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NHL Insider

Referee Bill McCreary ready for career finale

Saturday, 04.02.2011 / 10:21 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Bill McCreary's career as an NHL referee comes full circle on Saturday night.

It began on Nov. 3, 1984, when McCreary officiated a game between the Washington Capitals and the visiting New Jersey Devils. More than 27 years later, McCreary will call it a career after he works the game between the Caps and the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center.

McCreary will start his 1,737th regular-season game by doing his trademark puck flip before dropping the puck to start the Sabres-Caps game. Add in a record 297 Stanley Cup Playoff contests and McCreary has taken the ice for more than 2,000 NHL games.

Not bad for a former junior player from Guelph, Ont., who turned to officiating when he realized he wasn't going to make the big time as a skater.

Kings shake up lines in search for offense

Friday, 04.01.2011 / 6:26 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Winning four out of five games seemingly wouldn't be cause for a shakeup, but Los Angeles Kings coach Terry Murray is looking at the big picture.

One day after a 3-1 loss at Vancouver ended a four-game winning streak, Murray mixed up his lines in practice Friday and had Michal Handzus with Dustin Brown and Dustin Penner while Jarret Stoll centered Ryan Smyth and Oscar Moller in the top-six forward groupings.

Kyle Clifford was with Brad Richardson and Wayne Simmonds while Trevor Lewis skated with Alexei Ponikarovsky and Kevin Westgarth.

Coyotes need two points before five days' rest

Friday, 04.01.2011 / 5:36 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If the Phoenix Coyotes can beat the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night, they will have five days to rest and recharge, restock their roster and complete their final push to a likely second straight Stanley Cup playoff berth.

But if the Coyotes lose, they will have five days to wring their hands, watch the scoreboard and hope that the teams behind them -- with games in hand -- don't make up a stagger they have spent all season building.

With 95 points and sitting fourth in the Western Conference, completing a four-game sweep of the Avs would leave the Coyotes in the thick of the race to secure home-ice advantage in the first round. It would also push them back within two points of San Jose for the Pacific Division lead.

Devils will have Volchenkov back against Flyers

Friday, 04.01.2011 / 2:11 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- While the New Jersey Devils are set to welcome back top forward Zach Parise from an injury Saturday, they will get one of their top defensemen back Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Anton Volchenkov has missed the past two contests with a lower-body injury, but he will be in the lineup against the first-place Flyers after completing practice Thursday and the morning skate Friday at Prudential Center.

"It is nice. He is a big guy who blocks a lot of shots," Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. "He's very productive on the defense side. He's good on the PK. I'm sure he will be a big plus for us."

Caps' Green no longer feeling concussion symptoms

Friday, 04.01.2011 / 2:07 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

"Anytime you're off the ice and you don't use your skating muscles, it takes time to get back into the flow of things. It only takes about four or five days to get your feel back and this is Day 1."
-- Mike Green

The Washington Capitals could be a step closer to seeing Mike Green return to the lineup.

The defenseman skated with teammates for the first time in more than a month Friday, and afterward told reporters he no longer was experiencing concussion-like symptoms.

The practice was optional and featured just 11 players, and Green did not take any contact, but according to the Washington Post, he took shots, handled the puck and skated through teammates.

"That's the most I've done in a long time here," Green told the Washington Post. "I felt good, that's the most important thing. I don't have anything going on and each day's been better and it was nice to get a good skate in."

Age nothing more than a number for four over-40 stars

Friday, 04.01.2011 / 11:09 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

From the moment a professional hockey player begins his career, time is scheming to strip away his speed, strength and skill.

The aging process is inevitable, inescapable. Take care of your body, eat right, get plenty of rest -- it doesn't matter. Ligaments lose their elasticity, muscles weaken and the body breaks down for even the most diligent and gifted of athletes who once were considered indestructible.

Yet for a select few, the laws of aging seemingly don't apply them. While others see their talents diminish, these special human beings seem immune to the deterioration of their youth.

Teemu Selanne, Nicklas Lidstrom, Dwayne Roloson and Mark Recchi are the exception to the rule, proving 40 doesn't necessarily mean the end of their careers -- far from it.

Ten April games you just can't miss

Friday, 04.01.2011 / 10:50 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

It's April Fool's Day, but the playoff races in both conferences are serious business. They still are scorching with 10 days left in 2010-11 NHL regular season as teams battle for position while others remain hopeful they can ram their way into the top eight with a sizzling finish.

Seventy-one games remain between now and April 10, and many of them have significant meaning. Here are the 10 games you simply can't miss over the next 10 days:

Preds' depth, team system has brought results

Thursday, 03.31.2011 / 5:49 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

"It's going to be tough (catching Detroit). If we put a few wins together and get on a roll, you never know, but our focus is making sure we get in (the playoffs)." -- Predators center Mike Fisher

DENVER -- There isn't a team in the NHL that more typifies the team concept than the Nashville Predators, who still have an outside chance of overtaking Detroit for first place in the Central Division.

"We don't have any big-time difference makers up front, dynamic guys where you go, ‘If you stop him, you stop that whole team,' " Predators coach Barry Trotz said Thursday morning at the Pepsi Center. "We have a lot of good players that can contribute."

With 92 points and five regular-season games remaining, the Predators are in seventh place in the Western Conference -- six points behind the division-leading Red Wings, whom they meet Saturday at what is expected to be a sold-out Bridgestone Arena.

Presidents' Trophy nice, but Canucks want more

Thursday, 03.31.2011 / 5:12 PM / NHL Insider

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- A win against Los Angeles plus a little help would clinch the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history for the Vancouver Canucks -- adding to a growing list of firsts for the club this season.

"It's not our main goal, but it's a goal along the way. It was good to clinch the Western Conference and to win the Presidents' Trophy, it's never been done (by the franchise). It would be a good thing for this franchise." -- Ryan Kesler

A Canucks win, coupled with a Philadelphia Flyers regulation loss to the Atlanta Thrashers, and Vancouver clinches the best record in the League. Making the accomplishment more impressive is that heading into Thursday’s games no other team had clinched a playoff berth in the Western Conference.

"It's not our main goal, but it's a goal along the way," Ryan Kesler said of the Presidents' Trophy. "It was good to clinch the Western Conference and to win the Presidents' Trophy, it's never been done (by the franchise). It would be a good thing for this franchise."

Vancouver returns to Rogers Arena in search of its fifth consecutive win. The Canucks have just two losses in their past 14 games and have three wins in their last five on home ice. 

Quick credits ice and luck with mysterious save

Thursday, 03.31.2011 / 2:24 PM / NHL Insider

It had been suspected Jonathan Quick had supernatural powers after his inexplicable save against the Calgary Flames last week, where the puck mysteriously changed direction and bounced away from an open net.

Quick finally admitted it Wednesday in Vancouver.

"It's no secret that I have mind control," Quick told the Vancouver Sun.

The Los Angeles Kings goaltender was just having fun with the save he made against Jarome Iginla, where the puck squeezed through his pads, skipped on the ice and made a hard right turn. It looked as if the puck hit an invisible wall.

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