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NHL Insider

Canucks search for right identity going into playoffs

Tuesday, 04.23.2013 / 12:08 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Six games in with the Vancouver Canucks, Derek Roy was asked if he had been able to figure out his new team's identity yet.

There was no hesitation.

"A lot of puck possession, where the other team is trying to take it away from us all game and we are keeping it, we're moving, skating, our [defensemen] are active," Roy told after the game-day skate Monday morning.

It sounded great, but it was hard to believe Roy, acquired from the Dallas Stars at the NHL Trade Deadline, was talking about the same Canucks team that had been outshot 17-2 in the third period by the Detroit Red Wings two nights earlier.

"Since I've been here I've seen some really good periods of it and I've seen some not-so-good periods," Roy said. "We need to build that game up to playoffs so it's not like a light switch we're looking for."

Pronger still hopes comeback is in the cards

Monday, 04.22.2013 / 10:04 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

Likely Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Pronger is holding out hope he'll one day be able to return to the ice. Unfortunately, he doesn't know if that will ever happen.

Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger hasn't played an NHL game since Nov. 29, 2011, a result of a serious eye injury and concussion, but the 38-year-old believes he can make a comeback. (Photo: Getty Images)

In an interview Monday with E.J. Hradek and Steve Mears on "CISCO NHL Live," the always-candid Philadelphia Flyers blueliner provided an update on his condition that has kept him sidelined since Nov. 29, 2011.

"You need to isolate yourself for the symptoms and you try to do that stuff, but it's a vicious cycle that kind of drags you down in the mud and pushes you further down into the depths," Pronger said. "At some point, you just need to kind of say ‘Enough's enough.' It was just one day in August, I looked down and I was getting fat. I was feeling good, wasn't eating very healthy, wasn't really doing anything healthy. As an athlete who kind of prided himself on being in shape and preparing and doing all these things, and then you stop doing it cold turkey … it can be a little disheartening."

Pronger sustained a serious injury to his right eye during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 24, 2011, when he was hit by the stick of Mikhail Grabovski. The injury damaged Pronger's eyesight and his ocular and vestibular systems, and is one of the causes of his concussion symptoms.

Canadiens on final road trip seeking to right ship

Monday, 04.22.2013 / 5:32 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- In an ideal world, the Montreal Canadiens would be heading out Monday on their final road trip of the regular season with little to worry about aside from staying healthy and sharp for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But the past two weeks have been far from ideal for the Canadiens.

A 2-5-0 stretch since April 9 has not hurt Montreal's positioning in the Eastern Conference standings too much, but it has put the Canadiens' chances of going deep into the playoffs considerably in doubt, particularly because of the way the team has lost of late.

In their past four losses the Canadiens have allowed 23 goals, or 19.2 percent of their 120 goals allowed in 45 games this season.

"We just haven't been the same team we were for the first 35 games," left wing Rene Bourque said Monday after a second straight day of practice. "It comes down to details, getting back to playing with an edge and everybody playing smart. Guys are trying, but we're just not playing smart. We're making bad mistakes; we're a little off, a second late and hesitating a little bit. It's made a big difference. But everybody realizes that and we've got to take these three games almost like playoff games."

Devils didn't have depth to survive two key injuries

Monday, 04.22.2013 / 10:16 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The New Jersey Devils have gone from being Eastern Conference champions in 2012 to hoping luck is on their side in the 2013 NHL Draft Lottery.

The Devils were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday with a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. It came exactly 316 days after the Los Angeles Kings stopped New Jersey's 2012 postseason run in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

How did the Devils go from championship contender last season to a team that has to play three meaningless games at the end of this season?

Here are five reasons to chew on:

1. Injuries to Martin Brodeur and Ilya Kovalchuk

Ilya Kovalchuk
Right Wing - NJD
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 28
SOG: 116 | +/-: -3
As much as teams and players don't like to use excuses, there's just no way around this one.

Brodeur missed 12 games with a sore back from Feb. 24-March 19 and the Devils were 3-7-2 without him. Kovalchuk missed 11 games from March 25-April 18 and New Jersey went 1-6-4 in those games, averaged 1.73 goals per game and had a power play that went 3-for-40.

Losing Brodeur for an extended period of time was one thing and the Devils, after a poor start with Johan Hedberg in net, were at least able to stay in the hunt by the time Brodeur got back.

Pyatt producing gives Rangers dangerous third line

Monday, 04.22.2013 / 9:59 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- When Brad Richards started the season centering the New York Rangers' top line alongside All-Stars Rick Nash and Marian Gaborik, there was every reason to believe he would be a part of New York's hottest trio entering the final week of the regular season.

And with seven points in his last three games -- including his first career hat trick -- Richards has been on fire for the Rangers. But he's done it playing alongside two players that aren’t exactly Nash and Gaborik.

Gaborik has since been traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nash has not seen much time alongside Richards. Instead, Mats Zuccarello was placed beside Richards at the end of March after starting the season with Magnitogorsk Metallurg of the Kontinental Hockey League. In their first nine games together, the pair combined for seven points and enjoyed varying degrees of success with different players on the other wing, including Ryane Clowe. But it's the addition of Taylor Pyatt who has allowed the pair to break out, combining for six goals in their past three games.

Injuries, lack of offense will send Devils home early

Sunday, 04.21.2013 / 7:43 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- They've talked about deserving better, about how their play was not indicative of their record, about how they wouldn't change anything in their game.

But the New Jersey Devils couldn't hide from reality Sunday.

The 2012 Eastern Conference champions will not be part of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, that much became official with the Devils' 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, where most of the 17,200 fans in attendance happily chanted, "Season's over!" with more than eight minutes still left in the third period and again, louder, six minutes later.

"You don't want to think about it until it's actually a reality," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "No other word but disappointment."

Bruins, fans react to Boston's difficult week

Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 5:49 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON – It's been a difficult week for this city, and the Boston Bruins wanted to do whatever they could to ease that burden.

With two games rescheduled in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings Monday, the Bruins took to the TD Garden ice Saturday afternoon, knowing the manhunt that locked down the city Friday had been successful.

"I think it was a little more of a celebration with everyone here [Saturday]," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said following a 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. "More of an opportunity for us to thank them and give our respects for the amazing job they did with taking those guys into custody and cleaning up the streets pretty much.

Oates won Capitals' trust by focusing on positives

Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 4:31 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL – For a rookie coach trying to win the trust of his players, winning once in your first seven games is not exactly the way to do it.

But that's where Adam Oates found himself with the Washington Capitals this season: making system changes and asking players to adjust to new roles while having no on-ice success to back up what he was preaching.

The Capitals got off to a 1-5-1 start to the season, and they were 2-8-1 after 11 games, so Oates would have been justified if he lost his temper with his players at some point.

But he didn't. Not once.

"I have to give credit to the coaching staff for not being negative with us when we were going through the learning process," Capitals center Matt Hendricks told Saturday morning before the team's game against the Montreal Canadiens. "There were times they could have shown a lot of negativity on video, but they chose not to do that. That kept us on a positive note, they showed us a lot of positive clips of things we were doing correctly. We knew when we started doing those things correctly on a nightly basis, good things will come."

Bruins, Penguins claim center stage in Boston

Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 12:15 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- After the Boston Bruins dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night, many Bruins players went out with some of the first-responders who had attended the game two days after the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Then Friday night, when the Bruins should've been playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden, Andrew Ference and his teammates joined with the rest of the country watching some of those first responders and their law-enforcement colleagues apprehend one of the marathon bombing suspects after an intense manhunt that lasted nearly 24 hours.

Ference, while preparing for a Saturday afternoon game against Pittsburgh, reflected on how much we should all appreciate what those people do. The game against Pittsburgh was scheduled for Friday night but was rescheduled because the city was locked down by governmental request while the manhunt continued.

"It's not just last night. The thing about those guys is they have to do that every night. [Friday] night was obviously a lot more attention and it was under the scrutiny of the media and what not, but those guys have a tough job all year," Ference said. "You're so proud that they get recognized on terms like that last night, when they have obviously the national stage. But there's a lot of incredible people."

Red Wings scrambling to extend playoff streak

Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 12:35 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- New defenseman Danny DeKeyser doesn't really know a world that doesn't include the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

DeKeyser was born a month before the last time the Red Wings missed the postseason.

Danny DeKeyser
Defense - DET
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 1
SOG: 8 | +/-: 0

Now, 22 years later, he is trying to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Signed in late March as a free agent after finishing his third season at Western Michigan, the Detroit native joined the team he grew up watching just in time for a playoff race it isn't accustomed to.

Detroit has made the playoffs for 21 straight seasons, the longest active streak in the NHL and tied for the fifth-longest in League history. But the Red Wings enter the next-to-last weekend of the season in 10th place in the Western Conference with five games left, putting the run in jeopardy. But as DeKeyser prepared to play his seventh NHL game Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks, he said history hasn't come up in the Detroit dressing room.

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Quote of the Day

It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
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