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NHL Insider

Special-teams woes, poor starts hamstrung Jets

Friday, 04.26.2013 / 10:50 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The Winnipeg Jets gave their fans a thrilling ride, going into the final game of the regular season with a chance at a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, a loss Thursday to the Montreal Canadiens became a moot point as wins earlier Thursday by the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators already had eliminated them from playoff contention.

That marks two seasons back in Manitoba without postseason action, and extends the franchise's streak to six seasons.

How did the Jets come so close only to fall so short? Here are five reasons why:

Dupuis a constant for injury-plagued Penguins

Friday, 04.26.2013 / 10:10 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

The Pittsburgh Penguins headed into the final weekend of the regular season having wrapped up the top seed in the Eastern Conference after sitting atop the conference standings for more than a month. They've done so despite making major changes to their roster through trades while seeing many of their top players -- including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Paul Martin and James Neal -- miss sizeable chunks of time with injuries.

Through all the line juggling and roster shakeups, there have been certain key players who have provided a consistent spark night in and night out, with Pascal Dupuis leading the way.

Pascal Dupuis
Right Wing - PIT
GOALS: 20 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 37
SOG: 139 | +/-: 30
"Over the past 20 games, Pascal Dupuis has been our best performer," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said before his team's game Thursday against the New Jersey Devils. "Looking at different matchups and different lineups, he's out there and playing a fantastic game and leading the way with our team and how we play."

It's an interesting distinction for Dupuis, whose career arc doesn't necessarily fit the mold of the Penguins roster. On a team with 10 first-round picks, Dupuis is one of just three undrafted players (along with Chris Kunitz and Mark Eaton) who has dressed in more than one game this year. And on a roster that has been ravaged by injuries, Dupuis has missed just two games during the past four seasons. That kind of consistency has been invaluable for the Penguins, especially when the team made four high-profile acquisitions before the NHL Trade Deadline.

Three Staal brothers start on same line for Hurricanes

Friday, 04.26.2013 / 1:55 AM / NHL Insider

Jared Staal
Right Wing - CAR
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 1 | +/-: 0

Jared Staal not only made his NHL debut on the same team as two of his brothers Thursday, he started for the Carolina Hurricanes on the same forward line as Eric and Jordan.

"You're not going to see three brothers start a game together, so it was fun," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller told the team's website. "I think the fans enjoyed it, the players on the team thought it was fun, and, of course, the Staal family.

"That's something they're going to remember the rest of their lives. We're in the NHL but we have to remember it's just a game sometimes and it's about living the moment. Stuff like that they'll remember the rest of their lives."

Sedins relish tougher competition, defensive roles

Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 4:19 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- On the surface, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin are having another down season as the Vancouver Canucks' top-line duo.

After taking turns as the NHL scoring leaders and taking home the Art Ross Trophy in 2010 and 2011, the Sedin twins are averaging a little less than a point per game for a second straight season.

They still lead the Canucks in scoring by a wide margin. Older (by minutes) brother Henrik has 44 points and Daniel isn't far behind with 40. But in a season when the 32-year-olds moved into first and second all-time in Canucks scoring, they have slipped further down the NHL season leaders.

Dig a little deeper into the statistics, however, and there is a different narrative to be found, one that highlights how much tougher this season really has been for the Sedins. Looking at advanced statistics available on websites including, Daniel and Henrik are playing the hardest minutes of their 12-year NHL careers, starting more shifts in their own end and against better opponents.

Ask the Sedins directly and they'll say it's their best defensive season.

"I think so," Henrik said. "I think we are more confident in our own end, getting back, breaking out, and I think that comes with maybe the coaches more putting us out there in those situations, where we need to focus on that. In the past, our only job was to produce, and if your only job is to get goals you might cheat a little more to get in the other end, and that's when it hurts you the other way."

Jets focused on win, but neep help to reach playoffs

Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 3:48 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets face a do-or-die situation Thursday when they play host to the Montreal Canadiens. And even if they "do," their Stanley Cup Playoff hopes still may die.

The Jets, ninth in the Eastern Conference, must defeat the Canadiens in their regular-season finale -- ideally in regulation, from a Winnipeg standpoint -- and hope that the seventh-place Ottawa Senators or the eighth-place New York Rangers do not win any of their remaining games.

"We know what we've got to do," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. "We need these two points to give ourselves a chance."

Just business for Bouwmeester as Blues face Flames

Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 3:00 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- If Jay Bouwmeester was emotionless after it came to fruition that he would be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in his 10-year career, facing his former teammates Thursday night surely won't faze him either, right?

Bouwmeester, who was acquired by the St. Louis Blues two days before the NHL Trade Deadline in a deal with the Calgary Flames will face the Flames for the first time when St. Louis (27-17-2) and Calgary (19-23-4) square off Thursday night.

"It's always different," Bouwmeester said after Thursday's morning skate. "I've had the experience of doing it in Florida, so it's not like it's the first time. Being on the road is a little different playing against the guys you were with. You make friendships, on the personal side of things, you make a lot of relationships. It's good to see everyone and all that, but once the game starts you just play the game. Guys play against each other all the time."

Karlsson's return creates excitement for Senators

Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 2:49 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean said if all goes according to plan, defenseman Erik Karlsson will skate 35 minutes and be named the game's No. 1 star Thursday against the Washington Capitals.

MacLean's comments were made with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but he can be excused for the over-the-top enthusiasm.

The entire Senators dressing room seemed to have a little extra jump after their morning skate Thursday as they prepared to welcome Karlsson back to their lineup with three games left in the regular season.

The reigning Norris Trophy winner has not played since Feb. 13, when he sustained a 70-percent tear to the Achilles tendon in his left leg during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Karlsson underwent surgery the next day and was expected to miss four to six months. Instead, the 22-year-old will return exactly 10 weeks after the operation.

"I've been feeling good lately and I think it's about time to play some hockey again," Karlsson said. "I think I'm good enough to play. I don't know exactly what percentage it is. Obviously it's not the way it was before, but it's still good enough to be able to play hockey and hopefully I'll show that [Thursday]."

Bruins need decisions on Krejci's line, defense pairs

Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 1:50 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- During the past couple of seasons, including the Boston Bruins' drive to the 2011 Stanley Cup, a line of David Krejci centering Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton has been a staple for the team.

During the condensed NHL schedule in 2012-13, injuries and ineffectiveness have forced coach Claude Julien to juggle all of his lines more over the course of the first 45 games than he usually would in an 82-game season.

That's left Krejci, who's typically regarded as the Bruins' No. 1 center, skating with several different combinations on his wing. His latest linemates are Lucic and Rich Peverley. Krejci is hoping he can build some positive momentum with any two wings heading into the postseason.

Petition aims to turn CN Tower into goal light

Wednesday, 04.24.2013 / 6:41 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

"I think goal lights are very important. They signify the hard work the team has done to put the puck in the net. It's unfortunate that only the people in the arena ever get to enjoy that. It's been almost 10 years since the Leafs have made the playoffs, so why not share that excitement of the goal light going off with the whole city?"
-- Toronto Maple Leafs fan Scott Booth

Toronto Maple Leafs fan Scott Booth was at a wedding the night his team defeated the Ottawa Senators to clinch its first Stanley Cup Playoff berth since 2004. When he heard the news, it gave him the opportunity to try to execute an idea he thought of weeks earlier.

"I overheard someone say, 'They won, they're in.' So I thought, 'OK, now I know what to do,'" Booth told "I woke up early the next morning and went to and wrote the petition."

The online petition, which can be found at, called for Toronto's iconic CN Tower to be converted into a giant goal light, which would glow red every time the Maple Leafs score during the playoffs.

Within 24 hours of Booth posting the petition, it had more than 3,500 signatures. By Wednesday evening, it had more than 16,000. That's short of Booth's goal of 50,000, but quite a total for four days.

Offensive struggles primary culprit in Coyotes' miss

Wednesday, 04.24.2013 / 5:58 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

Despite bowing out in six games to the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 Western Conference Finals, last season was a banner year for the Phoenix Coyotes, who won the first two playoff series since moving to the desert in 1996.

A number of factors conspired against the team this season, however, as the Coyotes missed the playoffs for the first time since Dave Tippett assumed the club's coaching duties in 2009.

So how does a team that was within two wins of the Stanley Cup Final miss out on the postseason a year later? Here are some of the reasons, as well a few nuggets of optimism for 2013-14.

1. Feast-or-famine offense

The Coyotes have never been known for piling pucks into the opposing net, but the 2011-12 team that made it to the Western Conference Finals was able to score with relative consistency. This season's edition, on the other hand, occasionally scored in bunches, but usually followed that surge up with an agonizing lack of offense.

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