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NHL Insider

Kings find success in a return to team basics

Wednesday, 02.27.2013 / 10:50 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Ron Hextall couldn't have been any clearer as he cut straight to the heart of what has already happened to the Los Angeles Kings in just 17 games.

"We got smacked and we woke up," Hextall, the Kings assistant general manager, told

Succinct. Honest. True.

The Kings don't want to talk about the Stanley Cup hangover, but for the first 10 games this season their play was inconsistent, somewhat erratic. They struggled to move the puck around the ice and keep it out of their net. They struggled to come down from the top of the mountain and start again as the equal to 29 other teams.

"The whole team is back and they were Stanley Cup champions," Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said. "Becoming emotionally attached again I think is a difficult thing."

But not impossible.

Tavares emerging as a star on Long Island

Tuesday, 02.26.2013 / 1:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Statistically speaking, John Tavares had one of the better games of his career against the Washington Capitals on March 13, 2012.

The 21-year-old was on the ice for all four goals scored by the New York Islanders that night. He scored twice, assisted on another and delivered a shootout goal while winning 11 of 17 faceoffs and holding his own against NHL mega-star Alex Ovechkin at Nassau Coliseum.

Tavares played 23:07 and wasn't on the ice for a single goal against.

It was the sixth time during the 2011-12 season Tavares had at least three points in a game – he had four points in consecutive games in early October. Only Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin (9), who won the Art Ross Trophy, Steven Stamkos (9) of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Claude Giroux (11) of the Philadelphia Flyers, Jason Spezza (7) of the Ottawa Senators and Ilya Kovalchuk (9) of the New Jersey Devils had more games last season with at least three points.

Tavares finished last season tied for seventh in points with James Neal of the Penguins and Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks, two of the bigger names in the League. He was one of three players, along with Malkin and Spezza, with at least 30 goals and 50 assists.

Burke eager to help Ducks

Sunday, 02.24.2013 / 7:38 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

ANAHEIMBrian Burke was back in familiar surroundings Sunday and declared himself ready to resume his partnership with the Anaheim Ducks, however brief it might be.

"It's a familiar feeling to walk back in the building," Burke said. "I have a lot of respect for [Ducks general manager] Bob Murray. I think he's a real good hockey guy. We've worked together, worked in Vancouver, worked here. I think he's an excellent GM, and I hope my experience can help at some points, and it's nice to be back."

Burke was hired as a part-time professional scout this week for Anaheim, the team that he built into a rough-and-skilled Stanley Cup champion in 2007. Murray and the Ducks reached out to the Toronto Maple Leafs about employing Burke, who was fired Jan.9 as their GM.

Saad joins list of Hawks' heroes during streak

Saturday, 02.23.2013 / 1:11 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO – The day before scoring the game-winning goal of Friday night's NHL historic performance for the Chicago Blackhawks, rookie Brandon Saad was the "Saad man out."

Brandon Saad
Left Wing - CHI
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 3
SOG: 33 | +/-: 2

As teammates changed in front of their lockers at the Blackhawks' practice facility, Saad sat in the middle of the small room on a black folding chair. His "locker stall" was a hockey bag -- and he couldn't have cared less.

A day later, Saad rushed down the ice at United Center at the tail end of a big penalty kill early in the third period and fired a shot from the left circle that not only beat former Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi, but eventually decided Chicago's 2-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks.

"It's a huge win to be a part of," the 20-year old Saad said after being named the game's first star and scoring Chicago's first shorthanded goal of the season. "To end up getting the winning goal … it's a special time."

Senators' Karlsson talks Cooke, injury, recovery

Friday, 02.22.2013 / 1:05 PM / NHL Insider

Erin Nicks - Correspondent

"Ever since I got into the League he's been one of the guys you're always aware of when you're playing against him. It's a freak incident, but I still think it's an injury that shouldn't have happened." -- Erik Karlsson on Matt Cooke

OTTAWAOttawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson spoke to the media for the first time Friday morning since his season was ended nine days ago when his left Achilles tendon was cut in a collision with Pittsburgh Penguin forward Matt Cooke.

Karlsson said he believes Cooke, who was not penalized on the play, could have prevented the outcome.

"The puck came around the corner, and I was going to get it," Karlsson said. "I had a [Pittsburgh] player behind me and I knew exactly who it was. I was taking a bit of caution. He missed the hit but he still got me somehow. It could have been prevented. I don't think it would have happened if it was another type of player. But I don't think his intention was to cut me with the skate. I refuse to believe that anyone would do that.

Ruff thanks players, Sabres organization in farewell

Friday, 02.22.2013 / 12:18 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

In his first public comments since being fired as coach of the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, Lindy Ruff talked about how much the organization meant to him.

Ruff's firing ended a relationship that started when the Sabres selected him in the second round of the 1979 NHL Draft.

"I still have the invitation to training camp in a book," Ruff said.

Through 10 seasons as a Sabres player and 15 seasons as coach Ruff became a constant in Buffalo. But with the team struggling, the franchise dismissed the longest-tenured coach in the NHL on Wednesday.

Therrien's team-first message getting through to Habs

Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 4:48 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- One of the biggest stories to come out of the Montreal Canadiens in the early part of this shortened season had to do with the way the team celebrated victories, which appeared somewhat comical at the time because this was a team coming off a season where victories were few and far between.

Shortly after restricted free agent P.K. Subban signed a two-year contract with the club on Jan. 28, news emerged that Canadiens coach Michel Therrien had banned the young defenseman's "triple low five" victory celebration with goaltender Carey Price, causing a serious social media backlash from Canadiens fans and around the NHL.

"I always like teams that are humble," Therrien said at the time. "It's a team concept and it starts with that."

Blackhawks want to keep focus on just playing well

Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 4:45 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have thought about setting a new mark for consecutive games to start a season with at least a point, but only because they're constantly asked about it now.

If the Blackhawks (13-0-3) can earn at least a point on Friday night at United Center against the San Jose Sharks (8-4-3) -- a team they've already beaten twice -- Chicago will break the current tie at 16 straight games with the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks, who went on to win the Stanley Cup that season.

"We're not really downplaying it," Chicago star forward Patrick Sharp said after Thursday's practice. "It's just not an issue in here. It's pretty cool to be that close to an NHL record and we might talk about it [Friday] before the game, but we're just more focused on playing good."

Rolston's task to 'jump-start' Sabres into contention

Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 3:33 PM / NHL Insider

Neil Acharya - Correspondent

Ron Rolston makes his NHL coaching debut Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he has a tough task ahead of him.

Not only is he charged with turning around the Buffalo Sabres, he has to get through to a team that is currently in a state of shock.

"My job is to jump-start this team and do it in any way we can," Rolston said after hitting the ice with the Sabres for the first time since being hired as their coach Wednesday.

Not only does Rolston have to deal with a team that's reeling emotionally, but he also sees a team that hasn't been willing to work as hard as it must in order to win games.

"From what I saw, it was more of a lot of shortcuts," Rolston said. "Lot of rest in shifts. The things you just have to eliminate if you're going to be a good hockey team. Most importantly, it's just getting back to that, it's getting back to work, getting back to eliminating shortcuts from your game because there's not a lot of time."

Rolston getting test, but Sabres could look elsewhere

Wednesday, 02.20.2013 / 8:04 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Ron Rolston will get at least 31 games to prove that he should be the next full-time coach of the Buffalo Sabres. Several other potential candidates will be watching.

Rolston, 46, got the call-up from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League (Buffalo's top minor-league affiliate) on Wednesday to become the interim replacement for longtime Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. He'll have his hands full with a team that is currently at least seven points behind every other team in the Northeast Division and sitting in 13th place in the Eastern Conference.

The Sabres are coming off a dismal 2-1 home loss to the Winnipeg Jets, one that general manager Darcy Regier called "the tipping point" in the decision to fire Ruff.

Meanwhile, Rolston is leaving a team behind in Rochester that is seventh in the AHL's Western Conference with a 27-18-3 record. He guided the Americans to a playoff berth following a 36-26-14 season as a rookie coach in the AHL last season.

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Quote of the Day

I first met him when I was 19 years old and he coached me for 13 consecutive years. I don't know how many athletes who have had that pleasure. Al Arbour was a man that left us not only feeling like champions, but left us with a lot of great memories that we can carry on through life.

— Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin on former coach Al Arbour, who passed away Friday at the age of 82