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NHL Insider

Rangers think they can be even better

Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 11:11 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Here's a scary thought for teams around the League -- the New York Rangers, who are the NHL's top team based on points percentage, have the potential to be better than they were against the Bruins on Tuesday night.

That's the stance coach John Tortorella and some players took following the team's 3-0 victory, a win that gave the Rangers a nine-point lead on Boston for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I wouldn't pay for the start of that game," said Tortorella, whose team scored twice in the first period. "I thought we played better in the second half of the first period, but then on, we end up with a 2-0 lead, but I don't think we mounted much from there. I thought we defended really well, but that's all we did."

Keenan hoping for one more chance behind bench

Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 2:39 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Mike Keenan works three part-time television jobs in order to stay abreast of what is going on in the National Hockey League today. The coach known as "Iron Mike" would give them all up for a chance to emulate what Ken Hitchcock is doing in St. Louis.

Keenan, who spoke to in Las Vegas during Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Camp, wants to coach again in the NHL. He remains hopeful that the opportunity still exists for him despite his age (62), his reputation as being hard-driving and relentless on his players, and the fact he hasn't coached since the 2008-09 season.

"I have enough energy and I've been exposed enough to stay on top of the game," said Keenan, who is an analyst for the NBC Sports Network, MSG Network, and Sportsnet. "The energy factor is a big thing. You have to be youthful thinking, enthusiastic and energetic about what you're doing. That was probably best exhibited in the National Football League (on Super Bowl Sunday)."

Keenan's motivation to coach again soared by watching the New York Giants' Tom Coughlin, 65, go head-to-head against the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick in Super Bowl XLVI.

Coughlin became the oldest NFL coach to win a Super Bowl when his Giants beat Belichick's Patriots 21-17 on Feb. 5. Belichick, by the way, is a few months shy of his 60th birthday.

How do East leaders measure up? Rangers vs. Bruins

Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 12:46 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

BOSTON -- In one respect, it's just another regular-season game between two of the League's better teams. On the other hand, the Rangers and Bruins meeting at TD Garden on Tuesday could decide if the Eastern Conference race will be a runaway or go down to the wire.

When these teams met here Jan. 21, the Rangers emerged with a 3-2 overtime victory to cement their status as the East's top team. The Rangers held a two-point lead on the Bruins for the top spot, but had played one more game.

Now, the gap is wider. The Bruins still hold a game in hand, but they trail the Rangers by seven points in the race for the East's top spot. A regulation win Tuesday for the Rangers would give them a massive nine-point edge.

Penner a purveyor of pancakes to benefit charity

Monday, 02.13.2012 / 3:38 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Dustin Penner normally would have been tucked away in bed the day after returning from a six-game road trip.

But on Monday morning the Los Angeles Kings winger was making rounds at a local International House of Pancakes.

Bleary-eyed and wearing a red apron, jeans, flip flops and a jack-o'-lantern smile, the 6-foot-4, 242-pound Penner wasn't exactly your typical IHOP waiter. Yet there he was signing autographs, posing for pictures, and, yes, serving flapjacks in the name of self-deprecating fun and charity.

Canes starting to thrive as Muller returns to Montreal

Monday, 02.13.2012 / 3:07 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- As a former Canadiens captain who raised the Stanley Cup here and as an assistant coach that many in this area credit for playing a large role in Montreal's run to the Eastern Conference Finals two years ago, Kirk Muller's return to the city Monday night behind the bench of the visiting Carolina Hurricanes will be the overriding storyline.

But that's exactly what Muller doesn't want.

"I don't want it to be about me, it's about them," Muller said of his Hurricanes players, a group that has collected points in 10 of its last 12 games (6-2-4). "We have a lot of things going right now as far as how we're playing, the style we're playing, the identity of our group, our top players are playing really well. So it shouldn't be about me, it's their time. It's a fun place to play, visiting teams love coming in here to play for a reason, it's a great hockey town. I just hope they play tonight the way they've been playing the last 15 games."

Special teams plague Caps in another road loss

Sunday, 02.12.2012 / 5:06 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The Washington Capitals made their first trip Sunday to the partially renovated Madison Square Garden. Their next visit here is on Apr. 7, and if they don't start playing better away from Verizon Center it might just be their last road game of the 2011-12 season.

Washington's struggles away from home continued against the Rangers in a 3-2 loss, their 18th loss in 27 road games this season.

"Everybody plays better at home," Washington coach Dale Hunter said. "Everyone's home record is better because you are in our building and you have the fans behind you. Our special teams aren't good enough on the road. If you look at our stats, they are way down on the road. At home, we are one of the best power-play and one of the best penalty-killing teams. We've got to work on the road on our special teams."

That may be true, but no NHL club has a wider gap in results depending on the game's location than the Capitals. Washington is 19-7-2 at home, which is the fourth-best mark in the NHL. The Capitals are also 9-15-3 on the road, and that ranks 26th.

No other team in the League has a bigger discrepancy between those two rankings.

McDonald returns to St. Louis lineup Sunday

Sunday, 02.12.2012 / 2:40 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- The long-awaited return to the lineup for Andy McDonald is over. The veteran forward will mark his return to the Blues' lineup when they host the San Jose Sharks tonight.

McDonald, 34, has not played since the third game of the season on Oct. 13, when he suffered a concussion at the end of the second period of a 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on a bit of a fluky play.

McDonald, who has two assists in three games, has missed the last 51 games but has been skating on a regular basis since Dec. 23 and has been deemed fit and ready to go.

"I'm excited. It's been kind of a tough recovery," McDonald said. "Obviously a long time, but I'm excited that this day is finally here. I'm looking forward to tonight.

"There were some levels I needed to pass. You do the neuro-psych, then you do the bike test and then you get on the ice and you skate on your own. Then you get into a practice with the team in a red jersey and get the red jersey off ... kind of all those steps along the way. Get bumped around a little bit in practice is probably the final stage. Getting hit for real tonight will probably be the last step."

Stars Look to Extend Kings' Road Misery

Sunday, 02.12.2012 / 12:35 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- Later today, the Los Angeles Kings will conclude a six-game road trip against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center. So far, the Kings are just 1-3-1 on this trip after a 2-1 overtime loss to the Islanders Saturday and have scored just six goals the entire trip.
Los Angeles (26-19-11, 63 points) will be facing a Dallas team (28-23-3, 59 points) that heads into tonight's contest after getting three of a possible four points in a quick, two-game trip to Columbus and Buffalo. The Stars fell 3-2 to the Sabres on Friday night in a shootout but still picked up a point in Buffalo and came within seconds of getting their first win in the second game of a back-to-back this season.
But now, Glen Gulutzan's club is squarely focused on extending the Kings' current road misery and scoring woes.
"Sounds like us (a team having problems scoring goals)," Gulutzan said. "They have a little bit of defensive identity in their game. We have to be defensively good against them and keep it tight against them. But they have guys that can score over there -- (Justin) Williams and (Anze) Kopitar and (Mike) Richards. They've got guys that can put the puck in the net."

Carlyle hopes to get back behind a bench soon

Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 10:04 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Having spent seven seasons behind the bench with the Anaheim Ducks, Randy Carlyle was used to seeing the NHL from one angle.

But since he was fired by the Ducks in November, Carlyle has gotten to see the game from an entirely different perspective while working as a scout for the team.

"I've done this before, just a long time ago, so it's not something new, but it is a refresher," Carlyle told prior to Saturday's Flyers-Rangers game at Wells Fargo Center. "The buildings are different, little bit different routes, but I'll spend here nine games on the road, catch eight games straight. That's all part of scouting."

Roenick joins Coyotes' Ring of Honor

Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 9:25 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Before a standing-room only crowd packed with Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks fans, Jeremy Roenick entered the Coyotes Ring of Honor on Saturday – but not before coming up with one more stunning effort on the ice.

He held his acceptance speech to less than the allotted four minutes.

Roenick joined former Coyotes teammates Keith Tkachuk and Teppo Numminen on the ring high above Arena and was presented with an array of gifts – including the special mask attachment he wore to protect his broken jaw in Game 7 of the postseason series against the St. Louis Blues.
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