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NHL.com's 30 in 15

Johnson ready to lead Avs' defense corps

Thursday, 09.22.2011 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 15

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

"I think I can provide some stability and some composure back there. It's a younger group and leadership is something I'm comfortable doing, and helping young guys along and doing the right things to help us win hockey games. It's something I take a lot of pride in." -- Erik Johnson

Most of the attention given the Colorado Avalanche this summer revolved around the organization's revamping of the goaltender position -- not surprising for a team that yielded an NHL-worst 287 goals last season and finished 14th in the Western Conference.

However, if there's going to be playoff hockey in Denver for the second time in three seasons, up-and-coming Semyon Varlamov and veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere are going to need help from a defense that was porous in its own right.

To that end, the most important acquisition the Avalanche made might have come prior to the 2011 trade deadline, when they added talented young defenseman Erik Johnson in a blockbuster with the St. Louis Blues involving multiple players and draft picks.
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New look on defense, in goal, has Avs hopeful

Thursday, 09.22.2011 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 15

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

After finishing with the second-fewest points in the NHL and missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, the Colorado Avalanche made a number of major offseason changes in an attempt to rebound in 2011-12.

General Manager Greg Sherman's most significant moves were in goal and on defense. He brought in two new goalies, acquiring promising Semyon Varlamov in a trade with Washington and signing former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere as a free agent.
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Campbell starts over as key member of Panthers

Thursday, 09.22.2011 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 15

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

When Brian Campbell signed an eight-year, $56.8 million deal with the Chicago Blackhawks in the summer of 2008, he understandably thought he would finish his career in the Windy City.

Just three years later, however, the skilled defenseman has a new home. With the Blackhawks up against the salary cap, Campbell was traded to the Florida Panthers on June 24 in exchange for Rostislav Olesz.

It's indeed another new beginning for Campbell, who just 15 months after helping the Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup, heads south to help revive a franchise that hasn't qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2000. Campbell is joined by Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon, who was the GM in Chicago that signed Campbell to that monster deal.

"For myself, that would be the greatest thing to be able to develop and get this team back to the playoffs and then we'll see where it goes from there," Campbell told NHL.com. "I feel that anything can happen. Dale is allowing guys that are younger to develop and when they're ready, they'll come up. That's going to be fun to accomplish that feat. It's obviously not easy, but there's nothing better that I would want than to obviously win a Stanley Cup. It was fun in Chicago and once you get a taste of it, you want more."
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First period was Panthers' best in 2011-12

Thursday, 09.22.2011 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 15

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Advantage Margin: 0
There weren't a lot of power plays in Panthers games -- Florida was in the bottom-six in power plays for and against with 267 of each.

Special Teams Goal Margin: -7
The Panthers' penalty-killers were a lot better than the power-play unit, which finished last in the rankings at 13.1 percent and next-to-last in goals with 35. The PK unit was sixth at 84.6 percent.

Goals by defensemen: 37
The Panthers' two most prolific scorers from the blue line, Dennis Wideman and Bryan McCabe, both were dealt at the trade deadline. Third-year defenseman Dmitry Kulikov is the leader among returnees with six.

Overtime Record
Total: 10-5-7 OT: 6-5 SO: 4-7

The Panthers went 0-4 at home on the way to another poor season in the shootout -- they are now 24-44 all-time and just 7-28 in 35 tiebreakers at the BankAtlantic Center.
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Regehr gives Sabres a tougher look

Wednesday, 09.21.2011 / 10:27 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 15

Lindsay Kramer - NHL.com Correspondent

Robyn Regehr could do all the homework he wanted, but he wouldn't be certain Buffalo was the right place for him without some personal market research.

That sampling came before the start of training camp, when he and goalie Ryan Miller hand-delivered season tickets to some lucky fans as part of a team promotional campaign.

"We hit up three places," Regehr said. "Every single place, people were excited about the hockey team. That was good to see. Now, it's up to us."
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Third-period woes part of Blackhawks' problems

Wednesday, 09.21.2011 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 15

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
2010-11 SEASON STATS

Category Rank (Conference)
2010-11 Points 97  (8th East/13th NHL)
Change from 2009-10 -15
Home Points 48  (10th West/17th NHL)
Road Points 49  (5th West/11th NHL)
Advantage Margin: +22
The Blackhawks were much more disciplined at home, where they surrendered only 119 opposition power plays, the fewest in the Western Conference, while earning 142.
 
Special Teams Goal Margin: +13
The Hawks' power play was terrific, finishing fourth in the League in percentage and sixth in goals (64). The penalty-killing, though, was another story -- finishing 25th at 79.2 percent, largely because of a poor showing at home (75.6 percent, 29th).
 
Goals by defensemen: 31
Duncan Keith, the Norris Trophy winner in 2009-10, saw his goals decline from 14 to 7 and fell from 69 points to 45. Usual partner Brent Seabrook, however, had a career-best season offensively with 48 points.
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Hawks won't be pushed around after offseason moves

Wednesday, 09.21.2011 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 15

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

The swollen black eye that Patrick Kane sported in the final press conference of last season spoke volumes for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Despite losing a lot of talent in a slew of offseason moves after winning the 2010 Stanley Cup, what the Hawks missed the most was grit and veteran leadership. After a short summer, they got off to a slow start in defense of the Cup and seemed to be on the wrong side of puck battles, hard hits and scraps in front of the net.
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Skinner ready for extra attention in Year 2

Wednesday, 09.21.2011 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 15

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Jeff Skinner wants to be counted on in the clutch and wants the puck in critical situations. He also knows he'll be a marked man from the outset this season.

"You want to be a guy who is sort of counted on and plays in all situations of the game and in the games when it matters most. To be a player like that, you'll kind of be marked by the other team and you just have to try and fight through it. I think that's what drives a lot of players. I'm looking forward to the challenge." -- Jeff Skinner

Really, though, nothing has changed for the reigning Calder Trophy winner since earning a ticket to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game. Opposing coaches know of his ability -- the flash, feistiness and willingness to do whatever it takes to help the Carolina Hurricanes notch a win.

One of the most intriguing questions entering the 2011-12 season is what can Skinner do for an encore?

"Just be himself and play," Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford told NHL.com. "He's a smart enough player to figure it out. There's no question he'll get a lot more attention than the first half of last season, but he got a lot of attention in the second half, so really he's dealt with it.
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Carolina showed skill in drawing advantages

Wednesday, 09.21.2011 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 15

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Advantage Margin: +74
The Hurricanes didn't lack for power-play chances -- they drew a League-high 346 opportunities. They had the most advantages at home (181), and second-most on the road (165).

Special Teams Goal Margin: +5
Despite averaging nearly an extra opportunity per game, the Hurricanes' scored only four more power-play goals than the opposition (55-51) and were outscored 30-23 on the road despite having 28 more chances.

Goals by defensemen: 29
The Hurricanes dealt their top defensive scorer, Joe Corvo, to Boston; they're hoping the addition of free agent Tomas Kaberle (from Boston) will help replace the 11 goals and 40 points Corvo took with him. One reason they were willing to let Corvo go: His minus-14 rating was the worst among Carolina's defensemen. 
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Rutherford sees Hurricanes as a playoff team

Wednesday, 09.21.2011 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 15

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford believes no goal is unattainable.

At least that's the vibe one gets after asking him if his team is in a transitional stage.

"Are we in transition? We're in transition to be considered a contender," Rutherford told NHL.com. "We're not in transition as a team, because we're a team that's capable of being a good enough playoff team. Every four or five years we get good runs in the playoffs, so what we're trying to do is piece players together to have another good run at the Finals again and we're getting closer.

"Will we make it? I don't know because I know what goes into making the playoffs. But we certainly have a better team than we had last year and we're a team that certainly can be a playoff team."

In order to obtain the ultimate prize, the Hurricanes first need to get into the playoffs, after missing out the last two seasons. Aiding in that effort is improving an offense that was 12th in scoring last season at 2.82 goals per game, and was 21st defensesively, allowing 2.85 goals per game.
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Quote of the Day

Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

— Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on his interest in advanced statistical analysis