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Kadri suspended four games for illegal check

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 12:54 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL.com

NEW YORKToronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri has been suspended for four games, without pay, for an illegal check to the head against Edmonton Oilers forward Matt Fraser during NHL Game No. 1039 in Edmonton on Monday, March 16, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 10:58 of the third period. Kadri was assessed a minor penalty for illegal check to the head.

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Fantasy top 60 'D': Zidlicky on fire for Red Wings

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 12:10 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with in-depth defensemen analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer will be your go-to guy for fantasy blue line advice all season long.

The Detroit Red Wings had been in the market for a right-handed shooting defenseman dating back to last season. It was a hot topic as the team was breaking down and cleaning their lockers out after being eliminated by the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Right-shot defensemen are at a premium in the League, and I mean ones that can play on the point on the power play and get points," general manager Ken Holland told Ansar Khan of MLive.com at the time.

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Inside the matchup: Blackhawks vs. Rangers

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 10:46 AM / Tale of the Tape

John Kreiser - NHL.com Managing Editor

The Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers play for the second time in 10 days in a Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports).

The Rangers defeated the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime at United Center on March 8. It started a five-game winning streak that has carried New York to the top of the NHL standings. The Rangers have allowed three goals during the streak.

The Blackhawks also are perfect since that loss. Their 4-1 win against the New York Islanders on Tuesday was their third in a row; they've allowed four goals in the three wins.

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Rangers say Lundqvist needs 10 days before return

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 10:12 AM / News

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist will need approximately 10 days to get ready before playing, general manager Glen Sather said Wednesday at the NHL general managers meetings.

Lundqvist, who hasn't played since Feb. 2 because of a vascular injury, was cleared Tuesday by the Rangers doctors to return to practice.

"Just because he was cleared doesn't mean he's ready to return," Sather said. "I'd say a week to 10 days, probably closer to 10 days."

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Panthers announce new AHL affiliation with Portland

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 10:11 AM / News

FloridaPanthers.com

Sunrise, Fla. – The Florida Panthers announced today that the club has entered into a four-year agreement with the Portland Pirates, making the Portland Pirates its American Hockey League affiliate starting next season. The announcement was made jointly by Florida Panthers Executive Vice President & General Manager Dale Tallon and Portland Pirates Chief Operating Officer Brad Church.

"We are extremely pleased to announce this new affiliation with Portland," said Tallon. "Portland is a great hockey town, and we look forward to our prospects continuing to grow and develop in a successful and winning culture in Portland."

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Around the League notebook for Tuesday, March 17

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 9:00 AM / News

NHL Public Relations

PRESIDENTS' TROPHY RACE: CANADIENS AND BLUES WIN

The Montreal Canadiens (44-20-7, 95 points) and St. Louis Blues (45-20-5, 95 points) were victorious on Tuesday and sit tied in terms of points with the New York Rangers (44-17-7, 95 points) and Anaheim Ducks (44-20-7, 95 points) for first overall in the NHL. The top eight teams in the overall League standings are separated by only five points.

*The Canadiens defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2, with the teams scoring all five goals in an 11:06 span of the second period. P.K. Subban's 13th of the season at 15:26 stood as the game-winner.

*Subban's game-winning goal was his fifth of the season, second among NHL defensemen behind only Oliver Ekman-Larsson (7) of the Arizona Coyotes. Subban 13-39—52 is tied for second in League scoring among defenseman with the Pittsburgh Penguins' Kris Letang (10-42—52), four behind the Ottawa Senators' Erik Karlsson (18-38—56).

*Canadiens goaltender Dustin Tokarski made a career-high 41 saves to improve to 6-5-3 this season with a 2.66 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.

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Five things to watch when Blackhawks face Rangers

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

It may very well be a preview of the Stanley Cup Final when the New York Rangers host the Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden. This week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN1) features two of the top teams in the NHL, each of which seems primed to play deep into the spring.

With the Rangers atop the League standings and the Blackhawks battling for position in the Central Division, there's plenty at stake for each team.

Here are five things to watch between the Rangers and Blackhawks:

1. Who replaces St. Louis?

The Rangers recently lost defenseman Kevin Klein for 3-4 weeks because of an upper-body injury, and now they'll be without forward Martin St. Louis, who sustained a lower-body injury late in a 2-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Sunday.

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Richards chasing Cup with Blackhawks after Rangers

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Brad Richards saw this kind of season coming for the New York Rangers back in 2011, when he chose to sign with them instead of multiple suitors as an unrestricted free agent.

But less than a year after helping New York advance to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, Richards will play at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday as the third-line center for the Chicago Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN1).

The Rangers, who lead the NHL with 95 points, bought out the remaining six years of Richards' nine-year, $60 million contract last summer.

Richards signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks to continue his Stanley Cup quest, and said he harbors no hard feelings toward the Rangers.

"The only negative thing [in New York] was we were three wins away from winning a championship in an Original Six city, a great city, and that's why I was lucky enough to pick and choose this summer and come to an Original Six city here, a great historic franchise," said Richards, whose Rangers lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games. "That's the only thing that's left out. It would have been nice to close the deal and do that, but a lot of players say that every year."

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Kopitar, Gaborik searching for chemistry with Kings

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik were briefly neighbors in the popular town of Manhattan Beach, Calif., when Kopitar was remodeling a home earlier this season. It's a natural fit: The two are cut from the same cloth, elite European players who enjoy anonymity in Southern California.

But the buddy-movie notion of the two taking Kopitar's dog, Gustl, for a walk on the strand is slightly farfetched.

"We haven't gotten that far yet," Kopitar said.

That also might apply to their ongoing chemistry project this season for the Los Angeles Kings. After Gaborik and Kopitar clicked in last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two will continue searching for that mesh when the Kings look to continue their climb up the Western Conference standings Wednesday at the Anaheim Ducks (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

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Closer Look: Blackhawks, Rangers like to play fast

Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / Closer Look

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Pace and tempo are concepts talked about in hockey, but somewhat difficult to define. There are no statistics or metrics for pace like ones which exist in basketball, yet there are still teams that carry a reputation for wanting to play fast.

Two teams unafraid to play a quicker game are the New York Rangers and the Chicago Blackhawks. When they play Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports), each team will rely on how it exits the defensive zone to push the pace.

At their best, the Rangers and Blackhawks don't spend much time between the blue lines. With good puck-moving defensemen, and systems preaching a quick, north-south game through the neutral zone, each team looks to go on the attack as soon as it wins the puck in its defensive zone.

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Quote of the Day

He's, believe it or not, actually one of my favorite guys, and I've ended up trading him twice. I appreciate what he's done. He was one year away from being an unrestricted free agent, and I felt with this opportunity, that it was a chance that we were able to get somebody for him in Nick Bonino and Adam Clendening.

— Penguins GM Jim Rutherford on forward Brandon Sutter