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NHL Insider

Struggling Panthers ready for Markstrom era

Tuesday, 03.05.2013 / 2:13 PM / NHL Insider

Alain Poupart - Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Jacob Markstrom era has arrived for the Florida Panthers.

Long touted as one of the best goalie prospects around, Markstrom should be in line for his first extended action in the NHL with veteran Jose Theodore out 5-6 weeks with a leg injury.

Jacob Markstrom
Goalie - FLA
RECORD: 0-2-0
GAA: 3.05 | SVP: 0.915
Even Panthers general manager Dale Tallon acknowledged that Markstrom's time has come.

"You'd have to say yes," Tallon said Tuesday morning. "We've got a lot of confidence in the young man and he's got a lot of confidence in his abilities. He's big and strong. We were hoping to hold off a little bit, but let's go. Let's see if he can do it, and I'm very confident that he can."

With both Theodore and veteran backup Scott Clemmensen struggling, Markstrom was called up from San Antonio of the American Hockey League and started against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 22 and the Boston Bruins two days later.

Even though Florida lost both games, Markstrom acquitted himself quite well, stopping 59 of 65 shots. His save percentage of .915 in those two games was much better than those compiled this season by Theodore (.893) and Clemmensen (.859).

Wild excited for challenge of facing Blackhawks

Tuesday, 03.05.2013 / 12:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Occasionally in the regular season the excitement of taking on a unique challenge can motivate a team far more than simply thinking about the obvious opportunity to secure two more points.

Case in point -- the Minnesota Wild and what they're up against Tuesday night at United Center.

The Wild are the next challenger that will attempt to hand the Chicago Blackhawks their first regulation loss of the season. Oh sure, the Wild would take a win in overtime or a shootout because, first and foremost, they want the points, but the opportunity to snap Chicago's record-setting streak of 22 consecutive games to start a season with a point is the motivation now, the challenge they want to overcome.

Crosby, Stamkos wowing everyone -- even each other

Monday, 03.04.2013 / 2:58 PM / NHL Insider

Chris Adamski - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Steven Stamkos smiled sheepishly, a blush almost apparent. The affable Tampa Bay Lightning star was seemingly embarrassed he's being asked to weigh his game against that of Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby.

"To be compared in the same sentence to him is pretty special for me," the Tampa Bay Lightning sniper said. "I think I still have a long way to go and a lot of things to work on before you get mentioned with a guy like that."

When it comes to this season's National Hockey League scoring race, there aren't any other players more worthy of mentioning.

Blackhawks' streak draws admiration from Red Wings

Sunday, 03.03.2013 / 8:04 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- It takes one to truly appreciate one.

The Detroit Red Wings, who last season set the NHL record with 23 straight home victories, are the latest stunned admirers of the Chicago Blackhawks, who on Sunday again found a way to continue their tear through the Western Conference.

The Blackhawks' come-from-behind 2-1 shootout victory was 2:02 away from being their first regulation loss in 22 games (19-0-3), the longest such stretch to open a season in NHL history, but Patrick Kane's power-play goal assured the visitors of at least one more game with the run intact.

Kane also gave the Blackhawks a second point by scoring the deciding goal of the shootout and improving his team’s record in one-goal games to 12-0-3.

The Red Wings, like many other opponents this season, just shook their collective head about it afterward.

Goalie tandem key to Blackhawks' point streak

Saturday, 03.02.2013 / 6:30 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

It was supposed to be the biggest question mark for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Instead, the combined goaltending of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery is one of the biggest reasons Chicago (18-0-3) still hasn't lost in regulation, starting the season with 21 games with at least a point, the longest such stretch in NHL history.

The Blackhawks have the League's best goaltending numbers heading into Sunday afternoon's game against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), with Emery and Crawford combining for a 1.71 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.

Stamkos calls loss to Rangers 'embarrassing'

Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 11:36 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Steven Stamkos' frustrations were already building before he got to New York City. The effort he witnessed from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden sent him over the edge.

Stamkos pulled no punches with his comments about the way his team played in a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers, its third straight defeat, fourth in the past five games and ninth in regulation over the past 13 games.

The Lightning were outshot 20-3 in the first period, 35-11 after two and 42-25 overall.

"It's embarrassing, the first 20 minutes," Stamkos told seconds after tossing the final scoresheet out of his hands. "I mean, 20-3 in shots, we need to wake up. There's really nothing else. Our goalie kept us in the game, thank God, but it's embarrassing."

Staal felt he traded one 'brother' for another

Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 4:13 PM / NHL Insider

Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent

Jordan Staal
Center - CAR
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 15
SOG: 46 | +/-: -3

RALEIGH, N.C. -- When Jordan Staal and Brandon Sutter were traded for one another in June, it was Staal who drew most of the attention.

After all, the Pittsburgh Penguins center was about to join his brother, Eric, with the Carolina Hurricanes, setting up a solid one-two punch down the middle of the lineup. The trade also occurred on Jordan's wedding day, adding a bit of the surreal to an exciting story line.

Sutter's move to Pittsburgh, on the other hand, didn't cause quite so many ripples. It became a secondary story played out quietly. But while Eric was thrilled to welcome his brother to Carolina, he was disappointed it came at the expense of his "other" brother.

Hartnell's return gives boost to Flyers' top line

Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 12:01 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Hartnell clutched his black mesh laundry bag tightly in his hands as he swayed back and forth while backtracking toward the exit of the Philadelphia Flyers dressing room. He smiled, said three quick words -- "Everybody plays hard" -- and bolted through the back door.

Scott Hartnell
Left Wing - PHI
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 4
SOG: 21 | +/-: 1
After talking to the media for approximately five minutes following Philadelphia's 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, Hartnell simply didn't want to answer the last question -- and it's hard to blame him.

Hockey players don't typically like talking about how much they mean to their team, about how much they're worth, about how much the team misses them when they aren't in the lineup.

That's what was facing Hartnell late Wednesday night and he wanted no part of it.

The rest of the Flyers? They had no problem answering for Hartnell after a game in which he was front and center on the team's first two goals and played nearly 15 energetic, emotional, solid minutes.

Injuries leave Hitchcock's Blues in scramble mode

Wednesday, 02.27.2013 / 6:52 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Two days ago, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock would have said playing the Chicago Blackhawks is the exact challenge his team needs right now.

A statement like that would have had merit too. The Blues have gotten back to playing the type of hockey that was good enough for 109 points last season, the type of hockey that might be good enough to stop the Blackhawks' record-setting streak of 19 consecutive games with a point to start the season.

But then Andy McDonald and Alex Steen were both injured during practice Tuesday and Hitchcock's plan for conquering the challenge he has eagerly anticipated blew up.

McDonald is listed as week-to-week with a knee injury and Steen (shoulder) is day-to-day. The Blues, who are also playing without rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, have recalled Andrew Murray and Adam Cracknell from Peoria of the American Hockey League.

What they're saying about the Blackhawks

Wednesday, 02.27.2013 / 6:00 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The record jumps off the page.



In an era ripe with parity created by a salary-cap system that has helped crown seven different Stanley Cup champions and enabled 29 of the 30 teams to make the playoffs since 2006, the fact the Chicago Blackhawks still don't have a regulation loss this season defies what we have come to view as logic in the National Hockey League.

Yet winning, or at least pushing the game beyond 60 minutes, has become normal for the Blackhawks. It's almost expected of them.

Why is that? Why have the Blackhawks been able to do something at the start of a season that no other team in NHL history has done? Why are they entering Thursday's game at the St. Louis Blues with a chance to stretch their record for most consecutive games to start a season with a point to 20 games?

We asked around the League and got a variety of answers to the following question:

"What do you see when you watch the Blackhawks play?"

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Quote of the Day

Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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