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NHL Insider

Chu: Excited for title game on home soil

Saturday, 04.14.2012 / 11:12 AM / NHL Insider

Julie Chu - Special to

America's Julie Chu is blogging about the Women's World Championship for READ Julie's Second Blog
(Photo: Getty Images)

We spend a whole year training and preparing for the opportunity to play for a gold medal and [Saturday] we have that chance. So, it doesn't take a whole lot to get extra enthusiastic or excited for it. This is our time to be able to showcase the preparation that we've done all year long.

Canada is a great team and they've had some great games and done really well this tournament, also. We don't expect it to look the same as it did in our 9-2 win last Saturday. We're going to be prepared to come out and know that we are going to have to battle right from the start and play a solid 60 minutes of hockey if we want to be successful.

At the same time, I think our approach is really the same. They have great goaltending and they have a lot of skilled players so we want to make sure that we take the shifts one at a time, we have to get pucks to the net again with a lot of traffic in front of the goalies eyes. When we have an opportunity to capitalize, we have to make sure that we do, because I know on the other side if we give up too many opportunities they'll do the same. So, it should be a great battle and a great game. I think it's exactly what we want out of our championship, playing one of our biggest rivals at a sold out arena and hopefully getting a chance to come away with a gold medal.

Cheveldayoff will 'explore all options' to improve Jets

Tuesday, 04.10.2012 / 7:33 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets wrapped up their first season in Manitoba this past weekend, but general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff's chores are only beginning.

The Winnipeg franchise has missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for five consecutive seasons and owns only one visit to the postseason over its 12 seasons. The Jets finished 11th in the Eastern Conference this season in posting 84 points, their third-best finish in the organization's history.

But the League's fourth-worst road mark, a 26th-place finish in goals-against, and a bottom-third penalty kill doomed the Jets this season. An end to the season in which the Jets won only three of their final 10 games leaves Cheveldayoff with plenty of work this summer. Cheveldayoff did not provide specifics during his season-ending press conference Tuesday, but he repeatedly stressed the need for patience, including from himself.

Questions surround Flames this offseason

Tuesday, 04.10.2012 / 7:07 PM / NHL Insider

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

CALGARY – Three consecutive years without a playoff appearance leaves a lot of questions to be answered around Scotiabank Saddledome.

Despite eight consecutive campaigns with 90-plus points, the Calgary Flames are on the outside looking in yet again, prompting questions about the organization’s current ability to be a contender.

More so, Calgary's futility has prompted more discussion about more wide-sweeping changes than ever before.

Burke eyes trade market to improve Maple Leafs

Tuesday, 04.10.2012 / 1:54 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Brian Burke believes the Toronto Maple Leafs are too small and need to find a top-line center and goaltender during the offseason in order to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Leafs' general manager said Tuesday during a season wrap-up press conference in Toronto that he doesn't see a lot of answers to his team's problems via free agency, so he will undertake the roster re-tooling through trades during the summer. He believes that the team has the assets to acquire the needed resources.

Burke, who has had his position with the Leafs for four seasons, expressed particular displeasure over the Leafs' 8-0 loss on March 19 in which his team was pushed around by the bigger, stronger Boston Bruins.

"My view on how hockey teams are built and how hockey games are won has not changed," Burke said. "I still believe that big, physical teams win hockey games, and if you have two evenly-matched teams from a skill perspective, the bigger team's going to win. We need to get bigger. That's my top priority as far as an overall priority."

With the Florida Panthers reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, the Leafs now have the longest postseason drought of any team in the League at seven seasons. Burke said he hasn't slept in two months because of that, but as he has said in the past, the last thing he wants to do is construct a roster that's only good enough to claim the No. 8 seed and lose in the first round.

Jets: Bigger expectations to come next season

Sunday, 04.08.2012 / 7:51 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The equipment bags sat scattered across MTS Centre's home dressing room as the Winnipeg Jets said their early-April goodbyes.

The early departures have become a rite of April for the club. Sunday cemented that ritual further after the Jets finished their first season in Winnipeg anchored in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with a 37-35-10 record.

Andrew Ladd
Left Wing - WPG
GOALS: 28 | ASST: 22 | PTS: 50
SOG: 265 | +/-: -8
The organization has missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the past five consecutive seasons and has struggled to edge much beyond the 80-point mark in that span. With only one trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- a 2007 visit that ended with a sweep by the New York Rangers -- there is significant work to be done to move the club up from the League's bottom-third and make it a viable Playoff contender on a yearly basis.

"It's not acceptable to be sitting here doing this at this time of the year," Jets captain and two-time Stanley Cup winner Andrew Ladd said.

Boucher on Stamkos: 'It's just desire'

Sunday, 04.08.2012 / 1:27 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG – Steven Stamkos needed a run of 23 goals in his final 26 games to become the first center to hit the 60-goal mark since the 1995-96 season.

Stamkos managed just such a run, and he did it in the teeth of the Stanley Cup Playoff race for a Tampa Bay Lightning club that saw injuries decimate its roster and, ultimately, its postseason hopes.

Steven Stamkos
Center - TBL
GOALS: 60 | ASST: 37 | PTS: 97
SOG: 303 | +/-: 7
But Lightning coach Guy Boucher has far more to say about the work ethic of his 22-year-old star who became the 20th player to score 60 or more goals in one season than he does about the physical skill set that Stamkos possesses.

"What I like is that he just pushes always for more," Boucher said. "He just wants more all the time. It's never enough, and it's not the goals. He never has enough of getting better -- that's why he scores the goals. It's a by-product of his attitude, his work ethic, and his willingness to pay the price.

"It's not just about skill," Boucher continued. "Skill, in his case, is not the biggest [factor] in why he scores those goals. It's just desire."

Doan happy to see Coyotes finally win division

Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 11:49 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Much has changed about the National Hockey League since 1995, when Shane Doan broke into the League with the Winnipeg Jets.

For one, the Jets left town and became the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes have gone through myriad of changes in the front office, behind the bench, on their jerseys and even on where they've played.

Shane Doan
Right Wing - PHX
GOALS: 22 | ASST: 28 | PTS: 50
SOG: 226 | +/-: -8
Over that time, only two things have been constant -- Doan and the dearth of banners in the rafters of Arena.

Now, there's just one.

Phoenix's 4-1 win against the Minnesota Wild Saturday at Xcel Energy Center secured the first division title -- or title of any kind -- since the Jets/Coyotes franchise entered the National Hockey League 33 years ago.

Martin feels no bitterness toward Canadiens

Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 1:34 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

When Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier announced the firing of coach Jacques Martin on Dec. 17, the team was 13-12-7 and sitting 11th in the Eastern Conference.

Almost four months later, Gauthier no longer is with the club, which will finish last in the conference this season. The team is 17-23-9 for interim coach Randy Cunneyworth and will finish 15th in the Eastern Conference regardless of what happens in the season finale Saturday against the Maple Leafs. However, Martin is finding no joy in the team's failings since he was let go.

"It's unfortunate. You don't like to see a team that you're associated with lose," Martin said. "We're in the business of winning and I had the opportunity to build some relationships with some of the players in my two-and-a-half years here. I firmly believed we were going to make the playoffs. But I think injuries have been a big factor in their season this year."

Chu: US team ready for early showdown with Canada

Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 11:12 AM / NHL Insider

Julie Chu - Special to

It's been a whirlwind tour so far with the tryouts and the preparation, but it's exciting now that we're in Burlington and we're getting a chance to see the Douglas Cairns Arena and be in this environment and soak up everything about getting a chance to host the World Championships in our home country.

I think that for us, it's a very special thing. The last time we did it was in 2001. It was actually my first World Championship ever. I was just a starry-eyed kid, and I kind of point back to that moment a little bit and it's unreal to think that I'm still able to be a part of this incredible program and see how far we've come and see how far I've come as an individual.

Getting a chance to play at Gutterson Field House reminds us of the history of women's hockey. There were some great pioneers that came in the 90s and the early 2000s that really helped to pave the way and kind of created the environment that we all have the opportunity to play in now. It wasn't that easy. The resources weren't there.

Fatherhood helped Sharp, Howard deal with injuries

Friday, 04.06.2012 / 7:37 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- One is a goalie; the other has a dog named "shooter" because of his own scoring acumen.

One plays goalie for the Detroit Red Wings, while the other is a star forward for Detroit's Original Six rival, the Chicago Blackhawks. There are plenty of differences that separate Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard and Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp -- but this season they also have more in common than either one might realize.

Not only did both get off to great starts for their teams, but both also went through frustrating injuries that cut short some statistical benchmarks they were on pace to reach. Yet it's what happened off the ice that makes their situations kind of unique as Sharp and Howard prepare to face each other again on Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena (1 p.m., NBC, TSN2) to conclude the regular season.

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Quote of the Day

It's not just going to happen on its own. We have to have guys commit to the areas we need to improve on. We're going to be better than last year but there is still a long way to go. But I really like the pieces and where we're headed.

— Sabres forward Tyler Ennis on the progress of Buffalo's rebuilding process