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NHL Insider

Crosby works out for Pens' ticket holders

Sunday, 09.25.2011 / 4:52 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby, encouraged by a setback-free training camp to date, gave several thousand Pittsburgh Penguins season ticket holders a welcomed surprise Sunday by taking part in a controlled scrimmage.
There was no contact -- Crosby still hasn't been cleared for such work as he recovers from a concussion -- in a session that focused mostly on set plays and faceoffs. He also participated in a shootout that ended the workout, snapping off a quick shot that was deflected high and wide by goaltender Scott Munroe.
"It was very controlled," coach Dan Bylsma said of the scrimmage. "It wasn't much of a display of skill, lines or matchups."
But it was No. 87 on the ice, and that was good enough for the season ticket holder-only audience.

Crawford out to avoid sophomore slump

Sunday, 09.25.2011 / 4:16 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The question is rooted in a statistical comparison and Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford is probably getting tired of hearing it.

Simply put, there are some who aren't entirely convinced that Crawford can elude the so-called "sophomore slump" after an eye-opening rookie season last year – in which he took over for Marty Turco mid-season as the starter and never looked back.

More specifically, however, Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason is now being used as a comparison for Crawford – after Mason burst onto the scene in the 2009 season as a rookie and put up impressive numbers. The next season, Mason came back as the unquestioned starter and saw his stats take a big turn for the worse.

Is Crawford in for a similar letdown? Not if you ask him or his teammates and coaches.

Gaborik-Richards duo clicks in first start

Friday, 09.23.2011 / 11:41 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- It took just two shifts and a fortunate bounce for Brad Richards to make his presence felt as a member of the New York Rangers.

The summer's crown jewel of free agency scored 4:22 into the first period Friday night when his pass for Wojtek Wolski clipped off the skate of New Jersey Devils defenseman Adam Larsson and past goaltender Martin Brodeur. The goal came seconds after Richards put the puck on a tee to set up consecutive shots for Wolski and Marian Gaborik, and that trio was dangerous throughout the contest.

Richards added an assist on Gaborik's second-period power-play goal as the Rangers squeezed out a 4-3 victory in front of 14,719 at Prudential Center.

Jagr hopes to re-adjust to NHL game in debut

Friday, 09.23.2011 / 3:27 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

It's all systems go Friday when 39-year-old Jaromir Jagr begins his NHL comeback with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Jagr, who sat out Philadelphia's first three preseason games, finally will earn some playing time against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in the club's fourth preseason game this week. For Jagr, it marks his first NHL game since 2007-08, when he led the New York Rangers with 71 points in 82 games.

Following a three-year stint with Avangard Omsk in the Kontinental Hockey League, the Flyers signed Jagr to a one-year deal worth $3.3 million on July 1.

Hockey wives coming to aid of Lokomotiv victims

Thursday, 09.22.2011 / 5:41 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Dozens of hockey families were touched by tragedy earlier this month when a plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yarsolavl hockey team of the Kontinental Hockey League crashed in Central Russia.

No one will ever forget those lost on the Yak-42 airliner that went down shortly after takeoff on Sept. 7.

In an effort to keep their spirits alive and provide some monetary relief for the families affected, hockey wives Kodette LaBarbera, Katerina Jokinen, Brijet Whitney and Erica Lundmark are hoping to make a difference.

Former Dallas teammates call Modano franchise icon

Thursday, 09.22.2011 / 11:27 AM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

"Simply the best Dallas Star to ever put on the jersey. It's going to be a lot of years before anyone comes around like Mike Modano again. He is the epitome of what it is to be a Dallas Star." -- Steve Ott

FRISCO, Texas -- Being the face of a franchise is not a role just any player can take on. It takes a special individual -- not just on the ice, but off it, as well.

During his 21 NHL seasons -- 20 of which were spent as either a Minnesota North Star or Dallas Star, Mike Modano epitomized exactly what the face of a franchise should be.

In 1,499 NHL games, he finished with 1,374 points, the most ever for an American-born player. He was an eight-time NHL All-Star and part of the Stars' Stanley Cup-winning team in 1999.

Johansson ready for bigger role with Caps

Wednesday, 09.21.2011 / 7:29 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Teams with aspirations of winning the Stanley Cup don't often deploy a 20-year-old with no experience playing hockey in North America in a prominent role, but Marcus Johansson earned a spot on opening-night roster for the Washington Capitals last season and ended up being one of the team's top forwards by the end of the campaign.

His final numbers -- 13 goals and 27 points in 69 games -- undermine the positive strides he made in the second half of the season and how integral he became to a team that lost its offensive mojo.

The question is: What should we expect for an encore?

"Your hope is that his development went from here to here to here [making the outline of a set of stairs] and now that it continues to higher level," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "If it rises to higher levels -- we thought he was pretty good at the end of the year. For a guy that hadn't played that many games, he got stronger as the year went on. I don't think it is unfair to expect more of the same as it was at the end of the year and beyond than he was at the beginning of the year." 

Reunion takes Toews brothers back to childhood days

Wednesday, 09.21.2011 / 5:39 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Their "locker room" once was the kitchen.

"Who knows if that’ll ever happen again? I think it was a pretty cool thing. Not too many people get the chance to do that, where everything kind of aligns and that can happen. So for us to get a shift or two together at this level is a pretty amazing thing." -- Jonathan Toews

Their home ice used to be a rink their father made each winter, staying up all night to carefully move an elevated sprinkler around to get the surface just right. There even were lights so they could play at night -- and so their parents could call them in -- and a trail of rubber mats leading out there from the kitchen.

That was where Jonathan Toews and his younger brother, David Toews, first fell in love with ice hockey.

"We'd play 1-on-1 all night," said David, a 21-year old center prospect who recently became teammates with his older brother after the Chicago Blackhawks acquired him from the New York Islanders. "My dad built lights for the rink and you could turn them on and off from inside the house, so when it'd be time for dinner or we'd have to go to bed or something, he'd just flash the lights. We'd try to stay out as long as we could -- until we could hear them yelling from the house for us to come in."

Poulin recovered, ready to compete for time with Isles

Monday, 09.19.2011 / 9:43 AM / NHL Insider

Pete Jensen - Staff Writer

Kevin Poulin
Goalie - NYI
RECORD: 4-2-1
GAA: 2.44 | SVP: 0.924
When goaltending prospect Kevin Poulin suffered an unlikely -- yet severe -- setback last February, an already shaky situation in net got even worse for the New York Islanders.

Poulin, who was in the midst of a promising start through the first 10 games of his NHL career, dislocated his kneecap during pregame warm-ups prior to the Islanders' Feb. 8 game against Toronto, causing him to have season-ending surgery.

But seven months later, as New York charges into training camp with a healthy arsenal of goaltenders, the 21-year-old is fully healed and ready to re-establish himself as a viable option in the crease for the Islanders organization.

550 miles in two days? No problem for Webb, Lafontaine

Sunday, 09.18.2011 / 4:26 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

When Steve Webb started looking for a partner to ride alongside him from Toronto to New York to help raise money and awareness for charity, he didn't have to look far.

The former Islander volunteers as an assistant coach with the Long Island Royals, an under-16 hockey team coached by Hockey Hall-of-Famer Pat LaFontaine. A close friend and veteran of multiple triathlons, LaFontaine was happy to join Webb.

But he had a problem with the time commitment. A ride like that, which travels approximately 550 miles, usually encompasses up to nine days.
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Quote of the Day

It's very special, obviously; there is draft day and then there's the day that you sign your first deal. It's been a crazy couple of weeks and I'm very honored to be able to do that."

— Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid on signing his first professional contract