10 milestones and records to watch in the second half of the season

Roberto Luongo (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

On Thursday night, with his win over the Vancouver Canucks, Roberto Luongo officially registered a win over every single team in the NHL and it was the 389th victory of his career.

The second number is the big one, as the win puts him into a tie with Dominik Hasek for the 11th most wins by a goaltender in NHL history. With 40 games remaining and the Panthers a serious threat to contend for a playoff spot, there’s a chance Luongo could find himself in the top 10 by season’s end. It’s not just Luongo, however. Here are several other milestones for both teams and players to watch in the back half of 2014-15. Read more

Red-hot New York Rangers bucking Stanley Cup finalist curse

Kevin Klein (left) is having a big year for New York (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Traditionally, the teams that have lost the Stanley Cup final have often struggled in their next campaign, which is understandable given the grind and letdown of coming so close the prior summer.

But the New York Rangers have won 11 of their past 12 games, including Wednesday night in Anaheim against an NHL-leading Ducks squad. It’s almost miraculous for a team that has already withstood injuries to top players such as Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan and Dan Boyle. The recent hot streak is the team’s best since 1993-94 – a year of note, as any Rangers fan will tell you – and it has catapulted the Blueshirts into the Eastern Conference’s top wild card slot. Given that New York has two games in hand on Washington, but trails the Capitals by only a point, things look even sunnier.

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Return of Duclair and Draisaitl shakes up the Memorial Cup race

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

You can debate whether or not the Edmonton Oilers were right to hold rookie center Leon Draisaitl out of the world juniors, where he would have been far and away Germany’s best player. And you can debate whether or not he should have been kept up by the Oilers as long as he was before they sent him back to junior in the Western League. But the trade that sent his rights (and consequently, him) to Kelowna from Prince Albert is huge in the WHL’s arms race. Just as big as the New York Rangers sending Anthony Duclair back to the Quebec Remparts.

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Canadian gold: a little swagger didn’t hurt this squad

Max Domi celebrates (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The stereotypical Canadian hockey player is humble, sometimes to a fault. But this year’s edition of the world junior team wanted to be different, going way back to the summer: They wanted to bring some swagger back to a program that had not won gold since 2009 and now, they have done it.

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Five Russians that Canadians will hate in the gold medal game

Vyacheslav Leshenko (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Russia will play for gold at the World Junior Championship thanks to a sturdy 4-1 win over Sweden, setting up a classic showdown with Canada on Toronto ice.

Part of the reason the Cold War has never ended in arenas is that there is a certain mystery and awe surrounding the Russians over here. Most of the world junior team still plays on the other side of the world and the KHL’s existence means that some of the better players in Russia never have to come over here.

Because rivalries are fun (and because I can’t write in Cyrillic), here are the five Russians that Canadians will love to hate – and learn to fear – in the gold medal game. To up the rivalry factor, none are plying their trade in North America right now.

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Getting To Know: Dan Boyle

Mark Malinowski
Dan Boyle (Jared Silber/Getty Images)

Status: New York Rangers defenseman.

HT: 5-11 WT: 190 pounds

DOB: July 12, 1976 In: Ottawa, Ontario

First Hockey Memory: “Like, me playing or watching? I was a Flyers fan growing up. So I just remember watching the Flyers whenever I could on TV. My favorite Flyers were Rick Tocchet and Ron Hextall. I wore #22 for Tocchet. I also liked Brian Leetch. I started skating when I was six years old.”

Hockey Inspirations: “The thrill of trying to win. Trying to win the Cup. I’ve been lucky enough to win it once but I want to do it again.”

Last Book Read: “I don’t read books. I can’t remember [smiles].”

Current Car: “Mercedes.”

Greatest Sports Moment: “Winning the Cup (with Tampa in 2004).”

Most Painful Moment: “Most painful moment…probably last year.”

Favorite Uniforms: “I grew up a Flyers fan so I’ll just stick with that.”

Favorite Rinks To Play: “Madison Square Garden and the Shark Tank.”

Why Do You Love Playing Hockey: “Why do I love playing hockey? Because that’s my passion. That’s what I love do to.”

Funniest Players Encountered: “Andre Roy.”

Fiercest Competitors Encountered: “Marty St. Louis.”

Most Memorable Goal: “First goal probably. Against Philadelphia (Vanbiesbrouck in 1999 with Florida).”

Embarrassing Hockey Memory: “I’ve had plenty [smiles].”

Favorite Sport Outside Hockey: “Golf.”

First Famous Player You Met or Encountered: “Wayne Gretzky was probably the most famous. I remember I talked with him on the phone. That was the first time, when he called me for the Olympic Team in 2006.”

Strangest Game: “Earlier this season we won the shootout, came in and had to get re-dressed because they called the goal off. So we had to go back and play and we lost. It was strange.”

Personality Qualities Most Admired: “Honesty, loyalty, and competitiveness.”

Mark “Scoop” Malinowski is the author of the new tennis books “Facing Federer” and “Facing Hewitt” which are available at amazon. He’s currently working on “Facing Probert.”

Dumb can’t win: Why the Russians are falling apart

Russia's Rinat Valiev (left) battles against the Czechs (Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)

After his team surrendered 4-1 to the Czech Republic in its final game of the round robin, Russian coach Valeri Bragin was in no mood for chatter. Not only did his team blow the chance to finish second in its pool, which would have assured the Russians a much easier draw in the quarterfinal, but the squad looks to be falling apart at the seams.

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Year in Review: top 10 saves of 2014

Ward

Say what you will about an outstanding goal, but there are few things greater than a how-did-he-do-that save.

In 2014, the NHL spoiled us with some of the most incredible stops we’ve seen to date. All but one of the best saves from the calendar year come from the world’s best league, and rightfully so. Because when you’re facing the best shooters, the saves are made that much tougher.

And while the paddle save is frequent among the top 10 saves of the past year, there are a few glove stops mixed among them that will leave you shaking your head. If you like goal scoring, this may be nightmare fuel. Feast your eyes on the top 10 saves of 2014: Read more