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NHL Insider

Gretzky likes what he sees with franchises he played for

Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 6:21 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Wayne Gretzky is enjoying life as a hockey fan. The Great One watches games from his home in Los Angeles, and admires the players, the skill, and the parity in the National Hockey League.

"I think the hockey has been so good, and the players have been getting so good," Gretzky told Thursday morning from the Bellagio, where he is hosting his 10th annual Fantasy Camp. "When you can have 20 teams that can legitimately say they have a chance to win, some tougher than others, that's great. I think the hockey is very good right now."

Gretzky, though, keeps an especially watchful eye on four teams in particular. Yes, they are the four teams he played for in his illustrious career.

Zetterberg looks for answers to his goal drought

Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 7:26 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- Henrik Zetterberg isn't ignoring the obvious, nor is he ducking questions about it.
Henrik Zetterberg
Left Wing - DET
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 30 | PTS: 40
SOG: 168 | +/-: 6

The Detroit Red Wings forward now has just ten goals through 56 games after finding the back of the net Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oilers, and the whispers about it are getting louder outside the locker room. More often, fans and media alike have the same question in mind: What's wrong with Zetterberg?

The truth is, he wants to know too.

"I'm way past the frustration part or the thinking part," Zetterberg told after Wednesday's morning skate. "Now, I've just got to play. I've got to go out and play every game and not look at the stats and think, 'Oh, what if I do this or what if I do that? Maybe I will have a good year again.' You just go out and play the best you can."

In Penticton, 'Vee' stands for victory

Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 5:51 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Penticton Vees coach and general manager Fred Harbinson can say, with earnest, that he's now played a part in two of the most extraordinary winning streaks set in the British Columbia Hockey League.

The Vees, North America's No. 1-ranked Junior A hockey program, broke a 22-year-old league record on Tuesday when it notched its 30th straight win. It was a moment the fifth-year coach will always remember, particular since Harbinson played against the team that had held the previous mark of 29 consecutive triumphs -- the 1989-90 New Westminster Royals.

"I was playing for the Calgary Canucks in the Alberta Junior Hockey League in that 1989-90 season and remember going up against New West and losing and it's something, as an athlete, that you always look back on and it sticks with you," Harbinson told "When we started climbing and people began asking what the record was, I knew all along. I knew the team that had it and, as we got closer, our whole organization and our town got excited.

Avs seek points against similarly struggling Hawks

Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 5:58 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

DENVER -- Something has to give Tuesday night when two slumping teams, the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche, meet at the Pepsi Center.

The Blackhawks, playing the fourth game in a nine-game road trip, have been outscored 22-10 in a five-game winless streak (0-4-1) and have been outscored 30-17 during a seven-game road winless streak (0-5-2) since a 4-3 shootout victory at Minnesota on Dec. 14.

The Avalanche, playing the third game of a four-game homestand, have been outscored 12-8 in a five-game winless streak (0-4-1) and outscored 34-21 during a 3-7-2 slide since a 4-0 victory in Chicago on Jan. 6 that capped a streak in which the team won nine of 10 games.

Playoff atmosphere surrounds Panthers' visit to Caps

Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 3:32 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- After his team's practice Monday, Washington Capitals coach Dale Hunter said Tuesday's night game against the Florida Panthers was going to be "a playoff game."
After his team's morning skate Tuesday, Hunter made the same statement. It may have seemed incredibly unlikely six months ago, but the Panthers and Capitals will battle at Verizon Center in early February and first place in the Southeast Division will be on the line.

"I've got a veteran lineup. I've got guys that can count and read the paper," Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. "They know what the deal is. It's very simple. You look at our situation and we can talk and we can build up about tonight's game, but it is going to be the same thing Thursday and the same thing Saturday and Sunday. We're in a situation where every game has a large level of importance."

The Panthers have a one-point lead on the Capitals, and Florida also has a game in hand. They have also had an extra day to rest, with Washington losing Sunday afternoon at Verizon Center to Boston.

Washington has a collection of banners in this building to signify its dominance over the rest of the Southeast in the past four years. Florida hasn't made a postseason appearance since defenseman Erik Gudbranson was 8 years old.

Devils go for fifth straight in first trip to MSG

Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 1:30 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Of all the things that have Martin Brodeur excited about his first game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden this season, the renovated visiting locker room is what's piquing his interest the most.

Before the Rangers' home arena was upgraded during the offseason, the visiting room was notoriously dingy, so much so that it wasn't uncommon to see a cockroach or mouse slithering along the floor.

"It wasn't the best place before," said Brodeur, who will be in net Tuesday night against the Rangers as the Devils look for their fifth straight win since the All-Star break. "It'll be nice to see how they worked it out. It's got to be better. It's hard to make it worse."

The remodeling of MSG that bled into late October coupled with a scheduling quirk has the Devils making their first trip across the Hudson River later in the season than usual. The Devils began their four-game winning streak with a stirring 4-3 home win against the Rangers last Tuesday, sparked by a game-tying goal by David Clarkson off a lucky bounce in the final seconds of regulation and capped with an Ilya Kovalchuk goal in the shootout.

Western Canada struggles highlight Hawks problems

Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 12:25 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The natural beauty of Western Canada might be quite the tourist attraction, but it is safe to say that the Chicago Blackhawks aren't looking forward to their next visit there.

Chicago has dipped to the sixth spot in the Western Conference and fourth in the Central Division after going five straight games without a win. And, for the second time this season, Western Canadian teams are at the root of the problem.

The Hawks have gone just 1-4-1 in two three-game road trips to play the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames and were blown out twice by the sub-.500 Oilers at Rexall Place. The most recent undressing came in an 8-4 loss there last week, with Edmonton's Sam Gagner adding salt to the wound by making a name for himself with 4 goals and 4 assists for a jaw-dropping 8-point night.

Caps relish challenge of fighting for division title

Monday, 02.06.2012 / 5:14 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, VA. -- The Florida Panthers came to Verizon Center on April 5, 2008, and ended up with a first-hand account of the beginning of a Southeast Division dynasty.

Washington won that night, 3-1, and it was the final step in frenetic dash to a division title. The atmosphere in the building was electric and the ovation as the final seconds counted down reached decibel levels normally reserved for playoff games in most NHL arenas.

The Capitals will welcome the Panthers to Washington on Tuesday night, and they will be there trying to take another step toward ending that same dynasty. Washington has won each of the past four Southeast Division titles -- the previous three with relative ease.

"In my time since I've been here there haven't been that many," veteran forward Mike Knuble said of playing critical games in February. "At this time of year we've kind of been cruising and just waiting and not really involved too much in things."

That is going to change this season. The Capitals have scuffled since a 7-0-0 start and enter their Tuesday matchup one point behind the Panthers and in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

Capitals focused on winning without Laich

Monday, 02.06.2012 / 3:55 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Brooks Laich did not practice Monday with the Washington Capitals, and the team will learn the severity of his left knee injury after a doctor visit later in the day.

Laich was helped off the ice with eight minutes to play in the second period Sunday afternoon at Verizon Center during a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. He was hit by Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg behind the net, and left the arena after the game on crutches, with his knee in a brace.

"He was walking on it, so he was fine," Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. "He wants to play. He's day-to-day and it's not major, so it's just day to day and we'll see how he goes."

Laich has been a versatile stalwart in the Washington lineup during this era of great regular-season success. He has missed just four games in the past five seasons, and that was only because of a fluke bounce of a puck that caught him in the face during a practice.

Belfour enjoys outdoors, coaching sons in retirement

Sunday, 02.05.2012 / 12:59 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

DALLAS -- Before Saturday's game between the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center, the Stars honored Ed Belfour, a 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and key contributor to their only Stanley Cup championship team in franchise history.

"Winning the Stanley Cup in '99 was a dream come true," Belfour said in his remarks to a sellout crowd. "It was an unbelievable experience. I'll never forget it. So thankful for (former Stars GM) Bob Gainey for bringing me here and giving me an opportunity to play in such a great city."

But before the Hall of Fame netminder began his prepared remarks, the Dallas fans serenaded him with a rousing chant of "Eddie, Eddie," something which was a regular occurrence during his time with the Stars between 1997 and 2002.

During his 16-year NHL career, Belfour was a six-time All-Star, won the 1991 Calder Trophy and a two-time Vezina Trophy winner.
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Quote of the Day

I would definitely love to play with him. He's a skilled player and over the years he definitely has shown that he can score a lot of goals. I think it would work out well.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk on Alexander Semin