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NHL Insider

Predators searching for answers on offense

Friday, 03.08.2013 / 2:35 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- When it was pointed out to Nashville Predators general manager David Poile following the team's morning skate Friday that it was averaging fewer than two goals per game, he observed that his questioner did not need to whisper -- everyone around the organization is living with the reality of the offensive woes.

Entering a game Friday against the Edmonton Oilers, the Predators were averaging 1.96 goals per game, not only the lowest in the League but also putting them on pace to become the second team since the NHL began playing 70-game seasons in 1949-50 to average fewer than two goals per game. (The 1953-54 Chicago Blackhawks recorded the lowest output at 1.9 goals per game.)

To that end, Poile began doing what he could to the roster this week with waiver claims for Zach Boychuk (from the Pittsburgh Penguins) and Bobby Butler (from the New Jersey Devils). The Predators also called up 25-year-old defenseman Victor Bartley, who played in the American Hockey League All-Star Game this season. It's possible all three will be in the lineup when Nashville takes on Edmonton on Friday at Bridgestone Arena, although coach Barry Trotz did not tip his hand after the skate.

Holmgren: Blackhawks' run trumps 1979-80 Flyers

Friday, 03.08.2013 / 12:25 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren played a significant role on the Flyers' record-setting 1979-80 team that went 35 straight games without a loss (25 wins, 10 ties).

But when he watches the Chicago Blackhawks, who have opened this season on a 24-game streak without a regulation loss (21-0-3) and have gone 30 straight games without a regulation loss (24-0-6) dating to the end of the 2011-12 season, he knows which team is more impressive.

The Blackhawks.

After 24 games, Penguins still see work to be done

Friday, 03.08.2013 / 9:20 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- All Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has to do to make his point about what happens when his team plays the right way as opposed to what happens when it plays the wrong way is pop in the DVD of the game Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center.

At the halfway point of the Penguins season, that may be exactly what Bylsma chooses to do. There's enough visual evidence to make him go hoarse talking to his team.

"In the first period we just weren't very good in a lot of areas and we gave them more 3-on-2s than they scored on, more opportunities than they scored on," Bylsma said following the Penguins' 5-4 come-from-behind win against the Philadelphia Flyers. "Then you have to look at the flip side of it, where we were very good in the second and that carried into the third."

Despite long odds, Pronger hopes to play again

Thursday, 03.07.2013 / 3:05 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Chris Pronger was adamant that he's not ready to announce his retirement, but the veteran Philadelphia Flyers defenseman understands his chances of resuming his NHL career are very small.

Pronger talked for more than 30 minutes about the medical and emotional issues he's had since he sustained a serious injury to his right eye during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 24, 2011.

"I don't think you ever know that," Pronger said of his playing future. "I have to continue to work at getting healthy, work at my rehab, doing the various eye appointments and exercises that I've been doing over the last 16 months. … Once I continue to get healthier, we'll see where we're at."

The biggest issue for Pronger is the eye injury, which occurred when he was hit by the stick of the Maple Leafs' Mikhail Grabovski. The injury damaged Pronger's eyesight and both his ocular and vestibular systems, and is one of the causes of his concussion symptoms.

Familiarity could breed contempt for Sabres, Devils

Thursday, 03.07.2013 / 1:36 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- It was only five days ago the Buffalo Sabres were celebrating a shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils at First Niagara Center.

It was an emotional contest, featuring a fight just 27 seconds into the game between Buffalo's Steve Ott and New Jersey's David Clarkson, several roughing minors, and an emotional sequence at the conclusion of overtime and the shootout involving Devils center Adam Henrique.

Just as the horn sounded to end OT, Tyler Ennis received a roughing minor following a brief scrap with Henrique, who had taken exception to Ennis shooting the puck toward him in the New Jersey end of the ice.

It wasn't too long after that when Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller appeared to get under Henrique's skin.

After making a glove save on Henrique's shootout attempt that clinched the 4-3 victory for the Sabres, the All-Star goalie stretched out his glove arm and swatted the puck with a baseball-style swing while shouting toward Henrique. Henrique had a few choice words for the Sabres goalie before heading back to his dressing room.

Henrique was asked if there will be any lingering memories heading into Thursday's game against the Sabres at Prudential Center (7 p.m. ET, MSG-B, MSG-Plus).

Pens-Flyers rivalry captures attention of players too

Thursday, 03.07.2013 / 1:15 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

When Lindy Ruff was fired Feb. 20 after 14 years as coach of the Buffalo Sabres, it would be expected that he'd want some time away from the game.

Instead, he found himself watching the most compelling television he could find -- the game that night between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Even in his one of his darkest moments, Ruff allowed himself to be captured by what's become the No. 1 rivalry in the NHL today.

The latest edition of the Keystone State clash comes Thursday, when the Penguins visit the Flyers (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US). It's the third meeting between the teams this season, with the Penguins beating the Flyers 3-1 on opening night in Philadelphia, while the Flyers won 6-5 in that Feb. 20 game in Pittsburgh.

Rebuilt depth has keyed Blackhawks' remarkable run

Thursday, 03.07.2013 / 12:25 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 because their goaltending was solid and their depth players played just as big of a role on a nightly basis as their stars.

Shortly after they paraded the Cup down Michigan Avenue, their goalies and depth were gone, victims of an anticipated and unavoidable purge resulting from salary-cap constraints. The Blackhawks were not even close to being the same team over the next two seasons, and they went one-and-done in the postseason in 2011 and 2012.

They're back now, though, back to being the best team in the National Hockey League largely because of -- wait for it -- excellent goaltending and depth that has taken some pressure off the stars.

Penguins-Flyers rivalry has peaked in the past year

Thursday, 03.07.2013 / 1:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

When the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins take the ice Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US), it will be the 12th time they've played in the past calendar year -- six regular-season games, and six highly memorable games in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Keystone State Clash has transformed into the most passionate rivalry in the NHL today, drawing attention of not just fans, but people throughout the hockey world.

Here are some highlights from those previous games, starting with the end of last regular season:

March 18, 2012 -- Hartnell down, Flyers up Watch

The Penguins led 2-1 as the game entered the final five minutes of regulation when Scott Hartnell scored to tie it after Evgeni Malkin turned over the puck in the Penguins' zone. Then, as time was running down in overtime, Hartnell took a pass from Danny Briere and beat goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with 0.9 seconds left to give the Flyers a 3-2 win in Philadelphia.

After surgery, Weiss, Panthers have big decision

Wednesday, 03.06.2013 / 1:29 PM / NHL Insider

Alain Poupart - Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Stephen Weiss admits the thought has crossed his mind.

Weiss has been a cornerstone for the Florida Panthers for a decade, but there's a possibility he has played his last game with the organization.

Scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, Weiss will undergo season-ending surgery on his right wrist in Cleveland on Tuesday.

"Yes, it has [crossed my mind]," Weiss told reporters on a conference call Wednesday morning. "It's definitely not the way I would have written it if that is the case. It kind of burns at me that this is the way it could be going out, but you know what, that's life sometimes. You've got to deal with the cards you're dealt."

Losing streak set stage for Chicago's run to history

Wednesday, 03.06.2013 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

David Kalan - Staff Writer

In sports, losing often forms the attributes needed to be a winner.

The Chicago Blackhawks may be the latest example of the cliché that the experience of painful losses is often a precursor to finding a way to win consistently. Yes, the Blackhawks have pocketed at least a point in 22 straight games -- an almost unheard of streak of success amid the parity that presently exists in the National Hockey League -- but they are not that far removed from the team that endured a dispiriting nine-game losing streak that altered the outcome of its 2011-12 season.

There, seemingly, is proof of the cliché.

"I think that's something that we've definitely thought about," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said in St. Louis last week. "I think it was in our mind the rest of that season and even this year, we were quick to forget some of the things we went through as a team last year, and maybe not only that nine-game losing streak but what didn't click for us as a team as the season went along and how we lost in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs. We've understood what we had to change and the details of our game. And here we are.

"All those things that make us successful as a team we weren't doing at that point of the season last year. We've all seemed to learn from that."

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Quote of the Day

I'm a hockey player and that's what I love to do. That is what I am here for. Everything else is just a side note.

— Oilers forward Connor McDavid on moving beyond the anticipation of his long-awaited arrival in the NHL