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NHL Insider

Jets' Ladd: 'We were just sloppy'

Sunday, 10.09.2011 / 10:09 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

WINNIPEG -- Jets captain Andrew Ladd was just 11 years old when the original team left Winnipeg at the end of the 1995-96 campaign.
 
He remembers watching the finale against the Detroit Red Wings, but could never truly piece together what it was about the team that was so endearing to the city. Well, if he didn't get that sense in the preseason at MTS Centre, he did on Sunday.
 
And to think, his team was on the short end of a 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
 
"Just the whole atmosphere … it was great," Ladd said. "At the end of the game, we were losing 5-1 and they're still standing up and cheering, which was pretty impressive with the performance we put on. So the fans, in general, is something I'll remember most about this game."
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Mistakes prove costly for Jets

Sunday, 10.09.2011 / 9:55 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG – In case any Winnipeg Jets fans had forgotten over the past 15 years, the NHL game is one that punishes mistakes severely.

The Montreal Canadiens reintroduced the concept to Winnipeg on Sunday in throttling the Jets, 5-1, in front of a raucous crowd celebrating the city's NHL return after a 15-year absence. It will be a lesson that Jets coach Claude Noel will be able to direct the attention of his young toward this week as the club regroups from its season-opening loss.

Montreal, a club looking to collect its first win of the season after an opening-night loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, shrugged aside the loud environment, relied on exceptional special-teams play and punished nearly every Jets' miscue in splitting a one-goal game wide open in the third period.
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Avalanche face daunting early-season road trip

Sunday, 10.09.2011 / 4:21 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Coming off an opening-night loss at home, the Colorado Avalanche have the daunting task of hitting the road for five games in an eight-day span. Overall, the Avs will play seven of the next eight games on the road, where last season they posted a 14-23-4 record, tied for 28th in the NHL.

Could it be make-or-break time for the league's second-youngest team already?

Not according to Avalanche coach Joe Sacco, whose club opens its five-game excursion with a Monday matinee against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins.

The Avalanche will also visit Columbus, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto before its next home game, Oct. 20 against Chicago.

"We still have 76 games when we get back," Sacco said after practice Sunday. "We have a lot of hockey when we get back. I look at it as an opportunity for the guys to bond, to form some good team chemistry, because that's what you do on the road. You spend a lot of time together. You're with your roommate and your teammates almost 24-7. We need to use those games and those days as a time for our team to get some closeness, to get tight together.
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Jets captain carries some extra burdens

Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 11:06 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- Andrew Ladd is about to learn about life in the fishbowl that goes with being the captain of a Canadian-based NHL team.

Captaining any of the League's 30 member clubs is an immense honor for a player, but doing so in Canada brings additional scrutiny and demands. In Winnipeg, there will be nowhere to hide.

"We are learning that very quickly," Ladd said. "But that is the trade-off for having a full building every night."

Ladd officially joins that group of Canada-based NHL captains on Sunday when the Jets mark the NHL's return to Winnipeg after a 15-year absence by hosting the Montreal Canadiens at the MTS Centre (5 p.m. ET; NHL Network-US, CBC, RDS).
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Avs send Forsberg's No. 21 to the rafters

Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 10:52 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER – Few NHL players have been blessed with the combination of power, strength, physical prowess and finesse that enabled Peter Forsberg to dominate games during a star-studded 14-season career, a dozen of them with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche franchise.

"He obviously had a very high level of skill, but I think it's the physical part of the game that he brought to the ice that made him different than your typical skill players," former Avalanche teammate Claude Lemieux said Saturday. "Aside from being a spectacular player, that's what separated him from so many great players. He was great and he also was tough and physical and a pain to play against."

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Noel's challenge: Keep players cool for opener

Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 8:15 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

WINNIPEG -- Coach Claude Noel will offer no elaborate pregame mantra just before his Winnipeg Jets take the ice for Sunday's season-opener against the Montreal Canadiens in what is sure to be an electric atmosphere inside the 15,004-seat MTS Centre.
 
After all, these NHL-starved Winnipeggers have waited 15 years for this moment. It was right after the 1995-96 season when the Jets 1.0 departed for Phoenix -- a hole that wasn't filled until this past summer when the Atlanta Thrashers moved in.
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Greiss excited for opening night start

Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 5:15 PM / NHL Insider

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- If San Jose Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss had any butterflies Saturday morning, just hours before his first career NHL opening night start, he did a good job hiding them.

"I'm excited to play," Greiss said, smiling as he fielded questions after the Sharks' final tune-up for their opener against Phoenix. "Home opener, it's great."

A year ago, Greiss was playing for Brynas in the Swedish Elite League. He re-signed with the Sharks, even though they already had two veteran goaltenders, starter Antti Niemi and backup Antero Niittymaki. But Niemi is still recovering from minor surgery to remove a cyst on a leg, and Niittymaki will be out for months after undergoing hip surgery.

Enter Greiss, drafted in the third by San Jose in 2004.
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Heat is on Penguins during opening road trip

Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 3:15 PM / NHL Insider

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- The Pittsburgh Penguins opened the 2011-12 season Thursday with a victory over the Vancouver Canucks, the kind of start the club was hoping for.

It might've been a little too hot for their liking, though.

Center Jordan Staal was forced to leave in the third period of the 4-3 shootout victory over the Canucks with cramping and dehydration. Already without Sidney Crosby, the loss of Staal could have left the Penguins short down the middle for tonight's game against the Calgary Flames.

Given a maintenance day off Friday, though, Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said the status of Staal was never in doubt.
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Bruins face another opponent looking for revenge

Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 1:35 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- The Bruins' season-opening reunion with teams they vanquished in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs is scheduled to continue Saturday night when the Tampa Bay Lightning visit TD Garden.

Boston downed Tampa Bay in seven games in last year's Eastern Conference Finals, including a 1-0 triumph in the series finale on Garden ice.

The early-season rematch has Bruins forward Milan Lucic thinking that the Lightning might have a little extra spring in their step, even though they played Friday night in Carolina (a 5-1 Tampa Bay victory).
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Jets aim to turn fan fervor into home wins

Friday, 10.07.2011 / 10:26 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets know they'll be playing in the NHL's smallest arena. Their goal is to make it one of the toughest places for visiting teams.

The MTS Centre, opened in 2004, has just 15,004 seats -- by far the fewest in the NHL. But with a hockey-mad fan base that has already guaranteed a packed house for all 41 games, the building figures to take on the feel of an old-time NHL arena.

Anchored on a small city block in downtown Winnipeg, the building uses every available nook and cranny to squeeze in as many seats as possible. Jets fans in turn have bought every available ticket: The club capped season-ticket sales at 13,000 seats, and there's a waiting list of 8,000 fans should any seats become available.
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Quote of the Day

For our team, as a group, we've never been this far before, and so it's just more lessons learned, and sometimes you have to go to the school of hard knocks to find out what works and what doesn't. We've got a young group. They've played some unreal hockey here to get us this far, and we showed if we're not going to play the proper way, a really, really good hockey team is going to beat you, and that's what they did. It's a lesson learned.

— Lightning coach Jon Cooper after Rangers win in Game 6 forced a Game 7 that will be played at Madison Square Garden on Friday