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NHL Insider

Plenty on the line as Habs face rival Bruins

Tuesday, 03.08.2011 / 2:46 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- Both the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday continued to lay blame at the skates of the other team for the brawls that marred a wild 8-6 Bruins victory when the teams met almost a month ago.

"I think it's important we play with an edge, we're a much better team when we play with that physical edge and we establish that presence. But we have to be smart, we can't spend the whole game in the penalty box." -- Milan Lucic

The Bruins have maintained during the past month that the reason the last game in Boston degenerated into a slugfest was because the Canadiens started it. Montreal's fans and media, on the other hand, have been accusing the Bruins of goon tactics.

While a consensus is not ever likely to be reached on this topic between the NHL's version of the Hatfields and McCoys, the sides readily agreed on another topic.

Tuesday night's game at the Bell Centre is huge; bigger than any notions of payback or revenge.

Senators seeing results since turning to rookies

Tuesday, 03.08.2011 / 2:26 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- It appears the future is now for the Ottawa Senators.
With only 17 games remaining in the regular season, the Senators are currently sitting last in the NHL with 22 wins and 53 points. It's certainly not the scenario General Manager Bryan Murray, coach Cory Clouston and veteran center Jason Spezza envisioned.
"We want to win a lot of games down the stretch and try to make ourselves better," Spezza said. "We're not going to watch the standings and sweat over what is going on around us. We're worried about ourselves and playing as well as we can every night. But you don't want to be in last place, so as players, we want to win as many games as we can."


Sabres have been re-energized under Pegula

Tuesday, 03.08.2011 / 2:10 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

Team owners in professional sports rarely attend all of their team's games. If the Buffalo Sabres keep this up, look for Terry Pegula to be an exception.

Since Pegula bought the Sabres from Tom Golisano last month, his new team is 5-0-2 -- with Pegula in attendance for all seven games. He'll make it No. 8 when the Sabres play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night, with Pegula expected to watch from a seat in the stands rather than from a private box.

Pegula wants to know what the fans are saying, what they're feeling, and he believes he gets a better idea of that when he's surrounded by ticket holders.  So far, it's obvious he's liked what he's heard -- and what he's seen.

What he won't see Tuesday night is Sabres leading scorer Thomas Vanek, who was ruled out with the flu after missing the pregame skate. Vanek has 23 goals and 32 assists for 55 points in 65 games. 

Around the East: Bruins making move for top spot

Tuesday, 03.08.2011 / 10:46 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The playoff chase in the Eastern Conference changes rapidly as the days click off the calendar. There are tight races for first overall, for first in the three divisions and, of course, for eighth in the Conference as the Devils and Maple Leafs add their hats into an already crowded field around the periphery of the playoff field.
Around the East this week focuses on the races that will leave you trying to catch your breath:

Hot on Philly's heels: For months, it appeared the Flyers were a lock for the top spot in the Eastern Conference; but those days are long gone. The Bruins, Penguins and Capitals are nipping ever so close with 84 points apiece.
Boston, in fact, could take over first in the Conference on Tuesday. The Bruins would have to beat Montreal at Bell Centre and the Flyers would have to lose to Edmonton in regulation on their home ice. Boston would own the tiebreaker aginst the Flyers because it has more points in the season series.
Philadelphia has lost four straight for the first time this season, and is coming off a 7-0 loss to the Rangers that prompted captain Mike Richards to say the players are not just on a different page, but "different chapters, maybe."


Button, Weekes believe Devils can pull off miracle

Tuesday, 03.08.2011 / 12:11 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

While the numbers still don't look great for the New Jersey Devils, there may be reason to believe their miracle could come true.

"I would say with (Sunday's) win and looking at their next five games, with 12 games left in the season New Jersey could be in great position to hunt down the teams in front of them," NHL Network analyst Craig Button told "Remember, they still have three games in hand on the Rangers. They play the Rangers (April 9) and that could be a massive game for both teams."

The Devils are 20-2-2 since Jan. 9 and still sit 12th in the Eastern Conference, eight points out of a playoff spot, but that's the bad news. The good news is that each of their next five games will be against teams (Ottawa, Atlanta, the Islanders) that, like them, are also outside of the top eight.

O'Byrne knows he was lucky on skate to face

Monday, 03.07.2011 / 5:23 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Ryan O'Byrne realizes how fortunate he is, even after needing three hours of surgery and about 100 stitches to repair the left side of his face and mouth after getting sliced with a razor-sharp skate.

If the Colorado Avalanche defenseman had been struck a few inches higher or lower, the injury could have been far worse.

"Absolutely," O'Byrne said Monday after practicing while wearing a full protective cage at the South Suburban Family Sports Center. "They said there's a nerve there, and (the skate) just missed it. It kind of cut right through, but the nerve was intact. It would have been pretty tough. I would have had kind of a droopy look. It could have hit me in the eye or in the neck. A hundred stitches still, but it could have been worse, for sure."

Habs looking for their kind of revenge vs. Boston

Monday, 03.07.2011 / 3:05 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

BROSSARD, Que. -- A late-season game between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens doesn't exactly need any juicy storylines to ramp up the excitement level.

But with the game these two teams played the last time they met, the entire hockey world will have its eyes fixed on Tuesday's re-match at the Bell Centre. And if the Canadiens have anything to say about it, what those people see will have zero resemblance to the Feb. 9 brawl-fest in Boston that featured 182 penalty minutes and finished as an 8-6 Boston win.

"Our strength is obviously in our skill and our speed," Canadiens goalie Carey Price, named the NHL's Third Star of the Week on Monday, said after practice. "We've got a few physical guys in here, but for the most part we're going to hurt guys on scoreboards and not so much physically. We just have to play our game and hopefully we can hurt them that way."


Caps roll into Tampa playing their best hockey

Monday, 03.07.2011 / 2:05 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

The Washington Capitals are about to do something they haven't done the past two seasons -- play a meaningful Southeast Division game after the calendar turns to March.

The Capitals have dominated the division since 2008, but this season has been a different story.

They have been chasing the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it will be the Caps who enter Monday's showdown against the Lightning (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS) at St. Pete Times Forum with a one-point lead in the division.

The Capitals have won four straight, most recently Sunday's 3-2 overtime win against the Florida Panthers, 3-2. It was the Caps' seventh-straight win by one goal; they are 19-7-10 in one-goal games this season.

Flyers try to pick up the pieces after dreadful loss

Monday, 03.07.2011 / 9:16 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

"We have to bounce back with a better effort. Just stick with the program. Don't try to do to do much out there. Don't start pointing fingers. Be confident in the group. We have to put this one behind us and have a good practice (Monday) and move on to Tuesday." -- Mike Richards

Chris Pronger stood in the visiting locker room at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon a dejected man, ice bags around his 36-year-old knees, trying to explain why the Philadelphia Flyers were in the midst of a four-game losing streak that has seen them play their most dreadful hockey of the season.

The Flyers had just been dismantled by the New York Rangers 7-0, in a beating that was so thorough, so convincing, it was tough to believe Pronger's team has been sitting atop the Eastern Conference since Jan. 8.

Pronger, being the leader that he is, offered a calm, measured response to the gathered media about the challenge that is facing the Flyers with 17 games remaining in the regular season.


Johnson filling key role for Hawks

Saturday, 03.05.2011 / 1:20 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO – Those who follow the Chicago Blackhawks should know who Ryan Johnson is by now.
The 34-year old center might have been an afterthought when the Hawks signed him in mid-December, but there's no overlooking what the shot-blocking, faceoff-winning veteran is doing for Chicago now.
After scoring his first goal as a Blackhawk and winning 14 of 19 draws in Friday night's 5-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, Johnson is starting to fill the role that John Madden filled in last season's Stanley Cup championship.
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Quote of the Day

The last time I did it was 1994 and surprise, 20 years later it’s still working. I don’t do it very much, though. I don’t think I had it. I’m kind of surprised. It was probably because I went to church before the game.

Panthers veteran forward Jaromir Jagr on the move that produced his second goal in a 4-2 victory against the Senators on Sunday
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