To help celebrate NBC Rivalry Night, NHL.com will look at a rivalry within the rivalry of the featured game on Wednesday nights. For this week we are wondering which emerging young forward, Reilly Smith of the Boston Bruins or Cody Hodgson of the Buffalo Sabres, would be the best option around which to build a team.
Reilly Smith was taken by the Dallas Stars with the 69th pick of the 2009 NHL Draft. He appeared in three games for the Stars near the end of the 2011-12 season after scoring 30 goals in 39 games for the Miami University.
Smith split his first full professional season between Dallas and the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. The right wing experienced more success in the AHL with 14 goals and 21 assists in 45 games; he also had three goals and nine points in 37 NHL games.
CHICAGO -- It has the potential to be another of those under-the-radar trades that makes Stan Bowman look brilliant down the road.
Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are now Blackhawks assets, with Regin starting out in Chicago and Bouchard playing for the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Regin is likely to start by getting a shot to play with Patrick Kane on a highly talented second line.
Their respective quests for gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics having come to turbulent ends, Ovechkin and Backstrom rejoined their teammates for an upbeat, hour-long practice as if the past two weeks were nothing more than a distant memory.
As the Capitals resume their schedule on Thursday against the Florida Panthers, that is the mindset Washington's two star forwards must foster in order to lead their team, currently sitting 11th in the Eastern Conference, to its seventh consecutive Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance.
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When the St. Louis Blues restart their season Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks, their remaining 25 games will be so compressed into a tight window of days that there will be no time to think of anything other than the task at hand.
Some teams will be jockeying for Stanley Cup Playoff position, but the Blues (39-12-6) are a virtual lock and can achieve quite a few goals before going after the biggest prize of them all, the Stanley Cup.
The Blues are even with the Chicago Blackhawks for the Central Division lead with 84 points and three games in hand, and they're only three points behind the Anaheim Ducks for the Western Conference lead and best record in the NHL, also with three games in hand.
All are reasonable goals at this point and they're goals the Blues definitely have set their sights on.
The St. Louis Blues spent most of the first four months of the season trying to catch the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the Central Division. The Blues did it by winning three of their final four games before the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Now their task is to stay on top.
St. Louis returns to action with the best goal differential in the NHL at plus-61. Its forward lines are talented and deep and the defense is strong in its zone and moves the puck well. Goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have been solid if not spectacular.
Though St. Louis and Chicago each have 84 points, perhaps the biggest advantage the Blues hold in their quest to finish ahead of the defending Stanley Cup champions is that they've played three fewer games.
The Blues and Blackhawks are five points ahead of the surprising Colorado Avalanche, who look like a lock to earn the third of the Central's automatic playoff berths. The holders of the two Western Conference wild-card spots are well behind. The fourth-place Minnesota Wild trail Colorado by 10 points and the Dallas Stars are another five points behind Minnesota.
Here's a look at the seven Central teams as they prepare for the stretch run:
One year after the Anaheim Ducks surprised everyone by winning the Pacific Division, they're on the verge of doing it again.
Not only have the Ducks dominated the division, they've spent the past couple of months on top of the NHL standings. Anaheim went 22 games without a regulation loss at home, survived a brutal early road schedule and resume play with the inside track on the Presidents' Trophy.
The Ducks have had to be good to fend off the San Jose Sharks, who've been able to stay within hailing distance and are all but assured of a Stanley Cup Playoff berth. The Sharks hold a 12-point lead on the third-place Los Angeles Kings, whose offensive struggles have left them much closer to fourth place than to first. They're trying to hold off the Phoenix Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks for the final guaranteed playoff spot in the division.
Here's a look at the seven Pacific teams as they prepare for the stretch run:
With three-quarters of the 2013-14 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.
The quest for gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics is over, but the race for the Stanley Cup is just starting to heat up. Less than seven weeks remain from the resumption of play to the end of the regular season, and 25 of 30 teams either hold one of the 16 Stanley Cup Playoff berths or are within four points of the top eight in their conference.
Here are 14 players (listed alphabetically) to keep an eye on during the final weeks of the regular season:
Carey Price, named the best goalie of the men's ice hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, again was in the spotlight Monday when he met with Montreal-area media at Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, Quebec to talk about his gold medal-winning performance for Canada.
Price, who did not practice Monday and will remain off the ice Tuesday, had his gold medal in the pocket of his sweat jacket and posed for pictures for photographers.
"The last 24 hours has been a bit of a whirlwind," Price said. "I just got off the plane a couple of hours ago."
The Boston Bruins are well on the way to their third division title in four seasons.
They have established themselves as the class of the Atlantic Division. Though they haven't commanded their division the way the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks have, the Bruins return for the final weeks of the season comfortably in front and in position to be no worse than the second seed in the Eastern Conference when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in April.
After the Bruins, there are three distinct sub-layers in the Atlantic.
The surprising Tampa Bay Lightning return from the Olympic break second in the division, one point ahead of the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs. The injury-plagued Detroit Red Wings own the second of the conference's two wild-card spots, but the Ottawa Senators are one of three teams that trail Detroit by one point.
Here's a look at the eight Atlantic teams as they prepare for the stretch run: