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(Page 217 of 259)
NHL Insider

Around the West: Jackets unable to gain ground

Friday, 02.18.2011 / 10:49 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Columbus captain Rick Nash is torn between feelings of elation and frustration. He's thrilled his Blue Jackets have fought their way back into the playoff chase, but discouraged because they've managed to pick up just one spot in the Western Conference standings despite going 8-3-3 since Jan. 14.

The Blue Jackets enter their game Friday at Chicago -- one Nash called "huge," as if that even needs to be said at this point -- 12th in the West and six points out of eighth. Columbus can tie Chicago for 11th with a regulation win at United Center.
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Wings legend Yzerman now focused on Bolts

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 8:13 PM / NHL Insider

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

After a Hall of Fame career as captain of the Red Wings, Thursday night marked the first time Steve Yzerman would face Detroit in any capacity. While most players or GMs with 27 years working in the same organization might dismiss any misty-eyed notions, Yzerman admitted Thursday that he didn't quite know what to expect as far as his own emotions were concerned when new team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, hosted the team he'd called his own since turning pro in 1983.

"We'll see when the game gets under way," Yzerman said on "The NHL Hour With Gary Bettman" prior to Thursday night's game at the St. Pete Times Forum. "I thought long and hard for weeks leading up to ultimately meeting with [Lightning owner Jeff Vinik] and talking about the position, and it was a difficult decision to eventually leave. But I felt like this is something I know I wanted to do. I want to pursue this and whether it's now or at some point I'm going to have to leave the organization to do that."
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Vrbata isn't streaky, just finally healthy

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 4:16 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Radim Vrbata doesn't consider himself a "streaky" player. However, his numbers beg to differ.

What there's no argument about, however, is when Vrbata starts lighting up the score sheet, the Coyotes usually ride the wave to success.

The Coyotes take a five-game winning streak into Thursday's game with the Atlanta Thrashers at Jobing.com Arena. During that streak, Vrbata has 4 goals and 6 points, including a four-game point-scoring streak that he carries into the game. But he doesn't think he's on a hot streak.

"I feel a lot better physically right now. All of late December and a lot of January I was affected by [a lower-body] injury," Vrbata said. "Now I feel like I have better jump and I can trust my body a little more. I can jump into the open holes and create something more.
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Oils aiming for first win streak since December

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 3:10 PM / NHL Insider

Robin Brownlee - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- As modest as a two-game winning streak might be, that's the goal for the Edmonton Oilers when they face the Montreal Canadiens at Rexall Place Thursday (9 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS).

Coming off a 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars Tuesday, the Oilers will be looking to win two games in a row for the first time since winning four straight from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4 when the Canadiens visit to open a three-game road trip.

"Putting wins together, that's been the problem this season other than on that one road trip," said Andrew Cogliano. "There's something different going on right now. After winning the last game, I feel like we're not going to be complacent. We're going to come out and play hard again. You can't just win one game and lose the next one. You don't get anywhere like that."
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Quenneville still hospitalized but in 'good spirits'

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 3:10 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

"I talked to Q late last night, after the game. We talked about the game. He watched the majority of it and he was very pleased and very happy about the game. I know he has some tests today, but he was laughing when I talked to him last night. He was in good spirits. He was joking and laughing on the phone, so it was good to hear." -- Mike Haviland

CHICAGO -- Joel Quenneville remains in a hospital undergoing tests for an undisclosed medical condition, but the Chicago Blackhawks coach is said to be in "good spirits" according to those who have been in contact with him.
 
As of Thursday morning, the Blackhawks had yet to release an update on the 52-year-old Quenneville's health, but a team official said there could be one coming later Thursday, depending when the test results are received.
 
Quenneville got a visit from Hawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen after Wednesday's 3-1 Blackhawks win against the Minnesota Wild, and he also spoke by phone with assistant Mike Haviland, the team's acting head coach.

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Recent hot play has Kings back in contention

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 1:45 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Go to any winning coach after a game in this League and you're likely to hear the same thing. Eventually they will point to goaltending and special teams as the two factors that led to the two points. Well, simple math suggests better goaltending plus winning the special-teams battle equals victory -- more often than not.

"Minnesota is winning. Calgary is winning. The teams around us are winning. Every night we need to be 100-percent focused and we need to bring that detail to our game, that hard-work mentality, in order to stay in this race because teams are winning." -- Jonathan Quick

The Los Angeles Kings have been the perfect case study for that grade-school equation over the last month and a half.

Their goals per game has stayed a solid 2.3 over their last 22 games, but their goaltending was woeful and penalty kill inconsistent over a 12-game stretch from Dec. 29 through Jan. 20, so they went 2-10-0 and fell out of the playoff race.

However, goalies Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier have been spectacular and the Kings' penalty kill nearly perfect over the 10 games since, so they're 8-0-2 and right back in the hunt. Los Angeles is ninth in the Western Conference, just one point behind the Calgary Flames, entering Thursday's game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).
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Ex-Thrashers teammates fueling Devils run

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 1:00 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"They signed me to be myself and I don't think they want me to be the Selke Trophy winner or something like that." -- Ilya Kovalchuk

NEWARK, N.J. -- At a time when the New Jersey Devils were reeling and just seeking an identity, longtime teammates Ilya Kovalchuk and Johan Hedberg stepped to the forefront to help provide some hope after a tumultuous start to the season.
 
Of course, a coaching change played a big part in that equation as well. Remember when the Devils were the League's cellar dwellers at 9-22-2?
 
That seems like ancient history right about now.
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Fittingly Brind'Amour's big night comes vs. Flyers

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

You get the feeling Rod Brind'Amour would prefer a workout bench, a couple of dumbbells and perhaps a treadmill by his side Friday when he becomes the third player in the history of the Carolina Hurricanes to have his number retired.

After all, he wasn't nicknamed "Rod the Bod" for nothing.

"This guy worked so hard off the ice, I got tired just watching him," Hall of Famer Ron Francis, a teammate with the Hurricanes, told NHL.com. "He brought that work ethic to the rink every time he stepped on the ice. You knew he was going to compete and give you everything he had. To do that, day in and day out, over your career is not an easy thing. It's a tough challenge and he met it head on and made it look easy."

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Broadcaster Emrick remembers Brind'Amour

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"They're the team I played the other half of my career, essentially, with. There's so many great memories there. I'm grateful that the team would pick that night to do that. It couldn't really be better timing for me." -- Rod Brind'Amour

Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Emrick vividly can recall Rod Brind'Amour's early years in Philadelphia, when playoff berths were few and far between.

Despite his efforts to lead the team, scoring more than 30 goals and at least 77 points in each of his first three seasons in Philadelphia, the Flyers still failed to qualify for the playoffs from 1991-92 through 1993-94.

"Rod was coming in at a time when there weren't a lot of guys who rode the bike and lifted weights both before and after games," Emrick said. "I remember one night, after a Flyers loss, I was going into the upper tier to get my coat to leave and Rod was up there, standing and staring at the wall. He was focused on not only reliving what happened that night, and it wasn't good, but also conditioning himself mentally, I guess, for what he had done and what he could do to make it better the next time.

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Stars try to find a way out of slump

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 2:24 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

CALGARY, Alta. -- The Dallas Stars spent the majority of this season leading the Pacific Division. If they don't get things figured out in a hurry, they may end up missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That seemed unfathomable after the Stars got off to a 29-13-5 start. They're still 10 games above .500 -- but a combination of injuries, struggles at both ends of the ice and a losing streak on the road that reached six games after Wednesday night's 4-2 loss to the Calgary Flames has dropped them into a pack of teams that sit just a single point ahead of ninth-place Los Angeles in the Western Conference standings.

Life doesn't get any easier with a date against NHL-leading Vancouver on tap for Saturday to complete a three-game road trip through Western Canada that started with a 4-1 loss in Edmonton on Tuesday. Dallas captain Brenden Morrow was succinct in summing up what his team must do to shake out of the doldrums.
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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres