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NHL Insider

Year in Review: Moments that defined hockey in 2011

Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 8:22 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Let's call 2011 the year of Tim Thomas.

From Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, no one had a more memorable, highlight-filled 365 days than the Boston Bruins goaltender, who won nearly every trophy a goalie can win.

But as we look back on 2011, there were plenty of events that didn't involve Thomas that thrilled fans. There was also some sad news that shook up many, along with a couple of incidents that will leave fans laughing for years.

After much reflection, these are who we considered the 24 biggest events, plays, occurrences and stories from 2011. 

Reimer finishes whirlwind 2011 home in Winnipeg

Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 1:00 AM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- Tending goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs can be a lonely, criticism-filled existence when the fabled club has managed only two wins in its last seven games.

James Reimer
Goalie - TOR
RECORD: 7-3-4
GAA: 3.00 | SVP: 0.899
But Leafs netminder James Reimer can expect to see at least a few friendly faces back in his home province of Manitoba when he meets his family for dinner on Friday night before he heads back to the team hotel to rest up for the Leafs' Saturday night clash with the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre. Reimer has purchased 15 tickets to the game for family and friends, and they will see him start in net for the Leafs in his Winnipeg debut as an NHL goaltender.

The affable 23-year-old grew up in Morweena, Man., a small community approximately 90 minutes north of Winnipeg. He has played in Winnipeg as a Leafs' American League farmhand with the Toronto Marlies. But being on the NHL stage now means that Reimer and the Leafs are trying to scrounge additional tickets for the game, though the Leafs-Jets New Year's Eve game is one of the most elusive tickets in Winnipeg this season.

Following Detroit, Hawks have caught Wings

Friday, 12.30.2011 / 11:46 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO – Following Thursday's practice at the United Center, Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo ran through the standard checklist of reasons the Detroit Red Wings are so tough.

Carcillo, who signed with Chicago as a free agent this past summer, has never faced the Wings as a member of the Hawks. He has, however, played them before and can read a scouting report.

"You know what you get with Detroit," said Carcillo, who's returning after missing six games with an upper-body injury. "You get a puck-possession team and they have great defense and their goalie's playing well and obviously their forwards are some of the best in the League. You have to be on your game."

Backup Chris Mason doing the job for Jets

Friday, 12.30.2011 / 2:23 AM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets are Ondrej Pavelec's team, make no mistake, but the Czech netminder has a solid veteran backup ready to go whenever needed.

Pavelec has played in 31 of the Jets' 39 games this season, and coach Claude Noel admits that Pavelec's strong work in net has made finding an opportunity to spell his No. 1 goaltender difficult.

Penguins lack home-ice edge vs. Flyers, top teams

Friday, 12.30.2011 / 12:06 AM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- April probably seems far, far away to the Pittsburgh Penguins right about now, with their season not yet halfway over. Yet they already have reason to worry about the Stanley Cup Playoffs they aspire to make -- and it's not just because they don't know when injured stars Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang will be ready to play again as they deal with concussion-related issues.
First, the Penguins simply have no home-ice advantage against the Philadelphia Flyers, the cross-state rivals who are directly above them in the Atlantic Division standings.
The Flyers are 4-0-0 the last two seasons in Consol Energy Center, where they play with visible confidence and, seemingly, not much trepidation. Their latest victory was a 4-2 decision Thursday night that gave them a two-point edge in the standings over the Penguins, who have gone 14 months without beating the Flyers in regulation.

Jagr shows his class against Pens in return

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 11:11 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH — He is nearly 40 now, and even he would admit that he is far past his prime; a level of brilliance matched by only a select few since his decline began. The legs don't quite churn up ice like they once did. The passes aren't all tape-to-tape specials. Not every shot is a top-shelf laser beam.
Say this about Jaromir Jagr: One asset he never lost is his showman's flair, the accomplished actor's penchant for the dramatic.
Give Jagr a special moment, a spotlight he can call his own, a reason to be far better than just good, and he is capable of turning back the clock and being – as he once was – the best player in hockey, if only for a precious few moments.

Jagr: Playing time factored in Flyers signing

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 3:11 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGHJaromir Jagr admitted Thursday that the safe decision this summer would have been to return to the Pittsburgh, where he won two Stanley Cups and was viewed as a hockey icon on a level only slightly below Mario Lemieux.
Maybe play 10-12 minutes a game on the Penguins' third line and see occasional power-play time.  Maybe score a few more goals, sail into retirement at age 40 or 41, then return in a few months to see his No. 68 raised to the top of the Consol Energy Center ceiling to join that of Lemieux's No. 66.
Only Jagr didn't want to play it safe.

Bruins march on in dominant fashion

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 11:17 AM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Boston Bruins lead the NHL in goals scored. They also lead the League in fewest goals allowed.

They own the longest winning streak in the league -- 10 straight back in November -- and if they follow Wednesday's 2-1 overtime win over the Coyotes with another on New Year's Eve in Dallas, they will also have the league's second-longest winning streak at eight games.

"We're playing with a lot of desperation, a lot of jump," Boston captain Zdeno Chara said. "We're capitalizing on chances we're creating and we're just taking what's given to us."

These 11 figures made biggest NHL news in 2011

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 10:40 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

There are dozens of headliners in the NHL every year, but many create stories that become big for a day, maybe two before they're forgotten. There are those, however, that create headlines that are so big and newsworthy that their stories live on for days, weeks, months and in some cases even years.
In 2011, there was no shortage of players, coaches, and executives that made news that shocked and rocked the hockey world. We've narrowed the list down to the 11 biggest newsmakers of the year.

Pens expect cool reception for Jagr's return to Pitt

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 10:19 AM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

"It's not the first time Jaromir Jagr has come into a building and hasn't been liked. Sure he's going to expect it, hear it. But there are players who hear the crowd and feed off it." -- Dan Bylsma

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins fans couldn't wait to fall in love with Jaromir Jagr all over again.
Just as they enjoyed watching a maturing Mario Lemieux mentor an immensely skilled but very raw Jagr in the early 1990s, they spent this past June imagining an older Jagr complementing their current-day superstars, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
They even dared to speculate that Jagr would enter his 40s the same way he ended his teens -- by helping lead the Penguins to the Stanley Cup.
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Quote of the Day

I first met him when I was 19 years old and he coached me for 13 consecutive years. I don't know how many athletes who have had that pleasure. Al Arbour was a man that left us not only feeling like champions, but left us with a lot of great memories that we can carry on through life.

— Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin on former coach Al Arbour, who passed away Friday at the age of 82