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NHL Insider

Big test for Blues as Canucks come to town

Wednesday, 01.11.2012 / 6:33 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- It would have been hard to predict in October what January would bring, but suffice it to say that nobody could have guessed that when the Blues and Vancouver Canucks clash on Thursday, the top slot in the Western Conference would be up for grabs.

Obviously there's still a long way to go, but when the Blues (25-12-5) play host to the Canucks (27-14-3) at 8 p.m. ET, it's a chance for the home team to grab the top spot in the conference with a regulation win -- and that's something no one could have expected not all that long ago.

For the Canucks, the defending Western Conference champions, battling for the top spot is no surprise. But for the Blues, who have just one playoff appearance since the NHL work stoppage in 2004-05, it's uncharted territory -- especially considering the fact that they were 6-7-0 and languishing in 14th place before changing coaches just over two months ago.

Now they have a chance to prove they belong against a team that is 9-3-1 in its last 13 games. The Canucks come to Scottrade Center with 57 points, two more than the Blues -- though St. Louis has played two fewer games.
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Habs' Cammalleri admits lack of ice time troublesome

Wednesday, 01.11.2012 / 5:31 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Que. – The passionate Montreal Canadiens fan base was on full display Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

At one end of the ice, a departed hero from the team's miraculous 2010 run to the Eastern Conference Finals was given a standing ovation after shutting out the home team.

At the other end of the ice, another hero from that same playoff run who is still on the Canadiens was being booed in the waning moments of a 3-0 win by St. Louis.

While Jaroslav Halak most definitely played an integral part during that magical spring two years ago, Michael Cammalleri's role should not be discounted.
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This time, Caps, Pens battling just to get in playoffs

Wednesday, 01.11.2012 / 12:37 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner couldn't quite believe what he was hearing.

Yes, it is true that with a regulation win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday, the Capitals will jump into the top eight in the Eastern Conference and the Penguins will fall out. As it stands now, the Penguins, losers of five straight, are clinging to eighth place while the Capitals have dropped to 10th after losing both of their recent games in California by identical 5-2 scores.

It wasn't long ago that these two bitter rivals were fighting for Eastern Conference supremacy and battling in an epic playoff series.

"Yes, it does (surprise me), just because the last few years we've both been toward the top of the Eastern Conference and the League," Alzner said. "Having to be in this position, that every game you lose is so huge right now, just thinking about that is an eye-opener for sure. We need to have these points."
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Howson: 'We had to make a change'

Monday, 01.09.2012 / 7:38 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

Scott Howson spent 10 minutes during a conference call Monday evening discussing the firing of coach Scott Arniel. The questions directed at the Columbus Blue Jackets general manager were varied, but they all had a common thread.

How does the franchise get itself turned around?

"You do it one step at a time," said Howson, who took the first step Monday when he replaced Arniel with assistant coach Todd Richards on an interim basis. "You move forward with a plan. This is not something we wanted to do, but we felt the way the season was going, we had to make a change."
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Blues' Halak prepared for emotional Montreal return

Monday, 01.09.2012 / 3:33 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

The memories of how beloved Jaroslav Halak is in Montreal have not faded in the 18 months since he was traded from the franchise to the St. Louis Blues.

In fact, the recollection of Halak's last act in Montreal before his departure remains a pleasant one. After all, how often does a player that gets traded get a farewell autograph session?

It may seem odd, but not in Montreal and not for Halak, who earned his adulation from the fans for his part in leading the club to the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals.
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Six tasks awaiting Richards in Columbus

Monday, 01.09.2012 / 2:52 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every hockey coach worth his salt dreams of one day being behind the bench of an NHL team.

Todd Richards is getting that chance on an interim basis with the Columbus Blue Jackets following the dismissal of Scott Arniel on Monday, but he's hardly in an enviable position as the second half of the season gets started.
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Richards takes on new challenge with Jackets

Monday, 01.09.2012 / 12:34 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

It wasn't all that long ago Todd Richards was a coach on the rise with a bright future. Less than a year after he was dismissed as coach of the Minnesota Wild, he'll get another shot as interim coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

GM Scott Howson relieved Scott Arniel of his duties not long after the Jackets lost 7-4 to the Ducks in Anaheim on Sunday night. The reins of the NHL's worst team -- the Jackets have 27 points and 8 regulation/OT wins in 41 games -- were handed to Richards, who will make his debut Tuesday night in Chicago.

"There's one emotion that's real prevalent right now, and that's just disappointment when somebody has to go and it's somebody that brought you in as a coach you're trying to support," said Richards, who was tabbed an assistant by Arniel in June. "I've been the head guy getting fired and I've been underneath the head guy getting fired. You feel more responsible as an assistant because you're there to support the head coach and help him out. You feel afterward there's more you could've done and you should've done."

At his first head-coaching job with the AHL's Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins, he went 98-49-13 in two seasons and reached the Calder Cup Final in 2008. That earned Richards an assistant-coaching job alongside Todd McLellan in San Jose for the 2008-09 season, which he parlayed into the head-coaching gig with the Minnesota Wild the following season.
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Doan changes routine before first career hat trick

Sunday, 01.08.2012 / 6:28 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – He'd spent all day trying to figure out a way to get the monkey off his back – but Shane Doan never figured the 800-pound gorilla might go with it.

Scoreless in six games and with just one point – a Dec. 23 goal in a loss to St. Louis – in his last nine, Doan and fellow power forward Taylor Pyatt – without a goal in 14 games himself, decided enough was enough. With one win in the last seven games (1-4-2) during a brutal schedule with several players out, "It was time for the old men to play like kids," Doan said to Pyatt.

Shane Doan
Right Wing - PHX
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 25
SOG: 122 | +/-: -9
He changed his pregame route to Jobing.com Arena and his entire pregame routine. At the urging of equipment managers Stan Wilson and Tony Silva, he changed the unique, curved knob of his stick – a constant source of ribbing from teammate – and went back to a more standard knob.

By the end of the night, Doan had not only snapped his scoreless streak, he'd ended the longest personal dry spell of all with the first hat trick in his 1,161-game NHL career in a 5-1 laugher against the New York Islanders. It was exactly the kind of lift prescribed for a dragging, banged-up team that had played back-to-back games in the same city just once since Nov. 26 – and won't for another 11 days.
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Iginla joins elite club by scoring No. 500

Sunday, 01.08.2012 / 10:45 AM / NHL Insider

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- Jarome Iginla has had a few nicknames over the course of his hockey career.
His latest? Mr. 500.

Jarome Iginla
Right Wing - CGY
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 33
SOG: 135 | +/-: -5
Iginla became the 42nd player in NHL history to reach 500 goals when his centering pass hit a pair of Minnesota defenders and careened into the back of the net in Calgary's 3-1 victory against the Wild at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.

"It's something I've been very blessed in hockey to have some great moments and memories that will stick with me," Iginla said. "I've been part of different games and scoring some goals but that's one that I'll remember. When you start out you don't really think, 'get to 500' or whatever, you just play. Along the way you just keep going. I definitely have to pinch myself. You don't stop too often to look at things."

The accomplishment wasn't lost on former teammate Craig Conroy, who holds the record for most Iginla assists with 85.
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Iginla joins 500-goal club

Sunday, 01.08.2012 / 1:30 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Jarome Iginla is the latest member of the NHL's 500-goal club.

Jarome Iginla
Right Wing - CGY
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 33
SOG: 135 | +/-: -5
Calgary's captain became the 42nd player in NHL history to score 500 regular-season goals when his attempted pass caromed off a pair of Minnesota players and into the net 8:33 into the third period of the Flames' game against the Wild. It proved to be the winning goal in a 3-1 victory.

Iginla came down the right wing and tried to feed a pass in front to Curtis Glencross. Instead, the puck hit Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky, deflected off the skate of backchecking center Mikko Koivu and slid past goaltender Nicklas Backstrom to give the Flames a 2-0 lead.

There was a brief pause at the Scotiabank Saddledome as fans wondered if another player had deflected the puck in the net. Shortly after, the crowd of 19,289 – including Iginla’s parents and family – erupted into a standing ovation, and every Calgary player spilled off the bench to congratulate their captain.
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Quote of the Day

It's something that you don't really envision starting this way, but when you put the work in you don't feel like it's unwarranted. You definitely don't envision it unfolding this way, but you do think you can be successful at this level.

— Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who defeated the Jets on Wednesday to improve to 6-0-1 since making his first NHL start on Feb. 18