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Youthful Rangers focused on getting better after changes

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — Chris Kreider and the New York Rangers have put last season’s struggles behind and are just focusing on trying to get better.

”Show up and compete every single day,” Kreider said Friday as players skated in groups for on-ice testing. ”We want to win games. It’s not a developmental league. Right now everyone is 0-0-0 across the board. It’s a clean slate for players, clean slate for teams.”

The Rangers are in a rebuilding mode after dealing several stars in a youth movement at the trade deadline last winter and then finishing 20 points out of a playoff spot while missing the postseason for the first time in eight years.

There’s also a new coaching staff with David Quinn making the jump from Boston University to the NHL as the head coach to lead a younger team with some veterans.

”You lose teammates every year, there’s always turnover,” Kreider said. ”At the same time I think there’s a good buzz around the group right now. I think everyone’s excited about the group that we have, about the coaching staff, about the players.”

Mika Zibanejad returned from his home in Sweden feeling energized after helping his country win the world championships in May. He credited that experience for fueling his summer workouts.

[Three questions facing the Rangers]

”Got to finish off the season in a better way, personally,” Zibanejad said. ”Got that win and I felt more motivated in the training. Now, I’m just coming back here and get excited again.”

Both Kreider and Zibanejad had positive things to say about their new coach. Kreider, who played at Boston College, said he nearly went to Boston University, and ”a big part of that was Coach Quinn.” Zibanejad was appreciative that Quinn traveled to Sweden during the summer to meet with him, goalie Henrik Lundqvist and Jesper Fast.

When Quinn met with reporters on Thursday, he stressed patience, as well as the importance of practicing hard.

”It’s going to take a little bit of time,” he said. ”Once we get on the ice I’ll have a clearer picture of what everybody is capable of doing, their strengths and weaknesses. … We want to be a fast, physical, relentless hockey team. You can’t play that way unless you practice that way.”

That will begin Saturday when the team breaks into three groups for daily practices.

Some other things to know as the Rangers open training camp:

BETWEEN THE PIPES: The 36-year-old Lundqvist is back for his 14th season after going 26-26-7 with a 2.98 goals-against average – the highest of his career. It was also just the second time he finished with fewer than 30 wins; the other was the lockout-shortened 2012-13, when he was 24-16-3.

”I think he’s in a great mindset,” Quinn said. ”He wants to be part of the next wave and win a Stanley Cup here. He’s in incredible shape, he’s an incredible competitor and he’s one of the best in the business.”

Alexandar Georgiev went 4-4-1 with a 3.15 GAA in 10 games down the stretch, and Marek Mazanec was signed after compiling a 8-13-4 mark with a 2.98 GAA in 31 career games for the Nashville Predators.

HEALTHY AGAIN: Zibanejad and Kreider are among several players who are healthy now after dealing with injuries last season. Zibanejad, who missed nearly two months witha broken left leg in the 2016-17 season, was out for about 10 games with a concussion last November. He had 11 goals and 11 assists in 22 games before the injury, and finished the season with 20 goals and 27 assists.

Kreider missed two months after having a rib removed to help alleviate a blot clot in his right arm. He said he recently received ”a clean bill of health” after meeting with his pulmonologist to make sure he wasn’t predisposed to blood clots.

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is also healed after a knee injury in January ended his season.

LOGJAM ON DEFENSE?: Shattenkirk, Brady Skjei and veteran Marc Staal are assured of their spots on defense. After that it could be an open competition.

Adam McQuaid, a nine-year veteran, was acquired from Boston earlier in the week. The 6-foot-4, 212-pound 31-year-old is similar in size to Rob O'Gara, who also came over from the Bruins last February. Fredrik Claesson was signed this summer, Tony DeAngelo is getting another look, and Neal Pionk had a goal and 13 assists in 28 games after making his NHL debut last season. Youngsters Ryan Lindgren, Libor Hajek, and Joey Keane are also among others in camp.

CENTER DEPTH: Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes figure to be the top two centers again. Lias Anderson, 19, and Filip Chytil, who turns 20 next month, could key the youth movement. Both appeared in fewer than 10 games last season after being taken in the first round of the 2017 NHL draft.

Ryan Spooner and Vladislav Namestnikov – both acquired in trade-deadline deals – are also centers on the roster, along with Boo Nieves. Peter Holland, Steven Fogarty and Gabriel Fontaine will also get looks.

Follow Vin Cherwoo at http://www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP

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The Buzzer: Petersen gets first win for Kings; Skinner scores again for Sabres

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Three Stars

1. Cal Petersen, Los Angeles Kings. With injuries to Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell, the Kings have had to resort to their third-and fourth-string goalies Cal Petersen and Peter Budaj. On Friday night in Chicago it was Petersen getting the start and he was absolutely fantastic in a 2-1 shootout win over the Blackhawks stopping 34 shots through regulation and overtime to pick up his first NHL win. This is only the sixth win of the season for a Kings team that has struggled from the start. It also snapped what had been a three-game losing streak. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have now lost nine of their past 10 and have managed just four goals in their past four games.

2. Jeff Skinner, Buffalo Sabres. Things are starting to look good for the Buffalo Sabres who have now won four in a row and five of their past six thanks to a 2-1 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. At the center of this recent surge has been Jeff Skinner, their biggest offseason acquisition. His goal early in the third period on Friday was the game-tying goal and his 14th of the season, which keeps him in second place in the league’s goal-scoring race. He has been especially hot lately with five goals in his past four games and 13 goals in his past 12 games. He has been everything the team hoped he would be when they acquired him from the Carolina Hurricanes over the summer.

3. Ryan O'Reilly, St. Louis Blues. After his 10-game point streak came to an end on Wednesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, Ryan O’Reilly was able to get back on the scoresheet with a pair of goals on Friday in a 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. O’Reilly has been the Blues’ best player by a substantial margin this season and is already up to 10 goals and 23 total points this season in only 17 games.

Highlights of the Night

The Washington Capitals were 3-2 overtime winners in Colorado on Friday night and it was Devante Smith-Pelly getting them on the board by finishing this beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play.

Morgan Rielly continued his incredible season on Friday night with the game-winning overtime goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the win Toronto takes over the top spot in the NHL standings while Rielly continues to pace all defenders with 25 points in 20 games. Ottawa Senators rookie Thomas Chabot and San Jose Sharks defender Brent Burns are the only other players at the position with more than 20 points so far this season.

Factoids

This is a tremendous stat from the Washington Capitals-Colorado Avalanche game, where both Avalanche goalies are former long-time Capitals netminders, and the Capitals two goalies on Friday have barely played for the team.

The Dallas Stars win over the Boston Bruins did not have a lot of offense, but it certainly had a lot of excitement thanks in large part to Brad Marchand. Still, it was the Stars getting the 1-0 overtime win. That is something that had never happened in Stars franchise history.

 

Scores

Dallas Stars 1, Boston Bruins 0 (OT)

Buffalo Sabres 2, Winnipeg Jets 1 (SO)

Los Angeles Kings 2, Chicago Blackhawks 1 (SO)

Washington Capitals 3, Colorado Avalanche 2 (OT)

St. Louis Blues 4, Vegas Golden Knights 1

Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Anaheim Ducks 1 (OT)

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Brad Marchand pulls a Roger Neilson, waves ‘white flag’

Fox Southwest
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It was another eventful for night for Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

After a series of penalties in the second period of his team’s 1-0 overtime loss in Dallas, he decided to pull a Roger Neilson and wave the white flag by sticking a towel on the blade of his hockey stick and … well … waving it from the penalty box. This was presumably a form of surrendering to the referees.

Or simply Brad Marchand doing Brad Marchand things.

His adventure started in the second period when he was given a double-minor for roughing Radek Faksa after Marchand came to the defense of his linemate, Patrice Bergeron, who was sent flying into the boards at the hands of Faksa. Bergeron briefly exited the game before returning.

Here is the entire sequence.

After serving his four minutes for that altercation, Marchand returned to the ice and was almost immediately sent back to the box for slashing stars goalie Ben Bishop.

Nobody from Boston liked the call at all, with Marchand at being at the top of the list.

That was when he waved the white flag and was sent off for 10 additional minutes.

That might look familiar to you because you might recall former long-time NHL coach Roger Neilson doing something similar during the 1982 playoffs when he was coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

Marchand has been in rare form this season, even for him. Earlier this month he was given a 10-minute misconduct for mocking Nashville Predators forward Colton Sissons for embellishing a high-sticking call, which came after he bloodied Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller in the season-opener after Eller taunted the Bruins’ bench.

In the playoffs the NHL had to instruct Marchand to stop licking opposing players.

No matter what you think of Marchand as a player you at least have to admit this: It is never boring with him around.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Josh Archibald suspended two games for hit on Ryan Hartman

via NHL DoPS
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After holding a hearing with Josh Archibald earlier on Friday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety suspended the Arizona Coyotes forward two games for his “high, hard hit” on Ryan Hartman of the Nashville Predators.

The league’s explanation video explains that Hartman’s head was “the main point of contact” and that contact with the head was avoidable.

During the game itself (a 2-1 win for the Coyotes on Thursday), Archibald received a minor penalty. He doesn’t have a history of supplemental discipline at the NHL level, which may have prompted a lighter punishment. Hartman eventually returned to that loss for Nashville.

Here’s the explanation video via the NHL’s DPoS:

Archibald will be eligible to play for the Coyotes again on Nov. 23.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Penguins’ Matt Cullen fined $1,000 by NHL for dangerous trip

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NEW YORK (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cullen has been fined $1,000 by the NHL for a dangerous trip of Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Miller.

The infraction came during the first period of Thursday night’s game, a 4-3 victory by Tampa Bay. Cullen was assessed a minor penalty for tripping.

In announcing the fine, the league said Friday the money will go the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.