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NHL Insider

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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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Pittsburgh Penguins enter the second half of the season trying keep pace in what has become a heated race in the Metropolitan Division. The Washington Capitals entered the All-Star break with points in eight of 10 games and are one of four teams vying for a division title.

Pittsburgh (27-12-8) has earned at least one point in eight of its past 10 games, including a 5-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. Washington (24-14-9), which lost its fourth straight game (0-3-1), 4-3 at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, fell five points behind the second-place Penguins in the Metropolitan.

The Capitals will try to get back on track when they host the Penguins in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader at Verizon Center (NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN1, 8 p.m. ET).

On the West Coast, the Chicago Blackhawks will face the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center (NBCSN, SN, SN1, 10:30 p.m. ET). Chicago (30-15-2) won back-to-back games entering the break and is tied for second place in the Central Division. The Kings (20-15-12) have won twice in their past 10 and entered the second half on the outside of the Stanley Cup Playoff race.

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Capitals' Alzner, Carlson benefit from new 'D' partners

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- For years, Karl Alzner and John Carlson were almost inseparable on the ice.

Fans in Washington referred to them as "Carlzner," and they evolved together from top prospects with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League to the Washington Capitals' top defensive pairing. When coach Barry Trotz and his assistant in charge of defensemen, Todd Reirden, came to Washington this offseason, they decided it was time for a change.

Alzner and Carlson haven't taken a regular shift together in a single game this season. And yet each is playing much better than he has in recent seasons. Part of that is because of their new partners, veterans Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, who signed with the Capitals as free agents this summer.

"I think it was important that we separate those two," Trotz said. "When you get into having a partner for so long, and they both grew up together, they're both roughly the same age, I think you can miss some things. Having a guy like Brooks or [Niskanen], coming from another organization, being a little bit older and maybe a bit more experience, can really benefit the two younger guys who have played together a long time."


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Devils recall Brodeur as 'one of greatest goalies ever'

Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 6:30 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The news that St. Louis Blues goaltender Martin Brodeur is ready to retire didn't take many of his former New Jersey Devils teammates by surprise.

Those who played with Brodeur in New Jersey discussed one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history after practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Tuesday.

"I mean, hockey had to change the rules because of Marty, and that's impressive," forward Scott Gomez said. "I got two Stanley Cup rings because of the guy. Look at the banners of [Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko] and Marty is right up there when you think about the New Jersey Devils; he was part of the core group and he'll go down as one of the greatest goalies ever."

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Analysis: Brodeur defined era with staggering totals

Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 3:34 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

There is one name at the top of every compiled statistical category for goaltenders in the NHL record book, and that name is Martin Brodeur.

There are others who have a stake to the claim as greatest goaltender in NHL history, but no one is close to Brodeur in the categories that involve longevity, and it is possible no one ever will be.

The raw numbers are incredible. He retired Tuesday with 691 wins, 140 more than any other goaltender. There are 19 goaltenders enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame who did not win half as many games as Brodeur, a feat that rivals Cy Young in baseball.

Brodeur stopped 3,121 more shots than any other goaltender. He has the most minutes played, the most losses, and the most shots faced, all by significant margins.

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Ovechkin's generosity leaves impact on Schaab family

Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 1:54 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

The generosity exhibited by Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Honda at the end of the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game is still a shock to the Schaab family.

Honda surprised Alex Ovechkin on Sunday with the gift of a 2015 Honda Accord. Ovechkin then revealed he was going to give the car to the Washington Ice Dogs hockey program in honor of a girl he met last year, Ann Schaab, who has Down syndrome and skates for the Ice Dogs, a member program of the American Special Hockey Association.

"It just surprised me that in the midst of all that activity going on, for Ovi to stop and give a shout-out to Ann and to special hockey was just amazing to me," Melissa Schaab, the 10-year-old's mother, told ABC7News on Monday.

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Veteran Kostopoulos enjoying successful run in AHL

Monday, 01.26.2015 / 10:27 PM / NHL Insider

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

UTICA, N.Y. -- Tom Kostopoulos hasn't played in the NHL since the 2012-13 season with the New Jersey Devils, but his passion for the game is alive and well.

For the past two seasons, Kostopoulos kept his career going as a veteran in the American Hockey League with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. Kostopoulos has played 630 games in the NHL with six different franchises and another 440 in the AHL during his 15-year playing career.

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Quote of the Day

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). This is a little bit of the closing of the book on the move. That's kind of how I'm looking at it.

— Stars forward Jason Spezza on returning to Ottawa for the first time to face the Senators