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NHL Insider

Penguins lack home-ice edge vs. Flyers, top teams

Friday, 12.30.2011 / 12:06 AM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- April probably seems far, far away to the Pittsburgh Penguins right about now, with their season not yet halfway over. Yet they already have reason to worry about the Stanley Cup Playoffs they aspire to make -- and it's not just because they don't know when injured stars Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang will be ready to play again as they deal with concussion-related issues.
First, the Penguins simply have no home-ice advantage against the Philadelphia Flyers, the cross-state rivals who are directly above them in the Atlantic Division standings.
The Flyers are 4-0-0 the last two seasons in Consol Energy Center, where they play with visible confidence and, seemingly, not much trepidation. Their latest victory was a 4-2 decision Thursday night that gave them a two-point edge in the standings over the Penguins, who have gone 14 months without beating the Flyers in regulation.

Jagr shows his class against Pens in return

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 11:11 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH — He is nearly 40 now, and even he would admit that he is far past his prime; a level of brilliance matched by only a select few since his decline began. The legs don't quite churn up ice like they once did. The passes aren't all tape-to-tape specials. Not every shot is a top-shelf laser beam.
Say this about Jaromir Jagr: One asset he never lost is his showman's flair, the accomplished actor's penchant for the dramatic.
Give Jagr a special moment, a spotlight he can call his own, a reason to be far better than just good, and he is capable of turning back the clock and being – as he once was – the best player in hockey, if only for a precious few moments.

Jagr: Playing time factored in Flyers signing

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 3:11 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGHJaromir Jagr admitted Thursday that the safe decision this summer would have been to return to the Pittsburgh, where he won two Stanley Cups and was viewed as a hockey icon on a level only slightly below Mario Lemieux.
Maybe play 10-12 minutes a game on the Penguins' third line and see occasional power-play time.  Maybe score a few more goals, sail into retirement at age 40 or 41, then return in a few months to see his No. 68 raised to the top of the Consol Energy Center ceiling to join that of Lemieux's No. 66.
Only Jagr didn't want to play it safe.

Bruins march on in dominant fashion

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 11:17 AM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Boston Bruins lead the NHL in goals scored. They also lead the League in fewest goals allowed.

They own the longest winning streak in the league -- 10 straight back in November -- and if they follow Wednesday's 2-1 overtime win over the Coyotes with another on New Year's Eve in Dallas, they will also have the league's second-longest winning streak at eight games.

"We're playing with a lot of desperation, a lot of jump," Boston captain Zdeno Chara said. "We're capitalizing on chances we're creating and we're just taking what's given to us."

These 11 figures made biggest NHL news in 2011

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 10:40 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

There are dozens of headliners in the NHL every year, but many create stories that become big for a day, maybe two before they're forgotten. There are those, however, that create headlines that are so big and newsworthy that their stories live on for days, weeks, months and in some cases even years.
In 2011, there was no shortage of players, coaches, and executives that made news that shocked and rocked the hockey world. We've narrowed the list down to the 11 biggest newsmakers of the year.

Pens expect cool reception for Jagr's return to Pitt

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 10:19 AM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

"It's not the first time Jaromir Jagr has come into a building and hasn't been liked. Sure he's going to expect it, hear it. But there are players who hear the crowd and feed off it." -- Dan Bylsma

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins fans couldn't wait to fall in love with Jaromir Jagr all over again.
Just as they enjoyed watching a maturing Mario Lemieux mentor an immensely skilled but very raw Jagr in the early 1990s, they spent this past June imagining an older Jagr complementing their current-day superstars, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
They even dared to speculate that Jagr would enter his 40s the same way he ended his teens -- by helping lead the Penguins to the Stanley Cup.

Perry, Thomas, few surprises make All-2011 team

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

As we say farewell to 2011 and hello to 2012, now is as good a time as any to look back and see which players were at the top of their game during 2011.

After careful consideration, these are the three forwards, two defensemen and goaltender who excelled during 2011 calendar year in the regular season.

City of Pittsburgh braces for returns of Jagr, Talbot

Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 4:27 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- The city of Pittsburgh has changed a lot since the days when billows of smoke from blast furnaces filled the sky like dark clouds, but the passion of its sports fans remains.

Sporting heroes are exulted, and tales of where fathers were when Maz beat the Yankees or Franco's reception was immaculate are passed to sons as part of family folklore. That same passion applies to those who have become villains.

Just before Christmas a DJ for a local rock radio station read derogatory holiday-themed poems about Barry Bonds. He hasn't worn a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform in 19 years.

Bonds is the least-liked former player in this city, because baseball in Pittsburgh hasn't been the same since he left. That would probably make Jaromir Jagr, who will play in Pittsburgh for the first time Thursday as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, Public Enemy No. 2. 

Holding down playoff spot at Christmas a good sign

Saturday, 12.24.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Like most of its fans, the National Hockey League is off for the Christmas holidays. The 14 teams that reached the holiday not holding a playoff berth may want to use the time to regroup -- because history shows that while making the playoffs when you're outside the top eight in your conference on Christmas isn't impossible, it's certainly not easy.

Of the 16 teams that held a playoff berth one year ago, 13 still owned one when the season ended on April 10. That's just about the average during the past 10 seasons -- since the NHL expanded to 30 teams for the 2000-01 season, 128 of 160 teams (80 percent) that were in the top eight when the season broke for Christmas were still there at the end of the season. In addition, 12 of the 32 teams that were on the outside looking in were two points or less out of the top eight when they reached the holidays -- several had the same number of points but were below the top eight on tiebreakers, and others had better winning percentages but had played fewer games.

But if you favorite team has dug itself a big hole, keep the faith -- big comebacks aren't easy, but they can happen. The Buffalo Sabres were eight points outside a playoff berth last Christmas but rallied to finish seventh in the East. Since the shootout was adopted in 2005, only the 2010-11 Sabres and the 2007-08 Washington Capitals have overcome Christmas deficits as large as eight points to make the playoffs. Vancouver made up a nine-point deficit in pre-shootout 2001-02, the largest since the League expanded to 30 teams.

And having a big lead over the ninth-place team at the Christmas break is great, but it's still not a guarantee of playoff hockey. Last year's Atlanta Thrashers appeared to be in good shape for a postseason berth when the Christmas break arrived -- they were nine points ahead of ninth-place Carolina. But while the Hurricanes missed the playoffs, so did the Thrashers -- and the nine-point advantage they couldn't hold is the largest of the shootout era. The New York Rangers wasted a 10-point lead in 2001-02, again during the 30-team era but before the shootout was adopted. 

Newcomers on D give Rangers a lift

Saturday, 12.24.2011 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Anton Stralman
Defense - NYR
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 4
SOG: 10 | +/-: 7
NEW YORK -- John Tortorella was very blunt about his first impression of defenseman Anton Stralman.

"I didn't know who the hell he was when we got him," Tortorella said. "When I first saw him, I didn't like him."

Signing the 25-year-old Stralman on Nov. 5 was something of a necessity. The Rangers were carrying only six defensemen and were already without Marc Staal, who hasn't played a game this season due to complications from a concussion, and would eventually lose blueliners Michael Sauer, Steve Eminger and Jeff Woywitka to injuries in the weeks that followed.
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Quote of the Day

The last time I did it was 1994 and surprise, 20 years later it’s still working. I don’t do it very much, though. I don’t think I had it. I’m kind of surprised. It was probably because I went to church before the game.

Panthers veteran forward Jaromir Jagr on the move that produced his second goal in a 4-2 victory against the Senators on Sunday
AMP No Bull Moment of the Week