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Analytics suggest Columbus slide could be temporary

Thursday, 10.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / Behind the Numbers

Rob Vollman - Correspondent

The Columbus Blue Jackets dug themselves an early hole with an eight-game losing streak to open the season.

During that stretch, the Blue Jackets were outscored 37-15, fired their coach and bore little resemblance to a team many predicted would be a serious contender for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But, it may be way too early to write off these Blue Jackets, who have a new coach in John Tortorella and have won back-to-back games.

Columbus has a strong starting goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky, an experienced and accomplished coaching staff, and a solid young core of players, highlighted by Ryan Johansen, who could someday supplant Rick Nash as the Blue Jackets' best all-time player.

Penguins downplay Bylsma's return as Sabres coach

Thursday, 10.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins admit it will be strange to face former coach Dan Bylsma for the first time when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, BELL TV, ROOT). But for the most part it will be business as usual.

"I think the first time is always a little bit different," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "But I think at this point we've all kind of dealt with those kind of things before. And once you get in the game, really get into it, everything kind of becomes normal. But I think the initial start is always kind of [strange]."

Bylsma coached the Penguins for parts of six seasons, starting when he replaced Michel Therrien 57 games into the 2008-09 season. That season ended with Bylsma coaching the Penguins to the Stanley Cup.

Mississauga's Day moves past 'exceptional' label

Thursday, 10.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

Every Thursday, will look ahead to the 2016 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.

Mississauga Steelheads defenseman Sean Day doesn't necessarily want to be known as exceptional. The 2016 NHL Draft prospect would prefer to be himself.

Day still is trying to move past the heightened expectations of being granted exceptional-player status and allowed to play in the Ontario Hockey League as a 15-year-old in 2013.

"To this day there's still pressure about it," Day said. "I'm kind of scrutinized more than anyone else because of that label. I can't really make excuses for it. I just kind of play and hopefully people see that I'm the same age as everyone else in the draft. I did play an extra year [in the OHL], but I'm on the same development curve as everyone else still. To me it doesn't really matter. I don't think too much about it. I just play."

Islanders' Martin visits cancer patients at NHL Store

Wednesday, 10.28.2015 / 8:15 PM / Hockey Fights Cancer

Jon Lane - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- New York Islanders forward Matt Martin learned at a young age the value of being a role model and how the status of being a professional athlete can have a positive impact on others.

One of Martin's idols growing up was retired NHL defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who played junior hockey for the Windsor Spitfires in Martin's hometown. Whenever Jovanovski came out for warm-ups, Martin tossed a piece of bubble gum over the boards and in return Jovanovski handed him hockey sticks. Seeing Jovanovski go the extra mile to put a smile on his face inspired Martin to where if he made the NHL, he would provide his fans with a similar feeling.

"It really is amazing the effect it can have on you," Martin said. "It happened to me first-hand, and I just felt like carrying that along and touching as many people as you can."

Blues bring in veterans to cope with injuries up front

Wednesday, 10.28.2015 / 7:43 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Doug Armstrong could have turned to the bevy of prospects thriving with Chicago of the American Hockey League. Instead, the St. Louis Blues' general manager is playing it safe and bringing in NHL veterans to bolster an injury-depleted corps of forwards.

Martin Havlat and Dainius Zubrus came into their first Blues' practice Wednesday seeking to make a strong first impression. Each has 10 days to parlay a professional tryout into an NHL contract. Each feels he still has something left in the tank, so when Armstrong reached out to the 34-year-old Havlat and assistant GM Martin Brodeur extended an invitation to Zubrus, 37, it was an easy decision for them to come and give it perhaps one last opportunity to stay in the NHL.

Long-term injuries to forwards Jaden Schwartz (broken ankle), Paul Stastny (broken foot) and Patrik Berglund (shoulder surgery) forced Armstrong to look for help. But instead of promoting prospects from the Blues' AHL team who might not be NHL-ready or exploring trade possibilities, Armstrong opted to see what Havlat and Zubrus, who have a combined 2,031 games of NHL experience, could offer.

Sabres' Bylsma looks forward to return to Pittsburgh

Wednesday, 10.28.2015 / 7:11 PM / NHL Insider

Joe Yerdon - Correspondent

BUFFALO -- It's been more than 16 months since Buffalo Sabres coach Dan Bylsma was fired by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He's set to make his return to Pittsburgh on Thursday when the Penguins host the Sabres at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, BELL TV, ROOT).

Bylsma established himself as a winning coach during his 5 ½ seasons in Pittsburgh. He led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup four months after he was hired in 2009. But despite six consecutive trips to the playoffs, he was fired on June 6, 2014.

Returning to Pittsburgh has been on Bylsma's mind since the Sabres hired him on May 28.

Hurricanes' Hanifin confident he can play at NHL level

Wednesday, 10.28.2015 / 7:03 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Carolina Hurricanes rookie defenseman Noah Hanifin understands why he was a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career, and although no player enjoys being told that he won't suit up for a game, the 18-year-old feels the break was beneficial.

After playing Carolina's first eight games, Hanifin was scratched for a 3-1 victory at the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.

"The coaching staff kind of wanted me to refresh a little bit and go up top and watch the game and see it from a different perspective just because I've been playing at a high level the past eight games," Hanifin told Wednesday during a tour of the League offices. "It was nice to take a breather, watch and see how it's supposed to be played. If I'm in against the Islanders, I just hope to keep it going."

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