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NHL Insider

Eric Staal speaks about hit on brother Marc

Monday, 11.07.2011 / 3:58 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Carolina captain Eric Staal talks to his brother Marc a couple of times each week, hoping one day soon the New York Rangers defenseman will tell him the headaches are gone and his hockey career can resume.

"If I could take it back I probably wouldn't hit him knowing where we've gone and what has gone on since then. But it was one of those plays, bang-bang, happens so quickly, and I hit him hard." -- Eric Staal

The concern is more than just brotherly compassion. It was Eric's hit on Marc during a game at RBC Center in Raleigh on Feb. 22 that is the reason why the Rangers' No. 1 defenseman remains out indefinitely. Marc still is suffering from concussion symptoms believed to be a result of Eric's hit that day.

"I wouldn't say it has kept me awake at night, but it's tough," Eric Staal told "If I could take it back I probably wouldn't hit him knowing where we've gone and what has gone on since then. But it was one of those plays, bang-bang, happens so quickly, and I hit him hard."

Carolina will visit the Rangers on Friday after facing the Devils in New Jersey on Tuesday. 

Hitchcock determined to build Blues into winner

Monday, 11.07.2011 / 2:44 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

"I just felt that I wanted a certainty of a head coach with a proven track record, a winner, to push these young players and push this organization to the next level. I think it was very important that we didn't wait around. I had that feeling." -- Blues Doug Armstrong

ST. LOUIS -- It became quite clear that the St. Louis Blues wanted someone experienced to guide a ship that seemed to be veering going off-course.

After the firing of Davis Payne on Sunday night, the Blues introduced Ken Hitchcock on Monday as the 24th coach in team history.

The Blues, who enter the week 6-7-0 and in 14th place in the Western Conference, have not gotten off to the start that people within the franchise had hoped. There was much hype about the Blues making that jump into the upper echelon of the Western Conference teams, but it hasn't quite worked out that way, and received the blessing from ownership and team president John Davidson to make a change.

Sid won't rule out Friday return, but nothing imminent

Monday, 11.07.2011 / 1:44 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

CANONSBURG, Pa. -- For the first time since he was cleared for full-contact practice last month, Sidney Crosby isn't ruling himself out of a Pittsburgh Penguins game.
He also isn't penciling himself in for Friday’s home game against Dallas, saying that his status remains day to day as he mends from the concussion that has sidelined him for 10 months.
Only it appears the day of his return is growing closer.
Crosby went shoulder-to-shoulder and skated stride for stride with his teammates during an off-day practice Monday here at the Iceoplex at Southpointe rink, but said nothing has changed concerning his return.
Except that -- and this was a change -- he acknowledged there was a chance he could play this week.

Hawks want revenge, Canucks a win as rivalry returns

Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 2:55 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO – Plenty of faces have changed the past couple of seasons for both the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks, but a few things remain the same.

All of the main stars are still around and they pretty much hate each other's guts.

Think that's a bit of an overstatement?

Players from both sides would disagree, even though the Canucks are officially taking a "winning means more than the rivalry" approach  in the Sunday showdown against the Hawks at United Center. 

'Try Hockey For Free Day' a smashing success

Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 6:15 PM / NHL Insider

Davis Harper - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. – During his first hockey experience three seasons ago, Matty Villacis sat with his father in the Prudential Center and watched the New Jersey Devils. In goal, Martin Brodeur was regularly stoning the opposition on his way to setting five major goaltending records that season.

Matty was mesmerized.

On Saturday, Villacis found himself in the crease of the Devils' Amerihealth Pavilion practice facility, stopping opposition shots much like his hero. Villacis, 10, was one of more than 40 hockey neophytes to take the ice in Newark on Saturday, and one of more than 10,000 nationwide to participate in USA Hockey and NHL's inaugural Come Play Hockey Month initiative. Saturday's Try Hockey for Free Day put a focus on introducing -- or re-introducing, as in Villacis' case -- kids to the sport for the first time.

Great debut for Abbostford’s Kolanos after long layoff

Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 11:46 AM / NHL Insider

Lindsay Kramer - Correspondent

The general plan in the mind of Abbotsford Heat center Krys Kolanos on the night of Oct. 28 was to make his mark on a game against Grand Rapids.

After sitting out from the sport for more than 21 months with a hip injury, you'd like people to notice that you're back.

"I was just dialed into the game," Kolanos said. "I knew I wanted to pick up at an even higher level than when I left off."

So much time had passed since he last played, it might have been hard to remember where that bar was set. Kolanos reminded them. He produced a hat trick and a helper in his return against the Griffins, then added a goal and two assists two nights later against Hamilton.

Blues honor World Series champs

Friday, 11.04.2011 / 9:57 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Tony La Russa and Chris Carpenter have been here before. David Freese is living the life these days.

This is how World Series champions live these days.

La Russa, the St. Louis Cardinals' manager for 16 seasons before announcing his retirement, brought the World Series trophy with him prior to the St. Louis Blues' game against the Vancouver Canucks.

La Russa was joined by National League Championship Series and World Series MVP Freese, along with ace pitcher Chris Carpenter, a Blues season ticket-holder. Carpenter's son Sam also joined the trio and dropped the puck for the ceremonial first faceoff -- one week after the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers in seven games to win the World Series.

Despite dubious streak, Red Wings not panicking

Friday, 11.04.2011 / 4:00 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- The place people call "Hockeytown" hasn't seen anything like this in a long time.

The Detroit Red Wings have had some losing streaks in the past couple of decades, but combining it with the inability to score goals is just dumbfounding. They are currently on a six-game losing streak and averaging just a goal a game in that skid.

The Wings (5-5-1) are also sitting 13th in the Western Conference prior to Friday night's slate of games. Just looking at the conference standings on a dry-erase board inside the Detroit locker room is an exercise in the bizarre. 

Caps hope less time for stars now means more later

Friday, 11.04.2011 / 2:30 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

A lot was made of Alex Ovechkin's reaction to being left on the bench for the final 87 seconds of regulation as the Washington Capitals came back with a late goal to send the game against the Anaheim Ducks to overtime Tuesday night -- but what about the other 35 minutes and 46 seconds?

That's how much less time Ovechkin spent on the ice -- and how much more often he was on the bench -- through the Capitals' first 10 games compared to the start of last season. Based on his current average, that's almost two full games worth of ice time in the first 10 alone.

With an average ice time of 18:36, Ovechkin is playing almost three minutes less per game then he did last season, and a whopping five minutes fewer than during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 campaigns, when he was logging more than 23 minutes a night.

Habs rested as they eye fourth straight vs. Sens

Friday, 11.04.2011 / 2:27 PM / NHL Insider

Erin Nicks - Correspondent

KANATA, Ont. -- With five days of rest and a three-game winning streak on the line, the Montreal Canadiens (4-5-2) are set to get back in action against the Ottawa Senators (7-6-0) at Scotiabank Place. Whether the break served as a pro or a con will be determined Friday night.

The Senators, who saw their six-game winning streak snapped with a 5-3 loss Tuesday to Boston, are anxious to get back into the win column. Goaltender Craig Anderson thinks the Habs will provide the right opportunity. 
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Quote of the Day

You could feel it. You could feel that they were going after each other and trying to win the game for their team.

— Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom on Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals, in which Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Penguins forward Sidney Crosby each scored hat tricks
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