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NHL Insider

A hypothetical glance at realignment changes

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 11:39 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

Starting next season, the NHL will be transformed from a league with six divisions to one with four conferences, pending approval from the players' association. There will be two conferences with eight teams and two conferences with seven teams, which is similar to what the NHL landscape looked like before the 1993-94 season.

The top-four teams from each conference will make the playoffs. The concept of finishing in the top 8 has gone by the way side. Instead, beating the six or seven other teams within your conference and cracking the top 4 within that group becomes paramount.

Solid road trip has Islanders back in hunt

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 12:58 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It's amazing how a solid road trip can change your outlook on things.

The New York Islanders, who secured only three victories between Oct. 15 and Nov. 17, are suddenly back in the mix after going 3-0-1 on a four-game road trip. New York picked up wins in New Jersey, Buffalo and Dallas and suffered a shootout loss at Chicago to earn 7 of a possible 8 points.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Isles' recent surge? They didn't receive a single goal from No. 1 center John Tavares, who hasn't scored since an empty-net tally against Washington on Nov. 5. However, the first pick from the 2009 NHL Draft does have 5 assists over the last two games.

"It can be frustrating, but it's a lot more fun when we're winning and that's the ultimate goal for everybody," said Tavares, who last beat a goaltender on Oct. 29 against San Jose. "As much as I want to contribute that way, I think it's good to see us get back on track. Hopefully we can take advantage of these few games at home and build off of last week."  

Realignment proved best option for multiple teams

Monday, 12.05.2011 / 11:30 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- There was a "simple" option for NHL realignment discussed during the first day of the League's Board of Governors meetings, but as Commissioner Gary Bettman noted, "Simple may have not been so simple."

So instead of just shuffling Winnipeg to the Central Division and either Detroit or Columbus to the Southeast, the Board approved a more dramatic change, but also one that helps ease the concerns of more franchises. The new four-conference format is expected to help most teams, either with lessened travel, more games in the local time zone or more games against the League's marquee opponents -- or all of the above.

On first glance, Crosby likes realignment plan

Monday, 12.05.2011 / 10:56 PM / NHL Insider


Sidney Crosby didn't have much time to digest a complicated realignment plan passed by the NHL Board of Governors on Monday night.

But, his initial take, just moments after his Pittsburgh Penguins suffered a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins at Consol Energy Center, was a positive one.

"I think that's pretty much what we're used to except we're adding a couple of teams," Crosby said. "I don't think it's that big of a deal. I think everyone's probably happy with that. Washington's a pretty good rival... I don't see anyone being disappointed about this."

Leafs happy with potential realignment

Monday, 12.05.2011 / 10:48 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson's initial reaction to the news that the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning would be joining his division next season was met with enthusiasm.

Maybe it was for the wrong reasons, though.

"That's good," Wilson said following the Leafs' 4-2 win against the Rangers. "I'm a golfer ... and good weather."

First-place Panthers excited for big game vs. Caps

Monday, 12.05.2011 / 2:02 PM / NHL Insider

Alain Poupart - NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The upstart Florida Panthers have a chance to make a statement when they play host to the Washington Capitals on Monday night. More importantly, they're looking at a great opportunity to increase their lead atop the Southeast Division.

But for the most part, Panthers players are looking at this as just another in a series of big games.

"I think every game is a big game," center Stephen Weiss said. "We just played three huge games on the road. It's a big game, sure, but they all are right now in the position that we're in. We're looking forward to it."

Weiss has been with the Panthers longer than any other player on the roster, and he finds himself on a first-place team for the first time since he came into the NHL in 2002.

Fact is, Florida hasn't held first place this late in a season since March of 2000.

Perron impresses Hitchcock in his return

Sunday, 12.04.2011 / 5:24 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues Ken Hitchcock has seen a lot of NHL hockey during his 15-year coaching career, but what he saw from a guy that hadn't seen game action in over a year impressed the 59-year-old as much as anything he's seen.

"He's really going to help us. Holy smokes," said Hitchcock about winger David Perron. "He's really a good player. He's going to really help this team.

"About four more like him, we'll be fine."

Perron made his return to the NHL Saturday night after a 97-game layoff following a concussion last season. He scored the first goal of the game against the Chicago Blackhawks, but in the end, it was not the happy ending -- or result -- that Perron and the Blues were looking for in a 5-2 loss.

But Perron was on the money with a sharp-angle goal, he was deft with the puck and showed little or no signs of missing more than a year of competition.

Ex-Avs excited about first game back in Denver

Friday, 12.02.2011 / 6:09 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- Two familiar faces were in unfamiliar territory this morning when Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart strolled into the visiting locker room with their St. Louis Blues teammates at the Pepsi Center.

It was the first appearance in town for the pair since they were traded from the Colorado Avalanche to the Blues in a blockbuster deal on Feb. 18. The Blues received Shattenkirk, Stewart and a second-round draft pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, while the Avalanche got defenseman Erik Johnson, center Jay McClement and a first-round pick.

Shattenkirk and Stewart played against the Avalanche four days later in a 4-3 loss in St. Louis and will meet their former team for the first time in their old stomping grounds tonight.

Job security not a problem for Pens' Bylsma

Friday, 12.02.2011 / 12:56 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

WASHINGTON -- The news of three coaches getting pink slips this week gave Dan Bylsma reason to pause, reflect and contemplate his own future in the high-stakes, zero-security coaching business.
"It's tough to know what to think," Bylsma told NHL.com prior to coaching his Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-1 win against the Capitals at Verizon Center. "It doesn't make you feel good, I know that. It doesn't make you feel comfortable, and it does say a lot about the pressure in this League to win hockey games."
Bylsma has never been fired from an NHL head coaching job, so he can't talk about what it must have felt like to be either Bruce Boudreau or Paul Maurice on Monday. He would have no clue how empty Randy Carlyle must have felt Wednesday night after leading his struggling team to a win only to learn he was getting the ax less than an hour after the final buzzer.
Then again, Bylsma is one coach that as of today and certainly for the foreseeable future does not have to concern himself with the gut-wrenching feeling one in his fraternity must have when he stops getting results and, ultimately, stops getting the opportunity to try to make things right.

Turris makes season debut for Coyotes

Friday, 12.02.2011 / 12:55 AM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- Nearly eight weeks into the season, Kyle Turris finally took the ice for the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.

The 22-year-old center, who missed the first six weeks of the regular season in a contract dispute with Phoenix management, made his season debut with the Coyotes against the Jets nine days after agreeing to a multiyear deal.
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Quote of the Day

Obviously a lot happened in a short period of time. At the end of the day, considering everything I went through, I really felt close to my teammates and I really feel like what we accomplished, I know we didn't win it all. ... I'm really proud of how we got there and what we did once we got there.

— Rangers forward Martin St. Louis to Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com