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NHL Insider

Gauthier talks coaching change, says Habs still have time

Monday, 01.02.2012 / 6:26 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier apologized Monday to the team's fans who did not approve of his decision to hand the coaching reins of the club to Randy Cunneyworth because of his inability to speak French.

"We're disappointed and we're sorry if we offended anybody by hiring someone who is not bilingual right now, but when you're in the middle of a season and you're trying to effect change and you're having the difficulties we were having, you evaluate all your options," Gauthier told reporters at the Canadiens suburban practice facility in Brossard, Quebec. "We felt the best option at this time was to work from within the organization. Those things can be taken care of in due time, but having a bilingual head coach of the Montreal Canadiens is very important and it's something that will be part of our decision going forward."

Jets set franchise mark with big December

Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 4:33 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets made a strong December a team mission, and they close out the month with the benefits to show for accomplishing that mission.

The Jets set a new franchise mark with a 10-3-1 December, the best month in team history, and posted wins over the likes of the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild, among other upper-echelon competition.

"We were talking as a team before our big homestand here that we wanted to win nine or 10 games," Jets forward Kyle Wellwood recalled, "and it seemed like a lofty goal at the time, but we've been able to come together and do it."

With 12 December games at the MTS Centre in front of their fanatical fans, the Jets rolled off a 9-2-1 home record to climb from 13th place to seventh in the Eastern Conference.

Leafs need to improve penalty kill

Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 4:31 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to have to iron out their penalty kill if they plan on making a second-half charge toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Leafs held the NHL's worst penalty kill entering Saturday night's clash with the Winnipeg Jets, and allowing two Winnipeg power goals sank the Leafs' kill rate to 72.3 percent for the season. Discipline is also an issue for Toronto. The Leafs went shorthanded six times against the Jets and their 148 power plays yielded this season place them 20th in the League.

"We're just not getting the job done right now," Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn said, "and we need to be better if we're going to have any chance of making [the playoffs]."

Toronto coach Ron Wilson let his displeasure with defenseman Schenn on Winnipeg's opening goal be known, as well as Jake Gardiner's role in the Jets' game-winning power-play strike.

"We kicked two pucks in our own net," Wilson said. "Defensemen are supposed to box out. One went off Luke's knee when he should have gotten out of the way, not screening the goalie or trying to block that one."

Eye-opening numbers defined hockey scene in 2011

Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 10:47 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

2011 was a memorable year for both individual and team accomplishments -- including the return of the Stanley Cup to New England for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Here are some of the numbers that helped make it memorable:

0 -- Power-play goals scored by Boston in its seven-game victory against Montreal in the opening round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Bruins became the first team in playoff history to win a seven-game series without scoring on the power play.

1 -- Goals credited to goaltenders in 2011. Carolina's Cam Ward made a save in the final minute of the Hurricanes' game against New Jersey on Dec. 26 and was the last 'Cane to touch the puck before Ilya Kovalchuk backpassed it into his own empty net. Ward is the 10th goaltender in NHL history to be credited with a goal.

2 -- Playoff series won by the Bruins in their history after losing the first two games. Boston dropped the first two games to Montreal of their 2011 conference quarterfinal series at home before rallying to win in seven, then rallied from an 0-2 deficit to beat Vancouver in the Final. Before 2011, they had never won a series after trailing 2-0. 

Lightning honor Esposito with statue

Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 10:36 PM / NHL Insider

Lonnie Herman - Correspondent

TAMPA, Fla. -- Hockey legend Phil Esposito has been the recipient of many honors, both large and small. He's been the NHL MVP, won Stanley Cups and scoring honors, been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and watched his sweater rise into the rafters of Boston Garden, retired forever.

But Saturday, Esposito received an honor that was long overdue and recognized his contribution to hockey in Florida, as a bronze statue of his likeness was dedicated on the plaza of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, home to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the hockey team that Phil Esposito founded in 1991.

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.
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— Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, who on Wednesday became the ninth Russian-born player, and ninth Red Wings player, to score 300 NHL goals
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