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NHL Insider

Sacco sees Avalanche establishing a new identity

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 5:26 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Colorado coach Joe Sacco is doing his best to keep himself and his team level-headed, even-keeled. It's not easy when everybody in the hockey world has jumped on your bandwagon after just six games.

"It sure beats the alternative," Sacco told after putting his team through its first practice at home since completing the only 5-0 road trip in franchise history. "It's a good start, no question it's a good start, but we're trying to keep it in check. It's a long year."

But right now it's good to be Sacco. As much as he wants to defuse the praise, he also wants to soak it in.

It was only six months ago that the Avalanche were finishing off a dreadful second half of the 2010-11 season with only five wins in their final 32 games.

They have five wins in their first six games of the 2011-12 season.

So much has changed in Denver, and Sacco touched on a lot of it in a wide-ranging Q&A with Wednesday afternoon.

Krejci nearing return for scuffling Bruins

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 3:42 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- Now standing at just 2-4-0 on the season, the Boston Bruins are trying to regain the form that made them Stanley Cup champions a mere four months ago, while also seeking the return of their No. 1 center.

David Krejci
Center - BOS
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 1
SOG: 6 | +/-: -2
They might've moved closer to achieving both things during practice Wednesday at the TD Garden.

Center David Krejci, out since suffering a core injury Oct. 17 in practice, continued to work out with the team and even took some light contact. Krejci started skating earlier this week and termed himself 50-50 for Thursday night's home game against Toronto.

"I would love to be there," said the Bruins' co-leading scorer of a year ago in his first public comments since his injury. "It (stinks) when you're up there watching the games. It's not fun, you know, when you see the fans and the building's going crazy and the guys battling on the ice. You just want to be out there on the ice so bad. It (stinks). So if I can, I would love to play tomorrow. But I have to be smart about it. I don't want to make it worse and then be out who knows for how long. If it felt better tomorrow, then I would love to play."

Capitals, Flyers summer overhauls have paid off

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 2:03 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers have seemed to be traveling parallel paths for the last year or so.

They finished 1-2, respectively, in the Eastern Conference, but each was swept out of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the second round.

Rather than stand pat with teams stocked with All-Stars and elite players, Capitals general manager George McPhee and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren engineered roster overhauls, with the result being not much different than last season -- both teams are right at the top of the conference standings.

Their paths will converge for the first of four times this season Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) in Philadelphia.

The Capitals enter Thursday's game a perfect 5-0-0. Showing their improved mental toughness and continued devotion to defense, four of the wins were one-goal victories, including two in overtime and one in a shootout. 

Flyers, Caps getting early returns from new goalies

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 12:40 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Tomas Vokoun
Goalie - WSH
RECORD: 4-0-0
GAA: 1.94 | SVP: 0.935
Following last spring's playoff loss to the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers Chairman Ed Snider gave voice to a common refrain from the team's large, vocal fan base.

"We are never going to go through the goalie issues we've gone through in the last couple of years again," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "If we trade or go for a goalie (through free agency), we'll make it work. We can make anything work, even with the cap."

Following his team's second-round playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee looked at his goaltenders -- 23-year-old Michal Neuvirth and 22-year-old Braden Holtby -- and believed he was set for years to come. The position was so strong, he traded away 23-year-old Semyon Varlamov, the starter the previous two postseasons.

A look back at when Rangers last won in Vancouver

Tuesday, 10.18.2011 / 12:50 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

The last time the New York Rangers went into Vancouver and beat the Canucks was Oct. 11, 1997. Wayne Gretzky registered his 50th career hat trick as the Rangers emerged with a 6-3 victory.

A little more than 14 years later, the Rangers will get a chance to end that slide when they face the Canucks on Tuesday night.

Seeing as how they're not in the same conference, it's not as if the Rangers have played in Vancouver three times a year for 14 years, but it's still a long time to go without beating a team in its barn. The losing streak itself is just five games and due to scheduling quirks, the Rangers didn't play a game in Vancouver between 2002 and 2008. The Canucks have outscored the Rangers 16-6 in those games, and another win Tuesday night will mean this streak will technically span three decades.

Here are some interesting facts, figures, tidbits and insights about this drought for the Rangers (or this epic streak for the Canucks, if you lean that way):

NHL 101: Teams handle influx of 18-year-old players

Monday, 10.17.2011 / 4:14 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

In the fall, while many parents are tearfully sending their 18-year-old children off to college, some hockey moms and dads are also bidding farewell. Except their kids aren't moving into a dorm room, they're finding their way onto an NHL roster.

"The leaving home kind of crept up on us. We didn't anticipate one way or another if he was going to make the team," said Andy Skinner, whose son Jeff won last year's Calder Trophy as an 18-year-old. "But it is an adjustment for the parents and the family when an 18-year-old leaves home unexpectedly like that."

Skinner was part of a stellar group of 18-year-old players who catapulted from their draft year right into the NHL spotlight. That group included Taylor Hall, who led the Oilers in goals despite only playing 65 games, Tyler Seguin, who won a Stanley Cup in Boston, and Cam Fowler, who ranked fifth on the Ducks in average ice time. 

Kings eager to return home

Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 11:41 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- The long and winding road finally is about to lead the Los Angeles Kings back to their home kingdom.

A road trip that started in Las Vegas and wound through two European countries and multiple time zones ended with a 3-2 overtime victory in Philadelphia on Saturday.

"It'll be a nice flight," said Kings forward Justin Williams. "There'll be talking on the plane. That'll be nice."

The Kings haven't played a game in Los Angeles since a Sept. 25 preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks, and haven't slept in their own beds since Sept. 29, the night before a road game at the nearby Honda Center.

Doan ready to face Jets for first time

Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 6:18 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Shane Doan has never been traded, never been waived, never turned down a contract offer from the team that drafted him 16 years ago. But Saturday night, he's facing his old team.

The Phoenix Coyotes, who arrived from Winnipeg in 1996, tonight welcome the new Jets – not the same as the old Jets – in a weird situation when the Jets who came from Atlanta this year face the Coyotes, who still have a few old Jets like Doan, equipment chief Stan Wilson and Director of Public Relations Rich Nairn in the organization now with firmly entrenched lives in the Arizona desert.

Doan, who had seven goals and 17 points in his first and only season in Manitoba, said he was "incredibly glad" to see a team back in Winnipeg. But he's also glad that team didn't come from Arizona, where the ownership situation remains in flux, the team continues to bleed red ink and the future remains uncertain.

Richards' return 'déjà vu' for Gagne

Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 2:48 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Seeing Mike Richards make his first tentative steps in the visitor's locker room here at the Wells Fargo Center, Simon Gagne knew exactly what was going through his teammate's mind.

Richards, who spent six seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers and expected to spend many more in black and orange, was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in June. Now, just four games into his stint with his new team, he was back in the building where he had so much success.

Gagne was in a similar situation almost exactly a year ago. Like Richards he was a Flyers first-round draft pick, and like Richards he was a long-time Flyer -- he spent his first 10 NHL seasons in Philadelphia. But not long after helping Richards guide Philadelphia to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, Gagne was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And also like Richards, he played his first game back in Philadelphia early in his tenure with his new team.

Doan nears 300 goals, still seeks elusive hat trick

Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 11:04 AM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes advertising slogan for this season is "Hockey the Hard Way," and there is no better description for captain Shane Doan's 16-year march to 300 career goals.

Steady and sturdy, consistent but unspectacular, Doan has done it the hard way.

Off to an uncharacteristically fast start offensively, Doan scored his third goal of the season and No. 299 of his career into an empty net to cap Thursday's 5-2 win in Nashville. With five points in three games, he opened the season with two goals in a 6-3 loss in San Jose, the 38th time he's scored twice in an NHL game.

It's also the most he's ever scored in a game since entering the NHL in 1995. Doan has never had an NHL hat trick. Yup, not a single one.
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Quote of the Day

In respect to the organization and my teammates, it was the best move. When I look back at my career and all the different things I had to overcome, I have no regrets. It was great.

— Devils captain Bryce Salvador on retiring from the National Hockey League Wednesday