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(Page 178 of 309)
NHL Insider

Devils' Zajac excited for return to action

Sunday, 03.25.2012 / 1:20 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Travis Zajac is back, and just in time for what he considers to be the best part of the NHL season.
 
Travis Zajac
Center - NJD
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 3
SOG: 16 | +/-: -2
Zajac, limited to eight games this season by a sore left Achilles tendon, will be in the New Jersey Devils' lineup Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, according to coach Peter DeBoer. Zajac had Achilles surgery in August, missed training camp and didn't play until Dec. 16, only to be sidelined again after playing against Ottawa on Jan. 2.
 
"Yeah, I'm pretty excited -- it's been a long year," Zajac said after being the last player off the ice following an optional morning skate Sunday. "It's probably the best time of the year to play hockey, the end of the year and the playoffs."
 
Zajac, 26, said it's been difficult getting over an injury that occurs, he joked, mostly to "basketball players and 40-year-old tennis players," but he is confident this is the time to return. The Devils have seven games remaining before the Stanley Cup Playoffs start.

Stars honor Skrastins in pre-game ceremony

Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 6:21 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent

DALLAS --The Dallas Stars honored a fallen former teammate on Saturday afternoon.

Karlis Skrastins, who played in Dallas from 2009-2011, was honored before the club's game against the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center. Skrastines was among those killed when a plane carrying Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL crashed last September.

"Obviously it was really tough to see his family, first time for me to get to see them after the tragedy. It was pretty emotional," Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "It was a nice gesture by the Stars honoring Skratch. I think we kind of dedicated our season right from the get go (to his memory). We all know he played with heart and passion. He was the kind of guy that never complained. He was just willing to do anything for his teammates."

Crawford works through struggles, regains place in Hawks' net

Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 12:53 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

Corey Crawford
Goalie - CHI
RECORD: 27-16-5
GAA: 2.75 | SVP: 0.904
CHICAGO -- The easiest way to tell when Corey Crawford is focused is just to watch the back of the net.

If no pucks are making the twine behind him ripple, odds are he's dialed in with a razor-sharp focus that lets the second-year Chicago Blackhawks goalie see the whole picture in front of him.

"Reading the play and seeing passing options and reading all that stuff ... everything comes together when you're focused and ready," Crawford told NHL.com on Friday. "I'm so focused [right now]. It just seems like right when I get in there the puck looks two or three times as big. That just comes with focus and preparation."

Malkin the main event in Radulov's NHL return

Friday, 03.23.2012 / 12:58 PM / NHL Insider

Slava Malamud - Special to NHL.com

Alexander Radulov scored in his comeback game for the Nashville Predators, but Evgeni Malkin still proved to be the main event in a 5-1 victory for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Nobody expected him to score a hat trick or something like that," Malkin said about his countryman afterward.

He was right, a hat trick was definitely not expected. It is unlikely that many expected Radulov -- who just came back to the NHL after a four-year absence and had a long flight, jet lag and an adjustment to a different type of hockey to battle through -- to get off to any kind of a fast start. Especially against a Pittsburgh squad which lately has resembled an unstoppable machine. Or against Malkin himself, arguably the absolute best player on the planet right now.

What Radulov could realistically be expected to do in this game was to get the blood going in his legs, learn the ropes of the Predators' system, and try to help his teammates in any way possible -- which is a reasonable goal for a non-conference road game. An attempt to make a triumphant return will have to wait for in front of the home fans in the next contest, Saturday against Winnipeg.

Radulov returns by scoring Predators' lone goal

Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 11:44 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- His game legs weren't quite there, and his body still hasn't quite caught up to his new time zone. It's been a furious week of change for Alexander Radulov, who has switched teams, leagues and continents in very little time.
 
What was very much in evidence in his first game with the Nashville Predators in four years was the scoring touch that made Radulov widely recognized as the world's best player who wasn't in the NHL.
 
The decision to play Radulov in Pittsburgh wasn't made until a few hours before the Penguins' 5-1 win against the Predators on Thursday night at Consol Energy Center. Only the day before, Radulov was being re-introduced at a Nashville news conference, and he managed only one practice and an optional morning skate before pulling on a Predators jersey again.

Radulov to make Preds' season debut tonight

Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 12:31 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent

Alex Radulov is widely considered to be the best player in hockey who wasn't already in the NHL. (Photo: John Russell/Nashville Predators)
PITTSBURGH -- Alexander Radulov couldn't wait any longer.
 
Despite a hectic week in which he finished the season in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, finalized an agreement to return to Nashville, was re-introduced at a Predators press conference and hastily took part in two practices, Radulov will be in the lineup against Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
 
An already intriguing game between the Predators and the Penguins became even more of a marquee matchup when coach Barry Trotz revealed Radulov would play. After a press conference Wednesday in Nashville, the team said it wouldn't decide Radulov's status until after the morning skate Thursday.

Now, he's in, jet lag and all.
 
"He's had a lot of travel. He lives eight or nine time zones away. I'm not going to judge him on what happens today," Trotz said. "He said he's enthused about getting back and just getting a feel for the NHL. If he can give us some good minutes tonight, we'll just see where he is condition-wise and speed-wise and all that."

Making playoffs only the first step for Rangers

Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 11:42 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- It's not that qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs isn't a worthy accomplishment; it's that the New York Rangers know there's so much work to be done before the end of the regular season.

The Rangers clinched a postseason berth with a 4-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Monday, making them the first Eastern Conference team to assure itself of a spot. They enter Thursday's games with a three-point lead over the Penguins for the top spot in the East, but have let a double-digit lead shrink to a point over the last month thanks to some inconsistent play on their end and outstanding play by the Penguins.

"There's no way you go into a season the way this League is and expect to be in (the playoffs)," Rangers coach John Tortorella said prior to Wednesday's 2-1 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden. "That's your goal -- to get in. We're happy we're in, but I just don't want that being the focus. We have a lot of things to do to try to compete in it. That's what I'm trying to say."

Girardi honored by Masterton nomination

Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 6:24 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Before this season, the undrafted Dan Girardi was known, if it all, as a meat-and-potatoes type of defenseman -- steady, reliable, not all that flashy and someone you might not notice during the course of a game.

Dan Girardi
Defense - NYR
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 26
SOG: 105 | +/-: 13
That changed during training camp when Rangers No. 1 defenseman Marc Staal was shut down with a concussion that wound up keeping him out for the first half of the season. The spotlight fell on Girardi to fill that void. Rangers coach John Tortorella bestowed the "A" Staal wore to Girardi, who had such a solid first half he was selected to his first All-Star Game.

On Wednesday, Girardi was honored once again, this time as the Rangers' nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

"It means a lot," said Girardi, who narrowly edged Staal for the nomination. "I feel like I'm an ideal candidate for the Masterton Trophy. I'm pretty excited. I really didn't know too much about it. I looked up a little bit today. When I woke up from my nap, my agent texted me and said, 'You're nominated.' I was like, 'Oh, all right. I'll take it.' I knew what it was, but I took a little deeper look and it means a lot to be nominated.

Predators get boost from Radulov's presence

Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 2:58 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Wednesday was not a typical day-after-a-loss practice for the Nashville Predators.

"We lost last night?" quipped defenseman Ryan Suter.

"Sometimes you add … and players are like, 'All right,' but they're excited. To me, that's the most exciting thing. He's brought excitement to that core group. It makes us better." -- Barry Trotz

Such was the energy that forward Alexander Radulov added in his first practice with the team in four years, after abandoning his NHL contract to play in the KHL. Nashville lifted the suspension Wednesday and Radulov will travel with the team later in the day for its game with Pittsburgh on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US). It has not been determined if he will play.

The high-scoring right wing practiced on a line with center David Legwand and left wing Patric Hornqvist, Nashville's leader with 24 goals. He also practiced on the team's second power-play unit with four forwards: Radulov, Legwand and Andrei Kostitsyn up front, with Sergei Kostitsyn and defenseman Ryan Ellis on the points.

As hinted by Suter, one of the team's leaders, the practice did not have the air of drudgery that such a session can take on after a loss in the 73rd game of the season.

Lidstrom hoping to return to Red Wings on Saturday

Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 1:27 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- The Detroit Red Wings could have their captain back for Saturday's home game against Carolina.

"A week ago out in L.A., when I skated out there, it was too sharp of a pain -- just that stabbing pain where I couldn't walk with my skate. That's a lot better. It still hurts turning and pivoting, when I put pressure on that point, but that sharp pain is not there like it was a week ago." -- Nicklas Lidstrom

They certainly need him.

Nicklas Lidstrom will miss his 11th straight game Wednesday when the slumping Red Wings play the Rangers at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2). He's been out while dealing with the pain of a bone bruise in his right ankle, but Lidstrom skated for the third straight day Wednesday and said he feels he finally has turned the corner in his frustratingly long recovery.

"I can pivot better today, skate and push a little bit more," Lidstrom said. "A week ago out in L.A., when I skated out there, it was too sharp of a pain -- just that stabbing pain where I couldn't walk with my skate. That's a lot better. It still hurts turning and pivoting, when I put pressure on that point, but that sharp pain is not there like it was a week ago."
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Quote of the Day

I first met him when I was 19 years old and he coached me for 13 consecutive years. I don't know how many athletes who have had that pleasure. Al Arbour was a man that left us not only feeling like champions, but left us with a lot of great memories that we can carry on through life.

— Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin on former coach Al Arbour, who passed away Friday at the age of 82