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NHL Insider

Flames know they need help to make playoffs

Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 7:12 PM / NHL Insider

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY – Make no mistake about it, the Calgary Flames are putting out the distress call.
 
After falling three points back of a playoff spot with just four games remaining after losing five of their last six, the Flames have officially put out an S.O.S. In simpler terms, the Flames are still mathematically alive in the Western Conference playoff race after losing 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, but will need significant help from outside sources to keep their playoff dreams alive.

Emery honored to be Hawks' Masterton candidate

Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 3:36 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

Ray Emery
Goalie - CHI
RECORD: 15-9-3
GAA: 2.77 | SVP: 0.902
CHICAGO -- The look was one of surprise on Chicago Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery's face Thursday when informed by reporters that he was the team's candidate for the 2012 Bill Masterton Trophy.

The award is given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

The 29-year old Emery also was the Anaheim Ducks' Masterton candidate a year ago after returning to the NHL and leading them into the playoffs following a long and arduous comeback from a career-threatening hip injury condition called avascular necrosis. Blood flow was cut off to the head of his femur, leading to degeneration of the joint. It's the same injury that ended the career of two-sport star Bo Jackson.

Blues breaking records, but focused on task ahead

Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- A lot of franchise records were broken Tuesday night following the St. Louis Blues' 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators.

But in light of all the accolades the Blues and their players were able to bask in after an impressive victory, including a number of marks set by goalie Brian Elliott, the immediate goals are still clear: win a division title and claim the overall top spot in the NHL. They can aid a long playoff run gaining home-ice advantage, which the Blues have shown this season by winning a franchise-best 30 games (30-4-4).

The talk became something of a reality for the Blues (48-20-9) a few weeks back. But with so many games left on the schedule and a handful of teams right in the mix with them, the team didn't want to look too far ahead. Now, with only five games remaining and the Blues holding a two-point lead over the New York Rangers (105-103) overall and a four-point lead on Vancouver in the Western Conference, it's a serious reality and one they don't want to relinquish.

Hockey Cares benefits from growth of game in NJ

Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 4:54 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

When Jim Dowd was growing up in New Jersey, local youth hockey was essentially in its infancy.

Dowd became one of the first New Jersey-trained hockey players to reach the NHL, but the Garden State has become a more popular place to visit for scouts of NHL, NCAA and CHL teams in the past two decades since Dowd went from Brick High School to Lake Superior State and eventually, the New Jersey Devils.

"Back in the late '70s and early '80s, hockey was just starting to grow around here," Devils television analyst Chico Resch told NHL.com. "Rinks were just being built, and Jimmy was one of the first examples of what New Jersey-born and raised players could do. Now you're seeing it at all levels -- guys like John Carlson, Bobby Ryan, James van Riemsdyk. And not just them -- there are more kids playing Division I from here, too."

Jets coming to grips that playoffs no longer realistic

Tuesday, 03.27.2012 / 4:24 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

2011-2012 Standings

Eastern Conference
GP
P
ROW

7
77
88
34
8
76
84
36
9
76
84
30
10
76
78
31
ROW = total number of regulation plus overtime wins. For tie-breaking purposes, wins obtained in a shootout are not counted. For full standings tiebreakers, click here.
03/27/12 4:27PM
WINNIPEG -- Sun, record-breaking high temperatures and dreams of the Stanley Cup Playoffs enveloped Winnipeg 10 days ago.

But the Jets and their fans only had a cold, damp rain and dashed hopes for spring hockey when they wiped away the sleep from their eyes following Monday's 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

"Today is a hard day for the players and the staff, too," Jets coach Claude Noel said as the club gathered at the MTS Centre for an optional practice 12 hours after the loss to Ottawa.

Back-to-back wins against Dallas and Washington had pulled the Winnipeg Jets to within two points of the Eastern Conference's eighth slot on March 17. But a sloppy home loss to Carolina the following night began the club's fall out of playoff contention. A 1-2-0 road trip followed before the loss to Ottawa that left the Jets a frustrated bunch as the last vestiges of postseason aspirations departed Winnipeg.

Belfour honored in Chicago

Sunday, 03.25.2012 / 8:03 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The "Eagle" was back on Madison Street wearing his old No.30 Chicago Blackhawks sweater and a couple chants of "Edd-ie! Edd-ie!" made their way around the United Center.

Eddie Belfour played parts of eight seasons among his 20-year NHL career in the Windy City, but the Hall of Famer started his career here and stayed long enough to be considered a Chicago Blackhawks legend.

Holmstrom gets surprising Masterton nomination

Sunday, 03.25.2012 / 4:56 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

Tomas Holmstrom isn't your typical Masterton Trophy candidate.

The award is given annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey -- and is often won by somebody coming back from a serious or life-threatening injury or illness.

Holmstrom doesn't have a major injury that he's coming back from, but you could make the argument that his entire body of NHL work through 15 years in the League (1,019 games and counting) has been relatively career threatening. He's taken countless hacks and whacks to his body while standing in front of the net and his knees -- which weren't great even when he was young -- have deteriorated more over time.

It takes a special kind of dedication to take that kind of punishment, which is one of the reasons the Red Wings have given Holmstom their 2011-12 nomination for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

"He's been part of the team for a long time, his perseverance is second to none," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We know what he's been going through with his bad knees. His knees weren't the best when he got here 15 years ago."

Toews continues to work through frustrating recovery

Sunday, 03.25.2012 / 1:45 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews has been through a lot in a short amount of time as the 23-year year old captain of the Chicago Blackhawks.

He's won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy on the upside, but also felt the sting of coming up short of the ultimate goal several times. He's also been banged up physically before, which often comes with missed ice time -- something a guy nicknamed "Captain Serious" detests.

However, what he's dealing with right now is unlike anything else in his career.

When the Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators Sunday night at the United Center (7:30 p.m.), Toews will miss his 16th straight game while continuing to deal with an upper body injury that's widely suspected to be concussion-related.

Devils' Zajac excited for return to action

Sunday, 03.25.2012 / 1:20 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Travis Zajac is back, and just in time for what he considers to be the best part of the NHL season.
 
Travis Zajac
Center - NJD
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 3
SOG: 16 | +/-: -2
Zajac, limited to eight games this season by a sore left Achilles tendon, will be in the New Jersey Devils' lineup Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, according to coach Peter DeBoer. Zajac had Achilles surgery in August, missed training camp and didn't play until Dec. 16, only to be sidelined again after playing against Ottawa on Jan. 2.
 
"Yeah, I'm pretty excited -- it's been a long year," Zajac said after being the last player off the ice following an optional morning skate Sunday. "It's probably the best time of the year to play hockey, the end of the year and the playoffs."
 
Zajac, 26, said it's been difficult getting over an injury that occurs, he joked, mostly to "basketball players and 40-year-old tennis players," but he is confident this is the time to return. The Devils have seven games remaining before the Stanley Cup Playoffs start.

Stars honor Skrastins in pre-game ceremony

Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 6:21 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent

DALLAS --The Dallas Stars honored a fallen former teammate on Saturday afternoon.

Karlis Skrastins, who played in Dallas from 2009-2011, was honored before the club's game against the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center. Skrastines was among those killed when a plane carrying Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL crashed last September.

"Obviously it was really tough to see his family, first time for me to get to see them after the tragedy. It was pretty emotional," Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "It was a nice gesture by the Stars honoring Skratch. I think we kind of dedicated our season right from the get go (to his memory). We all know he played with heart and passion. He was the kind of guy that never complained. He was just willing to do anything for his teammates."
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Quote of the Day

Hopefully [Jonathan] has a year that pushes us, that is the organization, to speak to him next summer and looking for [a long-term contract]. Because the thought process is trying to get a goaltender, and hopefully it's Jonathan, to be the stabilizer for this franchise.

— Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello on goaltender Jonathan Bernier