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NHL Insider

New-look Sabres set to start latest stage of rebuild

Sunday, 02.15.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres are about to start another chapter of their rebuild Sunday when they host the Philadelphia Flyers (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

On Wednesday, the Sabres traded defenseman Tyler Myers and forward Drew Stafford, along with two prospects and a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, to the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Zach Bogosian and forward Evander Kane. The Sabres also traded goalie Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars for goalie Anders Lindback and a conditional third-round pick in the 2015 draft.

"It's where we've been probably the past two or three years having a lot of new faces in there," Sabres defenseman Mike Weber said. "It's good to meet Zach. He's a nice addition, very welcomed here. He plays the game hard, plays the right way. Obviously the trade part of it, it's tough to see talented, skilled, good people go, but you bring in a guy like Zach and he fits in well with the direction we want this team to go in being harder to play against."

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Consistent game propels Patrick Kane to points lead

Saturday, 02.14.2015 / 12:05 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Duncan Keith blocked a shot Friday and sent the puck toward the side wall at United Center.

Time was running out on the New Jersey Devils, who frantically pushed for a game-tying goal against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Devils net was empty at the other end, and the situation called for a two-way player like Marian Hossa or Jonathan Toews to make a stand defensively.

Instead, it was Patrick Kane who made the big play near the corner in the Blackhawks zone. The high-scoring right wing swiped the puck just before Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas could send it behind the net with 52 seconds left and started a play that led to an empty-net goal.

The assist was Kane's 63rd point, which pushed his lead in the NHL scoring race to three after the games Friday, but it was also an example of his growth as a player. It wasn't too long ago when Kane would routinely hang out in the neutral zone, circling and waiting for stretch passes instead of backchecking to retrieve pucks in the defensive zone. It's not that way anymore.

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Canadiens' Plekanec flies under radar as two-way star

Saturday, 02.14.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- When Tomas Plekanec arrived in North America, he knew exactly what kind of player he was.

The Montreal Canadiens didn't agree.

A third-round selection (No. 71) in the 2001 NHL Draft, Plekanec joined the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League in 2002 with an identity that was clear in his mind.

"When I got there I was a very offensive guy," Plekanec said this week. "Actually, I didn't know anything about defense. I played from the red line to the opposition's goal line."

Now here he is nearly 13 years later, one of the NHL's best two-way forwards and a pillar of the Canadiens, who enter their game Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US; CBC; TVA) trying to finish with the top record in the Eastern Conference.

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Penguins' Crosby already ranks among game's greats

Saturday, 02.14.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby still has more than half of his career in front of him, and there's a growing consensus he's already a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"I'd have put him in the Hall of Fame last night," NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes said.

Mike Rupp, Crosby's former teammate, also said he'd vote Crosby into the Hockey Hall of Fame if Crosby never played another game. Former NHL goalie and longtime television analyst Darren Pang said the same thing. So did NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk, who was Crosby's first NHL coach.

"No doubt," Pang said. "There isn't even any hesitation on my behalf."

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Tortorella felt firing by Canucks was justified: report

Friday, 02.13.2015 / 12:00 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

John Tortorella believes he deserved to be fired as coach after one season with the Vancouver Canucks.

During an interview Friday with WDAE 620 AM in Tampa, Tortorella said poor play in the second half of the season is what led to the end of his time with the Canucks.

"We had a great first half, but I don't think I did the job for the team the second half, with our consistency," he told the radio station. "And I think that's what cost me my job. We just … we couldn't stop the losing streaks. We needed to win a couple of games within those areas.

"And quite honestly, I deserved to get fired after that second half of the year."

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Panthers' Bjugstad set for Minnesota homecoming

Thursday, 02.12.2015 / 3:06 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In Nick Bjugstad's second season as an NHL player, the Florida Panthers forward isn't afraid to admit he still leans heavily on his mom for help.

Case in point: His return to his home state Thursday, when the Panthers play the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Bjugstad's mother Janeen was in charge of soliciting friends and family for ticket requests. The response was overwhelming, with 160 people part of the Bjugstad cheering section.

"Hopefully they'll all be wearing red," Bjugstad said, quickly adding, "Panthers red," because the Wild use red as part of their color scheme. "My mom got a package deal. Thankfully, she took care of it all, seeing who is going to get the tickets, and I didn't have to worry too much about that. Mom came up big there."

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Penguins' Crosby in elite company through 600 games

Thursday, 02.12.2015 / 12:18 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is in Hall of Fame company 600 games into his NHL career. Though that isn't necessarily surprising considering what he's done and what he's won, there is statistical data to back it up for anybody who might for some reason disagree.

Crosby has the ninth-highest point total (825) through a player's first 600 games in NHL history. The eight players ahead of Crosby on the list are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Crosby is five points away from being tied for seventh.

The players ahead of him are: Wayne Gretzky (1,451 points through 600 games), Mario Lemieux (1,215), Mike Bossy (921), Peter Stastny (901), Bobby Orr (864), Jari Kurri (848), Bryan Trottier (830), and Denis Savard (827).

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T. Fleury rocks Halifax for Hockey Day in Canada

Thursday, 02.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Six years ago, former NHL star Theo Fleury phoned a friend in Winnipeg who he thought could help him cross an item off his bucket list. What he thought at the time might have been a reach has turned into a new chapter and career for one of the most interesting people in hockey.

Fleury, an Olympic gold medal winner, Stanley Cup champion and best-selling author, is now a budding country music star who is planning to release his first still untitled album with his band, The Death Valley Rebels, in May.

Theo Fleury and The Death Valley Rebels were part of the show in the Scotiabank Stolen From a Hockey Card concert at Spatz Theatre in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Thursday. The event was part of the Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada festivities ongoing in Halifax.

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For Nabokov, career almost abandoned ends at start

Wednesday, 02.11.2015 / 3:28 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov retired from a 14-year NHL career Wednesday, one that almost ended before it started.

Twice, in fact, Nabokov almost bailed on the San Jose Sharks franchise he leads in most goaltending categories.

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Flyers facing uphill climb in quest to make playoffs

Wednesday, 02.11.2015 / 9:46 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- The Philadelphia Flyers are making a habit of testing the limits of how difficult it is to gain ground in the NHL standings.

The Flyers are one of the hottest teams in the League, picking up points in seven straight games after a 2-1 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday gave them a 5-0-2 record since Jan. 20, when they beat the rival Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 at home.

The morning of that game, the Flyers were 11 points out of a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On Wednesday morning, not having lost in regulation time since then, the Flyers are eight points behind the Boston Bruins for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

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Quote of the Day

He scores 50 goals, they go in, they go in, and they go in. And I think, 'Why can't I do that?'

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on teammate Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 50th goal of the season Tuesday in a 4-2 win vs. the Hurricanes