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Jets ready to take off for NHL return

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

One of the most hectic offseasons in recent NHL history came to a close Sept. 17 when the Winnipeg Jets took the ice to begin training camp.

The Jets relocated from Atlanta this summer in a move that returned the NHL to the Manitoba capital after a 15-year absence. The city shut down May 31 when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman arrived in Winnipeg on a rainy morning to announce that Winnipeg once again would host the world's premier hockey league.

The club sold 13,000 season tickets just four days after Bettman's announcement, and the pace hasn't let up since. The relocation kick-started a barrage of on- and off-ice changes to a young roster as the organization tries to right itself after a disappointing 2010-11 season.

Canucks return most of roster for another run

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

The Vancouver Canucks had two cracks to clinch their first Stanley Cup championship in June, and failed to seal the deal both times. Without question, it led to a summer loaded with heartache and thoughts of what could have been.
But the club is confident it can get back to the Stanley Cup Final -- so much so that the 2011-12 roster is very similar to the one that lost Game 7 to the Bruins on home ice four months ago.
"To go through that with the guys that I've played with six or seven years, it was tough," Canucks forward Ryan Kesler told "We were that close and with blood, sweat and tears we did it all and came up that short. It was an emotional time. We realized that nothing really needed to be said and nothing was said. We're going to come back hungrier. We have the group of guys that will."

Canucks must start Stanley Cup quest anew

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"It was emotional. We were that close. With blood, sweat and tears, we did it all and yet we came up short. Nothing really needed to be said and nothing was said." -- Ryan Kesler

They sat in their respective stalls like wounded men alone on their own planets.

Sweat dripped from their hair, down their foreheads, through their grizzled, hairy faces, all the way to the floor. Their equipment remained on, sucked to their bodies underneath their soaking sweaters.

No one said a word for almost 30 minutes. No one removed an article of clothing.

"It was emotional," Ryan Kesler told, describing the scene inside the Vancouver Canucks' dressing room in the moments after they lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. "We were that close. With blood, sweat and tears, we did it all and yet we came up short. Nothing really needed to be said and nothing was said."

Shootouts were Canucks' lone weakness last season

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

John Kreiser - Columnist


Category Rank (Conference)
2010-11 Points 117 (1st West/1st NHL)
Change from 2009-10 +14
Home Points 59   (1st West/1st NHL)
Road Points 58   (1st West/1st NHL)
Advantage Margin: -16
The Canucks may have had the best special teams in the NHL, but they did it with quality, not quantity, of chances. Amazingly, they had fewer power-play opportunities than their opponents on the road and at home.

Special Teams Goal Margin: +31
The Canucks' power play led the NHL in goals (72) and success rate (24.3 percent), while surrendering just 2 shorthanded goals. The penalty killers were third in the League at 85.6 percent.

Goals by defensemen: 42
Christian Ehrhoff turned a career-best 14-goal, 50-point season into a 10-year deal with Buffalo, but the Canucks still have plenty of firepower on the blue line.

Ovechkin ready to put last season behind him

Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

Years from now it is possible people will look back at Alex Ovechkin's 2010-11 season and wonder what happened that made it a misfire -- one "bad" season in the midst of many marvelous ones.

That he had 32 goals and 85 points -- great numbers for most -- and it was considered a disappointing season speaks to the expectations Ovechkin has created. The Washington Capitals' captain is judged against himself, against history, as much as he is against players like Corey Perry and Steven Stamkos. In that context, it absolutely was a bad season.

How could it be that Ovechkin, the best goal-scorer of his generation and en route to a career worthy of placement among the greatest of all time, that he only was able to score 32 times, or exactly the number his rival Sidney Crosby had in a mere 41 games?

Scoring first wasn't much of a help to Blues

Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

John Kreiser - Columnist


Category Rank (Conference)
2010-11 Points 87 (11th West/20th NHL)
Change from 2009-10 -3
Home Points 51 (8th West/12th NHL)
Road Points 36 (13th West/25th NHL)
Advantage Margin: 0
The Blues had a big difference in power plays at home (151) and on the road (128). The penalty kill was almost even, with 139 at home and 140 away from Scottrade Center.

Special Teams Goal Margin: +7
The Blues' power play scored just one more goal than the penalty-killers allowed (52-51), but St. Louis surrendered a League-low one shorthanded goal while scoring seven times while playing a man down.

Goals by defensemen: 37
The Blues could afford to deal Eric Brewer (eight goals) in a late-season trade because of the emergence of Alex Pietrangelo (11 goals, 43 points) and the arrival of Kevin Shattenkirk (nine goals, 34 assists with Colorado and St. Louis).

Halak still settling into role as a No. 1 netminder

Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

David Kalan - Staff Writer

Jaroslav Halak
Goalie - STL
RECORD: 27-21-7
GAA: 2.48 | SVP: 0.910
Ask Jaroslav Halak if he's sampled any of the local cuisine St. Louis is noted for -- like toasted ravioli and barbecue ribs -- and he quickly says no.

"I haven't eaten those," Halak told "Actually, my girlfriend, she's a great cook, so she's cooking, always cooking something, and she's trying to prepare some Slovak meals all the time and trying to make it feel like home."

Though some might argue Halak is missing out on some of the city's finer things, whatever makes him comfortable enough to feel like home only can be good for the Blues.

Veteran additions have Blues believing in playoffs

Sunday, 10.02.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Frank Mentesana - Staff Writer

In the short time that encompasses the offseason, the St. Louis Blues managed to grow by leaps and bounds.
While maintaining their extremely talented young core, general manager Doug Armstrong brought in some veteran leadership that could prove to be just what the Blues need to make the playoffs for only the second time in seven seasons.

After a franchise-best 9-1-2 start to the 2010-11 campaign, injuries to T.J. Oshie, David Perron and Andy McDonald slowed the team down considerably. Inconsistent play marked much of the season from that point, and the Blues finished 38-33-11, 11th in the Western Conference and 10 points behind Chicago for the final playoff berth.

Phaneuf eyeing big team, personal goals

Saturday, 10.01.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

John Kreiser - Columnist

It's no accident that as a youngster, Dion Phaneuf looked up to Scott Stevens.

After all, Stevens is one of the most physical players in NHL history (he ranked No. 1 on's all-time list of the most physical players). As he was rising through youth hockey, Stevens was the player Phaneuf tried to emulate.

"When I was growing up, as I got older, I looked up to Scott Stevens and the way he played the game," Phaneuf told "I idolized how hard he played and how physical he played, how he was such a great leader -- I think he missed the playoffs just once in his whole career. He was a great guy to look up to. I loved the style that he played and how he led."

Sharks see Burns as a missing piece

Saturday, 10.01.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

After losing for the second straight season in the Western Conference Finals, the San Jose Sharks are looking for a faster start and an even stronger finish this season as they continue their quest to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson, as usual, had a busy offseason, trying to build a roster that can solve the Stanley Cup puzzle. He made a blockbuster trade with Minnesota for defenseman Brent Burns, adding more muscle and offensive punch to his blue line but giving up goal-scorer Devin Setoguchi in the deal.

Wilson wasn't done. He shipped sharp-shooter Dany Heatley to the Wild for speedy forward Martin Havlat, signed a pair of experienced defensemen -- Jim Vandermeer and Colin White -- and added veteran center Michal Handzus.
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