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NHL Insider

Rangers view loss to Devils as a 'wake-up call'

Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 11:20 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Consider it a wake-up call three weeks in the making.

On the surface, the New York Rangers have been cruising along without a problem in the world. Entering Tuesday night's game against the New Jersey Devils, they were perched atop the League standings, looking down on an Eastern Conference they've controlled since January with a mix of hard work and smart play that led to 91 points with the playoffs still more than a month away.

But below the surface, a storm has been brewing, and it finally knocked the Rangers off course.

Patrick Burke gets support for "You Can Play" project

Monday, 03.05.2012 / 9:02 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Sometimes, it's the simplest things.
For Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke, it was seven words that were part of a tribute to his late brother Brendan on the website that stuck with him.
Brendan Burke -- Patrick's younger brother and the son of Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke -- had revealed his homosexuality to his family in 2007, and then took his message public in 2009. Brendan was working toward spreading a message of tolerance and inclusion in the hockey world while working as a student manager and video assistant for the men's hockey team at Miami (Ohio) University when he was killed in a car accident in 2010.
In memorializing his brother, Patrick came up with seven simple words that just now are starting to resonate across the hockey landscape: "If you can play, you can play."

Carlyle getting accustomed to a new world in Toronto

Monday, 03.05.2012 / 6:57 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

ETOBICOKE, Ont. -- As if the 10 camera crews and close to three dozen reporters hanging on his every word Monday afternoon weren't enough, these days all Toronto coach Randy Carlyle has to do is turn on his cell phone to realize how many people are interested in his new job and his new home.

"I didn't realize that I had so many friends that had area codes 416, 905 and 647," Carlyle said, listing the three main area codes in the greater Toronto area, the three main area codes from where he has received most of his text messages since the news broke late Friday that he was taking over as the new coach of the Maple Leafs.

Surging Lightning closing gap in playoff race

Monday, 03.05.2012 / 6:50 PM / NHL Insider

Lonnie Herman - Correspondent

TAMPA -- It isn't necessary to look too far back in order to see the depths to which the Tampa Bay Lightning had fallen.

In 2011, the Lightning had come within a game of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.

But this season, on Jan. 17, Tampa Bay was in last place in the Eastern Conference and in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. The Lightning had yet to win a game in 2012 and had fallen 12 points out of contention for the last playoff position.

They were dead in the water.

Leafs getting initiated to Carlyle's style on off days

Monday, 03.05.2012 / 6:00 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

ETOBICOKE, Ont. -- The Toronto Maple Leafs continue their chase for a playoff berth Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre. For the last two days, they've been going through training camp, Randy Carlyle style, here at Mastercard Centre.

After spending nearly 90 minutes on the ice Sunday, including the last 20 doing conditioning sprints, the Leafs were put through the paces again Monday for nearly two hours. They won their first game under Carlyle on Saturday in Montreal, but initiation to his drills, systems, expectations and his overall demanding ways came in the form of two ruthless practice sessions in a 28-hour span.

"For me (it is training camp) in some degree and for the players a little bit," Carlyle said during his 16-minute session with a large media contingent on Monday. "I don't think they spent an hour and a half or close to two hours on the ice back to back in days, but that's all part of the learning curve that we feel is necessary to get our message (across) and to sell our program to these players at this time."

The players say they're buying in. In reality, they don't have much choice with a playoff berth still within their grasp.

Red Wings' injuries mount, as Howard again joins list

Monday, 03.05.2012 / 4:11 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

There's never a good time for injuries, but the Detroit Red Wings are really pushing the envelope of late.

If it seems like most of the team is battling some sort of injury, it's because that's the case for almost half the active roster right now. The latest to go down is starting goalie Jimmy Howard (lower body), who won't be making the road trip to play against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night along with Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle), star center Pavel Datsyuk (knee), power forward Todd Bertuzzi (groin), forward Patrick Eaves (IR/concussion) and defensemen Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) and Jakub Kindl (upper body).

Howard, who still sports a bandage on the broken right index finger that kept him out for eight games, now has an injury that flared up in the first period of Sunday's 2-1 home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Macomb Daily sportswriter Chuck Pleiness tweeted Monday afternoon that Wings general manager Ken Holland said it was a groin strain.

"It's nothing serious and it's still day-to-day," said Howard, who made five starts after returning from the finger injury. "[We] got ultrasound on the injury and nothing really serious showed. [I'll] just get treatment here and get back as soon as possible. Nothing major showed."

Howard is hoping to be ready for Friday's home game against the Los Angeles Kings, but for the time being he's just another one of 10 Red Wings players who are either out of the lineup altogether or playing through various ailments.

Strong road trip has Blues' confidence rising

Monday, 03.05.2012 / 3:51 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- When the St. Louis Blues embarked on their latest trek around North America that encompassed 6,000-plus miles and six games, many pundits around the NHL thought it would be the defining stretch of games for a squad not accustomed to mingling with the upper-echelon of the League.

The question many had was whether the Blues could stand toe-to-toe with the best of the West or would they fall off with the rest of the pack.

After taking 10 of 12 points and winning five of the six games, it's safe to say the Blues (41-18-7) are for real and don't have any plans on vacating their current position of second in the Western Conference (first in the Central Division). In fact, the recent results only reaffirm their desire to fight for a Presidents' Trophy.

The Next Wave: Eastern goalies on brink of stardom

Monday, 03.05.2012 / 10:34 AM / NHL Insider

Justin Goldman - Correspondent

Every NHL team wants one, even though very few reach elite status. They take up tons of space, they intimidate and frustrate opponents, and they instill confidence in their coaches and teammates. They're being drafted on a more consistent basis, and they're also claiming more roster spots than in the past.

We speak of none other than the coveted "big" goaltender, of course.

So for this installment of The Next Wave, we focus on three beasts emerging from the Eastern Conference: Robin Lehner, Ben Bishop, and Jacob Markstrom.

These three prospects not only have the potential to be long-term NHL starters, but they all have a chance to be full-time NHL goaltenders next season. But which one is likely to have the biggest impact, and what makes these guys so special?

Injury woes continue to plague Red Wings

Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 10:22 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT – It was only a couple of weeks ago when the Detroit Red Wings were talking about how important it was to have experienced depth along the blue line.

In fact, that was the sentiment of both Detroit general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock after they landed 26-year old defenseman Kyle Quincey in a three team trade on Feb. 21 while in Chicago.

Earlier that same day, Detroit lost its star center Pavel Datsyuk for several weeks after he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery – which he's still rehabbing now. Goalie Jimmy Howard also made his return to the starting lineup that night against the Chicago Blackhawks after sitting out eight straight contests with a fractured index finger on his right hand, but all in all they were doing well from a health standpoint.

Still a Jacket, Nash continues to haunt Coyotes

Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 4:32 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The trade deadline has come and gone. Rick Nash is still a Columbus Blue Jacket.

The Phoenix Coyotes can't be any happier about that than Nash.

The Blue Jackets were unable to grant Nash's trade request, leaving him once again out of the playoff chase and in the familiar spoiler role in the Western Conference. Fighting for their first division title -- but needing points just to stay in a playoff spot -- the Coyotes face the Blue Jackets three times in the final 18 games of the season.
The standings would say that's a good thing. The scoreboard says otherwise. 

Exactly 40 points behind the Pacific Division leaders, the NHL's worst team rode a vintage performance from their captain, who scored two early goals and manufactured the clinching tally by Derick Brassard in a 5-2 win Saturday in Glendale.

He scored in the first period, schooling Ray Whitney on the rush and beating one of the league's hottest goalies, Mike Smith, cleanly to the far top corner for a shorthanded tally. He made it 2-0 in the second on another breakout, shrugging of a mauling from behind from Phoenix defenseman Chris Summers before jamming the puck home. 
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Quote of the Day

Yeah, I guess so. That empty-netter was pretty lucky, but I'll take it.

— Senators forward Mike Hoffman when asked if his two-goal game was a good way to celebrate his 26th birthday
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