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NHL Insider

Ten April games you just can't miss

Friday, 04.01.2011 / 10:50 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

It's April Fool's Day, but the playoff races in both conferences are serious business. They still are scorching with 10 days left in 2010-11 NHL regular season as teams battle for position while others remain hopeful they can ram their way into the top eight with a sizzling finish.

Seventy-one games remain between now and April 10, and many of them have significant meaning. Here are the 10 games you simply can't miss over the next 10 days:

Preds' depth, team system has brought results

Thursday, 03.31.2011 / 5:49 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

"It's going to be tough (catching Detroit). If we put a few wins together and get on a roll, you never know, but our focus is making sure we get in (the playoffs)." -- Predators center Mike Fisher

DENVER -- There isn't a team in the NHL that more typifies the team concept than the Nashville Predators, who still have an outside chance of overtaking Detroit for first place in the Central Division.

"We don't have any big-time difference makers up front, dynamic guys where you go, ‘If you stop him, you stop that whole team,' " Predators coach Barry Trotz said Thursday morning at the Pepsi Center. "We have a lot of good players that can contribute."

With 92 points and five regular-season games remaining, the Predators are in seventh place in the Western Conference -- six points behind the division-leading Red Wings, whom they meet Saturday at what is expected to be a sold-out Bridgestone Arena.

Presidents' Trophy nice, but Canucks want more

Thursday, 03.31.2011 / 5:12 PM / NHL Insider

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- A win against Los Angeles plus a little help would clinch the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history for the Vancouver Canucks -- adding to a growing list of firsts for the club this season.

"It's not our main goal, but it's a goal along the way. It was good to clinch the Western Conference and to win the Presidents' Trophy, it's never been done (by the franchise). It would be a good thing for this franchise." -- Ryan Kesler

A Canucks win, coupled with a Philadelphia Flyers regulation loss to the Atlanta Thrashers, and Vancouver clinches the best record in the League. Making the accomplishment more impressive is that heading into Thursday’s games no other team had clinched a playoff berth in the Western Conference.

"It's not our main goal, but it's a goal along the way," Ryan Kesler said of the Presidents' Trophy. "It was good to clinch the Western Conference and to win the Presidents' Trophy, it's never been done (by the franchise). It would be a good thing for this franchise."

Vancouver returns to Rogers Arena in search of its fifth consecutive win. The Canucks have just two losses in their past 14 games and have three wins in their last five on home ice. 

Quick credits ice and luck with mysterious save

Thursday, 03.31.2011 / 2:24 PM / NHL Insider

It had been suspected Jonathan Quick had supernatural powers after his inexplicable save against the Calgary Flames last week, where the puck mysteriously changed direction and bounced away from an open net.

Quick finally admitted it Wednesday in Vancouver.

"It's no secret that I have mind control," Quick told the Vancouver Sun.

The Los Angeles Kings goaltender was just having fun with the save he made against Jarome Iginla, where the puck squeezed through his pads, skipped on the ice and made a hard right turn. It looked as if the puck hit an invisible wall.


Penguins-Lightning a likely first-round preview

Thursday, 03.31.2011 / 1:41 PM / NHL Insider

"It's pretty close to playoff time and I'm sure it's going to be a pretty intense game. But we aren't trying to send any kind of a message. We just want to play hard and play the way we play, and I think the results will come." -- Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier

There is plenty to be decided in the final weeks of the NHL season, but there will be a preview of a likely first-round series of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at St. Pete Times Forum on Thursday night.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, are in Tampa Bay to face the fifth-place Lightning.

"We know that we have a good chance of playing each other, so you definitely learn about each other," captain Vinny Lecavalier told Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune. "It's pretty close to playoff time and I'm sure it's going to be a pretty intense game. But we aren't trying to send any kind of a message. We just want to play hard and play the way we play, and I think the results will come."

Flyers looking to build on Tuesday's win

Thursday, 03.31.2011 / 1:30 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- The Flyers didn't sit back Tuesday in Pittsburgh the way they had been this month. Instead, they created a three-goal margin between themselves and the Penguins by skating hard, playing physical and keeping up their intensity for 60 minutes.

The complete effort earned them one of their most important wins of the season, but perhaps of greater value than the two points gained and the four-point cushion in the Atlantic Division was the lesson the Flyers learned in that 5-2 victory.

"It reminds us what we're capable of when we get going," Flyers defenseman Matt Carle told Thursday here at the Wells Fargo Center. "I think we had gotten away from that, and it was a friendly reminder that we needed. It was a huge boost for our confidence. We'll see how it plays forward (Thursday)."

The Flyers' challenge is to carry the momentum they gained Tuesday into the playoffs. They have six regular-season games remaining, starting here Thursday against the Atlanta Thrashers, who are one point away from being mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. The Flyers also play in New Jersey on Friday and at home against the Rangers on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN).

Bayside's Ghanbarian a true Ranger supporter

Thursday, 03.31.2011 / 1:29 PM / NHL Insider

Chris DiSanto - Contributor

As a teen, Nick Ghanbarian found himself drawn to a growing punk rock music scene. Green Day was his gateway to punk, which led him to discover bands like the Bouncing Souls and Bad Religion. Ghanbarian appreciated their do-it-yourself attitude and their devotion to the nitty-gritty work required to be a touring band. So, it's no surprise that now, working as a full-time touring musician, what Nick Ghanbarian likes most about hockey is the strong work ethic put forth by the grittier players in the game.

Sabres look to bounce back against Rangers

Wednesday, 03.30.2011 / 1:50 PM / NHL Insider

Juha Mikkola - Correspondent

"We have to understand the playoff race but put our best foot forward and just play hockey. (Our coach) has been really good with younger guys preparing our mindset going into games."
-- Derek Stepan

BUFFALO – Just two points separate the Buffalo Sabres, currently eighth in the Eastern Conference, and the seventh-place New York Rangers in a tight race for the final postseason positions.

When the two teams meet Wednesday night, the Sabres will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 4-3 loss to division rival Toronto.

"We gave up some pretty good opportunities and got off to a tough start and made some pretty big mistakes," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

Added Nathan Gerbe: "We have to put last night's game behind us." 

Parise pushing return back to Saturday

Wednesday, 03.30.2011 / 12:45 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Zach Parise's return to the New Jersey Devils lineup will have to wait.
Following New Jersey's optional skate Wednesday morning here at Prudential Center, Parise said he would sit out the club's next two home games against the New York Islanders tonight and Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers on Friday. Parise said he's hoping to give it a go Saturday at home against the Montreal Canadiens.
"I made the decision (Tuesday)," Parise said. "I thought the practice went well. Today was my fourth practice with the team but I just didn't feel comfortable hopping into a game at this time. Not that five practices will make much of a difference, but I thought one or two more would be safer."
Why Saturday?

Blackhawks know they need to be better

Wednesday, 03.30.2011 / 12:35 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOSTON -- Monday's match in Detroit was emotional for the Chicago Blackhawks. It was intense in a way only a true rivalry can be. Various people inside Joe Louis Arena either watching the game, covering it with a notebook or playing in it said it felt like the playoffs had come to Hockeytown two weeks early.

The Blackhawks responded with a 3-2 overtime victory that coach Joel Quenneville called the "most important win we've had at any point." It doesn't seem so huge anymore.

Twenty-four hours after leaving Detroit with a monster two points the Blackhawks left Boston disgusted, dejected and perhaps on the brink of a late-season disaster.
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Quote of the Day

It's time we got a break. People that have watched us, I'm sure they said, 'Finally, some things are going our way.' We'll take the breaks when they go our way.

— Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien after a 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday to snap a three-game losing streak
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