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NHL Insider

Canadiens want to stick to plan against Bruins

Thursday, 03.24.2011 / 1:49 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

""That's not our style of hockey to get into a brawl-fest. We want to play our style of hockey. We don't want to get into a bloodbath like everyone is talking about." -- The Canadiens Paul Mara

BOSTON -- The sizeable bilingual media contingent arrived at TD Garden early Thursday only to find out that the Boston Bruins would not be holding a pre-game skate. No players or coaches would be available to talk about anything related to Thursday night's highly anticipated and supremely hyped showdown against the Montreal Canadiens until 4:30 p.m. at the earliest.
The Habs were instead left to handle the interrogation, and it was fairly deep for the morning of a game.

Flyers ready to face different-looking Pens

Thursday, 03.24.2011 / 12:35 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

"They're missing a couple key players, but … they've still been playing pretty well. They always play hard. They're good system-wise and if you're not ready to compete, you're going to lose the game. We have to go out there and compete and play a full 60 minutes."
-- Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen on playing the Penguins

PHILADELPHIA -- Just how long has it been since the Flyers and Penguins skated against one another?
It was Dec. 14 -- the Penguins were in the midst of a 12-game win streak, Sidney Crosby was at game No. 19 of his 25-game scoring streak, and Evgeni Malkin was a healthy, fearsome presence in the Penguins' lineup.
Malkin had a pair of goals that night and Crosby had a pair of assists, but the Flyers skated away with a 3-2 victory thanks to Scott Hartnell's third-period goal and strong goaltending from Brian Boucher, who stopped 21 of 23 shots.
A lot has changed since then -- Crosby suffered a concussion that has sidelined him for nearly three months, Malkin is out for the season with a knee injury and the Pens have suffered a rash of injuries that has seen them use 35 different skaters, the third-most in the League.

Moller ready to take advantage of prime opportunity

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 5:13 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --  Oscar Moller walked into the Los Angeles Kings' dressing room Wednesday and saw a purple jersey in his locker, the ones designated for the top line.

In other words, Moller will go from playing in the American Hockey League to skating on right wing with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Penner when the Kings host division rival San Jose on Thursday night.

"No pressure," Moller said, joking, when he met with reporters after practice.

Moller was recalled after Justin Williams, the team's second-leading scorer, was ruled out for 3-4 weeks with a dislocated shoulder suffered Monday against Calgary.

Orpik could be ready to play by the weekend

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 5:02 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

The Pittsburgh Penguins spent much of the last two-plus months watching player after player leave their lineup. For a change, several are about ready to return.

Sidney Crosby, though, isn't one of them -- not yet, at least.

Defenseman Brooks Orpik, out since breaking a finger on his right hand Feb. 23, and forward Eric Tangradi, sidelined since sustaining a concussion Feb. 16, both went through full practices Wednesday -- their first since getting hurt.

Orpik won't be ready for a pivotal Eastern Conference game at Philadelphia on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US), and his status for Friday's home game against New Jersey also is uncertain. But Orpik should be fully healthy for the playoffs, meaning the Penguins soon will have their four top defenseman playing -- Orpik and All-Star Kris Letang, plus Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin.

Players only focused on winning the game

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 3:59 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"If you look at the standings it looks like (Bruins-Canadiens) could be the (playoff) matchup, so we'll see what's going to happen in the next 10 games. We all know it's a big game for both teams. The rivalry is there and the competition is there. We just need to focus on our game and establish what we're working on in the last game. We're focusing on our game." -- Zdeno Chara

Shawn Thornton wasn't about to tip-toe past the obvious.

"It's a rivalry," the Bruins forward told during a phone interview Wednesday. "We don't like them and they don't like us, and I don't think that will ever change."

Thursday's game at TD Garden between the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET, TSN) figures to be emotional for more than just the simple fact that it is yet another installment of this great Original Six rivalry.

The Canadiens still are smarting from the controversial hit a little over two weeks ago by Boston captain Zdeno Chara on Max Pacioretty that left the Montreal forward with a severe concussion and a fractured vertebra. It was only a month and a half ago that these teams played a game in Boston that included 14 goals, 12 fighting majors, 14 roughing minors and seven misconduct penalties.


West could see most points for non-playoff team

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 3:56 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

There were two teams outside the top eight of the Western Conference with 85 points on Wednesday afternoon and it's possible the ninth- and 10th-place clubs in the West will have 86 by the end of the night.

The 2006-07 edition of the Colorado Avalanche holds the distinction of being the team with most points in NHL history (95) to not make the playoffs. Given how competitive and compact the conference standings are in the West this season, is that record in jeopardy?

Using three different methods to project the final standings, the simple answer is yes. It is quite possible that any of the seven teams currently slotted fourth through 10th in the West could finish the season with 95 or 96 points and not have a spot in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Based on every team's current 82-game pace, the final standings would look pretty similar to Wednesday. Chicago and Nashville would finish tied for sixth with 97 points, and the Blackhawks currently have one more non-shootout win than the Predators. They also hold the next tiebreaker (points earned against each other) if both teams end up with the same number of non-shootout victories.

Wings amped for showdown with Canucks

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 2:59 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

"They've got a good shot to go all the way. So, if we want to go all the way we've got to go through them, probably. (Still), we've had lots of years where we've been in the front so no one could catch us, but (the playoffs) is a different season. It starts from zero."
-- Detroit forward Tomas Holmstrom on the Canucks

DETROIT -- In many ways, the Western Conference's top two teams -- the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings -- are mirror images.
In fact, the main things separating the West-leading Canucks (103 points) from the second-seeded Red Wings (92) are 11 standings points and their uniforms. That's what makes their last meeting of the regular season on Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m., Versus, TSN) so interesting -- despite Detroit possibly scratching four forwards and the Canucks not having center Manny Malhotra or former Red Wing Mikael Samuelsson.
"They've got a good shot to go all the way," Detroit forward Tomas Holmstrom said, following Detroit's optional morning skate. "So, if we want to go all the way we've got to go through them, probably. (Still), we've had lots of years where we've been in the front so no one could catch us, but (the playoffs) is a different season. It starts from zero."

Close games no problem for Ducks

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 2:39 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

"The bottom line is when you have a system here and have team confidence, you're going to stick with that even if you're down a goal or two. You believe you can come back. That's the only chance you can come back. You just have to be patient and believe you can come back." -- Teemu Selanne

DALLAS -- The Anaheim Ducks have been almost a sure thing in one-goal games this season.

The Ducks are a League-best 25-8-5 in one-goal games, most recently Sunday's 5-4 overtime win against the Flames.

On Wednesday, the Ducks face the Dallas Stars, a team they are 2-1-1 against this year. Their two most recent meetings have been one-goal affairs, with Anaheim prevailing in one of those meetings -- their most recent encounter, a 4-3 overtime win March 4.    

Ideally, Carlyle would rather see his club not have so many close wins, but he'll take them.

Stars' penalty kill looks to extend success

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 2:21 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

DALLAS -- Over the last eight games, the Dallas Stars' penalty kill has been rock solid, denying 20 of 22 opportunities for a success rate of 91 percent. The Stars are 4-2-2 over that span and in their last two contests, that same unit has been a perfect 5-for-5 on the kill.

That group's current success is a big source of pride for Dallas coach Marc Crawford.

"You have to be strong on your special teams. Here lately, our penalty kill has been doing a great job for us. It's kept us in a lot of games," Crawford said. "If our power play could compensate the other way, then it's such a big bonus for you right now."

The Stars could also get a boost Wednesday from the likely return of All-Star winger Loui Eriksson. He has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury.


Boucher sees brighter days soon for Bolts

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 12:53 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"Third periods are all about depth, and when you've got depth you can maintain and sustain your efficiency, drive, puck possession and forecheck. We haven't had depth for a long, long time now and it's taking a toll." -- Guy Boucher

Forget about the grind, dealing with injuries, the highs and the lows -- the biggest challenge Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher says he's faced in his first season as an NHL coach is trying to stay on the right side of that very thin line between winning and losing.

"That's my learning curve in my first year as a coach in the NHL," Boucher told "It's amazing how much you're walking a thin line. Just a few games here and there -- it's a weird thing."

The Lightning have been falling to the wrong side of the line too often this month.

They're 2-5-4 since finishing February on a three-game win streak and have watched Washington zip past them in the Southeast Division race. The Lightning were five points ahead of Washington on Feb. 28, but today they trail the Capitals by seven points and barely are hanging on to fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
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Quote of the Day

It's about enjoying the moment. It's pretty cool to get that many people together and that excited about hockey to the point they really want you to mess up. They've got a ton of red jerseys and you have to sit back and appreciate people love hockey that much and you are the one out there who gets to play the game. Just try and stick with that respect for the game and also the mentality that for me it's just about entering the fight and seeing how long I can stay in it.

— Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller on what he expects from the fans in Calgary for Game 6