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NHL Insider

What are the surprise stats at the ASG break?

Thursday, 01.27.2011 / 11:42 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Numbers are such a big part of the game. They drive scouting and lead to postseason awards. They let us know where a team is most dangerous and where it's most vulnerable. Ditto for players.

Coaches will say they hate stats and players will say they don't concern themselves with them, but it's hard to believe any of that is true. Stats are painted on every story we write and every piece of analysis we give.

They lead to debates, sometimes bitter arguments. They are the backbone to selecting players for an All-Star Game.

Six players who have been first-half revelations

Thursday, 01.27.2011 / 11:34 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

We've got a goalie who wasn't supposed to be the No. 1, but has clearly established himself as just that for the reigning Stanley Cup champions. We've got a defenseman who hadn't played the position on a full-time basis until this season. We've got another blueliner who is finally getting his moment and has turned himself into a Norris Trophy candidate.

And we've got three forwards that have each had success this season unlike they've ever had before in their NHL careers.

This is your All-Surprise Team for the first-half (plus) of the 2010-11 season:


Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

28 games played, 16 wins, 2.19 GAA, .919 save percentage

Marty Turco signed a one-year deal during the offseason and was immediately tossed at the top of the Blackhawks' goaltender depth chart, passing by Crawford without even a whisper from anyone. Someone forgot to tell Crawford he was supposed to be a backup this season because he hasn't played like one and coach Joel Quenneville isn't using him like one.

Crawford, who spent the past four seasons in the AHL, has solidified the Hawks' goaltending with his brilliant play. He's fifth in the League in goals-against average.

"Now we've got great goaltending," All-Star right wing Patrick Kane told "Our goaltending has been a strong point for us, definitely."

Snow felt no choice but to suspend Nabokov

Thursday, 01.27.2011 / 11:02 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow has been successful in claiming players on waivers before, but what's happened with goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is something he never saw coming.

The Islanders claimed Nabokov on waivers last Saturday, but when the goaltender publicly said he would not report to the club -- including hanging up on Snow -- he felt that by Tuesday, he had no choice but to suspend him.

"We make the claim, we get the player off waivers, we set up a flight for Sunday morning, set up another flight for Monday morning. At that point my hands were tied," Snow said in an interview with the MSG television network. "We had to go though with the suspension. I feel it was going to be a good addition to our locker room, with his track record, his winning percentage, his save percentage."


Stastny finally healthy to play in All-Star Game

Wednesday, 01.26.2011 / 5:14 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

"You always want to play in one to enjoy the opportunity and the experience, and I'm excited. I was supposed to go to the mountains (during the four-day All-Star break), but I can't pass this up. Once I got the opportunity, I wanted to jump all over it." -- Paul Stastny

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny finally will get to play in an NHL All-Star Game when he takes the ice with the League's best this Sunday at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.

The irony is Stastny was named to the roster Wednesday morning as an injury replacement, and injuries and illness cost him the chance to play in previous All-Star games.

Stastny, 25, probably would have been named to the Western Conference team in 2009, but he was recovering from a broken forearm at the time. He was named to the team in 2008, but missed the game after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

Zuccarello making up for size with skill in N.Y.

Tuesday, 01.25.2011 / 9:23 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello is the same height of an average high school sophomore. There's no way around it -- the first thing anyone notices when Zuccarello takes the ice is his almost surreal 5-foot-7, 174-pound frame.

But when it comes time for a shootout, there might not be a more imposing figure in the NHL right now.

Zuccarello is 4-for-4 in shootouts after scoring another one Monday night in the New York Rangers' 2-1 victory against the Washington Capitals. He has employed the same blueprint for all four attempts -- skate fast, slow down as he gets closer, sell the backhand, and shoot quickly on the forehand as the helpless goaltender slides in the wrong direction.

It's a confident move by a confident player who has just 16 games under his belt with the Rangers and wasn't on the radars of NHL teams until he burst onto the scene with Norway during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Zuccarello was the MVP of the Swedish Elite League last season, but his stature was clearly a turn-off for a lot of NHL scouts. 

'The Great One' reflects, discusses turning 50

Tuesday, 01.25.2011 / 4:35 PM / NHL Insider

"To me, no disrespect because it is a great day and it is another birthday -- I feel good at the age of 50 and life goes on." -- Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky turns 50 on Wednesday and is ready to party in celebration. Throughout the rest of Tuesday, we will be showcasing some of the Great One's greatest highlights on as a primer for tomorrow's celebration, which will feature numerous stories and videos, as well as a career retrospective in photos. To whet the appetite for the day-long celebration, here is some of what Gretzky discussed Tuesday afternoon on NHL Live! Join us again tomorrow for all things Gretzky!

If anyone was thinking that crashing a regal celebration of Wayne Gretzky's 50th birthday would be a great idea, the "Great One" has some disappointing news on that front. 

Toews, Hossa miss morning skate for Blackhawks

Tuesday, 01.25.2011 / 1:14 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa both missed the Chicago Blackhawks' morning skate, but only Hossa is questionable for Tuesday's game against the Minnesota Wild at the United Center.
Toews will suit up despite battling an undisclosed lower-body injury that happened this past Saturday during a 4-1 road win against the Detroit Red Wings. Hossa, however, might miss the game with an illness.
"We'll say [he's] questionable going into tonight's game," Quenneville said. "He wasn't feeling well this morning. We'll see how he is tonight."


More defensive-minded Kovy producing offensively

Tuesday, 01.25.2011 / 12:08 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Ilya Kovalchuk has so much respect for Jacques Lemaire and thinks he's one of the greatest hockey minds that the following question had to be asked of the 65-year-old coach:

Can he coach the Devils for another 14 seasons?

Lemaire, cracking up, quickly picked up on the concept that 14 seasons is what Kovalchuk will have left on his deal with the Devils after this season.

"My contract is shorter than that," he said with a laugh.

Jokes aside, Kovalchuk knows he better learn all he can now from Lemaire because there's no guarantee the Cup-winning coach will be around beyond April. According to Lemaire, the Devils' $100 million star begs for knowledge on a daily basis.


Sacco hoping practice makes perfect for Avs

Monday, 01.24.2011 / 4:40 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

"Basically my job is to make sure that preparation-wise we are where we need to be, that our focus is where it needs to be. For me, it started with practice (Sunday). I just thought that we needed a good, hard, crisp practice. There was a lot of battle drills involved. I thought that hopefully that would carry over to the game tonight." -- Joe Sacco

DENVER -- Joe Sacco will learn Monday night if his grueling practice Sunday has the positive carry-over effect he is hoping for.

The Colorado Avalanche coach, whose team has been outscored 11-3 during a two-game losing streak, put his players through a nearly 90-minute session that included battling for pucks in the corners, along with sprints between the blue lines.

The Avalanche has fallen into ninth place in the Western Conference and has two games remaining before the NHL All-Star break, starting with Monday's contest against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center.

"Basically my job is to make sure that preparation-wise we are where we need to be, that our focus is where it needs to be," Sacco said following Monday's morning practice. "For me, it started with practice (Sunday). I just thought that we needed a good, hard, crisp practice. There was a lot of battle drills involved. I thought that hopefully that would carry over to the game tonight."


Forsberg skates with Avs

Sunday, 01.23.2011 / 6:23 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – The South Suburban Family Sports Center, practice rink for the Colorado Avalanche, was packed with fans Sunday, many of whom wore Swedish jerseys and waved small blue and yellow Swedish flags.

They came to watch Peter Forsberg's first official practice with the team, and he didn't disappoint while taking part in every drill during the hour and 15-minute workout. It was a longer and more difficult session than usual, probably because the Avalanche has been outscored 11-3 during a two-game losing streak and has skidded into ninth place in the Western Conference.

The standing room-only crowd of 200-plus fans didn't go unnoticed by Forsberg, who is auditioning for a place on the roster nearly three years after he last played in an NHL game with the Avalanche.
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