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Features

Scouts see value in enhanced stats if applied properly

Friday, 03.27.2015 / 5:00 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Will the age of enhanced statistics one day change the way NHL Central Scouting goes about its business in evaluating the top players eligible for the NHL Draft?

There's no denying the fact enhanced stats have taken the NHL and its fans by storm. In February, the League announced a partnership with enterprise software company SAP to provide many new statistics via NHL.com. If this stats revolution changes the way people now analyze the game, what could it do for NHL scouts?

"If you add ingredients to help you evaluate someone, you have to use those ingredients," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "But you can't go overboard; we've been baking a cake our whole life and now, if you put icing on the cake, it's better. But if it's all icing it's not a good cake, so I think if you take it too far it might not work.

"The eyeball test still has to be there, you still have to apply what analytics do. It could help you decide between one guy or the other, and I believe it is good for the game."

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Lightning prospect Koekkoek handling rigors of AHL

Friday, 03.27.2015 / 11:20 AM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

Slater Koekkoek might have one of the best names in hockey, and it's one Tampa Bay Lightning fans should be hearing for a long time.

About to finish up his first professional season as a rookie with the Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, Koekkoek is settling in nicely after four junior seasons in the Ontario Hockey League.

"I expected [the AHL] to be a rough and tough league, and that's what it is. The guys are bigger, stronger, faster," he said. "There was a bit of a learning process, but everything has been going well. I'm happy so far."

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Flames 'all in' starting critical five-game trip

Friday, 03.27.2015 / 11:00 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- With eight games remaining in the regular season, Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley isn't concerned about his poker face.

A critical five-game road trip facing the Flames, one that could have serious implications on their bid to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs, instead has Hartley insisting Calgary's crew is all in.

"It seems that we always find a way to elevate our games in situations that we need to and right now we're all in," Hartley said. "The chips are all on the table right now. There's no bluffs. We have to come up with our best performances and it's fun. I'm enjoying the games. The players are on the job. This city is right behind us."

The Flames, who completed a five-game homestand 2-1-2 with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars on Wednesday, begin their final extended road trip of the season Friday against the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-WI, FS-N+). It continues against the Nashville Predators, Stars, St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers.

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Five reasons Rangers clinched playoff berth

Friday, 03.27.2015 / 3:00 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The New York Rangers became the first team to clinch a berth in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs with their 5-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. The Rangers have 101 points and 43 regulation/overtime wins to lead the Presidents' Trophy race.

It's also possible the best is yet to come for the Rangers because starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist is expected to return to the lineup this coming weekend, either Saturday at the Boston Bruins or Sunday at home against the Washington Capitals.

Lundqvist hasn't played since Feb. 2, but the Rangers are 18-4-4 without him, which is why they are in the hunt for their first Presidents' Trophy since the 1993-94 season, when they last won the Stanley Cup.

Here are five reasons the Rangers clinched their fifth consecutive trip to the playoffs:

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Super 16: Three must buck metrics trend to win Cup

Friday, 03.27.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

There have been some crazy championship marches in the NHL in the past four seasons.

The Boston Bruins needed three Game 7s, including two decided by one goal and one that went overtime, to win the Stanley Cup in 2011. The Los Angeles Kings tore through the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2012 like no team had in the sport's history, and did so while becoming the first No. 8 seed to win a title.

Two years later, the Kings might have upped the ante, rallying from a 3-0 series deficit in the opening round and playing the full 21 games against a gauntlet of elite teams (San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks). Even in 2013 when the Blackhawks essentially went wire-to-wire in a shortened season, the Stanley Cup Final was filled with overtimes and incredible games.

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BU's Eichel talks Hobey Baker, NHL Draft build-up

Friday, 03.27.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Boston University freshman Jack Eichel was determined from day one to not only be a success story, but one of the best college hockey players to ever play the game.

He's certainly on that path.

Eichel, the fourth-youngest player in college hockey and No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top North American skates eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, is expected to hear his name announced in short order on the opening day of the draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., on June 26.

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Eichel, Hanifin among those to watch in NCAA tourney

Thursday, 03.26.2015 / 12:40 PM / Prospects

Corey Masisak and Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writers

There hasn't been an NCAA player selected in the top five of the NHL Draft since 2006, but this June there could be two and both are in action this weekend in the 2015 NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament.

Jonathan Toews from North Dakota and Phil Kessel from the University of Minnesota were top-five picks in 2006. Nine years later, Boston University forward Jack Eichel and Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin could be among the first five names called at the 2015 draft in Sunrise, Fla.

Eichel and Hanifin are two of the key players to watch in the NCAA tournament, which starts with four games Friday. There are also 107 NHL draft picks on the 16 rosters, according to College Hockey Inc., along with some undrafted players who should receive attention as free agents once their seasons are over.

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: No place like home for Mason

Thursday, 03.26.2015 / 12:20 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.

There's no place like home, especially if you're Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason.

Mason is quietly putting together one of the better seasons out of any goalie in the NHL. Perhaps he doesn't get more recognition because the Flyers are all but mathematically eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs chase, but there's something else working against Mason.

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On 'another level,' Price leads Canadiens to top of NHL

Thursday, 03.26.2015 / 12:00 PM / Top Performer

NHL.com

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price continues to show why he's a top contender for the Hart and Vezina trophies.

Price is 2-0-1 with two shutouts in his past three starts to help the NHL-leading Canadiens reach 100 points for the 18th time, and in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1987-88 and 1988-89. He made 29 saves in a win against the San Jose Sharks on March 21 to become the third Canadiens goalie to win 40 games (Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden and Bill Durnan). He is two from the single-season record accomplished twice by Plante and once by Dryden.

Price's finest moment against the Sharks came with 1:34 remaining in the game. Forward Joe Pavelski's cross-ice pass found forward Logan Couture, whose one-timer hit the knob of Price's stick while Price slid from one end of the crease to the other.

"Once again, Carey was Carey; it's as simple as that," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "He made key saves, particularly at the end, as everyone saw. Carey was Carey."

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Blue Jackets forward Boll suspended three games

Thursday, 03.26.2015 / 11:55 AM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL.com

NEW YORK – Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jared Boll has been suspended for three games, without pay, for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim Ducks forward Patrick Maroon during NHL Game No. 1093 in Columbus on Tuesday, March 24, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 4:02 of the second period.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and based on his average annual salary, Boll will forfeit $27,419.34. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

For a full explanation of the decision, complete with video, please click on the following link.

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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