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NHL Insider

Pavelec, offensive surge spark Jets to division lead

Friday, 02.24.2012 / 7:11 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- Since May 31, Winnipeg Jets fans have relished membership as an NHL city once again.

Now those same fans will have an opportunity to experience the day-to-day rollercoaster that is an NHL playoff race. With a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, their Jets (30-26-7) not only rejoined the top-eight playoff mix, but also finally took over first place in the Southeast Division and third place in the Eastern Conference for the first time this season.

"We should be excited," Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien said of his club that holds a one-point edge on the Florida Panthers. "It's a lot of fun to be in the playoffs. We should come to the rink everyday with smiles on our faces and be ready to go to work."

Red Wings' new energy line scoring and grinding

Friday, 02.24.2012 / 5:17 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- They might not have the four Stanley Cups of the original "Grind Line" in Detroit, but there's no mistaking the impact the Red Wings' third line "energy group" has had this season.

The Red Wings are still known and led by their European-born superstars, but their North American-born "grinders" on the third line are also making their presence felt.

The unit is currently comprised of Drew Miller on the left wing, Darren Helm at center and Justin Abdelkader on the right side, but features Danny Cleary at right wing when injuries don't bump him up to the second line. Regardless, Detroit's third forward group has become much more than just an "energy line," as the trio that played on Thursday night proved in a 4-3 shootout loss to Vancouver -- which ended the Wings' NHL record winning streak at an amazing 23 games.

David Poile talks trade deadline on 'NHL Hour'

Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 7:49 PM / NHL Insider

With nearly three decades as an NHL general manager -- first for 15 years with the Washington Capitals and then with the Nashville Predators since they came into the League for the 1998-99 season -- David Poile is surpassed in tenure by only four men: Jack Adams, Art Ross, Glen Sather and Conn Smythe.

Poile's contract was extended by the Predators earlier this week through the 2014-15 season, at which point he will have passed Ross and Smythe and moved into third place on the all-time list in years of service as a GM.

Arnott travels memory lane in visit to Nashville

Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 3:06 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Maybe the hockey gods didn't have it scripted for Jason Arnott to make his return to Nashville in a visiting uniform for the first time since being traded in 2010. But as the St. Louis Blues visit Music City for the third, and final, time in the regular season, it looks like a third time's going to be a charm.

Arnott will make his belated return Thursday night when the Blues and Nashville Predators square off in a key Central Division showdown here at Bridgestone Arena.

The 37-year-old missed out on his first opportunity because he was suffering from the flue when the Blues were first here Dec. 17. He also missed the last visit here 19 days ago after injuring his left shoulder the previous night in a home game against the Los Angeles Kings.

"It's always a little weird, but you always have great memories being here," said Arnott, who spent four seasons from 2006-10 with the Predators, three of them as captain. "I loved playing here, great city to be in. The game's changed so much in the past year with all the new faces over there, I don't know half of them. It's crazy how things change."

Espo returning to Russia for Summit anniversary

Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 5:09 PM / NHL Insider

Lonnie Herman - Correspondent

It’s been 40 years since Phil Esposito set foot in Russia, but this week he's returning to the scene of one of Canadian hockey’s greatest triumphs as the 40th anniversary of the Canada-Russia Summit Series takes place in Moscow this weekend.

"Maybe I'll re-enact the famous fall. I'll go on the ice and slip and fall on my butt and throw a kiss. That was a crazy moment." -- Phil Esposito

Originally, Esposito planned to sit out the reunion, telling reporters that he had "no desire to go to Russia," but recent events, including the passing of his daughter, Carrie, caused him to rethink his decision.

"I had a chance that if I went, my grandsons could join my wife and me in Russia," Esposito told "We'd get to spend four or five days with them and I thought, 'Wow, this is a great opportunity.' So I decided that I would go and I talked to (the people planning the reunion)."

Esposito -- currently a radio analyst and vice president of corporate relations for the Tampa Bay Lightning -- and his wife, Bridget, will leave for Moscow just five days after agreeing to go. 

Canucks try to snap Wings' home streak, nab first

Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 4:48 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

The stakes could not be much higher for a regular-season game when the Vancouver Canucks visit the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday (7:30 p.m., NHLN-US).

Vancouver, the defending Western Conference champion, sits just two points behind Detroit for the top spot in the West and the League itself. Then there's the matter of the Red Wings' League-record 23-game home winning streak being on the line.

With a 20-10-2 mark, the Canucks bring the League's best road record into the game.

Along with great plot lines, the game also has intriguing subplots.

Two-thirds of one of Vancouver's top forward lines are natives of the Detroit region -- Ryan Kesler (Livonia, Mich.) and David Booth (Detroit).

Booth finally gets chance to play at Joe Louis Arena

Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 2:36 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

There will be a lot of focus on streaks and Joe Louis Arena heading into Thursday's first-place showdown between the Canucks and the Red Wings. Vancouver forward and Detroit native David Booth has both in mind, but in a much different way.

For Booth, a Detroit native who grew up watching the Red Wings and saw them clinch the 1997 Stanley Cup from ice-level seats, it will his first game at The Joe in six NHL seasons.

"The Joe is the only arena I have never played in my career," Booth, who was 12 years old when he saw that Stanley Cup victory in person, told "I grew up watching the Wings with my family, even when I was in college, going to the games for the longest time. It was always special when we went down to The Joe and watched the Wings play. They have a great organization and it was great growing up with them."

That it took until career game No. 344 for Booth to experience Joe Louis Arena from the other side of the glass is a function of scheduling and bad luck – during five-plus seasons in Florida, the Panthers only visited twice and both times he got hurt shortly before the games. 

Comebacks, goaltending keep Detroit's streak alive

Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider Staff

1. Nov. 5 -- Red Wings 5, Ducks 0 | Recap
The start of the home winning streak was the end of a six-game slide. Nicklas Lidstrom scored twice and Jimmy Howard made 22 saves.

2. Nov. 8 -- Red Wings 5, Avalanche 2 | Recap
Johan Franzen had a hat trick as Detroit jumped to a 3-0 lead and never looked back.

3. Nov. 11 -- Red Wings 3, Oilers 0 | Recap
Jimmy Howard's third shutout of the season was supported by goals from Drew Miller, Niklas Kronwall and Valtteri Filppula.

4. Nov. 12 -- Red Wings 5, Stars 2 | Recap
It was 2-2 entering the third period, but Johan Franzen, Darren Helm and Brad Stuart scored for the Red Wings.

5. Nov. 23 -- Red Wings 5, Flames 3 | Recap
The difference was three-power play goals, two from Tomas Holmstrom and one from Pavel Datsyuk.

Capitals regroup after 'embarrassing effort'

Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 11:07 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

It's tough to find the words to describe just how poorly the Washington Capitals performed in their 5-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night, so perhaps it's best to let the owner do the talking.

"That was the worst game of the season; we came up small when we needed to come up big and win a game on the road," Ted Leonsis wrote Tuesday in his blog ( "Another wasted opportunity to get two points and move up in the standings. An unacceptable performance."

To a man, his players shared in that sentiment.

MacKenzie finds his niche in Columbus

Monday, 02.20.2012 / 5:37 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

Derek MacKenzie
Center - CBJ
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 11
SOG: 54 | +/-: 3
Derek MacKenzie said that like a lot of things that come out of the mouth of former Stanley Cup-winning coach Bob Hartley, the words were not easy to hear.

As a young player trying to break into the League with Atlanta, MacKenzie was often called up and then sent quickly back to the Chicago Wolves of American Hockey League. Between 2001-02 and 2006-07, he played 28 games with the Thrashers spread out over four seasons.

During one discussion after a demotion, Hartley questioned MacKenzie's identity as a player.
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