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NHL Insider

Huberdeau's first game in Montreal; Kovalev's last?

Tuesday, 01.22.2013 / 3:53 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- One will be living out a childhood dream, playing 45 minutes from his hometown against the team he cheered for as a kid, while the other may be playing his final game in front of fans who grew to love him in his five years playing for the Montreal Canadiens.

Florida Panthers rookie Jonathan Huberdeau and veteran linemate Alex Kovalev will be coming from opposite ends of the experience spectrum, but will be experiencing similar emotions when they step on Bell Centre ice to face the Canadiens on Tuesday night.

"He's more than twice my age," said Huberdeau, a 19-year-old native of nearby St-Jerome who was the No. 3 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. "It's funny to think he was playing in the NHL before I was even born."

Kovalev, who turns 40 on Feb. 24, wouldn't be put off in the slightest by his young linemate's comments, because he finds it just as funny.

"I was laughing the other day with my sons and my wife that I'm playing with a kid who wasn't born when I won the Cup," Kovalev said.

Golden oldies the soundtrack to opening weekend

Monday, 01.21.2013 / 1:00 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

One look around the NHL and it seems like every team has a few 25-and-under star players, from Steven Stamkos in Tampa Bay to Patrick Kane in Chicago, from Taylor Hall in Edmonton to John Tavares with the New York Islanders.

But on opening weekend of the 2012-13 season many of those youngsters took a backseat to the 35-and-over crowd, who spent the first few games of the season showing how timeless the classics can be.

Anaheim's Teemu Selanne, the oldest player in the League at 42, had two goals and two assists as the Ducks opened the season with a 7-3 win against the Vancouver Canucks. At 42 years and 200 days, Selanne also became the oldest NHL player with four points in a game since Gordie Howe (42 years, 326 days) had four in 1971.

Wild goalie Harding makes inspirational season debut

Monday, 01.21.2013 / 10:36 AM / NHL Insider

Josh Harding made 24 saves as the Minnesota Wild won their second straight to start the season with a 1-0 victory against the Dallas Stars on Sunday night.

The 28-year-old’s seventh career shutout also came in his first start since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November.

"It's been a tough couple months here," Harding said to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "This made it all worth it. I can't thank the team enough for having my back."

Harding, who signed a three-year, $5.7 million contract during the summer to remain with the only team for which he’s played, called Sunday night's game a "tryout." Harding has been a member of the Wild organization for nearly 11 years, which made him comfortable disclosing the illness to teammates and management.

Canucks' rough start results in scrutiny on goalies

Monday, 01.21.2013 / 10:10 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- This wasn't the start the Vancouver Canucks envisioned.

With a veteran group returning mostly intact and coming off consecutive Presidents' Trophies as the NHL's top regular season club, the Canucks were counting on continuity and experience to contribute to a strong start.

Instead they were blown out 7-3 by Anaheim in the opener Saturday before blowing a two-goal lead in a 3-2 shootout loss to Edmonton on Sunday.

With the Canucks off to an 0-1-1 start and Roberto Luongo supplanting new No. 1 Corey Schneider in the opener, the team has fallen under early scrutiny. (Photo: Getty Images)

There are already questions about a defensive corps that was supposed to be the deepest -- if not the best -- in the NHL. And their new No. 1 Cory Schneider didn't make it through two periods before surrendering the goal to the man he deposed in last year's playoffs, leading to early rumblings of a crease controversy.

Roberto Luongo, who took over for Schneider on Saturday and stayed in goal on Sunday, quickly dismissed such talk after 30 saves against the Oilers. At least the Canucks can still count on the strong friendship between their goalies.

"No matter what the roles are this year, or in the past, it's important that we got each other's backs," said Luongo, who was among the many that expected he'd never play another game for the Canucks after Schneider took his job in the playoffs and then received a new three-year, $12-million contract. "We both play for the Vancouver Canucks and we both want to win games as a team."

Parise, Suter both key In Wild debuts

Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 1:28 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With expectations of playoff berths amplified by a three-month work stoppage, Minnesota Wild fans were finally able to see newcomers Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in a setting other than a team scrimmage.

The delay was worth the wait.

Zach Parise
Left Wing - MIN
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 2
SOG: 8 | +/-: -1

Parise nearly set up a goal on his first shift, then followed with two assists, setting up Dany Heatley on both of his second-period goals. He also led all forwards and was second on the team in ice time with over 23 minutes and had eight shots on goal.

"I love the fact that I'm going to get to be up here as many times as I'm going to be and talk about how good he is," said Wild coach Mike Yeo. "The skill level, the speed… but for a small guy, I see him hold off guys and protect the puck. He's so strong. His work ethic is just relentless.

"I love how he attacks the net."

Suter didn't tally a point in the game, but led all skaters with 27:05 in ice time.

Hossa, Blackhawks head to Phoenix off strong opener

Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 8:52 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Marian Hossa must have a different definition of "slow-build" than everyone else, because the previously concussed Chicago Blackhawks forward already appears to be in midseason form.

"You wonder how he [would] handle that first game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It looked like his pace was as good as he could go."

Hossa scored twice and added an assist Saturday when the Blackhawks defeated the Los Angeles Kings, 5-2, at Staples Center. It was his first game since he was last seen leaving the ice on a stretcher after getting blasted by an illegal high hit from Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres in Game 3 of last season's Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Torres will miss the first eight games of this season serving out the remainder of the suspension he was handed by the NHL for that hit.

Hossa proved on Saturday he's over it, even though he still was critical of himself.

Grigorenko, Kovalev make opening-night rosters

Friday, 01.18.2013 / 8:47 PM / NHL Insider

Mike Battaglino - Staff Writer

The new season will start with several new faces, and some we haven't seen in a while.

A number of talented young players were named to opening-night rosters when NHL teams made them official Friday evening.

The Buffalo Sabres kept 18-year-old forward Mikhail Grigorenko, a first-round pick (No. 12) at the 2012 NHL Draft.

"I'm real happy that I'm on an NHL team now," he told the Buffalo News. "I'm really excited and hopefully I'm going to be playing."

The newspaper reports Grigorenko has skated at center with Steve Ott and Ville Leino at wing. Grigorenko had 50 points (29 goals) for Quebec in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season.

Blackhawks star Kane has 'something to prove'

Friday, 01.18.2013 / 8:34 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The chip on Patrick Kane's shoulder isn't visible like the new thin scar he's sporting above his upper lip, but it's there and it's big.

The Chicago Blackhawks oft-criticized yet gifted right wing appears to be on a mission this season to prove to himself as much as anybody else that he can be and should be viewed as one of the elite players in the National Hockey League.

It's a mission born out of Kane's realization that expectations may have begun to weigh him down when they really should be propping him up.

"I feel like I have something to prove," Kane bluntly told following the Blackhawks final tuneup before the season opener Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.

Galchenyuk, Gallagher travel divergent paths to Habs

Friday, 01.18.2013 / 4:00 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher woke up in the same hotel room Friday morning, having taken drastically different paths towards the most important day of their respective lives.

By the end of the morning, each was celebrating his spot on the Montreal Canadiens opening night roster.

The Canadiens cut seven players before their skate Friday, and neither Galchenyuk nor Gallagher were on that list.

Olczyk: Conditioning, time management will be key

Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 7:53 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Eddie Olczyk remembered when he was playing for the New York Rangers at the start of the 1994-95 season -- the last time the NHL played a lockout-shortened 48-game season -- he was ready to explode out of the gate when the season finally started.

"The adrenaline will be so high," Olczyk, now part of the top broadcasting crew for NHL games on NBC and NBC Sports Network, said during a conference call Tuesday. "I can speak from experience of being a part of 1994-95. Being off for three or four months and coming back and playing, the adrenaline will be so high for the first couple games."

What happens to players after that first couple games could determine which players -- and which teams -- have success in the 2012-13 season.

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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