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Special-teams play was big part of Pens' game

Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

John Kreiser - Columnist


Category Rank (Conference)
2010-11 Points 106 (4th East/4th NHL)
Change from 2009-10 +5
Home Points 52 (4th East/9th NHL)
Road Points 54 (2nd East/4th NHL)
Advantage Margin: -13
There were 635 power plays in the Penguins' 82 games, more than in any other team's contests. The Penguins were among the League leaders in drawing power plays (fifth, 311), but their 324 power plays-allowed were more than any team other than Montreal, and they were tops in advantages allowed on the road with 172.

Special Teams Goal Margin: +11
Despite allowing all those power plays, the Penguins surrendered just 45 extra-man goals. They led the NHL with an 86.1-percent penalty-kill success rate and were tied for second with 13 shorthanded goals.

Returns of Sid, Geno has Pens focused on Cup run

Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

The Pittsburgh Penguins know they can be a Stanley Cup-winning team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in their lineup. They know they can be a very good team without both of them for half a season.
However, the Penguins don't aspire merely to be good -- they expect to be champions. They've averaged 47 wins the last five seasons, played in two Stanley Cup Finals and won one -- yet a number of their core players are 25 or younger. They don't plan on being one-hit wonders; this is a team that goes into every season anticipating it will play until June.
"I think pretty much every year that's our goal," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "To get to the Final and win. Nothing has changed this year. I think with the group of guys that we have this year, it's something that we can accomplish."

Late-bloomer Rinne paying dividends for Preds

Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

Pekka Rinne
Goalie - NSH
RECORD: 33-22-9
GAA: 2.12 | SVP: 0.930
From the time Pekka Rinne first was eligible to be drafted, the 30 NHL teams made 1,129 selections before his named was called.

Rinne is one of the League's ultimate "late-bloomers," but the Nashville Predators have reaped the benefits from taking a flier on the lanky goaltender in the eighth round of the 2004 Entry Draft. He has become one of the world's top goaltenders, and one of the biggest reasons the Predators are a contender in the Western Conference.

"I think it (playing in the NHL) was always my distant dream, but obviously it took a while to really get serious and consider that could someday happen," Rinne told "Back then I realistically didn't think about it too much that someday I'll play in the NHL. My main thing was to make the men's team through the juniors in Karpat Oulu. I just wanted to make the No. 1 team and maybe someday play professionally."

Late home games could be boost for Wild

Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

John Kreiser - Columnist


Category Rank (Conference)
2010-11 Points 86 (12th West/21st NHL)
Change from 2009-10 +2
Home Points 43 (12th West/26th NHL)
Road Points 43 (9th West/16th NHL)
Advantage Margin: -16
In a season that saw the number of power plays decline, the Wild didn't help themselves by allowing two more advantages than they did in 2009-10 (308-306) while earning 17 fewer.

Special Teams Goal Margin: 0
What the Wild accomplished is a near-impossibility statistically: They scored and gave up exactly 53 power-play goals while scoring and allowing exactly seven shorthanded goals.

Goals by defensemen: 34
The Wild may scramble to find offense from the blue line this season after dealing Brent Burns to San Jose. Burns accounted for exactly half of the goals scored by Minnesota's defensemen and had 8 goals on the power play.

Offensive additions has Koivu feeling hopeful

Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

Mikko Koivu
Center - MIN
GOALS: 17 | ASST: 45 | PTS: 62
SOG: 191 | +/-: 4
If Mikko Koivu wasn't already the face of the Minnesota Wild franchise, the seven-year contract he signed that starts this season cemented that status.

He has committed to spending the prime of his career in the Twin Cities, and he is committed to helping his team find the postseason success that has eluded it in all but one season of the franchise's existence.

"I've always liked it in Minnesota. It has become my home, and it feels like going home," Koivu told "That's always been important for myself. The way the organization, the people back in Minnesota, have been treating myself, my family and my friends has always been first-class. I'm happy to be there and I'm calm about it, but obviously by doing a long-term deal you want to be part of a good team and that is my goal, as well.

Wild hope offseason overhaul added missing offense

Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

David Kalan - Staff Writer

The Minnesota Wild underwent a significant roster makeover this offseason in hope of returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after sitting out the last two seasons, and they have the San Jose Sharks to thank for a good portion of it.

The biggest headline grabber was Minnesota's acquisition of four-time All-Star forward Dany Heatley. While Heatley is coming off the least-productive full season of his career, he still brings a scorer's touch and 689 points in 669 NHL games. The move cost the Wild dynamic winger Martin Havlat, but for a team that finished 26th in the League in goals per game last season, dramatic upgrades were needed.

Flyers among best at making late leads hold up

Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

John Kreiser - Columnist

Advantage Margin: -18
The Flyers were among the NHL's best road teams despite surrendering 24 more power plays than they received away from home (156-132).

Special Teams Goal Margin: +3
Philadelphia's penalty-killers allowed 54 goals, five more than the power play scored. They more than overcame that difference by scoring 13 times while shorthanded, tied for second in the League.

Goals by defensemen: 22
Matt Carle had 39 assists but just 1 goal. The big surprise on the blue line was Andrej Meszaros, who led the team's blueliners with 8 goals, including a pair in overtime.

Overtime Record
Total: 6-5-7 OT: 3-5 SO: 3-7

Shootouts never have been the Flyers' strong point (they're 19-34 all-time), and last season was no different -- especially at home, where they were 0-5 in the tiebreaker.

Flyers asking more from Giroux and van Riemsdyk

Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

When their professional world changed, Claude Giroux was getting in a workout and James van Riemsdyk was sleeping.

"I was taking a nap, woke up to a ton of missed calls and text messages," van Riemsdyk told "I was like everyone else, a little bit shocked at first."

"When I was done, I had a bunch of texts from my buddies saying, 'Can you believe what just happened?'" added Giroux. "I didn't know what happened, so I called one of my buddies."

The news that late June day was the Philadelphia Flyers had traded franchise stalwarts Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in separate deals. That meant Giroux and van Riemsdyk, who had been part of one of the deepest forward corps in the NHL, had been promoted from support players to leading men.

In announcing the trades, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren cited one of the reasons he was comfortable parting with a pair of All-Star centers was the development of Giroux and van Riemsdyk into full-time, top-six forwards.

Roster makeover gives Philly completely new look

Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The winds of change blew through the Philadelphia Flyers' locker room with the force of an F5 tornado. Of the 20 players who took the ice for the team's final Stanley Cup Playoff game last May, nine have been blown to new teams.
A year removed from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, it was a stunning course change that saw a pair of homegrown All-Star centers depart on the same day the team gave a monumental contract to a new goaltender.
June 23 will go down as one of the biggest days in franchise history, as it saw the Flyers trade Jeff Carter to Columbus and team captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles, while at the same time finalizing a nine-year, $51 million contract with goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
In return for Carter, the Flyers acquired 22-year-old right wing Jakub Voracek and the No. 8 pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, which the team used on center Sean Couturier. For Richards, the Flyers received 23-year-old right wing Wayne Simmonds and top prospect Brayden Schenn, considered by many to be the best player not currently playing full-time in the NHL.
"What we've done today is change the direction of our organization with these two moves," Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said that day. "I've always said over the last few years that I like our team. Today I like our team. We're just a different team."

Shootout still a problem for Senators

Tuesday, 09.27.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

John Kreiser - Columnist


Category Rank (Conference)
2010-11 Points 74  (13th East/26th NHL)
Change from 2009-10 -20
Home Points 37  (15th East/28th NHL)
Road Points 37  (12th East/24th NHL)
Advantage Margin: -37
The Senators drew fewer power plays (257) than any team except New Jersey. They also gave visiting opponents 18 more power plays than they earned in their 41 games at Scotiabank Place, the worst figure in the League.

Special Teams Goal Margin: -1
Ottawa's power play was much better at home (27 goals, 20.8 percent) than on the road (18 goals, 14.2 percent). The penalty kill was better on the road (22 goals allowed, 84.9 percent) than at home (26 goals allowed, 82.4 percent).

Goals by defensemen: 28
The Senators' disappointment at the lack of production from big-ticket free agent Sergei Gonchar (7 goals, 20 assists in 67 games) partially was offset by the blossoming of 2008 first-rounder Erik Karlsson, who had a breakout season with 13 goals and 45 points, second on the team.
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