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NHL Insider

Kings rookie goalie Bernier set for homecoming

Wednesday, 11.24.2010 / 10:25 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Que. – The Los Angeles Kings have been waiting for some time for the Jonathan Bernier era to begin in earnest between the pipes, but with the way Jonathan Quick is playing, the waiting will likely continue for a while longer.

However, Bernier's two years of seasoning in the American Hockey League will be rewarded Wednesday night when the Laval, Que., native gets the start against the team he spent his entire childhood cheering for, the Montreal Canadiens.

"I've been watching the Montreal Canadiens for a long time, so when you're young you always see yourself out there," Bernier, 22, said at the Canadiens suburban practice facility Tuesday. "I was hoping to get drafted by Montreal. It's going to be a great feeling."

Stamkos hoping to join the NHL's 50-in-50 club

Wednesday, 11.24.2010 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

With 20 goals in the Tampa Bay Lightning's first 21 games, Steven Stamkos has given himself a chance to join one of the NHL's truly elite groups: the 50/50 club.

Just five players in League history have managed to score 50 goals in their team's first 50 games (four others had 50 in the first 50 games in which they played, but missed games along the way). To say it's an impressive list would be a vast understatement. Maurice Richard, Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull are five of the greatest scorers hockey ever has seen.

For comparison, not even today's biggest gun, Alex Ovechkin, has come close -- in 2007-08, when he scored 65 goals -- the most in one season in the past 12 years -- Ovi had "just" 39 in his first 50 games before closing with a rush, scoring 26 times in Washington's final 32 contests.

A look at future European 1,000-point scorers

Tuesday, 11.23.2010 / 11:54 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Alex Kovalev of the Ottawa Senators joined an elite group on Monday night when he became the 76th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-point mark in regular-season play. Kovalev reached the milestone with a first-period goal Monday night against Dallas, then started on his next 1,000 points by assisting on Jason Spezza's game-winner in Ottawa's 3-2 victory.

"It's kind of hard for me to imagine but I'm just really proud," Kovalev said afterwards. "It's a good achievement, I just don't know how to describe it."

But Kovalev also joined an even more select club when he reached 1,000 points -- he became only the 10th European born-and-trained player (Stan Mikita, though born in Czechoslovakia, doesn't count because he learned his hockey in Canada) to get that many points. He's also just the third Russian, joining Sergei Fedorov (1,179, 47th on the all-time list) and Alex Mogilny (1,032, 66th).

Boudreau puts slumping Caps through tough practice

Tuesday, 11.23.2010 / 6:44 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. -- There were a lot of tired hockey players in the visiting dressing room Tuesday afternoon at RBC Center.

Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau put his team, losers of three straight games -- two of them 5-0 blowouts -- through a rigorous practice that involved skating, some drills with a heavy focus on skating … and then some more skating.

"It begins with work ethic," defenseman Mike Green said. "Last night was prime example of us not playing -- it was probably one of the worst games we've played in two years. It was a lack of work ethic. Anytime we don't work hard, we get exposed and that's that. Our skill can hide it at times when we slack off, but when we're not working at all it is pretty clear how it affects us."

Added Alex Ovechkin: "It is hard after that kind of game. You expect to win and to take a day off, but we lost and we have to work. It was good practice for us."

Tippett feels streaking Coyotes can get better

Tuesday, 11.23.2010 / 4:57 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dave Tippett would like to see his team clean up the turnovers. He'd like to see them stop digging early holes with poor first periods. And if someone would like to score more than six goals over the next 20 games, he certainly won't complain.

Despite their imperfections, the Coyotes have still won six games in a row, are unbeaten in their last eight and have gone from the basement of the jam-packed Western Conference to three points out of the penthouse heading into Tuesday's game with Edmonton at Jobing.com Arena.

Imagine what would happen if they ever pleased their taskmaster coach. The Coyotes just completed their first road sweep of Western Canada -- beating, in order, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver -- to stretch their winning streak to within shouting distance of last year's franchise-record 10 straight. That streak started Nov. 21, 2009, and didn't end until after Christmas.

Around the East: Dire straits no longer faze Devs

Tuesday, 11.23.2010 / 3:13 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Devils center Travis Zajac used a phrase Monday morning that no player wants to utter only 20 games into the regular season.

"There is nothing to lose anymore," Zajac told NHL.com before the Devils put together their most complete performance of the season to beat the Capitals, 5-0, at Prudential Center. "We're way down in the standings. What's the worse that can happen now?"

Nothing to lose is usually reserved for teams that are out of the playoff race and looking to play spoiler down the stretch. It's not something you normally hear when only a quarter of the season is in the books, but Zajac's point is well taken.

The Devils have only six wins through 21 games and they know that everybody in the hockey world is leaving them for dead. A loss Wednesday against Calgary wouldn't by any means send shockwaves through the League, so instead of worrying about their position in the standings and what people are saying, the Devils are looking at the climb that's in front of them.


Morning-skate injury sidelines Neuvirth -- sort of

Monday, 11.22.2010 / 11:24 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Washington rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth went from probable starter to emergency backup to a scratch in a matter of hours Monday, and it created some confusion about the Capitals' goaltending situation.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed after Monday's 5-0 loss in New Jersey that Neuvirth "tweaked something lower body" during the morning skate so he was not able to play. Braden Holtby got the start instead, but the Capitals felt Neuvirth's injury was serious enough that he wouldn't even be able to go in a backup role, so they summoned Semyon Varlamov from Hershey.

Five-year anniversary of first Crosby-Ovechkin game

Monday, 11.22.2010 / 4:13 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

One of the best rivalries in the NHL surrounds two of the League's marquee players, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. It's a major event any time the two players come together on the ice, and never will that battle take more of the spotlight than at the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

However, that rivalry got its start five years ago today.

On Nov. 22, 2005, Ovechkin and Crosby met on the ice as NHL stars-in-waiting for the first time, and neither disappointed.

Crosby scored the third goal in the Pens' four-goal first-period outburst. Ziggy Palffy backhanded a pass off the right wall to Crosby, who kicked it onto his stick at in one stride was at full speed. He split a pair of Capitals defenders, deked goalie Olaf Kolzig out of position and roofed a backhander.


Teams downplay Richards-Subban war of words

Monday, 11.22.2010 / 2:30 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"You have to earn respect in this League. It takes a lot. You can't just come in here as a rookie and play like that. It's not the way to get respect from other players around the League. Hopefully someone on their team addresses it, because, uh, I'm not saying I'm going to do it, but something might happen to him if he continues to be that cocky." -- Mike Richards

PHILADELPHIA -- Rookie defenseman P.K. Subban is just doing what he does best on the ice these days for the Montreal Canadiens.
And if that means raising the ire of Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards, then so be it. But keep in mind Subban is tied for the scoring lead among Montreal defenders with 8 points while sporting a plus-6 rating.
It was only six days ago Richards told Montreal radio station Team 990 AM that Subban needed to earn the respect of his peers before engaging in any extracurricular activities on the ice.
"He's a guy that's come in the League and hasn't earned respect," Richards said the day after a 3-0 Flyers loss in Montreal on Nov. 16. "It's just frustrating to see a young guy like that come in here and so much as think that he's better than a lot of people.


Flyers to give Boucher a second straight start

Monday, 11.22.2010 / 1:15 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Goalie Brian Boucher will be making a second straight start on Monday when the Philadelphia Flyers play host to the Montreal Canadiens at Wells Fargo Center.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette admitted Boucher's fine performance in the team's 5-4 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday, when he stopped 33 shots and denied all three Washington attempts in the shootout, was the reason. The Canadiens have won five of their last six games, including a 2-0 decision over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
"Boosh had a really big win for us in Washington," Laviolette said. "I thought he was at his best in the first 10 minutes of the game when we left some holes defensively and he gave us an opportunity to hang around in that game until we got our legs under us. I really liked the way we played the second and third periods, but got into penalty trouble in the end. Boosh played a heck of a hockey game for us and has earned the opportunity to battle (against Montreal)."

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Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets