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NHL Insider

Hawks' Swedish rookie gets NHL crash course

Friday, 03.25.2011 / 6:15 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO – It was an odd move, to say the least, when the Chicago Blackhawks added 20-year old Swedish rookie center Marcus Kruger for the final stretch of the regular season.
Yes, the defending Stanley Cup champions have a rookie starting goalie in Corey Crawford. Yes, they also have a 19-year old rookie defenseman in Nick Leddy. And, yes, earlier this season they even had 19-year old rookie forward Jeremy Morin taking shifts on the second line.
Chicago also hasn't been shy from calling up young players as needed from Rockford of the American Hockey league. But even by those standards, the addition of Kruger was out of the ordinary – coming from Djurgardens of the Swedish Elite League straight to Chicago's third line.

Knuble leading by example for young Capitals

Friday, 03.25.2011 / 2:28 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

When discussing the leadership abilities of teammate Mike Knuble, Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich talked about where Knuble learned his lessons.

"He started in Detroit," he said. "That's a pretty good group to learn from."

Now 38 years old and in his 14th NHL season, Knuble is passing along the lessons learned early in his career to a Capitals team that has righted its ship in the last three months and looks to be picking up steam as it heads into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Bobrovsky attempting to silence his critics in Philly

Friday, 03.25.2011 / 9:05 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- The one piece of good news for the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night was that rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has his confidence back.

Two nights after being driven from the net against Washington, Bobrovsky rebounded with a 30-save performance that got the Flyers a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to Pittsburgh -- a game that saw Philadelphia outplayed for most of the evening.

"If it wasn't for our goaltender, we would not have come away with any points tonight," a disappointed coach Peter Laviolette said.

Division title still possible if Coyotes keep winning

Thursday, 03.24.2011 / 5:40 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- One goal at a time, one game at a time, the Phoenix Coyotes are closing in on their second straight berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But even with seven games to go, nothing is assured.

With a win against Columbus tonight and a San Jose loss against Los Angeles, the Coyotes can creep within one point of the Pacific Division-leading Sharks -- with half of their final six games of the regular season consisting of head-to-head battles with San Jose.

But on the other end, the Coyotes are only five points ahead of ninth-place Dallas, a team that has played two fewer games. Nothing is assured. 

Kings' Clifford set to return for Pacific showdown

Thursday, 03.24.2011 / 3:31 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings will get some grittiness back in their lineup just in time to face Pacific Division rival San Jose.

Left wing Kyle Clifford is expected to return from a head injury and take his place on the fourth line in a critical game for both teams Thursday night at Staples Center.

Clifford has missed the past two games after he came out on the wrong end of a fight with St. Louis forward Ryan Reaves on Friday night. He is sporting a bruise on his left eye, which still has considerable redness, but Clifford said he hasn't had any setbacks.

"It's a little bruised, but nothing is going to affect me," Clifford said. "Everything's healed up.  Everything's fine."

Canadiens want to stick to plan against Bruins

Thursday, 03.24.2011 / 1:49 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

""That's not our style of hockey to get into a brawl-fest. We want to play our style of hockey. We don't want to get into a bloodbath like everyone is talking about." -- The Canadiens Paul Mara

BOSTON -- The sizeable bilingual media contingent arrived at TD Garden early Thursday only to find out that the Boston Bruins would not be holding a pre-game skate. No players or coaches would be available to talk about anything related to Thursday night's highly anticipated and supremely hyped showdown against the Montreal Canadiens until 4:30 p.m. at the earliest.
The Habs were instead left to handle the interrogation, and it was fairly deep for the morning of a game.

Flyers ready to face different-looking Pens

Thursday, 03.24.2011 / 12:35 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

"They're missing a couple key players, but … they've still been playing pretty well. They always play hard. They're good system-wise and if you're not ready to compete, you're going to lose the game. We have to go out there and compete and play a full 60 minutes."
-- Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen on playing the Penguins

PHILADELPHIA -- Just how long has it been since the Flyers and Penguins skated against one another?
It was Dec. 14 -- the Penguins were in the midst of a 12-game win streak, Sidney Crosby was at game No. 19 of his 25-game scoring streak, and Evgeni Malkin was a healthy, fearsome presence in the Penguins' lineup.
Malkin had a pair of goals that night and Crosby had a pair of assists, but the Flyers skated away with a 3-2 victory thanks to Scott Hartnell's third-period goal and strong goaltending from Brian Boucher, who stopped 21 of 23 shots.
A lot has changed since then -- Crosby suffered a concussion that has sidelined him for nearly three months, Malkin is out for the season with a knee injury and the Pens have suffered a rash of injuries that has seen them use 35 different skaters, the third-most in the League.

Moller ready to take advantage of prime opportunity

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 5:13 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --  Oscar Moller walked into the Los Angeles Kings' dressing room Wednesday and saw a purple jersey in his locker, the ones designated for the top line.

In other words, Moller will go from playing in the American Hockey League to skating on right wing with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Penner when the Kings host division rival San Jose on Thursday night.

"No pressure," Moller said, joking, when he met with reporters after practice.

Moller was recalled after Justin Williams, the team's second-leading scorer, was ruled out for 3-4 weeks with a dislocated shoulder suffered Monday against Calgary.

Orpik could be ready to play by the weekend

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 5:02 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

The Pittsburgh Penguins spent much of the last two-plus months watching player after player leave their lineup. For a change, several are about ready to return.

Sidney Crosby, though, isn't one of them -- not yet, at least.

Defenseman Brooks Orpik, out since breaking a finger on his right hand Feb. 23, and forward Eric Tangradi, sidelined since sustaining a concussion Feb. 16, both went through full practices Wednesday -- their first since getting hurt.

Orpik won't be ready for a pivotal Eastern Conference game at Philadelphia on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US), and his status for Friday's home game against New Jersey also is uncertain. But Orpik should be fully healthy for the playoffs, meaning the Penguins soon will have their four top defenseman playing -- Orpik and All-Star Kris Letang, plus Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin.

Players only focused on winning the game

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 3:59 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"If you look at the standings it looks like (Bruins-Canadiens) could be the (playoff) matchup, so we'll see what's going to happen in the next 10 games. We all know it's a big game for both teams. The rivalry is there and the competition is there. We just need to focus on our game and establish what we're working on in the last game. We're focusing on our game." -- Zdeno Chara

Shawn Thornton wasn't about to tip-toe past the obvious.

"It's a rivalry," the Bruins forward told during a phone interview Wednesday. "We don't like them and they don't like us, and I don't think that will ever change."

Thursday's game at TD Garden between the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET, TSN) figures to be emotional for more than just the simple fact that it is yet another installment of this great Original Six rivalry.

The Canadiens still are smarting from the controversial hit a little over two weeks ago by Boston captain Zdeno Chara on Max Pacioretty that left the Montreal forward with a severe concussion and a fractured vertebra. It was only a month and a half ago that these teams played a game in Boston that included 14 goals, 12 fighting majors, 14 roughing minors and seven misconduct penalties.

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Quote of the Day

[Stamkos] is a great teammate and a great leader, that's why he's got the 'C'. He brings that tremendous work ethic to the rink and he's one of the top players in the game. I know if I put the passes where they are supposed to be, there's a very good chance he's going to put it in the back of the net.

— Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin on linemate Steven Samkos
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