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Rangers playing faster, better with Vigneault as coach

Wednesday, 02.04.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- When Alain Vigneault was hired to coach the New York Rangers before the 2013-14 season, he wasn't taking over a rebuilding project. The Rangers had reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs the three seasons prior, and seven out of the past eight.

Still, there were areas in need of fixing and a coach was needed that preached a philosophy that addressed the Rangers' weaknesses. When the Rangers host the Boston Bruins in the NBCSN Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET), it will be Vigneault's 131st regular-season game with the Rangers, and the difference since he took over has been night and day.

Under Vigneault the Rangers have blossomed into one of the better offensive teams in the League. New York is averaging its most goals per game (2.98) since it scored 3.05 per game in the 2005-06 season. And while it's team speed that paces the Rangers, it's their coach's system that, more than a season and a half into his tenure, has them running at top speed.

"It's no secret, and you see all the teams in the League that are capable of playing a high-pace game," Vigneault said recently. "They're all teams that have a five-man unit. When they don't have the puck, to get it back, whether it's in their zone, the neutral zone or on the forecheck, but when their transition game is there it's from a breakout, to the transition to the neutral zone to the offensive zone."

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Penguins' Perron raising his game alongside Crosby

Wednesday, 02.04.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Once David Perron got over his mixed emotions about being traded again, the Pittsburgh Penguins right wing started to feel something quite different on Jan. 2, something he hadn't felt in a long time.

"I was probably the happiest guy in hockey that day," Perron told NHL.com last week before Pittsburgh's game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

Nobody can blame him if he was. He went from last place to the Stanley Cup chase. He was moved out of a difficult situation with the Edmonton Oilers so he could become the right wing on a line with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

No offense to Leon Draisaitl and Matt Fraser, who were Perron's linemates for his last game with the Oilers, but playing with them is not like playing with Crosby and Chris Kunitz in Pittsburgh.

"Stepping into the room the first day, the way the room is shaped in Pittsburgh it's kind of rounded a little bit, and you could feel the confidence from the guys," Perron said. "I was sitting there going, 'This is awesome. This is going to be a lot of fun.' It just made me feel comfortable right away."

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Sharks, Kings display rivalry in episode one on EPIX

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

With an opening montage showing sandy beaches, palm trees, surfers and skateboarders, the first episode of "EPIX Presents Road to the NHL Stadium Series" instantly takes the viewer to California to set the scene for an introduction to a rivalry that is as hot now as it ever has been.

Away from the sand and surf are two teams, the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, which will be featured in the four-part series prior to taking their rivalry outside, to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Feb. 21 for the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game.

The first episode of the four-part series opens with behind-the-scenes, on-the-ice, and on-the-bench footage of the last game the two rivals will play before they take it outdoors under the Northern California sky.

The Sharks defeated the Kings 4-2 at SAP Center on Jan. 21 in what was fittingly part of NBCSN's Wednesday Night Rivalry series. EPIX had cameras all over SAP Center to prove how deep-rooted the rivalry between the teams is.

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Jets forward Kane scratched against Canucks

Tuesday, 02.03.2015 / 10:16 PM / News

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane was a surprise late scratch against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Tuesday.

Kane, who is from Vancouver and played his junior hockey locally, talked excitedly about playing in his hometown Tuesday morning. Coach Paul Maurice did not mention Kane in his meeting with the media two hours before opening faceoff.

The 23-year-old left wing has 10 goals and 22 points in 37 games this season, but is minus-7 and hasn't scored a point in his past three games.

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EPIX debuts four-part Stadium Series show Tuesday

NHL.com

The first episode of the four-part "EPIX Presents Road to the NHL Stadium Series" serves as an introduction to a California rivalry that is as hot now as it ever has been.

The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings will meet at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Feb. 21 for the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game this season. The first episode of the series opens with behind-the-scenes, on-the-ice, and on-the-bench footage of the last game the two rivals played before they take it outdoors under the Northern California sky.

The Sharks beat the Kings 4-2 at SAP Center on Jan. 21 in what was fittingly part of NBCSN's Wednesday Night Rivalry series. EPIX had cameras all over SAP Center to prove how deep-rooted the rivalry between the teams is.

"When it comes to hockey we don't like each other," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty says. "We want bragging rights."

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Islanders' Okposo has detached retina: report

Tuesday, 02.03.2015 / 3:52 PM / News

NHL.com

New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo has a detached retina in his eye, according to ESPN.com.

Okposo has not played since Jan. 19 against the Philadelphia Flyers because of an upper-body injury. He practiced with the Islanders on Jan. 20, but Jan. 26 the Islanders announced Okposo would miss six to eight weeks with his injury.

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Maple Leafs' Phaneuf skates, remains week-to-week

Tuesday, 02.03.2015 / 2:44 PM / News

Robby Stanley - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf participated in a full morning skate Tuesday for the first time since sustaining a hand injury on Jan. 21 against the Ottawa Senators.

Phaneuf won't be in the lineup Tuesday against the Nashville Predators, but he spoke with reporters after the morning skate at Bridgestone Arena and addressed his status.

"Right now it's still week-to-week, to be honest with you, is how we're handling it," Phaneuf said. "But today was a good day. That's about all I can say. If you ask me tomorrow, I'll tell you how I feel tomorrow and tell you when I'll be ready, but I want to get back as quick as I can."

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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Pavelski, Steen avoid dip

Tuesday, 02.03.2015 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen will provide you with in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top 100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen will be your go-to guy for fantasy forward advice all season long.

Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks and Alexander Steen of the St. Louis Blues were two of the fantasy crown jewels of the 2013-14 NHL season. Each posted career-best shooting percentages of 18.2 and 15.6, respectively.

Entering 2014-15, the law of averages indicated each would come back to Earth. But while their high shooting rates have regressed (Pavelski: 16.1; Steen: 10.9), their fantasy value has hardly dipped.

The common denominator is quantity of shifts and first-rate scoring chances each generates (and converts on) for his respective team.

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Vic Howe, brother of hockey legend, dies at 85

Tuesday, 02.03.2015 / 10:34 AM / News

NHL.com

Vic Howe, the younger brother of hockey legend Gordie Howe and a former player for the New York Rangers, died Saturday at age 85. No cause of death was listed in his obituary in the Star Phoenix (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan).

Vic Howe, a right wing, played parts of three seasons with the Rangers between 1950-51 and 1954-55. In 33 games he had three goals and seven points. He spent most of his hockey career playing in minor leagues throughout North America and in Europe.

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Around the League notebook for Monday, Feb. 2

Tuesday, 02.03.2015 / 9:08 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

KINGS VISIT THE WHITE HOUSE

The Los Angeles Kings renewed acquaintances with President Barack Obama on Monday at the White House, where they were honored for their 2014 Stanley Cup championship. This marked the Kings' second trip to the White House in the past three seasons. The Kings were joined on stage in the East Room and on a pre-ceremony tour and gathering with President Obama by members of Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy, who won the MLS Cup last season. President Obama congratulated the Kings for their 2014 Stanley Cup championship, and Luc Robitaille and Dustin Brown also spoke to the press outside of the White House.

EDMONTON EDGES SAN JOSE IN FRANCHISE RECORD 13-ROUND SHOOTOUT

Rob Klinkhammer scored on his first attempt of the season for the shootout-winner after 13 rounds and propelled the Edmonton Oilers to a 5-4 win against the San Jose Sharks. The Oilers improved to 14-28-9 (37 points).

* The 13-round shootout was the longest shootout in Edmonton franchise history; it eclipsed the previous record of 12 rounds on Jan. 17, 2008 where the Oilers dropped a 5-4 decision to the Washington Capitals.

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Quote of the Day

We have no doubt how he can play. You don't, with four teams that are left, you're not getting here without good goaltending. All great goalies left, and [Bishop] is a top-tier goaltender in this league and he's shown it.

— Lightning coach Jon Cooper on goalie Ben Bishop, who shut out the Rangers in Game 5