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NHL Insider

Penguins' Bennett healthy at last, showing potential

Sunday, 01.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

After numerous stops and starts in two-and-a-half seasons as a pro, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Beau Bennett is finally starting to show signs he might have been worth that No. 20 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft.

"He's had some [bad] luck, but it's going good now," Penguins center Brandon Sutter said.

The biggest question for Bennett is, will he stay healthy long enough to fulfill his promise and prove without a shadow of a doubt that he was worth being a first-round pick?

Bennett is a long way from that considering he's played 61 NHL games, including 35 in the past two seasons. But if he can stay out of the trainer's room and off the operating table, he should be an important part of the Penguins' push for another Stanley Cup.

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Unheralded Canadiens still among NHL's elite teams

Sunday, 01.18.2015 / 12:22 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens can be a difficult team to understand. They have been hovering around the top of the Eastern Conference for most of the season, yet the Canadiens are rarely mentioned among the elite teams in the NHL.

But here they are with a 28-13-3 record following a 6-4 win at home Saturday against the New York Islanders, who entered the game having won four in a row, including a big 6-3 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins at home a night earlier.

The Islanders were 6-1-0 this season playing the second of back-to-back games and had won their past four under those circumstances before losing to the Canadiens.

Prior to the game, Montreal talked about the opportunity to prove a point against a team that was getting the accolades around the League that the Canadiens felt they deserved but weren't getting.

"You want to earn respect across the League," forward David Desharnais said. "It's by beating those teams that you're going to do that."

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Blake's Kings legacy hits apex with jersey retirement

Saturday, 01.17.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles was another world to Rob Blake where he grew up about 2,400 miles away. He was a Toronto-area raised farm boy, and his life revolved around machinery and watching Wayne Gretzky.

That changed profoundly within three months in the summer of 1988. Blake was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings, and three months later he was a sophomore at Bowling Green when he and then teammate Nelson Emerson were sitting in their dorm room watching television. Gretzky had been traded by the Edmonton Oilers to the Kings.

To look back at it seems just as jarring to Blake.

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Ribeiro leads Predators' revival with own resurgence

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Robby Stanley - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- When forward Mike Ribeiro signed a one-year contract with the Nashville Predators last summer, many thought the best days of his career were behind him.

His four-year contract with the Arizona Coyotes was bought out after one season because of behavioral issues, according to Coyotes general manager Don Maloney, and his point production had slipped in each of the past two seasons.

Through the first half of this season, Ribeiro has silenced his critics, finding success on and off the ice. He focused on getting his personal life back in order in the offseason, and that was a big reason he decided to sign with the Predators in the first place. The media scrutiny isn't high here, and it's a good place to raise a family.

"It's been great," Ribeiro said. "It's pretty quiet, but it's more about work than anything else. It's a good fit for me, and the boys in the room have been great with me. I'm just happy to be here."

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Trotz returns to Nashville, where he instilled culture

Friday, 01.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Hockey players, coaches and front-office staffs often speak of instilling cultures. David Poile and Barry Trotz literally built one from scratch.

The Nashville Predators were in their infancy in the late 1990s, and as the franchise's first general manager and coach, Poile and Trotz set out to entrench an identity in a nontraditional market.

"When you have someone that's working alongside you for so many years, you certainly have to be on the same page in terms of your overall strategies and game plans," Poile said. "Our thought process in a nutshell was to make Nashville a hockey city."

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Blues hope Brodeur hasn't closed chapter in St. Louis

Thursday, 01.15.2015 / 1:46 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- While goalie Martin Brodeur takes a week to ponder his future, the St. Louis Blues hope the veteran comes back.

Brodeur, 42, was granted a leave of absence by the Blues on Wednesday and went back to his hometown of Saint-Leonard, Quebec to spend time with his family.

But the Blues, who host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, hope Brodeur, who has been relegated to being the No. 3 goalie, will remain with them moving forward.

"Yeah, selfishly, yeah," coach Ken Hitchcock said when asked about wanting Brodeur back.

"Kind of caught everybody off guard. We didn't know what was going on and still don't know what's going on. I've gotta tell you, him being here, man it was really helpful. It was helpful to every piece of this organization between trainers, coaches, players, management … he was a real helpful guy. He shared information that you just can't buy, you can't pay for. I'm hoping that whatever he decides with him and his family, that he comes back to us and we can help him a little bit maybe in something that he wants to do, but he can help us a bunch. Selfishly, we're hopeful that he does come back."

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'Fragile' Wild believe mindset needs to change

Wednesday, 01.14.2015 / 6:58 PM / NHL Insider

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO – The Minnesota Wild looked like they were on the rise in 2013-14. This season, things have been anything but hopeful.

The Wild have lost six consecutive games and 12 of the past 14. They're in last place in the Central Division and 12th in the Western Conference.

"I think we should stop referencing last year," Wild forward Zach Parise said. "We've been doing that way too much. We give up one, two goals and mentally right now, we quit. We've been fragile and we change the way we play. That's what's killing us right now."


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Canadiens use time off to change power play

Wednesday, 01.14.2015 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Being a hockey coach here is not always easy. In fact, it rarely is.

The Montreal Canadiens enter their game at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday with a 26-12-3 record and have been at or near the top of the Eastern Conference standings for most of the season. Yet the Canadiens have been consistently poor on the power play, and in Montreal, that one glaring weakness tends to grab a lot of attention.

Coach Michel Therrien made some changes to the power play Monday and Tuesday at practice, in personnel and system. Considering the power play has been consistently unproductive for more than a calendar year without any significant adjustments, it was not surprising this became big news, even without an explanation from Therrien.

"I'm not going to start analyzing the changes," Therrien said. "First of all, as a coach, you want to keep those things private. We're in Montreal, we're a big market. Practices are getting analyzed on TV, and it's not fun for a coach. You want to make adjustments, and you're watching the news and people are trying to analyze the new strategy that you want to have. It can be tough at times. So I'm not going to start to elaborate on the changes."

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Five things to watch when Capitals face Flyers

Wednesday, 01.14.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Washington Capitals battled inconsistency earlier this season while trying to get accustomed to new coach Barry Trotz, but it now looks as though they're going to be in the mix for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs right until the very end.

Trotz and the Capitals are 13-1-4 in their past 18 games (they've outscored the opposition 57-34 over that span) and have moved within two points of second place in the Metropolitan Division heading into this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Verizon Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA, SN1).

"I don't believe it's a hot streak," Trotz said. "A hot streak is when you're winning games when you're not supposed to. I think our consistency has been good. Our commitment and our detail have been good. We're not just a team having a good month."

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Goalie Holtby's confidence inspiring Capitals

Wednesday, 01.14.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Vingan - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. – When playing at peak performance, Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby oozes a steely confidence, each kick of the leg and flip of the glove accentuated with a subtle flair.

Coach Barry Trotz recognizes that self-assurance in goal, which has seeped into the mentality of Holtby's teammates.

"You have a strut, whatever you want to call it," Trotz said. "You have a little swagger. That's the one position in our sport that can do that.

"You see it with Braden. His play has been stellar and so has our play."

Holtby is scheduled to make his 20th consecutive start and franchise-record 26th straight appearance in NBC's Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Philadelphia Flyers (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN1). In his previous 19 starts, Holtby is 13-2-4 with a 2.09 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and two shutouts.

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Quote of the Day

It is really special. I had a lot of friends and family here tonight, and for my first [NHL] game in here it was great. I played here as an elementary-school player in the city championships and this was my first time back. It was a lot of fun.

— Toronto native Brandon Pirri after scoring 2 goals for Panthers in win at Maple Leafs on Thursday
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