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NHL Insider

Desire to win hasn't gone from Oilers, Avalanche

Saturday, 03.19.2011 / 4:48 PM / NHL Insider

Robin Brownlee - Correspondent

EDMONTON -- While nobody is going to mistake Saturday's game between the 30th-place Edmonton Oilers and 29th-place Colorado Avalanche at Rexall Place as a meeting of powerhouses, don't tell the players or the coaches there isn't anything at stake.

"We'll let the people who want to discuss that do that," Edmonton coach Tom Renney said. "That's their privilege. We're going to go try and win a hockey game.

Grossman back with familiar company for Stars

Saturday, 03.19.2011 / 2:48 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

Frisco, Texas -- The nearly 15,000 fans at American Airlines Center on Thursday night for were not only treated to one of Dallas' best wins of the season (a 5-0 decision against Chicago), but they also saw Nicklas Grossman playing alongside Stephane Robidas as the club's top defensive pairing for the first time in 17 games.

Grossman had missed 11 games with a lower-body injury suffered early in a 2-1 loss to Columbus on Feb. 13 but returned to the lineup March 11 with an assist and a plus-2 rating in a 4-0 win against Minnesota.

Rangers, Penguins see improved health equal wins

Saturday, 03.19.2011 / 1:16 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins have been saddled with a myriad of injuries this season, but both teams have welcomed back healthy bodies and are among the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference because of it.

These two Atlantic Division rivals will look to continue their positive momentum when they clash in a Sunday matinee at CONSOL Energy Center in NBC Sports' NHL Game of the Week (12:30 EDT).

The Rangers have won five of six games to open some space between them and the teams chasing Buffalo for the eighth spot in the conference. Several key forwards have missed time for New York, but everyone who the Rangers expect to have back this season is healthy.

McPhee says GMs worked to balance hitting and safety

Thursday, 03.17.2011 / 8:06 PM / NHL Insider

The 30 NHL general managers had a lot on their plate when they held their annual meetings in Florida earlier this week, but by far the biggest issue was a continuing look at concussions, how they're occurring in the game today and what can be done to increase player safety without negatively impacting the sport's appeal to fans.

Washington Capitals GM George McPhee, appearing as a guest Thursday on "NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman," came away impressed with what the general managers were able to accomplish as a group. A new protocol was established for treating a player who may have suffered a concussion, a crackdown on charging and boarding calls was mandated and more severe discipline for players injuring an opponent under such circumstances as well as repeat offenders also received support.

Elias, Brodeur have notable St. Patrick's history

Thursday, 03.17.2011 / 5:10 PM / NHL Insider

St. Patrick's Day may be in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, but a different Patrik seems to have made the day his own in recent years.

New Jersey's Patrik Elias has scored seven goals in eight career games played on the annual celebration of everything Irish, tied for most among active players with Detroit's Mike Modano.

Elias hasn't simply produced on St. Patrick's Day; the holiday holds a particular place in his career and the history of the New Jersey Devils, the only franchise he's played for in his 13 full seasons. It was on St. Patrick's Day two years ago that Elias notched an assist against the Chicago Blackhawks to make him the leading scorer in Devils history. Elias may have been overshadowed that night however, as Devils goalie Martin Brodeur picked up his 552nd win that night, breaking Patrick Roy's mark as the winningest goaltender in history.

St. Patrick's Day was an appropriate night for Brodeur to break the mark. The future Hall of Famer is expected to make his 11th appearance on St. Patrick's Day with a start tonight in Ottawa, which will give him the most among active players.

Maple Leafs, Devils pushing hard for playoff spot

Thursday, 03.17.2011 / 3:30 PM / NHL Insider

The Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils will attempt Thursday to inch closer to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

With the eighth-place Buffalo Sabres (76 points) and ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes (74) two of only eight teams idle, the Maple Leafs (72) and Devils (70) want to continue picking up points.

Toronto, fresh off a 3-1 win in Carolina on Wednesday, plays in Florida. The Leafs have picked up 11 points in their last 10 games (4-3-3) and currently occupy the 10th seed.

New Jersey, meanwhile, is in Ottawa to face a young Senators team that dealt the Devils their last loss, 2-1 at the Prudential Center on March 8. The Devils are in 11th, but have gone 23-3-2 in their last 28 games.

They also play Friday, returning home to face Washington. With Buffalo off again, the Devils could close to within two points of eighth if they win their next two games, though the Hurricanes also play Friday against the Islanders and could tie the Sabres for eighth with a win.

Chicago trio has good history vs. Stars

Thursday, 03.17.2011 / 3:29 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

DALLAS -- As the Chicago Blackhawks face the Dallas Stars on Thursday at the American Airlines Center, three players -- Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews -- loom large for the reigning Stanley Cup champions because of their career success against Dallas.
Kane is the leader with 20 points in 14 games against the Stars, a total which includes 4 points in 2 games this season. Hossa (18 points in 19 games) and Toews (17 points in 14 games, 4 points this season) aren't far behind.
Hossa and Kane had differing takes on their successes against the Stars.
"Well, that's nice but I try to look forward not back," Hossa said. "They're playing great hockey. They've got a good hockey team. It's going to be one of the key games we play this season. We can keep climbing up and that's our goal."

Stars seek to solve power-play woes

Thursday, 03.17.2011 / 2:27 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

DALLAS -- Over their last six games, the Dallas Stars are just 2-for-19 on the power play. Marc Crawford's team has still managed to go 3-2-1 over this stretch, but it's clear Dallas needs to be better with the man advantage. Thursday night's game with Chicago, a team the Stars are 4-for-9 on the power play against this year, presents a great opportunity to do exactly that.

"There's no logical explanation to it [our success against their penalty kill]," Crawford said. "They're a good penalty-killing team. We've gotten shots through and maybe somewhat focused playing against them. We scored a big power-play goal in the last game. We're doing the things that are giving us chances and we've got to continue to try to make each individual power play a dangerous one and the one that gives us momentum."

Special travel arrangements for Oilers call-ups

Thursday, 03.17.2011 / 2:22 PM / NHL Insider

Robin Brownlee - Correspondent

EDMONTON -- American Hockey League call-ups don't often get the rock-star treatment Alexandre Giroux, Chris Vande Velde and Ryan O'Marra experienced Wednesday after they were summoned by the Edmonton Oilers for Thursday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes.

"Flying us three, we kind of felt like rock stars there. It was nice of Edmonton to do that, to come down there and get us. They knew we had a rough day of travel the night before. This kind of made up for it." -- Chris Vande Velde

With their roster riddled by injuries, the Oilers put in a call for the trio from the Oklahoma City Barons. Team owner Daryl Katz sent his private jet to pick them up in Grand Rapids, Mich., to make sure they arrived well-rested for the game against the Coyotes.

"It's actually been a lot of fun," said Vande Velde, who will make his NHL debut after playing five games in the last seven nights with the Barons. "We're tired, but we're glad to be up here.

"Flying us three, we kind of felt like rock stars there. It was nice of Edmonton to do that, to come down there and get us. They knew we had a rough day of travel the night before. This kind of made up for it."

Pronger hoping for return before playoffs

Thursday, 03.17.2011 / 1:52 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Chris Pronger can do lots of things, but predicting the future isn't one of them. So as much as the Philadelphia Flyers All-Star defenseman would like to return prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he's not sure if he'll be able to.

Pronger, who had surgery Tuesday to repair a broken bone in his right hand, told reporters Thursday the surgery went well.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said earlier in the week he expected Pronger to miss 3-4 weeks, which would put Pronger's return for the Flyers' final 13 regular-season games in doubt.

"It's all right," Pronger said of his hand, which initially was injured during a Feb. 24 game against the New York Islanders when he blocked a shot. "It's a little swollen, still bandaged up and all the rest of that stuff. I probably won't know more until we get this off in a few days as far as that goes, really just how it progresses over the next couple of weeks."
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Quote of the Day

I'm going into this with an open mind. This is a very young player (23) with a tremendous, tremendous amount of upside.

— Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on Emerson Etem's potential