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NHL Insider

Schneider-Horvat trade worked for Devils, Canucks

Friday, 02.20.2015 / 1:47 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Bo Horvat had no idea the Vancouver Canucks had their sights set on him when the Canucks acquired the ninth pick of the 2013 NHL Draft from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for goaltender Cory Schneider.

Even though Schneider was the more experienced player in the trade, he and Horvat will be linked as a result of that draft-day transaction.

"I would like to hope that they traded me for another good player," Schneider said. "The Canucks had an area of surplus with goaltending at the time and New Jersey had a need. I'm sure it will be linked but it was a hockey trade that works out for both teams.

"In the end I think both sides will say they were pretty happy with the deal."

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Lightning's Gudlevskis reflects on storybook night

Friday, 02.20.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

A year ago this week, the 2014 Sochi Olympics entered the knockout round. To celebrate, NHL.com looks at three players who used one of hockey's biggest stages to grab the spotlight and parlay their celebrity into the 2014-15 NHL season.

Today, we look at Latvia goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, who went from unheralded backup to Olympic star with his performance against Canada in the quarterfinals.

Not long after upsetting Switzerland in the qualification round of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Latvia coach Ted Nolan made up his mind.

On tap in the quarterfinals was Canada, the favorite to win the gold medal for the second consecutive Olympic Games. Nolan turned to an unknown goalie named Kristers Gudlevskis, who in his Olympic debut allowed five goals to eventual silver-medal winner Sweden.

Latvia's top goalie was Edgars Masalskis, who made 32 saves in the win that eliminated Switzerland, but Nolan's instincts led him to Gudlevskis. Nolan's reasoning suggested not playing Masalskis in consecutive games of the grueling tournament. His gut told him plainly that it was Gudlevskis' time.

"I told him there would be a big moment for you coming up in the Olympics," said Nolan, coach of the Buffalo Sabres. "We knew we would play him in that game [against Canada] because of his size and athleticism, and youthful enthusiasm. Youthful enthusiasm sometimes overcomes that lack of experience sometimes."

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Crosby surprises Little Penguins by joining practice

Wednesday, 02.18.2015 / 3:20 PM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby did not practice on Wednesday, at least not in the conventional sense.

Crosby, along with Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, forwards Nick Spaling and Zach Sill, and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, surprised 40 children involved with the Little Penguins by taking the ice during a unique practice that took place after the NHL players had their turn.

Crosby, the Penguins, Dick's Sporting Goods and Reebok fund the Little Penguins, a youth hockey program that provides free head-to-toe equipment to 1,000 young players each year.

The Penguins captain did not participate in Pittsburgh's Wednesday practice because of a maintenance day, Penguins coach Mike Johnston said, but decided to show for the kids.

"It's a great program," Crosby said. "Obviously, there are a lot of volunteers who help out, but it's nice to get a few players out here today and these kids were hopefully enjoying themselves, getting the opportunity to play, like all of us did, at the same age. So it was a nice little time here and hopefully they had fun."

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Red Wings' Zetterberg healthy, producing at elite level

Wednesday, 02.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Paul Harris - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- Henrik Zetterberg feels better physically this season than he has in a long time.

That's in direct contrast to 2013-14, when the Detroit Red Wings captain continued to deal with a back issue that nagged him for the previous few years.

Finally, after Sweden's first game of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Zetterberg's back had enough.

He came back to the United States, where he had surgery to remove part of a disc that was rubbing against a nerve, and he missed the rest of the regular season. He returned in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the final two games of Detroit's five-game loss to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Zetterberg, 34, who was limited to 45 regular-season games, didn't really know what to expect coming into 2014-15, his 12th NHL season.

"It's been good, it's been fun to be playing," Zetterberg said. "Last year I just want to scratch from the memory bank. This year coming in I didn't really know how to feel. I've been skating well. I've been feeling good health-wise."

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Iginla believes Avalanche heading in right direction

Wednesday, 02.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- It's been a disappointing season for the Colorado Avalanche, to say the least. They're last in the Central Division following a surprising first-place finish a year ago and have plenty of work to do to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But veteran forward Jarome Iginla, who signed a three-year, $16 million contract as a free agent July 1, said he has no regrets about joining the Avalanche and hasn't given up hope about climbing back into the playoff picture.

The Avalanche (24-22-11) trail the Vancouver Canucks by seven points for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference and figure they'll need 36 points in the final 25 games to make it.

"Hopefully we light it up the rest of the year," Iginla, 37, told NHL.com. "We're not writing the year off yet. We're still looking to have a great finish."

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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 02.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Chicago Blackhawks have won back-to-back games and are four points shy of second place in the Central Division. The Detroit Red Wings have lost three in a row and are about to begin a grueling six-game road trip against Western Conference teams.

Chicago (35-18-4) has earned points in six straight games, including a 2-1 shootout victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. The Red Wings have scored five goals over their three-game skid. Detroit (31-14-10), which is coming off a 2-0 loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, trail Montreal by six points in the Atlantic Division and the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning by four.

The Blackhawks, who are 2-0-2 in the first half of their eight-game homestand, will try to continue their winning ways when they host the Red Wings in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader at United Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).

In the nightcap, the Los Angeles Kings will face the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center (NBCSN, 10 p.m. ET). Los Angeles (26-18-12) extended its win streak to five with a 3-2 victory against the Lightning on Monday. The surge has allowed the Kings to pull within two points of the San Jose Sharks for the second wild-card spot in the West. The Avalanche (24-22-11) will be seeking their third straight win after defeating the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 on Monday.

Here are five things to watch in the two Wednesday Night Rivalry games:

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Rangers coach Vigneault earns career win No. 500

Sunday, 02.15.2015 / 12:37 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Alain Vigneault stepped behind the Montreal Canadiens bench on Oct. 1, 1997 feeling ready, if a bit green. He was 36 years old, the second youngest coach in Canadiens history behind Claude Ruel.

Vigneault was coaching his first NHL game.

"I was a little French Quebecer getting an opportunity to coach the team from his province," Vigneault told NHL.com on Friday. "I knew the history that was there with the Habs, so I just felt so honored and privileged."

The Canadiens tied the Ottawa Senators 2-2 in Vigneault's NHL coaching debut. They defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 three nights later to give him his first win.

On Saturday, Vigneault became the 21st coach in NHL history to win 500 games when his New York Rangers defeated the Arizona Coyotes 5-1 at Gila River Arena.

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New-look Sabres set to start latest stage of rebuild

Sunday, 02.15.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres are about to start another chapter of their rebuild Sunday when they host the Philadelphia Flyers (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

On Wednesday, the Sabres traded defenseman Tyler Myers and forward Drew Stafford, along with two prospects and a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, to the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Zach Bogosian and forward Evander Kane. The Sabres also traded goalie Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars for goalie Anders Lindback and a conditional third-round pick in the 2015 draft.

"It's where we've been probably the past two or three years having a lot of new faces in there," Sabres defenseman Mike Weber said. "It's good to meet Zach. He's a nice addition, very welcomed here. He plays the game hard, plays the right way. Obviously the trade part of it, it's tough to see talented, skilled, good people go, but you bring in a guy like Zach and he fits in well with the direction we want this team to go in being harder to play against."

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Consistent game propels Patrick Kane to points lead

Saturday, 02.14.2015 / 12:05 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Duncan Keith blocked a shot Friday and sent the puck toward the side wall at United Center.

Time was running out on the New Jersey Devils, who frantically pushed for a game-tying goal against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Devils net was empty at the other end, and the situation called for a two-way player like Marian Hossa or Jonathan Toews to make a stand defensively.

Instead, it was Patrick Kane who made the big play near the corner in the Blackhawks zone. The high-scoring right wing swiped the puck just before Devils defenseman Eric Gelinas could send it behind the net with 52 seconds left and started a play that led to an empty-net goal.

The assist was Kane's 63rd point, which pushed his lead in the NHL scoring race to three after the games Friday, but it was also an example of his growth as a player. It wasn't too long ago when Kane would routinely hang out in the neutral zone, circling and waiting for stretch passes instead of backchecking to retrieve pucks in the defensive zone. It's not that way anymore.

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Canadiens' Plekanec flies under radar as two-way star

Saturday, 02.14.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- When Tomas Plekanec arrived in North America, he knew exactly what kind of player he was.

The Montreal Canadiens didn't agree.

A third-round selection (No. 71) in the 2001 NHL Draft, Plekanec joined the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League in 2002 with an identity that was clear in his mind.

"When I got there I was a very offensive guy," Plekanec said this week. "Actually, I didn't know anything about defense. I played from the red line to the opposition's goal line."

Now here he is nearly 13 years later, one of the NHL's best two-way forwards and a pillar of the Canadiens, who enter their game Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US; CBC; TVA) trying to finish with the top record in the Eastern Conference.

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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