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NHL Insider

Habs feel fixing PP could help restore confidence

Friday, 10.21.2011 / 5:10 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

Tomas Plekanec
Center - MTL
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 4
SOG: 24 | +/-: -2
BROSSARD, Que. -- The Montreal Canadiens would do well to shut the blinds, turn off the radio and not even think of turning on a television or going anywhere near a computer.

With their city in a frothy panic over the team's worst start to a season in 16 years, the Canadiens' struggles have taken a front row seat in the hearts and minds of Montreal's residents.

And it's only October.

But while the Canadiens understand why their fans feel this way about their 1-4-1 record, they have an even better understanding of why it is important to shut that constant chatter out of their minds.

Hard hats, shovels, fedoras mark signs of respect

Friday, 10.21.2011 / 2:45 PM / NHL Insider

What do a jacket, a hat, a belt and a shovel have in common? No, they aren't what you need to be fashionable while doing some digging. They are actually symbols of respect bestowed upon hockey players following an excellent performance.

The Boston Bruins had their famous vintage Starter jacket that was given out to a worthy player following victories during their run to the Stanley Cup last season. After Nathan Horton was knocked out of the Final by a hit from Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome during Game 3, the Bruins went on to win. The jacket hung in Horton's locker following the game.

It culminated during the team's home opener this season, when Mark Recchi, who retired during the offseason, wore the jacket on the ice during the celebration. It would be the last time the jacket would be used by the Bruins.

Red Wings are anxious to get back in action

Friday, 10.21.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Mike Babcock and the Detroit Red Wings are screaming uncle.

"They want to play games and I want to watch them play games," Babcock told Wednesday. "It just gets old."

Detroit has a 4-0-0 record so Babcock is at least happy with the early-season results, but the schedule has been frustrating.

The Red Wings opened with a back-to-back against Ottawa and at Colorado before going four consecutive days without a game. They're now in the middle of a five-day stretch between games, but they have a back-to-back this weekend against Columbus and at Washington, and another next weekend against San Jose and at Minnesota.

They have nine back-to-back sets before Jan. 1. They had six in the same span of time last season. 

Bruins keep lid on Kessel again

Friday, 10.21.2011 / 2:26 AM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

Phil Kessel went into Thursday night's game against the Bruins with seven goals and 12 points, but was held to just one shot on net by his former team. (Photo: Getty Images)
BOSTON – It didn't take long after the Bruins' morning skate Thursday for a television reporter to ask Claude Julien if he thinks the whole Phil Kessel/Tyler Seguin story will ever go away.

The Bruins' coach quickly turned the tables on that inquisitor.

"That's up to you guys. It's certainly not created by us," he said. "It's you guys that create the story all the time. We don't. We've turned the page, and I'm sure they have. Everybody wants to move on, but you guys control that. So I should be asking you that question, ‘Are you ever going to let that story die?'"

The latest chapter of the Boston-Toronto rivalry in the post-Kessel-trade era was another victory for the Bruins, who beat the Maple Leafs 6-2 at TD Garden on Thursday night. The Bruins are now 7-3-3 against Toronto since they traded Kessel to the Leafs in the fall of 2009 for a package of draft picks. One of those picks turned into Seguin as the No. 2 overall selection in the 2010 draft.

Gretzky not ready to return to hockey

Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 10:37 PM / NHL Insider

Wayne Gretzky may be hockey's most famous free agent -- and he plans to stay that way.

Gretzky, now 50, hasn't been connected with the NHL or any of its teams since he severed ties with the Phoenix Coyotes prior to the 2009-10 season. He told TSN's Darren Dreger that while some teams have approached him about an executive role, he's not ready right now.

"Edmonton and Los Angeles have been really great to me and I have a nice relationship with both Kevin [Lowe] and the Oilers and obviously Dean Lombardi and the Kings, and I'm really honest with them. Right now, it's not the time for me to jump back into the game," explained Gretzky.

Lidstrom excited by Scandinavian TV deal

Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 7:26 PM / NHL Insider

Count Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom among the European players excited by Thursday's announcement that the National Hockey League finalized a broadcast rights deal with Modern Times Group (MTG) that allows access across Scandinavia to every NHL game live via television, mobile and broadband for the next five seasons.

"I know my dad is very happy -- he's been calling me there the last few weeks and asking, 'We can't find our hockey games.' He follows all our games, even though they start sometimes in the middle of the night. They'll get up and watch the games," Lidstrom said while appearing as a guest on Thursday's "NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman."

Commodore patiently awaits his turn with Wings

Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 7:13 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- There is a word Mike Commodore is using these days that admittedly didn’t enter his vocabulary much a few years ago.

“Patience is the key word,” said Commodore, a 31-year old free-agent addition by the Detroit Red Wings who’s recovering from a preseason knee sprain. “It’s not a bad situation for me. I just need to stay patient and make sure I’m ready when the opportunity comes.”

That’s because the situation in Detroit has changed since the time Commodore left a game at the United Center in the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks. At the time, it looked like he had the inside track over 24-year-old Jakub Kindl for the role of sixth defenseman.

Since Commodore’s been out, Kindl has thrived while teamed with 27-year old Jonathan Ericsson as the Wings’ third D-pairing. Detroit now appears to have one of the deepest defense corps in the League from top to bottom despite Brian Rafalski’s retirement and not bringing in a high-priced free agent. 

Big day for Stewart family as brothers finally face off

Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 6:45 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The day Anthony Stewart came back home from his Ontario Hockey League team, the Kingston Frontenacs, and watched his 6-foot-2, 260-pound brother Chris playing a pickup hockey game, he immediately knew he had to take an initiative.

It was Anthony Stewart, the oldest of Norman and Susan Stewart's seven children, who felt like he needed to push younger brother Chris to the ice and away from the gridiron, even though Chris excelled in football. It was Chris Stewart, a multitalented athlete growing up, who made the choice of walking away from the ice when he was 14. Anthony guided his little brother toward what turned out to be a career choice when Chris was just 16.

"He was a natural athlete," Anthony said of Chris. "He was just a little heavy and was playing football. He had a couple offers for collegiate football. But I watched a pickup game of his and he had really good hands and he was actually really fast. 

Sharks hope Havlat's speed will boost offense

Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 4:26 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- He's only missed four games, but Martin Havlat has been eagerly anticipating his Sharks debut. It'll finally happen Friday night at Prudential Center against the Devils.

"Marty will play," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after Thursday's practice here. "That's what I've been told and the doctors cleared him. If anything changes between now and then it will be a surprise to everyone."

Havlat had surgery on his left shoulder in May to repair a torn labrum, an injury he suffered while playing for the Czech Republic in the IIHF World Championship. The Sharks knew he was still recovering when they acquired him via trade from Minnesota on July 3, but have waited patiently for the speedy right wing to get himself back to 100 percent.

Havlat visited his surgeon in Cleveland on Wednesday and was given the green light.

First weeks find numerous 18-year-olds making impact

Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 3:49 PM / NHL Insider

Davis Harper - Staff Writer

Even as the NHL learning curve has steepened in recent years -- a faster game requiring supreme technical ability -- some players continue to ascend to the upper regions of the sport much sooner than their peers.

The contingent of these instant-impact freshmen is getting younger and younger, as evidenced by this year’s crop of 18-year-olds already making their mark around the League.

No. 1 pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has met -- and maybe even exceeded -- lofty preseason expectations by putting up point-per-game numbers for the Edmonton Oilers with 4 goals and 1 assist through five games. In his first NHL game, he tallied a game-tying goal in regulation in a shootout win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, then bagged a hat trick in a losing effort against the Vancouver Canucks. Nugent-Hopkins is already outpacing the No. 1 pick from 2010 -- teammate Taylor Hall, who had just a goal and an assist during the same period last season.
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It's a big milestone for me and I'm happy to help my team with lots of good teammates. It's fun.

— Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, who on Wednesday became the ninth Russian-born player, and ninth Red Wings player, to score 300 NHL goals
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