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NHL Insider

Players try to rally EA Sports NHL '13 cover support

Friday, 03.30.2012 / 11:21 AM / NHL Insider

David Kalan - Staff Writer

Unfortunately for David Perron and T.J. Oshie, they were too good at hockey to become teachers. They probably don't mind that they've wound up in the NHL, but if one of them should wind up on the cover of EA SPORTS' NHL 13, that player will get a taste of what it's like to be giving lessons.

EA SPORTS announced this week that for the first time in the history of its NHL video game franchise, fans will get to determine which player is featured on the cover after whittling the selections from 60 to one. Those 60 players in the initial round of voting are comprised of two players from each team, with each set of teammates going head to head to make the round of 32 (which includes a pair of wild cards).

Perron and Oshie have been selected as the two representatives from St. Louis, and each made it clear Thursday he wants to be the winner -- and they're prepared to add some incentive for their constituents. Perron announced Thursday that if he winds up as the cover athlete for NHL 13, one randomly selected fan will win a 60-minute private skating lesson with him, in addition to various items of equipment that Perron has used, such as a jersey and a stick. Oshie quickly matched the ante.

Blues disappointed at failing to clinch

Friday, 03.30.2012 / 1:22 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The celebration of a division title was put on hold for the St. Louis Blues.

With a chance to clinch their first Central Division title since winning the Presidents' Trophy in 1999-2000, the Blues had an opportunity to knock another goal off their things-to-do list Thursday night.

The Chicago Blackhawks had other ideas.

GM Regier discusses Sabres' hot streak on 'NHL Hour'

Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 7:48 PM / NHL Insider

Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier, appearing as a guest on Thursday's "NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman," was asked if he was surprised at his team's ability to put together its current 14-2-4 stretch given its struggles with injuries and inconsistency for most of the season.

"Not totally, we did a little bit of it last year, but … yeah, I am, because you don't think you can do it two years in a row," Regier said, referring to the Sabres' 16-4-4 finish last season that allowed them to rise from outside the top eight in the Eastern Conference to a seventh seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

What the Sabres are bidding to accomplish over the next 10 days would be even more significant, however -- they were 10 points out of a playoff spot and occupying the East basement as recently as Feb. 17 but enter Thursday holding down the No. 8 seed. If they're still above the cutoff line after the final regular-season games on April 7, it will mark the latest point in a season a team has rallied from a double-digit deficit in the standings to make the postseason.

Flames know they need help to make playoffs

Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 7:12 PM / NHL Insider

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

CALGARY – Make no mistake about it, the Calgary Flames are putting out the distress call.
After falling three points back of a playoff spot with just four games remaining after losing five of their last six, the Flames have officially put out an S.O.S. In simpler terms, the Flames are still mathematically alive in the Western Conference playoff race after losing 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, but will need significant help from outside sources to keep their playoff dreams alive.

Emery honored to be Hawks' Masterton candidate

Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 3:36 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

Ray Emery
Goalie - CHI
RECORD: 15-9-3
GAA: 2.77 | SVP: 0.902
CHICAGO -- The look was one of surprise on Chicago Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery's face Thursday when informed by reporters that he was the team's candidate for the 2012 Bill Masterton Trophy.

The award is given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

The 29-year old Emery also was the Anaheim Ducks' Masterton candidate a year ago after returning to the NHL and leading them into the playoffs following a long and arduous comeback from a career-threatening hip injury condition called avascular necrosis. Blood flow was cut off to the head of his femur, leading to degeneration of the joint. It's the same injury that ended the career of two-sport star Bo Jackson.

Blues breaking records, but focused on task ahead

Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- A lot of franchise records were broken Tuesday night following the St. Louis Blues' 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators.

But in light of all the accolades the Blues and their players were able to bask in after an impressive victory, including a number of marks set by goalie Brian Elliott, the immediate goals are still clear: win a division title and claim the overall top spot in the NHL. They can aid a long playoff run gaining home-ice advantage, which the Blues have shown this season by winning a franchise-best 30 games (30-4-4).

The talk became something of a reality for the Blues (48-20-9) a few weeks back. But with so many games left on the schedule and a handful of teams right in the mix with them, the team didn't want to look too far ahead. Now, with only five games remaining and the Blues holding a two-point lead over the New York Rangers (105-103) overall and a four-point lead on Vancouver in the Western Conference, it's a serious reality and one they don't want to relinquish.

Hockey Cares benefits from growth of game in NJ

Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 4:54 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

When Jim Dowd was growing up in New Jersey, local youth hockey was essentially in its infancy.

Dowd became one of the first New Jersey-trained hockey players to reach the NHL, but the Garden State has become a more popular place to visit for scouts of NHL, NCAA and CHL teams in the past two decades since Dowd went from Brick High School to Lake Superior State and eventually, the New Jersey Devils.

"Back in the late '70s and early '80s, hockey was just starting to grow around here," Devils television analyst Chico Resch told "Rinks were just being built, and Jimmy was one of the first examples of what New Jersey-born and raised players could do. Now you're seeing it at all levels -- guys like John Carlson, Bobby Ryan, James van Riemsdyk. And not just them -- there are more kids playing Division I from here, too."

Jets coming to grips that playoffs no longer realistic

Tuesday, 03.27.2012 / 4:24 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

2011-2012 Standings

Eastern Conference

ROW = total number of regulation plus overtime wins. For tie-breaking purposes, wins obtained in a shootout are not counted. For full standings tiebreakers, click here.
03/27/12 4:27PM
WINNIPEG -- Sun, record-breaking high temperatures and dreams of the Stanley Cup Playoffs enveloped Winnipeg 10 days ago.

But the Jets and their fans only had a cold, damp rain and dashed hopes for spring hockey when they wiped away the sleep from their eyes following Monday's 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

"Today is a hard day for the players and the staff, too," Jets coach Claude Noel said as the club gathered at the MTS Centre for an optional practice 12 hours after the loss to Ottawa.

Back-to-back wins against Dallas and Washington had pulled the Winnipeg Jets to within two points of the Eastern Conference's eighth slot on March 17. But a sloppy home loss to Carolina the following night began the club's fall out of playoff contention. A 1-2-0 road trip followed before the loss to Ottawa that left the Jets a frustrated bunch as the last vestiges of postseason aspirations departed Winnipeg.

Belfour honored in Chicago

Sunday, 03.25.2012 / 8:03 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The "Eagle" was back on Madison Street wearing his old No.30 Chicago Blackhawks sweater and a couple chants of "Edd-ie! Edd-ie!" made their way around the United Center.

Eddie Belfour played parts of eight seasons among his 20-year NHL career in the Windy City, but the Hall of Famer started his career here and stayed long enough to be considered a Chicago Blackhawks legend.

Holmstrom gets surprising Masterton nomination

Sunday, 03.25.2012 / 4:56 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

Tomas Holmstrom isn't your typical Masterton Trophy candidate.

The award is given annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey -- and is often won by somebody coming back from a serious or life-threatening injury or illness.

Holmstrom doesn't have a major injury that he's coming back from, but you could make the argument that his entire body of NHL work through 15 years in the League (1,019 games and counting) has been relatively career threatening. He's taken countless hacks and whacks to his body while standing in front of the net and his knees -- which weren't great even when he was young -- have deteriorated more over time.

It takes a special kind of dedication to take that kind of punishment, which is one of the reasons the Red Wings have given Holmstom their 2011-12 nomination for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

"He's been part of the team for a long time, his perseverance is second to none," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We know what he's been going through with his bad knees. His knees weren't the best when he got here 15 years ago."
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Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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