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Features

Lucic, Bruins fall short again facing Canadiens

Friday, 10.17.2014 / 12:37 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Milan Lucic came so close to coming out of it unscathed.

After a summer of hearing about the remarks he made in the handshake line at the end of the Boston Bruins' loss in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Montreal Canadiens, Lucic was facing those Canadiens again for the first time Thursday, and all eyes were on him.

On his first shift of the game, Lucic picked up the puck with speed and entered the Canadiens zone only to have his nemesis, Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin, knock him down with a solid shoulder check.

The sellout Bell Centre crowd of 21,273 fans roared its approval, but Lucic did nothing to retaliate. In fact, Lucic was on his best behavior for most of the night, focused on helping the Bruins win more so than exacting any sort of revenge for a playoff loss five months earlier.

But in the final minutes, with the Bruins trailing 5-4 but taking the play to the Canadiens in an effort to tie the game, Lucic was faced with an opportunity too difficult to resist.

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Canadiens learned much from knocking out Bruins

Thursday, 10.16.2014 / 12:36 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- No one needs to be reminded of what happened the last time the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins were on the ice for a meaningful game.

Hands were shaken; things were said.

Ever since May 14, when the Canadiens eliminated the Bruins from the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-1 victory at TD Garden in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series, culminating with some menacing words from Boston forward Milan Lucic in the handshake line, the next meeting between the longtime rivals has been circled on the calendar of all involved.

That includes the Canadiens players.

"Obviously when the season starts you're not looking too far down the road, but now that it's here, with what happened last year, I think both teams are going to be really excited for it," Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said. "I think any time Montreal and Boston are playing each other there's a little more to it with the rivalry that comes with it. I've only been a part of it for … this is my third year and I fully understand what the games are like. They're a little more intense. There's a little bit of hatred between the two teams. But there's a lot of respect as well."

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Backups prove worth early

Thursday, 10.16.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with in-depth goalie analysis. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Goldman will be your go-to guy for fantasy goalie advice all season long.

Since 2010, due to factors like sheer skill, injuries and better goalie coaching in the minors, the overall usage of rookies and backups has been steadily rising.

Last season was a great example, as a large class of 26 rookies posted a cumulative .912 save percentage (6,089 saves on 6,676 shots) and played in 20.7 percent of the NHL's total games (254 of 1,230).

This season may be no different, as 21 teams have already used both goalies, including four rookies.

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Unmasked: Miller adjusts with Canucks, coach

Thursday, 10.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

Ryan Miller
Goalie - VAN
RECORD: 2-0-0
GAA: 2.88 | SVP: .889

Unmasked is a weekly column by Kevin Woodley exploring the personalities, the trends and the analytics which define NHL goaltending.

VANCOUVER -- On the eve of the first season of his NHL career somewhere other than Buffalo, Ryan Miller, the new No. 1 with the Vancouver Canucks, was bluntly asked if he still sees himself as capable of being one of the best goaltenders in the world.

"I think I've got game to play," Miller said.

Miller's game, though, is not quite the same one most other NHL goalies are playing these days.

For all the focus on whether Miller can play to the level which earned him the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie in 2010, or live up to the three-year, $18 million contract he signed with the Canucks this summer, the bigger question in Vancouver was how his more aggressive, sometimes old-school, puck-stopping style would fit with the conservative preferences of Roland Melanson, goaltending coach for the Canucks.

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Nelson at center of Islanders' quick start to season

Wednesday, 10.15.2014 / 8:49 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- One week into the season, nobody should be surprised to see the New York Islanders' top center, John Tavares, among the NHL scoring leaders.

But their No. 2 center, Brock Nelson, is right there with him.

Nelson, a first-round pick (No. 30) in the 2010 NHL Draft, scored his third goal Tuesday in a 6-3 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. It was Nelson's seventh point, tying him with Tavares and three others for the most in the League.

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Fantasy top 60 'D': Lightning's Hedman among elite

Wednesday, 10.15.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with in-depth defensemen analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer will be your go-to guy for fantasy blue line advice all season long.

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Fantasy owners have been waiting a long time for Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman to show he should be mentioned in the same sentence as players like P.K. Subban, Erik Karlsson, and Duncan Keith. That patience was finally rewarded with a breakout performance last season and things look to be getting even better.

Hedman rolled up career highs in goals (13), assists (42), points (55), plus-minus (plus-5), shots (170), power-play goals (three) and game-winning goals (two) in 75 games. Those numbers were good enough to place him fourth in the defensive scoring race.

Hedman, who stands 6-foot-6, 229 pounds, picked up just five points through 12 October games. One can only wonder what his totals would have looked like had he clicked at the rate that saw him produce 50 points over his next 63 games.

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Five things to watch as Red Wings face Bruins

Wednesday, 10.15.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Frustrated and optimistic are two words that aptly describe how the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings are feeling as they head into their NBCSN Wednesday Night Rivalry game at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET).

The Bruins felt they played well enough Monday against the Colorado Avalanche to win, or at least salvage a point. They did neither as Daniel Briere took it away with a buzzer-beating game-winning goal, handing the Bruins their third straight regulation loss since a season-opening win.

The Red Wings felt they played well enough to win, or at least earn a point, this past Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks. It didn't happen as Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf scored the winning goal with 24 seconds remaining in regulation.

"We outchanced them," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said during a phone interview after practice Tuesday. "We gave up 12 chances in the game. I thought we did lots of good things in the game. So to me that's positive; let's just keep building on it."

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Nyquist showing scoring touch again for Red Wings

Wednesday, 10.15.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Paul Harris - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist seems to be back where he was during a two-and-a-half month stretch last season.

The 25-year-old right wing from Halmstad, Sweden, has goals in each of the Red Wings' first two games this season, which Detroit split. That comes following a season in which he led the Red Wings with 28 goals; he also had 20 assists in 57 games.

Nyquist and the Red Wings host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena in the Wednesday Night Rivalry game at 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN, TVA, SN1).

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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Line combinations crucial

Tuesday, 10.14.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen will provide you with in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top 100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen will be your go-to guy for fantasy forwards all season long.

When it comes to fantasy forwards at this time of year, it starts and ends with line combinations.

Early-season formations may or may not stick for the full 82-game schedule, but these trials lay the groundwork for the games ahead.

Let's kick things off with lineup developments that could impact the fantasy forward landscape:

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Five Questions: Blue Jackets' Richards on big picture

Tuesday, 10.14.2014 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards:

Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards won't get carried away. Not after two games, even though the Blue Jackets mostly were dominant in winning both. Not with the Dallas Stars in town looking for their first win Tuesday at Nationwide Arena.

"Right now we're only two games into an 82-game schedule so there's still obviously a lot ahead of us and we've got to continue to get better," Richards said. "Buffalo was a better 60-minute game; the Rangers at times were better than us in that game Saturday. We have to get better."

Richards, though, isn't shying away from Columbus' early success as a talking point for his team and what it might be capable of this season.

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Quote of the Day

My job was to get that puck and put it on net, and his job was not letting me do it. I got the best of that, but that game's over and to be honest I already forgot about it.

— Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk on his late game-tying goal in Montreal's 2-1 OT win
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