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NHL Insider

Rangers' Boyle finally adjusting to new role

Saturday, 02.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- A broken hand opening night, multiple illnesses that he never before had to deal with, inconsistent play that hadn't existed previously, and a reduced role that hurt his confidence. Dan Boyle didn't expect his first season with the New York Rangers to be as frustrating on a personal level as it has been.

At 38 years old, Boyle knew his days as a No. 1 defenseman were done, particularly because he signed with a team that already featured Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal. But Boyle didn't think he'd have to deal with as much change and adversity as he's had to this season.

"That's been the most frustrating thing about this year for me, just trying to stay steady with that confidence level," Boyle said. "It's hard when you're not used to this."

It looks like it's finally getting easier for Boyle; he at least feels it is. So does McDonagh. So does Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who said Boyle had one of his best games of the season Thursday in a 4-3 win against the Arizona Coyotes.

Though it might have taken until late February, it appears the Rangers finally are seeing the skilled, slick-skating, puck-rushing defenseman they thought they were getting when they signed Boyle to a two-year, $9 million contract July 1.

New York carries a 10-game point streak (8-0-2) into its game Saturday at the Philadelphia Flyers (8 p.m. ET; NBC, City). Boyle has been in the lineup and contributing in various ways every game.

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Ekman-Larsson is Coyotes' foundation moving ahead

Saturday, 02.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- It's not totally out of the realm of possibility because nothing is when it comes to trades at this time of the season, but the Arizona Coyotes might have a better chance of storming back into the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Western Conference than general manager Don Maloney has of trading all-star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

The Coyotes are 24 points out of a playoff spot and in seller's mode heading into the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline on Monday at 3 p.m. ET. Their hope is to secure some assets and get a good position for the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery in order to enhance their rebuild.

Ekman-Larsson, 23, is the foundation for Arizona's rebuild.

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Clarkson looking forward to fresh start in Columbus

Friday, 02.27.2015 / 3:51 PM / NHL Insider

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets think they see in forward David Clarkson many of the traits present in some of the their top players.

"He's gritty. He plays the 200 feet and he's scored a lot of goals in this League," left wing Nick Foligno said. "He's going to help us on the offensive side but also defensively and being a hard person to play against. That's what we pride ourselves on.

"He's going to be another person to solidify that identity."

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Tlusty reunited with old friends upon trade to Jets

Friday, 02.27.2015 / 3:48 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- Approximately 6,000 miles separate the Czech city of Kladno and MTS Centre, the home of the Winnipeg Jets.

However, three childhood friends find themselves in the same landing spot after the Jets acquired left wing Jiri Tlusty from the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.

The trade uprooted Tlusty, 26, from a team he played for since he was 21 years old and where he grew into a full-time NHL player.

Tlusty joins two fellow Czechs, goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and right wing Michael Frolik, but the ties between the three players go far beyond that.

"[Tlusty] texted me right away when he knew," Frolik said. "It was a little bit of a shocker."

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Devils believe spot in playoffs remains possible

Friday, 02.27.2015 / 2:28 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils remain a confident group despite the trade of forward Jaromir Jagr on Thursday and the precarious situation they find themselves in during their pursuit of a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with six weeks remaining in the regular season.

Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello traded Jagr to the Florida Panthers, one of three teams that are between New Jersey and the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot held by the Boston Bruins.

The Devils received a second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and a conditional third-round pick in 2016 for Jagr.

"You knew there was a possibility that it could happen," Devils defenseman Andy Greene said of the Jagr trade. "You just never know if it might happen now, Monday [at the NHL Trade Deadline] or if they would do it at all. I think the return they got is great. It's a move [Lamoriello] felt comfortable doing, and by no means does it mean he's giving up on us.

"It's a hockey move and he had to make a trade, make a decision."

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Lightning's Johnson continues to prove critics wrong

Friday, 02.27.2015 / 1:20 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Long - NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- Tyler Johnson has heard it all before. He's not big enough, he's not tough enough, he needs to do more of this, he needs to do more of that.

The Tampa Bay Lightning forward has heard it and he's managed to succeed. Johnson, a four-year pro out of Spokane, Wash., has proven his rookie season in the NHL was no fluke.

Although he's no longer on the top line with center Steven Stamkos, Johnson is on the Lightning's most productive line with Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat. After being named to the NHL All-Rookie team and a Calder Trophy finalist in 2013-14, Johnson was selected to play in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game, although he did not participate because he was injured.

"That was pretty unfortunate," Johnson said. "I was hoping I could play in the game but I didn't. It was still a good experience to be there and be acknowledged by the fans."

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Sekera looking forward to new challenges with Kings

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 11:55 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Andrej Sekera already knows new Los Angeles Kings teammates Robyn Regehr and Marian Gaborik, having played with them on other NHL teams and in international competition, respectively. So he was able to get a good idea of what it's like coming to the two-time Stanley Cup champions by talking with them.

The message?

"Losing isn't an option here," Sekera said when he met the media Thursday at Staples Center. "It's great to be in an environment like that. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun, and it's going to be a challenge."

Sekera arrived Thursday morning and passed his physical but was held out of the game against the Ottawa Senators. The veteran defenseman will make his Kings debut Friday at the Anaheim Ducks in an important Pacific Division rivalry game.

The Kings acquired Sekera, 28, from the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday for defenseman prospect Ronald McKeown and a first-round pick in the either the 2015 or 2016 NHL Draft. To make room on the roster, defenseman Alec Martinez was placed on injured reserve with concussion symptoms, retroactive to Feb. 9.


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Wild's Scandella credits playoff series for growth

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

The turning point of Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella's NHL career isn't hard to find.

After spending all but six games of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season in the American Hockey League, Scandella was recalled by the Wild in time to play against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

An injury forced coach Mike Yeo to put Scandella in the lineup for Game 1 despite him not having played a game with the Wild in nearly three months. He responded with a goal in Game 2 and an assist in Game 5.

After spending three seasons shuttling back and forth between the Houston Aeros of the AHL and the Wild, Scandella finally had arrived. He hasn't left since, developing into a key part of the Wild defense heading into their game Thursday at the Nashville Predators (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

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Hockey pioneer James reveals rough journey in book

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 9:07 PM / NHL Insider

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- One night during Val James' rookie season with the Buffalo Sabres in 1982, he was faced with a test of character.

The opening pages of James' new book, "Black Ice: The Val James Story," explains how following a game against the Boston Bruins, the Sabres bus was blocked by angry fans who threw a beer bottle into the windshield and demanded James, then 25 years old, show his face.

James, who is black, headed to the front of the bus with the intent of confronting the mob before he was ordered back to his seat by coach Scotty Bowman.

"That would have been a stupid move on my part," James said here Wednesday. "I have to thank Mr. Bowman for seeing through all my anger and rage. I wasn't really mad. I was more ashamed and upset that my own countrymen would do that to me after I made it to the pinnacle of hockey. I was very disappointed. I don't blame the whole city of Boston, just a certain few.

"In a situation like that, it takes a lot of discipline."

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Capitals' Ovechkin, Backstrom again thriving together

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- During the 2008-09 season, the Washington Capitals' in-game introduction video at Verizon Center featured several players in the roles of rock stars.

Alex Ovechkin was front and center as the band's lead vocalist, a natural outlet for his contagious charisma. Behind him, Nicklas Backstrom strummed the bass guitar, a less glamorous but unequivocally essential responsibility.

Six seasons later, their foray into faux rock stardom provides an apt metaphor. Ovechkin still commands enormous attention as the NHL's ultimate showman. Meanwhile, Backstrom has continued to quietly provide the underlying rhythm, keeping the Capitals on beat.

"It's sort of like a real relationship between two lovers, essentially," Washington defenseman Mike Green said. "They're completely different players, but they balance each other out and they work well together."

This season, the longtime linemates are among the League's most productive players.


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Quote of the Day

That was something I've been dreaming of, something I've told myself before the third period I was going to do ... It was an amazing feeling. It's hard to describe. I didn't believe it went in at first but when I saw all the reaction and all the fans going crazy and my teammates going crazy, it's just an unbelievable feeling. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know whether to jump or just skate and do a Theo Fleury. I don't think I'm the same caliber player he is so I couldn't do it.

— Flames forward Mikael Backlund on scoring the overtime winner against the Ducks in Gm. 3