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(Page 6 of 17)
2013-2014 Season Preview

Blue Jackets hope offense will be a group effort

Wednesday, 09.25.2013 / 9:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

R.J. Umberger felt he was a step slower and a stride behind some of the other players, especially those who had played in Europe during the lockout, and never made up the difference during the 2012-13 season.

The Blue Jackets left wing elected not to play competitively during the work stoppage and instead spent much of his time until the season resumed in January training with and helping as a volunteer assistant coach at his alma mater, Ohio State.

Umberger's drop in goals was a byproduct of his decision.

He scored eight times while playing all 48 games (.166 goals per game), well down from his average of .259 in 2011-12 when he had 20 goals in 77 games.

"It was way more difficult than I expected to jump into the season from the physical standpoint of just being on top of your game," he said. "Also, more from a mental standpoint it was hard to go from not doing anything and not knowing what was going on to all of a sudden going full swing into a half-season that quick."

If the Blue Jackets are going to make a serious run at making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in club history without having to depend solely on Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, then Umberger is among those who will need to make a bigger contribution.

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30 in 15: Hertl impressing in bid to make Sharks

Wednesday, 09.25.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson raves about a young prospect about as often as he wore a helmet during his playing days. He wants the talented kids in San Jose's organization to prove themselves on NHL ice before the praise flows.

Wilson made an exception last spring for 19-year-old forward Tomas Hertl, the Sharks' first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft from the Czech Republic.

Just days after the Sharks were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a seven-game semifinals loss to the Los Angeles Kings, Wilson held his annual season-ending press conference, looking back but also looking ahead to the 2013-14 season. As he talked about how excited the Sharks were "about what's ahead of us," Hertl's name came up often.

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30 in 15: Sharks must balance young core, old guard

Wednesday, 09.25.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

It's been a long offseason in the Bay Area.

The ball got rolling last season, when general manager Doug Wilson put in place his "reset/refresh" plan at the trade deadline.

Since then, he and coach Todd McLellan have added a couple attacking options, repurposed a defenseman to forward and locked in stars on extended deals. The San Jose Sharks own one of the best defenses in the NHL, and are backstopped by Vezina Trophy finalist Antti Niemi. At least one prospect is ready for the NHL limelight, and there are others coming soon.

But has San Jose done enough? The Sharks are chasing a 10th straight postseason berth, but there's also the decidedly more elusive prize of the Stanley Cup.

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30 in 15: Sharks hope to build off last season's finish

Wednesday, 09.25.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

In the San Jose Sharks organization, finishing is the name of the game.

The team wants to start this season the way they finished, with a fast-paced, efficient game, a playoff sweep of the Vancouver Canucks and a narrow Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Semifinals.

If the Sharks can do that, they could be staring down a 10th consecutive postseason appearance, and perhaps the ultimate "finish" that has eluded the team during that decade of success: the Stanley Cup.

In hopes of scaling that final mountain, the organization implemented a "reset/refresh" philosophy at the trade deadline last season. The philosophy, which revolved around implementing a north/south, attacking style of play, was made possible by deadline trades for Raffi Torres and Scott Hannan, as well as the decision to move Brent Burns from defense to forward. Players who didn't fit the system -- among them Ryane Clowe, Michal Handzus and Douglas Murray -- were shipped out.

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30 in 15: Kennedy seeking revival in San Jose

Wednesday, 09.25.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

In Pittsburgh, Tyler Kennedy’s career was in danger of flaming out. Now that he has joined the San Jose Sharks, it might be poised to rise from the ashes.

Last season, Kennedy managed six goals and 11 points in 46 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Those numbers continued the statistical decline from his career year in 2010-11, during which he scored 21 goals and 45 points. On a team featuring NHL stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (both carrying outsized contracts) Kennedy entered the 2013 offseason a restricted free agent with an uncertain future.

It just so happened that around the same time, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson was looking for another forward to help take their north-south, up-tempo attack to the next level. Wilson liked what he saw in Kennedy, a player known for his pace, ferocity and knack for scoring important goals. On a team with lines in flux up and down the top nine, Wilson also valued Kennedy’s flexibility over six seasons in Pittsburgh.

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30 in 15: Rangers must address personnel issues

Wednesday, 09.25.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

For a team featuring so many established NHL players, the New York Rangers have a lot of compelling question marks coming into the 2013-14 season. It all starts with new coach Alain Vigneault, who will be expected to jumpstart a Rangers offense that had trouble scoring at times last season. He'll also need to improve a struggling power play that ranked 23rd in the League.

But there are also a number of key elements to the team's roster to consider. Especially up front, where it appears the Rangers could start the season without their entire first line. Throw in the saga of Brad Richards, who struggled mightily in the second season of a nine-year Rangers contract, and there could be plenty of dramatic subplots surrounding this team. All in all, it's the perfect recipe for Broadway.

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30 in 15: Rangers hope to quickly adapt to new system

Wednesday, 09.25.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The New York Rangers made very few changes this summer to a roster that features All-Star talent at every position.

But the team did make wholesale changes behind the bench, replacing John Tortorella with Alain Vigneault, who over time installed his own coaching staff, which includes associate coach Scott Arniel.

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30 in 15: Nash set for electric season under Vigneault

Wednesday, 09.25.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rick Nash isn't the type of guy that typically wears his emotions on his sleeve. He's calm and calculated, especially in front of the media. He doesn't usually say much and he almost never says something controversial.

But sometimes Nash's body language will do the talking for him, and that's why it's obvious that he can't wait to get going in Alain Vigneault's up-tempo, offensive system.

Nash, who once scored 40 goals with the defensive-oriented Ken Hitchcock as his coach in Columbus, could be in line for a monster season for the Rangers.

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30 in 15: Injuries could help Kristo make Rangers

Wednesday, 09.25.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

After acquiring him in an offseason trade with the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Rangers' staff made it clear that they had been eyeing forward Danny Kristo, the Canadiens' second-round pick (No. 56) in the 2008 NHL Draft for some time.

The Minnesota native earned plenty of attention last season, enjoying a breakout senior year at the University of North Dakota when he had 26 goals and 52 points in 40 games and was named a first-team All-American.

That remarkable season confirmed Kristo had the skill to find a place on an NHL roster. But the hope was that a series of unique circumstances might help him make the Rangers' roster faster than he expected.
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30 in 15: Lundqvist looking forward to eventful season

Wednesday, 09.25.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

NEW YORK -- You never forget the first time you come to New York City. Henrik Lundqvist is no different.

The New York Rangers goaltender may be an icon in the city that never sleeps. But there was once a time when the bright-eyed then-23-year-old from Are, Sweden (pop. 1,417, per the 2010 census), was first taken by the constant bustle of Manhattan. Eight years later, New York is home and the 2012 Vezina Trophy winner is looking forward to what could potentially be the biggest season of his illustrious career.

But he still remembers that first time in New York.

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Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley