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NHL Insider

Playoffs now possible for Devils

Friday, 02.25.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

The New Jersey Devils were dead and buried on Jan. 8. They had been eulogized and lowered into the ground as they sat in last place in the League standings, 27 points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Six weeks later, there may be signs of a resurrection.

The Devils may have had barely discernible vital signs during the first half of the season, but now they are showing signs of life as the season hits the three-quarter pole.

To put that 27-point deficit at the halfway point in perspective, it's the equivalent of a baseball team sitting about 26 games out of the playoffs after 81 games. Teams just don't come back from that.

West playoff race among top storylines

Friday, 02.25.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

All season long, the Western Conference standings have been packed tighter than the crepes rolled by the Cubans who were actually Dominicans on that episode of Seinfeld.

As of Thursday morning, eight points separated third and 11th in the standings. It's essentially nine teams fighting for six spots, with the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings all but locks for postseason berths.

So who will capture those remaining playoff spots and who will fall short?

Two teams that appear to be in the deepest trouble are the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars.

Races get tighter at three-quarters mark

Friday, 02.25.2011 / 1:43 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The NHL season reaches the three-quarters pole today -- with all but four teams either in the top eight in their conference or within nine points of the top eight. We're at the point where a hot week can send any team flying up the standings, while a bad week will have the opposite effect.

Here's a look at how the races in each conference shape up after Thursday night's games:

Eastern Conference:

Division leaders:

Philadelphia (86 points after Thursday's 4-3 overtime win against to the Islanders) blew a 3-1 third-period lead and allowed the pesky Islanders to force overtime, but beat New York for the 12th consecutive time at the Wells Fargo Center when Andrej Meszaros scored with 17.6 seconds left in OT. The Flyers lead Pittsburgh by eight points in the Atlantic Division race and are nine up on the Lightning for first place in the conference.

Pegula's goal: Build a classy champion in Buffalo

Thursday, 02.24.2011 / 7:39 PM / NHL Insider


The Terry Pegula Era in Buffalo is off to a flying start.

After the sale of the Sabres was completed and Pegula became the new owner, the team went out and recorded a 4-1 win Wednesday over the Thrashers, one of the teams they're battling with as they chase a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"It feels good," Pegula said on Thursday's "NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman" when asked about his first official game as an NHL owner. "I just hope it lasts a long time."

Foote unsure if this will be last season

Thursday, 02.24.2011 / 4:31 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- He's 39 years old and his 19th NHL season is winding down, but Colorado Avalanche captain Adam Foote hasn't yet decided whether he's about to close out what has been a remarkable career.

"I've been on the back nine for a while. Of course I am, that's obvious. I said I wouldn't even think of things like (retirement) until the end of the season. I want to do my job and get back in the lineup and try to help this team go in the right direction and keep being professional and play hard."
-- Adam Foote

"No," he said Thursday. "I promised myself and my family that I wouldn't think about that or waste energy thinking about that until each season's over."

Foote did acknowledge he is in the twilight of a career that began in 1991-92 with the Quebec Nordiques.

"I've been down the stretch of my career the last three years," he said, laughing. "I've been on the back nine for a while. Of course I am, that's obvious. I said I wouldn't even think of things like (retirement) until the end of the season. I want to do my job and get back in the lineup and try to help this team go in the right direction and keep being professional and play hard."

Goligoski trying to adjust quick to life with Stars

Thursday, 02.24.2011 / 3:56 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- Dallas Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski is used to things moving fast on the ice.
The blur that he's going through off the ice, after being traded to the Stars by the Pittsburgh Penguins just three days ago, isn't nearly as familiar.
"Everything's moving fast, so I'm just trying to get to know the guys right now," said Goligoski, a 25-year old puck-moving defenseman whom Dallas acquired in exchange for talented forward James Neal and young defenseman Matt Niskanen. "It's good playing games. That's where I feel most comfortable right now."

Leafs thrown curve by Martin's call to start Auld

Thursday, 02.24.2011 / 3:20 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek was just as surprised as everyone else.

Speaking ahead of Thursday night's game against his former team, the Montreal Canadiens, Komisarek began emphasizing the importance of getting into the face of goaltender Carey Price to get him off his game and give the Leafs a chance to score their first goal of the season in Montreal.

What Komisarek didn't know was that in spite of Price shutting out the Leafs in both their visits to the Bell Centre this season, Canadiens coach Jacques Martin had decided to go with backup Alex Auld in this game.

"What?" Komisarek said. "Wow. Scratch that." 

Sabres, Kings move up in playoff race

Thursday, 02.24.2011 / 1:49 AM / NHL Insider


The NHL season is reaching the three-quarters pole, and the playoff races are only getting hotter.

It's too early for anyone to have clinched a postseason berth -- but only a handful of teams appear to be so far off the pace that their playoff hopes have disappeared. More than two dozen teams still have realistic hopes -- and, in some cases, can already start planning for the postseason.

Here's a look at how the races in each conference shape up after Wednesday night's games:

Paul Stastny disagrees with father's comments

Thursday, 02.24.2011 / 12:46 AM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVERColorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny disagrees with his Hockey Hall of Fame father Peter Stastny, who was highly critical of the team's blockbuster trade with St. Louis on Saturday.

"He's a passionate guy," Paul Stastny said Wednesday night of his dad, who in an interview with St. Louis radio station KMOX said the Avalanche "destroyed" the team by sending Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a second-round draft pick in 2011 or 2012 to the Blues in exchange for Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a first-round pick in 2011 or 2012. "I think he's opinionated. He said that, and that's his opinion. We're two different people, so I'm not really worried about what he said. I worry about what we can do here to keep getting better.

"In my mind, I think we have our own opinion. We gave up two good players, but we got two good players that we needed to address different needs in this locker room. The way things are going this year, just power play and offense weren't going to win us games. I think we needed to add something, a 'D' and a defensive center."

Neal excited for chance to contend, play with Sid

Wednesday, 02.23.2011 / 2:26 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- James Neal arrived at Consol Energy Center to discover his locker located next to Sidney Crosby's. It's only temporary -- for now, it was the only space available in the Pittsburgh Penguins' dressing room.

Neal, acquired from the Dallas Stars with defenseman Matt Niskanen for defenseman Alex Goligoski, no doubt would prefer to play alongside Crosby. That's not possible at the moment, as Crosby remains out with a concussion, but Neal hopes that's only temporary, too.

Players often expect the worst and hope for the best when any trade is made. Neal said this deal couldn't have worked out any better, as he moves to a team that figures to be a Stanley Cup contender for years. It's also one blessed with two of the NHL's best players in Crosby and the also-injured Evgeni Malkin.

Even if -- and this figures to be temporary, too -- Neal becomes the leading goal scorer among active Penguins players with 21. He is second with 39 points to Kris Letang's 45. Malkin is out for the season following knee surgery but is expected to return for training camp in September. 
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