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NHL Insider

Parise pushing return back to Saturday

Wednesday, 03.30.2011 / 12:45 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Zach Parise's return to the New Jersey Devils lineup will have to wait.
Following New Jersey's optional skate Wednesday morning here at Prudential Center, Parise said he would sit out the club's next two home games against the New York Islanders tonight and Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers on Friday. Parise said he's hoping to give it a go Saturday at home against the Montreal Canadiens.
"I made the decision (Tuesday)," Parise said. "I thought the practice went well. Today was my fourth practice with the team but I just didn't feel comfortable hopping into a game at this time. Not that five practices will make much of a difference, but I thought one or two more would be safer."
Why Saturday?

Blackhawks know they need to be better

Wednesday, 03.30.2011 / 12:35 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOSTON -- Monday's match in Detroit was emotional for the Chicago Blackhawks. It was intense in a way only a true rivalry can be. Various people inside Joe Louis Arena either watching the game, covering it with a notebook or playing in it said it felt like the playoffs had come to Hockeytown two weeks early.

The Blackhawks responded with a 3-2 overtime victory that coach Joel Quenneville called the "most important win we've had at any point." It doesn't seem so huge anymore.

Twenty-four hours after leaving Detroit with a monster two points the Blackhawks left Boston disgusted, dejected and perhaps on the brink of a late-season disaster.

Hawks say Sharp could skate by the weekend

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 6:13 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOSTON -- Injured Chicago forward Patrick Sharp is progressing well and could get back on the ice by the weekend, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said prior Tuesday's game at TD Garden. Sharp, who is sidelined with a left knee injury, will miss his fourth straight game when the Blackhawks take on Boston.

"I'm going to say soon, but how soon?" Quenneville said. "I don't think he'll be on the ice in the next couple of days but I think you can see him in not too long.

"Certainly you need some practice time, to get on the ice, have some good skates in practice time before playing some games."

The Hawks still don't have a firm timetable for Sharp's return, but they'd like to get him back before the end of the regular season. Quenneville hinted the Hawks' game against Detroit on April 8, their second-to-last game of the season, isn't an unreasonable target. Chicago finishes the season at home against the Red Wings on April 10.

Coyotes can deal payback to reeling Stars

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 4:29 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With just one win in their last six games and on the outside looking in at a Western Conference playoff spot, the Dallas Stars have a lot to play for Tuesday night as they visit the Phoenix Coyotes.

But it's a pretty big game for the Coyotes as well, and the Stars gave them plenty to play for the last time they came to Glendale on March 1.

Rallying from a 2-0 deficit with a pair of late goals, the Coyotes tied the game on a Ray Whitney goal with 37.7 seconds left and the game appeared headed for overtime. But Radim Vrbata took a needless hooking penalty seconds later and the Stars cashed in, with Jamie Benn scoring with 4.8 seconds left to give Dallas a dramatic 3-2 win.

Benn has the decisive goal in both wins over Phoenix this season, but the Stars have dropped the other three meetings.

Concussion again has Hamhuis out vs. Nashville

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 4:20 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- On Friday, Dan Hamhuis spoke eagerly of playing his first game as an opponent in Nashville, the city where he was drafted and spent his first six NHL seasons.

However, Hamhuis' plans were derailed Sunday when the Vancouver Canucks defenseman suffered a concussion -- his second in two months -- as a result of a collision with Columbus forward Rick Nash.

Hamhuis, who departed the Predators via free agency in July by signing a six-year contract with Vancouver, missed the teams' first meeting in Nashville in February, also because of a concussion. He had big plans for the second and final meeting of the season at Bridgestone Arena. The Canucks arrived late Sunday and had all day Monday here.


Habs seek to end scoring drought vs. Atlanta

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 2:58 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens are looking to avoid becoming a very dubious part of the franchise's storied history when they face the Atlanta Thrashers Tuesday night.

The Canadiens come in with three straight shutout losses -- the first time that has ever happened in the 101-year history of the team.

But the last time the Canadiens were shut out in four straight games -- one was a scoreless tie -- dates back to Feb 14-26, 1928, when the NHL's all-time winningest franchise only had two Stanley Cup championships to its credit.

One would think the pressure to score a goal would be foremost in the minds of the Canadiens players, but it is in fact getting a win and putting an end to the current three-game losing streak that was the priority the players were talking about.

Penner back in Edmonton on a playoff push

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 2:51 PM / NHL Insider

Robin Brownlee - Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Back at Rexall Place a month and a day after being traded to the Los Angeles Kings by the Oilers, Dustin Penner is in the middle of a heated playoff drive. That's something he never experienced in parts of four seasons in Edmonton.

So while Penner still has lots of friends across the rink in the home dressing room, it's that postseason push that'll be his focus when the Kings face the Oilers tonight.

"It still feels a bit like home after spending four years here and seeing all the familiar faces," said Penner, who has 2 goals and 6 points in the 12 games he's played with the Kings.

"It's definitely a weird feeling getting traded midseason and coming back a month later."

Penner, 28, dealt at the Feb. 28 trade deadline for defenseman Colten Teubert, a first-round draft pick in 2011 and a conditional pick in 2012, won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007.


Adversity has made Pens stronger in stretch run

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 2:31 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

"I think we've been galvanized by some of the adversity we've had, some of the situations we've kind of been put in. It's forced our team to learn how to play and learn how to win a unique way, different from last year. We've learned different things about our team and had success different ways." -- Dan Bylsma

PITTSBURGH -- A year ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins had a healthy Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. They also had an NHL championship to defend, and the realistic expectation they would play in the Stanley Cup Final for the third consecutive season.

The picture looks different as the 2010-11 season heads toward April, but in the end it might produce better results.

Despite missing the injured Crosby and Malkin, these reconfigured -- and, it might be argued, rejuvenated -- Penguins have the look and feel of a team that could make it difficult on any opponent in the playoffs. Especially if Crosby returns at some point from the concussion that has sidelined him since Jan. 5; he skated again Tuesday, but there remains no timetable for him to practice or play.


Sabres looking to knock out Leafs

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 2:17 PM / NHL Insider

Juha Mikkola - Correspondent

Sitting seven points out of the playoffs with six games remaining, the Toronto Maple Leafs' playoff hopes are slim; just don't tell that to the team.

The Maple Leafs are focused on Tuesday's matchup against division rival, and current eighth seed, Buffalo. Only a handful of Maple Leafs participated in the morning skate and the coaching staff closed the dressing room from local media.

The Sabres, on the other hand, are riding a three-game winning streak and can essentially eliminate the Leafs with a victory at the Air Canada Centre tonight. They control their playoff destiny and are more focused on the teams above them in the standings than they are with eliminating the Leafs. With a victory, the Sabres can move into a tie with the seventh-place Rangers ahead of tomorrow night's matchup with New York in Buffalo.

"We have been playing well the last three months and [tonight] is an important game for us. Toronto is going to be desperate," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We haven't been looking at pushing the Leafs back. ... We said if we can win a couple we can close the gap to the Rangers and Montreal. If we can put a nice little run together we can move up the standings."

Acrobatic Bylsma has kept Penguins thriving

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 1:00 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

"Word gets around, what your coach is like. It's part of who you are (as a franchise). Dan does a great job representing this organization and this team. We're lucky to have him as our coach. This year you can see it. People can finally see and recognize what a good coach he is, and how he gets it out of his players." -- Ray Shero

Just how has Dan Bylsma steered the Pittsburgh Penguins through a Class 5 rapid of a season without flipping the raft?


"I think the biggest thing is how positive he is and energetic," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik told "You get to the rink in the morning and he's got music blasting, he's doing cartwheels in (the locker room). That's not an exaggeration, either."

Locker-room gymnastics might not come from the first chapter of the Coaching 101 textbook, but Bylsma has made it work, and despite a hellacious amount of injuries, suspensions and myriad other distractions, the Penguins never have slipped in the standings and their coach never has wavered in his commitment to playing a certain way. It's why he's one of the first names mentioned when people discuss the candidates for this season's Jack Adams Award, given to the NHL's best coach.
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