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NHL Insider

As Hawks visit, Cup loss still stings for Flyers

Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 2:11 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers center Claude Giroux best summed up his memories from the night of June 9, 2010.

"It was one of my worst days of my life," Giroux told "I remember sitting here and telling myself we're just one game away from the Stanley Cup. That's what you live for, to win that Cup, and to see that we were that close, it hurts."

That night -- Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final -- Giroux and his teammates were left to mourn how close they had gotten while the Chicago Blackhawks were on the ice, skating laps with the Cup.

For the first time since that night, the Blackhawks are back in Philadelphia on Thursday here at Wells Fargo Center, and while the talk in the visiting room was about all the fun they had -- Patrick Kane even tried to re-enact his Cup-clinching overtime goal -- the Flyers were left to deal with less pleasant memories.

"There's disappointment there," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Am I disappointed about two years ago? … Yeah, it stings. Two years ago, you'll take that with you forever -- that's part of professional sports. You get the opportunity to play for the greatest trophy in the world and your team has a chance to win a championship, it doesn't happen -- it stings. Those things you don't forget about, they don't leave you. I think they're part of the fabric of who you are as an athlete or a coach, whoever it might be."

Return to Philly is nostalgic for Hawks' core

Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 5:40 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews might've fired up the replays of Game 5 and Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final during the flight to Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon.

Once the Chicago Blackhawks arrive at Wells Fargo Center for Thursday's showdown against the Philadelphia Flyers, Hawks forward Patrick Kane will probably find the exact spot on the ice where he fired home a low overtime shot that ended a 49-year Cup drought in the Windy City.

The six other remaining Blackhawks who played in that game will have their own tingly feelings on Thursday, too, walking into the place formerly called the Wachovia Center for the first time in almost two years.

The last time the Hawks were in that building, they ended the Flyers' season with a 4-3 OT win on June 9, 2010, and left with Lord Stanley's Cup in their possession.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Toews, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs and hoisted the Cup first after receiving it from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "I can imagine just being at the hotel and being at the rink. All those things will bring back some pretty cool memories. It's been a long time, but just being back in that locker room … we'll have some old stories we can tell. I'm sure the new guys, the guys that weren't there … I'm sure they're sick enough of hearing about all that stuff. They'll just have a couple more days of it, I guess."

NHL history beckons as Iginla one shy of 500th goal

Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 5:55 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- Jarome Iginla says he would rather discuss his team's ongoing battle in the Western Conference standings, but the Flames captain can't help but flash his trademark smile when the topic of his upcoming milestone is brought to his attention.
Calgary's all-time leading scorer enters play Tuesday one goal shy of becoming the 42nd player in NHL history with 500 career tallies.
"I may not know how many guys have done it but it is special for me to be this close to 500, and I do kind of still have to pinch myself that it's happening," Iginla told 

Green ready to return, plans on taking it slow

Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 2:15 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The Capitals will open the 2012 calendar year at Verizon Center with a familiar face back in their lineup. Defenseman Mike Green expects to play Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames after missing 23 games with a groin strain.
"Finally," Green said after the Caps morning skate. "It's been frustrating sitting out, and obviously a couple of months ago after coming back [from an earlier ankle injury] and then that first game back [forced] back in the press box, so I'm just happy to be back, focused, preparing to do the right things tonight and that's all that's on my mind."
Since the Capitals opened the season with a League-best 7-0-0 record, Green has missed 29 of the past 30 games. Green twisted his right ankle Oct. 22 in a 7-1 win over Detroit in which he collected 2 goals and 2 assists.

'NHL 36' to showcase Bergeron's skill, determination

Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 1:58 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Ever since he cracked the NHL as an 18-year-old straight out of junior hockey, Patrice Bergeron's movie star looks and superb on-ice skill have made him one of the Boston Bruins' most recognizable and in-demand players.

But as a humble kid from Quebec City, he's never sought out the spotlight for his own personal gain. Now that he's an alternate captain and star player for the defending Stanley Cup champions, however, the notoriety is unavoidable.

The attention continued to intensify last week when the cameras from "NHL 36" followed Bergeron on a game day in Phoenix. The 30-minute episode premiers Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network and airs over the weekend on the NHL Network.

"I was actually surprised when [Director of Communications Matt Chmura] told me about the ‘NHL 36.' I was like, ‘Really?' And also I was like, ‘I'm kind of a boring guy, I don't do that much,'" Bergeron said after the Bruins practiced Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena. "We joked about it. But it was nice to actually get that and also go to the media tour [for the League in New York] earlier this year. Sometimes it's nice to get recognized, but at the same time, I don't really care as long as we're playing like we are right now."

Friends' pond-hockey video turns into Internet sensation

Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Davis Harper - Staff Writer

"The original plan was we wanted to show how much fun it is to go up there with your best friends who all love to play hockey together -- it's a good dynamic that way. There's a lot more going on, but we wanted to keep it pretty fun and uplifting because that's what it's all about -- being with your friends." -- Brian Ceci

Each February, eight long-time friends abandon the bustle of Vancouver's downtown and head north on Highway 97 toward 100-Mile House, in the south Cariboo region of the British Columbia wilderness. Their destination is a rustic waterfront cabin near Green Lake, B.C., best known as a trout-fishing and bird-watching haven for summer travelers.

The friends use the lake for an entirely different, but quintessentially Canadian, purpose: Pond hockey.

The good feelings that come from the annual pilgrimage to play outdoor hockey is hard for its participants to describe. It's a bond shared among friends, punctuated by the camaraderie most easily expressed in jokes and jabs throughout the weekend. And don't forget the healthy portion of grueling, day-long hockey marathons.

Gauthier talks coaching change, says Habs still have time

Monday, 01.02.2012 / 6:26 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier apologized Monday to the team's fans who did not approve of his decision to hand the coaching reins of the club to Randy Cunneyworth because of his inability to speak French.

"We're disappointed and we're sorry if we offended anybody by hiring someone who is not bilingual right now, but when you're in the middle of a season and you're trying to effect change and you're having the difficulties we were having, you evaluate all your options," Gauthier told reporters at the Canadiens suburban practice facility in Brossard, Quebec. "We felt the best option at this time was to work from within the organization. Those things can be taken care of in due time, but having a bilingual head coach of the Montreal Canadiens is very important and it's something that will be part of our decision going forward."

Jets set franchise mark with big December

Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 4:33 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets made a strong December a team mission, and they close out the month with the benefits to show for accomplishing that mission.

The Jets set a new franchise mark with a 10-3-1 December, the best month in team history, and posted wins over the likes of the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild, among other upper-echelon competition.

"We were talking as a team before our big homestand here that we wanted to win nine or 10 games," Jets forward Kyle Wellwood recalled, "and it seemed like a lofty goal at the time, but we've been able to come together and do it."

With 12 December games at the MTS Centre in front of their fanatical fans, the Jets rolled off a 9-2-1 home record to climb from 13th place to seventh in the Eastern Conference.

Leafs need to improve penalty kill

Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 4:31 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to have to iron out their penalty kill if they plan on making a second-half charge toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Leafs held the NHL's worst penalty kill entering Saturday night's clash with the Winnipeg Jets, and allowing two Winnipeg power goals sank the Leafs' kill rate to 72.3 percent for the season. Discipline is also an issue for Toronto. The Leafs went shorthanded six times against the Jets and their 148 power plays yielded this season place them 20th in the League.

"We're just not getting the job done right now," Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn said, "and we need to be better if we're going to have any chance of making [the playoffs]."

Toronto coach Ron Wilson let his displeasure with defenseman Schenn on Winnipeg's opening goal be known, as well as Jake Gardiner's role in the Jets' game-winning power-play strike.

"We kicked two pucks in our own net," Wilson said. "Defensemen are supposed to box out. One went off Luke's knee when he should have gotten out of the way, not screening the goalie or trying to block that one."

Eye-opening numbers defined hockey scene in 2011

Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 10:47 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

2011 was a memorable year for both individual and team accomplishments -- including the return of the Stanley Cup to New England for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Here are some of the numbers that helped make it memorable:

0 -- Power-play goals scored by Boston in its seven-game victory against Montreal in the opening round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Bruins became the first team in playoff history to win a seven-game series without scoring on the power play.

1 -- Goals credited to goaltenders in 2011. Carolina's Cam Ward made a save in the final minute of the Hurricanes' game against New Jersey on Dec. 26 and was the last 'Cane to touch the puck before Ilya Kovalchuk backpassed it into his own empty net. Ward is the 10th goaltender in NHL history to be credited with a goal.

2 -- Playoff series won by the Bruins in their history after losing the first two games. Boston dropped the first two games to Montreal of their 2011 conference quarterfinal series at home before rallying to win in seven, then rallied from an 0-2 deficit to beat Vancouver in the Final. Before 2011, they had never won a series after trailing 2-0. 
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