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NHL Insider

Rookie goalies make different kinds of history

Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 11:27 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Two goalies made their NHL debuts Tuesday night in unexpected fashion. Neither allowed a goal, and while one of them earned a win, the other earned a unique place in NHL history.

The Carolina Hurricanes' Mike Murphy and the Minnesota Wild's Matt Hackett combined to stop all 36 shots they faced in their teams' games Tuesday.

Hackett, 21, the Wild's 2009 third-round pick, replaced starter Josh Harding just 1:11 into Tuesday's game against the San Jose Sharks when Harding suffered an upper-body injury after being hit by teammate Nick Schultz. He earned the win when his team rallied for a 2-1 victory.

Islanders improved, but still have a long way to go

Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 10:04 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Less than two weeks after it looked like their playoff hopes were left by the wayside, the New York Islanders have found some life.
The Isles were shut out for the fifth time at home this season when the New Jersey Devils came into the Nassau Coliseum on the day after Thanksgiving and blanked them 1-0. At that point, they were last in the Eastern Conference standings -- and last by a considerable margin in scoring. With a four-game road trip beginning the next day in New Jersey, it looked like this season would be a repeat of 2010-11, when a horrible November doomed the Islanders to their fourth consecutive non-playoff season.
Instead, the Islanders started finding the net -- and the win column. A 3-2 win at New Jersey was followed by a 2-1 victory at Buffalo. The Isles lost 5-4 in a shootout at Chicago on Friday, and then matched their season-high in goals in a 5-4 win at Dallas the next night. They did it again Tuesday when they routed the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1. That's 19 goals in a five-game stretch, by far their best of the season. 

Stars vs. Wild rivalry revived by realignment

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 7:26 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild were each out for the same equitable solution in the NHL's realignment discussions.

In getting the geographical map they were looking for through Monday's vote at the Board of Governors meetings, the Stars and Wild might have also added fuel to a rivalry that already has a link that dates back 18 years, to when Norm Green moved the old North Stars to Texas.

Under the NHL's new four-conference alignment that it plans to install  next season, the Wild and Stars will play in the same conference, along with fellow Midwestern franchises Detroit, Columbus, Chicago, St. Louis, Winnipeg and Nashville.

It'll be the first time that the Wild and Stars will play within the same small grouping of teams. Despite the almost 1,000 miles between the markets, there is an expectation that the rivalry will intensify in both markets, especially for the fans -- even those not old enough to remember when Green shifted the team from Minnesota to Dallas 18 years ago.

Rivalries, balanced schedule among high points

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 7:20 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- With realignment approved by the Board of Governors on Monday, Tuesday became a day of revisiting the decision and dissecting some of the finer points of the four-conference system the NHL intends to implement for the 2012-13 season.

Here are five items from the radical realignment plan that deserve a closer look:

1. Intensifying rivalries
The Stanley Cup Playoff format in the four-conference alignment is set up to create new rivalries and add energy to traditional ones.

Since the first two rounds of the playoffs will be played within the conference, the teams that battle each other for the majority of the regular-season games will be the teams faced in the early playoff rounds.

Realignment rekindles some old-school rivalries

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 6:49 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Dick Patrick has been part of the Washington Capitals organization for 27 years. His arrival coincided with a string of postseason appearances in the 1980s and early 1990s when the NHL had a divisional playoff format for the first two rounds.

Consider Patrick among the members of the NHL Board of Governors excited to see the League return to a similar format after the Board voted Monday in favor of a realignment plan that includes a four-conference setup, with the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to be played within those conferences.

"Playing within your division or conference in the first two rounds really solidifies these rivalries," Patrick told "That's why we have such great rivalries with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. It is from those (divisional) years, and when those teams come to town the fans get all excited. They are really special games."

The first playoff series victory in Washington franchise history came against the Flyers in 1984. The most famous goal in franchise history -- Dale Hunter's playoff overtime tally -- came against Philadelphia in 1988. 

Daly foresees few realignment issues with PA

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 5:21 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. --While the Board of Governors has given Commissioner Gary Bettman the authority to realign the NHL into four conferences based primarily on geography, the intention is still for the League to get the consent of the National Hockey League Players' Association before creating a schedule for the 2012-13 season.

Realignment can be viewed as a rule change, which would require a discussion with the PA, said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on Tuesday after the two-day Board of Governors gathering adjourned.
Daly stressed, though, that the League does not anticipate any push back from the NHLPA and the intention remains for the new alignment and balanced schedule to be in place for the start of the 2012-13 season.

Blue Jackets pleased with realignment

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 3:36 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- The Columbus Blue Jackets were one of a handful of teams the NHL was trying to satisfy with its radical realignment proposal that was approved by the Board of Governors Monday.

Judging by some of the reactions of coach Scott Arniel and the Blue Jackets players on Tuesday, it would appear that mission was accomplished.

"Obviously for us, anything that reduces our travel would be good," Arniel said. "Having to go to the west coast as much as we do, even Mountain Time, has been very difficult. Coming home we're either losing two or three hours. For us being in the central (time zone) will be real good for us.

"Not everybody will be happy, but I think that the League has looked at a lot of different situations and this one is probably the one most people are satisfied with."

The Blue Jackets and Red Wings are currently the only two teams in the Western Conference who are in the Eastern time zone, making it more difficult for their fans to watch a lot of their road games and also adding a burden on the players.

League's precincts check in with realignment reaction

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 2:33 PM / NHL Insider

Big changes are coming to the National Hockey League with conference realignment being approved at this week's Board of Governors meetings. These changes are expected to take place for the 2012-13 season.

All 30 teams will be affected, playing some opponents more often than they have in the past and some others not as much. Beyond that, hundreds of players -- a majority of whom have known nothing but the two-conference, six-division format introduced prior to the 1998-99 season -- will have to get used to a new system of Stanley Cup Playoff qualification in which finishing in the top four of your conference is imperative.

Here's a sampling of some of the early reaction and thoughts from players, coaches and executives around the League about realignment:

"This is a fantastic night for the Blue Jackets. This is what's right for the League, but it's also something that will make a big, big difference for our franchise, both on the ice and off the ice. This is huge." -- Columbus president Mike Priest, in the Columbus Dispatch

Red Wings, Blues excited by idea of less travel

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 1:25 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- From the perspectives of the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings on NHL realignment, there's one common denominator that has both teams excited.

Particularly for the Red Wings, who have to play out of the Eastern time zone, cutting down on travel is something that really excites them.

"The initial reaction is I like the format," defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "It's going to be a lot less travel for the team. That part I like."

A hypothetical glance at realignment changes

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 11:39 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Starting next season, the NHL will be transformed from a league with six divisions to one with four conferences, pending approval from the players' association. There will be two conferences with eight teams and two conferences with seven teams, which is similar to what the NHL landscape looked like before the 1993-94 season.

The top-four teams from each conference will make the playoffs. The concept of finishing in the top 8 has gone by the way side. Instead, beating the six or seven other teams within your conference and cracking the top 4 within that group becomes paramount.
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It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
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