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Over the Boards
(Page 3 of 5)
Over the Boards

Over the Boards: Redemption for Leafs' Raymond

Wednesday, 11.06.2013 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mason Raymond was angry during the summer, and it turns out he had a good reason to be.

Raymond didn't doubt that he still could be an NHL player, even a top-six NHL player, but no one in a position of power was telling him the same thing. An unrestricted free agent, Raymond couldn't get a guaranteed contract before training camp began, a likely victim of the salary cap going down by approximately $6 million from the 2012-13 season.

"There are a couple of routes you could take in situations like that, but I believed in myself and my capabilities," Raymond told NHL.com. "To be honest, I had a pretty good year last year and that was a big part of it. There are a lot of what-ifs but I focused on what I had to do."

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Over the Boards: Sharks thriving playing faster game

Wednesday, 10.30.2013 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The San Jose Sharks are playing faster than they ever have under coach Todd McLellan, and it has given them a chance to have the puck more too. The combination of speed and possession has provided some staggering early-season results.

The Sharks lead the NHL with 21 points because they're also first in goals (3.92 per game) and shots on goal (37.8 per game). They are a League-best plus-160 in the shots on goal department (454-294) and are second to only the Colorado Avalanche in goals-against per game (1.58).

"That's all speed," NBC analyst Pierre McGuire told NHL.com. "Their general manager [Doug Wilson] realized something that some of us recognized a long time ago: His team was too slow so he started to jettison some slower players. Dany Heatley was moved. Ryane Clowe was moved. Douglas Murray was moved. They brought in younger legs, quicker legs. They put a huge emphasis on speed, and it's really paid off."

All of what McGuire mentioned is true, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan noted that the speed in his team's game didn't come solely because Wilson rejiggered his roster by trading Heatley after the 2010-11 season and then Clowe, Murray and Michal Handzus before the trade deadline last season.

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Over the Boards: Richards leaving struggles in past

Wednesday, 10.23.2013 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

At what point do questions about Brad Richards' struggles last season become old, dated and out of touch?

"If it's because things are going good then I'll keep answering them," Richards told NHL.com.

Things haven't been going well for the New York Rangers this season, but for the first time in a long time Richards isn't shouldering the blame. He's off to a strong start with seven points and 30 shots on goal in seven games. Considering the Rangers have scored 11 goals in their seven games (2-5-0), Richards obviously has been their most productive and consistent offensive player.

"I can't comment on what happened last season, but I can comment on the years before, where he was an elite player with an elite skill level and he really competed hard," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "What we've seen so far this year is exactly that."

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Over the Boards: Leetch enjoying new job

Wednesday, 10.16.2013 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Brian Leetch was prepared to move back to New York to join Mark Messier on the New York Rangers' coaching staff. He talked it over with his wife, Mary Beth, and their three kids. If Messier got the job, he was going. It was a done deal and Rangers fans would have had two of their favorites back together in blue.

"I felt comfortable moving forward with that," Leetch told NHL.com. "I was definitely on board if it happened. Obviously that didn't work out for Mark."

In some ways it was a blessing in disguise for Leetch. The Rangers hired Alain Vigneault and Leetch not only got to keep his family in Boston, where he and his kids are involved in the local hockey scene, he was able to dive into a different yet still intriguing opportunity with the National Hockey League.

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Over the Boards: Tavares 'C's Ference as right choice

Wednesday, 10.09.2013 / 3:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Four years from now, when Andrew Ference's contract is expiring and he's entering the sunset of a successful NHL career, the Edmonton Oilers should have a desirable list of candidates to be their next captain as long as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins pay attention the way John Tavares did on Long Island for the past two seasons.

Tavares noticed Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins' choice of Ference as captain over Hall, Eberle, Gagner and Nugent-Hopkins. He nods in approval because he understands what a few extra years can mean to a young player with the potential to be a superstar and the pressure to turn into a leader.

Tavares could have been named the Islanders captain two years ago, when he signed his six-year contract extension, but he wasn't ready for the responsibility. The Islanders instead stitched a "C" on Mark Streit's sweater and gave Tavares the "A".

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Over the Boards: 2013 draft class living up to the hype

Wednesday, 10.02.2013 / 9:05 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

It may still be a few years before anyone can determine just how deep the 2013 NHL Draft was, but the early returns are matching the hype that accompanied this year's class.

Seven of the top 10 picks survived the final round of training-camp cuts to make the opening-night roster of their respective teams. Six will definitely be in the lineup, with an injury potentially postponing the debut of Carolina Hurricanes forward Elias Lindholm.

It's the most top-10 picks to make opening-night rosters since seven members of the 2008 NHL Draft survived the final cuts in their first training camp. That year's rookie class included Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Alex Pietrangelo, Luke Schenn, Mikkel Boedker and Josh Bailey, who started the season on injured reserve and didn't make his debut for the New York Islanders until November.

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Over the Boards: Gray area exists with hybrid icing

Wednesday, 09.25.2013 / 6:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The regular season begins in less than a week and it's still too difficult to get a consensus for how the players feel about hybrid icing and if it will be used this season.

"It's not one way or the other right now," San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle told NHL.com. "It's kind of all over the place."

Hybrid icing is currently being tested in the preseason, but the players have to give their approval in order for it to be used in the regular season, which begins Tuesday.

The National Hockey League Players' Association has begun conducting a player survey on hybrid icing. The Competition Committee is expected to review the results and let the NHL know of its decision before the start of the regular season.

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Over the Boards: Green, Kesler healthy, ready to go

Wednesday, 09.18.2013 / 9:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green finally is buying what he's been trying to sell to himself for the past three seasons.

For the first time since he entered training camp in 2010 fresh off his most productive NHL season, Green is saying with certainty that he is healthy, hungry, excited and raring to go. He had been talking a similar game as he entered training camp in 2011 and 2012, hoping that somehow his optimism would mask the underlying truth, only to jump onto the ice, get to work and realize it couldn't.

Now he has nothing holding him back.

"It's kind of like an emotional rollercoaster, because you tell yourself you feel good and then you go on the ice and you think you're good and you feel good, but you're not," Green told NHL.com last week after a practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. "You're not 100 percent and it kind of weighs on you and you're not just able to go play the game. Now it's all gone and now I feel I can just go play the game."

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Over the Boards: Olympic snub motivating Spezza

Wednesday, 09.11.2013 / 9:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean and general manager Bryan Murray ought to send thank-you cards to Steve Yzerman and Mike Babcock for leaving Jason Spezza off the invitation list for Canada's Olympic orientation camp last month.

For as much as the perceived snub left Spezza angry and upset, emotions he admittedly still feels today, it also gave him the exact kick-in-the-pants type of drive that should mean only good things for the Senators this season.

"It's great motivation," Spezza told NHL.com. "I didn't play for most of last year, so coming into the year I feel like I have a lot to prove just to get back to where my game was before I got hurt. I was pretty motivated coming into the season just on that alone, but not being included in the Olympic camp definitely gives me an extra chip on my shoulder.

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Over the Boards: Sid on Fleury; Bruins' RW dilemma

Wednesday, 09.04.2013 / 9:00 AM / Over the Boards

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby still believes in goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. He just hopes Fleury still believes in himself, because it may be the only way the Penguins live up to their championship expectations.

"I think he does [believe in himself]," Crosby told NHL.com. "He has no reason not to, but when you go through the scrutiny and dealing with adversity, to say you don't have any doubts, anybody would be lying. You obviously have doubts, but I think those doubts are going to push him to be better and to prove himself."

Crosby knows how much Fleury's performance means to the Penguins' success this season and in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, should they make it there. He's coming off back-to-back playoff flameouts -- including last season, when he lost his starting job to Tomas Vokoun in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

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Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals