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NHL Insider

Ovi a little rusty in return

Saturday, 02.04.2012 / 7:46 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- This was not exactly the way Alex Ovechkin wanted to make the highlight reels off his grand return from a three-game suspension, but at least he was able to see the humor in his own rust.

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 20 | ASST: 19 | PTS: 39
SOG: 172 | +/-: -4
Ovechkin came off a 12-day layoff in the Washington Capitals' 3-0 win in Montreal on Saturday afternoon by playing 19:57, dishing out three hits but registering only a single shot on goal for just the sixth time this season.

However, it was a golden opportunity for a shot he passed up that had Ovechkin laughing at himself after the game.

In the second period, having beaten Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban to a puck deep in the offensive zone, Ovechkin was in prime position to shoot when he inexplicably passed it across to Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges, who simply turned the puck back towards the Capitals' end.

An Ovechkin at the top of his game would simply have wired it on net even if he thought teammate Alexander Semin was open on the other side. But a 13-day layoff meant Ovechkin wasn't exactly himself.

Jokinen has big (Mac) game

Saturday, 02.04.2012 / 6:58 PM / NHL Insider

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

CALGARY -- He's been retired since 1999, but No. 99 is still piling up the assists.

Olli Jokinen
Center - CGY
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 27 | PTS: 40
SOG: 148 | +/-: -1
Mired in a 15-game scoreless drought, Olli Jokinen turned to a piece of advice bestowed upon him by Wayne Gretzky during his tenure as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Jokinen was mired in a slump during the 2008-09 season when the Great One told him to get a little greasy.

"In Phoenix, I think I went 10, 11 games without a goal and he pulled me into a meeting and said ‘Hey, you take everything pretty seriously and you work out and your preparation is pretty good so maybe you should let it go a little bit and go have a burger and relax and maybe you'll get out of the slump'," Jokinen said.

"If the Great One tells you to go have a burger, you'd better go and do it, you know."

As Seguin's star rises, Boston embraces him

Friday, 02.03.2012 / 3:04 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. – The notoriety Tyler Seguin has around the city of Boston, and especially Bruins fans, continues to astound him even now that he's more than halfway through his second full NHL season.
The latest example of Boston's love for Seguin was during warm-ups before a game Tuesday night against Ottawa at TD Garden. Signs wishing the young forward a happy 20th birthday were being held up all over the building, by people of both sexes, folks young and old.
"In warmups I think counted 25, 26 signs in our end," said Seguin after the Bruins practiced at Ristuccia Arena on Friday. "It was a little unexpected. I was expecting maybe a few in the distance. But I guess it was nice to see. It's nice to see that there's true fans out there and I've never gotten so many birthday wishes as I did in that 24 hours, from even people on the streets and in the mall."

Season-saving path nothing new for Clemmensen

Friday, 02.03.2012 / 11:48 AM / NHL Insider

Alain Poupart - Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. — Between former Hart Trophy winner Jose Theodore and top prospect Jacob Markstrom, it was easy to overlook Scott Clemmensen in the Florida Panthers goalie group.

But as the Panthers begin their second-half push to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2000, it's Clemmensen who is manning the crease. And he is stealing points for Florida in the process.

Exhibit A: At Winnipeg on Jan. 21. Panthers were outshot 44-29 but pulled out a 4-3 shootout victory. Exhibit B: Home game against Vancouver  on Jan. 9 where Clemmensen stopped all 14 third-period shots he faced in a 2-1 victory.

Snow discusses Isles' future on NHL Hour

Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 7:44 PM / NHL Insider

It wasn't all that long ago when Garth Snow was stopping pucks for the New York Islanders, the final stop in a five-team, 12-season career for the 1987 sixth-round draft pick of the Quebec Nordiques.

Yet Snow is already in his sixth season as general manager of the Islanders, a position he was named to on the same day he officially announced his retirement. Snow, who earned an MBA from the University of Maine, said during Thursday night's appearance on "NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman" that being part of a front office had appealed to him.

"It was something that was always in the back of my mind if a hockey career didn't materialize," Snow said. "It was something that I had a great interest in, whether it was in management with a professional team or in college coaching or something in that realm. That was always something for me that when my career was done that I wanted to pursue."

Bettman addresses clock controversy

Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 6:44 PM / NHL Insider

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the controversial ending to Wednesday night's game between the Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets during his weekly radio show Thursday night.

Drew Doughty scored a power-play goal with :00.4 seconds remaining to give the Kings a 3-2 victory against the Blue Jackets on Wednesday night. While video replay showed the puck crossed the goal line before time expired, television replays indicated that the game clock stopped briefly with 1.8 seconds remaining before starting again.

"Not good, not acceptable -- if [the clock] had run straight through, the game would have been at a tie at that point, would have gone to overtime," Bettman said. "And maybe L.A. would have won anyway, maybe not. That's not the point. We are taking this very seriously. We're investigating as to how it happened. Obviously it's either human error or a technology glitch. We don't know which, but we've already begun investigating and we will get to the bottom of it."

Weight's transition to retirement an ongoing process

Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 2:08 PM / NHL Insider

Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent

Doug Weight is in a good place.

It is late morning, and he is dangling the puck on the bright, white ice inside RBC Center in Raleigh. High above him in the rafters hangs the Carolina Hurricanes' 2006 Stanley Cup banner. Weight played for that team, so stickhandling in the quiet arena is special -- a moment of basking in personal accomplishment.

At the same time, there are a couple of disconnects at work. Weight is long gone from the Hurricanes organization. And despite the display of skills, he is retired. He now conducts all his idle puck work in a New York Islanders warm-up suit, serving as an assistant coach and advisor to the general manager.

As Weight goes through his puck paces hours before the Islanders face Carolina that night, something is becoming clear. This man with more than 1,000 NHL points is not altogether comfortable without an NHL uniform.

"I'm still going through it, to be honest with you," said Weight, who retired last May at age 40 after three injury-plagued seasons with the Islanders. "I certainly don't want to play a violin because I've been lucky to play 20 years in the sport I love the most and make a living from it. But it's hard."

Hitchcock: Blues must reach next level down stretch

Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 12:26 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- After the Blues poured everything they had physically, emotionally and mentally into a 3-2 shootout loss to Pittsburgh in their final game leading into the All-Star break, players, coaches and even management looked forward to some rest and relaxation.

A number of them scattered, some even left the country to recharge and refresh the batteries and some chose to remain in St. Louis to allow the mind and body to heal -- because the Blues, who are 29-13-7 and just two points behind NHL-leader Detroit for the No. 1 overall spot, will return to the ice facing the daunting task of trying to keep pace with the impressive numbers they've put up so far.

"We're going to have some real battles, and if we want to be a good team, we're going to have to grow from our last two games (against the Red Wings and Penguins), because we're there, but if we want to beat these teams and we want to be a top team, we've got to grow," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who's 23-6-7 since taking over for Davis Payne on Nov. 6.

The Blues will have huge challenges playing 20 of their final 33 games away from the friendly confines of Scottrade Center, where they've compiled the most wins in the NHL at 21-3-4. Many of those battles will come against the teams they will have to jockey with for Western Conference supremacy.

Which prompted Hitchcock to proclaim, "We're as good or better than 22 teams in the League, but there's eight out there, they're big-time teams … big-time teams, and we get 'em, and we get lots of them and we get them in their building."

Brewers' Morgan practices with San Jose Sharks

Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 6:17 PM / NHL Insider

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE – Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan traded his baseball bat for a hockey stick and had his "dream come true" Wednesday when he practiced with the San Jose Sharks, his hometown team.

Morgan was born in San Francisco but spent most of his childhood in San Jose, where he played youth hockey and honed his skills to the point where he earned a roster spot for one season as a teenager with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.

"To be out there to skate with my childhood team, and just to be out there with the boys, was an unbelievable feeling," Morgan said.

Unlucky bounce costs Rangers a victory

Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 10:44 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- One bounce can change the fortunes of a hockey team. On Tuesday night, it turned a sure victory for the New York Rangers into one of their more frustrating losses of the season.

Devils defenseman Andy Greene launched a slap shot from center ice with goaltender Martin Brodeur on the bench for an extra attacker in the final minute. The puck rimmed around the glass and ricocheted to the slot, where it came to rest on the stick of a wide-open David Clarkson, who buried the tying goal for the Devils with 47.6 seconds remaining.

After a wild five-minute overtime, Ilya Kovalchuk scored the only goal in a shootout to send the Rangers to a 4-3 loss in front of a sell-out crowd at Prudential Center. A goal from Michael Del Zotto put the Rangers ahead 3-2 with 3:59, but one bounce marred a solid overall performance in New York's first game out of the All-Star break.

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