biggest free-agent center on the market.

Through 64 games in his first season with the Blues, Stastny had 42 points (14 goals, 28 assists), or 0.66 points per game, which is below his career average of 0.85 entering this season. But to those on the inside, particularly Stastny's teammates, coaches, and management, his performance has been on the rise just in time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Stastny enters the Blues' game Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings [Noon ET; NBC, SN360] sixth on the team in scoring. In 2013-14, his final season with the Colorado Avalanche, he had 25 goals, the most since scoring 28 in his rookie season, and 60 points in 71 games.

Sunday Long Read: Kelowna develops defensemen

Sunday, 03.22.2015 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The murals on the walls of Prospera Place, home of the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League, are striking for their size and the stories they tell.

They trace a genealogy of winning; the Rockets have made the WHL playoffs 18 times in 20 years in Kelowna, won the championship three times, played in four Memorial Cup tournaments (they're one of five teams since 1972 to play in three straight (2003-05)), and won the Memorial Cup in 2004.

Along the way, the Rockets, led by owner/general manager Bruce Hamilton and assistant GM Lorne Frey, have produced an alumni list full of well-known NHL players.

Among them are 11 defensemen who opened the 2014-15 season on an NHL roster, more than any junior or European development program.

If the Penn State University football team is known as Linebacker U., then the Kelowna Rockets could be called the Cradle of Defensemen.

"Maybe Lorne Frey has some special thing going on up there," said Scott Hannan, a San Jose Sharks defenseman and Kelowna alum. "He knows where to draft. … They're just smart hockey guys. And I think when you see that, and to be able to have good coaching staffs and a good facility to train the right way, you've seen that [NHL development] with the defensemen especially. They've been able to develop some really, really good defensemen.

Lorne Frey chief pilot for Rockets

Sunday, 03.22.2015 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League had 11 defensemen on NHL opening-night rosters this season, each featuring a unique skill set.

There's the all-around brilliance of Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators, the offensively gifted Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche, and defensive-minded Scott Hannan of the San Jose Sharks.

The common denominator among all of them is 64-year-old Kelowna assistant general manager Lorne Frey, a scout so dedicated to the business he might have some coffee in his blood stream.

"I hired him before we had control of the expansion franchise," Kelowna owner and general manager Bruce Hamilton said. "He's as close to me as anybody is. We don't make any decisions without both of us being involved.

"At the end of the day, my say is the last one, but generally we both agree before we come to that. We've been doing it that way for 20-some years now."

Rogers Hometown Hockey: Prince George, B.C.

Sunday, 03.22.2015 / 3:00 AM / News

CITY in Canada will televise "Rogers Hometown Hockey" on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET, prior to the game between the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes. The show will also air on NHL Network in the U.S. The location this week is Prince George, British Columbia, and the half-hour program will celebrate the city's iconic hockey story.

Among the features airing on the pregame show:

* Zdeno Chara left his native Slovakia after he was drafted by the New York Islanders. Before he began his NHL career, he spent a season with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League.

Maple Leafs sign free-agent forward Casey Bailey

Saturday, 03.21.2015 / 7:21 PM / News

David Nonis, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced Saturday that the club has signed free agent forward Casey Bailey to a two-year entry level contract.

Bailey, 23, collected 40 points (22 goals, 18 assists) in 36 regular season games this season with Penn State University (Big-10). Bailey led the entire Big-10 Conference with 22 goals and ranked fourth overall with 40 points. In 96 career games at Penn State University, Bailey registered 80 points (45 goals, 35 assists) and 91 penalty minutes. The Anchorage, Alaska native led the Big-10, averaging 5.70 shots on goal per game.

Around the League notebook for Friday, March 20

Saturday, 03.21.2015 / 1:42 AM / News

NHL Public Relations


Corey Perry (1-0—1) scored 1:25 into overtime to propel the Anaheim Ducks to a 3-2 victory against the Colorado Avalanche. The Ducks earned their fourth straight win and improved to 46-20-7 (99 points). Anaheim passed the idle Montreal Canadiens for sole possession of first in the League standings.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Ducks own the second-most wins and standings points through 73 games in franchise history; the 2013-14 club had a record of 47-18-8 (102 points) through 73 games.

* The Ducks also earned their League-leading 29th victory in one-goal games this season, improving to 29-1-7. Anaheim is the only team with fewer than three one-goal losses in regulation the season. Anaheim also earned its League-leading 15th win in games that have gone beyond regulation (15-2-6).

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Quote of the Day

I'm going into this with an open mind. This is a very young player (23) with a tremendous, tremendous amount of upside.

— Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on Emerson Etem's potential