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(Page 5 of 15)
2010-2011 Season Preview

Devils keep upbeat despite specter of trade

Tuesday, 09.28.2010 / 3:02 PM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- It's only a matter of time before New Jersey Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello is forced to make a move in order to maneuver his club within the limits of the NHL's $59.4-million salary cap.

The hard truth of the matter is someone well-respected and liked both on and off the ice is going to be the odd man out prior to New Jersey's season-opener at the Prudential Center against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 8.

Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner, one of several players rumored to be on the block, knows it's inevitable something will happen. But he also knows the future is something no one can control, no less predict.

"I think in my situation, having a no-trade clause, at least I'll have a heads up," Langenbrunner told NHL.com. "I'm not going to be caught be surprise by anything. But to be honest, I said to a couple of guys in here not to worry about it. There's nothing we can do about it. We have to stay focused on what we can control and go from there. Obviously, all of us are smart enough to know which guys are vulnerable, but you can't really worry about it."

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Rangers feel McIlrath will provide missing ingredient

Tuesday, 09.28.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Dylan McIlrath, best-known throughout Canadian Hockey League circles as "The Undertaker," was privy to the fact a bull's-eye would be on his back after being selected with the 10th pick of the 2010 Entry Draft by the New York Rangers.

But despite the fact he's earned the reputation as the toughest player in the Western Hockey League with the Moose Jaw Warriors -- he led the CHL with 19 fights while racking up 169 penalty minutes last season -- the 6-foot-4, 218-pound defenseman doesn't seem a bit fazed by it all.

"You can't worry about it," McIlrath told NHL.com. "I know I'm a bit of a target going first round, and being a tough guy other guys might want to make a name for themselves. But being tough isn't all about dropping the gloves. It also means getting into the hard areas and working hard."

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Lundqvist points out Rangers' problem -- consistency

Tuesday, 09.28.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

There's no denying the 2009-10 season was one that didn't live up the expectations of the New York Rangers. The real debate begins when talking about what led to the team missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04.
 
Was it the lack of scoring from everyone not named Marian Gaborik?
 
Was it a blue line that featured two rookies learning on the job for a better part of the season?
 
Were the players not buying into John Tortorella's system?
 
Did the team need a reliable backup goaltender?
Despite all of the reasons that have been bandied about since the Rangers missed the playoffs, what gets lost in the shuffle is they only missed by one point after a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in the final game of the regular season. That was the difference between experts discussing what's wrong with the Rangers and how they made the postseason for a fifth-consecutive season.

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Sedin has heavy competition in quest for Hart

Tuesday, 09.28.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

"It's pretty easy now to scout guys and get guys' habits and tendencies down now. So in order to create things consistently, you have to keep guys guessing. … Guys in the first 30 games aren't going to be surprised if I shoot a little more, so I have to make sure that I keep them guessing."
-- Sidney Crosby on keeping the opposition on their toes

Last season, Henrik Sedin led the NHL in scoring and became the first member of the Vancouver Canucks and second Swedish player ever to win the Hart Trophy as League MVP.

It certainly helped him that the Canucks were among the League's elite teams, something that should be the same this season. So can Sedin repeat Alex Ovechkin's feat of the previous two seasons and win a second straight Hart? Or will someone else from the great galaxy of NHL stars rise up and steal away the award?

NHL.com takes a look at some of the top candidates -- in alphabetical order only. We'll avoid the prediction business, because picking a major award winner in September is like walking into an atom hockey group and picking out the next Wayne Gretzky.

Sidney Crosby, C, Penguins -- The Pittsburgh captain has been here before -- he won the Hart in 2007 and was a finalist in 2008 and last season. All he did last season was lead the Penguins in every meaningful offensive category, including an NHL-high 51 goals. He's a threat to score every time he's on the ice, and he's also become defensively responsible. He was a plus-15 last season, scored the first two shorthanded goals of his career, tied a career best with 43 blocked shots and was second on the team with 43 takeaways.
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Doughty ready to take his game to another level

Tuesday, 09.28.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Josh Brewster - NHL.com Correspondent

"He's himself. He's an outstanding hockey player – a guy that has great skill and is not afraid to make some plays as he carries the puck up the ice. He plays hard defensively, too."
-- Ryan Smyth

LOS ANGELES -- Upon meeting new teammate Drew Doughty after signing with the Los Angeles Kings, defenseman Willie Mitchell learned that the 20-year-old Norris Trophy nominee knew the meaning of the word respect.

"The first day, (Doughty) came in, and (said), 'Willie, you can take my number.'"

Mitchell politely declined despite having worn No. 8 in Vancouver during four of his nine NHL seasons.

"No, no, you had too good a year last year, you've got to keep rocking that thing," Mitchell said, not wanting to mess with Doughty's mojo. 
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Kings have plenty of talented kids in net

Tuesday, 09.28.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Josh Brewster - NHL.com Correspondent

"Some GM's are probably sitting back thinking they should go a different route (in goal). If they can sign the right guy for the right price, maybe it's better than going for the big name with the big ticket. I don't think that at the beginning of the season, you would have said (Antti Niemi and Michael Leighton) would have been the goalies going head-to-head in the Stanley Cup Final."
-- Jonathan Quick

Just three seasons ago, the Los Angeles Kings employed a startling seven goaltenders during a disastrous 2007-08 season. The Kings, coached by Marc Crawford at the time, finished tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning for fewest points in the NHL with 71. 

Since that disappointing season, three of the seven goaltenders have risen to the top of the organization's goalie heap. None were big-name free agents; none came to the franchise via trade. None of the three are stars, but that could change soon. 

Jonathan Quick, 24, is the clear-cut No. 1 netminder, although Jonathan Bernier, 22, is pushing for that designation. That leaves Erik Ersberg, 28, as the possible third wheel, barring a training camp miracle. 

"Some GM's are probably sitting back thinking they should go a different route (in goal)," Quick said. "If they can sign the right guy for the right price, maybe it's better than going for the big name with the big ticket. I don't think that at the beginning of the season, you would have said (Antti Niemi and Michael Leighton) would have been the goalies going head-to-head in the Stanley Cup Final."
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Rangers determined to return to playoffs

Tuesday, 09.28.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The New York Rangers are ready to make amends after they were denied a fifth straight postseason appearance when they lost a shootout at Philadelphia on the final day of the 2009-10 regular season.

General Manager Glen Sather made a few offseason tweaks, most notably the addition of Alexander Frolov from Los Angeles. He allowed Olli Jokinen to sign with Calgary after the big center failed to live up to offensive expectations in Manhattan. The Rangers finished 16th in the League with a 2.67 goals-per-game average, but often struggled to score -- leaving overworked goalie Henrik Lundqvist little room for error.

"I do know that we have to be more consistent than we were last season," Lundqvist told the team's Web site. "We played some really good hockey last year, but we were not nearly consistent enough."
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Kings poised to take next step in the procession

Tuesday, 09.28.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Phil Coffey - NHL.com Sr. Editorial Director

The Los Angeles Kings couldn't have been more please with their improvement from 2008-09 to '09-10, when a jump from 34 to 46 victories not only opened eyes but the path to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The challenge for the Kings entering the 2010-11 season is building on that momentum to cement their place among the Western Conference's elite.

Based on the roster that produced a 46-27-9 record, the goal is achievable. The Kings jumped from 207 goals in 2008-09 to 241 in 2009-10, while defensively, they lowered their goals against from 234 in 2008-09, to 219 last season -- and these improvements were made by a team boasting an impressive core of young, home-grown players.
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Del Zotto enters second season as blue-line stalwart

Tuesday, 09.28.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Twelve months ago, Michael Del Zotto was a shy, 19-year-old kid just trying to make an impression and prove he was ready to play in the National Hockey League.
 
Fast forward to Friday morning, when Del Zotto showed up to New York Rangers training camp as arguably the club's No. 2 defenseman behind only Marc Staal, who finally signed a five-year deal with the team Thursday.
 
"It's just a completely different scene," Del Zotto said. "Last year, I really didn't know anyone. I'm a really quiet guy, so I really didn't say much. It's good to see familiar faces and basically catching up with guys. I'm just excited to get the season going."

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Early Calder candidates abound at all positions

Monday, 09.27.2010 / 2:00 PM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The last few seasons has seen a remarkable crop of young players not just make the NHL, but turn into stars younger and more successful than players of past generations. And one look at the list of players eligible for the 2010-11 Calder Trophy, given to the NHL's best first-year player, and it shows a vast array of talent that ranks with any other season since the work stoppage.

NHL.com takes a look at some of the top candidates -- in alphabetical order only. We'll avoid the prediction business, because no one could have predicted Tyler Myers (2009) or Steve Mason (2008) -- neither of whom started the season in the NHL – would be Calder winners.

Jonathan Bernier, G, Kings -- Jonathan Quick helped backstop the Kings to their first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance since 2002 last season, but that doesn't mean he's got the top job cemented. That's because the long-awaited arrival of Bernier, the 11th pick of the 2006 Entry Draft, has come.
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Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff