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Features

Russian-born referee Romasko well-suited for NHL

Monday, 03.09.2015 / 11:50 PM / NHL Insider

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

Stephen Walkom calls it game presence, an it factor required for an NHL official, one who works in a composed, assured way skating among players moving at 25-30 miles per hour and pucks blasted up to speeds of 100 MPH. The ideal on-ice official is assured of himself and the way he goes about his business enforcing the rules of a game played at a breakneck pace.

"That's someone that has that great inner confidence," said Walkom, NHL senior vice president and director of officiating. "That's something that he has. He has that presence. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he's a phenomenal skater as well."

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Canadiens out to prove a point against Lightning

Monday, 03.09.2015 / 7:30 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec -- After being swept by them in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have had their way with the Montreal Canadiens lately.

The Lightning have won both games against the Canadiens this season rather handily and will have an opportunity to continue that dominance when the top two teams in the Atlantic Division play at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

It will be the first of three games between them in a span of three weeks, and the Canadiens are eager to turn things around.

The residue of last season's playoffs remains in this matchup, especially since the Lightning did not have goaltender Ben Bishop for the entire series. Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher feels the Lightning are still trying to prove a point because of that, and that his team now has a point of its own to prove as well.

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Fantasy All-Access: Playoffs just around the corner

NHL.com

Every Monday NHL.com contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.

There is about a month left in the NHL season, meaning the fantasy playoffs are coming up fast in head-to-head leagues.

The Nashville Predators have hit a rough patch, so fantasy owners should be aware of potential buy-low candidates. They have lost six straight games; during that streak captain Shea Weber has one goal and a minus-9 rating. Rookie Filip Forsberg has one assist in his past six games and James Neal and Seth Jones (24 percent owned in Yahoo) each have been held without a point during the losing streak. Colin Wilson (38 percent) is also mired in a deep slump.

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Sharks forward Pavelski leads by example, with words

Sunday, 03.08.2015 / 11:01 PM / NHL Insider

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Joe Pavelski emerged as the San Jose Sharks' biggest offensive weapon last season when he led them and set career highs with 41 goals and 79 points.

Pavelski is leading by example again this season. His 32 goals and 61 points lead the Sharks, and he's also become their strongest voice in the locker room as one of four alternate captains along with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Coach Todd McLellan said Pavelski, 30 and in his ninth NHL season, all with San Jose, has embraced his leadership role.

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Blackhawks' Kane optimistic as injury rehab continues

Sunday, 03.08.2015 / 2:35 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO – Forward Patrick Kane is back in the gym, keeping his legs strong, but there's no change in his estimated recovery time for a fractured left clavicle.

Following surgery Feb. 28 to repair the fracture, the Chicago Blackhawks announced Kane was expected to miss 12 weeks. If that timetable stays true, Kane won't be able to play until late May, which will be during the Western Conference Final, if Chicago makes it that far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"The timetable is still the same," Kane said Sunday after the Blackhawks held an optional morning skate prior to playing the New York Rangers at United Center. "Whatever the doctor said, we're still on that pace. For me right now, I'm just trying to work as hard as I can to get as healthy as possible. Whatever the doctors say and whatever they tell me, I'm ready. I'll be ready to play."

Kane was tied for the NHL lead with 64 points at the time of the injury, which occurred Feb. 24 in the first period of a game against the Florida Panthers. A crosscheck by Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic caused him to lose his balance and he crashed hard into the side boards in the offensive zone. His left shoulder absorbed the impact.

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SLR: Forgotten Vipers once rocked Detroit

Sunday, 03.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

The 1990s marked a time of seismic change in hockey: The Iron Curtain fell, providing a massive influx of talent from Eastern Europe, NHL franchises migrated from Canada and traditional markets in the Northeast and Midwestern United States to new ones and the League embarked on a rapid and ambitious expansion plan to the Sunbelt and beyond.

That atmosphere proved ripe for exploitation by the right kind of visionary minds. Enter Bill Davidson and Rick Dudley, the former, a glass manufacturing mogul who presided over a pro sports empire, and the latter, a respected talent evaluator with progressive ideas about how to run a pro hockey enterprise.

Together in 1994, they gave birth to the Detroit Vipers, an independent International Hockey League franchise that cut a rollicking, phoenix-like path through the decade. Playing out of the Palace at Auburn Hills, the home of the Davidson-owned Detroit Pistons of the NBA, the Vipers used the Pistons' charter plane for travel. While other minor-league franchises rode buses for hour upon hour, the Vipers whimsically flew to road games as close as Kalamazoo, 140 miles away -- or about a 15-minute flight.

Their top-notch facilities included a hot tub and a sauna. Former player Stan Drulia recalled a game in Cincinnati the night of one of the famous Evander Holyfied-Mike Tyson boxing fights. The players asked the pilot to wait long enough after the Vipers' game before returning to Detroit so that they could visit a local establishment and watch the fight first.

"Those are the privileges you appreciate and we were able to take advantage of," Drulia said.

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Devils' first championship team reunites after 20 years

Saturday, 03.07.2015 / 10:24 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur will eventually have his night at Prudential Center to speak to the fans, to thank everyone he wants and to watch his No. 30 go up to the rafters. The New Jersey Devils haven't announced plans to honor Brodeur and his 20 years of record-breaking, championship goaltending, but that's going to happen, perhaps as early as next season.

However, it was somewhat fitting that Brodeur's first trip back to the arena as a retired player was to celebrate a Stanley Cup championship team instead of his phenomenal career.

Through 28 years of leadership from general manager and president Lou Lamoriello, the Devils have been built on a team-first, star-less mentality even though two members of the 1995 championship team being honored this weekend, Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer, are in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Brodeur is expected to join them when he's eligible in 2018.

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Brodeur fond of Devils, relishes new role with Blues

Saturday, 03.07.2015 / 8:44 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur returned to Prudential Center on Saturday for his first event as an alumnus of the New Jersey Devils.

"It's always fun to come back home," Brodeur said after playing in an alumni game with his teammates from the 1994-95 season, the Devils' first of three Stanley Cup championship seasons.

There will be plenty more alumni events for Brodeur to attend, and perhaps soon he will be attending them as a Devils employee. But for the time being Brodeur is comfortable with his role in the St. Louis Blues front office, where he has been going through a crash course in how to become an executive in the NHL since announcing his retirement Jan. 29 and becoming an adviser to general manager Doug Armstrong.

"It's been a blast," said Brodeur, the NHL's all-time leader for goalies in wins (691) and shutouts (125). "Definitely my home is New Jersey and eventually, and hopefully, I'll be back here in somewhat of a role, but right now I'm in St. Louis and I'm enjoying myself a lot."


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Bruins' Bergeron taking leadership to new heights

Saturday, 03.07.2015 / 5:38 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Patrice Bergeron has been front and center for some of the Boston Bruins' most important moments the past several seasons.

He scored two goals against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final to help end a 39-year championship drought.

He scored the late game-tying goal and overtime winner in Game 7 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals to cap a remarkable comeback from three goals down against the Toronto Maple Leafs to salvage the Bruins' playoff run that ended with an Eastern Conference title.

Throughout his career, Bergeron has come through when the Bruins need him most. That hasn't changed during the 2014-15 season. The only difference has been they've needed the 29-year-old center to pull them through for almost all of their 64 games, rather than come through in clutch moments.

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Kings' Robitaille honored to have statue unveiled

Saturday, 03.07.2015 / 4:18 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Luc Robitaille heard it through good authority that the 19-foot, 2,500-pound bronze statue of him was sculpted well. He knew because he had one condition when he was approached about it a while back.

"I said, 'I don’t want to see it,'" Robitaille said. "I don't want to know. You guys do it and I'll see when it comes out. Just do me one favor: Show it to my wife [Stacia]. If my wife agrees with it I know it's all good."

The verdict?

"They showed it to her a couple of times, and at one point she told me, 'Yeah, it's pretty cool,'" he said. "She's happy. I figured it's all good."

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Quote of the Day

Now we have an 'X' next to our name, which is nice. Now we have to keep trying to climb and catch these guys.

— Lightning goalie Ben Bishop on clinching a Stanley Cup Playoff berth and trailing the Canadiens by one point for the division lead
AMP No Bull Moment of the Week