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2014 NHL Draft
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(Page 132 of 257)
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Rangers hope slow start is in St. Louis' rear-view

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:16 AM / Rangers vs Flyers - 2014 SCP First Round

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Following the first trade of his 15-year NHL career, Martin St. Louis figured there would be a tough transition.

During 13 memorable seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he won the Stanley Cup, a Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player and two Art Ross Trophies as the League's leading scorer. Then, on March 5, he was traded to the New York Rangers. The fact that St. Louis wanted the trade did not make the move any easier.

Professionally, the trade was seen as a move that could potentially put the Rangers over the top in their quest for the Stanley Cup. Personally, it was a time of great upheaval for the star.

St. Louis slumped early in his Rangers tenure, but his recent play is giving fans hope that the Stanley Cup could be coming back to Broadway for the first time in 20 years.

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Why the Rangers will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:13 AM / Rangers vs Flyers - 2014 SCP First Round

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

For the eighth time in the past nine seasons, the New York Rangers are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But, in all that time, they've never advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. That's about to change.

For much of his first season behind the Rangers bench, coach Alain Vigneault has rolled four forward lines and three defense pairings with remarkable consistency. That depth and the standout play of one of the world's best goaltenders will make this a memorable spring at Madison Square Garden.

As always, the Rangers' hopes of winning the Stanley Cup hinge on the play of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Of course, they call him the King for a reason. After some stumbles out of the gate, Lundqvist has enjoyed a historic season that is worthy of a championship finale.


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More mature Price at top of game for Canadiens

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:07 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

There was a time in Carey Price's life when he thought none of this would be happening.

The starting goaltender and undisputed most valuable player of the Montreal Canadiens has lived through a lifetime's worth of experiences in his seven NHL seasons, playing what might be the most pressure-packed position in all professional sports.

Montreal is a city where anything less than elite play from the team's goaltender is not tolerated. Price's play during those seven seasons has not always met those exacting standards.

But as he prepares to lead the Canadiens into the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Price appears to have won over the city, and with good reason.

He is one of the world's best at his position, an Olympic gold medalist who is among the NHL leaders in save percentage (.927) and wins (34).

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X-Factor: Plekanec's two-way play ideal for Canadiens

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:06 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien will be tasked with figuring out a way to stop Tampa Bay Lightning scoring machine Steven Stamkos in the Eastern Conference First Round series between the Atlantic Division teams.

Luckily for Therrien, he'll have a one-man solution sitting on his bench.

Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec is one of the NHL's top two-way forwards, as comfortable on the penalty kill as he is on the power play and routinely given the task by Therrien to shut down the opposing team's top offensive threat.

In this series, that assignment will almost assuredly be to check Stamkos, making Plekanec perhaps the most important forward for the Canadiens.


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X-Factor: Nichushkin finds comfort level with Stars

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:02 AM / Ducks vs Stars - 2014 SCP First Round

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Dallas Stars are young, fast and dangerous. It begins with their top-line punch of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, but there are more reasons why Dallas is back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years.

One is right wing Valeri Nichushkin. The 19-year-old was selected with the No. 10 pick at the 2013 NHL Draft and immediately made the jump to hockey's highest level. He did not look out of place, scoring 14 goals and 20 assists. Even more impressive, Nichushkin boasted a plus-21 rating, showing the ability to play well at each end of the ice despite his young age. For most players his age, it takes some time to learn how to play responsibly in the defensive zone.

Now, on an even bigger stage, the Stars will depend on Nichushkin to help them advance past the Western Conference First Round. The skilled wing is likely to skate on the Stars' top line alongside the aforementioned Seguin and Benn, which should give Nichushkin an opportunity to convert on some quality scoring opportunities.

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X-Factor: Rookie MacKinnon could be Avs' go-to guy

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:00 AM / Avalanche vs Wild - 2014 SCP First Round

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Colorado Avalanche could be without their top forward, the guy who was considered a Hart Trophy candidate early in the season, for the entire first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That would be a debilitating deficiency for nearly any team. So why might the Avalanche be able to survive long enough for Matt Duchene's knee to heal and for him to return to the lineup?

Rookie Nathan MacKinnon is the answer.

MacKinnon has concluded one of the best regular seasons by an 18-year-old in League history, and he might just be getting started. While other teenagers have waned near the end of their first season in the NHL because of the physical and mental grind, MacKinnon has added more responsibility since Duchene (and PA Parenteau) was injured and might be getting stronger.

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Cup contenders Blues, Blackhawks clash early

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:00 AM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

NHL.com

The St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks have been two of the top teams in the NHL all season, but a late-season slide by both will result in one of them being out of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs after the first round.

St. Louis and Chicago each finished with at least 107 points, but both finished behind the upstart the Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division. The Blues and Blackhawks will stage the second opening-round series in Stanley Cup Playoffs history where both teams have at least that many points. The San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators also had at least 107 in 2007.

The Blues were in position to not only win the Central but the Presidents' Trophy as the top team in the NHL as recently as April 3, but six straight losses to end the season left St. Louis in second place in the division. There is uncertainty about what the roster will look like for Game 1, because six regulars were out of the lineup at the end of regular season.

When healthy, the Blues were a defense-first machine that could score a lot of goals when needed. Coach Ken Hitchcock's philosophy combined with the talent and depth general manager Doug Armstrong assembled looked like a team primed to challenge the Blackhawks for division and NHL supremacy.

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Why the Canadiens will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:00 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

Perhaps no team filled as many holes in their lineup so well at the NHL Trade Deadline as the Montreal Canadiens, and that is a big reason they will win the 25th Stanley Cup in franchise history this June.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin acquired defenseman Mike Weaver from the Florida Panthers the day before the deadline, setting the stage for his real home run a day later with the acquisition of forward Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders.

The arrival of Vanek gives the Canadiens something they have lacked for years, a top-end first line which can score consistently and provide relief to the team's other lines by attracting the opposition's top defensive stoppers on a nightly basis.

Vanek has combined with Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais to become one of the NHL's most-potent offensive trios, and while losing Alex Galchenyuk for the duration of the first round with a lower-body injury hurts, the other lines have been rendered more effective because of how strong the top line has been.

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Why the Dallas Stars will win the Stanley Cup

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 1:58 AM / Ducks vs Stars - 2014 SCP First Round

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Dallas Stars entered the 2013-14 season with hopes of ending a five-year hiatus from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They were led by a new general manager in Jim Nill, who arrived in Dallas after spending the previous 15 seasons as the assistant GM of the Detroit Red Wings. It was there where Nill was able to learn from one of the best minds in the business in general manager Ken Holland.

Nill's first order of business was to find a successful coach, one with a track record and the ability to get the most from his players. Lindy Ruff, who guided the Buffalo Sabres for 15 years and an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in 1999, became the Stars' new coach.


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X-Factor: Bruins need Smith to regain scoring touch

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 1:52 AM / Bruins vs Red Wings - 2014 SCP First Round

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

When the Boston Bruins traded Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to the Dallas Stars in July, the headline piece coming back was forward Loui Eriksson.

However, the player who made the biggest impact was the one no one expected. And after an up-and-down 2013-14 season, the Bruins still aren't sure what they'll get from Reilly Smith in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But if the 23-year-old forward can deliver like he did early in the season, it would make the Bruins' quest to return to the Stanley Cup Final a bit easier.

Smith had three goals in 40 games in parts of two seasons with the Stars, so his addition to the Bruins' opening-night roster was a bit of a surprise. He rewarded the team's faith with points in six of his first eight games and played well defensively on a checking line with Chris Kelly.

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Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets