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NHL Insider

Canadiens face crucial weekend at Pens, Leafs

Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 6:52 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Que. – A Montreal Canadiens season that got off to the worst start in franchise history may be on the verge of coming to a premature end this weekend.

While the Canadiens would not be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention should they lose Friday night in Pittsburgh or Saturday night in Toronto, it would require a near-miraculous turnaround to book a fifth straight trip to the postseason should they come home with anything less than four points -- and the Canadiens know it.

"There's a lot of urgency because those teams that are in the final spots are the ones we're chasing," goaltender Carey Price said after practice Thursday. "If we're losing to those guys it means we're moving farther away, so these games are really crucial for us."

Hayes bringing more than just size to Hawks' attack

Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 5:30 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Not to put any pressure on a 19-year old prospect, but Brad Ross of the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks is getting a pretty steep bar to reach for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The reason?

That can be found in the Windy City right now wearing a large Chicago Blackhawks uniform with the name "Hayes" on the back. The owner of that big uniform is 6-foot-6, 221-pound Jimmy Hayes, a 22-year old power forward the Leafs selected in the second round (No. 60) of the 2008 NHL Draft.

He was traded to Chicago on the same weekend that Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman took his younger brother, Kevin Hayes, in the 2010 NHL Draft -- an unheralded deal that sent the 43rd selection of that draft to Toronto.

The Leafs took Ross with that pick, while Hayes came to Chicago and impressed right from his first summer prospects camp not long after the Hawks finished off their 2010 Stanley Cup season. Less than two years later, the older Hayes is in the NHL and starting to open some eyes around the League with his size, skating and skill combination.

Shaw's start has more than just Hawks taking notice

Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 4:58 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- How far has rookie Andrew Shaw come since last June, when the Chicago Blackhawks selected him in the fifth round (No. 139) of the 2011 NHL Draft?

Well, just eight games into his NHL career Shaw has 5 goals -- the last four in four straight games -- and his name is currently trending worldwide on Twitter under the hashtag "#Shawfacts," a spinoff of the comedic Chuck Norris-as-superhero movement already a few years in the running.

Go ahead and check it out for yourself. Andrew Shaw guarantees that you won't be sorry.

He's also been known to find a needle in a haystack blindfolded, speak fluent French … in German, get a thumbs-up from his reflection in the mirror every morning and have a "to do" list that says "Done."

Opposing coaches and goalies, however, are starting to wish that last one were true.

Injury woes a road bump in Oiler trio's bright future

Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 3:50 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- It has been a rough few weeks for the Edmonton Oilers on the injury front, and the past few days have been a microcosm of it.

Second-year sensation Jordan Eberle skated Tuesday and chatted with the media about his approaching return from a knee injury. Later that night, roommate and close friend Taylor Hall lost an edge during warm-ups and ended up on the wrong end of a scary accident when teammate Corey Potter caught Hall's forehead with his skate.

Eberle will rejoin the lineup Thursday for the Oilers -- the same day Hall met with the media for the first time since the incident and pictures of him proved a harrowing reminder of how lucky he was, all things considered.

Hall will be back soon for the Oilers, though, perhaps as early as Saturday. The third member of Edmonton's top line, rookie center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, is also injured but could be back by the end of the month after his left shoulder heals.

"We were playing well, our line in particular," Eberle said. "We had a lot of chemistry. We lost [Hall] to injury at first (Hall missed seven games with a shoulder injury in early December) and he came back, but then it was [Nugent-Hopkins] and then me -- it was almost like we were dropping like flies."

Peterson's Parkinson fight inspires Trotz

Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 9:53 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

It's been gratifying for Barry Trotz to watch his friend Brent Peterson get his life back. (Photo: John Russell/NHLI)
For the Nashville Predators' first 12 seasons, coach Barry Trotz and associate coach Brent Peterson were fixtures behind the team's bench. That changed this season, however, as Peterson's battle with Parkinson's disease worsened and he had to be shifted into a new role, as a hockey operations advisor, where he works with GM David Poile and Trotz, as well as being active in the community and in sponsorship and business operations.
 
He also established the Peterson for Parkinson's Foundation, which raises money to benefit Parkinson's Disease research, education and support groups.
 
"One of the reasons that he had to ultimately leave the (bench) is the fact that he couldn't go on the ice because he'd get locked up," Trotz told NHL.com. "He said I'm fearful for the players because I can't get out of the way and I may hurt someone, but I'm more fearful for myself because I can't get out of the way and I can't do my job the way I was hoping I could."

Trotz's influence remains foundation for success

Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 9:40 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz had a conundrum on his hands going into the 2011-12 season.
 
Coming off the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff-series victory this past spring, expectations would be raised. But to reach another level, he'd have to do so with the youngest team in the NHL.
 
How would he accomplish that? Trotz said even he wasn't too sure. Somehow, though, it's mostly worked in the Predators' favor as they currently sit sixth in the Western Conference, but just six points behind conference-leading Chicago.
 
It's a good place to be now, but Trotz told NHL.com that he wasn't feeling so good when the season started.

In tough season, Sanford a success story for Jackets

Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 6:59 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- Curtis Sanford entered a game Jan. 13, 2009, for the Vancouver Canucks after the New Jersey Devils had already grabbed an early 2-0 lead. Sanford replaced starter Jason LaBarbera, stopped 19 of 21 shots and kept his team in the game for them to stage a third-period comeback before an empty-net goal sealed a 5-3 defeat.

Pretty standard stuff, really -- except it wasn't for Sanford. Vancouver's franchise goaltender, Roberto Luongo, was ready to return from a groin injury. Sanford had been with the Canucks as Luongo's backup since the beginning of the previous season, but his own groin injury caused him to miss a few games just before that contest in New Jersey.

The Canucks needed a goalie when Sanford got hurt and chose to trade a seventh-round pick to Los Angeles for LaBarbera instead of calling up 22-year-old prospect Cory Schneider. Now with Luongo back there was a logjam, and on Jan. 14, 2009, Sanford was waived. The next day he cleared waivers and was sent to Manitoba of the American Hockey League.

Weber, Suter focus on playoffs; contracts later

Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 3:00 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter said Friday he didn't anticipate signing a long-term deal before the League's trade deadline on Feb. 27. Suter made his comments during the 2012 NHL All-Star Media Day presented by Allstate.

Suter will be an unrestricted free agent following the season while teammate and fellow All-Star defenseman Shea Weber will be a restricted free agent for the second consecutive summer. Weber was awarded through arbitration a record-setting one-year, $7.5 million contract in August after he and the Predators were unable to come to terms on a long-term deal.

Trade has Bourque facing Backstrom-less Caps again

Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 1:22 PM / NHL Insider

Martin Leclerc - NHL.com Correspondent

"I don't feel good about what I did and I apologized, but I'm sure there will be some guys coming after me. It's a part of the game, it happens to guys all the time. You just have to be prepared to have every check finished on me and who knows, whatever else." -- Rene Bourque

BROSSARD, Que. -- The last time Rene Bourque faced the Washington Capitals, he left the game facing a near-certain suspension for elbowing center Nicklas Backstrom.

That suspension wound up being for five games, and Backstrom has not returned to action since that Jan. 3 contest.

Bourque was with the Calgary Flames back then and figured he would not face the Capitals again this season. But life in the NHL has a funny way of changing your plans.

Traded by the Flames to the Montreal Canadiens last Thursday, Bourque played his first game since the end of his suspension Sunday night.

GM Fletcher discusses Wild's slide in standings

Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 11:50 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

"It's a bit of a challenge with some of the forwards we have out of the lineup, but I think there's been encouraging signs. For us to be successful we have to play a strong team game and really play a structured defensive style."
-- Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher

PHILADELPHIA -- When Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher woke up on the morning of Dec. 17, he found his team atop the NHL standings with 45 points. One month later, he has a team on a precipitous slide that has seen it drop from its lofty perch to eighth in the Western Conference with 51 points, one point ahead of ninth-place Colorado.

On Dec. 17, the Wild lost a 2-1 shootout at home to the Islanders. Since that game, they're just 2-9-3, including a 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

So what's happened?
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Quote of the Day

I think when you build a team, you look at pairs, and I think the pair of [Voracek and Giroux] is very good, certainly one of the top pairs in the League.

— Flyers GM Ron Hextall on Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek after giving Voracek a multiyear extension Thursday