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NHL Insider

Containing Ovechkin unique challenge for Canadiens

Saturday, 01.31.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec -- When facing an elite scorer, a common last-gasp tactic is to hit him early, hit him hard, and hit him often.

Assuming you can catch him, the strategy should bear fruit as the star player will begin to wear down, and ultimately, or hopefully, become a little tentative to go to the areas of the ice where he can hurt you.

As the Montreal Canadiens prepare to face Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at Bell Centre on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, SN), they know that is not an approach that will slow down the hottest goal scorer in the NHL.

The problem with hitting Ovechkin is not catching him; it's avoiding hurting yourself while doing it.

"I've lined up beside him a few times," Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher said after practice Friday. "I actually tried to hit him a couple of times. That didn't go well."

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Analysis: Capitals' Ovechkin set to join elite company

Saturday, 01.31.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Alex Ovechkin has reached the point in his career when comparisons and context on a generational level can give way to a much bigger range of time.

Ovechkin's next goal, which he could score as soon as Saturday afternoon, when he and the Washington Capitals visit the Montreal Canadiens (1 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, SN, RDS, CSN-DC), will be his 30th this season. It will also be the 10th time he's reached 30 goals in his first 10 NHL seasons.

Four players in the history of the NHL have accomplished that: Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Mike Gartner. It is a feat of ability, consistency, durability and longevity. It is also an accomplishment that will buttress the case for Ovechkin in any discussion about the greatest goal-scorers of all time.

"I saw an Ovechkin goal [Wednesday] against Pittsburgh, and it seems to me that every goal or highlight of his I see is him scoring the same goal," Bossy said. "So he's scored a lot of those this year. I don't know how hard that shot was back then, but [Ovechkin's] was a lot harder than my one-timers back then. The equipment has changed; I don't care how big the goalies' equipment is, when you're taking a shot like Ovechkin took [Wednesday], it's going to go in."

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Brodeur made early impression on Penguins' Crosby

Friday, 01.30.2015 / 2:14 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby can recall like it was yesterday his NHL debut against one of the greatest goaltenders in the history of the game.

It was Oct. 5, 2005 at what was then known as Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., against New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. Crosby would finish his rookie season with 39 goals and 102 points, but Brodeur had his number on this day in a 5-1 win for the Devils.

"I had a great chance on my first shift and he made the save; that will always be a big memory for me," Crosby said. "When I look back on that moment, it's the only time I can remember smiling or laughing at missing a scoring chance. It was my first NHL game, my first shift and you get robbed by Martin Brodeur.

"It could be a lot worse."

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Canucks goalie Miller eager to face Sabres

Friday, 01.30.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller will be extra cautious facing the Buffalo Sabres for the first time Friday.

Buffalo picked Miller in the fifth round (No. 138) in the 1999 NHL Draft, and he played his first 12 seasons in the Sabres organization before he was traded to the St. Louis Blues late last season. The 34-year-old goaltender expects to feel awkward playing against his former team.

"It's going to be a little bit strange," said Miller, who signed a three-year contract with Vancouver last summer. "I will pay special attention not to pass the puck towards the Buffalo symbol."

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Former Devils remember Brodeur 'as a winner'

Thursday, 01.29.2015 / 4:53 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Retired New Jersey Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko, affectionately called "Mr. Devil" by many fans, watched with interest the retirement announcement by good friend and former teammate Martin Brodeur at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Thursday.

One thing immediately struck him.

"I didn't see the New Jersey Devils logo in the background," Daneyko said with a grin. "It was a little awkward, I'm not going to lie. I guess I'm a little selfish. I would have liked to have seen the big Devils logo back there.

"Maybe down the road we will see Marty in front of the Devils logo because this was a subdued press conference [in St. Louis]. We're going to have, more sooner than later, the retirement night and jersey raising to the rafters. Maybe then we'll be able to soak in a little more about what Marty meant to the New Jersey Devils and the career he had."

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Brodeur's career timeline full of milestones, memories

Thursday, 01.29.2015 / 11:50 AM / NHL Insider

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

There are plenty of superlatives to describe the career of Martin Brodeur, but one word that seems to stick out is longevity.

Brodeur was around professional hockey for parts of three decades and two centuries, leaving his footprint on the game again and again. His tour of the professional hockey world lasted 24 years in total, and here are some of the most important dates and moments from that journey.

June 16, 1990: The New Jersey Devils select Brodeur with the 20th pick in the NHL Draft, held at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver.

March 26, 1992: Brodeur makes his NHL debut and picks up his first victory in a 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins. Brodeur saved 24 of the 26 shots he faced.

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Canadiens need to bring their best for stretch run

Thursday, 01.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec – The Montreal Canadiens came back from the All-Star break dealing with the same questions they faced when they left.

After their final game before the break on Jan. 20, a 2-1 overtime win against the Nashville Predators in which they were outshot by a healthy 37-27 margin, Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty suggested the possibility that his teammates may suffer from overconfidence playing in front of All-Star goaltender Carey Price.

When the Predators took a 1-0 lead in the second period of that game last week, they led 26-6 in shots, and Price was the only reason that game remained scoreless as long as it did.

In their first game back following the break Tuesday, the Canadiens defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2 while being outshot by a 42-26 margin. The difference, again, was Price.

This time, it is Canadiens forward Lars Eller wondering if maybe Price's brilliance has an impact on how his team plays in front of him.

Eller was asked after practice Wednesday if he is concerned with how Montreal has been playing lately. Eller said he wasn't because he's seen how good the Canadiens can be, particularly in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season when they reached the Eastern Conference Final before bowing out against their opponents Thursday, the New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, SNE, MSG).

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Stars center Spezza glad to finally return to Ottawa

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 6:09 PM / NHL Insider

Chris Stevenson - NHL.com Correspondent

OTTAWA -- For the second time in less than two months, the Ottawa Senators will welcome back a former captain Thursday.

Jason Spezza, who asked to be traded last summer after one season as Senators captain, returns to Canadian Tire Centre with the Dallas Stars.

"It's a date that's been circled on my calendar, so it's kind of nice to have it here and get it over with (Thursday)," Spezza said. "This is a little bit of the closing of the book on the move. That's kind of how I'm looking at it."

Spezza will play Thursday after sustaining a broken nose and a cut that required stitches when he was checked into the boards by Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin on Tuesday.


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Penguins coach Johnston expects improvement

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Through the Pittsburgh Penguins' first 47 games last season, they sat atop the Metropolitan Division with a 16-point lead on the second-place Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins had an eight-point advantage on the Boston Bruins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and they had gone 7-2-1 in their previous 10 games despite being ravaged by injuries through the first few months of the season.

Behind the bench was Dan Bylsma, the winningest coach in Penguins history.

Pittsburgh is again near the top of the division and conference standings through 47 games this season under new coach Mike Johnston, but heading into Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN1) success hasn't come as easily as it seemed to last season.

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Kings need another fast finish to make playoffs

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Recent history shows that the Los Angeles Kings can bank on a strong finish to ramp into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They finished the 2011-12 season with a 9-2-3 run to squeak in and went on to win their first Cup. Last season they went 15-6-2 after the Sochi Olympics en route to their second Cup.

But Kings captain Dustin Brown acknowledged that history works against them as they regroup for the post-All Star break run to the finish, starting Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Staples Center (NBCSN, SN, SN1, 10:30 p.m. ET).

"The bigger challenge is [that] in 2012 we were the L.A. Kings who hadn't won anything," Brown said. "Now it makes it harder. Everyone's ready for you. Everyone knows the position we're in and I'm sure there's a lot of teams that would love to take points from us and prevent us from doing what we want to do."

The Kings (52 points) return to action out of a playoff spot. Coach Darryl Sutter always points to the 100-point threshold for making the postseason; to reach that mark the Kings would have to win two out of three the rest of the way.

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Quote of the Day

I've been so fortunate, blessed, to play a long time with some great players and be on power plays, play in some great cities and stuff. It's been fun.

— Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla on tying Dino Ciccarelli for 46th place on the NHL's all-time list with his 1,200th career point after their win vs. the Predators on Friday