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NHL Insider

Rolston settling in, relishing challenge with Sabres

Friday, 03.29.2013 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Since taking over as interim coach of the Buffalo Sabres in February, Ron Rolston has basically been living out of a suitcase and learning on the fly.

The most enjoyable part of it all for the 46-year-old Rolston is dealing with the challenges. He's never backed down from one and isn't about to start now that he's been given such a prestigious opportunity in the National Hockey League.

"I enjoy coming to the rink on a daily basis and getting better," Rolston told "I know there will be speed bumps and we'll have ups and downs, but you deal with it and move on."

It certainly wasn't the easiest position for Rolston to walk into. Not only did he replace a legend behind the Sabres bench in Lindy Ruff, but he acquired a team that had just six victories in its opening 17 games.

Blackhawks looking to defeat Ducks for first time

Thursday, 03.28.2013 / 10:00 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

CHICAGO -- After hobnobbing and taking pictures with LeBron James from courtside seats at United Center on Wednesday, Patrick Kane watched as the Chicago Bulls took down the Miami Heat and their 27-game winning streak.

Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks right wing turned NBA fan for a night, found a lesson in the Bulls' 101-97 victory. It's one he hopes his team learns from and uses to its advantage Friday when the Anaheim Ducks come into United Center looking to defeat the Blackhawks for a third straight time this season.

"We need to try to be exactly like the Bulls [Wednesday] night," Kane said after practice Thursday. "Get out to an early lead and use the crowd to our advantage, get the place rocking."

Malkin returns for Penguins against Jets

Thursday, 03.28.2013 / 7:08 PM / NHL Insider

Chris Adamski - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired a former Art Ross Trophy winner via trade early Thursday morning. They got the reigning Art Ross recipient back for their game Thursday night.

After missing the past nine games because of a shoulder injury, Evgeni Malkin was activated from injured reserve and in the lineup against the Winnipeg Jets. predicts Pittsburgh Penguins lineup

Thursday, 03.28.2013 / 5:00 PM / NHL Insider

The Pittsburgh Penguins have kicked off the countdown to the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline with a bang. General manager Ray Shero has made three trades, adding a pair of captains and a rugged defenseman to a club that was already atop the Eastern Conference and is currently riding a 13-game winning streak.

Now that Shero has added Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray, what should a healthy Penguins lineup look like? Coach Dan Bylsma has a lot of options, and some time before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin to tinker with different combinations.

Young Oilers trying to translate potential into points

Thursday, 03.28.2013 / 12:21 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

If berths in the Stanley Cup Playoffs were awarded on potential, the Edmonton Oilers would have locked one up a long ago.

Boasting the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft from each of the last three seasons -- Nail Yakupov (2012), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011) and Taylor Hall (2010) -- the Oilers are loaded with young, high-end offensive talent. That list does not include Jordan Eberle (22nd pick in 2008), 22, Magnus Paajarvi (10th pick in ‘09), 22, Sam Gagner (sixth pick in 2007), 23, and free-agent Justin Schultz, 22, whose 15 points lead all rookie defensemen.

Alas, entering Thursday, the Oilers found themselves sitting five points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It seems all of that talent requires some seasoning.

After a 3-0-2 streak that got them back into the race, the Oilers dropped two straight before bouncing back to blank the Blues 3-0 in St. Louis on Tuesday.

Seven-game homestand could be pivotal for Sharks

Wednesday, 03.27.2013 / 5:10 PM / NHL Insider

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks open a seven-game homestand Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks, and no one has to tell them what's on the line during this upcoming stretch at HP Pavilion.

"It's more than important," forward Ryane Clowe said after the Sharks' morning skate. "It's probably crucial, the fact of where the standings are, where we sit and where this team wants to go. So if you're going to make a push with the amount of games we have left, it's crucial. It's probably a make-or-break home series."

The Sharks haven't missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2003, but with just 17 games remaining in their schedule, they'll undoubtedly need a strong homestand to avoid an early vacation.

With 34 points, the Sharks are tied with Nashville for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West -- San Jose has the edge, for now, based on having played two fewer games than the Predators. Dallas (33), Columbus (33), Edmonton (31), Phoenix (30) and Calgary (28) are each six or fewer points behind.

Murray ready to crank it up with Penguins

Wednesday, 03.27.2013 / 3:56 PM / NHL Insider

Chris Adamski - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- "Crankshaft" was anything but cranky during his first day with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Two days after being acquired via trade from the San Jose Sharks, 6-foot-3 defenseman Douglas Murray went through his first practice with his new team Wednesday.

At 245 pounds, Murray instantly became the largest Penguins player. If his first opportunity to speak to the Pittsburgh media is any indication, he also is among the Penguins who are larger-than-life.

Murray said several Penguins asked him what nickname he preferred, many asking specifically about "Crankshaft."

"I've had so many nicknames through the years -- one that actually stuck was Crankshaft," said Murray, who declined to discuss the origin of the moniker. "Over time, it became 'Cranky' -- which I don't like because I'm not a cranky person. I really don't care. People can call me whatever they like."

Cooper: Lightning not out of playoff race

Tuesday, 03.26.2013 / 8:23 PM / NHL Insider

Lonnie Herman - Correspondent

TAMPA -- Jon Cooper isn't giving up on getting the Tampa Bay Lightning into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"To hear someone say, 'the playoffs are history,' I don't know," Cooper said Tuesday when he met the media on his first full day as the Lightning's new coach. "If someone said last year that a team in the American Hockey League will win 28 games in a row, not too many people would agree with that. Until the final buzzer goes on the last game of the season, I'm coming here to make the playoffs."

"When [general manager] Steve [Yzerman] offered me the job, I asked him, 'Are you sure you want to do this.' 'I really want to do this', he replied. 'Well if you do,' I told him, 'I'm really going to try and screw up your draft pick.'"

Habs coach Therrien reflective in return to Pittsburgh

Tuesday, 03.26.2013 / 3:47 PM / NHL Insider

Chris Adamski - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Just before being dropped off at the still-new Consol Energy Center on Tuesday morning, Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien looked across Centre Avenue and saw a parking lot on the site where he once coached in a Stanley Cup Final.

"I was asking the taxi driver what they're going to do with that space," the former Pittsburgh Penguins coach said of the site where Mellon Arena once stood. "I've got some great memories from my time there."

For the first time since being fired by the Penguins four years ago, Therrien is back serving as a National Hockey League coach in Pittsburgh. His Canadiens play the Penguins on Tuesday night in a game matching the two teams at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

Therrien kept his home in suburban Pittsburgh in between NHL coaching jobs, and he worked as a scout for the Minnesota Wild in the interim. That meant he frequently had a seat in the press box at Consol, a building he called "first-class."

Staal stands to reap benefits from Semin re-signing

Tuesday, 03.26.2013 / 1:45 PM / NHL Insider

Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- For most of Eric Staal's career, the Carolina Hurricanes have been looking for the just-right forward to play on the top line with the team captain.

For the next five seasons, Carolina has its man.

When the Hurricanes signed Alexander Semin to a five-year, $35-million extension Monday, they did so knowing the two players had built an undeniable chemistry over the first 30 games of the season. At times in recent years, Staal labored as a variety of players took turns on Carolina's top line.

Eric Staal
Center - CAR
GOALS: 14 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 35
SOG: 97 | +/-: 19
"We knew we had to get a guy who had a level equal to Eric," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "Some people say we took a chance, but we tried it and it's worked out well."

That "chance" was signing Semin to a one-year free-agent deal last summer. Semin, an elite scoring forward in Washington for six seasons, had fallen out of favor with the Capitals. His points-per-game had declined for three straight seasons. But Carolina quickly proved to be a place where he could thrive again.

"(It's) a good team for me. It's new life," Semin said. "This is a good place to play hockey."

In particular, Semin has built a strong relationship with Muller.

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