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Posted On Saturday, 01.29.2011 / 3:10 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Ready to Raleigh

Fowler looking for respect

As if he hasn't already gained it with his stellar and somewhat surprising play through xx games, Anaheim rookie defenseman Cam Fowler, who is all of 19 years old, is hoping to use the Honda SuperSkills competition as an opportunity to earn some more stripes for himself around the NHL.

"The experience and being with these guys, the stars of the game, I'll hopefully gain their respect," Fowler told NHL.com. "The skills is just for fun, but it would be cool if you do accuracy shooting and go 4 for 4 and have the guys ooh and ahh. That would be pretty cool, but I don't have high expectations."

Fowler admitted being here is strange for him because every other time he's been to an NHL-sponsored event -- the Scouting Combine in Toronto, the Entry Draft in Los Angeles -- he's been one of the most sought after guys by the media.

Here in Raleigh, he's hardly even recognized.

"It's a little different dynamic, but it's awesome to be around the superstars of the League and they're the ones that keep the show running," Fowler said. "It's cool to see how the guys are off the ice. They're superstars of the League but they're still laid back guys and they don't treat us any different. It's a great experience.

"You might get a chance to sit next to anybody in the locker room, guys you grew up watching, and that's pretty cool."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Saturday, 01.29.2011 / 3:08 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Ready to Raleigh

Lidstrom can't retire, right?

Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom signed a one-year contract this past summer because he wasn't sure how much longer he wanted to play beyond 2011. He's still wishy-washy even though he's having yet another phenomenal season and could be in line for his seventh Norris Trophy.

"You know what, I haven't thought about it yet," Lidstrom said. "That's why I signed a one-year deal last summer because I wanted to see how I feel health-wise and if I'm still motivated to play. That I'll take into account when I sit down and make my decision in the summertime again."

Lidstrom admitted he didn't think he would be playing at the age of 40, but he's not only playing; he's having a huge season.

He has 42 points, just 2 behind Phoenix All-Star defenseman Keith Yandle, who leads all NHL defensemen in scoring.

"I'm honored when people mention me for that award," Lidstrom said of the Norris. "Going into this year I wanted to have a better season than I did last year. Having a few extra weeks off in the summer time helped me get my offseason conditioning going. Just having a few more weeks of workouts helped me have a good year."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Saturday, 01.29.2011 / 9:15 AM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Ready to Raleigh

Stepan thought he was playing in an actual game

Being a rookie in the NHL is a learning experience. The Rangers' Derek Stepan figured that out quick after registering a hat trick on opening night, then failing to score in his next 18 games.

Stepan made the adjustment and earned a trip to the All-Star weekend thanks to his 14 goals and 16 assists.

But he was under the impression that his All-Star selection meant he would be playing in a game and not just the skills competition.

"I originally thought there was a rookie game. Hasn't there been in the past?" said Stepan, referring to the YoungStars Game that won't take place this year. "But then I found I was just in the skills comp, that's all I really know at this point."

Stepan got over his disappointment and is gearing up for the SuperSkills Competition that takes place tonight. He said he won't find out what competition he'll get until right before the start of the event.

There a few rookies Stepan knows from his world junior time. The Ducks' Cam Fowler was a fellow member of Team USA and Edmonton's Taylor Hall was part of Team Canada. Stepan also played with Carolina's Jamie McBain at Wisconsin.

Stepan offered an interesting assessment of his comfort level in Raleigh.

"I know everyone here, but a lot of guys probably don't know who I am," Stepan said. "There's so many good hockey players here."

Stepan said the Rangers, who are facing a slew of injuries, were happy to get the break despite playing well. The Rangers are currently without Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Ruslan Fedotenko, Erik Christensen, Alex Frolov, Dan Girardi, Vinny Prospal and Derek Boogaard.

And those are the players who are just hurt now. The Rangers also missed Chris Drury for two months and Marian Gaborik for 12 games.

Has Stepan seen anything like this at any level of his playing career?

"No, and I asked some of the older guys. I asked Dru if he'd ever seen anything like this and he said never," Stepan said. "He's never seen anything close to this."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Friday, 01.28.2011 / 8:37 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Ready to Raleigh

Watch out for Forsberg

Joel Quenneville is keeping pretty good tabs on what is going on in Denver these days as superstar Peter Forsberg tries to make another comeback with the Colorado Avalanche.

Forsberg shocked the hockey world when he showed up in the Mile High City last week to skate with the team, looking to play in the NHL for the first time since limping away with a foot injury after the 2008 postseason.

Ironically, Quenneville was the coach of that team and he watched Forsberg fight for fitness as the Avalanche made a playoff drive.

Now, three years later, the Avalanche is again in a playoff fight, sitting in a three-way tie for the eight and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Quenneville knows the elation that is being felt now by GM Greg Sherman and coach Joe Sacco.

"It's great for them. I know three years ago when he came back, he was somewhat limited in some of his activity but he was still probably the most amazing player in the game," Quenneville said Friday night. He could do so many things then that not too many players could do. He was a big factor in us getting in the playoffs and he was great in the first series against Minnesota and then we lost him in the series against Detroit. Going into the Detroit series, we felt we had a real chance and then when he got hurt in the morning skate, it was like we were all devastated."

So, does Quenneville believe the 37-year-old Forsberg has more magic left to pull off another meaningful comeback.

"Watching him in a couple of clips there, he looks like he was ready to play," Quenneville said. "It's good for (Colorado) and we'll have to deal with it.

"You get him in a game, he still does things that nobody can do. I'm sure everybody they must be excited."

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Posted On Friday, 01.28.2011 / 8:00 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Ready to Raleigh

Family reunion important for Marc Staal

Eric Staal is more than just a part of the host team here this weekend. He's also hosting most of his family and the Staal clan is treating it as a family reunion, minus Jared, the youngest brother who is playing in the ECHL.

Even Penguins center Jordan Staal came down for the weekend despite not having a spot in the NHL's event.

"It is pretty special," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal told NHL.com. "We don't really get to see each other unless it's during the summers when we get together. It's pretty cool we're all here this weekend. It'll be pretty special with the game, the skills competition, the draft. I know my parents are enjoying it and we will too. It should be fun."

Marc said one of the most important parts of the weekend is he and Jordan are getting to see their nephew, Eric's son 19-month-old son Parker.

Parker doesn't get to see his hockey-playing uncles too much, but he's getting a lot of face time with Jordan and Marc this weekend.

"I haven't seen him since the summer and he was about a year and a bit then," Marc said. "He was just starting to walk when I saw him then and now he's running around and trying to talk but can't. It's pretty cool. It's good to see him again."

Does he recognize you and Jordan?

"He doesn't recognize us, but he's not a very shy kid so he's not scared of anybody," Marc said.
Marc has already been to two All-Star Weekends, but both times he was there as part of the YoungStars Game. This is the first time he's part of the big show.
So, what does he want to get out of the weekend?

"I want to win a car. That's what I want," he said, referring to the prize the All-Star Game MVP traditionally goes home with. "Eric got one (Atlanta, 2008) so I want one now."

Good answer, but that's all?

"I'm just going to enjoy it myself, take it all in," he said. "You never know if you're going to be back or when you're going to be back so you're just going to enjoy it as much as you can…and win a car."
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Posted On Friday, 01.28.2011 / 2:28 PM

NHL.com - Ready to Raleigh

All-Star coaches in place

Joel Quenneville should have the hometown crowd on his side at the RBC Center this weekend.

The Chicago coach, as well as his assistant, Mike Haviland, was assigned to coach Team Staal -- captained by Carolina's Eric Staal -- throughout All-Star Weekend.

Vancouver's Alain Vigneault and Philadelphia's Peter Laviolette, meanwhile, will coach Team Lidstrom, which is captained by Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom.

The coaching assignments were determined after a coin-flip ceremony Friday afternoon.

Quenneville and Haviland were named as All-Star coaches as a reward for guiding Chicago to the 2010 Stanley Cup Championship. Laviolette and Vigneault, meanwhile, were rewarded for having the top team in their respective conference as of Jan. 8. Both teams still hold those positions at the All-Star break.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.26.2011 / 9:40 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Ready to Raleigh

Several stars play leading roles Tuesday

Wayne Gretzky turns 50 today. He played in how many All-Star Games?

Oh, that would be 18.

He owns how many All-Star Game records?

Yeah, that would be six.

He was the MVP of the game how many times?

Try three.

Crazy, right? The Great One is 50…

OK, had to give that little tribute. Now onto the All-Star news of the morning -- several players heading to Raleigh had big nights Tuesday.

Anaheim's Jonas Hiller won his League-leading 25th game by stopping at least 35 shots for the 16th time this season in a 3-2 win in Columbus. Rick Nash in that same game scored a power-play goal to extend his scoring streak to eight games. It was Nash's 23rd goal of the season, which ties him with Eric Staal and Jeff Carter for eighth in the League.

Hiller wasn't the only All-Star goalie who had a big night. Marc-Andre Fleury, the fan's pick to attend All-Star Weekend, made 29 saves in a 1-0 win over the Islanders. It was Fleury's second shutout of the season and he improved to 23-11-2, or better yet, 22-5-2 since Nov. 12.

And, Nash wasn't the only player to extend a scoring streak last night.

Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle, who earlier in the day was named a replacement for the injured Tobias Enstrom, extended his scoring streak to eight games with 2 assists in a 4-3 loss to Edmonton. Claude Giroux's scoring streak went to seven games as he scored a power-play goal in a 5-2 win over Montreal.

Yandle is tied with Team Lidstrom captain Nicklas Lidstrom for second among defensemen in scoring with 42 points. He's tied with Lubomir Visnovsky for the League-lead among defensemen with 35 assists. Giroux is tied for 13th in the NHL with 47 points.

Not to be outdone, Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who did not take the morning skate due to a lower-body injury, played against Minnesota and assisted on both of Chicago's goals in a 4-2 loss.

Rangers defenseman Marc Staal didn't make the scoresheet in a 4-3 loss to Florida, but hew as a plus-1 and played a game-high 26:02, helping the Blueshirts limit the Panthers to just 17 shots. Rangers rookie Derek Stepan, who is heading to Raleigh to participate in the Honda SuperSkills competition, had a goal on four shots.

Patrick Sharp and Martin Havlat, who was named as a replacement for Ales Hemsky earlier in the day, each scored in Chicago. Oilers rookie Taylor Hall had a tying goal and an assist on the winner in Phoenix.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 3:21 PM

NHL.com - Ready to Raleigh

Notable SuperSkills stats among 2011 All-Stars

Some interesting tidbits courtesy of our Public Relations departement...

The following players named to the 2011 All-Star Game have recorded notable stats in previous NHL All-Star SuperSkills competitions:

* Evgeni Malkin won the Accuracy Shooting competition in 2009, going 4 for 4 in the preliminary round and 3 for 4 in the final against Dany Heatley.

* Eric Staal shared Accuracy Shooting honors with Marian Hossa in 2007, each going 4 for 5. Staal fell just short in his attempt to repeat in 2008, going 4 for 6. He recorded the second-best score in the preliminary round behind Tomas Kaberle's 4 for 4.

* Zdeno Chara has won each of the past three Hardest Shot competitions (2007 through 2009), capped by a record-breaking 105.4 mph shot in 2009.

* Shea Weber finished runner-up to Chara in 2009 with a shot measured at 103.4 mph. Only Chara and Al Iafrate (105.2 mph in 1993) have registered faster readings in the competition since it began in 1990.
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Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie