Stanley Cup Final
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NHL Insider

Howard set to shoulder Red Wings' hopes

Friday, 04.08.2011 / 1:46 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

"I was learning on my feet last year. It's one thing to sit here and watch, but it's another to actually be out there experiencing it. The intensity does pick up and guys are coming to the net a lot harder and there's a lot more screening going on. You have to be that much more focused to pick up pucks."
-- Jimmy Howard

DETROIT -- A common perception is the three toughest sports jobs in this city are closer for the Tigers, quarterback for the Lions and goalie for the Detroit Red Wings.
In just his second full NHL season with the Wings, Jimmy Howard now knows enough firsthand to agree with at least one third of that statement.
"You've just got to live in your own little bubble," Howard said, following Detroit's morning skate Friday at Joe Louis Arena. "It kind of comes with the job."
"It," being the criticism he's faced this season despite a 36-16-5 record as the Wings starting goalie. Howard burst onto the scene in Detroit last year as a rookie and was a Calder Trophy finalist after spending four years with the Grand Rapid Griffins of the American Hockey League.

Thrashers not worried about being spoilers

Thursday, 04.07.2011 / 11:14 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The Atlanta Thrashers have been resigned to the fact they will not be part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs since they were eliminated from contention Saturday.

That doesn't mean they won't have a say in who gets the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

They played the role of spoiler on Thursday night, beating the New York Rangers 3-0 at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers had every reason to be the better, more motivated team, but it was the Thrashers who controlled play for nearly the entire game.

The Rangers maintained control of eighth place in the Eastern Conference -- but they now need help from none other than the Thrashers, who will host the ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.

Canucks receive Presidents’ Trophy, honor Neilson

Thursday, 04.07.2011 / 10:44 PM / NHL Insider

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The Vancouver Canucks celebrated what has been the greatest regular season in franchise history when they were presented with the Presidents’ Trophy prior to the opening faceoff of Thursday's night's home finale against Minnesota.

NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Kris King was on hand to present the trophy, given to the regular-season champion. Canucks captain Henrik Sedin, along with alternate captain Manny Malhotra, stood for pictures with King and the trophy -- but were careful not to touch it.

Malhotra, who is out for the remainder of the season with an eye injury, received a loud cheer from the Rogers Arena crowd.

The Canucks clinched the League’s best record with a 3-1 win over the L.A. Kings on March 31. Vancouver heads into the playoffs with franchise records for victories (52), points (113) and road wins (26).

Shorthanded Canucks look to rebound vs. Wild

Thursday, 04.07.2011 / 5:45 PM / NHL Insider

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

"You know what? The Presidents' Trophy is not something we really think about. Really (heading into the playoffs), it doesn't mean anything. From my experience you can both win or get knocked out -- that's why I'm saying it doesn't really matter what you do in the regular season." -- Mikael Samuelsson

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The Vancouver Canucks will look to avoid losing their third straight for just the second time this season when the Minnesota Wild pay their final visit to Rogers Arena on Thursday night.

Vancouver will have to get the job done without Raffi Torres, who was suspended for four games Thursday afternoon by the NHL for his hit on Edmonton Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle in a 2-0 loss on Tuesday.

"I strongly disagree with it, but we're going to move on here and get ready for the playoffs," Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis said of the suspension. "I thought it was a hockey play."

Torres, who will be unavailable for the first two games of the playoffs as well, commented on the Eberle hit this morning before hearing the decision.

McGuire had major impact during time with Flyers

Thursday, 04.07.2011 / 5:14 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

EJ McGuire is most closely associated with NHL Central Scouting, which he ran for six years.
McGuire's entry into the NHL, however, came with the Philadelphia Flyers, as an assistant coach under Mike Keenan from 1984-88. He returned to work on Bill Barber's staff midway through the 2000-01 season and stayed through the end of the 2001-02 season.
During his four seasons on Keenan's staff, the team went to the Stanley Cup Final in 1985 and 1987, losing to the Edmonton Oilers both times.
"On behalf of the Philadelphia Flyers, I would like to personally extend my condolences to EJ's wife, Terry, and their daughters, Jacqueline and Erin," said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman and Flyers founder Ed Snider. "EJ was a close, personal friend of mine who loved hockey as much as he loved life. I always enjoyed spending time with him. We would often talk about our team, the game, and our families. He always had great insights and that's something I'm going to miss. He was one of the most knowledgeable men our sport has ever known. It's a sad day for the Flyers and a sad day for hockey."

As retirement nears, Foote draws plenty of praise

Thursday, 04.07.2011 / 3:14 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

DALLAS -- Adam Foote isn't with the Colorado Avalanche in Dallas for their game Thursday night with the Stars, but the veteran defenseman's presence is definitely being felt with his impending retirement announcement Friday morning in Denver.

Foote is expected to retire after a stellar 19-year run in the NHL where he played on a pair of Stanley Cup-winning clubs in Colorado and earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest defensemen in the League.

He's a player that Dallas coach Marc Crawford knows very well from coaching him in Quebec and Colorado for four seasons (1994-98).

"I just so appreciated how hard Adam played," Crawford said. "He was a huge part of our shutdown defense pair of him and [Alexei] Gusarov. They could play against anybody. What I always liked about Adam was his foot speed. He could stay with anybody. As the years have waned on, it's been encouraging to see his competitiveness has remained the same."


Stars need better result against Avalanche

Thursday, 04.07.2011 / 2:49 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

DALLAS -- There is no doubt the Dallas Stars have had their troubles against the Colorado Avalanche during the past three seasons, but they need a reversal of fortunes Thursday night with a critical contest at American Airlines Center.

Colorado is 7-1-2 against Dallas in the past 10 meetings, including a pair of victories this season. The Stars currently have 91 points and are four behind Chicago, which holds the eighth position in the West standings. A loss to Colorado would deal a near-critical blow to their hopes of ending a two-year playoff drought.

These teams haven't seen each other since late November, when Colorado beat Dallas 4-3 in a shootout here. That win came just two weeks after the Avalanche won 5-0 in Denver. 

Briere likely to play; Pronger channels Dr. Seuss

Thursday, 04.07.2011 / 2:45 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

VOORHEES, N.J. -- There was a packed house on the ice here at Virtua Flyers Skate Zone, as three goalies and every skater except for two took part in Thursday's practice.
Two of those skaters were Danny Briere and Blair Betts, both of whom are questionable for Friday's game in Buffalo due to lower-body injuries.
"I thought they both skated well," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "As far as what was on the ice, they looked good."
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren issued a statement that said Briere is possible for Friday with a lower-body injury, but Briere said as good as he felt during Thursday's on-ice session, he was very positive about getting into Friday's game. Briere was scratched about two hours before Sunday's game against the New York Rangers with his injury and sat out Tuesday's game in Ottawa. They're the only games he's missed for injury or illness all season.


Canucks feel they're now equipped to win a title

Thursday, 04.07.2011 / 12:58 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

"The only difference in the dressing room is that we have a better team from top to bottom. The players that the management brought in this summer has made us a lot better, and that's the only difference from the years past."
-- Henrik Sedin

For 39 seasons the Vancouver Canucks have tried to bring the Stanley Cup back to British Columbia for the first time since 1925.

Their quest in the franchise's 40th season will be a little different -- because this time, the Canucks are the favorites. Not only is Vancouver the top seed in its conference for the first time, the Canucks have clinched the first Presidents' Trophy in franchise history and will have home ice throughout the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Collecting a franchise-record 113 points (with the potential for four more) should raise the expectation level for most NHL teams, but Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin doesn't see it that way.

Cup visit from Ovi would be thrilling for Russia

Thursday, 04.07.2011 / 12:53 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"The Washington Capitals are still building their history and Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin are a big part of it and how popular they are. The success of any Russian players, especially a big name like Ovechkin, would bring a lot of attention to the Stanley Cup and hockey itself." -- Slava Fetisov

NEW YORK -- Russia is rooting for a Stanley Cup visit this summer. If it happens to be Alex Ovechkin who brings the trophy home, well that might just be the sweetest gift yet.

"I'm going to tell you, all of Russia is rooting for Alex," Hockey Hall of Famer and two-time Stanley Cup champion Slava Fetisov told on Thursday. "The popularity when Alex Ovechkin comes to Moscow is pretty big."

Fetisov spoke to from inside the League's main headquarters in midtown Manhattan. He was here accompanying 18 Russian youth hockey players, nine boys and nine girls, as well as some Russian coaches and representatives from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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Quote of the Day

That's a really tough thing to play through; when you finally are thrown out there, the game is fast, intense, every single play matters, you've got to find a way to play through that and make smart plays. So it's a huge testament to [Vermette] and some other individuals in our locker room that are putting their own ego, their own wants and needs aside, and are ready for those opportunities when they do come.

— Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews on teammate Antoine Vermette, who returned from being a healthy scratch in Game 3 to score the double-overtime winner in Game 4