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NHL Insider

Dineen will see familiar faces coaching against Sabres

Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 2:34 PM / NHL Insider

Alain Poupart - Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kevin Dineen has been both excited and proud to see some of his former AHL players enjoying success in the NHL. For tonight at least, he wants that to stop.

Dineen will be facing six players he coached in Portland over the past three years when his Florida Panthers take on the Buffalo Sabres at the BankAtlantic Center.

"It's great," said Dineen, who's in his first season as Panthers coach. "I really enjoyed watching players that I had and (see the) progress they've had in their career. It's been great to follow their success and their rise to the NHL. Obviously, they have really contributed to the Sabres' early success."

The six Dineen-coached players who will suit up for Buffalo on Thursday night are left wings Luke Adam, Tyler Ennis and Matt Ellis, center Nathan Gerbe, defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani and backup goalie Jhonas Enroth.

Penguins' defense gets lift with Orpik return

Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 2:17 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Finally, some good injury news for the black-and-blue Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins, playing with a badly depleted lineup, will welcome back defenseman Brooks Orpik tonight when they meet the Montreal Canadiens at Consol Energy Center. Orpik, the Penguins' most physical defenseman and a proven shutdown specialist, missed all of the preseason and the first eight regular-season games after having abdominal surgery during the offseason.

"It's been a long time waiting, that's for sure," Orpik said.

The rest of the Penguins' lineup, however, remains thinned. Center Evgeni Malkin will sit out a fourth consecutive game due to right knee soreness, and forward Tyler Kennedy (concussion) will miss his third in a row. He won't return until he is symptom-free.

Defenseman Brian Strait, recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) when Kris Letang drew a two-game suspension for a boarding violation, hyperextended an elbow in Minnesota on Tuesday and is out indefinitely. Letang will serve the second game of his suspension tonight meaning that, even with Orpik in uniform, the Penguins are down to six defensemen.

Capitals vs. Flyers: A point, counterpoint breakdown

Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 9:49 AM / NHL Insider "experts" Corey Masisak and Adam Kimelman decided to break down the big matchup Thursday between the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers. Masisak has covered the Capitals regularly for the past several seasons, while Kimelman has written two books on the Flyers and has followed the team for more than three decades. Things might have gotten a little heated, but it was all in good fun. We think.

Adam, it is time for you to take down that shrine to Ryan Howard's Achilles' tendon and put on that game-used Mikael Renberg sweater because the Beasts of the East (regular season, of course) are coming to Philadelphia for the biggest game of this young season.

The Washington Capitals have a bit of a different look to them this season. The defense is deeper, the crop of role players up front has been rotated and they have a goalie who needs to shave more than once a week.

They're also invading the City of Brotherly Love while sporting a perfect 5-0-0 record and look poised to claim the top seed in the conference for the third consecutive season. Your Flyers are also off to a strong start, boasting a 4-0-1 mark and nine points. That's the third-most in the conference behind Washington and Pittsburgh, though it feels like the Penguins have played a couple of doubleheaders so far this season.

Islanders need more from other lines

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 7:01 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders are off to a 3-1-0 start, but they know they need more of an all-hands-on-deck approach if they're going to enjoy continued success.

New York was victorious three times during its season-opening, four-game homestand mainly due to the heroics of center John Tavares (5 goals, 3 assists) and goaltender Al Montoya (2-1-0, 1.35 goals-against average, .953 save percentage).

But with the Islanders heading south for a pair of games in the Sunshine State, coach Jack Capuano would like to see more from his second and third lines. Frans Nielsen, Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo have combined for a pair of goals and an assist, while the trio of Josh Bailey, Brian Rolston and Blake Comeau has yet to score. Rolston is the lone player from the Isles' third line with a point and Comeau was a healthy scratch for last Saturday's 4-2 win against the Rangers. 

Rebuilt Avalanche are building momentum early

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 6:08 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- With seven new faces on a Colorado Avalanche team that finished with the second-worst record in the NHL last season, few folks could have anticipated its sweeping a five-game road trip that began Oct. 10 with a 1-0 win in Boston and concluded Monday with a 3-2 overtime victory in Toronto.

The Avalanche won only 14 of 41 road games all last season -- and just three of their final 13 games away from the Pepsi Center.

With newcomers at so many key positions -- including goalies Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and defensemen Jan Hejda and Shane O'Brien -- are things coming together much quicker than even the Avalanche could have anticipated?

Sacco sees Avalanche establishing a new identity

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 5:26 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Colorado coach Joe Sacco is doing his best to keep himself and his team level-headed, even-keeled. It's not easy when everybody in the hockey world has jumped on your bandwagon after just six games.

"It sure beats the alternative," Sacco told after putting his team through its first practice at home since completing the only 5-0 road trip in franchise history. "It's a good start, no question it's a good start, but we're trying to keep it in check. It's a long year."

But right now it's good to be Sacco. As much as he wants to defuse the praise, he also wants to soak it in.

It was only six months ago that the Avalanche were finishing off a dreadful second half of the 2010-11 season with only five wins in their final 32 games.

They have five wins in their first six games of the 2011-12 season.

So much has changed in Denver, and Sacco touched on a lot of it in a wide-ranging Q&A with Wednesday afternoon.

Krejci nearing return for scuffling Bruins

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 3:42 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- Now standing at just 2-4-0 on the season, the Boston Bruins are trying to regain the form that made them Stanley Cup champions a mere four months ago, while also seeking the return of their No. 1 center.

David Krejci
Center - BOS
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 1
SOG: 6 | +/-: -2
They might've moved closer to achieving both things during practice Wednesday at the TD Garden.

Center David Krejci, out since suffering a core injury Oct. 17 in practice, continued to work out with the team and even took some light contact. Krejci started skating earlier this week and termed himself 50-50 for Thursday night's home game against Toronto.

"I would love to be there," said the Bruins' co-leading scorer of a year ago in his first public comments since his injury. "It (stinks) when you're up there watching the games. It's not fun, you know, when you see the fans and the building's going crazy and the guys battling on the ice. You just want to be out there on the ice so bad. It (stinks). So if I can, I would love to play tomorrow. But I have to be smart about it. I don't want to make it worse and then be out who knows for how long. If it felt better tomorrow, then I would love to play."

Capitals, Flyers summer overhauls have paid off

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 2:03 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers have seemed to be traveling parallel paths for the last year or so.

They finished 1-2, respectively, in the Eastern Conference, but each was swept out of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the second round.

Rather than stand pat with teams stocked with All-Stars and elite players, Capitals general manager George McPhee and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren engineered roster overhauls, with the result being not much different than last season -- both teams are right at the top of the conference standings.

Their paths will converge for the first of four times this season Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) in Philadelphia.

The Capitals enter Thursday's game a perfect 5-0-0. Showing their improved mental toughness and continued devotion to defense, four of the wins were one-goal victories, including two in overtime and one in a shootout. 

Flyers, Caps getting early returns from new goalies

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 12:40 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Tomas Vokoun
Goalie - WSH
RECORD: 4-0-0
GAA: 1.94 | SVP: 0.935
Following last spring's playoff loss to the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers Chairman Ed Snider gave voice to a common refrain from the team's large, vocal fan base.

"We are never going to go through the goalie issues we've gone through in the last couple of years again," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "If we trade or go for a goalie (through free agency), we'll make it work. We can make anything work, even with the cap."

Following his team's second-round playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee looked at his goaltenders -- 23-year-old Michal Neuvirth and 22-year-old Braden Holtby -- and believed he was set for years to come. The position was so strong, he traded away 23-year-old Semyon Varlamov, the starter the previous two postseasons.

A look back at when Rangers last won in Vancouver

Tuesday, 10.18.2011 / 12:50 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

The last time the New York Rangers went into Vancouver and beat the Canucks was Oct. 11, 1997. Wayne Gretzky registered his 50th career hat trick as the Rangers emerged with a 6-3 victory.

A little more than 14 years later, the Rangers will get a chance to end that slide when they face the Canucks on Tuesday night.

Seeing as how they're not in the same conference, it's not as if the Rangers have played in Vancouver three times a year for 14 years, but it's still a long time to go without beating a team in its barn. The losing streak itself is just five games and due to scheduling quirks, the Rangers didn't play a game in Vancouver between 2002 and 2008. The Canucks have outscored the Rangers 16-6 in those games, and another win Tuesday night will mean this streak will technically span three decades.

Here are some interesting facts, figures, tidbits and insights about this drought for the Rangers (or this epic streak for the Canucks, if you lean that way):
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Quote of the Day

It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
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