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NHL Insider

Capitals determined to make playoffs by any means

Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 3:45 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals forward Mike Knuble has made a living scoring goals from the tip of the crease, jamming loose pucks and causing havoc around opposing goalies.

But in his 15-year NHL career, Knuble cannot recall ever seeing a goal-mouth scramble quite like the one in Tuesday night's game between the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Trailing 5-4 with less than two minutes to play in the third period, Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold emerged from a nearly eight-second, eight-man scrum and slid the puck past goalie Ben Scrivens to tie the game. The Sabres eventually beat the Maple Leafs 6-5 in overtime to move into an eighth-place tie with the Capitals in the Eastern Conference.

Flyers-Pens rivalry intensifies with Berube comments

Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 3:09 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

"Crosby and Malkin are the dirtiest players on their hockey team. They slash, they punch guys in the face -- they do all these little things." -- Flyers' assistant coach Craig Berube

Philadelphia Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube added more fuel to the roiling rivalry between his team and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In an interview with Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia, Berube had some choice words for Penguins superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

"Crosby and Malkin are the dirtiest players on their hockey team," Berube said. "They slash, they punch guys in the face -- they do all these little things."

The late-game melee between the teams in Saturday's 6-4 Flyers win was sparked in part by a cross-check from the Flyers' Brayden Schenn to the middle of Crosby's back that knocked the Pittsburgh captain to the ice.

Panthers upbeat after letting chance to clinch slip

Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 1:55 PM / NHL Insider

Alain Poupart - Correspondent

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- The day after, the Florida Panthers didn't try to pretend they didn't still feel the sting of wasting a great opportunity to clinch a playoff berth and the first division title in franchise history.

But the Panthers also took comfort in realizing they're still sitting in a great position.

Despite blowing a 3-0 lead and losing in overtime to Winnipeg on Tuesday, the Panthers still need only one point in their last two games to become Southeast Division champions.

Muller already seeing progress out of Hurricanes

Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent

Watching Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller conduct a late-March practice, you would never know his team was a facing an early offseason. He is in full voice, explaining the finer points of gaining the offensive blue line and recognizing when forwards should drive the net.

"There is no hesitation in our game," he yells to the players.

That instruction summed up the second half of the season for the Hurricanes, who improved their puck pursuit and offensive intensity enough to be competitive nearly every night.

Toews feeling good, but won't target return date yet

Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 4:35 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

Jonathan Toews
Center - CHI
GOALS: 29 | ASST: 28 | PTS: 57
SOG: 185 | +/-: 17

CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews went through another Chicago Blackhawks practice on Tuesday and said he felt good afterward.

The team's captain and top-line center, who has missed 20 straight games with an upper-body injury that's widely believed to be concussion-related, has now skated hard on his own or practiced for two weeks straight.

Still, Toews isn't ready to proclaim himself ready to play in games just yet.

"I hope so," he said of potentially playing on Thursday in Minnesota. "I think even when I'm ready to start playing again, there’s still going to be some days where you’re going to have to progress toward feeling like myself again. I haven’t made that decision for Thursday yet. I’ve have another full day before that. I’ll practice with the guys and we’ll see how that goes, and come Thursday we’ll make a decision."

Ex-Rangers greats see Cup potential in current group

Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 4:16 PM / NHL Insider

David Kalan - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- With a sixth postseason appearance in the last seven seasons sewn up, it's starting to feel like seeing the Rangers in the playoffs is becoming an annual rite of spring once again.

There are few people who know what that feels like better than Mark Messier.

"Playoff time in New York is like no other," he said.

If there is anyone who understands the energy and excitement that can take hold of New York when the Rangers have a legitimate chance to bring home the Stanley Cup, it's the man whose captaincy was instrumental in giving the Rangers their first championship in half a century 18 years ago.

On Tuesday, Messier, 1994 Cup-winner Adam Graves and Rangers legend Rod Gilbert were all on hand at the unveiling of a new Rangers-themed subway train being put into service in honor of the upcoming 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it was clear all three could sense the tangible excitement surrounding New York ahead of the postseason.

Top individual surprises, disappointments in 2011-12

Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 3:34 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer


The 2011-12 season has been full of surprises and disappointments. While some pundits liked the St. Louis Blues as a young team that could take a step forward this season, no one expected them to contend for the Presidents' Trophy.

The Ottawa Senators were expected to rebuild and be eligible to claim the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery, but instead they will be in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their opponents in the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, the Anaheim Ducks, were expected to be in the mix for the Pacific Division title, but a disastrous start to the season will keep them out of the postseason.

Other teams like the San Jose Sharks and the Washington Capitals were expected to be among the League's elite, but are now spending the final days of the season trying to save a tumultuous campaign.

Crosby: Flyers bring out worst in Penguins

Monday, 04.02.2012 / 5:29 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- As they wind down their 100 point-plus seasons, the Flyers and Penguins already have established themselves as two of the NHL's most dominant teams. But while they share a state and the same passionate desire to raise the Stanley Cup, they don't have much else in common.
Only a couple of weeks after the Penguins were rolling during an 11-game winning streak that created plenty of Pittsburgh-is-the-Cup-favorite buzz, the Flyers have twice rallied from two goals down to beat them. 

Goal, fight vs. Pens caps Simmonds' wild weekend

Monday, 04.02.2012 / 5:25 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Monday was just another interesting day for Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

Named NHL First Star of the Week, it capped three-day period that saw him make headlines for all sorts of different reasons.

On Sunday, he scored the go-ahead goal early in the third that put the Flyers ahead to stay in their 6-4 win in Pittsburgh, and then was in the middle of the late-game melee against the Penguins that featured 52 penalty minutes assessed and two coaches ejected from the game.

And that came after he scored a goal Saturday -- off his face.

"Obviously I think that's the most painful goal that I'll ever score in my NHL career," said Simmonds. "I don't hope to do that again, but it was worth it."

Whitney takes long and winding road to 1,000 points

Sunday, 04.01.2012 / 7:53 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As a connoisseur of fine wine, Ray Whitney has a distinct appreciation for things that get better with age.  How appropriate that his long, winding, NHL career has turned out to be a vintage collector's item as well.

Ray Whitney
Left Wing - PHX
GOALS: 24 | ASST: 51 | PTS: 75
SOG: 182 | +/-: 25
One month shy of turning 40, when most hockey careers have already withered on the vine, Whitney is savoring the bouquet of one of his best NHL seasons. The capper came Saturday when the Phoenix Coyotes' forward set up linemate Radim Vrbata for a second-period goal in a 4-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks, becoming the 79th player in League history to reach 1,000 points.

Many of the players on that list played their entire career with one team – or at least have a particular franchise with which they are quickly associated. Not Whitney. The Coyotes are his seventh NHL team -- part of an odyssey that has seen him released, bought out, placed on waivers and traded in order to keep or acquire players who could only dream of matching his achievements.

"It hasn't been overly easy, I've had to earn what I've done," said Whitney, who over the summer, aware he needed 74 points to reach 1,000 – which would be one of his best seasons ever, boldly said he expected to get there. "There's been a couple of times where it didn't look like it was going to go on any further so this is something I'm very proud of."
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Quote of the Day

I spent a long summer thinking about that playoff series and what could have been. [The Blackhawks] ended up being the Stanley Cup champions, so we know we lost to a very good team. It's tough to know how close we were, and it motivates us for this year.

— Nashville captain Shea Weber in an interview with the Predators website