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NHL Insider

Red Wings faced with unfamiliar situation

Sunday, 04.14.2013 / 1:48 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

NASHVILLE – The Stanley Cup Playoffs without the Detroit Red Wings is a hard thing to imagine.

For 21 straight years, the Red Wings have qualified for the postseason, winning the Cup more times (four) than any other NHL team in that span.

Yet with seven games remaining in the season, the Red Wings currently are on the outside looking in. On Saturday, while Detroit was idle, the Red Wings saw themselves fall out of the top eight in the Western Conference and into ninth.

By virtue of holding a game in hand on Detroit, the Dallas Stars, with their 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, jumped past the Red Wings, even though the two teams are tied with 45 points. The Columbus Blue Jackets, with a 3-2 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild, also tied the Red Wings in the points column, although Detroit holds a game in hand on its Central Division rival.

It's unfamiliar territory for the Red Wings, who visit the Nashville Predators on Sunday. These two teams met in the first round of the playoffs last season, but this year both could be out.

Charity game provides backdrop for 1995 Devils' reunion

Saturday, 04.13.2013 / 11:57 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The goal of Saturday's Global Legends charity game at Prudential Center was to raise money for Hurricane Sandy Relief. With hundreds of fans bidding on autographed memorabilia and getting a chance to meet the 38 former players who made up the Russian and North American squads participating in the game, the exhibition raised more than $50,000 for that cause.

But for 10 players participating in the charity game, it also provided a fun reunion that was long overdue.

It wasn't an accident that more than half of the players making up the North American Legends roster were members of the New Jersey Devils team that won the Stanley Cup in 1995. That Cup Final sweep of the Detroit Red Wings linked the group forever in the annals of hockey history. So much so that Sergei Brylin, who was born in Moscow and started his pro career with the fabled CSKA Moscow club, laced up with his former Devils teammates on the North America team.

Russians edge North Americans in charity game

Saturday, 04.13.2013 / 6:40 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Andrei Kovalenko scored a hat trick and added an assist as Team Russia defeated the North American squad, 7-6, in the Global Legends charity game staged Saturday at the Prudential Center.

The event gave fans the opportunity to watch and meet some of the game's biggest names. But more importantly, the event and related charitable activities raised more than $50,000 for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

What started as a conversation between former New Jersey Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko and Kontinental Hockey League president Alexander Medvedev eventually produced the charity game. Tickets only went on sale 11 days before puck drop, but a strong fan contingent made it out regardless.

Forsberg could debut for Predators on Sunday

Saturday, 04.13.2013 / 3:14 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

NASHVILLE – Heralded forward Filip Forsberg will make his NHL debut on Sunday with the Nashville Predators, provided that everything goes according to plan, Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.

Nashville acquired Forsberg, the 11th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, from the Washington Capitals before the April 3 trading deadline in exchange for long-time right wing Martin Erat and minor-league center Michael Latta. Forsberg, 18, played for Leksands IF this past season in Sweden's second division, but he helped the club to get promoted, and it will compete in that country's top league next season.

Trotz said Predators general manager David Poile spoke to Forsberg before he departed on his flight. Poile has said he hopes that Forsberg can evolve into the kind of dynamic forward that his team has lacked for the past few years.

Potvin excited to see success of Islanders

Saturday, 04.13.2013 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Don't think for a second that Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin hasn't been paying attention to the excitement emanating from his old stomping grounds in Uniondale, N.Y., with the New York Islanders these days.

Potvin, currently a television commentator for the Ottawa Senators, spent 15 seasons with the Islanders. The first player taken in the 1973 NHL Draft, he won the Calder Trophy in 1973-74, then was the captain when the team won four straight Stanley Cups to start the 1980s. He also won three Norris Trophies, and is seventh all-time among NHL defensemen with 1,052 points.

The Islanders last reached the Cup Final in 1983-84, Potvin's 11th with the franchise. That was the season the Edmonton Oilers would end New York's four-year reign as Stanley Cup champion. The organization had occasional success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after that season, but has fallen on hard times since 1994-95, failing to qualify for the postseason in 13 of the next 17 seasons.

The Islanders last reached the Cup Final in 1983-84, Potvin's 11th season with the franchise. That was when the Edmonton Oilers would end New York's four-year reign as Stanley Cup champion. The organization had occasional success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after that, but has fallen on hard times since 1994-95, failing to qualify for the postseason in 13 of the next 17 seasons.

There's optimism today for the Islanders, however, with the team on the verge of earning a playoff berth for the first time in six seasons.

"Can I be honest?" Potvin said. "I was in denial for, like, 25 years and didn't want to look at [their situation] because it was so bad. Now I find myself getting very excited for them and I've really enjoyed following the team again."

Playoffs at stake when Rangers visit Islanders

Friday, 04.12.2013 / 7:17 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

"I don't even think we're close to playing our best yet. We've had some good results the last three weeks, but we all feel like we can still get better."
-- Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic

It was April 2007 when the New York Islanders and New York Rangers last played a meaningful, late-season game -- and even then, it was far more meaningful to one side than the other.

The Rangers needed two points in their final three games to earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while the Islanders were in a far more desperate situation, sitting in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, four points back of eighth.

Despite squandering a 2-0 lead that night at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders emerged with a 3-2 victory as Miroslav Satan scored the only goal in a shootout and goaltender Wade Dubielewicz made 36 saves.

Predators stuck in unfamiliar territory as spoiler

Friday, 04.12.2013 / 4:17 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators remain alive mathematically for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but in reality, they know that for 2012-13, the race has all but ended for them.

Thursday, when the team announced three key forwards needed season-ending surgery, it was a tacit nod to the inevitable. With one win in their past eight games and the injuries mounting, the Predators entered Friday in unfamiliar territory: 13th in the Western Conference, six points behind the eighth-place Detroit Red Wings, with seven games remaining.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz was asked if he might reconsider the team's chances if it were to defeat the Dallas Stars on Friday at Bridgestone Arena then win in regulation against Detroit here Sunday.

"No, I think realistically there's a very, very slight chance," he said. "Teams [in front of the Predators] are playing each other so everyone's getting points. To be realistic, [making the playoffs] is probably not the case. Even though if you rattle all your wins off, the other teams are playing each other so points are being given. We may be able to catch a team like the Wings because we're playing them twice, but we may lose ground on another team we're trying to catch."

Hawks, Wings meet for final time as division rivals

Friday, 04.12.2013 / 3:51 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- It's not the oldest rivalry in the NHL, but the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks have spent the majority of their storied histories practically joined at the hip.

They've battled as Original Six foes, bloodied each other in Stanley Cup Final series and butted heads as Norris and Central division rivals in the Western Conference. They've both been on top of the hockey world and both have brought up the rear -- sometimes at the same time -- and the two have played the most head-to-head games in League history.

Friday night's matchup at United Center (8:30 p.m. ET) will be the 725th meeting between the Hawks and Wings -- the 364th in the Windy City -- and fans on each side are as passionate as any others in sports. That's what makes this particular game so interesting.

Therrien's team concept drives Canadiens to playoffs

Friday, 04.12.2013 / 1:30 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

Team concept.

They are two words Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien has used together on countless occasions throughout this incredible turnaround season that has seen his team go from the worst record in the Eastern Conference to becoming the third NHL team to clinch a spot in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Though many coaches have attempted to instill a team-first concept, Therrien has done it in a way that makes every one of his players accountable not only to him, but to each other.

"It doesn't matter who you are or who you think you are, you're held to a standard that the entire team is held to," Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges said earlier this season. "If you're not going to buy into it and do what's asked of you in accordance with the team, then you're not going to play. He's shown that and he's delivered that and he's stayed true to it and he's been fair with it."

Conacher finds quick chemistry on Ottawa's Kid Line

Thursday, 04.11.2013 / 3:23 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Chemistry between linemates can be a strange thing. Success can be found in the oddest of places.

One example is the Ottawa Senators' Kid Line -- rookies Mika Zibanejad, Jakob Silfverberg and Cory Conacher. In three games together, the trio has combined for six points and been the Senators' most consistent despite the team's losing streak growing to six games.

The line was created last week when Conacher arrived in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning, and coach Paul MacLean was just hoping to find a comfortable spot for him to adjust to a new environment.

"We felt that would be a good fit for Conacher to come in and ease into our lineup," MacLean said. "We could play them against other team's third lines as opposed to their first or their best lines, their top two lines. We could play them against the bottom two lines and give him an opportunity to get comfortable with our team and how we play. That was the thought process to begin with."

What he created so far has developed into so much more.

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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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