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NHL Insider

Payne wants Blues to get back to defense

Wednesday, 11.17.2010 / 3:16 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- If the St. Louis Blues were writing their own season story, they'd probably be holding down the power button on the laptop right now, trying to reboot.

In their first 12 games, they set a franchise record for a season start by recording 20 points with an impressive 9-1-2 record. That included three shutouts in the first nine games by goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Then several key injuries happened, including the loss of center T.J. Oshie to a broken ankle that likely will keep him out for three months. Also going down with injuries were defensemen Barret Jackman and Roman Polak. Just like that, the stingy Blues (9-4-3) started coming apart at the seams.

They've gone 0-3-1 in their last four games and allowed 21 goals in regulation, including an 8-1 loss at Columbus on Nov. 10 -- the game Oshie went down. It's time to reboot, and what better time than St. Louis' first meeting with Central Division rival Detroit on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena?


Oilers putting rough road trip behind them

Wednesday, 11.17.2010 / 2:25 PM / NHL Insider

Robin Brownlee - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- After winning just once and being outscored 26-10 on a five-game road trip, the Edmonton Oilers are looking to snap a four-game winless streak when they face the Chicago Blackhawks at Rexall Place on Wednesday.

The Oilers started their trip with a 2-1 win in Chicago on Nov. 7, then dropped the next four, including a 7-1 drubbing in Carolina and an 8-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

"We can use a big one," captain Shawn Horcoff said. "You don't have a choice. You have to put those games behind you. It wasn't just one. There were three or four (games) that were not acceptable."

While the Oilers have talked about putting the road trip in the rear-view mirror since getting home Sunday, the best way to do it, and regain some confidence, is with a third straight win this season against Chicago. They also beat the Hawks 7-4 in Chicago on Oct. 29.


Caps shuffle lines in search of more consistency

Wednesday, 11.17.2010 / 1:55 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Eight days ago Marcus Johansson was playing against the Charlotte Checkers, a newly relocated team in the American Hockey League.

When he lines up for his first faceoff Wednesday, he will look to his left and see Alex Ovechkin. Johansson, a 20-year-old rookie who was a 2009 first-round pick, will skate on the team's top line against the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center as coach Bruce Boudreau continues to shuffle his lines after a couple of uneven performances.

"I played a period with him before and I think it is fun," Johansson said. "You get to play with someone who creates something all the time and can make things happen. It is fun to play offensive hockey and with Alex it is a great chance for some offensive hockey. It is a big chance for me and it is going to be fun."

Isles hope for a new beginning under new coach

Tuesday, 11.16.2010 / 3:15 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

On his first full day as coach of the New York Islanders, Jack Capuano had a simple message for his players: It's time for a fresh start.
"We have to put the past behind us now," Capuano said Tuesday after practice at the Nassau Coliseum. "It's a fresh slate for everybody here."
The Islanders would be glad to take a mulligan for the first five-plus weeks of the season. After a 4-1-2 start, they've dropped 10 consecutive games -- nine in regulation -- including all three on a California trip last week, costing third-year coach Scott Gordon his job.
Capuano, who was coaching the Isles' AHL team in Bridgeport, was named interim coach -- he said he hasn't talked to GM Garth Snow about his long-term future. He is familiar with most of the players either through coaching them in the minors or during his time as an assistant with the big club, and said that familiarity should speed up the transition.


Hamrlik steps in for Habs with Markov on shelf

Tuesday, 11.16.2010 / 1:30 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Que. -- The Montreal Canadiens have put Roman Hamrlik on their top power-play unit in the absence of injured quarterback Andrei Markov, and they will need to be sharp Tuesday night if they hope to strike against a hot Philadelphia Flyers club.

In addition to the fact the Flyers have scored 18 goals in their last three games, most recently an easy 5-1 win at home against the Ottawa Senators on Monday, Philadelphia has been very stingy on defense with only four goals allowed in those three games.

The Flyers' penalty kill has been perfect over that span on seven chances, while the Canadiens power play is 6-for-15 over their last three games. But when Markov missed the first 10 games of this season, the Canadiens went 3-for-34.


McPhee demands better effort from East-best Caps

Tuesday, 11.16.2010 / 1:08 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Washington General Manager George McPhee insists he's not being too hard on his first-place team when he says, "We're all happy with our record, but not with the way we're playing."

"We've only played a few complete games," McPhee told NHL.com, "games where we played three real solid periods."

While there are managers elsewhere (say Newark, Long Island, Edmonton, Toronto) who likely would scoff at McPhee's hard approach with his team -- which has won seven of its last eight games and leads the NHL with 13 wins and 27 points -- you have to understand where McPhee is coming from.

He doesn't want his team to be content with just winning games; he wants his players to understand how you win games now could define what kind of success you have later in the season, when the stakes are much higher.


Ovechkin helps launch new DVD

Tuesday, 11.16.2010 / 12:09 AM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTONAlex Ovechkin has become one of the most famous people in the world in his profession – a genuine celebrity on multiple continents.

For all of the superstar's accomplishments on the ice with the Washington Capitals and for his native Russia, much of Ovechkin's life away from hockey and this city has been an unknown entity. A new 60-minute documentary entitled "Alex Ovechkin: The Gr8" will fill in some of those blanks, and Ovechkin was on hand Monday night at a local restaurant for a VIP launch party.

"I think fans know about me as a hockey player, but they don't know about me and my life and how I'm growing up," Ovechkin said. "They know I'm from Moscow, but they never see my school or my home and my family. They're going to see it and I think they're going to enjoy it."

Rangers show cohesiveness in win over Pens

Monday, 11.15.2010 / 11:39 PM / NHL Insider

Sergei J. Feldman - NHL.com Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Most players and coaches will tell you that consistency is what separates contenders from pretenders throughout the course of an 82-game NHL regular season.

For the New York Rangers, that philosophy was put to test Monday night when they took on the Pittsburgh Penguins in an Atlantic Division clash at the Consol Energy Center.

On the line was the chance not only to gain ground in the chase for Eastern Conference supremacy but, more importantly, the chance to improve on a two-game winning streak.

Despite Markov's injury, Habs remain confident

Monday, 11.15.2010 / 4:52 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

"It's a big loss for our team. He's probably one of the best defensemen in the National Hockey League. Other teams are probably happy about it because we'll need some other guy to step up and play. With our defense, I think we've played pretty solid all season long." -- Jaroslav Spacek

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens gave no update Monday on the status of star defenseman Andrei Markov, stating more tests need to be done to determine the extent of what the team is calling a lower-body injury suffered Saturday in a collision with Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Markov appeared to hurt his right knee on the play, the same one he had surgery on to repair a torn ACL last May. That injury kept Markov out of action for nearly five months.

There was a time in the not-so-distant past where a long-term injury to Markov would mean the Canadiens' chances for success would plummet. As recently as last season, when Markov missed 35 regular-season games with a lacerated tendon in his foot and another two with an undisclosed injury, the Canadiens barely kept their heads above water, going 14-20-3.

Avalanche hoping to establish hometown dominance

Monday, 11.15.2010 / 3:58 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

"We've been up and down at home so far in the short amount of time that we've been here. It's important that we establish ourselves and that we get our record back to .500 tonight and don't look back." -- Joe Sacco

DENVER -- With two home losses in the past three games and a 3-4-0 record in seven home games this season, the Colorado Avalanche need to re-establish the Pepsi Center as a difficult place for visiting teams.

The team hopes to do that starting Monday, when the Avs start a three-game homestand against the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN2).

"We've been up and down at home so far in the short amount of time that we've been here," coach Joe Sacco said following Monday's morning practice. "It's important that we establish ourselves and that we get our record back to .500 tonight and don't look back."

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Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential