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Stanley Cup Final
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NHL Insider

Buble has 'greatest day' of his life at Canucks practice

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 6:57 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Michael Buble's Christmas wish came early.

The three-time Grammy Award-winning singer, fresh from his appearance on "Saturday Night Live" this past weekend, had what he called the "greatest day" of his life when he joined his favorite team, the Vancouver Canucks, prior to Tuesday's practice at Rogers Arena.

After signing a one-day contract with the Canucks, he was on the ice for about 15 minutes -- including a face-to-face shootout showdown with goaltender Roberto Luongo. With the players tapping their sticks on the ice, Buble bore down on Luongo and shot blocker-side but hit the post and fell into the boards -- triggering laughter from everyone. 
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Quenneville: Oft-injured Pens still formidable

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 3:12 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Facing the star-heavy Pittsburgh Penguins often is one of the biggest challenges for any NHL team. Lately, though, the Penguins are proving to be beatable without captain Sidney Crosby on the ice.
 
Crosby will sit out his sixth consecutive game Tuesday when the Penguins oppose the Chicago Blackhawks, who went into the night's play with a five-game winning streak and an NHL-best 46 points. Pittsburgh, by contrast, dropped four of five games before beating Buffalo 8-3 on Saturday behind Evgeni Malkin's seventh career hat trick and five-point game.
 
The Penguins are 13-9-3 this season without Crosby, who has missed all but eight of their last 74 games dating to the first week of January. Crosby, coincidentally, has played only two career games against the Blackhawks, none since he last opposed them on Feb. 14, 2007.
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Hitchcock has Blues challenging West's elite

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- A changing of the guard in the coaching ranks after the season has already gotten underway presents its own unique challenges.

The incoming coach not only has to ask how can he change the culture of a team, but in doing that must also look at players individually and wonder what buttons to push in order to set the transformation process in motion.

When Ken Hitchcock stepped into the challenge of reforming the St. Louis Blues, the team was 6-7-0, floundering in 14th place in the Western Conference standings and playing stagnant hockey.

After Sunday night's 6-4 come-from-behind win over Columbus, the Blues are 13-2-4 under Hitchcock and quickly making the trek up the conference standings, where they currently sit in fourth place, only four points behind Chicago for the No. 1 seed. It's been quite the resurgence.

In the post-lockout era, the Blues (19-9-4) have typically found themselves at the bottom looking up. They've made big pushes before, only to be on the outside looking in when all is said and done -- aside from the 2008-09 season, their only playoff berth in the last six seasons.
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College pals Stastny, Carle anticipate latest reunion

Monday, 12.19.2011 / 6:13 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- There will be plenty of good-natured bantering tonight when former University of Denver teammates Paul Stastny and Matt Carle skate onto the Pepsi Center ice.

Stastny, who is in his sixth season with the Colorado Avalanche, and Carle, in his seventh NHL season and fourth with the Philadelphia Flyers, played pivotal roles when Denver won a national championship in 2004-05, and they remain close friends.

"It's always fun playing against him," Carle said after this morning pregame skate. "He's always trying to joke around on the ice and stuff. I'm a little more serious when I'm out there and he's always trying to get a laugh out of me when we're playing against each other. It's nothing too serious, but he keeps it fun out there."
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Stars hope to beat Ducks as homestand starts

Monday, 12.19.2011 / 3:04 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- Even after a road trip that saw the Dallas Stars take three out of five games and six of a possible 10 points, captain Brenden Morrow was less than pleased with how it ended, a 6-3 loss at New Jersey on Friday night in Newark in the second game of a back-to-back.

But Dallas begins a three-game homestand on Monday night against Anaheim, a team that is 0-8-3 in its last 11 games away from home and is fresh off a 5-3 loss at Winnipeg on Friday to start a four-game road trip in disappointing fashion. Meanwhile, the Stars are focused on atoning for their poor showing against the Devils just three days ago in the Garden State.

"Yeah, it was a bit of a letdown. It could have been a great trip, 4-1 and going coast-to-coast like that would have been a big accomplishment," Morrow said. "A little flat in that Jersey game, had some time to rest and recover and think we're ready for tonight."
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Cunneyworth aims to make his mark on Canadiens

Sunday, 12.18.2011 / 12:32 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- If there is one major difference to be seen from Randy Cunneyworth's first game behind the Montreal Canadiens bench, it was the smile on Lars Eller's face.

No, Eller was not pleased that his Canadiens blew yet another lead at home in Saturday night's 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils. But when he was asked to address the amount of ice time he received in the game, he couldn't help but grin.

After pretty frequent benchings under previous coach Jacques Martin, Eller was the center who received the second-most ice time against the Devils, behind only Tomas Plekanec. His 18:25 included 2:22 on the penalty kill, a role he saw only sparingly under Martin -- and Eller was also used at even strength more than any other forward on the Canadiens.
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Crowd roars for Selanne from start to finish

Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 11:40 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets may have felt like guests at their own house party at times on Saturday night.

Anaheim Ducks star Teemu Selanne's first NHL appearance in Winnipeg in nearly 16 years has generated countless written words this week. Winnipeg hockey fans took every opportunity on Saturday night to roar their approval for the long-departed Winnipeg legend, who received ovations before the national anthems and his first shift as well as another round of cheers during the first television time-out early in the first period.

"It's a difficult situation to deal with that because you're in your home rink," Jets coach Claude Noel said, "and they're cheering for an opponent. It's almost like you've got mixed messages coming your way. I thought that early in the game, it almost looked like we were confused."
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Couturier taken to hospital for further evaluation

Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 5:36 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was at a loss for words when asked about the rash of head injuries his team has endured this season.
 
On Monday, the team learned leading scorer Claude Giroux would be out indefinitely with a concussion. Three days later, it was announced that Flyers captain Chris Pronger was done for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs with severe post-concussion syndrome.
 
Rookie Sean Couturier became the third player to be sidelined by a head injury this week after being hit in the head by a puck Saturday afternoon in a 6-0 loss to the Boston Bruins. Fellow rookie Brayden Schenn is also out with a concussion.
 
"You have to ask yourself, 'Are we in a bad stretch here?' " Laviolette said. "Is it some tough breaks where things are happening and guys are getting banged in the head? … It's a good question."
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City of Winnipeg ready to salute Selanne

Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 4:37 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG - The memories from Teemu Selanne's rookie season in Winnipeg cross all lines in the city's hockey culture.

Those memories weave all across the city's fervent fan base, through the media corps that covered Winnipeg's NHL days then and now and into the dressing room of the current incarnation of the Jets.

Selanne's 76-goal rookie season in 1992-93 still resonates deeply in Winnipeg, and his arrival with the Anaheim Ducks for a contest Saturday night at MTS Centre is perhaps the hottest ticket in town since the Jets' season-opener Oct. 9.

"There will be a lot of buzz in the building regarding Selanne," Jets coach Claude Noel said, "and there should be. He's had a great career, and we want him to continue having a great career after the game. For what he has done for a lot of things here, he has been a tremendous player in the League and still is."

Selanne's 132-point rookie season earned him the Calder Memorial Trophy and began a career that is now in its 19th NHL season. Remarkably enough, Selanne's 76 goals that season only tied him for the League lead, as Buffalo's Alexander Mogilny also posted 76 tallies.
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Selanne happy to bring family for Jets reunion

Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 1:28 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG – It has been nearly 16 years since Teemu Selanne last showed up in Winnipeg for an NHL game.

But Selanne and the Anaheim Ducks will play the Winnipeg Jets tonight at the MTS Centre in Selanne's first game back in Manitoba since Feb. 4, 1996.

Three days after that 1996 game, the original Winnipeg Jets shipped Selanne in a four-player trade to Anaheim, where he has since built a life with his family and further established himself as one of the all-time NHL greats. Selanne has recorded 900 points with Anaheim since the deal, while also making stops in San Jose and Colorado before returning to Southern California, and is the Ducks' all-time leading scorer.

Now Selanne is back in Winnipeg, and the Ducks made Selanne available to the media Saturday morning at a downtown hotel. The event allowed Selanne to venture back nearly 20 years to his days with the Jets.
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Quote of the Day

That's a really tough thing to play through; when you finally are thrown out there, the game is fast, intense, every single play matters, you've got to find a way to play through that and make smart plays. So it's a huge testament to [Vermette] and some other individuals in our locker room that are putting their own ego, their own wants and needs aside, and are ready for those opportunities when they do come.

— Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews on teammate Antoine Vermette, who returned from being a healthy scratch in Game 3 to score the double-overtime winner in Game 4