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NHL Insider

Elliott joins Avalanche, will start Wednesday

Wednesday, 02.23.2011 / 1:58 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

DENVER -- Goalie Brian Elliott has joined the Colorado Avalanche and is expected to start Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oilers at the Pepsi Center.

Elliott, 25, was acquired Friday from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for goalie Craig Anderson. He's a Canadian citizen and needed to have visa and immigration issues resolved in order to join the U.S.-based Avalanche.

With Elliott on board -- he'll wear jersey No. 30 -- goalie John Grahame has been returned to the Lake Erie Monsters in the American Hockey League. Grahame was Peter Budaj's backup for two games.

Elliott went 13-19-8 this season with three shutouts, a 3.19 goals-against average and .894 save percentage for the Senators. He posted a 29-18-4 record last year with five shutouts, a 2.57 average and a .909 save percentage.

Coyotes' Doan set to break games-played mark

Wednesday, 02.23.2011 / 10:25 AM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

Teppo Numminen remembers the first time he saw the Winnipeg Jets' first-round draft choice from 1995 -- a baby-faced winger out of Halkirk, Alberta who was long on bullish strength but short on style.

"He was a little choppy on the ice and that stick handling needed a lot of work," Numminen said, laughing at his own flashback of the 19-year-old Shane Doan. "But his excitement for the game and his willingness to do whatever it took, that was there from the start. He made an impact right away and he just kept going."

Doan is still going strong at age 34. He's now the captain of the Phoenix Coyotes, the face and heartbeat of a long-struggling but now resurgent franchise in the desert.

Modano says he'll return Saturday in Buffalo

Tuesday, 02.22.2011 / 3:47 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- Mike Modano probably could return from a lengthy injury stint Thursday against the Dallas Stars, but will defer to Saturday's road game against the Buffalo Sabres instead.

The reason has a lot to do with Modano's wish to keep his return from wrist surgery low key to start. Coming back against the Stars, the franchise that drafted him with the first pick of the 1988 Entry Draft when the franchise was in Minnesota and who he spent 20 years playing for, would be anything but low-key.
In that span he helped the team win the 1999 Stanley Cup while becoming the face of the franchise, not to mention arguably the greatest U.S.-born player in NHL history.

"There was a chance (to return against Dallas), but ... of all games to come back after such a long lay-off, I think the expectations are a little too high for that one," said Modano, who had severed tendons in his wrist after a skate blade cut him during a Nov. 26 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. "(I'll) just start in Buffalo and it's going to be five games in eight days on that trip. So it'll be some crucial games here coming down the stretch."

Philadelphia a happy place for Versteeg

Tuesday, 02.22.2011 / 2:38 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette admits he's tried to forget the fact Kris Versteeg was celebrating the Stanley Cup in Philadelphia as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks only eight months ago.
He's just grateful now to have him on his side Tuesday when Versteeg makes his Flyers home debut against the Phoenix Coyotes here at Wells Fargo Center.
"He just has to be a nice complement to what we already have and I thought that his last game was good (against the Rangers)," Laviolette said of Versteeg, who has played four games since he was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 14. "He's very quick on the puck, he's got a quick stick. I think he's getting more comfortable here and that's a good thing. It takes time when you're in a new environment, a new system with new players and a new coach. Things take a little bit of time, so we found minutes for him last game and we'll see if we could continue that."


Scoring surge brings smiles on Long Island

Tuesday, 02.22.2011 / 2:30 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Quick -- name the one NHL team that has three players with 23 or more goals. Washington? Pittsburgh? Vancouver? Tampa Bay? Philadelphia?
Would you believe the New York Islanders?
Yes, those Islanders -- the team that scored all of 15 goals in the entire month of November. The team that won just once in a 21-game span from late October to mid-December, that's used six goaltenders (all of whom have at least one win).
And the team that has won eight of 11 games since the All-Star break, including a 5-1 victory against Florida on Monday that moved them within 11 points of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference entering Tuesday's visit to Toronto. They've scored 44 goals in those 11 games.


Different net approaches working for Flyers, Coyotes

Tuesday, 02.22.2011 / 2:19 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- If you think the road to success is the same for every NHL team, better think again.

"Bryz is the backbone. If he's our best player we win games, and if he's not, we have trouble winning. So having him playing his best this time of year is great." -- Scottie Upshall

Take, for instance, the Phoenix Coyotes and the Philadelphia Flyers, who meet for the first and only time this season at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday. The Flyers (39-15-5, 83 points) stand atop the Eastern Conference behind the two-headed monster in goal that is veteran Brian Boucher and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky.
During February, Boucher (15-6-2, 2.26 goals-against average, .922 save percentage) has started four of nine games. Bobrovsky (23-9-3, 2.44 GAA, .919 save percentage) has started five.
The Coyotes (32-19-9, 73 points) are currently third in the West due in large part to the play of one masked man, Ilya Bryzgalov. The Russian-born netminder will make a career-high 19th straight start for the Coyotes on Tuesday. He'll go head-to-head against Bobrovsky, his fellow countryman, for the first time in his career.

Johnson, McClement returning to St. Louis with Avs

Monday, 02.21.2011 / 3:47 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Turns out, you really can go home again. Erik Johnson and Jay McClement are proof of that.

A little more than 48 hours after leaving St. Louis following the blockbuster trade that sent them to Colorado, Johnson and McClement boarded the Avalanche's charter Monday for a flight back to the Gateway City and Tuesday's game against the Blues at the Scottrade Center.   

"It's pretty weird to come back that soon, but It's going to be fun," Johnson said after getting in his first full practice Monday with his new team at the South Suburban Family Sports Center. "We go back there two more times (this season), so it'll be nice to get the first one done tomorrow. It's going to be weird coming into your old rink on the other side of the barn and seeing all your old trainers and coaches and teammates.

"Nothing would feel better than to get a win."

Duchene probably to play Tuesday night

Monday, 02.21.2011 / 2:15 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The Colorado Avalanche expect to have leading scorer Matt Duchene in the lineup for Tuesday's game in St. Louis.

Duchene took part in a full practice Monday for the first time since injuring his left hand Feb. 14 against Calgary. He missed two games after being struck by a shot launched by former teammate Kevin Shattenkirk, who was traded to the Blues on Saturday along with Chris Stewart and a 2011 or 2012 second-round draft pick in exchange for Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a first-round pick in 2011 or 2012.

Duchene, who has 21 goals and 27 assists in 57 games, centered a line with Kevin Porter and Milan Hejduk in practice.

"I felt pretty good," Duchene said. "I'm excited to get back out there tomorrow. It's your bottom hand, putting a lot of force on it. I think I've got it figured out. I think I have a way to stabilize it. It feels OK.

Staal OK for matchup vs. Capitals

Monday, 02.21.2011 / 1:18 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins already were without their top two centers. They won't be missing their top remaining center when they finish their always-entertaining season series against the Washington Capitals on Monday (7:30 p.m., VERSUS, TSN2, RDS).

Jordan Staal, one of the NHL's best two-way forwards, will play, according to coach Dan Bylsma, despite being struck on the left cheek with the puck in overtime during Pittsburgh's 3-2 loss in Chicago on Sunday.

Staal, stationed near the net, tried to duck to avoid a shot from teammate Kris Letang but couldn't avoid being struck. He did not return, but after the game he flashed a thumbs-up sign to Bylsma.

Bylsma said Staal has some swelling in the cheek, but wasn't otherwise injured.

'Canes raise Brind'Amour's No. 17 to the rafters

Friday, 02.18.2011 / 8:39 PM / NHL Insider

Former Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour donned his jersey one more time before his No. 17 was raised to the rafters of the RBC Center before Friday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Players on both teams wore No. 17 jerseys in warmups and during the 35-minute ceremony -- then the real No. 17 saw his a banner bearing his number raised to the roof to join Glen Wesley's No. 2 and Ron Francis' No. 10.

"The banner that means the most to me, that means more than an individual banner, and obviously you know what I'm talking about, is the Stanley Cup championship," Brind'Amour said during his speech while looking up at the 2006 championship banner.
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When I first became captain here, Monsieur Beliveau came to me and said, 'You're going to be fine. You don't have to change, you got selected because of who you are.'

— Saku Koivu on Thursday, recalling what he was told by the late Jean Beliveau when he was named Canadiens captain in 1999
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