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Five players in race for NHL scoring title on final day

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 11:02 PM / News

Five players have a chance to win the NHL scoring title on the final day of the regular season, one of the closest races in League history.

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and John Tavares of the New York Islanders enter the full schedule of games Saturday leading the League with 84 points. Each had one point in New York's 3-1 win at Pittsburgh on Friday, moving ahead of Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars, who has 83.

Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers has 81, and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has 80.

It is likely to be the closest finish for the Art Ross Trophy since the shortened 1994-95 season, when Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Eric Lindros of the Philadelphia Flyers tied with 70 points. (Jagr won the Art Ross with 32 goals, three more than Lindros).

Around the League Notebook for Friday, April 10

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 10:56 PM / News

NHL Public Relations

Jaroslav Halak stopped all but one of 38 shots he faced to backstop the New York Islanders to a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders, who have earned points in four of their last five games (3-1-1), improved to 47-28-6 (100 points) this season. The Islanders rank third in the Metropolitan Division standings and moved within a point of the idle Washington Capitals (45-25-11, 101 points), who rank second.

Boston U. freshman Eichel wins Hobey Baker

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 9:01 PM / Prospects

Connor Mellas - Correspondent

BOSTON -- As clips of Boston University freshman Jack Eichel played on the video board at Matthews Arena, Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey turned to Eichel and laughed, shaking his head.

With the way Eichel scores goals, sometimes that's only appropriate response.

"That goal he scored against Wisconsin, it was pretty hilarious," Vesey said. "It was just a highlight-reel goal. He's just such a good skater and he uses edges so well there, and his reach and then the shot."

"He's a great player, and giving him the Hobey Baker is very well-deserved. He's been the most dominant player in college hockey."

Eichel won the 2015 Hobey Baker Award on Friday, becoming the second freshman to earn the award and the first since Paul Kariya led the University of Maine to the national championship in 1992-93. The award is given annually to the top player in NCAA men's hockey. It's named after Baker, a hockey and football standout at Princeton University who died test piloting a plane for the Army Air Service at the end of World War I. It's the highest individual honor in men's college hockey, the equivalent of college football's Heisman Trophy.

Five reasons the Kings didn't make the playoffs

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 7:51 PM / Expert Picks

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The water bottles were lined up on the bench and the ice was fresh at the Los Angeles Kings practice facility, but the players never put on their skates Friday. Later, a manager came out to pack up the bottles, and the lights were turned off.

The scene summed up the past three days for the Kings: a flicker of light for the Stanley Cup Playoffs that was extinguished Thursday when a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames made Los Angeles the first defending Cup champion to miss the postseason since the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006-07.

“Obviously it’s disappointing,” Kings center Jarret Stoll said. “There’s a lot of words to describe this season but, yeah, I think it’s maybe too fresh right now. It’s a weird, weird feeling. It’s a feeling we don’t like. We don’t want to relive this. You have a feeling of winning, and then you have a feeling of this. It’s pretty disappointing.”

Here are five reasons the Kings missed the playoffs:

Bruins struggles a group failure, GM says

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 7:06 PM / Expert Picks

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is more than a little bit disappointed with their performance this season.

“I consider it a failure and it’s a failure on everybody’s part,” Chiarelli said Friday in Tampa on an off day for players and coaches. “But being a failure doesn’t mean there has to be a complete overhaul of everything. Guys fail, teams fail, and they get back on their horse. And so again, I consider it a failure, but you don't always succeed in this business. You don’t always hit the ball out of the park all the time, and you’ve got to get back and do your job, and we’ve shown we can do that. But right now it’s very disappointing.”

Chiarelli’s comments were surprising considering the Bruins have a chance to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the eighth straight season. Boston will play its regular-season finale against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NESN, SN1), and there’s a chance it won’t be the Bruins' last game of the season.

Tarasenko, Steen set to return Saturday for Blues

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 5:57 PM / News

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- It won't be a meaningless game Saturday for the St. Louis Blues, who have a chance to clinch the top seed in the Western Conference.

They will also welcome back left wing Alexander Steen, right wing Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo from injuries.

The Blues already have the Central Division wrapped up with one regular season game remaining against the Minnesota Wild. All three will be in the lineup for one tune-up game before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Wild could be a potential Western Conference First Round opponent.

Avalanche's Pickard thriving with AHL workload

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 3:25 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to

Goaltender Calvin Pickard's ability to handle a heavy workload is starting to pay off.

Making his NHL debut, doing so under the watchful eye of one of his childhood idols and earning the top spot in ESPN "SportsCenter’s" Top 10 Plays are all things the 22-year-old can check off his to-do list. Between the Colorado Avalanche and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, Pickard has appeared in 61 games this season. That includes his first appearance and victory in the NHL.

“It seems like both places I've been in, I've been able to play a lot of games,” said Pickard, Colorado's third-round pick (No. 49) in the 2010 NHL Draft. “That’s how you develop, and I've been earning a lot of experience this year, playing at both levels and in different situations. It’s been a big year for me, for sure.”

Sakic says Avalanche better than this season's record

Friday, 04.10.2015 / 2:53 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche executive vice president and general manager Joe Sakic had an inkling that this could be a difficult season as early as training camp.

Yet he didn't anticipate the Avalanche missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs one season after they won the Central Division with 112 points under first-year coach and former teammate Patrick Roy.

The Avalanche are in last place in the division with a 38-31-12 record and 88 points with one game remaining, Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Pepsi Center.

"We expect to win," Sakic said. "We didn't come here to be hovering and missing the playoffs. Last year, for sure, 112 points ... we know we weren't as good as 112 points. This year, I think we're better than what we've performed. This year, the big thing is what happened the first half of the year. We weren't ready for (it)."

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Quote of the Day

It's an incredible feeling just to see it go in and see the Joe go pretty crazy.  Ever since the introduction there, I was kind of feeling the nerves, and to put that one home, I started to feel comfortable and I thought my play started to pick up.

— Nineteen-year-old Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin after scoring a goal in his NHL debut
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