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NHL Insider

Leafs continue playoff push against rival Habs

Saturday, 02.12.2011 / 2:20 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- With four wins in their last six games plus an overtime loss to New Jersey the last time out, the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing well enough to start thinking about a potential playoff berth.

Heading into their game Saturday night against the archrival Montreal Canadiens, the Leafs were sitting 8 points out of eighth spot with three teams between them and the Atlanta Thrashers.

"We're trying to just close the gap and see where we can get," said goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who will get the start instead of rookie James Reimer against his hometown Canadiens. "Our goal at the beginning of the year was to make the playoffs. Obviously, we haven't chosen the easiest route. But I firmly believe if we keep playing like this, we'll give ourselves a chance."

Savard still sees Blackhawks as a Cup contender

Friday, 02.11.2011 / 6:16 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Denis Savard believes in his Chicago Blackhawks enough to call them a serious contender if they get into the playoffs.

The "if," of course, is the most essential part of the equation because entering the weekend the reigning Stanley Cup champs are 11th in the Western Conference with 60 points, three back of the eighth-place Flames with Minnesota and Los Angeles wedged in the middle.

"I'm going to tell you this," Savard told "I can tell you that any team that's also in there won't want to play them in the first round.

Fuhr amused by goalie fights

Friday, 02.11.2011 / 6:09 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Amused and entertained is how Hall of Fame goalie Grant Fuhr would describe his reaction to seeing the recent spate of goalie fights in the NHL.

"You have no full-scale brawls any more, so how goalies end up mad at each other and end up going down the ice is a little bit hard to fathom, but it obviously happens," Fuhr told on Friday from Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Camp. "I think teams have animosity against each other and it creates a little bit of it, but goalies are probably not the ones that should be fighting.

"We never had to worry about it. We had enough big guys that could fight."

Gretzky talks hockey -- yesterday and today

Friday, 02.11.2011 / 6:09 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

LAS VEGAS -- The Great One still has a great passion for hockey and follows the NHL as closely as ever, watching as a fan from his home in Southern California. Wayne Gretzky may not be directly involved in the NHL at the moment, but his ties are still everywhere, his hooks still very much connected and his words still magnified more than most, if not all.

This week, at his ninth annual Fantasy Camp in Las Vegas, we had the opportunity to chat with Gretzky about a number of different hot topics inside the game today. Our discussions ranged from concussions and head hits to the trade deadline, playoffs, the upcoming Tim Horton's Heritage Classic and why he thinks there may never be another dynasty like the 1980s Edmonton Oilers.

Gretzky, gracious as always, offered his opinions on all of these topics for's State of the Game Q&A with 99.

Oilers willingly donate hair to raise money for charity

Friday, 02.11.2011 / 5:13 PM / NHL Insider

Robin Brownlee - Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Having already been thrust into the spotlight in their first season with the Edmonton Oilers, rookies Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi took on a new shine when they put their heads where their hearts are in the name of charity Friday.

Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi, along with Theo Peckham, Jeff Petry, Linus Omark and Steve MacIntyre, endured scissors and shears as part of the Hair Massacure, a fund-raiser supporting The Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation, Make-a-Wish Northern Alberta and Ronald McDonald House of Northern Alberta.

High and tight doesn't begin to describe it.

Sharks having fun on their trip east

Friday, 02.11.2011 / 2:45 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Hockey players can be notoriously light travelers.
For short road trips it is not uncommon for NHL players to pack very little, and for a one-day trip a bag might not even be involved. That wasn't the case for the San Jose Sharks on their current seven-game trek to the eastern United States that will span nearly two weeks.
"Yeah, we've got the extra bag this time," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "We usually pack pretty light, but you need the extra bag on this one."
The Sharks will face the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Friday and then fly to South Florida for a game Sunday against the Panthers. Friday's game is the fourth on a trip that has included stops in Boston, Washington and Columbus and will finish with contests against Florida and Nashville before heading back to California.


Around the West: Feaster's approach good for Sutter

Friday, 02.11.2011 / 10:08 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The list of reasons for Calgary's turnaround from bottom feeder to playoff contender over the last month and a half is long. Their team defense has improved, their goaltending is much better and their offense has more continuity and balance, so as a result the Flames have gone from last in the conference to eighth entering the weekend.

But as NHL Network analyst Craig Button notes, the change in the Flames' front office from former GM Darryl Sutter to acting GM Jay Feaster should not be undersold, either. Button, himself a former Flames' GM who still lives in the city, told that Feaster has brought a different perspective that may very well be helping coach Brent Sutter.

Feaster took over for the fired Sutter on Dec. 28 and the Flames are 12-3-4 since. They're 8-0-1 over their last nine games.

"Darryl was a darn good coach, but as a GM I think he looked at the game through a coaching lens," said Button. "Jay has not been a coach and doesn't have to enter the discussion with Brent looking through that lens. He can bring different perspectives and it allows Brent to perhaps take those and apply them. Sometimes the same things seen different and expressed from a very different perspective can have a very positive result. I believe that has occurred in Calgary."


Hull sees similarities between himself and Stamkos

Thursday, 02.10.2011 / 6:21 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

LAS VEGAS -- The whip you see in his stick, the accuracy and power with which he shoots, and the uncanny way Steven Stamkos always seems to find the open patch of ice reminds us of what we used to see from Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull.

Hull agrees. He sees the similarities and buys into the comparisons, too.

"Absolutely," Hull told Thursday morning from Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Camp. "He goes to the same areas of the ice. He's very patient. He's really developed that aspect of the game. I think in that aspect he's the best in the League by far."

Hull used to be. His one-timer was regarded as a lethal weapon -- and it helped him score 741 goals in 1,269 NHL games.

Isles will look to play physical against Habs

Thursday, 02.10.2011 / 2:19 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

"When you prepare for a team, you want to look at every avenue that you can exploit. When you go against Montreal, it's no secret you want to get physical with them." -- Zenon Kenopka

MONTREAL -- The battered and bruised Montreal Canadiens have little time to lick their wounds after the 8-6 beating they took at the hands of the Bruins in Boston, getting right back on the ice Thursday night against the well-rested New York Islanders.

Benoit Pouliot was probably the only member of the Canadiens that came out on the winning end of the six fights Wednesday in Boston. He was pretty frank when it came to Montreal's chances in games where toughness is a bigger factor than speed or skill.


Crosby confident he'll play again this season

Thursday, 02.10.2011 / 1:55 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Yes, it's scary, Sidney Crosby said, and how could it not be? A concussion is sidelining him from the game he loves, and neither Crosby nor his doctors know exactly when he'll be able to play again.

During a 10-minute session with reporters, the Pittsburgh Penguins star said Thursday there is no timetable for his return -- either to practice or games. He only can wait, rest and hope he gets better sooner rather than later.

Crosby is confident he'll be able to return to the Penguins at some point this season -- "Geez, I hope so," he said -- although he acknowledges there is a chance he won't.

The uncertainty, Crosby said, is one of the most difficult aspects of his injury.
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Quote of the Day

This team has been a real treat to say you've been the head coach of them. I'm extremely proud of this group ... after the disappointment of (the Game 6 loss) is digested, it's always a lot easier as a coach when your team has emptied its tank, and that team emptied its tank for me for three months.

— Senators coach Dave Cameron after getting eliminated in the first round by the Canadiens