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NHL Insider

Roenick: Home-ice battle huge in Keystone rivalry

Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 2:50 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Having played on one side of Pennsylvania rivalry for three seasons, NBC Sports Network analyst Jeremy Roenick is looking forward to a potential Philadelphia-Pittsburgh first-round playoff series if for no other reason than the emotion that will spill out of each city and meet somewhere between Harrisburg and Altoona.

"It is a massive matchup in terms of Pennsylvania ego," Roenick, who played for the Flyers from 2001-04, told "These fans don't like each other. It's amazing to be in one state and have fans on each side dislike each other as much as they do."

To Roenick, the fans can play a role in the outcome of the game in each city with their emotion and noise. That's why the winner of the game Sunday in Pittsburgh (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) could have a huge advantage come playoff time.

'Mr. Hockey' turns 84, still revered in Wings' room

Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

Gordie Howe turns 84 years old Saturday.
DETROIT -- Gordie Howe turns 84 years old on Saturday, but his connection to the Detroit Red Wings never seems to age.

The man who became known as "Mr. Hockey" while wearing the Winged Wheel on his chest has always had a connection to the Red Wings and Detroit since his playing days, and it remains a strong bond even now.

Howe and fellow Red Wings legend Ted Lindsay have been known to make appearances in the Detroit locker room for practices and games, and aren't shy about doling out advice or opinions.

"Well, obviously [Howe] and [Alex Delvecchio] and [Ted Lindsay], they're the guys who are around the most, but we have a huge alumni and I think you're going to see that next year at the Winter Classic and I think it's important for those guys to be involved," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said on Friday. "When you're in a franchise as historic as this and they can be involved, it's a special, special thing."

Frustrating month for Vrbata takes positive turn

Friday, 03.30.2012 / 1:54 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- March just hasn't been Radim Vrbata's month.

First a scoring slump set in right after his career-high 30th goal. That was followed by a nasty, persistent head cold that was stubbornly resistant to over-the-counter medication, forcing him to turn to antibiotics for help.

And then, on the ninth day of a strong, 10-day round of penicillin treatments with his body already full of the medication, Vrbata began to suffer an allergic reaction. It has lasted for more than two weeks, starting with a nasty rash that spread over his body, making sweating and wearing hockey equipment the absolute worst thing he could do.

Canadiens focusing only on game vs. Rangers

Friday, 03.30.2012 / 1:46 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The Montreal Canadiens arrived at Madison Square Garden on Friday as a team without a general manager, Pierre Gauthier being removed from the position Thursday after two seasons.

Bob Gainey, Gauthier's predecessor, also was relieved of his duties as a special advisor to the club. Assistant coach Larry Carriere returned to his position as assistant GM, with goaltending coach Pierre Groulx taking Carriere's role on the bench.

It's been a season full of turmoil for the NHL's most storied franchise -- the Habs also fired assistant coach Perry Pearn and coach Jacques Martin and traded star Mike Cammalleri in the middle of a game.

Players try to rally EA Sports NHL '13 cover support

Friday, 03.30.2012 / 11:21 AM / NHL Insider

David Kalan - Staff Writer

Unfortunately for David Perron and T.J. Oshie, they were too good at hockey to become teachers. They probably don't mind that they've wound up in the NHL, but if one of them should wind up on the cover of EA SPORTS' NHL 13, that player will get a taste of what it's like to be giving lessons.

EA SPORTS announced this week that for the first time in the history of its NHL video game franchise, fans will get to determine which player is featured on the cover after whittling the selections from 60 to one. Those 60 players in the initial round of voting are comprised of two players from each team, with each set of teammates going head to head to make the round of 32 (which includes a pair of wild cards).

Perron and Oshie have been selected as the two representatives from St. Louis, and each made it clear Thursday he wants to be the winner -- and they're prepared to add some incentive for their constituents. Perron announced Thursday that if he winds up as the cover athlete for NHL 13, one randomly selected fan will win a 60-minute private skating lesson with him, in addition to various items of equipment that Perron has used, such as a jersey and a stick. Oshie quickly matched the ante.

Blues disappointed at failing to clinch

Friday, 03.30.2012 / 1:22 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The celebration of a division title was put on hold for the St. Louis Blues.

With a chance to clinch their first Central Division title since winning the Presidents' Trophy in 1999-2000, the Blues had an opportunity to knock another goal off their things-to-do list Thursday night.

The Chicago Blackhawks had other ideas.

GM Regier discusses Sabres' hot streak on 'NHL Hour'

Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 7:48 PM / NHL Insider

Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier, appearing as a guest on Thursday's "NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman," was asked if he was surprised at his team's ability to put together its current 14-2-4 stretch given its struggles with injuries and inconsistency for most of the season.

"Not totally, we did a little bit of it last year, but … yeah, I am, because you don't think you can do it two years in a row," Regier said, referring to the Sabres' 16-4-4 finish last season that allowed them to rise from outside the top eight in the Eastern Conference to a seventh seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

What the Sabres are bidding to accomplish over the next 10 days would be even more significant, however -- they were 10 points out of a playoff spot and occupying the East basement as recently as Feb. 17 but enter Thursday holding down the No. 8 seed. If they're still above the cutoff line after the final regular-season games on April 7, it will mark the latest point in a season a team has rallied from a double-digit deficit in the standings to make the postseason.

Flames know they need help to make playoffs

Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 7:12 PM / NHL Insider

Aaron Vickers - 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 - 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 - 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.

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