We have updated our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the NHL’s online services, you agree to these updated documents and to the arbitration of disputes.
Welcome |Account|Sign Out 
NEW! SIGN IN WITH YOUR SOCIAL PROFILE
OR
Username or EmailPassword
 
SHARE
Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 4:22 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Toews, Sharp return, Morrison debuts for Hawks

VANCOUVER -- The Chicago Blackhawks kick off a season-high nine-game road trip in Vancouver on Tuesday night with three lineup additions, none bigger than captain Jonathan Toews and sniper Patrick Sharp, who both return from left wrist injuries in time to face their biggest rivals.

"It's a good way to get started," said Sharp, who has been out just over three weeks. "You never want to sit out these games, whether it's a playoff game or regular season, it's always a great atmosphere. Two teams that are great teams that obviously don't like each other, but it's a lot of fun to play these games. I think both sides will say that, so I wouldn't miss this one for the world."

Toews only missed a game and a half and doesn't expect to miss a beat on the top line, but Sharp returns sooner than expected and to a new-look second line anchored by ex-Canucks center Brendan Morrison. Acquired by the Blackhawks from Calgary over the All-Star weekend, Morrison will start with his new team playing between Sharp and fellow sharp-shooter Marian Hossa.

"This guy is third in the League in scoring right now, and talking to some guys in here they feel he could be the best player in the League right now," Morrison said of Hossa. "He's a game-breaker. There's a lot of guys in here -- (Patrick) Kane, Toews, Sharp, (Duncan) Keith, (Brent Seabrook) -- I look around the room and there's a great supporting cast. … I have been lucky over the years to play with some pretty high-end talent, guys like Markus (Naslund) and Todd (Bertuzzi) and Jarome (Iginla). Just to be in that mix and be a part of it should be fun."

With three new bodies on the top lines, there are changes on the bottom two as well. Dave Bolland is back in his usual spot as a third-line checking center, flanked now by Marcus Kruger, who slides down and over from the second-line center spot taken by Morrison, and rookie Andrew Shaw.

"We're comfortable with (Kruger) against anybody and Shaw has played extremely well -- there's upside offensively and defensively," coach Joel Quenneville said, warning the new looks may not last too long. "It's something we're going to try and we'll see how long it goes."

Michael Frolik, who was made a healthy scratch for the first time in Chicago’s last game before the All-Star break, returns on a fourth line with veterans Jamal Mayers and Andrew Brunette, with Bryan Bickell coming out of the lineup as a healthy scratch. Rookies Jimmy Hayes, Ben Smith and Brandon Pirri have all been sent back to the American Hockey League since playing in Chicago's last game before the All-Star break, and the Blackhawks know they have little margin for error as they prepare to spend the next 19 days on the road, a trip Quenneville has broken into three segments.

"From Game 48, where we were first in the League, to Game 50, where we are sixth in the conference, it's pretty amazing the ground we lost," he said. "Our division is going to be tough to the end."

Tonight's projected lineups:
 
BLACKHAWKS

Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Brendan Morrison - Marian Hossa
Marcus Kruger - Dave Bolland - Andrew Shaw
Michael Frolik - Jamal Mayers - Andrew Brunette

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy - Niklas Hjalmarsson
John Scott - Steve Montador

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery

On the back end, it appeared Sean O'Donnell, who was out skating late, could come out in favor of the 6-foot-8 Scott on the third pairing:

CANUCKS
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - David Booth
Mason Raymond - Cody Hodgson - Jannik Hansen
Manny Malhotra - Maxim Lapierre - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Keith Ballard - Aaron Rome

Cory Schneider
Roberto Luongo

Nothing changes except the goalie for the Canucks, who will start Schneider for the first time in three weeks, in part, coach Alain Vigneault said, because he was able to work out during the All Star break, while Luongo traveled with family.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 4:19 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Canucks hope Salo's return gets 'D' back in groove

Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo would prefer to go into the All-Star break feeling good about his health rather than worrying about it.

So the oft-injured blueliner will return from a concussion Tuesday against Edmonton.

The veteran Salo has missed six games and 17 days after getting sent head over heels by a low hit from Boston’s Brad Marchand on Jan. 7. As for the thinking one more missed game would mean an extra week off with the upcoming All Star weekend, the 37-year-old would prefer to go into the break with a game under his belt.

"I just look at like try to get back as soon as I can and get back with the team as soon as I can," Salo said. "There's no better scenario for me. Once I'm ready, I'm ready."

There's little question the Canucks missed Salo's calming influence, despite managing a 3-2-1 record without him. Despite having two extra bodies on the back end, none were comfortable on the right side of Alexander Edler on an important second pairing.

There were long stretches without Salo when they struggled with defensive coverage and getting out of their own end smoothly, leading to the recall of second-year pro Christopher Tanev to play alongside Edler in Saturday's win over San Jose.

"He's able to contribute both offensively and defensively," coach Alain Vigneault said Monday of Salo. "He's such a smart player both with the puck and without the puck that he makes our groove so much better, and that's why he's going to play (against the Oilers)."

The threat of Salo's shot at the point -- once dubbed "The Finnish MacInnis" by Curtis Joseph, he won the Canucks' hardest shot contest Sunday with a 102.7 mile-an-hour blast -- should also help a struggling power play. Still ranked first in the NHL at 23.3 percent, Vancouver has only converted 3 of 21 chances with the man advantage since Salo was hurt -- and two of those goals were scored by the second unit.

"His big shot on the power play really helps our set up," said forward Alexandre Burrows, who filled in for Salo on the point of the top unit. "He's so reliable back there and seems to have that calming influence on everybody, and on the power play you miss that big shot and his poise when dragging that blue line and making plays."

With Salo back, Tanev was sent back to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League -- a short trip since they were playing in nearby Abbotsford -- but Vigneault made it clear he has a future with the big club, possibly by playoff time.

"He confirmed what we knew," Vigneault said of Tanev, who played 29 games as a rookie last season, including five in the playoffs and three in the Stanley Cup Final.

"We know we've got a real strong young man there that is real close to playing in the NHL on a regular basis, and in our minds we think he's got the possibility one day to maybe play in the top-four. But he's only 22. He needs to play a bit more."

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 4:10 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Canucks, Oilers to get veteran defensemen back

The Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers both expect key veterans back on the blue line Tuesday night.

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault confirmed after practice Monday that Sami Salo will return to the lineup after missing six games and 17 days as the result of a concussion suffered after a low hit from Boston's Brad Marchand on Jan. 7.

Most Oilers didn't skate in Vancouver on Tuesday morning after a shootout win over San Jose on home ice the night before, but Ryan Whitney did, and said afterward he would return after missing 13 games since Christmas because of lingering tendonitis from an ankle surgery more than a year earlier.

What they are getting back, however, could be very different.

Salo doesn't think it will take long to get back up to speed, which means the Canucks get back a steadying influence on the back end at even strength and on the penalty kill, as well as a powerful point shot for a power play that has struggled in his absence.

There are more questions surrounding Whitney's return, both short- and long-term.

Is it the Whitney who had 27 points and a plus-13 rating in 35 games while playing a team-high 25 minutes a night before the ankle surgery? Or the one that didn't return until five games into this season, missed another 13 with a knee injury, has just 3 assists in 17 games, is minus-6, and averaged just 18:38 of ice time while trying to find his game and health? Whitney sure didn't sound convinced his ankle was back to normal.

"It feels OK, it's kind of one of those things now where we're going to have to figure it out hopefully at the end of the year," Whitney said. "Everyone telling me wait until you are 100 percent, while I don't know if it will ever be 100 percent again, so you gotta just try playing at some point. It feels better than it did a month ago, I've tried taping it a little different and just got to give it a go at some point."

It hasn't been easy for a player counted on to lead the Oilers out of their own end and contribute offensively at the other end.

"It's frustrating, but days like this, when you are playing, I really try not to think about it," he said. "You have to change your game a little bit, but I'm just happy to be playing again. I can't really get frustrated that it hasn't healed as i hoped. It's in the back of my mind, just not on days I am playing."

Even with Whitney back, the banged-up Oilers are still missing two top-four defenders, with Tom Gilbert out since the new year with a knee injury and Cam Barker missing his 34th game since mid-November because of an ankle injury of his own.

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 4:09 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Canucks, Oilers

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Vancouver Canucks host the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena:

CANUCKS
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - David Booth
Mason Raymond - Cody Hodgson - Jannik Hansen
Manny Malhotra - Maxim Lapierre - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Keith Ballard - Aaron Rome

Roberto Luongo is in goal for a fifth straight start, a bit of a surprise given backup Cory Schneider has only played three times in more than five weeks -- and won them all -- and, with the break, will have gone three weeks without a start by the time he next plays.

No changes up front, though the top line is hoping to be better than the last few games, with Henrik Sedin on his first three-game drought of the season. Thankfully for Canucks fans, Hodgson continues to roll, with 2 goals, including the winner, in his last game, and a team-high 9 points in January. And a reunited second line is showing signs of the promise demonstrated before Booth's sprained knee split them up for six weeks. He has 2 goals since returning three games ago, and with Higgins feeling like himself after antibiotics to cure a staph infection robbed him of energy, Kesler, who also scored Saturday, now has better options on the wing.

OILERS

Taylor Hall - Sam Gagner - Jordan Eberle
Teemu Hartikainen - Shawn Horcoff - Ales Hemsky
Ryan Smyth - Eric Belanger - Magnus Paajarvi
Lennart Petrell - Anton Lander - Ryan Jones

Ladislav Smid - Ryan Whitney
Theo Peckham - Corey Potter
Andy Sutton - Jeff Petry

Devan Dubnyk gets a second-straight started ahead of Nikolai Khabibulin, and the chance to build off an impressive 44-save, 2-1 shootout win over San Jose Tuesday.

"You want to be a No. 1 in this league, you have to nail a couple of these together to get your team going," coach Tom Renney said Monday night after Dubnyk also stopped three of four in the shootout. "This is a good one to feed off of and build off of. He has to seize the moment."

The forward lines, still missing top rookie scorer Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, should be the same as against San Jose the night before as there is no indication Hemsky will face further discipline for the kneeing major that knocked San Jose defenseman Brent Burns out of Monday night's game with a knee injury.

Taylor Chorney is the likely scratch on defense with Whitney's return, with Petry dropping down from a pairing with Smid to play alongside Sutton, who was suspended the last time these teams met in Vancouver on Dec. 26.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 12:29 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Canucks not worried about recent slow starts

The Canucks aren’t worried about starts Saturday against the Sharks – their own or a rare 1 p.m. local time at home.

Vancouver spent most of the last two first periods being badly outshot – 10-3 in the opening period of a 4-2 loss to Anaheim on Sunday, and 15-0 in the early stages of a 3-2 shootout loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday, surrendering more than a half-dozen odd-man rushes to the Kings in the first eight minutes alone.

Coach Alain Vigneault correctly pointed out the Canucks scored first in 10 straight games before their recent letdowns out of the gate, which came on the heels of a draining Eastern road trip. Having San Jose in town also helps, given a rivalry that heated up in the Western Conference finals last season.

“I would safely say the last two starts are blips on the radar,” Vigneault said. “This group prepares themselves really well, they get ready to play, as prior games showed. … San Jose is coming in here, one of the top teams in the League, they are always competitive and real tight games that could probably go one way or another so I expect another hard fought battle and I expect my guys to be ready for it.”

That includes starting goalie Roberto Luongo, who was the only reason the Kings didn’t run away with the game early Tuesday. A creature of habit who often takes part in game-day skates even when most of his teammates are given them off, Luongo suffered a rare groin injury during an early afternoon game in Pittsburgh way back in 2008, and is still answering questions about whenever the Canucks have an early start time.

“It’s unfortunate that a lot of times people remember what happened a long time ago and that kind of sticks with you,” said Luongo, who never did link the injury, suffered stretching for a quick redirection that caught him moving the wrong way, with not going through his normal game-day routine. “I’m comfortable with afternoon games, I’ve played major ones since in the Olympics and one against the Sharks (in the playoffs) last year.”

As for not being able to go through his normal morning-skate warm up, Luongo, who has been known to show up early morning to take shots on the rare occasions the Canucks have a 4 p.m. start, said he’s adjusted to going without.

“Over the years you kind of develop a routine for different times,” he said. “I don’t mind afternoon games any more. You just get up, eat breakfast and come to the rink so you don’t have time to think about it too much and sometimes that’s a good thing.” 
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 11:58 AM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Salo skates for Canucks, Tanev to play against banged-up Sharks

Veteran Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo was back at practice Friday and taking contact for the first time since a experiencing a concussion as the result of Brad Marchand’s low hit in Boston on Jan. 7, but he won’t play Saturday in a matinee against San Jose.

Instead, second-year pro Chris Tanev will make the rare jump from the American Hockey League to a top-4 spot, taking Salo’s spot alongside All-Star Alexander Edler on the second pairing. It’s a jump Tanev earned with his poise during 29 games last season as a rookie just two years removed from Tier-2 junior and after only had one season of college hockey.

Part of it is being a right-shot and comfortable on the right side, something none of the Canucks’ left-shot defensemen that took a turn in Salo’s spot were able to demonstrate.

“Nobody else that’s here has taken the bull by the horns in Sami’s absence and said my play will keep me in that spot,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “We’ve tried a number of guys, and not that they’ve played bad, but they haven’t played to that ice time. That ice time gets obviously more minutes so we’ll try Chris and see what he can do.”

Tanev, whose offense has been limited in two pro seasons, won’t replace Salo on the top powe- play unit – forward Alexandre Burrows is back there for now – but should get the bulk of action five-on-five.

David Booth was demoted to the third line for the third period Tuesday and scored the tying goal there in a shootout loss to Los Angeles, but the Canucks see enough promise from the “American Express” combination with Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins to put it back together Saturday.

With Salo still out and Tanev called up, Andrew Alberts and Alexander Sulzer will both be healthy scratches against the Sharks, with Aaron Rome and Keith Ballard – neither of whom prefers playing the right side -- together on the third pairing.

CANUCKS

Daniel SedinHenrik SedinAlexandre Burrows
Chris HigginsRyan KeslerDavid Booth
Mason RaymondCody HodgsonJannik Hansen
Manny MalhotraMaxim LapierreDale Weise

Dan HamhuisKevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler – Chris Tanev
Keith BallardAaron Rome
 
Roberto Luongo is back in goal for a fourth straight game. Cory Schneider backs him up.

San Jose practiced at home before flying north Friday afternoon, and there were no game-day skates with the 1 p.m. local start time, so there are no guarantees when forecasting a lineup hit hard by injuries of late.

The latest was to rookie Tommy Wingels in a 4-1 loss to Ottawa on Thursday night. The upper-body injury is expected to keep him out through the All Star break, and is a tough blow after he earned a top-line forward spot with Martin Havlat and Ryane Clowe already out of the lineup and on injured reserve.

The good news is Andrew Desjardins was back Thursday after clearing concussion protocol to center the fourth line against the Senators. And based on reports out of San Jose’s practice, Desjardins should at least be one player to get a look in Wingels’ spot alongside the two Joes – Thornton and Pavelski.

It looks like John McCarthy will take Desjardins' place on the fourth line. McCarthy was reportedly recalled and expected to join the team in Vancouver. He leads Worcester with 27 points (11 goals), but has just four points in 41 games for the Sharks in the past two seasons.

San Jose does have an extra body in defenseman Jason Demers, who came out of the lineup when Colin White was activated from the injured list Thursday. Jim Vandermeer is also getting close to returning after missing 20 games with an upper-body injury.

SHARKS

Andrew Desjardins - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Benn Ferriero
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad WinchesterAndrew Murray-John McCarthy

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Colin White - Justin Braun
 
Antti Niemi is expected to start, with Thomas Greiss backing up. Antero Niittymaki is expected to make another conditioning-stint start in Worcester after stopping 23 shots in a 3-2 loss to Providence on Friday.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 5:44 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Tanev happy to be back in the fold with Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Welcome back to the NHL, Christopher Tanev.

Enjoy the bag skate.

OK, so the Canucks' hour-long practice on Thursday wasn't quite that bad, but after apathetic starts led to two-straight losses that were followed by a day off, there was a lot of hard, conditioning skating and battle drills when the players returned to the rink.

None of which was enough to wipe the smile off Tanev's face, not after being called up from Chicago of the American Hockey League the night before and dropped into a top-four pairing with All-Star Game-bound Alexander Edler.

"Got in last night for a tough practice today, but happy to be here," Tanev said with a sheepish grin.

It's a phrase Tanev repeated several times during a five-minute session with the media. The 22-year-old also admitted he was "a little" surprised to get called up to a Canucks team already carrying seven healthy defensemen. But with Sami Salo still out because of a concussion after a low hit Jan. 7 from Boston's Brad Marchand, they are short on defenders comfortable playing the right side -- hence the recall of the right-shot Tanev.

The inability to replace Salo on the right side of a second pairing with Edler has been a big part of the sloppy defensive zone coverage and turnovers in transition, leading to lopsided shot totals and grade-A scoring chances against.

"We felt bringing up a right-handed defensemen at this time would help our puck-moving ability," coach Alain Vigneault said. "A lot of times, left-handed defensemen on the right side, it's tough to see the opening, the cross-ice seams, because you gotta turn and move. Some guys are comfortable doing it. Some guys have played the off side all their lives. Right now we're having trouble with our puck movement."

The departed Christian Ehrhoff was a left-shot defensemen comfortable on the right side. But neither Keith Ballard nor Aaron Rome looked good on the right side of Edler, and Tanev played well enough on that side on a third pairing as a rookie last season to deserve a look.

"We need to get a little bit better chemistry there," Vigneault said. "I'm looking for a little better stability with the puck. … Chris is a solid puck mover with a lot of confidence and makes really good reads."

Tanev was just two years removed from tier-2 junior, and coming off one season of college hockey at the Rochester Institute of Technology when the Canucks signed him as a free agent in the summer of 2010. But he impressed enough in 29 regular season games last year to earn five more in the playoffs, including three in the Stanley Cup Final, demonstrating so much poise and patience with the puck that fellow defenseman Kevin Bieksa once quipped that he could "play the game with a cigarette in his mouth."

Tanev struggled in three games to start this season, though, and with eight other NHL-proven defenders on the roster -- and a contract and games-played status that made him the only one that didn't require waivers -- was sent to the AHL to get more playing time and continue developing.

"I was a little disappointed, but you move on fairly quickly when you gotta play hockey the next day," said Tanev, who got hurt his first game with Chicago and missed a month. "Obviously I wanted to stay, but I'm happy to be here now and trying to take advantage of this opportunity."

Tanev has just a single assist in 32 NHL games, and had 12 assists but no goals in 25 AHL games this season despite increased special teams opportunities, so he won't replace Salo's 100-mile-an-hour point shot on the first unit power play. But he's also yet to take a penalty in the NHL, and has just 22 minutes in two AHL seasons, so Tanev may have the best chance to mimic the veteran's calm, steadying influence.

"Try to make smart plays and be a smart player and move the puck," Tanev said. "It's definitely more comfortable than last year. I'm not going to try and force things. There are enough guys in this room that know how to score. But if opportunity is there I want to contribute in that way.”

That opportunity may only exist for the two remaining games before the All-Star break, as Salo skated on his own for a second straight day Thursday. But if Tanev can help get the puck out of Vancouver's end as easily as he did late last season, there will be plenty more chances to impress, likely even this season and into the playoffs.

"One of our strongest assets is our transition, defense to offense," Vigneault said.

It's one of Tanev's strengths, too.

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 7:47 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Vigneault downplays any rift with Kesler

VANCOUVER -- Alain Vigneault didn't want any part in extending a perceived spat with Ryan Kesler.

"Yes he is," Vigneault responded with a chuckle Tuesday morning when asked if his Selke Trophy-winning second-line center would be in the lineup against the Los Angeles Kings later that night.

Asked what he made of the attention given the media-driven back-and-forth between himself and Kesler, Vigneault added, "I think we all need to move on here."

It shouldn't be hard to do given how little there was to the situation.

Asked after Sunday's miserable 4-2 loss to Anaheim what was missing in Kesler's game, the coach offered a 42-second, 88-word response stressing the center's importance to the team, ending it by saying it wasn't "the right thing to do" to point fingers at Kesler on a night after the entire team played so poorly. But only the middle part about using "players around him a little but more" made it back to Kesler's locker the following day.

Kesler bristled when asked when about the coach saying he needed to do so.

"Utilize my players?" Kesler, who didn't talk Tuesday, retorted on Monday, seemingly surprised by the question. "Obviously, I don't know what he means by that and if he wants to say that he can come to me and talk to me about it. I'm going to play my game, the thing that's made me successful. I know what that is and if he wants to come talk to me, he's more than welcome."

The response, which was abrasive even by the often-prickly Kesler's standards, sparked talk of a rift between player and coach. But after missing training camp and the first five games of the season before returning - likely too soon, he admits now - from offseason hip surgery, Kesler has 12 goals and 31 points in 41 games, well off the career-best 41 goals he scored last season. He only has one assist - and two goals - while playing with a variety of wingers the last eight games.

So frustration may have played a role, according to Vigneault, who also carefully pointed out Monday that several other top Canucks have struggled of late.

"In Ryan's case what happens is he has shown that high, high-end level at really critical times the type of player he can be," Vigneault said. "And that's a really tough thing to be able to maintain in an 82-game schedule. Everybody is looking to Ryan to do that on a consistent basis. That's not easy for any player to do. Ryan being the competitive individual that he is will always try to achieve that standard. It's not easy so he's working on trying to get himself there and get himself there on that consistent basis."

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 4:40 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Goal support (or lack thereof) no concern to Quick

VANCOUVER -- Jonathan Quick's nose started bleeding during the national anthem before the Kings' game in Edmonton Sunday. It's one of the few times all season he's been leaky.

"Out of respect for the anthem you don't skate over to the bench right when it happens," Quick, who played the first period with gauze stuffed up his nose and then changed out of the blood-stained jersey at the intermission, said after the morning skate Tuesday in Vancouver. "You just kind of try not to leak too much during the anthem."

Quick, who blamed dry weather for the blood, said the gauze didn't bug him.

Not much has this season.

Quick is already a worthy All-Star selection, and a strong midseason Vezina Trophy candidate in just his fifth NHL season. Imagine if he had more offensive support.

As impressive as Quick's overall statistics look -- he leads the League in shutouts with six, and is fifth in save percentage at .933 and third in goals-against average at 1.95 -- his record would undoubtedly be a lot better than 19-11-8 if the Kings weren't also the lowest-scoring team in the NHL with a 2.15 goals-per-game average. 

Quick's physical tools have always been as obvious as the explosive cross-crease pushes and full-split saves that turn up on highlight reels around the League. But the fact he isn't bothered by the lack of support -- including a total of just 14 goals scored in his 11 regulation defeats -- says a lot about his mental development.

"Some goaltenders might go into every game thinking, 'I have to make 35, 40 saves to win,'" Kings forward Jarret Stoll said. "I don't think he even thinks about us scoring or not scoring. It's just the way he is. I know for a fact he doesn't think that way."

It's not an easy approach to achieve for some goalies. Almost all will tell you they can't afford to think about it, but getting to a point where they don't can be a process.

"Absolutely," Quick said. "Maybe a guy in their first or second year may think about it a little bit more than some guys in their 10th year, and that's just the natural progression of being a goalie in this League and just learning the game a little bit more."

Like a PGA Tour player talking about taking it one-shot-at-a-time and trying not to think too far ahead or about their score, it all starts with the first save for Quick.

"You can't go in thinking about it," he said. "You just go in trying to make the first save and then you worry about making the second save. That's personally how I prepare for each game. Whatever the score is, you just have to make the next save. If you let it get to you, maybe it could, but I feel like your job is you just gotta stop the puck whether you are up 5-0 or down 5-0, just make the next save. You have to look at it as a challenge."

It's one the Kings, who are 7-1-5 since Darryl Sutter took over as head coach, are hoping to make less challenging. They scored a whopping 13 goals over three games before losing 2-1 in overtime against the Oilers on Sunday. Not that Quick noticed.

"He's been the man for us, especially this year the way the scoring is going," Stoll said. "Hopefully he can keep it going. Hopefully we can help him out a little bit more."

As for Sutter, who got many similar performances from Miikka Kiprusoff behind a goal-challenged Flames team during his time in Calgary, he wasn't overly impressed.

"I wouldn't call it a challenge, I didn't know the best goalies in the NHL were supposed to give up more than two goals a game," said Sutter, rightly pointing out the Kings don't give up a lot of great chances. "I'm not a goalie and I've never been. I couldn't tell you. There are 10 guys that are aces in this League and that's what they do, right?"

Which in its own way says a lot about how far Quick has come.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 3:34 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Canucks home for a rest, but can't afford to relax

VANCOUVER -- The Canucks are happy to be home after a four-game road trip, and eager for a more relaxed stretch of their schedule after playing 22 games over 46 days, including two separate swings through the Eastern Conference since the start of December.

"It was tough and we were on the road a lot during that stretch, so that takes a toll," Daniel Sedin said. "We're used to that, so to some degree we're not as affected by it, but at the same time when you get home and get a few days off, I think you realize you need it."

Vancouver now hopes to recharge during a stretch that, starting with Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings, will see them play just three games -- all at home -- over the next two weeks, including the five-day NHL All-Star break next weekend.

"I think it will be good for us to get some home time and some time away from hockey," continued Daniel, who, along with twin brother Henrik, defenseman Alexander Edler and rookie Cody Hodgson, will have the break shortened by participating in the All-Star Game in Ottawa. "It's been really hectic pretty much December until now. It will be good for us to get some practice and even some time in the gym, too, so it will be good."

But the players stressed a relaxed schedule didn't mean they could relax, a point proven by Sunday's lackluster, mistake-filled loss to Anaheim.

"We're obviously going to get some days off here, but when we practice we have to be sharp and when we're playing we have to make sure we're not coming out sloppy," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "It's a fine balance, but it's something you need over the course of an 82-game schedule."

As for claims the Canucks have been guilty of overlooking lesser opponents since an emotionally-charged Stanley Cup Final rematch with Boston back on Jan. 7, they won't have that excuse with a rematch of the Western Conference Finals against San Jose next up Saturday. And games against archrival Chicago and Detroit right after the All-Star break should also have their full attention.

"There are important games in the next couple weeks that we have to take care of," goalie Roberto Luongo said. "It gives us a chance to work on some stuff in practice. We always want to keep improving as a team and there's no better time to work on things."

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
First | Prev | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | Next | Last
Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley