Stanley Cup Final
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NHL Insider

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.

Bruins moving forward from 2010 playoff collapse

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 12:59 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOSTON -- With a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs already in their pockets and only 13 days left in the regular season, the elephant in the Boston Bruins' locker room is likely to surface again in the form of questions about last season's playoff collapse.

The Bruins, who host Chicago on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN2), have been able to hide from their historic flop against the Philadelphia Flyers because of the mini-soap opera that has surrounded this year's club. From a trip to Europe to Marc Savard's career threatening concussion to the Northeast Division race, and lately the Zdeno Chara-Max Pacioretty incident at Bell Centre, the Bruins have given the local media plenty of drama to write about.


Ovechkin, Arnott could return vs. Hurricanes

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 12:30 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was not in the mood to confirm his lineup for Tuesday's home game against the Carolina Hurricanes, but his actions might have spoken for him.

There is a chance forwards Alex Ovechkin and Jason Arnott could rejoin the lineup for the game. Neither was on the ice with two frequent healthy scratches, Tyler Sloan and DJ King. Instead, forwards Jay Beagle and Jason Chimera skated with them Tuesday morning.

"I'm not going to say who's in the lineup or who's out of the lineup," Boudreau told reporters. "Just talking to the trainers and finding out who's healthy and who's not healthy and who's ready to go, who's not ready to go. The players will all know, but you guys will know when you see it."


Neal adjusting game to East, Pens' style of play

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

It's hard to believe that a once precocious James Neal used to consider himself more of a skilled guy with great hands.

Now possessing a more rugged 6-foot-2, 208-pound frame, Neal knows he's a valuable asset in the dirty areas where only the strong survive -- along the boards and in the slot.

That's precisely what Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Ray Shero had in mind when he dealt promising blueliner Alex Goligoski to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen on Feb. 21. The plan is to eventually have Neal working alongside Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

Irbe understands what Caps' are going through

Monday, 03.28.2011 / 5:30 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"Trust me, it wasn't the most fun and it actually takes tremendous, tremendous mental strength and obviously experience to handle it. To be honest, it's very hard to ask for that from inexperienced guys because they don't have much of a history behind them of doing it." -- Arturs Irbe

Capitals goalie coach Arturs Irbe can speak to Michal Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov and Braden Holtby from experience. Nine years ago he teamed with Kevin Weekes in Carolina to lead the Hurricanes to their first Eastern Conference championship.

"Trust me, it wasn't the most fun and it actually takes tremendous, tremendous mental strength and obviously experience to handle it," Irbe told "To be honest, it's very hard to ask for that from inexperienced guys because they don't have much of a history behind them of doing it."

Why is this relevant?

It's possible the Capitals will use a combination of Neuvirth, Varlamov and possibly Holtby in the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. Neuvirth is 23, Varlamov is 22 and Holtby is 21. Only Varlamov has played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Capitals confident in whichever rookie goalie starts

Monday, 03.28.2011 / 5:30 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Washington forward Brooks Laich says he usually doesn't find out which goalie he'll be playing in front of until he shows up for the game. Even then he doesn't care or pay too much attention to the starting lineup.

Michal Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov and Braden Holtby are one and the same for the Capitals -- a goalie who gives them a chance to win. The Capitals' skaters say the goalies are different in subtle ways, so the fact that there isn't a defined No. 1 in Washington makes no difference to them.

"All three of those guys, and this is honest, it doesn't change our team one bit as far as our mindset," Laich said. "Whether Neuvy is in net, Varly is in net or Holtby, I think we play a solid defensive game, don't give up a lot of chances and whoever is in net comes up with the saves when we need them."
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Quote of the Day

For our team, as a group, we've never been this far before, and so it's just more lessons learned, and sometimes you have to go to the school of hard knocks to find out what works and what doesn't. We've got a young group. They've played some unreal hockey here to get us this far, and we showed if we're not going to play the proper way, a really, really good hockey team is going to beat you, and that's what they did. It's a lesson learned.

— Lightning coach Jon Cooper after Rangers win in Game 6 forced a Game 7 that will be played at Madison Square Garden on Friday