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NHL Insider

Pavelec's workload a storyline as Jets chase playoffs

Friday, 03.22.2013 / 3:05 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- An uneasy question permeates nearly every storyline surrounding the Winnipeg Jets this month, and it does not even concern the NHL Trade Deadline.

To what extent should coach Claude Noel rely on workhorse goaltender Ondrej Pavelec heading down the stretch?

The Jets lead the Southeast Division with a 16-13-2 record, putting the franchise in position to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007. With a young core starved for postseason experience, pressure exists inside and outside the organizational brain trust to do nearly anything necessary to keep the Jets in the Eastern Conference's top eight at the end of April.

But memories of March 2012 remain fresh in Winnipeg. Pavelec sputtered down the stretch last season with the Jets in the midst of a playoff race. Starting 13 games that month, he went just 5-7-1 with a 3.13 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage as the Jets faded from Eastern Conference contention.

Moulson making most of time with Islanders

Friday, 03.22.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The summer of 2009 was a crucial one for Matt Moulson. Indeed, he had a lot on his plate.

Matt Moulson
Left Wing - NYI
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 32
SOG: 104 | +/-: -9

Not only was he set to become an unrestricted free agent after three seasons in the Los Angeles Kings organization (mostly spent in the American Hockey League), but he was ready to take the next step in his personal life.

He wanted to pop the question to his girlfriend, Alicia.

"I needed to make the NHL to buy the ring -- or she was going to get one of those vending-machine rings," Moulson told

Searching for help up front, the rebuilding New York Islanders -- who selected John Tavares with the first pick in the NHL Draft a week earlier -- came calling when the free-agent market opened July 1.

Friends since their childhood in Ontario, Moulson quickly phoned Tavares and informed him of the Islanders' interest.

Swedish coach sees different Larsson on Devils

Thursday, 03.21.2013 / 9:54 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- During a recent trip to the East Coast of the United States to catch a glimpse of potential candidates for the 2013 World Championship team in May, Swedish National ice hockey coach Par Marts quickly learned that New Jersey Devils defenseman Adam Larsson had taken on a different role this season.

"He's a different player now because in Sweden he was more of an offensive player with puck control, passing, and he played a lot on the power play," Marts told "He doesn't play the power play as much now and he's going to have to adjust to this kind of hockey."

Marts was asked if Larsson was a player on his radar for consideration for the World Championship, which will take place between 16 countries from May 3-19 in Finland and Sweden.

Bernier shines in limited chances, waits for new gig

Thursday, 03.21.2013 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It's been a dilemma for Jonathan Bernier for most, if not all of his NHL career.

Bernier needs to build a body of work so other teams can better evaluate him, but he can't do that as a Maytag repairman of sorts behind franchise goalie Jonathan Quick.

Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Kings, the washer isn't running as efficiently as last season, and Bernier's solid play is putting a different spin on the club's goaltending situation as the April 3 trade deadline approaches.

Ducks' third line has provided first-rate contributions

Wednesday, 03.20.2013 / 4:35 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Saku Koivu remembers talking with Bruce Boudreau early in the season, and it wasn't necessarily small talk with the coach known as "Gabby."

No, this was delicate because it concerned what role Koivu would have at age 38 and playing in his 17th NHL season. The veteran was expected to compete for the second-line center spot on the Anaheim Ducks, but at this point in his career it was clear that the former Montreal Canadiens captain was better suited for, ahem, the third line.

Tension? Awkward silence?

"He accepted quite well," Boudreau said. "I said if we want to be good he has to be the third-line center. I mean, he's played a lot like a first-line center a lot of times. But his role hasn't changed except for the guys he's played with."

Who has the edge: Blackhawks or Ducks?

Wednesday, 03.20.2013 / 10:17 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

The Chicago Blackhawks have been atop the NHL standings since Feb. 2 thanks largely to a start to the season that had never been seen in the League's history.

The Blackhawks suffered three losses – all in shootouts – over their first 24 games, with the third also serving as their only setback over a 16-game stretch from Feb. 2 to March 6.

That one loss came at home against the Anaheim Ducks, a 3-2 defeat that marks the only time the Blackhawks have squandered a third-period lead and lost this season. That win was the second in a streak in which the Ducks went 13-1-3.

Wednesday night, the NHL's two best teams, the Blackhawks and Ducks, will collide in Anaheim (10 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CSN-CH, FS-W) in a battle for Western Conference bragging rights.

Defensive transformation a big part of Penguins' run

Tuesday, 03.19.2013 / 5:11 PM / NHL Insider

Chris Adamski - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Contrary to popular belief -- and to some good-natured ribbing from teammates in the locker room -- Mark Eaton is not the sole cause for the Pittsburgh Penguins' defensive resurgence in recent weeks.

The stay-at-home defenseman was signed late last month and made his season debut in a March 2 victory at the Montreal Canadiens.

Pittsburgh hasn't lost since. What's more, the Penguins have the appearance of an entirely different team defensively during March.

It can't be entirely a coincidence, can it?

"I can't take any credit for that," Eaton said with a look that was part amused and part horrified that he'd claim he's the reason for the turnaround in Pittsburgh's defensive fortunes.

Canucks look for answers to power-play struggles

Monday, 03.18.2013 / 7:16 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVERDaniel Sedin believes the Vancouver Canucks need to stop thinking so much about their struggling power play.

That's probably a good idea, considering their drought with the man advantage has reached a mind-boggling 11 games, easily the longest funk in the 15 seasons of team data available on It's been more than a decade since the Canucks' next longest slump, which lasted eight-games back in 2001-02.

Given the personnel involved, it's becoming hard to wrap the mind around a nearly month long donut on the power play. Sedin thinks maybe they should stop trying.

"We've done a lot of things in practice to get things going, but we're just not playing with confidence," Sedin said. "When you are struggling, you are probably putting too much thought into it. We're at our best when we go out there and don't think, move the puck, get shots and get to those rebounds."

O'Reilly re-situated, understands time is now for Avs

Monday, 03.18.2013 / 2:52 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

Ryan O'Reilly
Center - COL
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 6
SOG: 29 | +/-: 0

DENVER -- The adjustment period has ended for Ryan O'Reilly, who missed training camp and the Colorado Avalanche's first 19 games during a contract dispute that lasted longer than either he or the team would have liked.

"Definitely there are certain areas that need to be better, but we don't have time for that," the 22-year-old center said of his game. "I have to start making an impact right now and do whatever I can to help the team win."

No doubt. The Avalanche sit last in the Western Conference with a 10-13-4 record and take a three-game losing streak into Monday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Pepsi Center.

Why the Rangers aren't living up to expectations

Monday, 03.18.2013 / 12:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Before the puck dropped on the 2012-13 season, it wasn't hard to find prognosticators willing to say the New York Rangers were going to win the Stanley Cup. On this web site alone, six experts picked the Rangers to reach their first Final since 1994 with three of them choosing the Rangers to win it all.

It wasn't tough to see why the Rangers were among the favorites to win the Cup. They were coming off a season in which they finished first in the Eastern Conference with 109 points and reached the conference finals. The Rangers did it all with a young, developing core and appeared to improve in the offseason, adding Rick Nash in a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets without losing a top-six forward or key defenseman in free agency in the process.

An unexpected bonus to the offseason was the delayed start to the campaign, which allowed Marian Gaborik to recover from shoulder surgery that would have sidelined him for at least the first month of the season.

Yet through 27 games, the Rangers are 13-12-2 and sitting in 10 th place in the East, three points out of a playoff spot. They have lost three in a row in regulation for the first time this season and despite the addition of Nash, are scoring fewer goals per game this season (2.33) than they did last season (2.71).

There are many reasons why the Rangers aren't living up to expectations, those outside and inside the locker room, and here's a look at why a Stanley Cup Playoff spot -- never mind a trip to the Final -- is far from a guarantee with 21 games remaining.

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He plays the way that we want to play and he's a leader on the ice. It's those components we feel were the dynamic of what we wanted in our captain.

— Devils coach John Hynes on defenseman Andy Greene, who was named captain Thursday
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