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NHL Insider

Philadelphia a happy place for Versteeg

Tuesday, 02.22.2011 / 2:38 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette admits he's tried to forget the fact Kris Versteeg was celebrating the Stanley Cup in Philadelphia as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks only eight months ago.
He's just grateful now to have him on his side Tuesday when Versteeg makes his Flyers home debut against the Phoenix Coyotes here at Wells Fargo Center.
"He just has to be a nice complement to what we already have and I thought that his last game was good (against the Rangers)," Laviolette said of Versteeg, who has played four games since he was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 14. "He's very quick on the puck, he's got a quick stick. I think he's getting more comfortable here and that's a good thing. It takes time when you're in a new environment, a new system with new players and a new coach. Things take a little bit of time, so we found minutes for him last game and we'll see if we could continue that."


Scoring surge brings smiles on Long Island

Tuesday, 02.22.2011 / 2:30 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Quick -- name the one NHL team that has three players with 23 or more goals. Washington? Pittsburgh? Vancouver? Tampa Bay? Philadelphia?
Would you believe the New York Islanders?
Yes, those Islanders -- the team that scored all of 15 goals in the entire month of November. The team that won just once in a 21-game span from late October to mid-December, that's used six goaltenders (all of whom have at least one win).
And the team that has won eight of 11 games since the All-Star break, including a 5-1 victory against Florida on Monday that moved them within 11 points of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference entering Tuesday's visit to Toronto. They've scored 44 goals in those 11 games.


Different net approaches working for Flyers, Coyotes

Tuesday, 02.22.2011 / 2:19 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- If you think the road to success is the same for every NHL team, better think again.

"Bryz is the backbone. If he's our best player we win games, and if he's not, we have trouble winning. So having him playing his best this time of year is great." -- Scottie Upshall

Take, for instance, the Phoenix Coyotes and the Philadelphia Flyers, who meet for the first and only time this season at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday. The Flyers (39-15-5, 83 points) stand atop the Eastern Conference behind the two-headed monster in goal that is veteran Brian Boucher and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky.
During February, Boucher (15-6-2, 2.26 goals-against average, .922 save percentage) has started four of nine games. Bobrovsky (23-9-3, 2.44 GAA, .919 save percentage) has started five.
The Coyotes (32-19-9, 73 points) are currently third in the West due in large part to the play of one masked man, Ilya Bryzgalov. The Russian-born netminder will make a career-high 19th straight start for the Coyotes on Tuesday. He'll go head-to-head against Bobrovsky, his fellow countryman, for the first time in his career.

Johnson, McClement returning to St. Louis with Avs

Monday, 02.21.2011 / 3:47 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Turns out, you really can go home again. Erik Johnson and Jay McClement are proof of that.

A little more than 48 hours after leaving St. Louis following the blockbuster trade that sent them to Colorado, Johnson and McClement boarded the Avalanche's charter Monday for a flight back to the Gateway City and Tuesday's game against the Blues at the Scottrade Center.   

"It's pretty weird to come back that soon, but It's going to be fun," Johnson said after getting in his first full practice Monday with his new team at the South Suburban Family Sports Center. "We go back there two more times (this season), so it'll be nice to get the first one done tomorrow. It's going to be weird coming into your old rink on the other side of the barn and seeing all your old trainers and coaches and teammates.

"Nothing would feel better than to get a win."

Duchene probably to play Tuesday night

Monday, 02.21.2011 / 2:15 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The Colorado Avalanche expect to have leading scorer Matt Duchene in the lineup for Tuesday's game in St. Louis.

Duchene took part in a full practice Monday for the first time since injuring his left hand Feb. 14 against Calgary. He missed two games after being struck by a shot launched by former teammate Kevin Shattenkirk, who was traded to the Blues on Saturday along with Chris Stewart and a 2011 or 2012 second-round draft pick in exchange for Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a first-round pick in 2011 or 2012.

Duchene, who has 21 goals and 27 assists in 57 games, centered a line with Kevin Porter and Milan Hejduk in practice.

"I felt pretty good," Duchene said. "I'm excited to get back out there tomorrow. It's your bottom hand, putting a lot of force on it. I think I've got it figured out. I think I have a way to stabilize it. It feels OK.

Staal OK for matchup vs. Capitals

Monday, 02.21.2011 / 1:18 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins already were without their top two centers. They won't be missing their top remaining center when they finish their always-entertaining season series against the Washington Capitals on Monday (7:30 p.m., VERSUS, TSN2, RDS).

Jordan Staal, one of the NHL's best two-way forwards, will play, according to coach Dan Bylsma, despite being struck on the left cheek with the puck in overtime during Pittsburgh's 3-2 loss in Chicago on Sunday.

Staal, stationed near the net, tried to duck to avoid a shot from teammate Kris Letang but couldn't avoid being struck. He did not return, but after the game he flashed a thumbs-up sign to Bylsma.

Bylsma said Staal has some swelling in the cheek, but wasn't otherwise injured.

'Canes raise Brind'Amour's No. 17 to the rafters

Friday, 02.18.2011 / 8:39 PM / NHL Insider

Former Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour donned his jersey one more time before his No. 17 was raised to the rafters of the RBC Center before Friday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Players on both teams wore No. 17 jerseys in warmups and during the 35-minute ceremony -- then the real No. 17 saw his a banner bearing his number raised to the roof to join Glen Wesley's No. 2 and Ron Francis' No. 10.

"The banner that means the most to me, that means more than an individual banner, and obviously you know what I'm talking about, is the Stanley Cup championship," Brind'Amour said during his speech while looking up at the 2006 championship banner.

Blackhawks continue playoff push without 'Q'

Friday, 02.18.2011 / 3:37 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

"The points are valuable and we want to make sure we keep these guys behind us. At this point, I think it's still a little too far out to start solidifying those playoff spots. Anything can happen down the stretch. If we play our best, we like to think we control our destiny."
-- Patrick Sharp

CHICAGO -- Their coach remains in the hospital, but the Chicago Blackhawks don't have the luxury of worrying about Joel Quenneville's continued absence.
Instead, the defending Stanley Cup champions are preparing for another tough home game Friday at the United Center against a Central Division rival, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Columbus is just two points behind the 11th-place Blackhawks in the Western Conference, while Chicago is just four points outside the top eight.
"You look at the standings, like we have every day for the past two weeks, and things aren't changing that much," Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said. "The points are valuable and we want to make sure we keep these guys behind us. At this point, I think it's still a little too far out to start solidifying those playoff spots. Anything can happen down the stretch. If we play our best, we like to think we control our destiny."

Around the West: Jackets unable to gain ground

Friday, 02.18.2011 / 10:49 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Columbus captain Rick Nash is torn between feelings of elation and frustration. He's thrilled his Blue Jackets have fought their way back into the playoff chase, but discouraged because they've managed to pick up just one spot in the Western Conference standings despite going 8-3-3 since Jan. 14.

The Blue Jackets enter their game Friday at Chicago -- one Nash called "huge," as if that even needs to be said at this point -- 12th in the West and six points out of eighth. Columbus can tie Chicago for 11th with a regulation win at United Center.

Wings legend Yzerman now focused on Bolts

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 8:13 PM / NHL Insider

David Kalan - Staff Writer

After a Hall of Fame career as captain of the Red Wings, Thursday night marked the first time Steve Yzerman would face Detroit in any capacity. While most players or GMs with 27 years working in the same organization might dismiss any misty-eyed notions, Yzerman admitted Thursday that he didn't quite know what to expect as far as his own emotions were concerned when new team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, hosted the team he'd called his own since turning pro in 1983.

"We'll see when the game gets under way," Yzerman said on "The NHL Hour With Gary Bettman" prior to Thursday night's game at the St. Pete Times Forum. "I thought long and hard for weeks leading up to ultimately meeting with [Lightning owner Jeff Vinik] and talking about the position, and it was a difficult decision to eventually leave. But I felt like this is something I know I wanted to do. I want to pursue this and whether it's now or at some point I'm going to have to leave the organization to do that."
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Quote of the Day

It's a date that's been circled on my calendar, so it's kind of nice to have it here and get it over with (Thursday). This is a little bit of the closing of the book on the move. That's kind of how I'm looking at it.

— Stars forward Jason Spezza on returning to Ottawa for the first time to face the Senators