Stanley Cup Final
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NHL Insider

Recent hot play has Kings back in contention

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 1:45 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Go to any winning coach after a game in this League and you're likely to hear the same thing. Eventually they will point to goaltending and special teams as the two factors that led to the two points. Well, simple math suggests better goaltending plus winning the special-teams battle equals victory -- more often than not.

"Minnesota is winning. Calgary is winning. The teams around us are winning. Every night we need to be 100-percent focused and we need to bring that detail to our game, that hard-work mentality, in order to stay in this race because teams are winning." -- Jonathan Quick

The Los Angeles Kings have been the perfect case study for that grade-school equation over the last month and a half.

Their goals per game has stayed a solid 2.3 over their last 22 games, but their goaltending was woeful and penalty kill inconsistent over a 12-game stretch from Dec. 29 through Jan. 20, so they went 2-10-0 and fell out of the playoff race.

However, goalies Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier have been spectacular and the Kings' penalty kill nearly perfect over the 10 games since, so they're 8-0-2 and right back in the hunt. Los Angeles is ninth in the Western Conference, just one point behind the Calgary Flames, entering Thursday's game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

Ex-Thrashers teammates fueling Devils run

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 1:00 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

"They signed me to be myself and I don't think they want me to be the Selke Trophy winner or something like that." -- Ilya Kovalchuk

NEWARK, N.J. -- At a time when the New Jersey Devils were reeling and just seeking an identity, longtime teammates Ilya Kovalchuk and Johan Hedberg stepped to the forefront to help provide some hope after a tumultuous start to the season.
Of course, a coaching change played a big part in that equation as well. Remember when the Devils were the League's cellar dwellers at 9-22-2?
That seems like ancient history right about now.

Fittingly Brind'Amour's big night comes vs. Flyers

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

You get the feeling Rod Brind'Amour would prefer a workout bench, a couple of dumbbells and perhaps a treadmill by his side Friday when he becomes the third player in the history of the Carolina Hurricanes to have his number retired.

After all, he wasn't nicknamed "Rod the Bod" for nothing.

"This guy worked so hard off the ice, I got tired just watching him," Hall of Famer Ron Francis, a teammate with the Hurricanes, told "He brought that work ethic to the rink every time he stepped on the ice. You knew he was going to compete and give you everything he had. To do that, day in and day out, over your career is not an easy thing. It's a tough challenge and he met it head on and made it look easy."


Broadcaster Emrick remembers Brind'Amour

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

"They're the team I played the other half of my career, essentially, with. There's so many great memories there. I'm grateful that the team would pick that night to do that. It couldn't really be better timing for me." -- Rod Brind'Amour

Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Emrick vividly can recall Rod Brind'Amour's early years in Philadelphia, when playoff berths were few and far between.

Despite his efforts to lead the team, scoring more than 30 goals and at least 77 points in each of his first three seasons in Philadelphia, the Flyers still failed to qualify for the playoffs from 1991-92 through 1993-94.

"Rod was coming in at a time when there weren't a lot of guys who rode the bike and lifted weights both before and after games," Emrick said. "I remember one night, after a Flyers loss, I was going into the upper tier to get my coat to leave and Rod was up there, standing and staring at the wall. He was focused on not only reliving what happened that night, and it wasn't good, but also conditioning himself mentally, I guess, for what he had done and what he could do to make it better the next time.


Stars try to find a way out of slump

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 2:24 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hunter - Staff Writer

CALGARY, Alta. -- The Dallas Stars spent the majority of this season leading the Pacific Division. If they don't get things figured out in a hurry, they may end up missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That seemed unfathomable after the Stars got off to a 29-13-5 start. They're still 10 games above .500 -- but a combination of injuries, struggles at both ends of the ice and a losing streak on the road that reached six games after Wednesday night's 4-2 loss to the Calgary Flames has dropped them into a pack of teams that sit just a single point ahead of ninth-place Los Angeles in the Western Conference standings.

Life doesn't get any easier with a date against NHL-leading Vancouver on tap for Saturday to complete a three-game road trip through Western Canada that started with a 4-1 loss in Edmonton on Tuesday. Dallas captain Brenden Morrow was succinct in summing up what his team must do to shake out of the doldrums.

Montoya thankful for chance with Isles

Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 9:13 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- He won 86 games in three seasons at the college level with the University of Michigan, prompting the New York Rangers to grab him with the sixth overall pick at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Nearly seven years later, Al Montoya won just his fourth NHL game on Sunday.

What a long, strange trip it's been for the Chicago native, who also turned 26 on the day his new team beat the Buffalo Sabres in a wild 7-6 overtime victory at HSBC Arena. It came just four days after Montoya was acquired by the New York Islanders in a deal that sent a sixth-round pick to the Phoenix Coyotes.

Granato has fond memories of Colorado

Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 8:54 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

DENVER Tony Granato remains a popular figure in Colorado nearly two years after he was fired as Avalanche coach in his second stint on the job.

Now in his second season as a Pittsburgh Penguins assistant, Granato was surrounded by media members Wednesday morning as he discussed his first visit to the Pepsi Center since the Avalanche cleaned house following the team's last-place finish in the Western Conference in 2008-09.

"I was here for seven years and I loved every second of it," said Granato, 46, who served as the Avs' bench boss for parts of three seasons and was an assistant under Bob Hartley and Joel Quenneville. "I met great friends and people back here, and my family loved it here. It was a wonderful seven years of my life and being a part of the Avalanche organization was a tremendous honor and I enjoyed every second of it."

Parise eager to get back into the lineup

Tuesday, 02.15.2011 / 11:10 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"All of a sudden we're finding ourselves hopefully crawling back into the playoff scene. I sure hope that when I do come back that they will be meaningful games, and by the way we're playing we've got a chance to do that." -- Zach Parise

As the games pass and the New Jersey Devils' belief in a miracle grows stronger, injured star left wing Zach Parise is holding out hope that he, too, has some life left in his season.

Parise, who tore the meniscus in his right knee on Oct. 30, is long into his rehab and hoping to get back on the ice early next month. He's watched the Devils' 12-1-2 run and still thinks there's a chance that he'll play in some meaningful games before the 2010-11 season is over.

"The plan the whole time has been to rehab as best I can and as quick as I can and try to get back and play some games," Parise told in a phone interview Tuesday night. "All of a sudden we're finding ourselves hopefully crawling back into the playoff scene. I sure hope that when I do come back that they will be meaningful games, and by the way we're playing we've got a chance to do that."

Avs looking for answers in search to snap skid

Tuesday, 02.15.2011 / 6:17 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. –- The free-falling Colorado Avalanche practiced for about 90 minutes Tuesday while awaiting word on the health of Matt Duchene, who suffered a hand injury in Monday's 9-1 shellacking against Calgary.

"He injured his hand and he's being examined," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said following the workout at the South Suburban Family Sports Center. "He's being examined as we speak right now. I'll know more in the morning, but right now we'll just list him as day to day."

The Avalanche can ill afford to lose the 20-year-old center for any length of time as the team battles for its playoff life. Duchene, who leads Colorado in scoring with 21 goals and 47 points in 57 games, was struck by a shot late in the second period.

Oilers' lack of compete level angers Tambellini

Tuesday, 02.15.2011 / 3:03 PM / NHL Insider

Robin Brownlee - Correspondent

EDMONTON -- With Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Ducks pushing their home winless skid to seven games, the Edmonton Oilers have been called out by GM Steve Tambellini heading into tonight's game against the Dallas Stars.

"He made it clear he wants us to start winning games and really bring a more competitive attitude, especially after the last game. We didn't have that in our game at all." -- Andrew Cogliano

Tambellini met with his players behind closed doors Monday before practice and said he expects them to concentrate on doing what it takes to win and to forget bigger-picture issues -- namely, the likelihood the Oilers will miss the playoffs for a fifth-straight season and finish with the fewest points in the League for a second season in a row.

"When he came in, he made it obvious," said Andrew Cogliano. "Whatever is on the outside, about whatever place we're in, the first-overall pick, that's got to stop now.

"He made it clear he wants us to start winning games and really bring a more competitive attitude, especially after the last game. We didn't have that in our game at all."
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Quote of the Day

You know what? We've played in some pretty special buildings along this playoff run so far. You start in Detroit, you go to Montreal, you come here … I think it's the first team to beat three Original Six teams to get to the Final if I'm not mistaken. That says how tough the road has been. Those are tough places to win.

— Lightning forward Steven Stamkos after Game 7 win vs. Rangers on Friday in New York