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NHL Insider

Around the West: Ducks confident despite tough trip

Friday, 11.19.2010 / 10:09 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The mini-slump the Anaheim Ducks are going through hasn't driven away the confidence they gained during their six-game winning streak in early November.

The Ducks picked up only two points and scored just four goals during their three-game road trip this week, but they wake up Friday to find themselves only one point behind the first-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division race. The fact that they have four games in hand on the Kings hammers home how important it is for them to get back on the winning track during their upcoming three-game homestand, which starts Friday against Columbus.

"I wouldn't say content, but we're happy with the way we've been battling back," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf told NHL.com. "We're aware that we have quite a few games in hand on a lot of teams, so we have to win and get points in all of these games. It's going to mean a lot when you get to that February run and you're not having to make up points, teams are having to make them up on you."

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Plekanec quietly emerging as a top center

Thursday, 11.18.2010 / 2:49 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

"Of course it would be nice to get the recognition, but I like it this way. In Montreal you get that recognition every second of the day. So I wouldn't say it bothers me, but of course it would be nice." -- Tomas Plekanec

MONTREAL -- If you ask the average hockey fan to name the top 10 scoring centers in the NHL, names will come fast and furious.

Sidney Crosby? No-brainer.

Steven Stamkos? Of course.

Henrik Sedin? Obviously.

But how many fans would know Tomas Plekanec of the Montreal Canadiens sits in a tie for eighth among NHL centers in points going into Thursday's games? Or that he was tied for 12th among centers last season, alongside such superstars as Eric Staal, Pavel Datsyuk and Vincent Lecavalier?
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Preds hungry as Canadian road trip continues

Thursday, 11.18.2010 / 2:32 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- The Nashville Predators arrived in Montreal on Tuesday on the heels of an embarrassing 5-4 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto, where they allowed four power-play goals in a row in the second period.

On Wednesday, Predators coach Barry Trotz addressed his players about its lack of discipline in allowing a season-high eight power plays to the opposition, and then proceeded to put them through a practice they won't soon forget.

"It wasn't very fun to be a Nashville Predator yesterday," Trotz said with a grin on Thursday morning.

Mercifully, Trotz gave the players the morning off in advance of their game Thursday night against the Canadiens at Bell Centre.

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Bobrovsky to be in net for 12th straight game tonight

Thursday, 11.18.2010 / 12:32 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette is going back to the well and will use rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for a 12th straight game when Philadelphia hosts Tampa Bay on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) at Wells Fargo Center.

Bobrovsky went 10 straight starts without a regulation loss (9-0-1) prior to Tuesday's 3-0 loss in Montreal. Laviolette gave the Flyers a complete day off Wednesday, so he has no concerns that fatigue could be a factor now for the 22-year-old Russian, who owns an 11-3-1 record, 2.07 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.

"I talked to 'Bob' (Wednesday) and he said he felt pretty good," Laviolette said. "You always worry about fatigue with all of our players … but we had a day off (Wednesday), a break and we come in here fresh."

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Budaj's play giving Anderson time to heal

Wednesday, 11.17.2010 / 3:33 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- He won't play Wednesday, but Colorado Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson is getting close to returning.

After skating and facing shots at the Pepsi Center during Wednesday's morning practice, Anderson spoke to a handful of reporters for the first time since injuring his right knee during warm-ups Oct. 26 in Vancouver.

"Everyone made it out to be worse than it was," he said. "I knew right from the get-go what it was. I knew it wouldn't be too long. ... Any time you have an injury -- a guy blocks a shot and he gets off the ice -- pain hurts. A guy blocks a shot with his ankle and is hobbling off the ice and you guys all say he's got a broken foot."
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Payne wants Blues to get back to defense

Wednesday, 11.17.2010 / 3:16 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- If the St. Louis Blues were writing their own season story, they'd probably be holding down the power button on the laptop right now, trying to reboot.

In their first 12 games, they set a franchise record for a season start by recording 20 points with an impressive 9-1-2 record. That included three shutouts in the first nine games by goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Then several key injuries happened, including the loss of center T.J. Oshie to a broken ankle that likely will keep him out for three months. Also going down with injuries were defensemen Barret Jackman and Roman Polak. Just like that, the stingy Blues (9-4-3) started coming apart at the seams.

They've gone 0-3-1 in their last four games and allowed 21 goals in regulation, including an 8-1 loss at Columbus on Nov. 10 -- the game Oshie went down. It's time to reboot, and what better time than St. Louis' first meeting with Central Division rival Detroit on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena?

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Oilers putting rough road trip behind them

Wednesday, 11.17.2010 / 2:25 PM / NHL Insider

Robin Brownlee - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- After winning just once and being outscored 26-10 on a five-game road trip, the Edmonton Oilers are looking to snap a four-game winless streak when they face the Chicago Blackhawks at Rexall Place on Wednesday.

The Oilers started their trip with a 2-1 win in Chicago on Nov. 7, then dropped the next four, including a 7-1 drubbing in Carolina and an 8-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

"We can use a big one," captain Shawn Horcoff said. "You don't have a choice. You have to put those games behind you. It wasn't just one. There were three or four (games) that were not acceptable."

While the Oilers have talked about putting the road trip in the rear-view mirror since getting home Sunday, the best way to do it, and regain some confidence, is with a third straight win this season against Chicago. They also beat the Hawks 7-4 in Chicago on Oct. 29.

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Caps shuffle lines in search of more consistency

Wednesday, 11.17.2010 / 1:55 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Eight days ago Marcus Johansson was playing against the Charlotte Checkers, a newly relocated team in the American Hockey League.

When he lines up for his first faceoff Wednesday, he will look to his left and see Alex Ovechkin. Johansson, a 20-year-old rookie who was a 2009 first-round pick, will skate on the team's top line against the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center as coach Bruce Boudreau continues to shuffle his lines after a couple of uneven performances.

"I played a period with him before and I think it is fun," Johansson said. "You get to play with someone who creates something all the time and can make things happen. It is fun to play offensive hockey and with Alex it is a great chance for some offensive hockey. It is a big chance for me and it is going to be fun."
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Isles hope for a new beginning under new coach

Tuesday, 11.16.2010 / 3:15 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

On his first full day as coach of the New York Islanders, Jack Capuano had a simple message for his players: It's time for a fresh start.
 
"We have to put the past behind us now," Capuano said Tuesday after practice at the Nassau Coliseum. "It's a fresh slate for everybody here."
 
The Islanders would be glad to take a mulligan for the first five-plus weeks of the season. After a 4-1-2 start, they've dropped 10 consecutive games -- nine in regulation -- including all three on a California trip last week, costing third-year coach Scott Gordon his job.
 
Capuano, who was coaching the Isles' AHL team in Bridgeport, was named interim coach -- he said he hasn't talked to GM Garth Snow about his long-term future. He is familiar with most of the players either through coaching them in the minors or during his time as an assistant with the big club, and said that familiarity should speed up the transition.

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Hamrlik steps in for Habs with Markov on shelf

Tuesday, 11.16.2010 / 1:30 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Que. -- The Montreal Canadiens have put Roman Hamrlik on their top power-play unit in the absence of injured quarterback Andrei Markov, and they will need to be sharp Tuesday night if they hope to strike against a hot Philadelphia Flyers club.

In addition to the fact the Flyers have scored 18 goals in their last three games, most recently an easy 5-1 win at home against the Ottawa Senators on Monday, Philadelphia has been very stingy on defense with only four goals allowed in those three games.

The Flyers' penalty kill has been perfect over that span on seven chances, while the Canadiens power play is 6-for-15 over their last three games. But when Markov missed the first 10 games of this season, the Canadiens went 3-for-34.

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Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure