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NHL Insider

Tortorella sees Nash as good fit with Rangers

Friday, 08.17.2012 / 9:02 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Rick Nash
Left Wing - NYR
GOALS: 30 | ASST: 29 | PTS: 59
SOG: 306 | +/-: -19
John Tortorella has yet to speak to Rick Nash in person, but the New York Rangers coach likes what he's heard.

"The thing I like about Nash -- and I haven't even met him face to face -- in one conversation with him, he's all business," Tortorella told the website Blueshirts United on Thursday. "Everyone I have talked to about him says he's not a real high-maintenance guy -- [he] wants to play hard, wants to play every day and practice every day. I think we have him at a really good time in his career, and I think he's going to fit in with us tremendously."

Tortorella, known for his no-nonsense approach and the competitive nature of his teams, is confident Nash will fit in despite never winning a Stanley Cup Playoff game -- the Blue Jackets made the postseason just once in his nine seasons with Columbus.

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Lundqvist played 'toughest period' in Sweden

Thursday, 08.16.2012 / 6:03 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Henrik Lundqvist played in two Game 7s and lost an elimination game in overtime during last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the New York Rangers goaltender said the most difficult period he played was in a preseason game in his native Sweden last season.

"That first period was probably the toughest period I ever played," Lundqvist said Wednesday in an interview with Blueshirts United. "I was just thinking about all the years I played there."

The Rangers defeated Frolunda, Lundqvist's former club, 4-2 on Sept. 30 in Gothenburg as part of the NHL Premiere Challenge.

Lundqvist played in Frolunda from 1998 through 2005.

"You know, growing up, that was the club I wanted to play for," Lundqvist said. "It was my dream to play there, I won two championships there. And so many people helped me there, too, to reach my next level.

"And obviously, to have my brother there and my family there, it was a great moment in my career."

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Hartsburg hopes to create new identity in Columbus

Thursday, 08.16.2012 / 5:06 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

It's been an interesting summer for Craig Hartsburg. Following a disappointing lone season as associate coach in Calgary, the longtime player and coach was scooped up by the Columbus Blue Jackets and given arguably the most challenging mission of his career -- establish a new identity for a last-place team that just traded its only All Star. And he can't wait to get started.

A former head coach in Chicago, Anaheim, and Ottawa, Hartsburg was released in June after the Flames hired Bob Hartley to take over the team. Barely two weeks later, the Blue Jackets hired him to round out the staff of Todd Richards, who was officially named the team's head coach in May after taking over on an interim basis last January. On the heels of one of the most eventful offseasons in franchise history, Hartsburg is looking forward to rebuilding the Jackets.

"It will be an interesting challenge. I'm really excited about helping Columbus build a strong identity and culture that we can have for a number of years," Hartsburg told NHL.com. "We know we're a team that has changed over the last two, three months. It's exciting that we can start to build something and put our stamp on it as coaches."

While Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson made a number of roster changes over the summer, the biggest without a doubt was the July trade of franchise cornerstone Rick Nash to the Rangers. With the face of the Blue Jackets now gone, the job of establishing a brand new identity for the team falls squarely on Richards and Hartsburg.

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Yakupov can't wait to start NHL career with Oilers

Thursday, 08.16.2012 / 4:23 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Nail Yakupov arrived in Edmonton this week ready to prepare for the start of his first professional season. (Photo: Getty Images)

NHL training camps aren't scheduled to open for another month, but Nail Yakupov isn't ready to wait that long. Yakupov, the first pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, arrived in Edmonton this week ready to prepare for the start of his first professional season.

"I started working out with the guys," he told reporters Thursday. "Just seeing my place and just be here. There's nothing to do in Russia. Just have to start work and get ready for camp."

Yakupov had 31 goals and 38 assists in 42 games last season with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. He also helped Russia win the silver medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship, leading to the Oilers selecting him with the first pick in June.

He got an early start to his season by participating in the Canada-Russia Challenge, which ended earlier this week after two games in Moscow and two games in Halifax, N.S. The games were a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the famed 1972 Summit Series, as well as a tribute to Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team that was wiped out in a plane crash last year.

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A look at who's on the hot seat in the West

Thursday, 08.16.2012 / 12:39 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

With summer quickly moving toward fall and teams looking toward the new season, here's a look at a player from each of the 15 teams in the Western Conference who'll be under pressure to perform as soon as the puck drops:

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim -- After averaging more than a point a game for four consecutive seasons, Getzlaf plummeted to 11 goals and 57 points in 82 games in 2011-12 -- and, not coincidentally, the Ducks failed to make the playoffs. Getzlaf, whose struggles also affected linemate Corey Perry, has to have a major bounce-back season if the Ducks are to have any hopes of returning to the top eight in the West -- and if he hopes to earn a new contract.

Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary -- Eight years after he led the Flames within one victory of the Stanley Cup, Kiprusoff is still the most important player on a Calgary team that hasn't contended for a title since 2004 and has missed the playoffs three years running. Kiprusoff is coming off an excellent season (35-22-11, 2.35 goals-against average, .921 save percentage) and has 35 or more wins in seven straight seasons. But he'll have to be even better if the Flames are to get off the treadmill of just missing the playoffs.

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A look at who's on the hot seat in the East

Wednesday, 08.15.2012 / 1:55 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Summer continues to melt like a Popsicle on a sidewalk. Teams are less than a month away from training camps. It's almost time for another NHL season, and the pressure already is starting to build for some players who know they'll have to be big-time producers for their teams to improve or contend.

Here's a look at a player from each of the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference who will be under pressure to perform as soon as the puck drops:

Tuukka Rask, Boston -- With Tim Thomas taking a year off, the No. 1 goaltending job in Boston belongs to Rask, who is coming off a groin injury in March that brought his season to an early conclusion. Rask, who signed a one-year deal this summer, provided a safety net behind Thomas, but he's flying solo now and will be expected to carry the load in goal for a team that feels it's more than capable of regaining the Stanley Cup it failed to retain last spring.

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Crosby not only star hoping to rebound from injury

Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Can Sidney Crosby stay healthy for a full season? That's the question that again hovers over the Pittsburgh Penguins as they prepare for 2012-13.

While the Pens hope Crosby can stay healthy, there are other notable players coming off injury-plagued campaigns that are being counted on heavily to rebound. (Photo: Getty Images)

Pittsburgh's captain played only 22 regular-season games in 2011-12, missing the other 60 as he dealt with concussion-related issues. That came on the heels of missing the second half of 2010-11 and all of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the same reason.

The good news for the Penguins is that Crosby was his usual self when he returned for good on March 15 -- he showed no ill effects and put up 37 regular-season points, as well as eight in Pittsburgh's six playoff contests. The bad news is he hasn't played a full season since 2009-10, and has played only those 22 games since going down with a concussion on Jan. 5, 2011.

Crosby isn't the only key player who's working to come back from an injury that put a hole in his 2011-12 season or ended it early. Here are seven other players whose return is critical to their teams' success.

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Saluting Crosby at 25: Facts and figures

Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 5:14 PM / NHL Insider

Darryl Haberman - NHL.com Director, Production

It's hard to believe, but Sidney Crosby turns 25 today.

Crosby was the first player picked in the 2005 NHL Draft -- the Pittsburgh Penguins won the right to draft him after a lottery that left the Anaheim Ducks a disappointed second.

In the seven seasons since he was chosen, Crosby has been everything the Penguins could have wanted, and then some. He has led the League in goals and points, won a Hart Trophy as regular-season MVP, and led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup.

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Flyers have several options in patching up blue line

Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 2:15 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Philadelphia Flyers haven't played a game since May, yet they've suffered more catastrophic losses to their blue line during the summer than most teams face throughout a season.

Matt Carle signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning as a free agent. The news on Chris Pronger's concussion hasn't been positive and he can't be counted on this season. Now Andrej Meszaros is out indefinitely -- perhaps the entire regular season -- after surgery to repair a torn Achilles' tendon Tuesday.

That doesn't even include the failed attempt to sign Shea Weber, who put his name to a lucrative offer sheet only to see it matched by the Nashville Predators.

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Emrick adds to ties between hockey, water polo

Saturday, 08.04.2012 / 7:00 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

During the dog days of the summer sports season, hockey fans have tried to find something that can replicate the game they love. Fortunately, the 2012 Summer Olympics in London have been a welcome distraction until NHL training camps open in September.

But it hasn't just been marquee sports basketball and track and field that have drawn the attention of hockey fans. NHL players and fans alike have rallied around water polo, a sport with more than its share of similarities to hockey.

"[They both] have nets and power plays and goaltenders and penalty shots. Also, the resilience the [water polo] players have is very comparable to hockey," said Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike "Doc" Emrick, who has called hockey play-by-play for almost 40 years and is doing the same for NBC's Olympic water polo coverage. "There is a feeling, too, that part of the character is similar to hockey. Unless [an injury] is really bad, you don't go for repairs. You just get back in."

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You've got to focus on playing good hockey. When we do that we give ourselves a chance to win games. Win games and then maybe we''ll have a chance at the end. You can't worry about something like (the division title) when we're not playing our best hockey down the stretch. We'll figure things out together the way we always do and get back on the right page.

— Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews after loss to Flyers on Wednesday left them five points out of first place in Central Division
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