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Fast start has Rangers' Lundqvist leading Vezina race

Thursday, 11.26.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault challenged his No. 1 goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, to get off to a better start this season after struggling early the past few years, and "The King" has responded by restaking his claim as the NHL's best.

After adjusting his preseason approach to focus more on technique and position-specific drills with goaltending coach Benoit Allaire, Lundqvist has emerged as the early favorite to win his second Vezina Trophy as the League's top goaltender by backstopping the Rangers to the top spot in the Eastern Conference after a 31-save shutout of the Nashville Predators on Monday.

Following a 5-1 loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, Lundqvist sits atop the NHL in goals-against average (1.94) and save percentage (.939); his 12 wins are second to the Washington Capitals' Braden Holtby, who has 13.

For those wondering if Lundqvist is sheltered behind a good team playing well defensively, he also leads NHL starters with an adjusted 5-on-5 save percentage of .954, according to, a measurement that weighs shot quality based on the distance of the shots a goalie faces.

"He's our best player, there's no doubt," Vigneault recently told The New York Times.

Bruins' Chara believes in more good times to come

Thursday, 11.26.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

After Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz recently announced the 2016 season would be his last, the revelation was met with celebratory commentary about his career, which included three World Series championships.

Someday before the end of this decade Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara might make a similar declaration and most likely will do it in a Bruins jersey. We know Chara will have at least one Stanley Cup championship and one Norris Trophy on his resume when his career concludes. But will his stint in Boston inspire the same adulation as Ortiz's?

"The city's been great. I've been really honored and humbled to be playing in this town and giving it my all," said Chara, who's in his 10th season with the Bruins and has two more after this one on his contract, according to "These are hardworking people and it's a pleasure to be playing for these kinds of people. So if I'm going to be celebrated, I don't know. Certainly everybody would want to be. When you play that many years and games and you win championships, hopefully people will remember and have good memories. But that's not what I'm looking right now at."

Chara, 38, is focused on on-ice matters. One season ago a ligament tear in his left knee cost him 19 games and made him look like a shell of the dominant defenseman who had been one of the most feared players to face for a decade. This season has been a comeback tour for Chara, who will be in the thick of the battle Friday when the Bruins host the New York Rangers at TD Garden in the Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown (1 p.m. ET, NBC, SN).

Oilers forward Yakupov injured against Hurricanes

Wednesday, 11.25.2015 / 11:14 PM / News

Edmonton Oilers forward Nail Yakupov sustained an apparent lower-body injury Wednesday against the Carolina Hurricanes when he was taken to the ice by an official.

During a faceoff at center ice early in the second period, Yakupov got his legs tangled with linesman Matt MacPherson, and each went down to the ice. Yakupov did not put any weight on his left leg while being helped to the Oilers dressing room at 2:22.

Canadiens goalie Price leaves game with injury

Wednesday, 11.25.2015 / 10:56 PM / News

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price left the game Wednesday against the New York Rangers after two periods with the same lower-body injury that kept him out of the lineup for nine games from Oct. 30 through Nov. 19.

Price's right leg appeared to bend awkwardly when he was trying to move across the crease during a sequence in the second period.

Montreal coach Michel Therrien said he did not know how long Price would be out of the lineup. He will not play against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Friday, but wasn't scheduled to play in that game. The Canadiens play the Devils at Bell Centre on Saturday.

Price was playing his third game since returning from the injury last Friday against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center. He finished with 22 saves in two periods Wednesday. Rookie backup Mike Condon replaced Price and made 11 saves in a 5-1 win.

"The medical staff was really comfortable and Carey was really comfortable to come back," Therrien said. "If we would have had any doubt, for sure we were never going to take that risk. That's all we could say about it. He tweaked it again tonight and that's why we don't want to take any chances. It's still early in the season, so it's important for us that when he plays he's got to make sure he's healthy."

Canadiens GM Bergevin signs multiyear extension

Wednesday, 11.25.2015 / 7:00 PM / News

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Marc Bergevin has guided the Montreal Canadiens from worst to first in the Eastern Conference since he was hired as the 17th general manager in their history prior to the 2012-13 season. He was rewarded Wednesday with a five-year contract extension.

Bergevin's extension carries him through the 2021-22 season. He has this season and the 2016-17 season remaining on his current contract, which he signed when he was hired by the Canadiens on May 2, 2012.

"It's all about timing, but [Canadiens owner] Geoff [Molson] has shown me on a few occasions in the past that he was willing to keep me in Montreal, and at the end of the day, the timing was right and we got the deal done," Bergevin said. "Today, I think we're both happy."

Stars' Lehtonen day-to-day with upper-body injury

Wednesday, 11.25.2015 / 4:40 PM / News

Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen is day-to-day with an upper-body injury sustained Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators.

Lehtonen didn't practice Wednesday after leaving the 7-4 loss after a collision with Stars defenseman John Klingberg at 1:05 of the third period.

"We'll know more in the next couple days," coach Lindy Ruff said. "I expect him to be back on the ice in a couple days."

Maple Leafs' Reimer expects to play Saturday: report

Wednesday, 11.25.2015 / 12:42 PM / News

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer wasn't on the ice Wednesday after leaving practice early Tuesday because of injury, but said he plans to practice Friday and start Saturday against the Washington Capitals, according to TSN in Toronto.

Reimer, who has started the past 11 games for the Maple Leafs and is fourth in the NHL with a .934 save percentage and seventh with a 2.07 goals-against average, told Sun Media his injury was to his lower body.

"It's not a guarantee because anything could happen or whatnot, but should be good to go for the weekend," Reimer told TSN.

Fantasy top 60 defensemen: Thankful for Burns, Faulk

Wednesday, 11.25.2015 / 12:05 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - Correspondent

Every Wednesday during the season, fantasy hockey contributor Brian Metzer provides in-depth defenseman analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer is your go-to guy for fantasy D-men advice all season long.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in Canada and the United States as a day of being grateful for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. We in the United States will celebrate this holiday on Thursday, but today the NHL's defensemen join me as we come together for our third annual defensive fantasy feast.

You are all probably used to attending gatherings that feature things like turkey, potatoes and roasted vegetables, as well as plenty of scrumptious desserts. Sadly, you'll have to wait until tomorrow for all of that, but the defensemen and I have tons of goals, assists and shots on goal, as well as secondary delights such as blocked shots and hits, to fill whet your fantasy palette!

The main course in this feast always comes in the form of goals, and since even the most lethal offensive defensemen tend to top out around 20, they are very valuable. This year Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks) and Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes) were nice enough to arrive at our feast with eight goals apiece. Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg Jets) and Shea Weber (Nashville Predators) brought six each, and Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators) and Colton Parayko (St. Louis Blues) brought us five.

Howe family reflects on legacy during holidays

Wednesday, 11.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Rarely has there been a dull moment on Thanksgiving Day in the home of Gordie Howe.

With four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, Howe certainly has a lot to be thankful for. His children, Marty, Mark, Murray and Cathy, are just grateful their father will be able to celebrate another Thanksgiving Day with the family.

Despite sustaining a series of strokes in 2014, Gordie Howe, 87, is in good spirits after two rounds of stem cell treatments in Tijuana, Mexico. He had his first treatment in December 2014, and a second round last June. He is now living with Murray and Murray's wife in Sylvania, Ohio.

The Howe family is considered hockey royalty, and they will be treated as such on Thursday during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when Marty and Mark ride atop a float, "Frozen Fall Fun," presented by Discover.

Wild's Koivu making early case for Selke Trophy

Wednesday, 11.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

David Satriano - Fantasy Staff Writer

A quarter of the way through the season there have been many surprises, whether it has been players or teams. One of those surprises is center Mikko Koivu of the Minnesota Wild, who is the pick to win the Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward.

When analyzing advanced stats, which play a big factor in determining the Selke Trophy finalists and winner, Koivu has excelled. He ranks eighth in shot attempts percentage at 5-on-5 (SAT%), and is tied for first in SAT Relative, a ratio of on-ice SAT% vs. off-ice SAT% (13.6). Koivu has won 54.6 percent of his faceoffs (253 of 463) and has been equally as impressive in defensive-zone faceoffs. He's taken 154 defensive-zone faceoffs and has won 50.7 percent.

His SAT percentage in close games (tied or one-goal difference) is 63.05 (third among forwards) and in tie games he ranks first (65.17).

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Quote of the Day

It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
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