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Bruins sign forward Hickman to entry-level contract

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 2:40 PM / News

BostonBruins.com

Boston, MA - Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today, March 4, that the Bruins have signed forward Justin Hickman to an entry-level contract.

Hickman, 20, has spent the previous five campaigns with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League from 2010 to 2015, establishing career highs last season when he notched 22 goals (tied for fourth on the team), 24 assists (tied for sixth on the team) and 46 points (sixth on the team) with 154 penalty minutes (first on the team). Hickman served as team captain for the last two seasons.

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Leopold's daughter on letter requesting trade to Wild

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 2:00 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Jordyn Leopold figured why not?

She missed her father, NHL defenseman Jordan Leopold, and wanted him to come home, so back in January she wrote a letter to the Minnesota Wild with the hope of getting Jordan back to the State of Hockey because her father was lonely in Ohio without Jordyn, her mother and her three siblings.

"I thought it might work to get him home," Jordyn, 11, told the Wild website. "I didn't think the letter [had a huge impact] but it could've."

"The Letter" has gone viral since it surfaced on March 2 shortly after Jordan was traded to the Minnesota Wild at the NHL Trade Deadline. The Wild acquired Leopold from the Blue Jackets for defenseman Justin Falk and a fifth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

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Top performer: Howard's effort carries Red Wings

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 12:20 PM / Top Performer

NHL.com

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard showed why he's among the NHL's best Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

Back at Joe Louis Arena from a six-game, 10-day road trip, the Red Wings were outshot 40-31 but managed a 2-1 win against the Rangers thanks to Howard. After allowing a power-play goal to Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi in the first period Howard made 29 saves the rest of the way, including a few that bailed out the Red Wings.

"I thought [Howard] was good," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told the Detroit News. "I thought we looked like we'd been on a long road trip and got back, and we were wearing snow shoes. Turned the puck over a lot."

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Capitals' Holtby finds rhythm

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 12:15 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com's Evan Sporer will provide you with in-depth analysis of goaltenders. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Sporer will be your go-to guy for advice on fantasy goalies all season long.

Of goalies currently ranked in Yahoo's top 21 overall fantasy players (of which there are four, and would likely be five if not for the long-term injury to Henrik Lundqvist), only one began the season with a pre-ranking outside of the top 50.

It's not Carey Price, who is leading the Vezina Trophy race and is arguably the NHL and fantasy MVP this season. It's not Pekka Rinne, whose return to health has also signaled a return to form. And it's not Marc-Andre Fleury, whose eight shutouts currently pace all goaltenders in the League.

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Leafs' Panik fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 12:00 PM / News

NHL.com

NEW YORK -- Toronto Maple Leafs forward Richard Panik has been fined $2,000 as supplementary discipline under NHL Rule 64 (Diving/Embellishment), the National Hockey League announced today.

Revised for the 2014-15 season following offseason approval by the League's Board of Governors and the National Hockey League Players' Association, NHL Rule 64 is designed to bring attention to and more seriously penalize players (and teams) who repeatedly dive and embellish in an attempt to draw penalties. Fines are assessed to players and head coaches on a graduated scale.

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Around the League notebook for Wednesday, March 4

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 9:14 AM / News

NHL.com

HAMMOND, SENATORS EXTEND STREAKS TO NARROW GAP IN EAST

Andrew Hammond made 35 saves, including 15 in the first period, to help the Ottawa Senators defeat the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. The Senators completed their road trip with a 4-0-1 record and stretched their overall point streak to seven games (6-0-1).

* At 28-23-11 (67 points), the Senators pulled within four points of the idle Boston Bruins (31-22-9, 71 points) for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The clubs face off two more times this season at Canadian Tire Centre: March 10 and March 19.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Senators earned a point in each game of a road trip (minimum five games) for the first time since Feb. 11-17, 2009 (also 4-0-1). However, this is the first time the Senators have accomplished the feat with the same goaltender recording each decision.

* Hammond has been in net for each game during the Senators' seven-game point streak (6-0-1). Elias says he is the first goaltender to earn a point in his first seven career decisions, in consecutive team games, since Jim Carey with the Washington Capitals from March 2-13, 1995 (also 6-0-1).

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Unmasked: Situation shows need for third goalie

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

It shouldn't have taken craziness in the Florida Panthers crease on Tuesday to remind teams of the importance of always having three NHL-capable goaltenders in their organization.

OK, it's rare to need three in the same game, which happened when Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya were injured against the Toronto Maple Leafs, setting off a wild scramble that saw each of them play while injured and 41-year-old goalie coach Robb Tallas gear up.

It's also becoming increasingly rare for a team to make it through an entire NHL season without using a third goaltender.

Six teams this season have played only two goalies, and that number will drop when Dan Ellis, who was called up by the Panthers on Wednesday, starts Thursday against the Dallas Stars. The Stars have used four goalies this season, one of six teams to do so. It will become seven teams when the New York Islanders use Michal Neuvirth.

So far this season, 87 goalies have appeared in at least one NHL game. Last season, 97 goalies got into a game, and three teams (the New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks) got through the season playing two.

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Hitchcock changed Blues into Stanley Cup contender

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- From the moment Ken Hitchcock was named St. Louis Blues coach in 2011, the idea was for him to help drive them back to respectability.

With the Blues set to play the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, SN360), it was another day of preparation Wednesday for what they have been striving for: to be among, if not the best in the League with hopes of an extended run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Hitchcock, who is 697-423-95 with 88 ties in 18 seasons, hopes people don't judge the Blues and their body of work simply on playoff success.

The work has been arduous at times, and there certainly have been challenges, but the rewards of having them on the cusp of success has been rewarding.

"I don't think you can guarantee any success in the postseason; every team tries for six weeks," Hitchcock said. "I think your body of work, I'm like everybody else living in St. Louis; we want to have more success in the postseason than we've ever had, unlike everybody else. But your body of work tells you everything about the coaching staff."

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All-around play of Penguins' Letang calls for Norris

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

With three-quarters of the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

Kris Letang has developed a reputation for being an offensive defenseman, a player who can contribute on the score sheet from his position on the blue line. And lately, when it comes to awarding the distinction of best defenseman in the NHL, offense has been a major component of the conversation.

The past five Norris Trophy winners have finished either first or second among defensemen in scoring, three times leading defensemen in points (Duncan Keith in 2013-14, P.K. Subban in 2012-13, and Erik Karlsson in 2011-12). It's created some conversation about what criteria is and is not factoring into the voting.

Letang leads defensemen in scoring this season, but it's what he's added to his game at the other end of the ice, and how well-rounded it has become that makes him the Norris favorite at this point.

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Crouse gained confidence with complete effort at WJC

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Prior to the start of selection camp for the Canadian National Junior Team in December, director of player personnel Ryan Jankowski informed forward Lawson Crouse that doing the three things he does best would better serve his chances of earning a roster spot for the World Junior Championship.

The checklist included being first on the forecheck, finishing his checks and putting "the odd puck in the net in the blue paint." Nothing new to Crouse, since he considers himself an energy guy capable of doing the little things necessary to succeed. He also has one heck of a shot.

While no one would mistake Crouse for fellow 2015 NHL Draft-eligible center Connor McDavid, he did exactly what he was told to do and as a result played a vital fourth-line role in a gold medal-winning performance.

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Quote of the Day

We have to develop into a good team. We have to develop the pieces now that are a little more evident and in place to become a good team. It's not there yet.

— Sabres coach Dan Bylsma on new Buffalo players working together