How do you win in the playoffs? Doug Gilmour tells you

Gilmour kisses the Cup (Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

By Doug Gilmour

The playoffs were always my time of year. That’s because no matter what kind of a season you had, the post-season is what everybody remembers. Whether it was a good year, a bad year or an average year, it didn’t matter. You write your ticket in the playoffs.

Make no mistake, there’s a huge difference between playing in the regular season and playing in the playoffs. Some NHL players raise their level of game at the most important time of year. Others who may star during the season disappear in the playoffs. It’s a time for desperation. You know if you lose, you’re going home. That’s what motivated me.

We all play for the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup. It’s been a dozen years now since I last played in the NHL. But these are the things I still think about if you ask me about making a run for the title: Read more

Can advanced stats predict the Stanley Cup winner?

Stanley Cup (Getty Images)

When it comes to building a Stanley Cup winner, there’s a lot to be said for analytics and advanced statistics. When it comes to predicting a Stanley Cup winner, well, there’s a lot to be said for tarot cards, crystal balls, coin flips and a game of rock, paper, scissors.

That’s due to the unpredictability of the playoffs. It’s not that advanced stats are useless for those trying to project the conference finalists, but we wouldn’t recommend taking them to the proverbial bank. Read more

Big, bang & bust for the Memorial Cup is just part of the CHL cycle

Ryan Kennedy
Quebec's Anthony Duclair  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Back in 2011, the Saskatoon Blades went for it. The WHL team traded for A-list prospect Brayden Schenn, giving up three first-round bantam picks and a second-rounder in the process, along with two players. The Blades had a serious roster before Schenn arrived, but with him, the club smelled glory. Instead, Kootenay made a splash of its own by nabbing Cody Eakin from Swift Current and in the second round of the playoffs, the Ice swept Schenn and the Blades into the dustbin.

Someone always has to lose in hockey, but hope springs eternal, especially in the CHL where the cycle of construction and destruction is a tight one. This season is no different. Read more

Corey Hirsch’s top five training tips for goaltenders

The Hockey News
Corey Hirsch and Jordan Binnington. (photo courtesy Corey Hirsch)

By Corey Hirsch

So you want to be a pro hockey player?  Here are five tips professional goalies do that amateurs should include in their training. Repetition and consistency are the keys.

1. SKATING SKILLS

The foundation of goaltending is based on balance and edges. The better skater you are, the better goaltender you will be. Before every practice and every game, your warmup should consist of simple skating drills: T-pushes, shuffles and slides. You use a T-push for long crease movements. Push with one leg, turn and point your toe to where you want to go with the other. Push then glide on that blade to the area you want to be. Shuffles are for small positional adjustments moving side to side. It’s similar to a small side step. None of them needs to take long. It can be one set of 10 reps each and can take anywhere from two to 10 minutes. My NHL goalie routine consisted of the same skating drills every day. The letter drills are the most effective. Use them, do them and become a better goalie.

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The Top 100 NHL players of all-time, throwback style

Jason Kay
top 100

In 1997, to celebrate our 50th anniversary, The Hockey News compiled and released an authoritative list of the Top 50 Players of All-Time.

Voters came from all areas of the hockey world: former players, coaches, GMs, scouts and media members. As a wise observer said at the time, the panel of 50 selectors wasn’t just credible, it was incredible.

The Top 50 project was followed by a sequel, the Top 100 Players of All-Time in which numbers 51-100 were announced.

Scan that lineup 18 years later and it’s, naturally, a Who’s Who of hockey royalty. Every player, with the exception of two, is either in the Hall of Fame or a shoo-in (Jaromir Jagr).

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THN’s prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning will win the Stanley Cup

Matt Larkin
TBCupWin

Forgive Steve Yzerman. He’s less impressed by his Tampa Bay Lightning than the rest of the world is. It takes more than a healthy run at the Presidents’ Trophy to elevate this GM’s heart rate. Call it the byproduct of three Stanley Cup rings, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Selke Trophy, a Ted Lindsay Award and three Olympic gold medals, one as a player and two as chief roster architect.

So when Yzerman learns in mid-March THN has chosen Tampa Bay as 2015 Stanley Cup champ, he doesn’t flinch. He doesn’t care if his team sits three points back of Montreal for the Eastern Conference’s best record. Bigger things to worry about? More like smaller things.

“We’re talking today, and we’ve yet to clinch a playoff spot,” Yzerman said. “You might be thinking Stanley Cup. We’re not. We’re just trying to make the playoffs.”

Yzerman has accomplished enough to never get ahead of himself, and the Bolts haven’t done much yet under his watch. He was hired in 2010 and they reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final a year later, but that wasn’t his team. He brought in aging goalie Dwayne Roloson for a Cinderella run, but most of the roster came from Jay Feaster and Brian Lawton.

The current Lightning incarnation is very much Yzerman’s, aside from pillars Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, and anyone would’ve taken those two with the first and second overall pick in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The Yzerman regime drafted Andrei Vasilevskiy, Jonathan Drouin, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov. It traded for Ben Bishop and Ryan Callahan. It discovered Tyler Johnson and signed Anton Stralman and Valtteri Filppula. Tampa is where it is today because of Yzerman’s handiwork.

And Yzerman’s Bolts aren’t yet where he wants them to be, having lost to Montreal in four straight games last spring after Bishop dislocated his elbow days before the playoffs, derailing a Vezina Trophy-caliber season. But just because Yzerman thinks Cup talk is premature doesn’t mean we have to agree. Instead we elect to accuse him of modesty – and build a case for Tampa Bay to win its second Stanley Cup.

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Is Phil Kessel a coach killer or Crosby without a supporting cast?

Ken Campbell
Phil Kessel (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s the Friday before the All-Star Game, and the NHL is conducting its (almost) annual dog and pony show with (almost) all the best players on the planet. It’s All-Star Media Day™ and Phil Kessel is being a remarkably good sport about it. He’s holding court, and though you get the sense in reality he’s about as comfortable as Richard Nixon during his first debate with John F. Kennedy, he’s doing his best to be whimsical. Clad in an NHL-issued hoodie and a Toronto Maple Leafs hat, he’s sporting what looks like a perpetual five-day growth, never getting shaved nor ever becoming more hirsute. Away from the 63-ring circus that is his existence with the struggling Maple Leafs, Kessel is as comfortable as he’s been in public in, well, forever, even though he tacks “right?” and “you know?” on the end of every sentence as though he’s searching for some kind of affirmation.

This is clearly not a Marshawn Lynch moment with a guy who has to be here to keep from getting fined. The way the NHL plays fast and loose with this event in terms of letting players off the hook for attending, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if the league had allowed him to stay behind in his hotel room and watch movies all afternoon. The thing is, though, he’s been on the road a lot lately, and he’s seen every movie in the hotel loop of cinematic offerings. “Not the bad ones, though,” he says after some prompting. “Stay away from those.” Read more

Who knew? Turns out Colorado was the birthplace of ‘The Wave’

The Hockey News
'Krazy' George Henderson (The Denver Post)

By Joshua Kloke

George Henderson didn’t think it would happen where it did. He’d been a professional cheerleader for years, but the co-ordinated momentum that built through the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver Nov. 15, 1979, was entirely different. “The Wave” has become a staple of large, primarily summertime sporting events and many point to an Oct. 15, 1981 playoff game in Oakland between the Athletics and the New York Yankees as its debut.

Henderson, better known as ‘Krazy George’ and the inventor of the wave, remembers its origins differently.

“It actually started at a Colorado Rockies hockey game,” he said. “I had been doing it there for two years, but there was always such a small crowd that I never had it documented.” Read more