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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 01:23 am
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lobo316



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Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby went to work on Sunday with the Florida Panthers in town.

The Kid buried a natural hat trick, giving him a league-leading 40 tallies this season and 10 career three-goal performances. All three of his markers were assisted by linemates Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary.

With his latest goal, Crosby also moved into a tie with Connor McDavid atop the scoring race with 80 points on the season.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 01:25 am
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Damian Lillard was close to a career-high 52 points on Sunday, but the Miami Heat double-teamed him on his last few touches of the Trail Blazers' 115-104 win. As a result, Lillard didn't set a new personal best - or a team record for treys - but he did score 49 points and tied his best-ever total (and the franchise mark) with nine 3-pointers in the game.

In hitting his 1,000th career trey, Lillard also became the first Portland player to do so, and only the second in NBA history to reach 1,000 threes in his first five seasons (Klay Thompson is the other).

It was another efficient night for Lillard, who shot 67 percent from the floor and was perfect from the free-throw line (12-for-12).

Damian Lillard's 49 points are the most by any NBA player on 21 field goal attempts or fewer since Amar'e Stoudemire (11/5/08).

— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) March 20, 2017
In fact, Lillard is perfect from the stripe over his last five games and has missed only four of 79 foul shots in March. The Blazers are 8-2 during the month, and after Sunday's win inched within a game of the eighth-place Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 01:31 pm
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This is a recording: The Chicago Blackhawks are headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Chicago's 6-3 comeback win - combined with the Los Angeles Kings' 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames - meant the Blackhawks officially clinched their postseason berth late Sunday night.

It's the ninth straight season that Chicago will compete for the Stanley Cup, all with Joel Quenneville behind the bench - the man can coach. And if recent odd-year history is any indication, the Blackhawks could be due for their fourth Cup in the Quenneville era this year, having won in 2015 and 2013. And, yes, we're just about into dynasty territory here.

Chicago's the top seed in the Western Conference, seven points up on Minnesota, thanks to a 24-9 run since Jan. 1.

For L.A., the loss was a massive one. Calgary's now 11 points clear of the Kings in the Pacific, and back into third place in the division. Los Angeles is 10 points back of Edmonton for the first wild-card spot, and remains six points back of Nashville for the second. Each team has played 71 games.

The Kings are running out of time, in other words.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 01:33 pm
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t's safe to say Drew Doughty isn't a huge fan of Calgary Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk.

After being on the receiving end of a dirty and dangerous elbow to the head from Tkachuk on Sunday night in Calgary, the Los Angeles Kings defender was honest when talking about the 19-year-old and the play after the game.

"He's a pretty dirty player, that kid," Doughty said, according to LA Kings Insider's Jon Rosen. "To be a rookie and play like that is a little surprising. I don't know exactly what happened because I got hit in the head, but I thought he elbowed me. ... Whatever it was, it hurt pretty bad, and it's going to hurt for a bit."

Doughty was helped off the ice after the incident, which occurred late in the first period, but was back on the bench to start the second period. He ended up playing a Doughty-like 28:14.

It's not the first time Doughty and Tkachuk have battled this season.

"It's just that every game I've played against him basically, me and him get after it a little bit," Doughty added. "Obviously, partially that's my fault, too, because I like to get under people's skin, too. He's a young guy in the league, and I don't think he necessarily meant to hurt me or anything like that, but he did."

While Tkachuk wasn't penalized on the play, it's highly possible he'll be hearing from the NHL's Department of Player Safety in the coming days.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 01:35 pm
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Remember when Brian Elliott couldn't win a game? Times have changed.

The Calgary Flames goaltender added another victory to his 2016-17 resume Sunday night, a 5-2 decision over the Los Angeles Kings. Elliott also tied a Flames franchise record set by Mike Vernon almost 30 years ago by winning his 11th straight game.

Elliott made 19 saves Sunday and is a huge reason why Calgary improved to 13-1-1 over its last 15 games.

After recording only three wins through November (all came in October), he's making up for lost time. Elliott is 16-4-2 with a .925 save percentage since Jan. 1, and is an obscene 7-0 in March with a dazzling .952 save percentage.

With the Flames in Washington on Tuesday, Elliott's now got work to do in order to claim the club record for himself. Right now, though, betting against Calgary - and Elliott - is a fool's errand, regardless of the opposition.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 01:36 pm
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The waiver wire doesn't always produce a rich harvest, but Paul Byron is certainly proving to be a considerable exception.

The Montreal Canadiens center scored his 20th goal of the season in Sunday's win over Ottawa, making general manager Marc Bergevin look like a genius for scooping him off waivers and locking him up to a contract extension.

Paul Byron, claimed off waivers early last season, signed to a 3-yr deal worth $1.167-M a yr, scored his 20th goal tonight. Salary cap gold

— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) March 20, 2017
Byron was waived by the Calgary Flames prior to the 2015-16 regular season in order to carry three goalies on the roster, namely Jonas Hiller, Joni Ortio, and Karri Ramo, none of whom are still around.

Montreal was the only team to put in a claim, and were pleased enough with his contributions to sign him to a three-year extension last February.

Drafted 179th overall by Buffalo in 2007, Byron was used sparingly by the Flames during his time in Calgary, but his persistence - spurred by the advice of an AHL coach - is now paying dividends.

Asked Paul Byron if there was a pt he thought a day like this (20 NHL goals) may never come. What an answer! '14 summer after breaking wrist pic.twitter.com/HVCawrANgZ

— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) March 20, 2017
No one would have asked, "Where would the Canadiens be without Paul Byron?" back in the preseason, but his 20 goals rank second only to Max Pacioretty, and he has 17 assists to boot.

Deployed both on the power play and penalty kill, Byron is indeed proving to be an unsung hero in Montreal.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 11:09 pm
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Safe to say Daniel Winnik doesn't like the NHL's postseason format.

"It's stupid," the Washington Capitals forward told The Washington Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan Monday. "It's the stupidest thing ever."

The league's divisional playoff format, instituted in 2014-15, matches the second and third-place teams in each division against one another in the first round.

It was brought in to foster intra-division rivalries and create new ones, but Winnik thinks people are getting tired of watching similar matchups each spring.

"I’m sure fans are getting sick of seeing the same two teams play each other in the first round and second round," he said, according to The Associated Press' Stephen Whyno.

The Capitals became the first team this season to clinch a playoff spot Saturday night and currently hold the tiebreaker over the Columbus Blue Jackets for the league's best record.



A first-place finish would ensure the Capitals of a first-round matchup against the worse of the two Eastern Conference wild-card teams (right now, that's the Toronto Maple Leafs), whereas a slip to second place would force Washington to battle either the Blue Jackets or the Pittsburgh Penguins.

That underscores just how important it will be to finish first, and those three Metropolitan Division foes are separated by a single point through Sunday's games.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 20th, 2017 11:10 pm
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No surprise here, but Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand was named the NHL's first star of the week after registering five goals and four assists in three games, including his second-career hat trick in a marvelous performance against the Canucks. The 28-year-old's surge has propelled him into second place in the league's goal scoring (37) and points races (79).

The only player with more goals than Marchand, Sidney Crosby, received second star honors after netting eight points in four games, highlighted by a natural hat trick Sunday versus the Panthers to hit the 40-goal mark for the second time in his career.

Lastly, red-hot Calgary Flames netminder Brian Elliott was designated as the third star after going 3-0-0 with a sparkling 1.95 goals against average and .926 save percentage. Elliott has won 11 consecutive starts, matching Flames icon Mike Vernon for the longest such run in franchise history.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 21st, 2017 10:02 pm
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As you've probably heard by now, Brad Marchand is more than a pest. The guy can score, and he can dish, too.

Marchand's ascension this season - into tie for second place in the league scoring race (37G, 43A) - has surprised many in the hockey community, but he's showing few signs of slowing down.

In Monday's loss to Toronto, Marchand recorded the lone assist on David Backes' first-period marker, bringing his point total to 80 on the season. He's the first Bruin to reach the number since Marc Savard in 2008-09, per NHL Public Relations.

For a franchise that's made the playoffs in all but two seasons since 2009 - including a Stanley Cup title (2011) and Presidents' Trophy (2014) - it's also surprising that no Bruin has topped Marchand's 2016-17 total during their run of success.

At his current pace (1.11 P/GP), Marchand projects to reach 91 points if he suits up for each of Boston's 10 remaining games.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 22nd, 2017 09:16 pm
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Somehow, the Blackhawks always find a way.

Much has been made of Chicago's salary cap casualties during its run off success over the past nine years, but general manager Stan Bowman continues to surround his core with a capable supporting cast.

Case in point: During Tuesday's loss to the Vancouver Canucks, Richard Panik became the sixth Blackhawk to record at least 20 goals this season.

Panik joined Patrick Kane (32), Artemi Panarin (24), Marian Hossa (23), Artem Anisimov (22), and Jonathan Toews (20) in the team's 20-goal club, and rookie Ryan Hartman - who's scored 18 - could soon be next.

As it stands, this is the first time since 2009-10 that Chicago has had six 20-goal scorers. That season, of course, marked Chicago's first of three Stanley Cup wins, and the Blackhawks' depth up front this season suggests another long run is quite possible.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 11:19 pm
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The New York Islanders will have to try and secure a playoff spot without Ryan Strome.

The young forward broke his wrist during Wednesday's game against the Rangers and will be sidelined for several weeks, reports Arthur Staple of Newsday. Strome is therefore unlikely to play again this season unless the Islanders go on a deep run.

Staple adds that either Shane Prince or Alan Quine are likely to take Strome's spot in the lineup.

Strome had been playing some decent hockey of late, recording six goals and nine assists in 24 games since the beginning of February.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 11:46 pm
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Even falling @43_Kadri puts the puck in. #TMLtalk pic.twitter.com/9AnanDejDp

— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 23, 2017
After 36 years, the Toronto Maple Leafs once again boast two 30-goal centers.

Nazem Kadri hit the benchmark for the first time in his career Wednesday night in a massive victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, scoring an insurance marker with a lunging effort on the doorstep when Joonas Korpisalo failed to control a rebound late.

Toronto's other 30-goal man, rookie Auston Matthews, scored his 33rd goal on the season in the win, which saw the Maple Leafs unseat the Boston Bruins for the third seed in the Atlantic Division.

Kadri's previous career high was 20 goals, a mark equaled nearly two months ago with a pair scored in a 4-0 victory over the Calgary Flames.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 23rd, 2017 11:48 pm
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William Nylander is into the Toronto Maple Leafs rookie record book.

The exceptional, often-overlooked Maple Leafs freshman equaled a franchise rookie mark Wednesday versus the Columbus Blue Jackets, extending his point streak to nine games with a primary assist on Auston Matthews' 33rd goal of the season.

Nylander hit the lucrative 20-goal mark on a breakaway in the second period, counting his first multi-point outing on the streak. He has three goals and seven assists over that span, upping his total to 54 points.

Nylander shares the point streak record with Gus Bodnar, Bob Nevin, and Dan Daoust, who collected at least one point over nine consecutive games in their rookie campaigns. He'll have an opportunity to break that record Thursday when the Maple Leafs host the New Jersey Devils in the second half of a back-to-back.

In this incredible rookie class, Nylander isn't the first to nab at least a share of a rookie record. Surprisingly, that distinction belongs to Zach Hyman, whose three shorthanded goals are the most by a Toronto rookie. But the two rookies who have hogged the applause this season will soon join them.

Matthews is within one goal of Wendel Clark's franchise mark, while Mitch Marner's next assist will be No. 40, which would match the standard Bodnar established in 1943-44.

Both Matthews and Marner could potentially exceed Peter Ihnacak's rookie record of 66 points.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 24th, 2017 10:14 pm
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The NHL's Players' Association has been pondering the institution of a ban that would prevent certain agents from reaching out to under-16 players and their families.

NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon confirmed by email to TSN's Rick Westhead that the potential regulation would affect certified agents, and that the union has been discussing it for the past year.

"There is a lot to consider,” Weatherdon wrote. “If we put a rule like this in place, it is a very big undertaking with certified agents and prospects all over the entire world. How would we go about ‘policing’ it and at what cost? So the age limit matter is getting discussed, but a decision isn’t imminent.”

The conversation might be preliminary, but the spokesman said multiple staff members within the NHLPA are involved in the discussion, and the rule is being considered because there is "concern that increasingly young players are being recruited and signed by agents."

A pair of active NHL player agents told Westhead that some agencies hire so-called "bird-dog scouts," often former players who aren't certified, to develop ties with players as young as nine years old.

The discussion will continue when meetings between the NHLPA and its agents begin later this month.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 24th, 2017 10:26 pm
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The NHL's Players' Association has been pondering the institution of a ban that would prevent certain agents from reaching out to under-16 players and their families.

NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon confirmed by email to TSN's Rick Westhead that the potential regulation would affect certified agents, and that the union has been discussing it for the past year.

"There is a lot to consider,” Weatherdon wrote. “If we put a rule like this in place, it is a very big undertaking with certified agents and prospects all over the entire world. How would we go about ‘policing’ it and at what cost? So the age limit matter is getting discussed, but a decision isn’t imminent.”

The conversation might be preliminary, but the spokesman said multiple staff members within the NHLPA are involved in the discussion, and the rule is being considered because there is "concern that increasingly young players are being recruited and signed by agents."

A pair of active NHL player agents told Westhead that some agencies hire so-called "bird-dog scouts," often former players who aren't certified, to develop ties with players as young as nine years old.

The discussion will continue when meetings between the NHLPA and its agents begin later this month.

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