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Posted On Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 1:26 AM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Devils vs. Kings Stanley Cup Final blog

Fayne: 'It's tough to deal with right now'

NEWARK, N.J. -- One point of emphasis for the New Jersey Devils heading into Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final will be generating more than the 18 shots they put on Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in Wednesday's opener.

Quick stopped 17 of them in the Kings' 2-1 overtime win, but Devils defenseman Mark Fayne was still shaking his head about the puck he couldn't put on net, the one that would have tilted the score in the home team's favor midway through the third period.

Fayne pinched in deep and was rewarded when the rebound of a Ryan Carter shot bounced right onto his stick with Quick out of position and the right side of the net completely open. But the puck was bouncing and Fayne fired it wide.
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 3:46 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

NHL Face-Off, top matchups highlight opening night

There may only be three games on Thursday's schedule, but opening night in the NHL offers up enough excitement and thrills to rival any 12-game Saturday night.

Welcome to NHL.com's 2011 Face-Off blog, where you'll want to check back not just over the next 24 hours, but all weekend long as our writers and correspondents from around the League bring you up to date on everything that's happening as the season begins everywhere from Vancouver to Boston to the Compuware NHL Premiere games taking place over in Sweden, Finland and Germany.

First, a quick overview of what fans can look forward to Thursday:

Even before the first puck drops, hockey enthusiasts will be rocking as the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off comes to Winnipeg. As a prelude to the Jets playing their first regular-season game at the MTS Centre against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, the event features international rock legends Bachman & Turner ("Takin' Care of Business," anyone?) along with platinum-selling rockers Three Days Grace and Winnipeg's own Inward Eye all scheduled to perform.

The fun gets under way at "The Forks" in Winnipeg at 3 p.m. Central Time, with refreshments, prizes and plenty of family-friendly activities, and continues until 9 p.m. Jets captain Andrew Ladd will appear along with teammates Zach Bogosian, Tanner Glass, Ron Hainsey, Jim Slater and Mark Stuart. Those not in the area or otherwise unable to make it will still be able to catch highlights on the NHL Network, Versus and CBC.

Then there's the game action.

The Boston Bruins raise their Stanley Cup banner prior to their game against the Philadelphia Flyers, part of a Versus doubleheader beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. These clubs have plenty of recent history dating back to when they met in the 2010 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Fenway Park. Several months later, the Flyers became only the third team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series, as they beat the Bruins en route to making the Stanley Cup Final. Boston paid Philadelphia back in another second-round matchup last spring, sweeping through on the way to ending a 39-year championship drought.

Meanwhile, over on the CBC at 7 p.m., one of the top rivalries in hockey adds another chapter as Original Six foes Montreal and Toronto face off from the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs are determined to end a lengthy playoff drought, while the Canadiens are focused on knocking off the Bruins as Northeast Division champions and ending a championship drought that now approaches two decades in length.

The night won't be finished until the defending Presidents' Trophy winners, the Vancouver Canucks, play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins at 10 p.m. ET. It isn't likely the Canucks will be tuning in hours earlier to watch the Bruins' banner-raising -- after a devastating Game 7 loss on home ice in June saw favored Vancouver come up empty in its bid to win the first Cup in franchise history, this season is all about redemption and the path back to the playoffs begins in earnest Thursday. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby travelled with the team but isn't yet ready to play, but Evgeni Malkin had a dynamite preseason and hopes for good health and plenty of points this season.

We'll have much more here in the days to come, so get prepared to eat, drink and breathe hockey as the 2011-12 season gets under way.
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Posted On Friday, 09.09.2011 / 3:09 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Player Media Tour

Change of scenery suiting Johnson well

One of only a handful of American-born players to be taken with the No. 1 pick in the Entry Draft, defenseman Erik Johnson grew up in Minnesota, spent time in Michigan skating for the U.S. National Team Development Program, returned to his home state for a season of college hockey and began his NHL career playing two full seasons and part of a third with the St. Louis Blues, who took him with the top pick in 2006.

For the past seven months Johnson has been getting to know a different part of the country, as the Blues sent him to the Colorado Avalanche in February as part of a trade involving multiple players and draft picks. So far, it's a move that has suited the 23-year-old well.

"It's a great place to live," Johnson said during his stop through the League's offices in midtown Manhattan on Friday as part of this year's Player Media Tour. "It's got to be one of the top five destinations in the country to live and people love living there. Guys love playing there."

In addition to the picturesque surroundings, Johnson noted how many former Avalanche greats still make their homes in the area. He also spoke about the pride those in the organization exhibit and wanting to be part of restoring the franchise's great tradition, which includes a pair of Stanley Cup championships.

"Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg and those guys all made the Avalanche what it is today," he said. "It's a great, first-class organization and we have to carry that on and get them back to where they used to be, in the playoffs and winning Stanley Cups like they did in '96 and '01.

"It's a town that, when we're winning, the fans are going to come back in droves. Obviously when I got there last year they were in the midst of a 10-game losing streak and we didn't win many games after that. It's going to be fun when we're winning and the fans are packing the Pepsi Center again."
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Posted On Thursday, 09.08.2011 / 5:13 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Player Media Tour

Cup and Olympic gold different but special to Perry

Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry stepped up into the NHL's elite last season with a scintillating 50-goal, 98-point performance that lifted his team into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and sent Perry to Las Vegas for the 2011 NHL Awards, where he took home the Hart Trophy.

Although it was the best season of his career from an individual standpoint, Perry had already experienced the highest of highs from a team standpoint on both the League and international levels: Anaheim won the Cup in 2007, his sophomore season, and he was a member of the Canadian Olympic team that won gold in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

During his stop through the League's offices in midtown Manhattan on Thursday as part of this year's Player Media Tour, the 26-year-old attempted to compare and contrast the emotions that go into playing for and winning a Stanley Cup versus a gold medal.

"It's similar, but the Olympics are a two-week tournament, where the Stanley Cup is you go through 82 games -- seven, eight months with the same guys -- and then you go through the playoffs," Perry said. "With the Stanley Cup, you're going through a lot more blood, sweat and tears and different things. In the Olympics you have to gel so quickly and become a team in a short period of time. I don't know if you can say one's better than the other or one sits higher than the other. I think they're pretty special, both of them."

Perry was a key contributor to both efforts, putting up six goals and 15 points in the Ducks' 2007 postseason run and scoring four times as a member of Team Canada, including the goal that gave the host nation a 2-0 lead in an eventual 3-2 overtime win over the United States in the gold-medal game.

"Especially playing in your home country, winning in front of your home country fans is pretty special," he said. "But on the other side, we won the Cup in front of our fans in Southern California, so that was kind of exciting as well."

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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 9:09 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Cammalleri excited to return in time for Heritage

When Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri fell into the boards following a check from Sabres defenseman Mike Weber in a Jan. 18 game and dislocated his left shoulder, it put playing in the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic in serious doubt.

Exactly one month later, Cammalleri took full part in Thursday's practice at the Scotiabank Saddledome. In his press conference afterward, coach Jacques Martin said he looked good and indicated he would likely be in the lineup Sunday when the Canadiens face the Flames at McMahon Stadium.

Cammalleri didn't want to give anything away when a reporter asked a question that anticipated he would play in the Heritage, asking, "Is it official?" After being told Martin expressed as much, Cammalleri responded, "Then good. Yeah, I'm playing."

He continued: "I'm really happy, first of all just to be back. It's been a while. But this weekend's a special weekend and I'm going to try to really take it all in, for sure. Very, very happy to be playing."

Cammalleri scored a career-high 39 goals in 2008-09, his only season playing in Calgary. He signed a five-year contract with Montreal on July 1, 2009, and finished with 26 goals and 50 points in his first season with the Canadiens. He has 13 goals and 31 points in 44 games this season.

"I had a really good time in Calgary. I was only here the one season but I seemed to make a lot of really good friends," Cammalleri said. "It's a special place for me and it feels great to be back. This morning we got in late [after playing in Edmonton on Thursday night], but I woke up well before my alarm to get around town and get back to some of the old digs. I went back to the old supermarket, picked up some stuff, the whole thing."
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 8:52 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Dealing with cold a unique challenge for goaltenders

There's little doubt it will be cold late Sunday afternoon when the puck drops on the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium in Calgary -- the only question is how cold.

For most of the players, it won't be that big a deal. When they're out on the ice, skating in on a rush or attempting to defend against one by their opponents, the frigid temperatures get blocked out. And when they're sitting on the benches, well, at least those will be heated.

Miikka Kiprusoff and Carey Price, the respective starting goaltenders for the Flames and Canadiens, have neither of those luxuries. They expect to play all 60 minutes of the game and will spend the entire time -- save for maybe the TV timeouts -- in the confined area of their creases.

Is there anything a goaltender can do to prepare himself for a game like this?

"You just try to stay warm somehow," Kiprusoff said. "We have some pretty good underwear to wear under [the jersey] to keep you warm, too. But you don't want to put too much on, either."

The Flames and Canadiens practiced at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday but will take the ice at McMahon for the first time Saturday, which Price hopes will give him some sort of idea what to expect.

"I don't even know, I'm going to have to try to figure out something in practice tomorrow," he said. "Figure out the best type of underwear to wear … that's why we're going to practice outside tomorrow, try to figure some things out."

While skaters like David Moss and Mike Cammalleri, who played outdoors for the University of Michigan in the 2001 "Cold War" game against Michigan State, might be able to provide tips for the other forwards and defensemen, Price didn't expect to ask anyone who had past experience in an outdoor game for advice.

"It all depends … for goaltenders there is a difference. You could work up a sweat and then just sit for two, three, four minutes and not do anything," Price said.

Kiprusoff was asked if this is the type of game where he wouldn't mind a heavy workload, especially seeing some shots early to get himself warmed up and into the action.

"Every game you want to see some shots, but it's different because it's pretty cold," he said. "I hope it's not crazy cold because that makes it difficult, especially for goalies."
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 8:25 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Canadiens react to Bruins' day of trades

All season long, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens have been the two teams battling it out for supremacy in the Northeast Division, so when the Bruins made a pair of big trades Friday, landing standout defenseman Tomas Kaberle from Toronto as well as forward Rich Peverley and defenseman Mark Stuart from Atlanta, the natural question became what, if anything, the Habs will do in response prior to the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

"If you look at it, there's a couple teams in the [Eastern] Conference that have tried to add and really bolster their lineups here in the last few weeks," Montreal forward Mike Cammalleri said. "Time tells. I say it all the time but that's how we play sports, that's why we drop the puck and play. We never know how things are going to unfold. Managers make these moves to try and strengthen their rosters, but we’ll see."

The Canadiens did make a significant roster move in the past several days, reacquiring defenseman Paul Mara from the Ducks. Their blue line has taken hit after hit this season, losing power-play quarterback Andrei Markov and emerging talent Josh Gorges to season-ending knee injuries. James Wisniewski, brought over from the Islanders in late December, is day-to-day after taking a puck to the face in Thursday's loss to the Oilers -- a gruesome-looking injury the team hopes doesn't involve any facial fractures.

"Paul's an experienced defenseman," coach Jacques Martin said. "We had Paul last year. Unfortunately he got injured three-quarters into the season and missed the last stretch of the season and the playoffs. But he's an individual that is well-received by his teammates, well-appreciated by his teammates, has got good size, brings a physical presence to our blue line and I think will help us in the stretch here."
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 8:23 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Canadiens react to Bruins' day of trades

All season long, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens have been the two teams battling it out for supremacy in the Northeast Division, so when the Bruins made a pair of big trades Friday, landing standout defenseman Tomas Kaberle from Toronto as well as forward Rich Peverley and defenseman Mark Stuart from Atlanta, the natural question became what, if anything, the Habs will do in response prior to the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

"If you look at it, there's a couple teams in the [Eastern] Conference that have tried to add and really bolster their lineups here in the last few weeks," Montreal forward Mike Cammalleri said. "Time tells. I say it all the time but that's how we play sports, that's why we drop the puck and play. We never know how things are going to unfold. Managers make these moves to try and strengthen their rosters, but we’ll see."

The Canadiens did make a significant roster move in the past several days, reacquiring defenseman Paul Mara from the Ducks. Their blue line has taken hit after hit this season, losing power-play quarterback Andrei Markov and emerging talent Josh Gorges to season-ending knee injuries. James Wisniewski, brought over from the Islanders in late December, is day-to-day after taking a puck to the face in Thursday's loss to the Oilers -- a gruesome-looking injury the team hopes doesn't involve any facial fractures.

"Paul's an experienced defenseman," coach Jacques Martin said. "We had Paul last year. Unfortunately he got injured three-quarters into the season and missed the last stretch of the season and the playoffs. But he's an individual that is well-received by his teammates, well-appreciated by his teammates, has got good size, brings a physical presence to our blue line and I think will help us in the stretch here."
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 4:37 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Playing outdoors nothing new for Moss

While there are plenty of NHL veterans still waiting to play in their first outdoor game, Calgary Flames forward David Moss will be skating in his third on Sunday.

The 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic completes a trifecta for the 29-year-old Moss, a five-year NHL veteran. Back in his collegiate days at the University of Michigan he was part of the famous "Cold War" game that began the outdoor hockey craze. Just last year, he was on the U.S. team that played Germany in the World Championship.

"They were both unique," Moss said. "The one in Michigan was special because it was a college atmosphere and it was a big rivalry. The one in Germany was a little bit different because I'd never seen fans that cheer the whole game like that, so it was pretty special, too."

The high temperature for Sunday is projected to be 29 degrees Fahrenheit and partly cloudy, although by the time the puck drops after 4 p.m. Mountain Time, it figures to be dropping closer toward the low of 8 degrees. Moss was asked if the players will be wearing extra clothing under their jerseys.

"I guess it depends on how cold it is. The first game I played at Michigan it was much colder than expected so I know guys had a little bit heavier stuff on underneath their equipment. I think it just depends on what the weather's like and what guys feel comfortable wearing," Moss said.

"I think most guys will change between periods. That's been my experience before, put something dry on and just go from there. Especially if you've been sitting around for a time, it gets cold."

There's also a 20 percent chance of precipitation for Sunday, so snow flurries aren't out of the question. Beyond that, issues like glare caused by the setting sun can be dealt with easily enough by the players, Moss said.

"The lighting and the sunlight, there's reflections, but there's way to deal with that, eye black and stuff like that," he said.

Moss scored a goal and added 3 assists in Calgary's 9-1 rout of Colorado on Monday and his line with Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross, dubbed the "OMG" line locally, has been on a tear of late.

"We've been fortunate to find the score sheet lately," Moss said. "Olli and Glennie are really playing some good hockey and Brent's kind of given us a role to play against other team's top lines. We've adjusted well to that."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 4:11 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Flames talk Heritage atmosphere

On the one hand, the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic will be the same as any other game out of 82 on the regular-season schedule in that the winner receives two points.

Otherwise, it's hard to compare playing inside a dome in front of around 20,000 fans to skating under the late afternoon and night sky, dealing with the elements with double that number of screaming bodies in the stands of what normally serves as a Canadian Football League stadium.

"Obviously it's going to be quite different, I'm sure," forward Niklas Hagman said. "I haven't played an outdoor game yet. The crowd is so much further away. It is great, but for sure it's going to be different. And it's going to be different for [Montreal], too, we've just got to make sure we're more ready and get the two points."

Forward Tim Jackman talked about inviting his parents out for the game and how he was happy Calgary's recent hot stretch has made for a better storyline to the Heritage.

"Things worked out that we're in a playoff hunt and it's going to be a more exciting game than if we would have kept playing the way we were playing early in the season," Jackman said.

There's also the opponent to consider. What better team to play in a game of this magnitude than the Canadiens, an Original Six team with one of the most storied histories in professional sports, one that includes an NHL-record 24 Stanley Cup championships.

"I think it's going to be a great atmosphere," defenseman Mark Giordano said. "It seems like any time you play Montreal or Toronto, one of those teams, there's an extra buzz in the crowd. So I think it'll be an exciting game. There's going to be a lot of fans, I think, from both sides. It's going to be an important game."
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Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday