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NHL Insider

Soderberg enjoys first day with Bruins

Wednesday, 04.17.2013 / 2:55 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON – Almost six years since the Boston Bruins traded with the St. Louis Blues to acquire his rights, Carl Soderberg arrived in Boston for the first time in his life Tuesday.

He took the morning skate with the Bruins Wednesday prior to his new team's game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden.

Now it's time for the 27-year-old to get acclimated to the NHL after spending his entire career playing in his native Sweden.

"I don't think that's going to be a problem," he said. "It's still hockey, and it's a great team I'm playing [on], so hopefully it's going well."

Alzner, Carlson have adjusted to Capitals separation

Tuesday, 04.16.2013 / 3:20 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- One was the Washington Capitals’ first-round pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, the other a Capitals’ first-round pick in 2008.

One is a left-handed stay-at-home defenseman, the other a right-handed offensive-minded defenseman.

Both are key cogs on a Capitals team that is seeking its fifth Southeast Division title in six years.

Karl Alzner and John Carlson have seemingly been joined at the hip since they started playing together with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League in 2009. They have been roommates on the road, fixtures on the Capitals’ blue line and bearers of the nickname "Carlzner."

But after starting the 2012-13 season with three straight losses, including a 4-1 defeat to the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 24 in which Alzner and Carlson were on the ice for all four goals against, first-year Capitals coach Adam Oates decided to split the longtime partners.

"[Carlson] and I were going through a rough patch," Alzner said. "It didn’t matter what we did or how hard we were playing, pucks were just going in against us. It was just one of those things where, let’s change it up and see if it changes our luck, and go figure that we won a couple of games. He started to turn it around, I started to turn it around, and it was just one of those things where we switched it up and it’s worked."

Playoff berth would be milestone in Islanders' rebuild

Tuesday, 04.16.2013 / 9:51 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – It will be five years this June since New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow changed the course of the franchise.

Knowing full well he would experience difficulty getting big-name free agents to agree to play long-term at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Snow called for a complete rebuild. So when the 2007-08 Islanders finished in the bottom five of the NHL standings, Snow got to work at the 2008 NHL Draft at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.

Aiming to stockpile picks, Snow traded down twice in the first round, from the fifth to the ninth pick, where he collected the first piece of his rebuild: Windsor Spitfires center Josh Bailey. At the same draft, Snow landed defenseman Travis Hamonic, goaltender Kevin Poulin and forward Matt Martin, all of whom are on the club's current roster.

In somewhat of a surprise, Bailey made the Islanders out of training camp in September 2008 and stuck with the club all season. New York finished last in the standings, which allowed them to land unquestionably the rebuild's biggest piece: franchise center John Tavares.

Still, the Islanders continued to finish near the bottom of the League's standings. Even prior to the start of last season, when players and management alike swore the rebuild was over and qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs was the goal, the Islanders again finished in the bottom five.

This season, though, has been a different story.

Nabokov giving Islanders goaltending, leadership

Tuesday, 04.16.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Immediately after signing a one-year extension with the New York Islanders late last season, goaltender Evgeni Nabokov affirmed that he was pleased to be coming back and that his goal was to lead the team to the playoffs in 2012-13.

Evgeni Nabokov
Goalie - NYI
RECORD: 20-11-5
GAA: 2.50 | SVP: 0.911

"I like what I see," Nabokov told the media after signing the extension on March 21, 2012. "Hopefully, we'll make the playoffs next year."

At the time, the Islanders owned the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference and were on their way to securing last place in the Atlantic Division for the fifth straight season. But barely 13 months later, the 37-year-old has been a crucial piece of a team that enters Tuesday's action holding seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

"You thought I was joking?" Nabokov told NHL.com when asked about his comments from a year ago. "That's what you play for. You play for the playoffs and to take it to the next level in the playoffs."

Leblanc excited to join Blackhawks

Monday, 04.15.2013 / 7:41 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO – The past few days have been quite a whirlwind for Drew Leblanc.

The 23-year old center from St. Cloud State University signed his first professional contract with the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent last week on the same day he was named the 2013 Hobey Baker Award winner as collegiate hockey's most outstanding player.

Then, because he signed after the National Hockey League's April 3 Trade Deadline, Leblanc was required to report straight to the Blackhawks rather than going to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

"It was a very exciting day for me and my family also my [St. Cloud State] teammates," Leblanc said. "We shared so many great memories this year. We had a great run and it was a fun experience and it was something I'll never forget. [Now] I'm just here to work hard, have fun, take it all in, learn what it's like to be a professional and get as many pointers as possible. That's about it, I guess."

Red Wings faced with unfamiliar situation

Sunday, 04.14.2013 / 1:48 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE – The Stanley Cup Playoffs without the Detroit Red Wings is a hard thing to imagine.

For 21 straight years, the Red Wings have qualified for the postseason, winning the Cup more times (four) than any other NHL team in that span.

Yet with seven games remaining in the season, the Red Wings currently are on the outside looking in. On Saturday, while Detroit was idle, the Red Wings saw themselves fall out of the top eight in the Western Conference and into ninth.

By virtue of holding a game in hand on Detroit, the Dallas Stars, with their 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, jumped past the Red Wings, even though the two teams are tied with 45 points. The Columbus Blue Jackets, with a 3-2 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild, also tied the Red Wings in the points column, although Detroit holds a game in hand on its Central Division rival.

It's unfamiliar territory for the Red Wings, who visit the Nashville Predators on Sunday. These two teams met in the first round of the playoffs last season, but this year both could be out.

Charity game provides backdrop for 1995 Devils' reunion

Saturday, 04.13.2013 / 11:57 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The goal of Saturday's Global Legends charity game at Prudential Center was to raise money for Hurricane Sandy Relief. With hundreds of fans bidding on autographed memorabilia and getting a chance to meet the 38 former players who made up the Russian and North American squads participating in the game, the exhibition raised more than $50,000 for that cause.

But for 10 players participating in the charity game, it also provided a fun reunion that was long overdue.

It wasn't an accident that more than half of the players making up the North American Legends roster were members of the New Jersey Devils team that won the Stanley Cup in 1995. That Cup Final sweep of the Detroit Red Wings linked the group forever in the annals of hockey history. So much so that Sergei Brylin, who was born in Moscow and started his pro career with the fabled CSKA Moscow club, laced up with his former Devils teammates on the North America team.

Russians edge North Americans in charity game

Saturday, 04.13.2013 / 6:40 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Andrei Kovalenko scored a hat trick and added an assist as Team Russia defeated the North American squad, 7-6, in the Global Legends charity game staged Saturday at the Prudential Center.

The event gave fans the opportunity to watch and meet some of the game's biggest names. But more importantly, the event and related charitable activities raised more than $50,000 for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

What started as a conversation between former New Jersey Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko and Kontinental Hockey League president Alexander Medvedev eventually produced the charity game. Tickets only went on sale 11 days before puck drop, but a strong fan contingent made it out regardless.

Forsberg could debut for Predators on Sunday

Saturday, 04.13.2013 / 3:14 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE – Heralded forward Filip Forsberg will make his NHL debut on Sunday with the Nashville Predators, provided that everything goes according to plan, Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.

Nashville acquired Forsberg, the 11th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, from the Washington Capitals before the April 3 trading deadline in exchange for long-time right wing Martin Erat and minor-league center Michael Latta. Forsberg, 18, played for Leksands IF this past season in Sweden's second division, but he helped the club to get promoted, and it will compete in that country's top league next season.

Trotz said Predators general manager David Poile spoke to Forsberg before he departed on his flight. Poile has said he hopes that Forsberg can evolve into the kind of dynamic forward that his team has lacked for the past few years.

Potvin excited to see success of Islanders

Saturday, 04.13.2013 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Don't think for a second that Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin hasn't been paying attention to the excitement emanating from his old stomping grounds in Uniondale, N.Y., with the New York Islanders these days.

Potvin, currently a television commentator for the Ottawa Senators, spent 15 seasons with the Islanders. The first player taken in the 1973 NHL Draft, he won the Calder Trophy in 1973-74, then was the captain when the team won four straight Stanley Cups to start the 1980s. He also won three Norris Trophies, and is seventh all-time among NHL defensemen with 1,052 points.

The Islanders last reached the Cup Final in 1983-84, Potvin's 11th with the franchise. That was the season the Edmonton Oilers would end New York's four-year reign as Stanley Cup champion. The organization had occasional success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after that season, but has fallen on hard times since 1994-95, failing to qualify for the postseason in 13 of the next 17 seasons.

The Islanders last reached the Cup Final in 1983-84, Potvin's 11th season with the franchise. That was when the Edmonton Oilers would end New York's four-year reign as Stanley Cup champion. The organization had occasional success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after that, but has fallen on hard times since 1994-95, failing to qualify for the postseason in 13 of the next 17 seasons.

There's optimism today for the Islanders, however, with the team on the verge of earning a playoff berth for the first time in six seasons.

"Can I be honest?" Potvin said. "I was in denial for, like, 25 years and didn't want to look at [their situation] because it was so bad. Now I find myself getting very excited for them and I've really enjoyed following the team again."

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