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Fantasy All-Access: Playoffs just around the corner

Every Monday contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.

There is about a month left in the NHL season, meaning the fantasy playoffs are coming up fast in head-to-head leagues.

The Nashville Predators have hit a rough patch, so fantasy owners should be aware of potential buy-low candidates. They have lost six straight games; during that streak captain Shea Weber has one goal and a minus-9 rating. Rookie Filip Forsberg has one assist in his past six games and James Neal and Seth Jones (24 percent owned in Yahoo) each have been held without a point during the losing streak. Colin Wilson (38 percent) is also mired in a deep slump.

Hudler, Varlamov and Talbot named stars of week

Monday, 03.09.2015 / 12:00 PM / News

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORKCalgary Flames center Jiri Hudler, Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov and New York Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot have been named the NHL's "Three Stars" for the week ending March 8.


Hudler paced the NHL with eight points and shared the League lead with four goals to help the Flames (36-25-5, 77 points) earn seven out of a possible eight standings points. He opened the week with 1-1—2, including the winning goal at 1:23 of overtime, in a 3-2 triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers March 3. Hudler followed that performance with 1-1—2 in a 4-3 shootout win over the Boston Bruins March 5. He then recorded 2-0—2, including the game-winning goal, in a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings March 6. Hudler closed the week with a pair of assists in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators March 8. The 31-year-old Olomouc, Czech Republic, native has posted multiple points in four consecutive games for the first time in his career. He leads the Flames with 23-33—56 in 63 outings this season, including four game-winning goals (tied for second on the team).

Around the League notebook for Sunday, March 8

Sunday, 03.08.2015 / 11:17 PM / News

NHL Public Relations


The New Jersey Devils celebrated the 20th Anniversary of their 1995 Stanley Cup Championship. More than 20 players and coaches reunited during two days of festivities from March 7-8. The celebration began Saturday at AmeriHealth Pavilion with an alumni charity game featuring the stars of the 1995 Stanley Cup Championship. Members of the Devils' first Stanley Cup team were also honored in a pre-game ceremony prior to the game at Prudential Center on Sunday.

Sharks forward Pavelski leads by example, with words

Sunday, 03.08.2015 / 11:01 PM / NHL Insider

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Joe Pavelski emerged as the San Jose Sharks' biggest offensive weapon last season when he led them and set career highs with 41 goals and 79 points.

Pavelski is leading by example again this season. His 32 goals and 61 points lead the Sharks, and he's also become their strongest voice in the locker room as one of four alternate captains along with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Coach Todd McLellan said Pavelski, 30 and in his ninth NHL season, all with San Jose, has embraced his leadership role.

Penguins prospect Murray sets AHL shutout record

Sunday, 03.08.2015 / 5:40 PM / News Staff

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie prospect Matthew Murray set an American Hockey League record by extending his shutout streak to 304 minutes and 11 seconds in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' 4-1 win against the Springfield Falcons on Sunday.

Murray, who made 32 saves, was 1:11 away from what would have been his 10th shutout of the season and fifth in a row when Springfield left wing Dana Tyrell scored in the third period.

Murray broke the record for longest shutout streak of 268:17, set by Barry Brust of the Abbotsford Heat in 2012. He earned his fourth consecutive shutout in a 3-0 victory against the Manchester Monarchs on Saturday.

Blackhawks' Kane optimistic as injury rehab continues

Sunday, 03.08.2015 / 2:35 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO – Forward Patrick Kane is back in the gym, keeping his legs strong, but there's no change in his estimated recovery time for a fractured left clavicle.

Following surgery Feb. 28 to repair the fracture, the Chicago Blackhawks announced Kane was expected to miss 12 weeks. If that timetable stays true, Kane won't be able to play until late May, which will be during the Western Conference Final, if Chicago makes it that far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"The timetable is still the same," Kane said Sunday after the Blackhawks held an optional morning skate prior to playing the New York Rangers at United Center. "Whatever the doctor said, we're still on that pace. For me right now, I'm just trying to work as hard as I can to get as healthy as possible. Whatever the doctors say and whatever they tell me, I'm ready. I'll be ready to play."

Kane was tied for the NHL lead with 64 points at the time of the injury, which occurred Feb. 24 in the first period of a game against the Florida Panthers. A crosscheck by Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic caused him to lose his balance and he crashed hard into the side boards in the offensive zone. His left shoulder absorbed the impact.

Maple Leafs send Kadri home, shut down Robidas

Sunday, 03.08.2015 / 1:40 PM / News

It was a busy day Sunday when the Toronto Maple Leafs convened for practice a day after a 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues at Air Canada Centre.

Forward Nazem Kadri missed practice after being sent home by interim coach Peter Horachek for being late, according to various reports. Kadri showed up at the Maple Leafs' training facility, but not on time. Horachek told him to leave for being late and not prepared for the practice.

"He missed a meeting, so I sent him home," Horachek said, according to the Toronto Sun. "He showed up, but not when I was doing it."

Around the League notebook for Saturday, March 7

Sunday, 03.08.2015 / 10:40 AM / News


Carey Price denied all 29 shots he faced for his 32nd career shutout to help the Montreal Canadiens end a three-game skid and close their road trip with a 1-2-1 record.

* The Canadiens (42-18-6, 90 points) leapfrogged the Nashville Predators (41-18-7, 89 points) – who lost in regulation – for second place in the NHL and moved within one point of the idle Anaheim Ducks (42-18-7, 91 points) for top spot. Only six points separate the League's top eight teams.

* Price earned his seventh shutout and 37th win of the season, one shy of his career-high in both categories (2010-11). He leads the NHL in wins, goals-against average (1.89) and save percentage (.936) and is tied for second in shutouts, two behind Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins).

* Lars Eller opened the scoring with his 10th goal of the season. His six game-winners are a career high and two shy of his career total before this season (286 GP).

SLR: Forgotten Vipers once rocked Detroit

Sunday, 03.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

John Manasso - Correspondent

The 1990s marked a time of seismic change in hockey: The Iron Curtain fell, providing a massive influx of talent from Eastern Europe, NHL franchises migrated from Canada and traditional markets in the Northeast and Midwestern United States to new ones and the League embarked on a rapid and ambitious expansion plan to the Sunbelt and beyond.

That atmosphere proved ripe for exploitation by the right kind of visionary minds. Enter Bill Davidson and Rick Dudley, the former, a glass manufacturing mogul who presided over a pro sports empire, and the latter, a respected talent evaluator with progressive ideas about how to run a pro hockey enterprise.

Together in 1994, they gave birth to the Detroit Vipers, an independent International Hockey League franchise that cut a rollicking, phoenix-like path through the decade. Playing out of the Palace at Auburn Hills, the home of the Davidson-owned Detroit Pistons of the NBA, the Vipers used the Pistons' charter plane for travel. While other minor-league franchises rode buses for hour upon hour, the Vipers whimsically flew to road games as close as Kalamazoo, 140 miles away -- or about a 15-minute flight.

Their top-notch facilities included a hot tub and a sauna. Former player Stan Drulia recalled a game in Cincinnati the night of one of the famous Evander Holyfied-Mike Tyson boxing fights. The players asked the pilot to wait long enough after the Vipers' game before returning to Detroit so that they could visit a local establishment and watch the fight first.

"Those are the privileges you appreciate and we were able to take advantage of," Drulia said.

Rogers Hometown Hockey: Thompson, Manitoba

Sunday, 03.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / News

CITY in Canada will televise "Rogers Hometown Hockey" on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET, prior to the game between the Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators. The show will also air on NHL Network in the U.S. The location this week is Thompson, Manitoba, and the half-hour program will celebrate the city's iconic hockey story.

Among the features airing on the pregame show:

*Born in Riverton, Manitoba, the odds of Reggie Leach making it to the NHL, let alone reaching the pinnacle of the sport, were long to say the least. Being the youngest of 13 kids growing up, Leach didn't have much, but his skill on the ice spoke for itself.

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Quote of the Day

It's not just going to happen on its own. We have to have guys commit to the areas we need to improve on. We're going to be better than last year but there is still a long way to go. But I really like the pieces and where we're headed.

— Sabres forward Tyler Ennis on the progress of Buffalo's rebuilding process