Stanley Cup Final
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NHL Insider

Habs try to sort out defense

Friday, 04.29.2011 / 12:20 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

BROSSARD, Que. – He's played so little over the past two seasons, it's sometimes easy to forget that Andrei Markov is considered by many to be the best player on the Montreal Canadiens.

A sublimely talented defenseman that is among the best in the world at his position, Markov, 32, is still working his way back from his second reconstructive surgery on his left knee in a span of eight months, a knee that limited him to just seven games this season.

With the Canadiens being eliminated from the playoffs Wednesday night in Boston, the focus shifts to how GM Pierre Gauthier handles the delicate situation of Markov's impending unrestricted free agency on July 1.

Bowman optimistic about Hawks despite early ouster

Thursday, 04.28.2011 / 9:06 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Almost a year ago, Stan Bowman stood in front the media at the United Center and talked about the many changes he'd be forced to make to his Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

On Thursday, the Blackhawks’ general manager was right back in the same spot -- but this time under much different circumstances. The Blackhawks, after a turbulent season in which they needed help to get into the playoffs, were ousted in the Western Conference Quarterfinals by the Vancouver Canucks, a team they’d beaten in the second round in each of the past two seasons.

The bright side is that it took the Canucks seven games to beat the Blackhawks after getting up 3-0 in the series -- with an overtime goal by Alexandre Burrows in overtime finally advancing Vancouver into the conference semifinals.

Ducks appear set to turn to Emery in Game 2

Friday, 04.15.2011 / 2:33 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It appears that Ray Emery will start in goal for the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against Nashville on Friday.

Emery was first off the ice at Anaheim’s morning skate, an indication that he will make his first playoff start since Game 5 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final when he was on the losing side of the Ducks’ Cup clincher at Honda Center.

Bylsma: No pressure on Crosby to return

Friday, 04.15.2011 / 12:45 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby still isn’t ready to return to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup, playoffs or not.

Crosby skated on a fifth line with Mike Comrie and Eric Godard during the Penguins’ morning skate in advance of Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against Tampa Bay on Friday. But the Penguins’ captain is not ready to take part in any drills with contact.

AHL Checkers buy house for young fan

Wednesday, 04.13.2011 / 12:51 PM / NHL Insider

Mike Lappan - Special to

The Charlotte Checkers announced Friday, April 8, that thanks to donations, fan support and help from team partners and friends, a house has been purchased for Zach Bennett and his family, who will relocate to Charlotte from Albany, N.Y.

Zach is an 11-year-old boy who suffers from neurofibromatosis (NF1). As former season ticket holders of the Albany River Rats, the Bennett family has established close relationships with many current Checkers players and will now head south to the Queen City for better medical care and to be closer to the team.

Second-half collapse shows Avs have work to do

Monday, 04.11.2011 / 3:44 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

"Obviously there were 20 games there where everyone was struggling. It is what it is; it happened. I think it's good to get it out of the way at a young age. For a lot of us, especially guys like me and (Ryan) O'Reilly, I think it's good to learn how to lose before you win. If we ever go through this situation again we'll know how to handle it better. Hopefully it won't happen again." -- Matt Duchene

DENVER -- Now that the nightmarish season is over, the Colorado Avalanche have plenty of offseason work to do to return to respectability, along with a playoff berth.

The Avalanche finished 29th in the NHL's overall standings with a 30-44-8 record and 68 points, the team's worst record since it arrived in Denver from Quebec City in 1995-96.

Hard to believe the Avalanche were in the hunt for first place in the Northwest Division as recently as Jan. 24 with a 25-18-6 record before collapsing. Colorado went 5-26-2 in the final 33 games, a drought that included two 10-game losing streaks.

"It really went bad for us. It wasn't fun at all," said second-year center Matt Duchene, who led the Avalanche in scoring with 67 points (27 goals, 40 assists). At 20 years, 84 days old, he passed Joe Sakic (20 years, 268 days old with Quebec in 1989-90) as the youngest top scorer in franchise history.


Panel's consensus opinion says West is best

Monday, 04.11.2011 / 1:19 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The question posed to's mostly anonymous eight-person panel was this: Which conference is better and why?

The consensus will not surprise anyone who has followed the NHL this season -- five votes for the Western Conference, zero for the Eastern Conference and three on the fence. But the reasons why our panel of experts leaned in favor of the West and the reasons why three of them were on the fence should pique your interest.

Over the final two weeks of the regular season we polled six general managers, including three from the West and three from the East, as well as two NHL Network analysts -- Calgary-based Craig Button and Toronto-based Kevin Weekes. The results found that the three Western GMs as well as Button and Weekes favored the Western Conference while the three Eastern GMs were on the fence.

Wings pleased with response against Hawks

Sunday, 04.10.2011 / 5:51 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO – It wasn't so much about putting the rival Chicago Blackhawks on the brink of missing the playoffs as it was about pride for the Detroit Red Wings.
That's what meant the most to Detroit after Sunday's 4-3 victory against the defending Stanley Cup champions in front of 22,046 at the United Center – a repayment in kind for the 4-2 victory the Hawks handed the Wings on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Chicago had also won four straight against the Red Wings after Detroit spoiled the Hawks' home opener this season – in which Chicago raised its fourth Cup banner before the game.

Babcock not surprised by Blackhawks' finish

Sunday, 04.10.2011 / 5:35 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

CHICAGO -- Mike Babcock is not the least bit surprised that the Chicago Blackhawks are standing on the cliff right now, hoping that the Minnesota Wild can save their season.

"They left points on the table early, but there's no way to get your guys engaged early," Babcock said following Detroit's 4-3 win at United Center on Sunday that put the Hawks on the brink of elimination. "How do you get a team to play in September and October when the games in your mind as a player, no matter what you say to yourself, don't mean anything compared to what you just played in June? That's the facts."

Penguins prep roster for playoff tuneup

Sunday, 04.10.2011 / 2:35 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

ATLANTA -- Since Sunday's season finale against the Thrashers represents the proverbial, late-season meaningless game -- his Pittsburgh squad is locked into the Eastern Conference's fourth seed and a match-up with the Tampa Bay Lightning -- Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said that Brent Johnson would start in goal and that he would rest center Jordan Staal and that wing James Neal also would not play.

With Philadelphia's 7-4 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday, Philadelphia clinched the Atlantic Division and prevented the Penguins from having a chance to win it with a victory on Sunday.

As a result, Johnson ended up earning his second start in the last nine games over No. 1 Marc-Andre Fleury and center Mike Comrie, wings Eric Tangradi and Chris Conner were inserted into the lineup with enforcer Eric Godard sitting out. (Atlanta's leader in fighting majors Eric Boulton sat with an injury while rookie Carl Klingberg, the 34th overall selection in the 2009 Entry Draft, was set to make his League debut.)

Staal has played an amazing amount of minutes for a forward in recent weeks, including 25:13 of time on ice on Friday so it seems Bylsma wanted to give him some rest.
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Quote of the Day

For our team, as a group, we've never been this far before, and so it's just more lessons learned, and sometimes you have to go to the school of hard knocks to find out what works and what doesn't. We've got a young group. They've played some unreal hockey here to get us this far, and we showed if we're not going to play the proper way, a really, really good hockey team is going to beat you, and that's what they did. It's a lesson learned.

— Lightning coach Jon Cooper after Rangers win in Game 6 forced a Game 7 that will be played at Madison Square Garden on Friday