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Top Line: Flyers rejoin playoff hunt, Iginla to Kings rumor ripped, more links

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Flyers-morning-links

This year has been a trying one for the Flyers, who might be looking at a premium draft spot come season’s end. (Eric Hartline/US Presswire)

A notated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

• Heading into Friday’s game with the Devils, the Flyers had an equal statistical chance to finish 29th overall as make the playoffs. That was until a rare shootout win took Seth Jones off their minds…at least temporarily.

• No doubt the vote of confidence GM Paul Holmgren gave coach Peter Laviolette was a great source of relief and comfort for all involved.

• Those Jarome Iginla to the Los Angeles Kings rumors don’t sit well with Eric Duhatschek.

• NHL owners will never pass on the lucre of an 82-game season, but let’s face it: this 48-game sked is pretty boss, isn’t it? The players of the Minnesota Wild seem to agree.

• Roberto Luongo reclaims the No. 1 job in Vancouver, making his third consecutive start tonight against the Red Wings. Coach Alain Vigneault has to go with the guy who is winning more games, and that’s Bobby Lu.

• If the Canucks watched the Wings Friday night, they learned it takes more than a 40-minute effort to beat them. The Oilers had the drop on them early, but the more experienced Wings stuck around long enough to capitalize on an own goal and a brilliant Pavel Datsyuk bid in OT to steal two points.

• Brent Burns has two goals in two games since being bumped from the blue line to Joe Thornton’s line. The erstwhile defender doesn’t see why a big deal is being made of the switch, but hey, versatility like that is pretty unique in the game today.

• In the midst of a disappointing season, defending Vezina winner Henrik Lundqvist is working on becoming a better puck distributor to help out his struggling blue line.

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  • Published On Mar 16, 2013
  • B’s vs. Caps: Possible Game 7 classic

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    Playing with great poise, young Braden Holtby has a chance to write another chapter in goaltending lore. (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    This memorable first round moves on Wednesday night to the first of three Game 7s in the Eastern Conference when a pair of marquee clubs square off in Boston: the Stanley Cup champion Bruins and the newly-minted defensive strong boys/former offensive dynamo Washington Capitals.

    Had it not been for the five straight overtime games between the Coyotes and Blackhawks, this would be hailed as clearly the opening round’s tightest series. Three matches have gone to extra time and of the total 387 minutes 31 seconds played in the six games, the teams have been tied for 268: 54 of them. Washington has led for 74:14; Boston for 44:23. The only two-goal lead, which the Caps had in Game 5, lasted all of 2:54. In a postseason that has seen many see-saw lead changes, this series has had none.

    Additionally, each team has scored 14 goals. But most notably, this is the first playoff matchup in Stanley Cup history ever to have its first six games all decided by one-goal margins.

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  • Published On Apr 25, 2012
  • Coaches at work: Flames friction, rematch in Buffalo, Bylsmaspeak and more

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    Philosophical differences between coach Brent Sutter and captain Jarome Iginla do not bode well for the Flames. (Colleen De Neve/ZUMAPRESS.com)

    By Stu Hackel

    Coaches are hired to be fired, as the saying goes. But what happens in between cements the perception we have of the guys who stand behind the bench in the NHL, the ones who prepare their teams in long hours of meetings and video study. It’s a hard job, especially when fans, the media and even the players believe they know better than the coach what a team should be doing.

    That seems to be the situation in which Flames coach Brent Sutter finds himself vis a vis his captain Jarome Iginla. Sutter believes his team won’t be the consistent force it can be unless everyone buys into his scheme, and that Calgary will continue to play as a bunch of individuals and not realize the potential of its collective talents. Specifically, he wants Iginla — the 15-year NHL veteran who has topped the 1,000 point plateau and is only 11 goals away from 500 — to concentrate on his defensive game.

    Right now, the 34-year-old Iginla is minus-12, with only five goals and four assists — not vintage Iggy.

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  • Published On Nov 23, 2011
  • NHL grapples with retaliation dilemma

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    Key question: Who is the most effective at policing the modern game on the ice – the NHL or the players? (Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE)

    By Stu Hackel

    In the aftermath of the Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller incident last Saturday, the Buffalo Sabres have come under heavy criticism for not pushing back against the Boston Bruins, either by challenging Lucic or by running goaltender Tim Thomas in retaliation. We showed video earlier this week of a 1987 game between Buffalo and Detroit that featured goalie-running and line brawls, but those sights are rare these days.

    Should the players take matters into their own hands more than they do now?
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  • Published On Nov 16, 2011
  • GMs take a stand to protect goalies

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    The next time a goaltender is flattened the way Ryan Miller, there will be consequences for the checker. (Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    When we first wrote Monday about Milan Lucic’s hit on Ryan Miller in last Saturday’s Sabres-Bruins game, the gist of that post was that the decision taken that day by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety would be pivotal in helping clarify what is permissible with regard to contact with goaltenders. The rules themselves are pretty straight-forward, but as we wrote, “Whether the NHL will back them up here is the issue.”

    However, it wasn’t the Player Safety boys who backed up the rules — they didn’t; they gave Lucic a free pass. It turned out that the NHL’s general managers — who purely by coincidence were scheduled to meet on Tuesday and who provide direction to Brendan Shanahan’s group — defended the rule and instructed the league to be more forceful next time when dealing with hits like Lucic’s.

    And that is a boost not just for goaltenders, but also for player safety in the NHL.
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  • Published On Nov 16, 2011
  • Lucic disciplinary decision may prove pivotal

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    Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was angry about his team’s tepid response to goaltender Ryan Miller being run by Boston’s Milan Lucic, but real fireworks may be in store if the NHL doesn’t clamp down. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    Milan Lucic gets hauled in front of the NHL’s justice system Monday afternoon after the big, tough Boston winger ran Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on Saturday night, a play that some considered the turning point in the Bruins’ 6-2 dismantling of Buffalo. Miller is out indefinitely with a concussion after Lucic plowed into him like the 6:46 from Haverhill to North Station.

    It might be an overstatement to say that what Brendan Shanahan and company decide on Lucic will be a defining moment in this new era of player discipline; in fact, it may end up being more of a defining moment for the Sabres. But Department of Player Safety rules may help clarify what is and what is not considered “a hockey play” in the current scheme.

    UPDATE: The NHL announced Monday afternoon Lucic would face no disciplinary action, citing a lack of intent on his part.

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  • Published On Nov 14, 2011
  • Underachieving Habs and Bruins ready to renew hostilities

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    Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty will surely have an emotional investment in meeting the Bruins again. (Michael Ivins/US PRESSWIRE)

    By Stu Hackel

    Fasten your seatbelts: The NHL’s greatest, most passionate rivalry resumes tonight when the Canadiens visit the Bruins for their first encounter this season (NHL Network in the U.S., 7 pm) and they play again on Saturday in Montreal. The six regular-season and seven playoff games these two played were some of the most exciting — and nasty — of the 2010-11 campaign and there’s no reason to believe they won’t continue in that vein.
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  • Published On Oct 27, 2011
  • Cup video captures Bruins’ determination

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    Though it contains some glaring omissions, the “Boston Bruins Stanley Cup 2011 Champions” video is will please devoted fans with its account of the team’s historic run to the title. (Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated)

    By Stu Hackel

    The ice has melted, the scruffy beards are gone and now, in the radiating heat of mid-July — one month after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup — the official NHL highlights video gets its premier in Boston on Monday and in New York on Tuesday. It’s a good, not great video, unless you’re a Bruins fan in which case you will forgive its shortcomings — including omitting some of the B’s more rugged play — due to the happy ending and the inside look at your heroes. For Bruins fans everywhere, this will be a must-have addition to their hockey collection.
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  • Published On Jul 18, 2011
  • Is this Stanley Cup Final series over?

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    Among the Canucks’ many headaches: Kevin Bieksa (3) and other key members of their defense corps look gassed or are injured and must find a way to halt Boston’s momentum. (Brian Jenkins/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    Alain Vigneault said all the right — and predictable — things at the podium after his team lost Game 4 to the Bruins, 4-0, on Wednesday night to even the Stanley Cup final at two games apiece. Asked about his team’s confidence, he responded, “It’s real good. You know, if somebody would have told me at the beginning of the year that we could play for the Stanley Cup, best two-out-of-three series with home ice advantage in front of our fans, I would have taken those odds, I would have taken that anytime to play for the big prize.”

    But what if that someone had also told him that his Canucks had just been outscored 12-1 in the last two games, the biggest two-game margin in Cup finals history, that his best players weren’t playing like his best players, that his defense corps had wilted, that his power play had gone south, that his goaltender had stopped making the big saves,  and that his team was being physically dominated and worn down? How much confidence could that inspire?
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  • Published On Jun 09, 2011
  • What to watch for in Cup final Game 4

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    A key question: If the Bruins come out flying and quickly put Roberto Luongo under siege, how will the Canucks’ goaltender react after being shelled in Boston’s Game 3 blowout? (Greg M. Cooper/US Presswire)

    By Stu Hackel

    Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final goes tonight in Boston in the wake of the NHL’s unprecedented decision to suspend Vancouver’s Aaron Rome for four games after his late hit on Nathan Horton.

    For a contest that isn’t a seventh game, this may be the most highly anticipated Cup final match of the last couple of decades. There’s great curiosity about whether the patterns of play that emerged in Game 3 will carry over — can Boston again impose its style on Vancouver? — and how the teams will adjust with their necessary lineup changes. How will the B’s will fare without one of their top line forwards and who will the Canucks bring into the lineup on defense?

    And, for many, the lure will be to see if and how the two antagonists further escalate their already fierce series.
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  • Published On Jun 08, 2011


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