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Blackhawks look ahead after 12-game win streak ends

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TAMPA — The longest winning streak in Chicago Blackhawks’ history ended Thursday when they lost 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. But coach Joel Quenneville feels the defending Stanley Cup champions have put themselves in a strong position for the remainder of the season by running off 12 consecutive victories.

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The Blackhawks were 13 points out of first place in the Western Conference after a 2-1 home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 27. They began the streak two days later, and despite wholesale jerseys the loss to the Lightning are three points ahead of the Dallas Stars for the top spot in the Central Division and the Western Conference.


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Quenneville feels the winning streak has the Blackhawks in a good position with 32 games remaining.

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“[The streak] put us in a great spot,” he said. “You’re in that 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 [position in the standings] basically almost all year, I’d say even 10. You want to try to keep yourself out of that position. There’s a lot of hockey left to be sorted out but I really liked what we did. We still have to keep pushing.”

Moving forward was the prevailing message after the game.

Chicago (31-14-4) won’t have much time to think about the loss to the Lightning; the Blackhawks visit the Florida Panthers on Friday. The Panthers also had a 12-game win streak, from Dec. 15 to Jan. 10, but they are 0-3-1 in their past four games. That’s something the Blackhawks would like to avoid.

“It will be fun to play Florida,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson Jerseys said. “I bet they are pretty hungry too. I think they’ve lost four in a row. It’s going to be a big challenge.”

Chicago returned to Amalie Arena for the first cheap nhl jerseys time since Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, a 2-1 victory that gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 series lead. The Lightning entered the game Thursday on a six-game winning streak and used a smothering defense to frustrate the Blackhawks: Tampa Bay outshot Chicago 33-18 and won 32 of 48 faceoffs.

The top line of Jonathan Toews Jerseys, Marian Hossa Jerseys and Andrew Shaw Jerseys was held to two shots on goal. Lightning coach Jon Cooper dispatched the line of Ryan Callahan, J.T. Brown and Valtteri Filppula to keep them contained.

Callahan was credited with three hits. He also created two good scoring chances in the first period that were denied by Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford Jerseys.

“You can feel [the energy] in the building, going into the game.” Callahan said. “I think anytime we play Chicago cheap custom jerseys now you’re going to look across and you remember playing them in the Finals and you remember that feeling of losing to them. The extra emotion is there.”

Crawford made 31 saves but had his nine-game winning streak snapped. He said the Blackhawks have to focus on the next game.

“It was definitely a turning point cheap custom jerseys for our season,” Crawford said of the 12-game streak. “We are feeling good and have chemistry throughout the lines. It was definitely important to get on that streak and move up the standings.”

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O’Ree, Bettman attend premiere of ‘Soul on Ice’

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WASHINGTON — Willie O’Ree wasn’t allowed an early screening of the film “Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future.”

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His co-worker at the NHL, Ken Martin, the League’s cheap jj watt jersey senior vice president of community and diversity programming, wanted him to have a visceral reaction to a movie that is as much about him and his legacy as a groundbreaker in hockey as anyone else.


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O’Ree broke the color barrier in the NHL when he debuted for the Boston Bruins Jerseys on Jan. 18, 1958. He is now a pioneer for diversity in hockey through the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone program as the League’s director of cause marketing.

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He found out Wednesday night that Martin was right, it was worth the wait.

A few minutes after watching the film in its U.S. premiere at Landmark E Street Cinema in a crowd of nearly 200, including NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly, Washington Capitals chairman Ted Leonsis and coach Barry Trotz, O’Ree was near tears.

“Unbelievable,” O’Ree said. “Now I know why he didn’t want me to see it. It was breathtaking, really. I was thrilled when I saw it.”

The film, the first in the cinematic career of director Damon Kwame Mason and the winner of the audience choice award for documentary film at the Edmonton International Film Festival last year, takes the audience through the winding history of black players in hockey.

Commissioner Bettman said Mason’s film is a story that hasn’t been told enough, and is one that is worth telling more because it shows how inclusive the game of hockey historically has been.

“It’s a story that needed to be told, but not many people even imagined it could exist,” he said. “If you told somebody about this movie without actually seeing it, they’d think it was a work of fiction, like ‘how could it be because I’ve never heard of such a thing’ is what you get from most people.”

The film toggles back and forth, going from the turn of the 19th century into the 20th century, when the Colored Hockey League was in play in Nova Scotia, to present time. It features now 20-year-old prospect Jaden Lindo’s tumultuous draft year, from hype to a knee injury to getting selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Lindo, whose parents never skated and didn’t know much about hockey when he told them he wanted to play, says he was once asked what it was like to be a black hockey player. His answer was that he didn’t know, because he sees himself as a hockey player who happens to be black.

The audience is treated to the story of Herb Carnegie, a Canadian who turned down a contract from the New York Rangers in 1948 because of personal and family reasons. It documents that former Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe once said if Carnegie was white he’d sign him.

O’Ree’s story, of him playing 21 professional seasons, including 45 games with the Bruins despite being blind in one eye, is a big part of the film. So too are former players Tony McKegney, Mike Marson and Val James, the first American-born black player in the NHL.

Modern day NHL players such as Philadelphia wholesale jerseys Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds Jerseys, Montreal Canadiens Jerseys defenseman P.K. Subban Jerseys and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley Jerseys are prominently featured, as are their parents.

It was all Mason’s way of telling a history of hockey story he believes can be an educational tool to young black players today, one he never had as a kid growing up in Edmonton in the 1970s and 80s.

“I didn’t want these kids to grow up thinking it’s P.K. Subban Jerseys and that’s where it started,” Mason said. “I wanted them to know there’s a long standing history in this game cheap jj watt jersey and for us to show this history it is a service and it will broaden the game. You wait and you see; in 20 years the game is going to look at a lot different and it’s going to be the biggest game in North America. I promise you on this one cheap nhl jerseys, because it’s going to be so inclusive.”

The film did its part in educating, entertaining and enlightening an audience that included a collection of people from the hockey world, the political world, including congressmen, and members of Washington’s Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, which since 1978 has provided local and inner city youth an opportunity to participate in an organized hockey league.

“What I liked about it is it was three stories for me — it was a history of the game, Kwame’s story, and it was young Jaden’s story,” Trotz said. “There are some things that I feel ignorant on being someone in the game and not knowing all the story. It’s quite enlightening.”

Mason said his goal now is to work with the NHL to hopefully get the film shown nationally through the League’s broadcast partners, NBC in the United States and Sportsnet in Canada.

He feels if more eyes can see it, the discussion of diversity and inclusion can grow, which would only benefit the NHL and the game at large.

“It has some funny moments, but it also has some educational moments,” Mason said. “It has a way of making people think and say, ‘Hey, let’s have a bigger discussion about this game and let’s see what more we can do with this game and let’s see if we can attract a bigger audience.'”

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Three games postponed by severe snowstorm

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A severe winter snowstorm impacting the East Coast had caused the postponement of three NHL games as of late Saturday morning.

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The Washington Capitals game against the Pittsburgh Penguins Jerseys scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Verizon Center will have to be rescheduled, the second game the Capitals had postponed in as many days wholesale jerseys. They were set to host the Anaheim Ducks on Friday in a game that was originally moved up two hours in an attempt to beat the inclement weather; however, the NHL announced Friday afternoon it would not be played as scheduled.


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The New York Islanders Jerseys also had their game against the Philadelphia Flyers Jerseys scheduled for Saturday evening at Barclays Center postponed. The Flyers still held practice at the arena cheap nhl jerseys.

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Tickets for each of these games will be honored for the rescheduled date, the Capitals and Islanders announced.

No makeup dates have been announced yet for any of the games.

The Carolina Hurricanes Jerseys are offering fans who were unable to make it to their Friday game against the New York Rangers Jerseys the opportunity to exchange their tickets for one of six games later this season. All ticket exchanges must take place at the PNC Arena box office.

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Tailgating a highlight for Classic fans at Gillette

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Fans of the Montreal Canadiens Jerseys and Boston Bruins Jerseys were out in full force hours before the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, firing up their grills and tossing the football to create a party atmosphere in the Gillette Stadium parking lot.


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Inside and out, the home of the NFL’s New England Patriots Jerseys was taken over by hockey fans and their passion for the game. Though the majority of fans were from the Boston area, many Canadiens fans made the trip from Montreal to revel in the excitement and take some lighthearted ribbing from the Boston faithful.

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“Bruins fans have been great,” said George Tsopeis of Montreal, who left home at 4 a.m. to make it to the game. “Some friendly jabs and some good lucks. It was really nice. It’s my first time experiencing this. For a Montrealer to watch a Bruins game in this venue, it’s beyond description.”

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Sebastian Cote of Montreal, J.D. Beaudoin (a native of Drummondville, Quebec now living in New Haven, Conn.) and Hubert Prodencher of Saint-Ferdinand, Quebec were tailgating since 9:30 a.m. while their wives were shopping. Though they’ve been to their share of games at Bell Centre, the outdoor experience brought back childhood memories.

“It’s our first time in a stadium like that and it’s amazing,” Cote said. “Just the cheap world cup jerseys size of the stadium right now is quite amazing. And to be outside, to have the feeling that it’s old-school going back when we were kids playing at the ice rink or our neighborhood … and tailgating in Canada is not that big, so it’s pretty nice to be able to experience that with hockey.”

Lou Charello of North Providence, R.I., was among a group of 20 in Lot 22 enjoying sizzling steaks, burgers, smoked sausage, cold beer and homemade blonde brownies. Charello was a Patriots season ticket holder before trading them for Bruins tickets. Even when he was at Gillette Stadium for football, he could tell how much the Bruins mean to the region.

“Even when you come here for an early-season Patriots game, you see a lot of Bruins jerseys in the parking lot,” Charello said. “They’re football fans, but they’re Bruins fans.

“This is the first time I’ve tailgated for hockey and it’s about the same [as football], the same enthusiasm.”

Elsewhere, 7-year-old Cormac Cunningham was playing hockey with friends and about to see his first NHL game. Cormac said his favorite players are Bruins forwards Patrice Bergeron Jerseys and Seth Griffth, who signed a stick Cormac received for Christmas.

Living in Cumberland, R.I., a 15-minute drive to Foxborough wholesale jerseys, Cormac’s father, Mark, grew up a fan of the Hartford Whalers Jerseys and played hockey through high school before going to college on a golf scholarship. He coaches hockey at Bishop Feehan High School in Attelboro, Mass., and youth hockey with Bruce Berard, the brother of retired NHL player Bryan Berard.

“I’ve played all my life and my son plays, and just to share this experience with him …,” Cunningham said. “For me, wearing a Bruins hat is almost like wearing a Yankees hat. You can never take hockey out of my blood. It’s always a part of me.”

While the sounds of live music pulsated from cheap world cup jerseys nearby Spectator Plaza, which hosted 90,000 square feet of interactive hockey-themed attractions, three Bruins fans were polishing off their drinks before heading into the stadium and weren’t shy about expressing their pride for their team and their city.

“The hockey vibe in this town in unprecedented,” said Ian Baker of Dorchester, Mass. “There are no better fans in the country.”

The passion was obvious during pregame.

“Beers, tailgating, the fun times are flowing,” said Joe Kane of West Roxbury, Mass.

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Fantasy Friday: 16 New Year’s resolutions for 2016

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Welcome to 2016, fantasy owners. This is your chance to regroup and rebuild your roster.

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With the official midway point of the fantasy hockey season just days away, it’s time for you to give your team an honest assessment. Where can you improve? Do you have an abundance of goals? If so, maybe you should deal one of those goal-scorers for someone who cheap jerseys usa helps in another category you’re lacking. Is your goalie tandem really strong in save percentage but not getting you the wins you need? Maybe you should consider trading one of them for a goalie on a better team that can get you wins but might not have as strong a save percentage.

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There are plenty of options and potential solutions. But now is the time to address the areas you might cheap jerseys usa need via trade or free agency. Don’t be afraid to make changes, even if they seem bold.

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In order to help you try and find some trade targets (or players to avoid), here’s a look at 16 New Year’s resolutions for 16 different players (in no particular order). Many of these players could end up being the difference between first place and second place in your league.

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins – I will raise my shooting percentage.

Crosby currently has nine goals on 106 shots for a shooting percentage of 8.5. That percentage is easily the lowest of his career, with his career average at 14.1 percent. Expect this number to rise in the second half of the season and for Crosby to start scoring more goals.

2. Corey Perry Jerseys, Anaheim Ducks – I will shoot the puck more.

Perry has 96 shots on goal in 36 games this season. That’s 2.67 per game. Prior to this season, he averaged 3.07 shots in 722 games. Simply put, Perry needs to be shooting the puck more. If he does, his goal total should increase as well.

3. Mark Giordano Jerseys, Calgary Flames – I will continue to perform like I have over the past 30 days.

Giordano ranks 39th among defenseman in Yahoo leagues with 10 goals, 10 assists and a minus-10 rating. But over the past 30 days he has been the eighth best fantasy defenseman with five goals, seven assists and a plus-4. That’s more like it.

4. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers – I will perform like I did for the first 30 days of the season.

In nine October starts, Lundqvist was 5-2-2 with a .943 save percentage (SV%) and a 1.87 goals-against average (GAA). In 10 December starts, he was 4-5-1 with a .892 SV% and a 3.27 GAA. It has been a tale of two different players this season for Lundqvist. Fantasy owners need the early season King to return.

5. Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks – I will stay healthy.

This one isn’t a performance issue. It has just been a matter of bad luck for the 26-year-old forward, who has suffered two different injuries that have kept him out of 30 of the Sharks’ 36 games this season. At the start of this season, I ranked Couture 26th among all players in my preseason fantasy rankings. He has tremendous potential, he just needs to stay on the ice.

6. Ryan Johansen Jerseys, Columbus Blue Jackets – I will get out of John Tortorella’s doghouse.

Johansen reached a low point in his young NHL career when he was a healthy scratch on Dec. 17 for new head coach John Tortorella. In the five games since the benching, Johansen has three assists and also dropped the gloves with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vladimir Namestnikov, perhaps winning over Tortorella to a degree. Overall, Johansen has six goals and 25 points in 36 games for Columbus, but if he can remain on his coach’s good side, there’s reason to believe Johansen will turn his season around in the second half.

7. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning – I will score more goals.

Hedman has two goals in 37 games this season, or 0.05 per game. Last season, he had 10 goals in 59 games (0.17 goals-per-game), and in 2013-14, he had 13 goals in 75 games (also 0.17 goals per game). The good thing is, Hedman is shooting the puck more than he did last season and almost as frequently as he did in 2013-14. The goals will start coming.

8. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators – I will increase my save percentage.

Last season Rinne had a .923 SV%. This season it sits at .907. His career average is .918. The Predators are allowing just 26.9 shots against per game, second best in the NHL. They just need Rinne to stop more of them.

9. John Tavares, New York Islanders – I will increase my power play production.

Tavares had 31 power-play points last season, tied for fifth most in the NHL. This season he has eight power-play points, despite the fact he’s averaging almost the same power play ice time per game as last season.

10. Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens – I will improve my plus-minus rating.

Pacioretty was tied for the NHL lead with a plus-38 rating last season. This season he’s a minus-1, including a minus-10 in 14 games during December.

11. Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings – I will distribute the puck more frequently.

In his first season with the Red Wings, Green has 11 assists in 32 games. That puts him on pace for 26 assists this season. Last season, with the Washington Capitals, Green had 35 assists in 72 games (tied for 17th most among defensemen).

12. Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets – I will be my team’s No. 1 goalie for the rest of this season.

Hellebuyck has started eight of the past nine games for the Jets. Even with veteran goalie Ondrej Pavelec nearing a return from injury and Michael Hutchinson’s emergence from last season, Hellebuyck should be viewed as the team’s starting goalie, and deservedly so. In 11 starts this season, he’s 7-4-0 with a 2.11 GAA, .926 SV% and one shutout.

13. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers – I will continue to thrive alongside Taylor Hall.

Eleven players average at least one point per game (at least 10 games played). Fifth on that list, behind Patrick Kane Jerseys of the Chicago Blackhawks, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars, and Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators is Draisaitl at 1.07 points per game. The 20-year-old has nine goals and 22 assists in 29 games with nearly 50 percent of his ice time coming alongside Hall (according to, who also averages more than a point per game.

14. Kyle Palmieri Jerseys, New Jersey Devils – I will continue to have a career year.

Palmieri already has set a career-high with 16 goals and is three points away from setting a new high in that category. He’s on pace for 34 goals and 62 points. Palmieri’s ranked 30th among all players in Yahoo fantasy leagues and could be considered the biggest surprise in the game to this point. Can he keep it going?

15. Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres – I will lead all rookies in points by season’s end.

Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin leads the rookie race with 34 points in 39 games. Eichel sits 11 points behind Panarin with 23 points in 38 games. However, the month of December was Eichel’s most productive, with 11 points in 14 games.

16. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars – I will win a second straight Art Ross Trophy.

Benn is four points behind Kane for the scoring lead with 52 points in 39 games. After recording a career-high 87 points last season en route to his first Art Ross title, Benn is on pace for 108 points. Is there a more fun and complete player to own in fantasy hockey? I don’t think so.

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NHL-leading Stars dealing with first dose of adversity

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NEW YORK — The Dallas Stars reached the halfway point of the season atop the NHL standings, but also dealing with a small dose of what’s mostly eluded them: adversity.

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It’s been an impressive season in Dallas. The Stars’ 28-9-4 record is the second-best in their history after 41 games, behind only the 1998-99 team (27-7-7) that won the Stanley Cup. Barring a Texas-sized collapse, the Stars will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in eight seasons and should stand a good chance of escaping the Western Conference First Round for the first time since 2007-08.

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However, Dallas enters its game Tuesday against the New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; FS-SW+, MSG+) at Madison Square Garden challenged physically and mentally. The Stars are 2-2-2 in their past six games, and their 6-5 loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday, one night after a 3-2 overtime defeat at the New Jersey Devils, marked the first time this season they’ve lost consecutive games.

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On the surface it’s a hiccup. Deep down, the Stars know there are issues to address before a snowball becomes an avalanche.

“It’s nice, adversity, sometimes,” center Tyler Seguin Jerseys said. “It’s good for the team. We knew it was going to come. We haven’t faced too much of it this year, knock on wood. It’s the first time this season we’ve lost back-to-back games so there’s a lot of things we can work on.”

One problem that’s been brewing is special teams. In the weekend losses to cheap motels in jersey city nj the Devils and Islanders, the Stars allowed 10 power cheap motels in jersey city nj plays, killing seven. Captain Jamie Benn Jerseys’s hooking penalty 1:07 into overtime led to the Devils’ game-winning power-play goal. Benn also took a holding penalty 32 seconds into the game Sunday and a double minor for high sticking later in the first period, which led to Islanders forward Anders Lee’s goal that tied the game 1-1. Defenseman Jason Demers Jerseys was giving a five-minute major and game misconduct penalty for boarding New York forward Cal Clutterbuck, leading to another power-play goal that put the Islanders ahead for good.

“You’re going to face adversity,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “We haven’t faced a lot the first half of the season. For me our discipline in the game has gone a little bit sideways. We took a penalty in overtime that hurt us the other night in Jersey. You can’t take that many penalties and survive a hockey game.”

Fatigue may also be a factor. Dallas’ game Tuesday completes a stretch of three games in four nights and seven in 11 nights.

“I think that’s League-wide,” center Jason Spezza Jerseys said. “I think if you look around there’s probably a lot of teams going through similar things, but we’re definitely not quite as fresh as we’ve been at other times this season. But that’s the nature of the game.

“When you lose games everything gets looked into and micro-looked into and gets analyzed, and when you win it all gets painted over with a brush. So I think we have to be careful we don’t overanalyze.”

Goalie Kari Lehtonen Jerseys is also struggling. He’s been pulled twice in his past five starts while allowing a combined 14 goals with a 4.08 goals-against average and .874 save percentage. Still, Ruff has been happy with his goaltending tandem of Lehtonen and Antti Niemi.

“I think the goaltending has been a big plus for us in the first 41 games,” Ruff said. “I think there’s been an improvement; you look at the records. I think [Lehtonen] is going through a little bit of a hiccup right now, if that’s what you want to call it, but goaltending has been a plus for us.”

The Stars are also accomplishing a goal set at their first practice: A stronger commitment to defense has lowered their goals-against average from 3.13 per game last season (26th in the League) to 2.56 (13th).

“We’ve definitely matured our game and found ways to stay patient throughout the year,” Seguin said. “Being able to win those type games, low-scoring, we’ve felt comfortable in those. We want to be the best checkers in the League. I think we need to get back to that. We took a couple of games for granted on this trip so far, but we can finish off the trip the right way.

“It’s going to start with how this whole team plays in our own end. Obviously [Sunday] night, giving up six goals, that’s not how we want to play. We’ve tried to outscore teams in the past and in this League you have to have to play D-zone first and we know that. We look forward to the challenge [Tuesday] night.”

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNHL

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Patriots excited as Winter Classic preparations begin

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Hardcore fans of the New England Patriots Jerseys, celebrating their team’s 12th win of the season, remained scattered across the parking lots of Gillette Stadium on a brisk, but by no means frigid, Sunday night in New England while work crews from the National cheapjerseys us com Hockey League took control of the building to begin the transformation toward the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.


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While the post-game tailgate festivities ended, when the snarled traffic along adjoining Route 1 abated, NHL employees worked throughout the night, putting down flooring and performing other set-up tasks to prepare the stadium for a rink-building process that will begin in earnest Monday in preparation of the Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens here on Jan. 1 (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

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The Bruins and Canadiens will have practices at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 31 before an alumni game between players from each organization will take place at 3:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

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For some of the Patriots, the transformation, which began soon after they finished streaming out of the stadium after a 33-16 victory against the Tennessee Titans, was an exciting beginning to a process they will observe at arm’s length for the better part of the next two weeks.

“It’s going to be awesome, a great atmosphere [for the Winter Classic],” said Jimmy Garappolo, the backup quarterback to starter Tom Brady Jerseys. Garappolo, a Chicago Blackhawks fan while growing up outside of the Windy City, admits he is “turning over to the Bruins” since arriving with the Patriots this summer and is looking forward to seeing the rink take shape.

The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots finished their home schedule Sunday, going 7-1 at Gillette Stadium for the season. They finish the regular season with away games against the New York Jets (Dec. 7) and the Miami Dolphins Jerseys (Jan. 3) before they start the NFL postseason after the first-round bye they earned with a victory Sunday and a loss by the Denver Broncos later in the afternoon. They will play a second-round game during the weekend of Jan. 16-17.

The Patriots won’t play at Gillette Stadium for almost a month at the earliest, but they will be around, using the practice facilities adjacent to the stadium. They will have a first-hand view of the rink-build process, which will be supervised by Dan Craig, the NHL’s Senior Director of Facilities Operations.

Garappolo says he is excited to see the rink take shape while the Patriots spend the next two weeks preparing for the rest of the regular season.

Growing up in Arlington Heights, Ill., Garappolo followed the Blackhawks pretty closely. He says Jonathan Toews Jerseys is his favorite player and he loves the character of the recent Blackhawks teams. He says he played hockey for one year when he was younger, as a defenseman. To hear him tell it, he was not very good and he quickly turned his attention to football.

Alan Branch, a defensive lineman with the Patriots, says he grew up playing a bit of roller hockey as a kid before embracing football full-time. He played football at the University of Michigan, where he says he saw “a lot of good hockey.” He missed the “Cold War II” outdoor game at The Big House between the Wolverines and Michigan State and was already in the NFL when the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs visited the Michigan football stadium for the 2014 Winter Classic.

“That is really exciting, pretty cool,” Branch said when told about the impending Winter Classic. “Outdoor hockey is old-school. I didn’t grow up being a hockey fan, but merged into one as an adult. It should be an awesome game.”

Right guard Josh Kline Jerseys, another Chicago-area kid, has been with the Patriots since 2013. One thing he has learned in his three years with New England is that the sports fans here know how to split their loyalties to embrace all of the area teams.

“It’s going to be a great experience,” said Kline, who says he follows the cheapjerseys us com NHL when his schedule allows. “Obviously they love the Bruins around here, so it should be a real good experience.”

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Panthers’ Luongo, Jagr excited for playoff push

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NASHVILLE — When Roberto Luongo accepted a trade from the Vancouver Canucks to the Florida Panthers on March 4, 2014, a lot of people thought he was doing what many people do when they relocate to Florida: Preparing to retire.

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Less than two years later Luongo will play in the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) with teammates Aaron Ekblad and Jaromir Jagr and his coach Gerard Gallant behind the bench of the Atlantic Division team, a reward for the Panthers entering the break in first place.

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There was no intention on Luongo’s part to go to Florida and wind down his career. The intent was to win.

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“It’s nice to be at the place I envisioned we would be,” Luongo said Friday at All-Star weekend media day. “There’s still a lot of work left to be done, that goes without saying, and we’re not satisfied with anything that we’ve done so far because really we haven’t really done anything. But the growth of our team has been great over the last year-and-a-half and it’s just exciting to think about the future and realizing we have a chance to do something special over the next few years.”

The Panthers have one of the most unique rosters in the NHL.

They have the oldest forward in the League in Jagr, who turns 44 on Feb. 15, the oldest goalie in Luongo, who will be 37 on April 4, and the second youngest defenseman in Ekblad, who turns 20 on Feb. 7 and is already in his second season. The veterans also include defensemen Willie Micthell (38 years old) and Brian Campbell Jerseys (36) and forward Shawn Thornton (38). Then there’s Ekblad, Aleksander Barkov Jerseys (20), Vincent Trochek (22), Jonathan Huberdeau Jerseys (22), Nick Bjugstad Jerseys (23), Alex Petrovic (23), Quinton Howden (24) and Erik Gudbranson Jerseys (24).

“I don’t want to help any GM, but when you think about it, when you’re too old, you appreciate the game and you’re happy and you do everything just to survive the game,” Jagr said. “When you’re too young, you are excited, you’re young, you’re very good but you don’t even know how good you are. But when you’re middle age, I think you become more selfish cheap jerseys online and think about yourself, and we don’t have those kinds of guys, you know what I’m saying?”

Then, with a big laugh, Jagr said, “Don’t sign the middle guys.”

The Panthers youth might have led some to consider them a year away from being competitive this season, but there were already signs this was coming last season when the Panthers made a late push toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs before falling short in the end.

“I think we were one of the better teams in the second half of the season,” Gallant said. “So I don’t think we’re surprising teams. I don’t think anybody would have said we’d be in first place today in our division, but I think a lot of teams knew we would be a good hockey team. We’ve had a good first half, we’ve been pretty healthy for the most part and I think that’s a big part of it, but I think every team in the League knows we’re a good, solid team.”

If they didn’t know it before, a 12-game winning streak from Dec. 15 to Jan. 10 made it very clear. But Jagr pointed to how the team came out of that streak as a better reflection of the Panthers’ growth as a team.

Florida lost four straight games coming off of that streak, leading some to begin doubting the Panthers once again, especially with back-to-back games against last season’s Stanley Cup finalists coming next on the schedule.

Then the Panthers went out and defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 on Jan. 22 and the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Jan. 23.

“I think in those two games, we proved to anybody that we can play against anybody,” Jagr said.

The Panthers cheap jerseys online still need to prove that over the second half of the season. But after years of stockpiling young talent and building towards tomorrow, it would appear the Panthers have arrived.

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Gillette Stadium ice sees first action, set for Classic

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Dan Craig finally saw some unfamiliar faces enjoying themselves on the rink he and his crew have built at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. It was a moment he won’t soon forget.


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The Boston Bruins Jerseys were here jj watt jersey cheap for a family skate in the afternoon and Craig, the NHL’s senior director of facility operations and hockey operations, marveled at the scene.

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“Did you see the kids?” Craig said. “Come on. Come on. That was awesome. That’s what it’s all about right there. Forget the big boys, look at the kids. It’s priceless to get the families out there to really, really enjoy it.”

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Craig will get to see a lot more on Thursday, when the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens Jerseys practice in advance of the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Friday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports). In addition, the NHL is hosting the Outdoor Women’s Classic presented by Scotiabank and the NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game presented by Molson Canadian at Gillette Stadium.

Craig said the ice is ready for it all.

“We’re in good shape,” he said. “A little bit of a cleanup to do later [Wednesday night], but we’re going to be good [Thursday] for practice and then we’ll see what Mother Nature throws at us for game day.”

The forecast for Friday in Foxborough is calling for mostly sunny skies with a high of 42 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 25, according to Those conditions should work just fine for the game, Craig said.

It’ll actually be a nice change from what Craig and the crews have been dealing with the past few days, when the weather has turned on them several times and forced them to deal with wind, rain, sleet, snow and a significant drop in temperature.

“You have a plan and all of a sudden Mother Nature decides she is going to do something else,” Craig said. “The next thing you know you have to do a management seminar and say, ‘OK, guys, we’re in a different direction.'”

“[Wednesday] is the calmest day we’ve had here,” Craig later said. “[Tuesday], all of a sudden the wind came up and shifted, the sleet started jj watt jersey cheap going, rain started coming, and you’re just like, ‘Wow.’ You just make changes as you go.”

Craig said patience is the key. He said he learned that six years ago, when he did a rink build for the Winter Classic game at Fenway Park in Boston.

“I have to tell the guys to tell me, ‘Be patient, be patient. We have a program, stay with it, be patient and we’ll be fine,'” Craig said. “Things change and you have to be patient and ride it out.”

He got to see some of his patience pay off on Wednesday, when the families of the Bruins players took their memorable twirl at Gillette Stadium. Craig will get a better study of how his ice is doing Thursday, when the events will run one after another with barely a break in between.

The Bruins are scheduled to practice at 11 a.m. ET. The Canadiens go on at 12:30. The women’s game is scheduled for 2 p.m. and puck drop for the alumni game is expected to happen around 3:30 p.m.

“If we have a day like today, perfect,” Craig said. “Let’s go. Drop the puck. Bring the boys in. Put their equipment on. Let’s get at it.”

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Darling will share starts

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Every Thursday during the season, fantasy hockey staff writer David Satriano provides in-depth goalie cheapjerseys us analysis. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Satriano is your go-to guy for fantasy goalie advice all season long.

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Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford has won the Stanley Cup twice and won 30 games in each of the past four full NHL seasons, and he’s gotten those wins despite not playing in more than 59 games. That means you can expect his backup, Scott Darling, to get between 20-25 starts.

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Crawford’s numbers aren’t up to his standards; his 2.57 goals-against average and .912 save percentage are less than his career averages of 2.35 and .916, respectively. He made 27 saves in a 5-2 win against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, but Darling has started two of the past five games and likely will start once this weekend with Chicago having back-to-back games at the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.

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As Darling showed last season, he’s more than capable of coming up big when it matters. Darling was 3-1-0 with a 2.21 GAA and a .936 save percentage in helping the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup last season. This was after he went 9-4-0 with a 1.99 GAA and a .936 save percentage in 14 starts during the regular season.

Darling is widely available, owned in eight percent of Yahoo Leagues. He’s 2-2-1 with a 2.51 GAA and a .912 save percentage and has allowed four goals combined in his previous three games. Chicago ranks towards the middle of the pack in goals allowed this season after allowing the second fewest last season.


Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators

Anderson (74 percent owned) has been the go-to guy for the Senators recently. He’s started the past six games and had two straight shutouts before allowing four goals in a 7-4 win against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Anderson followed that up with 40 saves in a 5-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.

He’s 10-4-3 this season with a 2.71 GAA and .920 save percentage and two shutouts and is 4-0-2 in his past five games. Anderson will put up wins and save percentage (.916 in his career) although his goals-against is usually high (2.72 career). The Senators should compete for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so he’s definitely worth a look if you are in need of a goalie or have injury troubles.

Coming into the season, Anderson and Andrew Hammond were supposed to split time, but Hammond (32 percent owned) has been hampered by injuries. He’s played in four games this season (2-0-2, 2.42 GAA, .930 save percentage) and it appears that last season’s miraculous run by Hammond may have been a one-hit wonder.


Frederik Andersen Jerseys, Anaheim Ducks

Anderson (79 percent owned) did not dress Tuesday or Wednesday because of the flu, but has

had allowed three goals or more in four of his past five games. The Ducks have been playing better but Andersen? Not so much. His GAA is 2.54 and he doesn’t have a shutout in 16 games this season.

Even when he does return, Andersen could be benched in favor of prospect John Gibson Jerseys (11 percent owned) who made his season debut Tuesday in relief of Anton Khudobin (eight percent owned) and made 19 saves on 20 shots in a 5-3 win against the Calgary Flames and was rewarded with the start Wednesday against the Arizona Coyotes. After another solid performance (30 saves in a 4-2 loss), we could be seeing more of Gibson.

Gibson was 13-8-0 with a 2.60 GAA and a .914 save percentage last season but wasn’t able to overtake Andersen in the regular season or playoffs, but that could soon change.


Anders Nilsson, Edmonton Oilers

Cam Talbot (38 percent owned) put up solid numbers last season (21-9-4, 2.21 GAA, .926 save percentage, five shutouts) and clearly benefitted from playing on the New York Rangers. After an offseason trade to the Oilers, Talbot was expected to be the No. 1 goalie but has struggled (3-8-0, 3.09 GAA, .890 save percentage) and has allowed at least three goals in six straight games.

Enter Nilsson, who has started four straight games and eight of the past 10. His record is 4-6-1 and he hasn’t won two consecutive games yet this season, but he allowed three goals on 26 shots in a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday after allowing two goals in each of his previous two starts. Nilsson is owned in eight percent of Yahoo Leagues and likely will see more starts.


Carey Price returned last Friday after missing three weeks because of a lower-body injury. He made three starts for the Montreal Canadiens and won each of them, allowing six goals, although he left a 5-2 win against the New York Rangers on Wednesday because of a lower-body injury. Mike Condon (31 percent owned) will start Friday against the New Jersey Devils and could see an increase in ownership again if Price is out for an extended period of time.

Semyon Varlamov (69 percent owned) returned for the Colorado Avalanche on Monday after missing seven games and made 20 saves in a 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets. He started Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators but was pulled after allowing three goals on 13 shots in 22 minutes. Varlamov (3.22 GAA, .890 save percentage has not been great this season, but coach Patrick Roy hasn’t been pleased with Reto Berra’s play recently (four goals allowed in three straight starts). Berra did make 12 of 13 saves in relief Wednesday, so this one could get interesting.

Jets prospect Connor Hellebuyck was called up from Manitoba of the American Hockey League with Ondrej Pavelec (56 percent owned) expected to miss significant time because of a knee injury. Michael Hutchinson (35 percent owned) started on Wednesday and allowed five goals on 34 shots in a 5-3 loss against the Washington Capitals. Hellebuyck was an underwhelming 2-7-1-0 with a 2.41 GAA and .927 save percentage in the AHL, but coach cheap jerseys Paul Maurice said he would play “sooner rather than later.” Hellebuyck, who is owned in four percent of leagues, has the potential to have a Hutchinson-type run from last season.

cheap-chinese-nhl-jerseysTOP 30 FANTASY GOALIES

These rankings indicate fantasy expectations for this season alone. Value is quantified by projected starts, peripheral category coverage, timeshare situations, team defenses, past performance and overall upside in standard Yahoo categories, which include wins, goals-against average (GAA), save percentage (SV%) and shutouts. It is important to note that our rankings reflect sheer fantasy value, not necessarily the most talented goalies in order.

1 Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (SAME) 16 Roberto Luongo, FLA (-3)

2 Carey Price, MTL (DTD) 17 Kari Lehtonen, DAL (DTD)

3 Braden Holtby, WSH (+2) 18 Jimmy Howard, DET (-4)

4 Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (SAME) 19 Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ (+3)

5 Pekka Rinne, NSH (-2) 20 Craig Anderson, OTT (+9)

6 Jake Allen, STL (SAME) 21 Seymon Varlamov, COL (NR – INJ.)

7 Cory Schneider, NJD (+2) 22 Frederik Andersen Jerseys, ANA (-2)

8 Jonathan Quick, LAK (SAME) 23 Brian Elliott, STL (SAME)

9 Devan Dubnyk Jerseys, MIN (+1) 24 Ryan Miller, VAN (-3)

10 Corey Crawford, CHI (-3) 25 James Reimer, TOR (+5)

11 Martin Jones, SJS (+4) 26 Michael Hutchinson, WPG (+2)

12 Ben Bishop, TBL (+4) 27 Antti Niemi, DAL (-3)

13 Tuukka Rask Jerseys, BOS (+5) 28 Steve Mason, PHI (NEW)

14 Jaroslav Halak, NYI (+3) 29 Anders Nilsson, EDM (NEW)

15 Petr Mrazek, DET (+4) 30 Linus Ullmark. BUF (-3)

Dropped out: Mike Condon

Key injuries: Ondrej Pavelec, Jonas Hiller Jerseys, Andrew Hammond, Robin Lehner