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NHL Insider

Canucks' rough start results in scrutiny on goalies

Monday, 01.21.2013 / 10:10 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- This wasn't the start the Vancouver Canucks envisioned.

With a veteran group returning mostly intact and coming off consecutive Presidents' Trophies as the NHL's top regular season club, the Canucks were counting on continuity and experience to contribute to a strong start.

Instead they were blown out 7-3 by Anaheim in the opener Saturday before blowing a two-goal lead in a 3-2 shootout loss to Edmonton on Sunday.

With the Canucks off to an 0-1-1 start and Roberto Luongo supplanting new No. 1 Corey Schneider in the opener, the team has fallen under early scrutiny. (Photo: Getty Images)

There are already questions about a defensive corps that was supposed to be the deepest -- if not the best -- in the NHL. And their new No. 1 Cory Schneider didn't make it through two periods before surrendering the goal to the man he deposed in last year's playoffs, leading to early rumblings of a crease controversy.

Roberto Luongo, who took over for Schneider on Saturday and stayed in goal on Sunday, quickly dismissed such talk after 30 saves against the Oilers. At least the Canucks can still count on the strong friendship between their goalies.

"No matter what the roles are this year, or in the past, it's important that we got each other's backs," said Luongo, who was among the many that expected he'd never play another game for the Canucks after Schneider took his job in the playoffs and then received a new three-year, $12-million contract. "We both play for the Vancouver Canucks and we both want to win games as a team."

Parise, Suter both key In Wild debuts

Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 1:28 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With expectations of playoff berths amplified by a three-month work stoppage, Minnesota Wild fans were finally able to see newcomers Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in a setting other than a team scrimmage.

The delay was worth the wait.

Zach Parise
Left Wing - MIN
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 2
SOG: 8 | +/-: -1

Parise nearly set up a goal on his first shift, then followed with two assists, setting up Dany Heatley on both of his second-period goals. He also led all forwards and was second on the team in ice time with over 23 minutes and had eight shots on goal.

"I love the fact that I'm going to get to be up here as many times as I'm going to be and talk about how good he is," said Wild coach Mike Yeo. "The skill level, the speed… but for a small guy, I see him hold off guys and protect the puck. He's so strong. His work ethic is just relentless.

"I love how he attacks the net."

Suter didn't tally a point in the game, but led all skaters with 27:05 in ice time.

Hossa, Blackhawks head to Phoenix off strong opener

Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 8:52 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Marian Hossa must have a different definition of "slow-build" than everyone else, because the previously concussed Chicago Blackhawks forward already appears to be in midseason form.

"You wonder how he [would] handle that first game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It looked like his pace was as good as he could go."

Hossa scored twice and added an assist Saturday when the Blackhawks defeated the Los Angeles Kings, 5-2, at Staples Center. It was his first game since he was last seen leaving the ice on a stretcher after getting blasted by an illegal high hit from Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres in Game 3 of last season's Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Torres will miss the first eight games of this season serving out the remainder of the suspension he was handed by the NHL for that hit.

Hossa proved on Saturday he's over it, even though he still was critical of himself.

Grigorenko, Kovalev make opening-night rosters

Friday, 01.18.2013 / 8:47 PM / NHL Insider

Mike Battaglino - Staff Writer

The new season will start with several new faces, and some we haven't seen in a while.

A number of talented young players were named to opening-night rosters when NHL teams made them official Friday evening.

The Buffalo Sabres kept 18-year-old forward Mikhail Grigorenko, a first-round pick (No. 12) at the 2012 NHL Draft.

"I'm real happy that I'm on an NHL team now," he told the Buffalo News. "I'm really excited and hopefully I'm going to be playing."

The newspaper reports Grigorenko has skated at center with Steve Ott and Ville Leino at wing. Grigorenko had 50 points (29 goals) for Quebec in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season.

Blackhawks star Kane has 'something to prove'

Friday, 01.18.2013 / 8:34 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The chip on Patrick Kane's shoulder isn't visible like the new thin scar he's sporting above his upper lip, but it's there and it's big.

The Chicago Blackhawks oft-criticized yet gifted right wing appears to be on a mission this season to prove to himself as much as anybody else that he can be and should be viewed as one of the elite players in the National Hockey League.

It's a mission born out of Kane's realization that expectations may have begun to weigh him down when they really should be propping him up.

"I feel like I have something to prove," Kane bluntly told following the Blackhawks final tuneup before the season opener Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.

Galchenyuk, Gallagher travel divergent paths to Habs

Friday, 01.18.2013 / 4:00 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher woke up in the same hotel room Friday morning, having taken drastically different paths towards the most important day of their respective lives.

By the end of the morning, each was celebrating his spot on the Montreal Canadiens opening night roster.

The Canadiens cut seven players before their skate Friday, and neither Galchenyuk nor Gallagher were on that list.

Olczyk: Conditioning, time management will be key

Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 7:53 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Eddie Olczyk remembered when he was playing for the New York Rangers at the start of the 1994-95 season -- the last time the NHL played a lockout-shortened 48-game season -- he was ready to explode out of the gate when the season finally started.

"The adrenaline will be so high," Olczyk, now part of the top broadcasting crew for NHL games on NBC and NBC Sports Network, said during a conference call Tuesday. "I can speak from experience of being a part of 1994-95. Being off for three or four months and coming back and playing, the adrenaline will be so high for the first couple games."

What happens to players after that first couple games could determine which players -- and which teams -- have success in the 2012-13 season.

NBC Sports excited that NHL is back

Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 6:06 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood said he and his group always are looking for innovations and ways to upgrade their presentation of the NHL, which he called the company's "No. 1 product."

Rather than bells and whistles, Flood and the NBC Sports Group team have kept firm to their commitment to honor the game and what Flood believes makes it special.

One of those innovations that will debut for the 2012-13 season is "Rivalry Wednesday," which will show traditional rivals facing off. It starts with the Boston Bruins playing at the New York Rangers on Jan. 23 and will include the renewal of rivalries Boston-Montreal and Philadelphia-Pittsburgh.

"Hatred in hockey is a good thing," Flood said. "So every Wednesday night we're going to have teams that don't love each playing. … It's an exciting new twist to it."

Flood said he's also proud of the building his hosting team of Liam McHugh, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones will be working out of at NBC's new international broadcasting center in Connecticut. The studio was supposed to open in February, but Flood said his group pushed hard to be ready to showcase it in time for Saturday's season-opening telecasts.

Devils wonder what happened to ex-teammate Gomez

Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 6:57 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- As Scott Gomez's career trajectory went from decline into full-on nosedive Sunday with the news that the Montreal Canadiens told him to stay home, some of his former teammates in New Jersey couldn't help but question what exactly has happened to the former Calder Trophy winner since he left the Devils.

Scott Gomez
Center - MTL
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 11
SOG: 59 | +/-: -9

"He's an unbelievable talent and he has great hockey sense, but he got successful right from the get go -- and rightfully so -- on a good team with good teammates, and the main thing is he was always under great structure," forward Patrik Elias told "That's the biggest thing with him. Maybe when he left here his mind wasn't focused 100 percent on hockey. When you go to the Rangers and Montreal you have to do a lot of stuff off the ice, too, and some guys can't handle that."

Whatever it is, Gomez hasn't come close to recreating the personal and team success he had with the Devils since leaving New Jersey on July 1, 2008, to sign a seven-year, $51.5 million contract with the Rangers.

Lamoriello says Kovalchuk will be on the ice Wednesday

Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 4:19 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said Sunday that forward Ilya Kovalchuk will miss the first three days of training camp in order to travel back from Russia, where he was playing during the lockout, and get his family situated in New Jersey.

Ilya Kovalchuk
Left Wing - NJD
GOALS: 37 | ASST: 46 | PTS: 83
SOG: 310 | +/-: -9

Kovalchuk, who played in the KHL All-Star Game on Sunday, is expected to arrive in New Jersey on Tuesday and to join the Devils for practice on Wednesday.

Lamoriello said Kovalchuk, who had 42 points in 36 games for SKA St. Petersburg, is not considered in violation of his contract and therefore will not face any discipline from the club for missing the first three days of training camp, which began Sunday at Prudential Center.

"I am very comfortable with this situation," Lamoriello said. "There is no penalty involved. There is no disrespect involved. I've talked to him and I feel comfortable where we're at. We're anxious to get him back here and get him in the lineup with the rest of the people and there will be no repercussions."

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