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Player Profiles

'Razor'-sharp Emery solidified Hawks' goaltending

Thursday, 03.07.2013 / 4:42 PM / Player Profiles

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

Ray Emery
Goalie - CHI
RECORD: 10-0-0
GAA: 2.02 | SVP: 0.925

CHICAGO -- Ray Emery came to the Chicago Blackhawks on a tryout offer in training camp before last season.

The way he's playing in net for Chicago right now, during the team's record run to start this season, it's easy to overlook that fact -- not to mention the career-threatening hip injury that nearly ended the 30-year old Emery's hockey career at age 29.

After a somewhat turbulent 2011-12 season with the Blackhawks -- who had the same kind of year as a team -- Emery has bounced back strong to provide Chicago (21-0-3) with a rock-solid second option in net to red-hot starter Corey Crawford.

Hossa reflects on stellar career as he hits 1,000 games

Saturday, 03.02.2013 / 7:00 PM / Player Profiles

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

The way he still plays, so dominating at times and always consistent, it's easy to forget that Marian Hossa is playing his 15th season in the National Hockey League.

Hossa, who turned 34 in January, is in the fourth year of a monster 12-year contract he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks prior to the 2009-10 season -- the year he and the Blackhawks finally won a Stanley Cup.

Sunday afternoon at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), Hossa will play his 1,000th NHL game. Anybody who's tracked his standout career is probably wondering the same thing as Hossa: Where did the time go?

"When you look back, it looks like it [went fast]," Hossa said Friday night, after helping Chicago defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in overtime to stay unbeaten in regulation after 21 games. "So many years went by so quick. I remember as an 18-year old, jumping in this League [and] all of a sudden I'm 34 with 1,000 games coming up. The time flies."

It passed almost as fast as Hossa, who has burned many a defender during a career that's spanned five teams -- beginning with a seven-game debut in the 1997-98 season for the Ottawa Senators.

Brunner driven to succeed at North American game

Saturday, 03.02.2013 / 6:44 PM / Player Profiles

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- Damien Brunner is acutely aware of what his biggest critics thought about him coming over from Switzerland to play this season for the Detroit Red Wings.

There were some who questioned whether Brunner could adjust to the smaller ice surface of the National Hockey League -- not to mention the intense physical play that's just not as common in places like the Swiss League, where he became a star offensive force.

Damien Brunner
Center - DET
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 16
SOG: 70 | +/-: -2
Others wondered whether the 26-year old would be like Swedish forward Fabian Brunnstrom, a former Red Wings player who struggled with the same adjustment and never matched his European exploits.

Brunner, who's scored 10 goals and added six assists in 21 games, has used the naysayers as motivation.

"For sure, I want to prove that [I belong]," Brunner said after practice Saturday morning. "There were also a lot of guys back home who thought it was going to be tough … so I came over and wanted to prove to all the guys who criticized me that I could do it. But I [did] it for myself too."

Hurricanes' Jordan Staal faces Penguins for first time

Wednesday, 02.27.2013 / 9:30 PM / Player Profiles

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- When Jordan Staal found out he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, he knew this day was coming.

Staal was delighted to join his brother, Eric, in Raleigh, N.C., on a team that could provide him a greater role than he had in six seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Jordan will face his former teammates for the first time Thursday when the Penguins and Hurricanes meet at PNC Arena (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

"It is going to be fun. Obviously I was there for a long time and have a lot of memories in that organization," Staal said. "It is going to be a big matchup for our team as well, playing against a good team. It will be a lot of new challenges and a good challenge for myself."

The trade happened on the day of Staal's wedding, and several of the guests became former teammates during the reception. Staal had a chance to spend more time with many of them later in the summer when Marc-Andre Fleury and Brooks Orpik each got married.

Through adversity, Holtby proves worth to Capitals

Wednesday, 02.27.2013 / 12:30 PM / Player Profiles

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Giving up an unexpected amount of goals early in a player's first full NHL season would be considered a fair amount of adversity for most 23-year-old goaltenders. 

Not many who fit that description have gone from playing in the minors to being a team's No. 1 goaltender in the Stanley Cup Playoffs while their fiancee was about to give birth to their first child, though.

Braden Holtby had already earned plaudits for his mental approach before he helped carry the Washington Capitals to within one victory of a place in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. Playing in 14 NHL postseason games, including seven straight one-goal affairs in the first round, solidified Holtby's place in the organization and probably provided general manager George McPhee some nice reassurance on the decision to not try harder to retain restricted free agent Semyon Varlamov before the start of the 2011-12 season.

Lashoff goes from unknown to top pairing in Detroit

Tuesday, 02.26.2013 / 11:25 PM / Player Profiles

John Manasso - Correspondent

Brian Lashoff
Defense - DET
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 3
SOG: 15 | +/-: -4
The Detroit Red Wings knew they had some major holes to fill on their blue line by the time the middle of June rolled around.

They had traded Brad Stuart, who played more than 21 minutes a night, to the San Jose Sharks. In addition, the day also had arrived that the organization and its fans long feared when seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom retired in May.

Many expected the Red Wings to go after a big name like 2012 All-Star Ryan Suter -- and they did, but he chose to sign with the Minnesota Wild. From there, the Red Wings chose homegrown talent along with a couple of free agents to fill out the roster.

As Ovi adjusts to new position, results begin to come

Tuesday, 02.26.2013 / 4:48 PM / Player Profiles

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin had Sunday off from his responsibilities as the captain of the Washington Capitals, a day after scoring his first hat trick in more than two years.

After enduring questions about his lack of goal production, he had a day to revel in a "vintage Alex" performance, and maybe ease the pressure he's placed on himself on top of the massive expectations from everyone else in the hockey world.

"No, I still think about it," Ovechkin said.

So, just as one productive game doesn't mean Ovechkin will now return to terrorizing opposing goaltenders on a nightly basis, maybe one such game also doesn't ease his burden.

Kane says he's the same, but numbers show growth

Friday, 02.22.2013 / 3:43 PM / Player Profiles

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Patrick Kane
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 22
SOG: 42 | +/-: 9
CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane's first reaction is to laugh when he hears people talking about the perceived maturity and growth he's shown both at the rink and away from the ice this season.

"I don't understand how they would say that or how they would know that," Kane told Friday from United Center, where the Chicago Blackhawks will go for a record 17th straight game with a point to start the season against the San Jose Sharks. "I think there are spots where I have to watch myself a little bit more, that's for sure, but when I'm at the rink, when people see me, I'm definitely the same kid so I really don't know where that comes from."

Conacher overcame obstacles to excel for Lightning

Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 5:42 PM / Player Profiles

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

This originally ran as part of Dan Rosen's Over the Boards notebook on Feb. 8. Statistics have been updated.

The two drawbacks that could have easily prevented Tampa Bay Lightning rookie Cory Conacher from making it to the NHL are instead the two biggest reasons he is thriving and playing top-six minutes for a team with playoff aspirations.

Conacher's diminutive size (5-foot-9, 179 pounds) and potentially debilitating disease (type 1 diabetes, diagnosed when he was eight years old) never got in his way before he got to the League and certainly don't figure to be detrimental now that he's arrived with a fearlessness built on a foundation of always having to prove people wrong.

Through 15 games, Conacher had 14 points on five goals and nine assists. He's scored all of his goals from right around the blue paint, a testament to his fearlessness.

Penguins star Crosby back to being the best

Tuesday, 02.19.2013 / 8:34 PM / Player Profiles

Chris Adamski - Correspondent

Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 24
SOG: 61 | +/-: 11
PITTSBURGH -- He's averaging a point-and-a-half per game, is a point off the National Hockey League scoring lead, and is tied with a linemate for the League's best plus-minus among forwards.

Best of all for Sidney Crosby, he hasn't so much as missed a period due to injury through exactly one month of the Pittsburgh Penguins' season.

Crosby is looking like the old Sid the Kid. Limited to 22 regular-season games over a two-year span until this season began last month, the former Art Ross and Hart trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion is resembling the player who was the consensus world's best not long ago.

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