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Blues, Blackhawks create offense with minimal risk

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 12:00 PM / Closer Look

Evan Sporer - Staff Writer

The distance from the blue line to the boards behind the goal is 75 feet; from side-to-side, another 85 feet of ice. Managed properly in an attacking situation, the offensive zone can become a dangerous place to spend time for any team. But managed improperly, offensive possession -- even nearly 200 feet away from a team's own goal -- can create a dangerous turnover and a quick opportunity against.

It's one thing to play conservative hockey. It's another entirely to play efficient hockey within a system that can mitigate the danger of making mistakes. The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues are two teams that can generate offense from their blue lines, but do so in a way that should they turn the puck over they're not at risk of becoming the victim of a quick counterpunch.

Blue Jackets pick Tynan leading charge in Springfield

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 11:32 AM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to

Before the season began, Jared Bednar's biggest concern with TJ Tynan was his size.

The rookie is listed at 5-foot-8 -- the smallest on a Springfield Falcons roster made up of mainly players 6-foot-plus -- and plays a defensively demanding, two-way position in center.

But now, after almost a full American Hockey League season, the Falcons coach's concerns have been completely alleviated.

"I think at first when you see a smaller, undersized guy that has some skill, you wonder as a coach, 'How is this guy going to play in traffic against bigger opponents every night for the course of a really long season?'" Bednar said. "The worries I had as a coach have really dissipated over the course of the season. He's proven to me that he has the ability to be a top player every night on both sides of the puck."

Playoff clinching scenarios for Friday, April 3

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 11:20 AM / Expert Picks

NHL Public Relations

With nine days remaining in the regular season, there are nine berths up for grabs in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There are no clinching scenarios for games Friday.

Playoff Countdown: Jockeying for position in Central

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 9:38 AM / Expert Picks

Saturday, April 11, marks the conclusion to the 2014-15 regular season. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the countdown to the end of the season and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

The St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks each clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by winning Thursday.

Their battle for home-ice advantage in the Western Conference First Round and the opportunity to catch the Nashville Predators for the Central Division lead continues Friday.

The Blues (47-23-7) visit the Dallas Stars (37-30-10), one of three teams in action that desperately needs points in the race for the second wild card into the playoffs from the West. The Blackhawks (47-24-6) play at the Buffalo Sabres (22-47-8).

Around the League notebook for Thursday, April 2

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 9:00 AM / News

NHL Public Relations


Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny, Jori Lehtera and Patrik Berglund all had 1-1—2 to help the St. Louis Blues sweep their three-game season series with the Calgary Flames, winning 4-1 and clinching a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 39th time in franchise history.

* The Blues also pulled within two points of the idle Nashville Predators (47-22-9, 103 points) for first place in the Central Division, where the top three teams are separated by three points.

* The Blues (47-23-7, 101 points), who will make their fourth straight trip to the postseason, also reached 100 points for the seventh time in franchise history, including three times in the past four seasons.

Five reasons Blues clinched playoff berth

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / Expert Picks

Jon Lane - Staff Writer

The St. Louis Blues are headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth consecutive season after a 4-1 win against the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

The Blues have earned 100 or more points in each of the past three full seasons, and they are three wins shy of reaching 50 for the second straight.

A six-game losing streak to end last season cost St. Louis the Central Division title; the Blues were then eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference First Round after holding a 2-0 series lead.

The Blues are again struggling down the stretch, and their leading scorer, forward Vladimir Tarasenko, is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, but if they can get back to full strength, they are built for a long postseason run.

Here are five reasons the Blues clinched a playoff berth:

Five reasons Blackhawks clinched playoff berth

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / Expert Picks

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

After some concerns down the stretch as they played without injured right wing Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks assured themselves of a berth in 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-1 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

The Blackhawks, who have 47 wins and 100 points, are third in the Central Division of the Western Conference and still have a chance to pass St. Louis Blues (101) and Nashville Predators (103). Chicago is 11-4-1 since Kane sustained a broken left clavicle on Feb. 24.

Here are five reasons the Blackhawks have qualified for the playoffs for a seventh straight season:

Super 16: Little clarity on favorite as playoffs beckon

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

By the end of the 2013-14 season, the top teams in the NHL had distinguished themselves.

The top of the West was pretty clearly a group of five teams: the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks. The top teams in the East was a smaller group, with the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers leading the way.

Save for the Bruins losing to the Montreal Canadiens, those other five teams that didn't win the Stanley Cup had their season ended by the Kings or the Blackhawks.

Two seasons ago, the Blackhawks went wire-to-wire but Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston were the three best puck possession teams to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs and all reached the final four. Even the Detroit Red Wings, a No. 7 seed facing the team with the second-most points (Anaheim), was tied for fourth among playoff teams in score-adjusted shot attempts percentage (SAT%) and they were the de facto fifth-place finishers, taking the eventual champs to seven games in the second round.

Andersen, Gibson push for playoff call in Ducks net

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / Expert Picks

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- The competition is intense, to hear Frederik Andersen tell it. There's not much separation between him and teammate John Gibson, and it often gets tight.

The thing is, Andersen isn't talking about their dual goaltending dynamic for the Anaheim Ducks but their latest head-to-head showdown in an NBA video game.

"It was actually a good series," Andersen said. "We had a best-of-7 series. I've got to win the Game 7 next time."

Andersen and Gibson are friends, teammates and young goalies who have propelled Anaheim to the best record in the NHL going into Friday against the Colorado Avalanche at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; SN1, ALT, PRIME). The competition between them for the No. 1 job is more of a media and fan curiosity, but there's no denying each is making it a tough decision for coach Bruce Boudreau with the Stanley Cup Playoffs ahead.

"I think they both want the starting role," Boudreau said. "We had a tough game in New York and Columbus [last month] and when [Andersen] played two really good games, it was like [Gibson] said, 'Oh, yeah? OK,' and he came in and played great. I think they both would like to have it."

Capitals' success this season is a team effort

Friday, 04.03.2015 / 1:29 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL – It was set up perfectly.

With the game on the line in the shootout, the two leading contenders to win the Hart Trophy, Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price and Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, were going head to head.

The game at Bell Centre on Thursday was hyped as a showdown between the two superstars. That was exactly what it came down to, with a chance for Ovechkin to win the game with a goal.

Ovechkin deked to his forehand, Price extended his pad, and the shootout continued.

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Quote of the Day

That group is not satisfied until we win a Stanley Cup. When we do win that Stanley Cup, I don't think we'll be satisfied then either. We're going to want another one. We have the group to do it. We have all the pieces. We just need to put them together.

— Ducks forward Ryan Kesler after signing a six-year extension with Anaheim this past July