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NHL Insider

B's, Habs renew rivalry with division lead at stake

Tuesday, 02.05.2013 / 6:24 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL – The longtime rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens has seen the two clubs engage in some heated battles in the past couple of years, even if they weren't particularly close in the standings.

But when the first round of the rivalry this season begins Wednesday night, not only will there be pride on the line, but the lead in the Northeast Division will be up for grabs as well.

Not surprisingly, the Bruins are off to an excellent start with a 6-1-1 record, but the Canadiens are nipping at their heels at 6-2-0, adding a tiny bit of spice to what was already a highly-anticipated contest.

"They're first in the East right now, and we have to take the opportunity at hand," Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty said after practice Tuesday. "I know people can say we'll only be nine games into the year, but it's only a 48-game year, so this is a huge opportunity for us and I think it will show a lot about our team in the way we prepare for this game and the way we play."

Pacioretty was one of the few members of the Canadiens who was actually willing to admit Tuesday that the game against the Bruins is perhaps a little more important than the other ones on the schedule. The vibe was similar in the Bruins' dressing room after their practice at Bell Centre later in the day.

Breaking down first battle of West heavyweights

Tuesday, 02.05.2013 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Far too often we can get caught up in one regular-season game, especially one this early, and end up making a bigger deal out of it than it really warrants.

But what about taking a matchup between two teams that, at least in the current standings, are the best in the National Hockey League, and making a big deal out of that?

Fair game, you say? Let's do it.

Highlighting the 10-game NHL schedule Tuesday night is the one that will start last -- Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks.

Seven reasons Sharks have surged to 7-0 start

Friday, 02.01.2013 / 1:17 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Patrick Marleau leads the NHL with nine goals and Joe Thornton has a League-best 11 assists, so it stands to reason that the San Jose Sharks would be the best team in the NHL at 7-0-0.

It's not that simple.

If the Sharks only were about Marleau and Thornton, they probably wouldn't be only the 11th team in NHL history to start 7-0-0. Teams don't go 7-for-7 to start a season based on the production of just two players.

There has to be more to this Sharks team, more to this remarkable start, the best in franchise history.

There is.

Outside of Marleau and Thornton, here are seven other reasons the Sharks are 7-0-0:

Schneider OK with Luongo starting third straight

Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 6:13 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Instead of taking the crease as the Vancouver Canucks' new No. 1 goaltender, Cory Schneider will be back on the bench watching Roberto Luongo start a third straight game when the Chicago Blackhawks visit Friday night.

If it was anyone else, Schneider might be really upset.

But watching Luongo pitch his 61st career shutout against the Colorado Avalanche the night before – second among active goalies only to Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils – makes it easier to accept the decision, even if Schneider would admittedly prefer to be playing himself.

"When a guy is going good, it's hard to turn away from him, especially when it's Roberto Luongo," Schneider said shortly after being told by goaltending coach Roland Melanson at the end of Thursday's practice that he'd be watching again. "It's not just some call-up, it's not a guy who's played 10 games in the League. It's a guy who's played 800 games in the NHL. We've seen what he can do when he gets on a roll, so I understand why it's easy to keep him in the net."

Hartnell reveals foot injury came earlier than reported

Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 3:00 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell felt a bit of déjà vu when he learned he had a broken left foot.

Hartnell was injured during the Flyers' game Jan. 22 at the New Jersey Devils, and days later it was announced he would miss four-to-six weeks after surgery Jan. 25 to repair a broken first metatarsal in his foot.

It was reported that Hartnell sustained the injury when he was hit in the foot by a shot by teammate Kimmo Timonen. While that shot did do damage, it wasn't when the injury occurred.

Subban skates, uncertain about return to lineup

Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 2:27 PM / NHL Insider

Erin Nicks - Correspondent

OTTAWA -- It's been 11 months since P.K. Subban suited up for the Montreal Canadiens. With the lockout and his recent contract dispute behind him, the outspoken defenseman is aching to rejoin his team.

"I felt great today. I'm going to continue to practice and get ready. But as of right now, there's no timeframe as to when I'll be returning. It's not my decision. I'm going to take every day slowly so I can continue to get myself into game shape as quickly as possible."
-- P.K. Subban

"I missed everything," Subban said. "I missed the game, I missed my teammates. This is hockey, this is what I've grown up doing my whole life and I look forward to getting back into the mix."

Subban signed a two-year, $5.75 million contract Monday night. He took his first skate with the club during an optional practice Wednesday morning in Ottawa, and was met by a swarm of media as he spoke for the first time since his new contract was inked.

"I've only seen a couple of my teammates," Subban said. "I think [I did it] purposely, I didn't want to get too involved while they're in a back-to-back situation. We spoke earlier at breakfast, but I'm going to wait until after the game. We'll have a couple of days off, and between that and practice we'll have lots of time to get together."

Undefeated Blackhawks gear up for tough road trip

Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 11:18 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks are zipping along right now, with all signs pointing toward more success.

What's directly ahead, however, is a pretty tall order -- even for a team as hot as Chicago (6-0-0), which set a new franchise record Sunday for wins to start a season by beating the rival Detroit Red Wings.

After playing their first six games in just nine days (four on the road), the Blackhawks will start a tough six-game road trip Wednesday against the Minnesota Wild (3-2-1) in the second installment of NBC Sports Network’s "Rivalry Night" series.

Chicago will be on the road for 14 days while "Disney on Ice" occupies United Center -- and a fairy tale ending isn't guaranteed for the Blackhawks. This trip likely will be a good measuring stick.

Zibanejad took bumpy road back to Senators

Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 9:10 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

On Oct. 27, 2011, when the Ottawa Senators decided to send one of their top prospects home to Sweden, the consensus was that Mika Zibanejad would be back in the NHL soon enough.

After a nine-game trial with Ottawa to start last season, Zibanejad, the sixth pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, was dispatched to his home country, where he played for Djurgardens IF Stockholm of the Swedish Elite League. When Zibanejad scored the golden goal in overtime to beat Russia at the 2012 World Junior Championship, the perception was he would have no trouble making it to Ottawa again.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Scotiabank Place.

Through the lockout, the Senators keyed on properly developing their prized prospect. Before the 2013 WJC, they insisted he remain with their American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton rather than compete for a chance to repeat as tournament champions.

Gretzky still enthused about his fantasy camp

Tuesday, 01.29.2013 / 8:06 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Eleven years into the project, Wayne Gretzky still feels the same amount of excitement and has the same enthusiastic drive to run his annual fantasy camp as he did when he started it back in 2002.

"It really is a pure love," Gretzky told Tuesday from the Bellagio, the host hotel for his annual event.

"My brother-in-law [Mike Brown], who unfortunately passed away because of cancer [in July 2010], he was really the guy who sat me down and said, 'Listen, you should look into this and maybe we should do a fantasy camp,'" he continued. "Between him and I we kicked it off 11 years ago. Unfortunately, he passed away but part of what continues this one is his memory, how excited he was about this camp and how good of a person he was."

Gretzky's camp has been held here in Las Vegas for the last four years. It previously took place in Phoenix during his days coaching the Coyotes after getting its start in Los Angeles more than a decade ago.

After signing, Subban will need to fit in on Canadiens

Tuesday, 01.29.2013 / 2:22 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

BROSSARD, Quebec -- P.K. Subban cleared a big hurdle by signing a two-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, but he still has some work ahead of him before his two-week absence from the team can be completely erased from memory.

Teammates have been bombarded with questions about Subban ever since the season began -- actually, pretty much since he arrived in Montreal -- and most were relieved Tuesday morning that they wouldn't need to talk about the talented defenseman's contract status any longer.


Subban return only a matter of time

By Pete Jensen - Staff Writer

With contract negotiations finally in his rearview mirror, P.K. Subban is gearing up for his long-awaited return to the Montreal Canadiens' lineup -- something that brings music to the ears of his fantasy owners.


"It's good that it's over and done with and it's settled," said Josh Gorges, Subban's defense partner last season and a likely candidate to be paired with him again this season. "We don't have to have these talks in the morning, what if this, what if that. It's over and we can focus on playing hockey."

The Canadiens have been playing pretty good hockey in Subban's absence, with a 3-1-0 record fueled by some of the stingiest defense in the League. The Canadiens enter Tuesday's game against the Winnipeg Jets (7:30 p.m. ET, RDS) tied for second in the NHL with 1.75 goals-allowed per game and sixth with 27.5 shots-allowed per game, so Subban's absence hasn't been particularly felt in that area.

Another department where Subban's influence often is felt is on the power play, but the Canadiens have excelled in that area as well, sitting seventh in the NHL with a 27.3-percent success rate.

Because of that success, Subban will need to try and make an effort not to rock the boat too much when he joins his teammates Wednesday in Ottawa for their morning skate prior to facing the Senators.

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said Tuesday he hadn't spoken to Subban, and that he won't until they meet in person in Ottawa on Wednesday. And the one thing Therrien said he will stress to his young defenseman above everything else is the team concept he has tried to instill since training camp began.

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It's cool when you think about how many great American players have played the game and the two players that were at that 18-game point streak and what they've done in their careers. It's pretty cool right now, but it was kind of overshadowed by the loss.

— Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after breaking the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Kings
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