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NHL Insider

Capitals look for positives after falling to 0-4

Friday, 01.25.2013 / 11:36 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- So what does Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates do now that his team has dropped its fourth straight game to open the 2012-13 season?

The effort and goaltending of Michal Neuvirth was certainly present Friday against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center, but the Capitals dropped a disheartening 3-2 decision in overtime when Ilya Kovalchuk connected for the home team with 20.5 seconds remaining.

Still, there were a lot of positives to take in defeat.

"Obviously, I read Troy Brouwer's comments [after Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens] about how we didn't work," Oates said. "But [Friday] was an example of what we can do when we do work and it was great to see. You want to get the win, but we waited for 57 minutes to get the tying goal [by Mike Green at 17:04 of the third period]. We hung in there and did our job and everybody worked for 60 minutes. We played a much better hockey game."

Benn excited to be back in familiar surroundings

Friday, 01.25.2013 / 4:22 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- Normally a man of relatively few words, Dallas Stars center Jamie Benn summed it up perfectly when addressing the media after his first practice of the season, saying he hadn’t stopped smiling all day Friday, one day after he and the Stars agreed to a five-year, $26.25 million contract.

"It's great to be back in here and skating with the guys. I had a great first practice," Benn said. "It's really great that Tom [Gaglardi, owner], Joe [Nieuwendyk, general manager] and the Dallas Stars organization believes in me. I'm happy that I'm a Star for five more years and definitely looking forward to it."

The 23-year-old center skated in his first NHL All-Star Game last season and went on to a career-best 26 goals and 63 points in 71 games. He was a fixture on the team's top two lines last season, a role he'll return to as soon as Monday when the Stars begin a two-game road trip at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Flyers sign vet Knuble, lose Meszaros for month

Friday, 01.25.2013 / 3:30 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The Philadelphia Flyers couldn't even celebrate their first victory of the season without more bad news to digest.

Hours after revealing top-line forward Scott Hartnell would miss four-to-eight weeks with a broken first metatarsal in his left foot, the team lost defenseman Andrej Meszaros for at least a month with a shoulder injury.

Meszaros appeared to sustain an injury to his left shoulder on the final shift of the second period Thursday when he collided with the New York Rangers' Ryan Callahan.

Opening week's biggest surprises, disappointments

Friday, 01.25.2013 / 3:28 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

The 2012-13 season is officially seven days old, and the first week has brought a flurry of highs and lows for teams around the NHL.

Shortened training camps and a compressed schedule have already led to high-scoring affairs and a heightened sense of urgency for teams off to slow starts. Several players and teams have had an unexpected start to the campaign, so let's take a look at the biggest surprises and disappointments of the first seven days.

Obviously, sample size is an issue and patience should be expected, but that's not any fun.

Crosby has fond memories of playing in Winnipeg

Friday, 01.25.2013 / 3:21 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- Sidney Crosby departed Winnipeg eight years ago as a 17-year-old hockey prodigy.

Crosby made his return to Winnipeg on Thursday as a 25-year-old with a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal, and 224 goals so far as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

When he was last in Winnipeg in December 2004, he participated in Canada's preparations for the 2005 World Junior Championship that was held in nearby Grand Forks, N.D. Crosby and his teammates also spent time in the tiny hamlet of Gimli, located an hour north of Winnipeg.

Avalanche prepare to move on without Downie

Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 3:34 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche anticipated there could be some injuries because of the short training camp that followed the lockout, but how do you prepare for the season-ending knee injury sustained by gritty forward Steve Downie in just the second game? He is a unique player and can't be readily replaced.

The 5-foot-11, 191-pound left wing suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Tuesday night in the Avalanche's 3-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings. He will undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season.

"I just think we have to, as a group, we just have to try and make up for Downie's loss as a group, not by one individual -- whether it's offensively, whether it's defensively, because those are a couple of elements he brings to our team," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said after the morning skate Thursday at the Pepsi Center.

"He certainly brings a physical aspect to the game, so we need everybody picking it up a little bit, to pick up the slack. Again, do it by committee. We've dealt with injuries in the past, so this is nothing different. We'll deal with it."

Talented young RFA trio remains unsigned

Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 1:34 PM / NHL Insider

The 2012-13 NHL season is nearly a week old, and while injuries start to shape the immediate future for some clubs, a trio of franchises are still short a core player because of restricted free agency.

Jamie Benn, P.K. Subban and Ryan O'Reilly remain unsigned, and fans of the Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche are left to ponder what their team could be but won't be until the burgeoning stars sign a contract.

O'Reilly was playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Kontinental Hockey League but has left the club to return to the United States. The KHL team released a statement saying O'Reilly left because of a minor injury and because his agent is negotiating with the Avalanche, but TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Thursday there has been no progress made between the two sides.

Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reported the Avalanche have offered two contracts to O'Reilly -- one for five years and $17 million and the other for two years and $7 million. O'Reilly has earned a reputation as one of the top two-way centers in the League despite not turning 21 years old until next month, and he led Colorado with 55 points (18 goals) last season.

Rangers' Kreider going through growing pains

Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 12:22 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Nine-plus months ago, Rangers rookie Chris Kreider made his NHL debut in a playoff game against Ottawa just nine days removed from winning the NCAA championship with Boston College. He wound up scoring five goals, including two game-winners, in 18 games to help the Rangers get to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The high was incredible. The action was intoxicating.

It couldn't last.

Kreider, a Big Apple superstar last spring, is now just like every other rookie in the NHL -- trying to do all he can to keep his spot in the lineup.

He's struggling.

After starting Wednesday's game on the second line with Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan, Kreider was demoted to fourth-line duty -- and Rangers coach John Tortorella is not ready to use a four-line rotation, meaning Kreider barely played in the second half of the game.

Gaborik-Richards-Nash line flourishes for Rangers

Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 12:04 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Henrik Lundqvist's quick response summed up the night for the New York Rangers.

"Game changer," Lundqvist told after New York's 4-3 overtime win against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden.

There is really no other way to describe the Rangers' new top line of Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Rick Nash.

When that line clicks, as it did in its debut Wednesday night, the Rangers can be remarkably dangerous. The Bruins are the first team to find that out the hard way.

Schneider to be back in net for Canucks vs. Flames

Tuesday, 01.22.2013 / 5:47 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Cory Schneider will be back in goal for the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday for the same reason he was there at the end of last season.

Schneider confirmed he would start when the Canucks play host to the Calgary Flames after getting pulled from his first regular-season game as the team's No. 1 goalie Saturday and watching his predecessor, Roberto Luongo, start the next night.

"Same approach I had last year," coach Alain Vigneault said. "I'm picking the goalie I feel gives us the best chance to win."

When Vigneault made the same decision three games into the playoffs last season, most assumed it meant the end of Luongo's time in Vancouver.

That included Luongo himself. Instead, he found himself back in goal earlier than expected in a season-opening 7-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, and back in for a scheduled start in what turned into a 3-2 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

Some argued Schneider, who signed a three-year, $12-million contract extension in the summer to be the new No.1 goaltender, should have been given a chance to go right back in a day after being pulled. It was a luxury afforded Luongo many times during his six seasons as the Canucks' unquestioned No. 1.

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Quote of the Day

I would definitely love to play with him. He's a skilled player and over the years he definitely has shown that he can score a lot of goals. I think it would work out well.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk on Alexander Semin