• CHL playoffs: The most intriguing first-round matchups

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

    The CHL playoffs begin tonight and it’s going to be a lot of fun. Connor McDavid has one last chance to win it all with the Erie Otters in the Ontario League, but the powerfully-built Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have designs of their own. Out in the Western League, Kelowna and Brandon seem to be on a collision course for the final, while the Quebec League has the added wrinkle of sending two teams to the Memorial Cup – one being the host Quebec Remparts, who won’t want to crawl in through the back door.

    Here’s a look at all the first-round matchups in the CHL, with a bit more info on one series per league that has me riveted from the get-go.

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  • How Steve Mason has turned his career around in Philadelphia

    Jared Clinton
    Steve Mason (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The joke used to be that Philadelphia was where goaltenders went to lose their way. Year after year, some new hope would enter and before the season was through, he was gone and forgotten. No one would have been surprised had that been the case for Steve Mason.

    In two seasons, Mason, now 26, has recovered from what looked like potential for a miserable end to a once very promising career. When the Flyers acquired him from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Michael Leighton and a third-round pick, he was coming off three straight seasons with a goals-against average above 3.00 and had posted save percentages of .901, .901 and .894 over his past three campaigns.

    To say the move was questioned would be an understatement. No one knew what the Flyers were doing trying to recover the game of the 2008-09 Calder Trophy winning goaltender who had seemingly lost his way. But now, as the second anniversary of the trade approaches, maybe the Flyers saw something in Mason no one else did. Read more

  • Why the Arizona Coyotes need to finish last more than the Buffalo Sabres do

    Ken Campbell
    Connor McDavid  (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

    BUFFALO – Forty-five years ago, the Buffalo Sabres won the first overall pick with the spin of a wheel and chose Gilbert Perreault. The Vancouver Canucks settled for Dale Tallon. The Sabres got the better player and the Canucks got the better future GM. Of course, there was nothing preventing the Canucks from taking Darryl Sittler second overall in 1970.

    But you get the point here. That one moment in time changed the course of history. And even though Perreault could never deliver a Stanley Cup to Buffalo, his Hall of Fame career gave the Sabres an identity and set them on a far better course.

    Tonight’s game could be another one of those defining, franchise game-changing moments for the Sabres. Just as it could be for the Arizona Coyotes. All they have to do is lose tonight, then lose again in four days when the teams meet in the desert. It’s the only two times these teams meet this season and – wouldn’t you know it? – they play each other twice down the stretch with one of two generational talents on the line. Read more

  • He’s back: Henrik Lundqvist dressing as backup for Rangers tonight

    Jared Clinton
    Henrik Lundqvist waves to MSG

    It’s like a nightmare scenario for the rest of the NHL. The New York Rangers, arguably the hottest team in the league, are getting their starting goaltender back tonight. And the team has been playing so well that the Rangers are just going to let him watch from the bench.

    That’s right – after 24 games on the injured reserve, Henrik Lundqvist has been officially activated by the Rangers and will dress tonight to backup Cam Talbot. If it was looking difficult to catch the Rangers for first place in the Metropolitan Division before this, it’s about to get that much harder. Read more

  • National Women’s Hockey League set to begin in 2015-16, will pay players

    Jared Clinton
    NWHL promotional video (via NWHL/YouTube)

    Less than three weeks after the CWHL handed out the Clarkson Cup to the Boston Blades, news comes that next season they’ll have to compete with a rival women’s league… and a rival league that can pay its players.

    Puck Daddy’s Jen Neale reported this afternoon the league, spawned by Dani Rylan and former Team USA superstar Angela Ruggiero, will begin its inaugural season in 2015-16. With four teams spread across the Northeastern United States, the four team league hopes it can coincide with the CWHL while giving women’s players another option, one that will offer them pay and takes the onus off of its players to find time, money and resources to compete in the league. Read more

  • Flyers owner Ed Snider sounds like a man losing patience with his team

    Adam Proteau
    Flyers executive Paul Holmgren, team owner Ed Snider, and GM Ron Hextall. (Zack Hill/NHLI via Getty Images)

    In early October, Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider told THN he was more than happy to allow GM Ron Hextall to build the team slowly and not engage in blockbuster trades, as has been the franchise’s custom as often as not under his stewardship.

    “Ron Hextall has come in and preached patience,” Snider said at the time. “Ron said, ‘We’re not going to rush guys along. We’re going to develop our kids and really work on that phase of the game.’ That was my philosophy when I started the team.”

    That was five months ago. Now, talking to Philly.com, Snider sounds as if he’s not quite so certain about the whole patience thing. Read more

  • Former Red Wing, Canuck Mikael Samuelsson announces retirement

    Jared Clinton
    Mikael Samuelsson (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

    Following one-season in the SHL, 13-year NHL veteran Mikael Samuelsson has decided to hang up his skates.

    Samuelsson, 38, was drafted in the fifth round, 145th overall, by the San Jose Sharks in the 1998 draft, but didn’t really make his mark in the NHL until nearly a decade later when he landed with the Detroit Red Wings. With Detroit, Sameulsson would capture a Stanley Cup in 2007-08 and his performance in the 2005-06 season would help earn him a spot on the Olympic gold medal-winning Swedish squad in 2006. Read more

  • Watch Jason Spezza’s magic hands set up Jamie Benn for tap-in

    Jared Clinton
    Jason Spezza (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    It may seem like this hasn’t been the kind of season we’ve come to expect from Jason Spezza, but rest assured he still has an incredible pair of hands and he put them on display Wednesday night.

    Midway through the second period of Dallas’ tilt with Calgary and with the Stars on the power play, Spezza received a pass in the right wing circle. As Flames defenseman Kris Russell slid out to attempt to shut down Spezza’s passing lanes, he perfectly toe-dragged the puck around Russell, waited for a passing lane to open up and put a tape-to-tape feed past Calgary’s Dennis Wideman and onto the stick of Jamie Benn for a tap-in: Read more