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NHL Insider

Boudreau still getting used to new life on West Coast

Wednesday, 12.14.2011 / 1:41 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Bruce Boudreau uses two words to describe his transition to Anaheim over the past two weeks.

"Settling in," he told during a 15-minute phone interview Tuesday.

Boudreau figures he will be doing exactly that for a while as he adjusts to life on an unfamiliar coast, in a different conference, away from his family and the comfort zone he called home for four years as the successful coach of the Washington Capitals.

Wednesday's game against Phoenix at Honda Center will be Boudreau's sixth behind the Ducks' bench. He's won only one of his first five (1-3-1), a record that's making his transition from the Capitals to the Ducks even more challenging than it was going to be for a coach coming to a last-place team less than three days after he lost what was, for all intents and purposes, his dream job.

"I would have loved to come in here and won the first five games, and quite frankly a bounce here and a bounce there, we should have won four out of five minimum," said Boudreau, who won 202 games and four Southeast Division titles as the coach in Washington. "But the work ethic is there and the belief that we're going to win games is there."

Selanne looking forward to Winnipeg return

Wednesday, 12.14.2011 / 10:51 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

Whenever Teemu Selanne is on the road, he sees his past.

Sometimes he spots it from the team bus as it dips into the tunnel. Sometimes it walks right up to him as he makes the walk through the hotel lobby up to his room after the morning skate.

Other times he'll catch a glimpse of it during pre-game warm-ups, that quaint, retro-blue jersey staring back at him in the stands.

He doesn't have to look to see what's on the back of it."

Tkachuk fortunate to have been Selanne's teammate

Wednesday, 12.14.2011 / 10:31 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

It's one of those memories that always will make Keith Tkachuk shake his head in disbelief.

Tkachuk, who retired in 2010 and was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday in Chicago, was just 20 years old and playing his first full season with the original version of the Winnipeg Jets when Teemu Selanne, a 22-year old Jets rookie, scored a jaw-dropping 76 goals.

That mark shattered Mike Bossy's old NHL rookie scoring record of 54 goals and remains a record today. Selanne also added 56 assists that season, and his 132 points also remains a League record for first-year players. 

A more dedicated Kane prepares for his closeup

Wednesday, 12.14.2011 / 1:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp still has to remind himself sometimes that Patrick Kane is no longer the baby-faced prospect who burst onto the scene straight out of the junior ranks.

It's already been four-plus seasons since Kane scored 21 goals and added 51 assists for an impressive 72-point season in 2007-08 after the Chicago Blackhawks selected him No.1 overall in the 2007 NHL Draft.

Since then, the now 23-year old Kane has come much further in his career path. He's scored more than 20 goals and 70 points in each of his first four seasons, has eight goals and 23 assists in 30 games this year and also scored that memorable overtime goal in Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final in Philadelphia to clinch the Hawks' first championship in 49 years.

"I always think of Kaner as that rookie and that first-year player that burst onto the scene and was so explosive and exciting," Sharp said. "It's hard to believe he's played four years in between then until now."

Jets-Wild has makings of a great rivalry

Wednesday, 12.14.2011 / 12:47 AM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG – The Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets have sown the first seeds of a rivalry that will take full root next season with NHL realignment.

The two clubs are each other's nearest geographic rivals, with plenty of open highway connecting the two fan bases that roughly split somewhere among the open plains of North Dakota. Both teams will be part of a new eight-team conference next season, so they wasted little time on Tuesday night acquainting themselves with each other inside the cozy MTS Centre, a building tailor-made for heating up on-ice tensions.

"I think as you could see the two teams don't like each other out there," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said, "and I'm sure that the next one will be very interesting [on Feb. 16 at the Xcel Energy Center] as well."

Selanne not giving up on season

Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 4:36 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

Teemu Selanne maintains his positive outlook no matter how dire the situation, and this season surely is testing that optimism.

His Anaheim Ducks entered Tuesday's games 14th in the Western Conference and staring at huge odds to make the playoffs -- they're 11 points behind eighth-place San Jose.

"We've almost tried everything," Selanne said Tuesday in a conference call that was supposed to be about his return to Winnipeg on Saturday, but naturally veered in other directions. "A lot of nights a lot of things are missing. Confidence is the biggest thing. Our team is so fragile right now. One bad mistake and it's in our net … we still believe we have a good team and we can turn this around."

Richards helps Rangers, but Stars improved too

Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 3:51 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Is it possible the free-agent signing of Brad Richards was exactly what the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars both needed?

"It takes probably two or three guys up front to do it offensively, because you're not going to replace the points with one guy, because there's only one guy in free agency with that kind of reputation. So we did it with two or three forwards and we're doing things more by committee now than by individual guys. I think in the long run, it will pay off for us."
-- Glen Gulutzan, on replacing Richards

The Rangers have been among the League's elite teams since October. In 27 games, they have 38 points, one fewer than East-leading Philadelphia. Richards has been the veteran rock the youthful Rangers coveted this summer, posting 11 goals and a team-best 14 assists after signing a nine-year, $60 million contract during the summer.

Contrary to popular opinion after Richards left Dallas for New York, the Stars have managed just fine without him. They lead the Pacific Division with 33 points in 28 games, and at 2.54 goals per game, aren't far off the 2.71 per game they averaged last season with Richards centering the top line, flanked by Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn.

It is one thing for pundits to expect the Stars to take a step back, but captain Brenden Morrow had his reservations after learning Richards had signed with the Rangers.

"I guess initially that's what you think, is if that line is going to struggle," Morrow told as the Stars prepared to face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. "They were kind of the catalysts who offensively drove our team. When you lose a top center like that, you start to be a little concerned.

Flyers ready to step up in Giroux's absence

Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 3:18 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- Already without top defenseman Chris Pronger due to concussion-like symptoms, the Philadelphia Flyers announced Tuesday that top-line center Claude Giroux will be out indefinitely with a concussion.

Giroux entered Tuesday's games as the NHL's leading scorer with 39 points in 28 games. He also leads the Flyers with 16 goals and 23 points.

The 5-foot-11 forward left Saturday's game against Tampa Bay in the second period and did not return after being hit in the head by the knee of teammate Wayne Simmonds.

Neal stepping up as Penguins' go-to scorer

Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 2:50 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins traded for forward James Neal last season mostly to add a reliable goal scorer to star Sidney Crosby's line.
As it turns out, it is Neal's ability to score without Crosby in the lineup that is proving to be a major asset.
As the Penguins began this season under a cloud of uncertainty about when Crosby would return from a concussion that had sidelined him since early January, Neal carried them by scoring 9 goals in the first 13 games. Even without the NHL's marquee player, the Penguins went 8-3-2.

An unlikely group has Wild atop NHL

Sunday, 12.11.2011 / 12:24 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While the rest of the hockey world waits for the Minnesota Wild to start acting like the team predicted to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs by a country mile, the best team in the NHL is waiting to see just how good it can be.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that on a team with offensive stars like Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi and Mikko Koivu, grinding center Kyle Brodziak would have about as much of a chance of leading Minnesota in goals as the Wild would have of winning 17 out of 21 games. But after 30 games, both parts of that equation amazingly hold weight.

In Saturday's 4-1 win against Phoenix,  Brodziak scored his ninth and 10th goals, giving the Wild their seventh win in a row,  their seventh-straight road win and win No. 20 of the season – just 30 games into an improbable season for the State of Hockey.

Minnesota went to bed early Sunday morning with 43 points – four more than any team in the League and five more than any team in the West. The Wild are the first team to 20 wins – evenly split between home and road – and fun is following them wherever they go.
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Quote of the Day

We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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