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(Page 170 of 288)
NHL Insider

Avs excited about potential second-half run

Monday, 01.30.2012 / 10:45 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – The Colorado Avalanche are about to begin what they hope will be a successful stretch run to the playoffs, starting with Tuesday night's visit to Edmonton.

The Avalanche won nine of 10 games from mid-December through the first week of January to climb back into the Western Conference playoff race, but went 3-5-1 in the final nine games before the NHL All-Star break to fall one point behind eighth-place Minnesota with 31 games to play.

"We had a real good month in December," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said after practice Monday. "We were able to take advantage of our home games. January was a grind and I think we were able to come out of it somewhat successful. I think the guys for the most part have responded well; they played hard and we battled our way back into the thick of things. We have a very tough and competitive conference.
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Wings, Canucks in control entering second half

Monday, 01.30.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Four of the top six teams in the Western Conference come from the Central Division. It's possible that for a second straight season Vancouver will be the only team from the Northwest Division to make the playoffs, although Minnesota, Colorado and Calgary are among the many competing for one of the final berths. The Sharks hold only a two-point edge on the Kings in the Pacific Division, but they have three games in hand.

Here's an analysis of each team in the Western Conference in order of where they are in the standings coming out of the All-Star break, complete with all the pertinent details:


The Red Wings lead the race for the Presidents' Trophy. (Photo: Dave Reginek/NHLI)
1. Red Wings (67 points)

Record: 33-16-1
Non-shootout wins: 28
Games remaining: 32 (18 home, 14 away)
Significant injuries: Patrick Eaves (jaw)

Their 7-2 loss at Montreal notwithstanding, the Red Wings are in a great position coming out of the break. They lead the race for the Presidents' Trophy and have a significant amount of games remaining at home, where they've won 17 in a row, three shy of the NHL record. The Wings are 20-2-1 at Joe Louis Arena this season. The problem is they come out of the break with a four-game road trip, with games at Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Phoenix. The good news is only one of those teams (the Canucks) currently is in a playoff spot.
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Rangers will face tough battle for first place

Monday, 01.30.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The Rangers and Bruins are separated by two points at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. The Penguins are streaking and the Flyers are right in the mix as well. Washington and Florida are in a tough battle for first in the Southeast Division and third in the conference. Ottawa is still looking good despite a three-game losing streak. Several teams are fighting for the final few playoff spots.

Here's an analysis of each team in the Eastern Conference in order of where they are in the standings coming out of the All-Star break, complete with all the pertinent details:


The Rangers have won three of their last four games, including a 3-2 overtime win Jan. 21 against the Bruins. (Photo: Getty Images)
1. Rangers (66 points)

Record: 31-12-4
Non-shootout wins: 29
Games remaining: 35 (19 home, 16 away)
Significant injuries: Michael Sauer (concussion), Steve Eminger (shoulder)

The Rangers carry a two-game winning streak out of the All-Star break. They've won three of their last four games, including a 3-2 overtime win Jan. 21 against the Bruins. They open their post-break schedule at New Jersey and then head to Buffalo for a game Thursday. They then return home to play three in a row. February won't be easy as they play the Flyers twice within a week, then the Bruins, Capitals and Blackhawks in consecutive games. They also play the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
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Leafs' legend Bower predicts Leafs playoff berth

Sunday, 01.29.2012 / 5:23 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Among Maple Leafs' fans, there are few former players more revered than Hall-of-Famer Johnny Bower.

The iconic goaltender and World War II veteran was a key part of a Leafs dynasty that won three straight Stanley Cups from 1962 to 64. Since retiring in 1970, he's been a prominent presence at Maple Leafs games, but it's this year's team that has the 87-year-old legend particularly excited. So much so that he made a bold prediction to NHL.com.

"I think they're going to get into the playoffs this year," Bower told NHL.com. "They're a young hockey team and they're very entertaining. It looks pretty good. I certainly hope they keep them together without making any trades. But I'm just a bystander there. I don't know what [Toronto general manager Brian] Burke is going to do, but he's done a great job with the team."

That team, which currently features two of the League's highest-scoring players in Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, has Bower thrilled at the prospect of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which would be Toronto's first since 2004. But while the team's high-scoring offense has paced the Leafs this season, the former goaltender has been keenly following Toronto's situation in net.

With Jonas Gustavsson appearing to have wrestled the starting crease spot from James Reimer, goaltending will likely be key if the Leafs hope to make good on Bower's bold prediction.
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Center depth at heart of Chicago's trade for Morrison

Saturday, 01.28.2012 / 3:21 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

Brendan Morrison came at the right price tag for the Chicago Blackhawks and could potentially add the something the hopeful Stanley Cup contenders believe they are lacking.

Morrison, who was dealt to Chicago by the Calgary Flames on Friday night, is a proven NHL center who's not making a lot of money and could fill a glaring void in the middle of a star-studded second line.  He was acquired for a 25-year old defenseman playing in the American Hockey League.

Proven NHL centers already occupy three of Chicago's four lines. Captain Jonathan Toews centers the first line, Dave Bolland occupies the middle of the checking line and free agent pick-up Jamal Mayers anchors the fourth line.
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Jackets' owner: Howson safe, but changes are coming

Friday, 01.27.2012 / 11:38 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Columbus Blue Jackets majority owner John P. McConnell says he's as upset and disappointed as anyone by his team's place in the NHL standings.

It was a season that was filled with great promise, as the Blue Jackets spent big in the summer to trade for All-Star center Jeff Carter and sign defenseman James Wisniewski. Talk of the second Stanley Cup Playoff berth in franchise history was frequent.

"Everybody was looking forward to this season, myself included," McConnell told the Columbus Dispatch in an interview published Friday morning. "I think that makes the fall even worse."
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Gretzky shares All-Star memories on 'NHL Hour'

Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 7:53 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Just about every hockey fan knows Wayne Gretzky by his nickname, "The Great One," and is well aware of the fact there was no more prolific goal-scorer or point-producer in the history of the National Hockey League.

But in addition to being a nine-time Hart Trophy winner and a two-time Conn Smythe winner while lifting the Stanley Cup four times during his illustrious career, Gretzky also appeared in the All-Star Game in all 20 of his NHL seasons.

Gretzky, who's celebrating his 51st birthday on Thursday, reminisced about some of those experiences as a call-in guest on the "NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman."
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Alfredsson discusses draft strategy on 'NHL Hour'

Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 7:34 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Daniel Alfredsson has won the Calder Trophy, appeared in a Stanley Cup Final and scored more than 400 goals in his NHL career -- all of it spent with the Ottawa Senators, and most of it as their captain.

Thursday night presents a unique experience for Alfredsson, though, as he's responsible for putting together his own team for the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game, set to take place Sunday in his home arena, Scotiabank Place.

Hours before the Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft got under way, Alfredsson appeared on "NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman" to discuss his draft strategy as he goes head to head with Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, a former teammate and the captain of the team he'll be opposing.
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Unzipping the Jackets, Part I

Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 2:47 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com's Corey Masisak spent a week in Columbus with the Blue Jackets, reporting the inside story on a team with high expectations at the start of the 2011-12 regular season. Here is the first installment of his two-part report:

COLUMBUS -- Derick Brassard looked skyward, and the collective groan of fans -- the sound of anticipated elation quickly muted by frustration -- filled Nationwide Arena.
 
It was a familiar sound, a manifestation of feelings felt far too often here this season. The Columbus Blue Jackets, a franchise that entered 2011-12 desperate for success and fresh off a "this-is-finally-going-to-be-our-year" summer, were trailing the Nashville Predators by two goals on a recent Saturday when Brassard had one of the team’s best chances of the night to solve goaltender Pekka Rinne.
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Habs' Subban still going through maturation process

Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 11:56 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Que. – P.K. Subban has the visibility of a 10-year veteran, not the 22-year-old that he is.

Subban has already found himself in so many headlines and the topic of conversation on so many talk shows, it is easy to forget the defenseman is only in his second full season with the Montreal Canadiens.

Like most young players, Subban continues to go through some growing pains – a process that is further in the spotlight because the Canadiens are struggling as a team, as well. 
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Quote of the Day

I watched many times this year the series between the Russians and Canada in 1972, and he was a dominating player there. After I watched the tapes, I respect him a lot more because he turned the series around. He was the guy. In that time, he was the best in the world. It’s a big honor for me to tie him.

— Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr on scoring the 717th goal of his career to tie Phil Esposito for fifth on the NHL's all-time goals list after a 4-3 win vs. the Lightning on Sunday