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(Page 158 of 264)
NHL Insider

A more dedicated Kane prepares for his closeup

Wednesday, 12.14.2011 / 1:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp still has to remind himself sometimes that Patrick Kane is no longer the baby-faced prospect who burst onto the scene straight out of the junior ranks.

It's already been four-plus seasons since Kane scored 21 goals and added 51 assists for an impressive 72-point season in 2007-08 after the Chicago Blackhawks selected him No.1 overall in the 2007 NHL Draft.

Since then, the now 23-year old Kane has come much further in his career path. He's scored more than 20 goals and 70 points in each of his first four seasons, has eight goals and 23 assists in 30 games this year and also scored that memorable overtime goal in Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final in Philadelphia to clinch the Hawks' first championship in 49 years.

"I always think of Kaner as that rookie and that first-year player that burst onto the scene and was so explosive and exciting," Sharp said. "It's hard to believe he's played four years in between then until now."

Jets-Wild has makings of a great rivalry

Wednesday, 12.14.2011 / 12:47 AM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG – The Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets have sown the first seeds of a rivalry that will take full root next season with NHL realignment.

The two clubs are each other's nearest geographic rivals, with plenty of open highway connecting the two fan bases that roughly split somewhere among the open plains of North Dakota. Both teams will be part of a new eight-team conference next season, so they wasted little time on Tuesday night acquainting themselves with each other inside the cozy MTS Centre, a building tailor-made for heating up on-ice tensions.

"I think as you could see the two teams don't like each other out there," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said, "and I'm sure that the next one will be very interesting [on Feb. 16 at the Xcel Energy Center] as well."

Selanne not giving up on season

Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 4:36 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

Teemu Selanne maintains his positive outlook no matter how dire the situation, and this season surely is testing that optimism.

His Anaheim Ducks entered Tuesday's games 14th in the Western Conference and staring at huge odds to make the playoffs -- they're 11 points behind eighth-place San Jose.

"We've almost tried everything," Selanne said Tuesday in a conference call that was supposed to be about his return to Winnipeg on Saturday, but naturally veered in other directions. "A lot of nights a lot of things are missing. Confidence is the biggest thing. Our team is so fragile right now. One bad mistake and it's in our net … we still believe we have a good team and we can turn this around."

Richards helps Rangers, but Stars improved too

Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 3:51 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Is it possible the free-agent signing of Brad Richards was exactly what the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars both needed?

"It takes probably two or three guys up front to do it offensively, because you're not going to replace the points with one guy, because there's only one guy in free agency with that kind of reputation. So we did it with two or three forwards and we're doing things more by committee now than by individual guys. I think in the long run, it will pay off for us."
-- Glen Gulutzan, on replacing Richards

The Rangers have been among the League's elite teams since October. In 27 games, they have 38 points, one fewer than East-leading Philadelphia. Richards has been the veteran rock the youthful Rangers coveted this summer, posting 11 goals and a team-best 14 assists after signing a nine-year, $60 million contract during the summer.

Contrary to popular opinion after Richards left Dallas for New York, the Stars have managed just fine without him. They lead the Pacific Division with 33 points in 28 games, and at 2.54 goals per game, aren't far off the 2.71 per game they averaged last season with Richards centering the top line, flanked by Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn.

It is one thing for pundits to expect the Stars to take a step back, but captain Brenden Morrow had his reservations after learning Richards had signed with the Rangers.

"I guess initially that's what you think, is if that line is going to struggle," Morrow told as the Stars prepared to face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. "They were kind of the catalysts who offensively drove our team. When you lose a top center like that, you start to be a little concerned.

Flyers ready to step up in Giroux's absence

Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 3:18 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- Already without top defenseman Chris Pronger due to concussion-like symptoms, the Philadelphia Flyers announced Tuesday that top-line center Claude Giroux will be out indefinitely with a concussion.

Giroux entered Tuesday's games as the NHL's leading scorer with 39 points in 28 games. He also leads the Flyers with 16 goals and 23 points.

The 5-foot-11 forward left Saturday's game against Tampa Bay in the second period and did not return after being hit in the head by the knee of teammate Wayne Simmonds.

Neal stepping up as Penguins' go-to scorer

Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 2:50 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins traded for forward James Neal last season mostly to add a reliable goal scorer to star Sidney Crosby's line.
As it turns out, it is Neal's ability to score without Crosby in the lineup that is proving to be a major asset.
As the Penguins began this season under a cloud of uncertainty about when Crosby would return from a concussion that had sidelined him since early January, Neal carried them by scoring 9 goals in the first 13 games. Even without the NHL's marquee player, the Penguins went 8-3-2.

An unlikely group has Wild atop NHL

Sunday, 12.11.2011 / 12:24 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While the rest of the hockey world waits for the Minnesota Wild to start acting like the team predicted to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs by a country mile, the best team in the NHL is waiting to see just how good it can be.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that on a team with offensive stars like Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi and Mikko Koivu, grinding center Kyle Brodziak would have about as much of a chance of leading Minnesota in goals as the Wild would have of winning 17 out of 21 games. But after 30 games, both parts of that equation amazingly hold weight.

In Saturday's 4-1 win against Phoenix,  Brodziak scored his ninth and 10th goals, giving the Wild their seventh win in a row,  their seventh-straight road win and win No. 20 of the season – just 30 games into an improbable season for the State of Hockey.

Minnesota went to bed early Sunday morning with 43 points – four more than any team in the League and five more than any team in the West. The Wild are the first team to 20 wins – evenly split between home and road – and fun is following them wherever they go.

Habs hope fresh start revives Kaberle, their power play

Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 5:43 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Calling it an exciting new challenge for him, new Canadiens defenseman Tomas Kaberle figures he knows exactly what he's up against in Montreal.

After all, the Habs are Kaberle's third Original Six team, and his second in Canada.

"It's a Canadian city and everybody loves hockey," Kaberle said Saturday morning, roughly 90 minutes before he made his Habs debut a success with two assists in a 2-1 win against the New Jersey Devils. "At the same time, there's going to be lots of pressure on me. But, I like the challenge and hopefully it's going to be good."

The pressure is definitely on as Kaberle comes to the Habs amid questions about the direction of his career path.

Panthers enjoy change of pace with outdoor practice

Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 4:32 PM / NHL Insider

Deborah Francisco - Staff Writer

It was a perfect day for outdoor hockey as the Florida Panthers took to the ice Saturday afternoon at Central Park's Lasker Rink for a little bit of classic pond hockey.

"It was unbelievable," rookie Erik Gudbranson told, "Sometimes (outdoors), this is where you have the most fun playing hockey so it was awesome."

The Florida Panthers skate for a practice outside at Central Park's Lasker Rink. (Photo courtesy of Kate Cochran)
The Southeast-Division leading Panthers, who play Sunday evening against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, opted to hold their practice at Central Park as a treat for the players after playing in back-to-back road games Thursday and Friday night.

"We felt that there's no place more special to be than New York City around the Christmas holidays and we wanted to do something special so we came out here to Central Park," coach Kevin Dineen said. "You can just tell how much fun the guys are having; we're having a tough time getting them off the ice."

Rather than hold a typical mid-season practice, Dineen organized a round-robin, three-on-three tournament for the team. The rink was split into three sections with four-foot wide goals made of cones at each end. Panther netminders Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen skated out with the rest of the players as no goalies were allowed in the tournament. Coaches even joined in the fun as members of the three-on-three teams.

Spacek makes quick impression on new team

Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 2:11 AM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

Jaroslav Spacek
Defense - CAR
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 5
SOG: 6 | +/-: 3
WINNIPEG -- Jaroslav Spacek began his day with the Montreal Canadiens and ended it by skating 19:15 and collecting two assists for the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes acquired the 37-year-old Spacek from Montreal for defenseman Tomas Kaberle on Friday morning prior to their 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Spacek had only two hours after receiving notice of the deal to board a Winnipeg-bound flight and arrive in time for the contest.

"It was crazy all day," Spacek said.
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Quote of the Day

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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