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NHL Insider

Anaheim catches Chicago and 11 other predictions

Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 1:00 AM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

This truncated NHL season has provided plenty of surprises in the first half of the 2012-13 campaign, but there are also plenty of storylines that were probably expected.

How Chicago found its way to the top of the NHL standings may have been a surprise, but the Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins vying for a high playoff seed shouldn't shock anyone.

Now, trying to predict what is going to happen in the second half of this season is another matter. Injuries have played a huge part in where teams are in the standings, and to be certain some clubs will rise or fade based on health in the second half of March and in April.

With that caveat in mind, here are 12 predictions for the second half of the 2012-13 season:

Flyers need to find elusive answers quickly

Wednesday, 03.13.2013 / 11:57 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said he has run out of answers. His team is beginning to run out of time.

"To be honest, I have no idea what to say to you guys," Bryzgalov said to a gathering of reporters after the Flyers fell to the New Jersey Devils, 5-2, at Prudential Center on Wednesday. "Just tired [of] losing, tired [of] losing. I have no emotions right now, nothing to say to you. Just another disappointment."

There have been a lot of them this season, but perhaps none hit the Flyers harder than the one they experienced Wednesday night in the first game of a home-and-home set with the Devils that will conclude Friday in Philadelphia.

A look at 24 surprises during the season's first half

Wednesday, 03.13.2013 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

What's that saying again -- expect the unexpected?

Yup, that's it -- and that defines the National Hockey League on an almost nightly basis. This season has been no different.

While dissecting the current candidates for the various pieces of hardware and looking ahead to the April 3 trade deadline and the stretch run of a short season is what we normally do at the halfway point, it's only right also to look back at the biggest surprises of the season to date.

Here are 24 things you probably didn't see coming:

Continuing success vs. Flyers vital to Devils' season

Wednesday, 03.13.2013 / 1:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The winning feeling may have returned to the New Jersey Devils' dressing room at the perfect time.

The Philadelphia Flyers have become easy prey for the Devils of late and they are on the schedule for two games over the next three nights starting with the NBC Sports Network Wednesday Night Rivalry game at Prudential Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

New Jersey has won six in a row and eight of its past 10 games against Philadelphia, including both games this season and four straight in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season.

Bryzgalov: Flyers 'done' if they lose twice to Devils

Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 5:01 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

How important for the Philadelphia Flyers is the upcoming home-and-home set against the New Jersey Devils?

According to Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, they're the two most crucial games of the season.

"You win both games and you're tied with them and you have a good chance to continue to battle for the playoffs," Bryzgalov told reporters after the team's practice Tuesday. "You lose both games, you're done. You're done. That's it. This is it. This is probably reality. You'd be eight points behind … and not many games to catch up. It would be very, very difficult. It's not going to depend on you [if you lose two], it's going to depend more on other teams than you. That's the importance of these games."

Doing less has resulted in more offense for Subban

Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 4:33 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec -- A day after P.K. Subban signed a two-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 28, his teammates and coaches all went out of their way to mention how important it would be for the flamboyant young defenseman to try to fit in on a team that was off to a 3-1-0 start to the season.

Subban himself recognized he did not want to do anything to disrupt that early-season success, and from the time of his first game at home against the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 2, it was clear he was making a concerted effort not to do too much, to let the game come to him and resist the temptation to take off on the end-to-end rushes that had become his trademark and made him such a fan favorite in Montreal.

Simplifying his game and making the easy play are things two previous coaches had attempted in vain to get Subban to buy in to, but coach Michel Therrien and his staff appear to have succeeded where their predecessors failed, and the results have been impressive to behold.

Whitney return means more changes for Stars' lineup

Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 2:50 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent

DALLAS -- Back in January, Dallas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan talked about what he had learned from his rookie season behind an NHL bench, which ended with a 42-35-5 record and 89 points -- six out of a spot in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

At the halfway point of a 48-game schedule, the Stars are 12-10-2 (26 points), and enter Tuesday's game against the Nashville Predators 10th in the Western Conference, but only two points behind the eighth-place St. Louis Blues.

One thing Gulutzan has had to contend with thus far is not having a number of key players on the ice at different points this season, whether it was Jamie Benn missing the first five games due to a contract dispute or losing key veteran newcomers Derek Roy or Ray Whitney to injuries.

Caps need big week against Canes to close ground

Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 1:07 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- As the Washington Capitals prepared to open the second half of their season Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes, defenseman Karl Alzner thought back to a time when it seemed this part of the year was reserved for him and his teammates to bury their Southeast Division rivals.

"That's one of those things we always talked about in meetings," Alzner said, "that this is our chance to put some distance between ourselves and the teams below us.

"You'd usually try just a little bit harder against them to try to put them out of the race so you could focus on climbing rather than on who's coming up behind you."

Penguins' Crosby, Kunitz have become top duo

Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 12:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

For all the good that Sidney Crosby's incredible vision and unique playmaking skills are doing for Chris Kunitz's production this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain said he is the one who has become a more reliable and complete player as a result of following the lead of his linemate.

Chris Kunitz
Left Wing - PIT
GOALS: 17 | ASST: 19 | PTS: 36
SOG: 59 | +/-: 21

Call him humble if you want, but this isn't Crosby just tossing out a benign complement. Kunitz means too much to him for that.

"With any teammate, you want to make sure you're accountable to him," Crosby told NHL.com. "He [Kunitz] is going in on the forecheck and creating loose pucks, so if I'm the first one in I want to make sure I'm doing the same thing. You build that trust.

"He's just so dependable and that's contagious. When a guy is that responsible, you want to make sure you're following that up."

Entering their game Tuesday against the Boston Bruins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN), Crosby and Kunitz are the most productive duo in the National Hockey League this season because the chemistry and trust they have in one another is matching their combined skill and drive. It never was more evident than in Pittsburgh's 6-1 win against the New York Islanders on Sunday, when they each had five points, including a hat trick for Kunitz -- with Crosby assisting on all three goals.

Mixed emotions for Suter in his Nashville return

Saturday, 03.09.2013 / 4:19 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE – The Minnesota Wild arrived here early enough on Friday to get in a practice at Bridgestone Arena. That meant for defenseman Ryan Suter, who left the Predators in July as a free agent to sign with Minnesota, it was his first opportunity to step on the ice that he called home for his first seven seasons in the NHL.

Suter, a cool customer on and off the ice, said the experience made him more nervous than he thought it would.

On Saturday, he prepared to play his first game against his former team in his former city and the strange feelings abounded. For example, at a team dinner on Friday, his former neighbor coincidentally happened to be at the same restaurant and came over to Suter and tapped him on the back to say hello.

Suter said he has plenty of great memories from his playing days in Nashville, which included advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the last two seasons along with earning his first All-Star Game appearance last season. Also, in 2003 the NHL Draft was held in Nashville when the Predators took Suter seventh overall and a banner still commemorates the occasion.

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