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NHL Insider

Early returns from Whitney are encouraging

Tuesday, 11.02.2010 / 2:05 PM / NHL Insider

Robin Brownlee - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Defenseman Ryan Whitney not only leads the Edmonton Oilers in scoring with 9 points as they face the Vancouver Canucks at Rexall Place tonight, he's logging the most ice time.

Whitney has 9 assists and is averaging 26:14 of playing time per night. Those are awfully impressive numbers, considering he's coming off having offseason foot surgery and still isn't 100 percent.

"I feel pretty good," Whitney said. "The foot is coming along. When one feels good, the other kind of gets a little sore. It's about trying to find a balance between the two."

Injuries, inexperience biggest reason for NJ's demise

Tuesday, 11.02.2010 / 1:52 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

New Jersey's minus-22 goal differential is the worst in the National Hockey League, as are its 20 goals for, 42 goals against, 5 goals in the first period and 3-for-41 power play (7.3 percent).

So, yes, for right now we can accurately say the Devils' offense is the worst in the League and their defense isn't far behind. It's why they have an NHL-worst seven points through 13 games and are 1-5 over their last six games, with just seven goals in the span.

How can this happen to such a proud franchise?

We're not in the excuse-making business here, but it's fair to say that part of these problems can be blamed on injuries and the subsequent inexperience of Matt Taormina, Alexander Vasyunov, Olivier Magnan-Grenier, Tim Sestito, Bradley Mills and the now-injured Jacob Josefson and Matthew Corrente.


Coyotes looking for more offense

Tuesday, 11.02.2010 / 10:26 AM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

"You're disappointed and you wish you could have the games back, but you can't. I can guarantee you we won't go the next 10 games with myself and the other guys not scoring, so that's a positive. We have nowhere to go but up." -- Shane Doan

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Veteran Ray Whitney, signed as a free agent this summer to bolster the Phoenix offense, still is looking for his first goal as a Coyote after eight games.

Wojtek Wolski, acquired last spring for the same reason, is scoreless in eight games and watched the last two as a healthy scratch. Captain Shane Doan? Seven games, no goals, one three-game suspension.

Add in Radim Vrbata, who has scored 1 goal since scoring twice in the season opener, and that's a grand total of one goal from Phoenix's four highest-paid forwards over the last nine games. That's more than $14 million of salary space -- on a team that watches every penny -- which so far has been little more than wasted space.

Oiler fans crave re-appearance of spring playoff rituals

Tuesday, 11.02.2010 / 10:13 AM / NHL Insider

Robin Brownlee - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- While Paul Lorieau remembers when Stanley Cup parades on Jasper Avenue seemed a rite of spring for fans of the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s, he'd happily settle for a chance to rekindle another tradition in a hockey town known as the City of Champions.

With parades marking five Stanley Cups in a span of seven seasons ending in 1990 and all the players who sipped from those Cups during those Dynasty Days -- led by Hall-of-Famers Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr -- long since retired, Lorieau longs for the opportunity to thrust his right arm in the air and listen to Oilers fans sing "O Canada" again.

In idiosyncratic homage to those five Stanley Cup wins, the Edmonton Oilers fans spent the final five home games of the team's Cinderella run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2006 doing a rousing rendition of O'Canada, threatening to make Lorieau, Edmonton's anthem singer since 1981, almost irrelevant.


Flyers' Giroux establishing himself as an elite player

Monday, 11.01.2010 / 11:50 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA - It was sometime during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs when Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette began to realize just how special a player forward Claude Giroux really was.
In only his second playoff season, Giroux finished third on the team with 21 points, including 10 goals, in 23 games. An eye-opening display for sure and, in Laviolette's mind, a performance that probably catapulted him into elite company.
"I would say that he's not among those second-tier players anymore," Laviolette said when asked where Giroux stood in the mix of elite and second-tier players in the League.
"He's somebody we count on to play in every situation and he's proving himself to be a clutch player," he continued. "He's had big games in playoffs and big games when you need a performance out of somebody. He's seems to be stepping up."

Inconsistency plagues Blackhawks again

Monday, 11.01.2010 / 11:09 PM / NHL Insider

Sergei J. Feldman - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Just when the Chicago Blackhawks thought they were out of their up-and-down, inconsistent play in which consecutive victories have been hard to come by, they pulled themselves back in and squandered any hope of feeling better about themselves after a strong performance Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild.

That 3-1 victory seems like a year ago.

On Monday night against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the Blackhawks jumped out to the kind of start any road team hopes for, battling for every loose puck, playing in the opposing team's zone, outshooting the home team and, most importantly, scoring the game's first goal.

Hawks hope November brings health, consistency

Monday, 11.01.2010 / 2:52 PM / NHL Insider

Sergei J. Feldman - NHL.com Staff Writer

After one month of regular-season hockey, the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks find themselves sitting atop the Western Conference's Central Division and tied for the second-most points in the National Hockey League.

Left wing Patrick Sharp leads the NHL with 10 goals and is tied for third in points with 15.

On the surface, it looks like all is well in the Windy City. However, a look deeper shows something else.

The Blackhawks have played more games than any other team, so their 7-5-1 record diminishes the grand total of 15 points. Perhaps the grind that was October has contributed to Chicago's average start.

"We've had a lot of games, been pretty busy," forward Patrick Kane said. "Overall, I think we probably had a little bit of a slow start to the season, but it seems like we've been playing a little bit better as of late."


Canes opt for backup goalie Peters vs. Flyers

Monday, 11.01.2010 / 2:33 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice admitted his decision to start backup goalie Justin Peters against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday was determined a long time ago.
It's a significant decision, however, when you consider the last three losses for the Flyers have come against backup goalies -- Mathieu Garon of Columbus, Curtis McElhinney of Anaheim and Brent Johnson of Pittsburgh.
Monday will be Peters' second game this season -- he yielded four goals in a 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Oct. 20.

"I had this one on the schedule for quite some time, based on where we're at -- our seventh game in 14 days," Maurice told the media following the team's morning skate here at Wells Fargo Center. "He has to play a game and he'll see plenty of big shots from the point and guys going around the net. His size (6-foot-1, 205) will give him the best opportunity to shine. It also gives us a chance to keep Cam (Ward) from playing 82 games."

For Burke, helping USA Hockey is equally important

Monday, 11.01.2010 / 9:40 AM / NHL Insider

Harry Thompson - USA Hockey Magazine

"Sometimes my work schedule can get in the way of my hunting. But to put it into the proper context, you have to remember that I have the greatest job in the world as the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs." -- Brian Burke

Cruising down a dirt road in eastern South Dakota, Brian Burke surveys the dashboard digital clock that reads "5:41."
"We should be just taking the ice for pregame warm-ups," said Burke, who has just concluded a grueling, seven-hour day of pheasant hunting as part of the Pro Hockey Celebrity Hunt in Mitchell, S.D.
For the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, missing a home game against the New York Rangers is akin to skipping a child's birthday party for a business trip.

Five from Class of 2010 stay with NHL teams

Sunday, 10.31.2010 / 5:28 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Seven games into his NHL career, Taylor Hall had just 1 point and sparked heated talk about whether the first pick of the 2010 Entry Draft was ready to play in the League.

Two games later, Hall has put an affirmative end to the debate.

The Edmonton Oilers left wing scored his first NHL goal and added an assist Thursday in Columbus, and repeated the feat a night later in Chicago.

Hall's performance has earned him a full-time NHL spot, and four players from his draft class will join him as 18-year-olds in the NHL this season.

Bruins center Tyler Seguin (No. 2 pick), Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner (No. 7) and Thrashers center Alexander Burmistrov (No. 8) all have been told to find permanent housing. Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler (No. 12) is recovering from a broken nose and sore neck suffered Oct. 17, but likely did enough in his six games to earn a permanent spot.
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Quote of the Day

Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

— Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on his interest in advanced statistical analysis