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Player Profiles

Raymond dishes on his highlight-reel goal

Wednesday, 01.12.2011 / 4:07 PM / Player Profiles

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

"It's high-risk, high-reward. It's one of those things, the shootouts now are so creative, guys are doing things that I'm sure you wouldn't have imagined five years ago they were going to do. It's a move that if you can really get that goalie to bite, you do have the whole net to put the puck into." -- Mason Raymond

It may be the middle of January, but for Vancouver Canucks forward Mason Raymond, he feels like his season is just starting.

If so, it started with quite a bang Tuesday when he pulled out a sensational spin-o-rama for a shootout goal in a 4-3 win against the Islanders.

As Raymond crossed the blue line on his attempt, he skated through the right circle and then angled toward the net. As he neared the crease, he slammed on the brakes, spun back the other way, and as Islanders rookie goalie Kevin Poulin slid the wrong way, Raymond easily tapped the puck into an open net with his backhand.

"It's high-risk, high-reward," Raymond told "It's one of those things, the shootouts now are so creative, guys are doing things that I'm sure you wouldn't have imagined five years ago they were going to do. It's a move that if you can really get that goalie to bite, you do have the whole net to put the puck into."

Zuccarello already coming up big for Rangers

Thursday, 01.06.2011 / 4:30 PM / Player Profiles

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello was bestowed the nickname, "The Hobbit," because of his small stature and resemblance to those characters from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

The 5-foot-7, 174-pounder from Norway isn't a fan of the moniker -- and who would be? -- but after scoring his first NHL goal for the New York Rangers on Wednesday night, Zuccarello might be known for something other than his size.

The rookie curled in front of the net, waited for Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward to drop and, from just outside the crease, fired a shot into the top of the net with 1:51 left in overtime to give the Rangers a 2-1 victory and whip the Madison Square Garden crowd into a frenzy.

Couture has become key member of Sharks

Thursday, 12.23.2010 / 12:24 PM / Player Profiles

Larry Wigge - Columnist

""I still feel like a rookie. I'm still learning the League. I'm still young and I'm learning all the stuff that comes along with being a rookie. I'd be lying if I would have said I'd have this many goals at his at this point in the season, but I've always been confident in the way I can play." -- Logan Couture

For each young player who gets that first chance at getting his feet wet in the National Hockey League, there's a period of self-evaluation. A litmus test, if you will.

You have ask yourself whether you were ready for the experience, and what did you learn?  Being an NHL player is kind of neat, but are you prepared to take the next step in your career? How serious are you?

You don't have to be around him for more that a few moments to learn Logan Couture has taken everything very seriously since he has joined the San Jose Sharks.

"The first thing I noticed about NHL players is that I had to get stronger. I was no longer playing every night against kids -- it was a game against men," said Couture, who played in 25 regular-season games plus another 15 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. "I had to be smarter, more mature, in every way I prepared for the game."

Yotes' Belanger finally comfortable

Thursday, 12.23.2010 / 9:00 AM / Player Profiles

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

"All of a sudden you have to turn around and go somewhere where you don't know anything. You don't want your kids to struggle. And you know it's all because of you, because I play hockey." -- Eric Belanger

Eric Belanger had it all figured out. With what he believed was a new contract in Washington, the veteran of nine NHL seasons had found a new house, a school for his oldest daughter, and stability in a career that had seen time with five teams. But things changed quickly.

One month after signing a lease on the house of former Capital Chris Clark, the deal with Washington fell through. Belanger eventually signed a one-year deal with the Coyotes on Sept. 14, just two days before training camp. Belanger had to uproot his young family one more time.

Bickell has stepped up at important time for Hawks

Wednesday, 12.22.2010 / 10:08 AM / Player Profiles

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The hard wrist shot that Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell is terrorizing opposing goaltenders with lately was born in the backyard of his childhood home in Orono, Ont.
When he was 10 years old, Bickell started a shooting routine that he still credits for helping him develop the wrister that's so effective now as a rookie in his first full NHL season. Bickell had a stick, some pucks, a net and some empty pop cans hanging from the goal posts as targets.
"I remember being a kid and shooting hundreds and hundreds of pucks every night," said Bickell, who has 9 goals and 18 points in 32 games. "It was just an open net in the back yard. Mostly it was just a plastic sheet (to shoot at) and let ‘er rip. It was fun when I was a kid."

Ladd's leadership paying dividends in Atlanta

Monday, 12.20.2010 / 4:07 PM / Player Profiles

When it comes to professional sports, leadership is much easier to measure in qualitative terms than quantitative ones, but in the case of Andrew Ladd and the Atlanta Thrashers, the numbers jump off the paper at you.

Since naming Ladd captain Nov. 18 the Thrashers have gone on an 11-2-2 tear, rocketing up the standings in the Southeast Division and briefly claiming sole possession of first place after a 7-1 rout of the Devils on Saturday. The Capitals regained the division lead with their win against the Senators on Sunday, but the Thrashers can take it right back if they beat the Maple Leafs on Monday.

Booth looks like he has game back where it was

Monday, 12.20.2010 / 3:53 PM / Player Profiles

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

"I remember talking to the guys in Boston about (Patrice) Bergeron, and they were saying that even when he returned from his concussion, it took a full year to get up to speed again. He didn't get his game back until a full year after he started playing again from his concussion, so we went in with expectations that there would be some pains with David here." -- Panthers coach Peter DeBoer

PHILADELPHIA -- It has been a little over a year since Florida Panthers forward David Booth suffered the first concussion of his career.
It was Oct. 24, 2009, when Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards delivered a crushing open-ice hit that left Booth laying on the ice and not only sidelined him for 45 games, but ended any hope he might have had at earning a roster spot on the United States Olympic Team.
He finally returned to the lineup Jan. 31, but suffered a second concussion in March, falling victim to an open-ice hit from Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, which ended his season.
After watching his point totals increase over his first three NHL seasons, Booth had high expectations for 2009-10, but finished with just 8 goals and 16 points in just 28 games.

Pronger still trying to get better

Tuesday, 12.14.2010 / 2:16 PM / Player Profiles

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

"Each year your game must evolve and your game should be getting better. You're going to learn something new every year simply because you're going to work on something new every year. There are always things you can improve. You strive for perfection and you strive to be the best you can be."
-- Chris Pronger

PHILADELPHIA -- Chris Pronger fondly recalls the days when old was considered young.

"The League was a lot older when I joined (as a 19 year old in 1993-94)," Pronger told "There were very few young guys. If you were 24 or 25 years old, you were considered young. Now you're already a vet at that age, so from that perspective, the game has changed a lot."

Pronger was 18 when the Hartford Whalers selected him with the second pick of the 1993 Entry Draft. Despite being four years younger than the next oldest defenseman on the Whalers' roster in 1993-94, he played 81 games and produced 5 goals, 30 points and 113 penalty minutes.

Datsyuk might not realize just how good he's been

Monday, 12.13.2010 / 9:12 AM / Player Profiles

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

It's not that Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk is choosing to forget how last season went for him. It's just that Datsyuk insists he really doesn't care enough about what happened to remember it.

"Last year is a long time ago and I'm not really into statistics," Datsyuk said. "(We have) a game Monday and I'm looking forward to Monday's game."

Monday's game will see the Western Conference-leading Red Wings going for their third straight win when they host the Los Angeles Kings (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN2).

So if you believe Datsyuk then you believe he has no clue that he had only 70 points in 80 games last season after scoring a career-high 97 in 81 games during the 2008-09 season. And if you buy that, then you also believe he has no idea he already has 36 points in 28 games this season, including 7 points in the last three games and 14 over the last eight.

No problems for Lindback in filling in for Rinne

Friday, 12.10.2010 / 3:30 PM / Player Profiles

John Manasso - Correspondent

A few years ago, Nashville coach Barry Trotz and the team's celebrated goaltending coach, Mitch Korn, were watching one of the organization's prospect camps. In goal stood 2008 seventh-round draft pick Anders Lindback.
"We looked at each other and said, 'He looks just like Pekka,'" Trotz said, comparing Lindback to the team's current No. 1 goalie, Pekka Rinne. "'He moves just looks like Pekka.' It was funny because we looked at each other and we just started chuckling because we were both thinking the same thing."
Since Lindback, 22, seemingly came out of nowhere to land the Predators' back-up job -- and, for the time being, the No. 1 job with Rinne out for a few weeks with a left knee injury -- the comparisons to Rinne are hard to shake.

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