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NHL Insider

Bruins know they can be better

Wednesday, 04.10.2013 / 11:52 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Many coaches around the NHL would love to have the problems that Claude Julien has right now with the Boston Bruins, a first-place team that has won five of its past six games.

Those same coaches would also understand why Julien was trying to rip whatever hair he has left out of his head following the second period of Boston's 5-4 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Wednesday.

The Bruins are winning and their top-ranked penalty kill has been exceptional, but there are plenty of areas in their game that need to get cleaned up before the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll around in 20 days.

They'll get another chance Thursday at TD Garden against the New York Islanders, who have won seven of nine and are looking to lock up their first playoff berth since 2007.

"The simple things sometimes are becoming complicated for us," Julien said.

Despite SO loss, Leafs inch closer to playoff spot

Wednesday, 04.10.2013 / 11:23 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK – With 3:32 elapsed in the second period Wednesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs had 16 shots on goal against the New York Rangers.

Toronto didn't register another shot during the next 24:23 of game time and only attempted four shots during the stretch. The Rangers scored a pair of goals during the Leafs' drought to erase a deficit in a game they would eventually win 3-2 in a shootout at Madison Square Garden.

The Leafs' shot total on the MSG scoreboard read "16" for nearly an hour in real time, but it was something coach Randy Carlyle said he didn't notice.

"I didn't even know that stat," Carlyle said. "Stats are for you guys. I'm not going to worry about it. We got a point and we're going to move on."

Line changes for Bruins are all about balance

Wednesday, 04.10.2013 / 3:11 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien made a point Wednesday morning of clarifying why Tyler Seguin has been shifted down to the third line and Gregory Campbell is now playing in the middle of Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand.

"There were no demotions and there were no promotions," Julien said. "For us it was balancing our lines, because it just seemed like every night we had one line going. It could have been a different line, but we could never get some offense from all of our lines.

"With [Patrice] Bergeron going out that changed things a little bit, so we felt with him out and Jags coming in it was important to balance our lineup a little bit."

It worked Monday night, when the Bruins got goals from three different lines to beat the Carolina Hurricanes, 6-2.

Because Bergeron is still out of the lineup with his concussion, Boston will go with the same lineup Wednesday at Prudential Center against the New Jersey Devils (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2), meaning another game for Seguin on the third line with Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille, and more scoring chances for Campbell in between Marchand and Jagr.

Offensive struggles threatening Devils' playoff hopes

Wednesday, 04.10.2013 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils are straining their necks looking up to the rafters after each misstep and each unlucky bounce.

They're searching for answers, for help, for reasons why the puck just isn't going into the net -- and finding nothing.

The results prove that.

"It's just mind-boggling why we haven't collected more points," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said Tuesday.

Mind-boggling, but true.

The Devils haven't won since Ilya Kovalchuk was put on injured reserve with a right shoulder injury two and a half weeks ago. They're 0-3-4 and are now facing a climb to get back into the top eight in the Eastern Conference, with a Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Boston Bruins at Prudential Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN) next on the schedule.

"The way we have been playing, I think we deserve to be there [in the top eight], but we're not," center Travis Zajac told NHL.com. "It's the League right now; there's a fine line between being in the playoffs and sitting outside. The League is so competitive. We're not getting those bounces right now, but I think if we continue to play the same way we're going to get some wins here and hopefully build off that."

Healthy Johansson plays role in Capitals' success

Tuesday, 04.09.2013 / 5:00 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- The Washington Capitals had finished their morning skate Tuesday and Nicklas Backstrom was sitting next to linemate Marcus Johansson getting undressed.

The unoccupied locker to their right belonged to their other linemate, Alex Ovechkin.

Standing in front of the two of them was a phalanx of television cameras and reporters, wanting a good spot in front of Ovechkin's locker and paying no attention to the two all-star-caliber players sitting in front of them.

Finally, when it was revealed Ovechkin would not be arriving for a few minutes and it might be a good idea to grab some other interviews, a bunch of microphones were immediately thrown in front of Backstrom.

Do Kesler, Roy make Canucks serious contenders?

Tuesday, 04.09.2013 / 2:26 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVERRyan Kesler is back. So can the same be said for the Vancouver Canucks?

After treading water through a long slate of injuries, Kesler’s return against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday gives the Canucks four legitimate NHL centers for the first time all season. With Derek Roy added at the NHL Trade Deadline, the question is whether they also are back as legitimate contenders in the Western Conference.

Coming off consecutive Presidents' Trophies as the NHL’s top regular-season team, and two years removed from Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, Vancouver certainly hasn’t looked the part this season. The Canucks have been notably absent from the contender conversations dominated by the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks and a Los Angeles Kings team that hasn't changed much since eliminating Vancouver in five games last season en route to the Stanley Cup.

"I think that's fair," captain Henrik Sedin said. "But if you look at the team we’ve had this year and the guys that were missing, we have done a tremendous job keeping it together and staying in the race. You have to look at the positive instead of looking at us not winning the Presidents' Trophy. We haven’t had the lineup we want -- or need -- to be successful in the playoffs."

Jokinen returns to Carolina, ready to face ex-mates

Tuesday, 04.09.2013 / 1:23 PM / NHL Insider

Kurt Dusterberg - NHL.com Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. - Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jussi Jokinen won't have to wait long to face the team that traded him.

Jokinen, dealt from the Carolina Hurricanes on April 3, returns to PNC Arena on Tuesday night for his second game with the Penguins. He earned a reputation as a reliable and versatile forward in four-plus seasons in Carolina, but became expendable as the Hurricanes took a steep tumble from first place in the Southeast Division.

Crosby hungry for NHL action -- and solid food

Monday, 04.08.2013 / 2:48 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

When Sidney Crosby first returned from his concussion issues last season, he said one of the things he was concerned about was the 10 pounds he put on while unable to do much in the way of exercise.

Now he's got the opposite problem.

Crosby spoke with reporters Monday while recovering from a broken jaw sustained during a game against the New York Islanders on March 30. He said while his mouth is healing, he's still restricted to a liquid diet, making it difficult for him to maintain the 200 pounds he's listed at.

"It's been shakes," he said. "Hasn't been too enjoyable that way. Maybe next week I'll be able to [eat solid food]. Milkshakes early on, but trying to keep it a bit more healthy now. It's pretty much impossible to keep weight on right now. I'll be excited when I can eat, for sure."

Schultz not concerned by return to Anaheim

Monday, 04.08.2013 / 11:28 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LAKEWOOD, Calif. -- Irony surrounded Justin Schultz when he stepped outside a local practice rink to talk to reporters.

The facility is owned and operated by the Anaheim Ducks, and their webbed-D logo is evident. As Schultz talked, his Edmonton Oilers equipment bag was being loaded into a truck adorned with that Ducks logo, headed toward Honda Center.

That's where Schultz will be public enemy No. 1 Monday, when he plays in Anaheim for the first time since he spurned the Ducks -- the team that drafted him with the 43rd pick of the 2008 NHL Draft -- and signed with Edmonton this past summer. Schultz almost chuckled and was coy when asked what reception he'll receive.

"I don't know," he said. "We'll see when game time comes. Whatever happens, it is what it is."

Having it come this late in the season might make it easier because he's played in opposing NHL buildings for months now. Schultz heard it in the American Hockey League when his Oklahoma City Barons played at Abbotsford, the affiliate of the rival Calgary Flames.

Heading into final quarter, plenty of faces to watch

Monday, 04.08.2013 / 10:30 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Twenty days remain in the 2012-13 NHL season and so much is still up in the air.

The final quarter of the season is here, which means the sprint to the Stanley Cup Playoffs is on. The field is full; only a handful of teams can say they don't have a chance.

But how will it end? Which teams will cross the finish line knowing there are more games to play in May? Who will we be talking about once it's all said and done?

Here are 14 people who will shape the final weeks of the regular season:

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