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NHL Insider

New York is fitting spot for Crosby to return

Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 4:35 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby always seems to enjoy the big stage, the bright lights and the pressure that goes with playing important games, no matter the time or the season.
So how is this venue for his long-awaited return Thursday: Madison Square Garden, with Crosby's super-hot Penguins chasing the first-place New York Rangers?

Sidney Crosby on Broadway -- how fitting.
Crosby's second comeback game of the season would have drawn considerable attention no matter where or when it was played. But the circumstances -- virtually a must-win game for the Penguins if they are to catch the Rangers in the Eastern Conference -- make it bigger still.

Five GMs return to entertaining stretch drives

Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 2:41 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The National Hockey League General Managers' meetings wrapped up just before noon Wednesday as the managers departed the Boca Raton Beach Club to catch flights taking them back to their respective teams.
Many of them were returning to a Stanley Cup Playoff race. Here are thoughts from five GMs with teams and players in the news these days:

Rangers enjoying start to seven-game homestand

Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 11:08 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

The comforts of home never have been so necessary for the New York Rangers.

In the midst of a three-game losing streak that was capped with a third-period collapse against the Blackhawks in Chicago, the Rangers started a seven-game homestand Sunday that has helped them get back on track. They have taken the first two games at Madison Square Garden, including a 4-2 victory Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The next game is perhaps the biggest one this season, with the hard-charging Pittsburgh Penguins coming to town Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2). The Rangers hold a six-point lead on the Penguins, who have won nine straight, for the top spot in Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

Shero excited for Crosby's return

Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 3:29 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby announced Tuesday that he would return for a crucial Atlantic Division contest Thursday against the New York Rangers.

While Crosby was delivering his long-awaited news to the media in Pittsburgh, Penguins General Manager Ray Shero was ensconced in a board room at the Boca Raton Beach Club, discussing the minutiae of potential rule changes during Day 2 of the NHL's GM meetings.

Have no fear, though -- the good news travelled fast.

Bolts' faint postseason hopes pinned on Tokarski

Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 11:24 AM / NHL Insider

Lonnie Herman - Correspondent

"There's always pressure. If you don't feel pressure you're not trying to get better and you're not pushing yourself. The playoff race is a fun environment and I want to help this team win."
-- Dustin Tokarski

TAMPA - Dustin Tokarski sits in front of his cubicle in the dressing room at Tampa Bay Times Forum. He sits ramrod straight with his head held high, as if attached to the ceiling by a string.
A remarkable posture, really, for someone carrying the weight of the Tampa Bay Lightning's season on his shoulders.
This has been a season like no other for the Lightning, and the catalog of troubles the club has faced has been well documented: A schedule which sent the team on the road for 11 of its first 14 games, injuries to key players and trades which scrambled the personnel and the chemistry.

Selanne passes Kurri on all-time scoring list

Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 1:43 AM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

DENVER Teemu Selanne wasn't in the mood to celebrate his latest accomplishment Monday night, passing fellow Finn and childhood idol Jari Kurri to move into sole possession of 19th place on the NHL's all-time scoring list.

The Anaheim Ducks' seemingly ageless right wing – he's 41 and in his 20th NHL season – collected his 1,399th career point with a power-play goal in the third period in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

Blues' PK on verge of history for effectiveness

Monday, 03.12.2012 / 5:22 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- For a team that's taken pride in its penalty killing in recent seasons, eyebrows were raised when the St. Louis Blues began 2011-12 on a down note.

The team allowed at least one power-play goal (seven in all) in the first six games of the season and 12 through the first 15 games, going 36-for-48 (75 percent). They were buried in last place in the NHL with no place to go but up.

Times certainly have changed.

When the NHL-leading Blues (45-18-7) lace up their skates against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, they'll have a chance to make some history. After killing off all eight Columbus power plays Sunday, the Blues have killed off 47 in a row. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the most consecutive kills by a team since the Washington Capitals killed off 53 straight during the 1999-2000 season.

Sharks can right ship starting in Edmonton tonight

Monday, 03.12.2012 / 1:33 PM / NHL Insider Staff

First, the good news for the San Jose Sharks: With 15 games left to play in the regular season, they hold at least two games in hand on each of the five teams immediately ahead of them in the Western Conference standings. And although they enter Monday's action sitting 11th, they could find themselves back in the top eight by night's end with a win in Edmonton and a Colorado loss to Anaheim.

However, the Sharks have plenty of work ahead of them as they finish a road trip with a pair of stops in Alberta, moving on after playing the Oilers to face one of their rivals for the final West playoff berths in the Flames on Tuesday. San Jose has posted a 2-8-3 record since Feb. 16 to not only relinquish the Pacific Division lead but plummet out of the conference's top eight altogether.

"Our performance is not where we want it to be and there's only one thing to do about it," General Manager Doug Wilson said Sunday in the San Jose Mercury News. "Go change that tomorrow."

Fortunately for the Sharks, there are still several weeks of tomorrows left with which to salvage a season that began with great promise but is now threatening to slip away. Wilson tweaked his roster during the offseason to add playmaker Martin Havlat and talented offensive defenseman Brent Burns from Minnesota, and after a slow start in October, the team began to hit its stride. The Sharks led the Pacific with 68 points, six clear of the ninth seed, when they traveled to face Tampa Bay. They lost 6-5 in overtime, and very little has gone right since.

Toews back on ice, return to game action uncertain

Friday, 03.09.2012 / 3:26 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

"You just try to stay positive with yourself and be optimistic about when you're going to heal and when you're going to recover and hope that when you do have good days that it's going to continue that way. The more you think that way, the better it is, I think."
-- Jonathan Toews

CHICAGO -- The good news for Jonathan Toews is he seems to keep making strides from what's believed to be a concussion that has kept him sidelined for eight straight games.

The bad news is he still doesn't have a definitive timeline for his return to action despite getting back on the ice the past two days -- working on his own Thursday and participating in the Chicago Blackhawks' morning skate Friday at United Center.

Toews will not play on Friday night when the Hawks host the New York Rangers, but met with reporters for the first time since leaving the lineup following a Feb. 19 home game against the St. Louis Blues.

In Toronto, long-term plan, impatient fan base collide

Friday, 03.09.2012 / 10:41 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TORONTO -- A once proud Leafs Nation is growing intolerant.

The dejected residents are chanting for coaches to be fired, using voices that were loud enough to actually work last week. They've gone from renewed hope and excitement after a strong start this season to despair and disgrace. They're another loss or two away from accepting the fact that for a seventh straight spring the ice at Air Canada Centre will melt soon after the regular season wraps up.

The most myopic may have already stuffed their Kessel and Phaneuf and Schenn jerseys deep inside a closet, afraid to wear them in public anymore.

The Maple Leafs are 12th in the Eastern Conference, five points removed from eighth with 15 games to play. They're 2-11-1 in the last 14 games, 1-2 since Randy Carlyle took over as coach, since President and GM Brian Burke admitted the "Fire Wilson" chants caught his attention.
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Quote of the Day

That's today's game. That's one of the things you have to deal with when you're a championship team. Guys are going to earn more money based on their performance and what they've achieved, [and] deservedly so. [Saad] falls into that category.

— Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Brandon Saad, who was traded by Chicago to the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason