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NHL Insider

Long playoff run is no excuse for Vancouver

Sunday, 11.20.2011 / 10:02 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

The Vancouver Canucks don't want to hear about Stanley Cup hangovers.

For starters, they never got the Stanley Cup to celebrate with. But mostly they just aren't interested in making excuses for a 9-9-1 record that is well below everyone's expectations -- from both the outside and internally within the organization.

No matter how many times they're asked about it.

"No, you're not going to get me," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said with a smile after a reporter's third attempt to tie this year's sluggish start to last year's long playoff run and disappointing finish. "I don't even remember the playoffs last year. Nobody remembers. There are no more excuses like that. We're well into our schedule right now. We're thinking about this year, and that's not even on our minds right now."

Those minds, however, seem incapable of focusing for an entire 60-minute game, which is the biggest reason the Canucks continue to tread water as their season approaches the quarter pole Sunday against Ottawa. They are outside the playoff bar and on pace for just 82 points, nowhere near good enough for a roster largely unchanged from the one that led the league in just about every significant statistic before failing to win Game 7 of the Cup Final against Boston. 

Gomez searching for previous form, faces former team

Saturday, 11.19.2011 / 2:12 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- Just about any game would be an opportune time for Scott Gomez to break out of an epic goal-scoring drought, but Saturday night against his former team, the New York Rangers, would probably be more ideal than most others.

Gomez's last goal dates back to Feb. 5, 2011, against these same Rangers in this same venue, a span of 46 regular season and playoff games without one.

"Well, (if) I keep shooting, hopefully that makes it go away," Gomez said Saturday about the drought. "It's not a lack of working. I just need a bounce to go in off someone. But my job is to get my wingers the puck and have them put it in. That's not going to change."

Meanwhile, on the other side Saturday night the Bell Centre crowd will likely be watching Ryan McDonagh log around 25 minutes of ice time on the Rangers' top defense pairing with Dan Girardi.

Despite Jackets loss, little-used Sanford stellar

Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 11:40 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOSTON -- Curtis Sanford went two years, 10 months and seven days between starts in the NHL. He should get only one day off before his next one.
Given the Blue Jackets' predicament and their red-hot opponent Thursday night, Sanford gave Columbus arguably its best goaltending performance of the season by making 26 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to the streaking Bruins at TD Garden. The only goal he allowed in regulation went in off of his own teammate.
Boston won its seventh straight game while Columbus picked up only its eighth point of the season, but it was in a confidence-building fashion behind the unlikeliest of sources.

Tallon discusses Panthers' improvement on 'NHL Hour'

Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 7:58 PM / NHL Insider

The Florida Panthers are the only NHL team remaining without a captain -- but general manager Dale Tallon says that's not due to a lack of leadership in their dressing room, it's because there are so many viable candidates that management isn't in a rush to award the "C" to just one.

"We want to take our time and do the right thing," said Tallon, whose Panthers list forwards Stephen Weiss and Tomas Kopecky and defensemen Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski as alternate captains. "We feel we've got a lot of leaders -- it's a tough decision. It's not just one or two guys now; we've got a whole locker room full of guys, and we do have a lot of young guys in our system that we're high on as well. So we want to take our time and make the right decision."

Appearing as a guest on Thursday night's "NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman," the 61-year-old Tallon, who helped assemble the Chicago Blackhawks' championship team in 2010, addressed his new reclamation project in Florida. Now in his second year as GM of the Panthers, Tallon's club entered the day tied for first place in the Southeast Division with perennial favorite Washington -- heady territory for a franchise that hasn't qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2000.

Bruins invested themselves in overcoming poor start

Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 2:45 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOSTON -- Tim Thomas sees similarities between his path to NHL stardom and the Bruins' drastic turnaround from a team in disarray through October to one that is surging in November.

It's about a mentality, one he had to develop 10 years ago and the Bruins had to copy three weeks ago.

"I didn't get my NHL break and chance until I had totally given up on it," Thomas told Thursday morning at TD Garden. "A lot of things in life happen to turn out that way. I don't want to say in any way that we just gave up; it just came. It wasn't something that we manufactured."

Thomas said nobody authored a rah-rah speech at any point in October, when the Bruins were 3-7-0 and last in the Eastern Conference. In fact, he can't pinpoint anything tangible that has led Boston to its 6-0 record, including a 34-13 goal-differential, in November.

Jackets try to stay confident despite bad start

Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 1:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOSTON -- The Columbus Blue Jackets have become blind to the big picture. Not only can't they see it anymore, they wouldn't even want to look out of fear of nightmares.

It's the middle of November, they've played just 17 games, won only three of them, and entered Wednesday night 12 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Jackets finished 16 points out of a playoff spot last season, but that was after 82 games.

"One of the goals at the start of the year was to take things in game segments," Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash told Wednesday night from the team hotel. "Now we've been through the period segments and we're down to minute segments to try to simplify things and just worry about that. We dug ourselves a huge hole, but we're worried about the first five minutes of (Thursday) night's game and that's it."

Jackets' captain Rick Nash feeling the pressure

Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 1:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOSTON -- Columbus captain Rick Nash has been under the microscope before. He's felt the pressure of being in the big game, such as when the gold medal was on the line for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"That's fun pressure," Nash told

The pressure Nash feels right now is anything but.

He is the face of a struggling franchise that has become the butt of several poor-taste yet arguably just jokes. He is the captain and the guy that is in the second of an eight-year contract that pays him $62.4 million. He is the leader of a franchise that has never won a playoff game and has gone 3-13-1 to start the season.

Wisdom of vision helps make Enroth special

Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 11:07 AM / NHL Insider

Justin Goldman - Correspondent

At just 5-foot-10 and 166 pounds, Stockholm native Jhonas Enroth is the National Hockey League's smallest goaltender. But don't let the tiny frame fool you; his advanced ocular senses allow him to thrive and survive against the world's finest shooters.

With a remarkable 13-0-1 record in 2011, including a perfect 6-0-0 start to his rookie campaign, Enroth proves that no matter what situation he's thrown into, whatever he lacks in size, he compensates with his eyes. But what exactly about Enroth's vision makes him so special?

Simply put, Enroth tracks the puck with an innate and detailed precision. This allows him to anticipate plays, arrive at angles early, and square up to pucks before they can sneak past him.

Realignment discussions to continue next month

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 6:42 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TORONTO -- While realignment is a major topic in the NHL, the general managers heard only a report on the subject Tuesday from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. There was no further discussion on realignment because it a Board of Governors matter.
The Board of Governors is expected to see scenarios and vote on realignment at their meeting Dec. 5-6 in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Realignment is necessary because Winnipeg has been promised that it will not play in the Eastern Conference beyond this season. As a result, other teams, most notably the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings, have expressed an interest in moving to the Eastern Conference.
"It's very much up in the air still. I don't think there is a clear solution yet," Columbus GM Scott Howson said. "There are a lot of ideas, and there is no perfect solution to this. You've got too many teams that aren't pleased with where they are and what their lot in the League is and they'd like to see some movement. We're just one of those teams and we'll continue to really put our heads together to try to come up with an idea that continues to work with everybody."

GMs: 1-3-1 'stalemate' bears monitoring; no action yet

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 5:52 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Several general managers said Tuesday that what happened when the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers incurred "a stalemate" during a game last week needs to be monitored moving forward, but no changes need to be made for now.

Tampa Bay's strict adherence to its 1-3-1 defensive system, and Philadelphia's decision to hold the puck in its own zone and try to force the Lightning out of that alignment, sparked a discussion among the NHL's general managers during their annual fall meeting.

"We went around the room and got every manager's opinion on where we're at with that," NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said. "I led the discussion saying we've played over 8,000 games since we took the red line out and this is the first time we've had a particular incident like this. We saw it in the World Junior [championship] one time, but the managers for the most part felt it is something we have to watch, work on and talk about it more in March. It's not the type of hockey you want to throw at your fans very often."

Added Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman: "It was good. We got everybody's opinions on things, and it was good. I think the general consensus is just monitor the game and the way it is played, and potentially if there are problems going forward that need to be adjusted, at the appropriate time there will be."
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