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Five Questions: Rangers' McDonagh talks captaincy

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features New York Rangers defenseman and captain Ryan McDonagh:

TORONTO -- Properly analyzing what it means to be the team that has come close to winning the Stanley Cup two years in a row can be a difficult exercise.

One the one hand, you're close, which is better than the alternative, so that's good. On the other, close is never good enough when you're on a team that is good, has high expectations and doesn't raise the ultimate prize at the end of a long, taxing journey.

The New York Rangers have been the team that has epitomized close the past two years.

They went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 but lost in five games to the Los Angeles Kings. They had Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final at home last season but lost 2-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It's all left a funny and yet sort of unsure feeling with captain Ryan McDonagh.

"It's better to say that you're there, that you know what you're capable of, and you know you have that opportunity with this group that we have," McDonagh said. "But it's frustrating."

How close the Rangers have gotten the past two seasons only to fall short of the ultimate goal led to some deep thoughts during the summer about the state of the team, the window of opportunity with the current core and what needs to be done to get over the hump.

Datsyuk's health, coach among Red Wings' X-factors

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Paul Harris - Correspondent

DETROIT -- The 2015-16 Detroit Red Wings are a combination of elite veterans, solid veterans and young players who have been impressive at times but are still developing.

It will be first-year NHL coach Jeff Blashill's job to meld them into a cohesive group that can extend the Red Wings' streak of Stanley Cup Playoff appearances to 25 seasons.

Here are three X-factors that will help determine whether Detroit can make the postseason and go on a run:

Wild counting on improved power play, Dubnyk repeat

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Dan Myers - Correspondent continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams.

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Not much changed in the offseason for the Minnesota Wild, who will attempt to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth consecutive season in 2015-16.

The front office likely wasn't inclined to make many moves after the Wild were one of the NHL's best teams over the final two months of the 2014-15 regular season.

Minnesota is counting on several young players to take another step in their development so it can move past the Western Conference Second Round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

"There are a lot of good young players in the organization, and I think it shows," defenseman Ryan Suter said. "I think they've done a good job. They can make plays and they are fun to watch."

Red Wings expect to make playoffs again with Blashill

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Paul Harris - Correspondent continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams.

DETROIT -- A new coach and two key free agent additions will attempt to help the Detroit Red Wings to their 25th consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.

Jeff Blashill takes over as coach, replacing Mike Babcock, who left in May for the same job with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Blashill coached Detroit's American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids the past three seasons.

The Red Wings also signed free agents Mike Green and Brad Richards on July 1.

Green, who signed a three-year contract reportedly worth $18 million, is the offensive-minded defenseman with a right-handed shot Detroit has lacked for so long.

Suter says Wild are close to Stanley Cup contention

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- Don't be fooled by that early exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Defenseman Ryan Suter is convinced his Minnesota Wild are close -- really close -- to being legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.

"Hopefully that's the case," Suter said this week.

Suter's reason for the upbeat take on the Wild's chances of winning a championship comes from the fact they were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup in two of the past three seasons. In fact, the Chicago Blackhawks have sent the Wild packing in each of the past three seasons, but in 2013-14 Chicago lost the Western Conference Final.

Healthy Zucker, developing Dumba are Wild X-factors

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In order for the Minnesota Wild to advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs past the Western Conference Second Round and conquer the Chicago Blackhawks, who have eliminated them in each of the past three postseasons, it will require career seasons from their young forwards, the continued development of youth on the blue line, and perhaps a rebound campaign from a veteran or two.

Here are the X-factors that may decide whether the Wild can take the next step:

Red Wings' Tatar hopes to build off breakout season

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- On paper, it may look to some as though Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar took a while to reach the NHL.

He spent the better part of four seasons playing with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League before graduating full-time to the Red Wings in 2013-14.

The Red Wings, however, do not view it that way. They believe their leading goal-scorer from last season arrived on schedule and fully prepared to play in the NHL.

"His junior rights were owned by Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League and we had conversations about having him play with Tyler Seguin in Plymouth or playing in the AHL," general manager Ken Holland said. "He didn't know a lot about junior hockey and really wanted to play pro. We said come on over and we'll see how it goes. He stayed the entire year in the AHL and held his own."

Roundup: Canadiens defeat Penguins in Quebec City

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 12:39 AM / News

QUEBEC CITY -- The Montreal Canadiens played what was supposed to be a home game Monday.

It just didn't feel like one.

Playing the first NHL game at the brand new Videotron Centre, a building the city hopes will be home to its own NHL team one day, the Canadiens hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins in a preseason game in what was once extremely hostile territory.

It's been 20 years since that was the case, when the Quebec Nordiques moved away and became the Colorado Avalanche in 1995-96. An entire generation of people were born and have come of age since then, but that feeling remains.

Quebec City remains hostile territory for the Canadiens.

"It was probably 50/50," said Canadiens center David Desharnais, a native of nearby Laurier-Station, Quebec. "But that's the way it is here."

There were many red Canadiens jerseys among the sellout crowd of 18,259, but the people wearing those jerseys weren't very loud, or at least they weren't allowed to be.

To read the complete story by Arpon Basu, CLICK HERE.

NHL officials work with locals at Kraft Hockeyville

Monday, 09.28.2015 / 9:43 PM / Kraft Hockeyville USA

Kristen Nelson - Correspondent

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- Four NHL officials went back to basics Monday, re-examining what makes a good referee.

Before they drop the puck for the preseason game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN), the veteran officials worked with about a dozen amateur referees from the Johnstown area.

As part of the Kraft Hockeyville USA celebrations, the officials came into Johnstown a day early to run a clinic in the newly improved Cambria County War Memorial, which recently underwent $150,000 worth of renovations.

"The building looks much brighter than I remember, the new seats, it all looks great," official Ian Walsh said. "I've had a lot of great experiences here in Johnstown, so it's great to come back."

SpiderMable rescue of Oilers captain grips Edmonton

Monday, 09.28.2015 / 6:50 PM / News

SpiderMable came to the rescue Monday when she found Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference safe and sound after an apparent kidnapping by the villain Mysterio.

The caper, played out at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, was organized to grant the wish of 6-year-old Mable Tooke to fight crime like Spider-Man.

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