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NHL Insider

Avalanche stick with Giguere against surging Blues

Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 4:57 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche will stick with the hot hand in goal and start Jean Sebastien Giguere for the third game in a row Wednesday night against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center.

The Blues will go with a hot goalie of their own, Brian Elliott, who struggled a year ago while splitting time with Ottawa and Colorado.

Giguere, 34, has won his past two starts with a 1.44 goals-against average and .949 save percentage, and he owns a 6-4-0 record overall with a 1.86 GAA, a .929 save percentage and one shutout, after signing a two-year, $2.5 million contract as a free agent.

Kings hope Sutter's quiet intensity sparks turnaround

Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 4:07 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Hardly a peep could be heard from Darryl Sutter as he conducted an hour-long practice with his new team.

Dressed head-to-toe in black and silver warm-up gear, Sutter directed players and moved traffic with his whistle as if he hadn't missed a beat.

Most of the Los Angeles Kings are already familiar with Sutter, if only by reputation, and they literally expect to hear a lot more from their new coach moving forward.

Stars contend with Flyers, possibly Giroux

Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 2:40 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

DALLAS -- Will he or won't he? The big question surrounding Wednesday night's game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Dallas Stars seems to be whether or not Flyers top-line center Claude Giroux, currently tied for the NHL lead in points with 39, will return to the ice after missing the last four games with a concussion.

Giroux has been called a game-time decision by Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette, but whether or not he's on the ice, the Stars know they're in for a tough fight, even if the Flyers enter on a two-game winless streak.

Buble has 'greatest day' of his life at Canucks practice

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 6:57 PM / NHL Insider

Michael Buble's Christmas wish came early.

The three-time Grammy Award-winning singer, fresh from his appearance on "Saturday Night Live" this past weekend, had what he called the "greatest day" of his life when he joined his favorite team, the Vancouver Canucks, prior to Tuesday's practice at Rogers Arena.

After signing a one-day contract with the Canucks, he was on the ice for about 15 minutes -- including a face-to-face shootout showdown with goaltender Roberto Luongo. With the players tapping their sticks on the ice, Buble bore down on Luongo and shot blocker-side but hit the post and fell into the boards -- triggering laughter from everyone. 

Quenneville: Oft-injured Pens still formidable

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 3:12 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Facing the star-heavy Pittsburgh Penguins often is one of the biggest challenges for any NHL team. Lately, though, the Penguins are proving to be beatable without captain Sidney Crosby on the ice.
Crosby will sit out his sixth consecutive game Tuesday when the Penguins oppose the Chicago Blackhawks, who went into the night's play with a five-game winning streak and an NHL-best 46 points. Pittsburgh, by contrast, dropped four of five games before beating Buffalo 8-3 on Saturday behind Evgeni Malkin's seventh career hat trick and five-point game.
The Penguins are 13-9-3 this season without Crosby, who has missed all but eight of their last 74 games dating to the first week of January. Crosby, coincidentally, has played only two career games against the Blackhawks, none since he last opposed them on Feb. 14, 2007.

Hitchcock has Blues challenging West's elite

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- A changing of the guard in the coaching ranks after the season has already gotten underway presents its own unique challenges.

The incoming coach not only has to ask how can he change the culture of a team, but in doing that must also look at players individually and wonder what buttons to push in order to set the transformation process in motion.

When Ken Hitchcock stepped into the challenge of reforming the St. Louis Blues, the team was 6-7-0, floundering in 14th place in the Western Conference standings and playing stagnant hockey.

After Sunday night's 6-4 come-from-behind win over Columbus, the Blues are 13-2-4 under Hitchcock and quickly making the trek up the conference standings, where they currently sit in fourth place, only four points behind Chicago for the No. 1 seed. It's been quite the resurgence.

In the post-lockout era, the Blues (19-9-4) have typically found themselves at the bottom looking up. They've made big pushes before, only to be on the outside looking in when all is said and done -- aside from the 2008-09 season, their only playoff berth in the last six seasons.

College pals Stastny, Carle anticipate latest reunion

Monday, 12.19.2011 / 6:13 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

DENVER -- There will be plenty of good-natured bantering tonight when former University of Denver teammates Paul Stastny and Matt Carle skate onto the Pepsi Center ice.

Stastny, who is in his sixth season with the Colorado Avalanche, and Carle, in his seventh NHL season and fourth with the Philadelphia Flyers, played pivotal roles when Denver won a national championship in 2004-05, and they remain close friends.

"It's always fun playing against him," Carle said after this morning pregame skate. "He's always trying to joke around on the ice and stuff. I'm a little more serious when I'm out there and he's always trying to get a laugh out of me when we're playing against each other. It's nothing too serious, but he keeps it fun out there."

Stars hope to beat Ducks as homestand starts

Monday, 12.19.2011 / 3:04 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- Even after a road trip that saw the Dallas Stars take three out of five games and six of a possible 10 points, captain Brenden Morrow was less than pleased with how it ended, a 6-3 loss at New Jersey on Friday night in Newark in the second game of a back-to-back.

But Dallas begins a three-game homestand on Monday night against Anaheim, a team that is 0-8-3 in its last 11 games away from home and is fresh off a 5-3 loss at Winnipeg on Friday to start a four-game road trip in disappointing fashion. Meanwhile, the Stars are focused on atoning for their poor showing against the Devils just three days ago in the Garden State.

"Yeah, it was a bit of a letdown. It could have been a great trip, 4-1 and going coast-to-coast like that would have been a big accomplishment," Morrow said. "A little flat in that Jersey game, had some time to rest and recover and think we're ready for tonight."

Cunneyworth aims to make his mark on Canadiens

Sunday, 12.18.2011 / 12:32 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- If there is one major difference to be seen from Randy Cunneyworth's first game behind the Montreal Canadiens bench, it was the smile on Lars Eller's face.

No, Eller was not pleased that his Canadiens blew yet another lead at home in Saturday night's 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils. But when he was asked to address the amount of ice time he received in the game, he couldn't help but grin.

After pretty frequent benchings under previous coach Jacques Martin, Eller was the center who received the second-most ice time against the Devils, behind only Tomas Plekanec. His 18:25 included 2:22 on the penalty kill, a role he saw only sparingly under Martin -- and Eller was also used at even strength more than any other forward on the Canadiens.

Crowd roars for Selanne from start to finish

Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 11:40 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets may have felt like guests at their own house party at times on Saturday night.

Anaheim Ducks star Teemu Selanne's first NHL appearance in Winnipeg in nearly 16 years has generated countless written words this week. Winnipeg hockey fans took every opportunity on Saturday night to roar their approval for the long-departed Winnipeg legend, who received ovations before the national anthems and his first shift as well as another round of cheers during the first television time-out early in the first period.

"It's a difficult situation to deal with that because you're in your home rink," Jets coach Claude Noel said, "and they're cheering for an opponent. It's almost like you've got mixed messages coming your way. I thought that early in the game, it almost looked like we were confused."
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Quote of the Day

There's standards that this team is going to play to and there are expectations. We're going to hold these guys accountable to high standards.

— Coach Dave Lowry on Canada's junior team, the defending IIHF World Junior champions