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NHL Insider

Seven of the most unlikely single-game performances

Wednesday, 09.05.2012 / 9:55 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

The NHL record book is filled with accomplishments by the greatest stars in hockey history -- Wayne Gretzky's record-setting 92 goals in 1981-82, Bobby Orr winning scoring titles as a defenseman and Martin Brodeur piling up 119 (and counting) shutouts are just a few.

But there are also guys in the record book that weren't household names -- players whose brush with greatness was confined to a single night.

Here are some of the greatest and most unlikely one-game performances in NHL history:

Sam LoPresti

March 4, 1941

LoPresti, a native of Eveleth, Minn., lasted just two seasons and 74 games in the NHL, but that was more than enough time to earn his line in the record books for most saves by a goaltender in a single game.

LoPresti took the ice for Chicago at Boston on March 4, 1941, and was immediately under siege from the powerful Bruins, who were on their way to a first-place finish. The Bruins pelted the rookie goaltender with shot after shot, only to see him make the save. They did manage to get three pucks past LoPresti, but he set an NHL record that still stands by making 80 saves -- earning an ovation from the Boston Garden crowd despite the loss. No goaltender since that night has faced more than 73 shots.

Wait and 'C': Might Zetterberg be next Wings captain?

Wednesday, 09.05.2012 / 1:00 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

The reality that former Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom is actually retired is starting to sink in a little more now that the calendar has flipped to September.

Henrik Zetterberg
Left Wing - DET
GOALS: 22 | ASST: 47 | PTS: 69
SOG: 267 | +/-: 14
A group of Red Wings are going through informal on-ice workouts this week as the scheduled start of training camp approaches, and the feel is certainly different without Lidstrom's presence. Several big names are attending, however, and among them is Henrik Zetterberg -- the guy who most feel will take over the captain's role.

"We'll see what happens the next few weeks," Zetterberg told reporters on Tuesday at the Troy Sports Center in suburban Detroit. "If they ask, I will be honored. It's something that you always hope you'd have a chance to do in your career, especially with a team like this in a city like this, with the past and the ownership and the history we have. It would be a true honor."

Healthy Andy McDonald ready to roll for Blues

Wednesday, 09.05.2012 / 9:50 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Andy McDonald knows the score.

Andy McDonald
Left Wing - STL
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 22
SOG: 64 | +/-: 4
The St. Louis Blues forward understands the biological clock doesn't tick forever, and Father Time catches up with everyone.

For McDonald, who turned 35 on Aug. 25, it's only natural to have those after-hockey thoughts and think about how much more gas is left in the tank, especially with the life span of a hockey player.

But as McDonald enters his 12th NHL season -- his fourth full season in St. Louis -- he feels like Father Time will have to wait a while longer for him to hang up his skates.

Grand finales: Top farewell seasons by NHL players

Tuesday, 09.04.2012 / 9:55 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

The only certainty in an NHL player's life is that at some time, he won't be an NHL player anymore.

For some, the end is just a matter of the years catching up to him. For others, it's related to injuries. Still others may opt to play elsewhere -- or have the decision made for them. But while some players' skills may have eroded to the point that there's no question their time is done, others leave while they're still capable of being solid contributors, if not stars.

Here's a look at some of the best finales in NHL history:

Mike Bossy

Final season: 1986-87 (38 goals, 37 assists, 75 points in 63 games)

Bossy began what turned out to be his final NHL season having scored at least 50 goals in each of his first nine, helping the New York Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups and a fifth straight trip to the Final. At age 30 and coming off a 61-goal, 123-point season, he was on course to pass Gordie Howe as the greatest goal-scorer in NHL history.

But in '86-87, Bossy's back decided it no longer wanted to cooperate. He felt a twinge in the back at training camp, and the injury got worse during the season, forcing him to miss 17 games and hampering him in several others. He had a career-low 38 goals, then was able to play in just six of the Isles' 14 playoff games and scored only twice.

Follow the leader: The NHL's 10 best captains

Saturday, 09.01.2012 / 8:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

There's more to being a leader than merely wearing the captain's "C" on your jersey. Leadership is knowing how to push your teammates to levels they didn't know they could reach, making sure they don't accept anything less than their best on the ice -- and off.

"I think in the end, it's just trying to help people realize their potential and figure out how to motivate them," Hall of Famer Mark Messier once told a writer. "You have to get to know a player on a much deeper level than just hockey. … In the end, they have to know that the only thing that matters to both of you is trying to find a way to win, and that you don't have any ulterior motives against them. You're just trying to find out how to get the best out of them, and they respect that."

Here's a look at 10 of the NHL's all-time best in providing the leadership that got the most out of their teammates.

Back-to-back Cup winners like Kings' chances

Thursday, 08.30.2012 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

The 2012-13 NHL campaign will mark 15 years since the Detroit Red Wings became the last team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. In the 13 postseasons since the Wings went back-to-back, 11 different clubs have won the Cup, with Detroit and New Jersey being the only clubs to win it more than once. But with the Kings' entire championship roster returning this season, a couple of notable names like their chances to repeat.

"I think their chances are very good. It's becoming tougher and tougher [to repeat]. You need to try to avoid the hangover of the celebration. They're the champions and someone's got to knock them off the hill," said Bryan Trottier, who won the Cup six times as a player with the Islanders and Penguins and is one of only two players in the past 30 years -- along with Larry Murphy -- to win consecutive titles with two different franchises. "I know our first [Islanders] championship, we weren't the best team in the League during the season. But the next year, everyone was ready for us and prepared for us. We had to show up and we had to earn our stripes."

Rookie Showcase unites next wave of potential stars

Tuesday, 08.28.2012 / 5:04 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - Correspondent

TORONTO -- Edmonton Oilers prospect Justin Schultz was about to be photographed for his first hockey card when the 22-year-old took in his surroundings and realized how much his life has changed in 12 months.

"I think a year ago this week I would have been traveling back to Madison and just loading up on textbooks and getting ready for the fall semester," the former University of Wisconsin defenseman said. "It's a lot different today, that's for sure."

Schultz signed with the Oilers in June after being courted by several NHL teams, and Tuesday in Toronto he was one of 29 prospects decked out in an NHL uniform for photo shoots and promotional purposes as part of the NHLPA's 2012 Rookie Showcase.

The fourth annual event provides Panini America and Upper Deck -- the two official trading card partners of the NHL and NHLPA -- with the opportunity to photograph top prospects for the first time in their official NHL team uniforms. The photos are used for trading cards and memorabilia launches.

Training made Tavares one of League's top skaters

Monday, 08.27.2012 / 12:14 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

In three seasons since the New York Islanders made John Tavares the first pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, the center has gained a reputation as one of the strongest skaters in the League. He's blowing by defenders because of his proper posture, long stride, great power and improved speed.

Tavares has effectively married his skating with his skill to become one of the League's top-10 scorers and an All-Star -- one of the best overall players in the game.

Success so early in his career probably shouldn't come as a surprise considering the almost unfathomable amount of hype that followed Tavares into the NHL. However, for people who remember watching him closely when he was a teenager, there may be a twinge of shock only because Tavares was never one of the strongest or fastest skaters in any game he played.

NHL stars seek out Gary Roberts' tough training

Monday, 08.27.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TORONTO -- Gary Roberts is standing below a life-size poster bearing his image as he peers over Steven Stamkos' left shoulder. In a matter of seconds the Tampa Bay Lightning's 60-goal scorer is in a dead sprint on the incline treadmill, the one that echoes throughout the workout facility created by Roberts to test the limits on players and provide them the tools for greatness.

Roberts, dressed head to toe in blue-and-black Nike apparel, watches Stamkos push his legs. He is running faster than he ever thought possible before he started training in Roberts' home gym four summers ago.

Roberts is eying Stamkos' speed and time. Lighting teammate Brett Connolly is on the other treadmill. Carolina Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner is waiting to go next. New York Rangers prospect Christian Thomas and St. Louis Blues prospect Anthony Peluso are wiping sweat off their foreheads, back into their hair as they gulp down water and try to recover from the ferociously fast sprint they just completed.

School is in session. Roberts is in charge.

"He could probably have 500 people in here training if he wanted to, but that's not who Gary is," Stamkos told during a recent visit to the Gary Roberts High Performance Centre at Fitness Institute in North York. "He wants to take guys that he knows are good people, he knows are going to work hard and stay true to the program in the gym and through the nutritional aspect."

Stamkos gets boost from Gary Roberts' training

Monday, 08.27.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TORONTO -- It's not easy to put Gary Roberts out of commission. Steven Stamkos almost did it in with one powerful squeeze this summer.

Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning center, was playfully roughhousing with Roberts, a man 24 years his elder but one many consider to be among the toughest to ever play in the NHL. Stamkos put a vicelike grip on Roberts' bicep, and Roberts' arm started to throb, threatening to at least temporarily ruin his plans for golf that day.

Instead of anger, all Roberts felt was pride. After all, Roberts and his training methods are ultimately responsible for Stamkos' surge in strength during the past four years.

"If you eat properly and train right at a young age, your body goes through the roof, and that's why Stammer can grab my bicep and I can't golf that day," Roberts told during a recent interview at his gym in North York. "I was like, 'My goodness, that's how strong he's gotten.' He's still 22 years old. He's got three or four years left of good quality years of training. He's still got an opportunity to improve.

"That's scary."

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