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Player Profiles

Yashin has high hopes in role with women's team

Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 11:00 AM / Player Profiles

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

Much of the crowd's attention was on the ice Tuesday night at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, where Canada and the United States competed in yet another epic matchup at the 2013 IIHF Women's World Championship. But for some area hockey fans in the stands, it was impossible to ignore the presence of a prominent figure in Ottawa hockey history.

In town serving as the general manager of Russia's women's national team, Alexei Yashin was at the game scouting his competition. It's a unique situation for the former Senators captain, but one that he is relishing so far.

"It was an available position where I could help Russian hockey to get to the point where they need to be," Yashin said. "Because I'm retired, I saw this opportunity and felt at this particular point I could get involved."

Gaborik ready for fresh start with Blue Jackets

Thursday, 04.04.2013 / 3:20 PM / Player Profiles

John Manasso - Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Marian Gaborik did not arrive in Nashville for his first game as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets until almost 10 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday after being traded by the New York Rangers.

Marian Gaborik
Right Wing - CBJ
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 19
SOG: 113 | +/-: -8

He did not meet his new teammates -- some of whom are old acquaintances from the Rangers -- until Thursday morning when the Blue Jackets held their morning skate at Bridgestone Arena. In all, he said it was a hectic day.

Because of the last-minute nature of the timing, Columbus coach Todd Richards decided to make things simple for the right wing for his first on-ice session with his new team. Richards put Gaborik on a line with some familiar faces, center Artem Anisimov and left wing Vinny Prospal -- the three played briefly together as a line with the Rangers.

"We had some good games together in New York, so hopefully we can carry it over to here," said Gaborik, who was acquired with a couple of minor leaguers for John Moore, Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett. "Work hard and enjoy ourselves also out there and do whatever it takes."

Lidstrom discusses DeKeyser, post-playing career

Monday, 04.01.2013 / 10:45 AM / Player Profiles

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- Detroit Red Wings rookie defenseman Dan DeKeyser met with reporters this past weekend, just a day after choosing to play for the team he grew up watching.

He answered a litany of questions with no problem, but when it came to why he chose to wear No. 65 with the Red Wings … well, that's when it got fun.

"They gave me a few different numbers to pick from, so it was kind of a random pick, I guess," DeKeyser said. "It had a 5 in it."

Turns out that for most of his career -- from youth levels all the way up through college -- the undrafted late-bloomer from Macomb, Mich., had worn the No. 5 on his back.

Veteran Whitney producing for Stars after injury

Friday, 03.29.2013 / 4:30 PM / Player Profiles

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

DALLAS -- Thanks to a broken bone in Ray Whitney's right foot, the wing hasn't played a ton of games for the Dallas Stars this season.

It is 16 to be exact, after the injury forced him out for 16 contests, but the veteran does have 13 points for his new club. Since returning on March 12 against the Nashville Predators, he has three goals and seven points in eight games.

"I haven't felt great to be honest," Whitney said. "It's one of those years where it seems you get something every game and you get banged up a little bit. But just being able to play I guess is really all that matters. Aside from that, I've got the same bumps and bruises as everybody else. It'd be nice to play a couple games all the way healthy."

Against the odds, Sullivan to play in 1,000th game

Thursday, 03.28.2013 / 1:37 PM / Player Profiles

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

The notion of playing in 1,000 career regular-season games seemed ludicrous to Steve Sullivan, a ninth-round draft pick, when he played his first game in February 1996 with the New Jersey Devils.

But the idea of reaching 1,000 games seemed even crazier in December 2008. Sullivan was a member of the Nashville Predators at the time, but he hadn't taken the ice in nearly two years because of a back injury he suffered in February 2007. He missed the rest of that season, all of the 2007-08 campaign and the early stages of the 2008-09 season.

Sullivan was at a party that December for teammate Jason Arnott, who had reached the 1,000-game milestone not long before Sullivan was set to make his comeback. Sullivan had played 723 career games at that point, but that was when he decided he would one day reach the same plateau as Arnott.

"I think that being able to play until my age is not something I ever imagined," said 38-year-old Sullivan, who will fittingly play his 1,000th game Thursday in Nashville as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes. "Tell me that five years ago and I would've called you a liar. I was about 10 days away from coming back and we celebrated Jason Arnott's 1,000th game in Nashville, and at the party, when his wife was introducing him, she said he was the (232nd) player to reach that milestone. When she said that number, I thought it was very small.

Family was Lucic's silver lining during goal drought

Wednesday, 03.27.2013 / 1:41 PM / Player Profiles

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

Milan Lucic
Left Wing - BOS
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 18
SOG: 49 | +/-: 3

BOSTON -- Even during the longest goal drought since his second season in the NHL, Milan Lucic found it easier to get away from the pressures of the game off the ice than in years past because of a big change that happened at home.

In January, his first child, Valentina, was born.

"It definitely makes it better when you go home and you see someone like that," Lucic said. "You can be in the worst mood, but when you see your child and you see them happy and that type of stuff, it kind of takes your mind off things. It's definitely put things in great perspective."

Eller responds to benching with breakthrough season

Wednesday, 03.27.2013 / 12:19 PM / Player Profiles

Chris Adamski - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Lars Eller chuckles sheepishly.

The product of a country that, according to Eller, has all of 25 hockey rinks, the Montreal Canadiens center hesitates to acknowledge the very thing that perhaps established him as an NHL regular might just have been temporarily being told he's not one.

Lars Eller
Center - MTL
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 16
SOG: 62 | +/-: 5
"Of course I would never say I needed to be benched," Eller finally says while he slouches back in his stall in the Canadiens locker room earlier this week.

"But sometimes, I guess, you have to hit your low point before you can go up."

The 13th pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, Eller, a native of Rodovre, Denmark, was poised to take the next step in his NHL career this season. And, by all indications, he has -- even if the first impression he gave new Canadiens coach Michel Therrien wasn't a good one.

Therrien made him a healthy scratch for the second and third games of the season in January.

Playing bigger helping Bobrovsky play better

Tuesday, 03.26.2013 / 1:00 PM / Player Profiles

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

Sergei Bobrovsky is coming up big for the surging Columbus Blue Jackets because he is playing big -- or bigger, at least, than he was during his first two NHL seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Taller in his butterfly after some technical tinkering, Bobrovsky has backstopped the Blue Jackets into the Western Conference playoff race with a near-perfect month of March, earning his first two career shutouts and a couple of weekly NHL accolades along the way.

The 24-year-old started the month on an 8-0-2 run before his first hiccup of the spring saw him pulled 10:15 into a road loss against the Nashville Predators on March 23. Despite that blip, Bobrovsky lowered his goals-against average to 2.17 and raised his save percentage to .927 with the streak, putting him near the top of the NHL in both categories.

Backstrom seeing fortunes turn after trying stretch

Tuesday, 03.26.2013 / 12:46 PM / Player Profiles

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

It was a relatively simple play, but it took world-class skill to execute.

The Washington Capitals had trailed the Florida Panthers by two goals late in the third period before rallying to force overtime in a game on Feb. 12. Just seconds into the extra session, Troy Brouwer collected the puck and skated to the right in his own zone.

He left the puck for Nicklas Backstrom as he skated in front of the Swedish center at the top of the right faceoff circle. Backstrom slowly skated the puck to the left and towards the blue line, while Brouwer charged up the right side of the ice, basically like a running back on a wheel route.

Backstrom held the puck for a full two seconds, and then deftly lifted a beautiful pass through all four Florida defenders in the neutral zone. It landed perfectly on Brouwer's stick with him breaking in alone on the goaltender for the winning goal.

"I knew I was going to pass it to him when he dropped it to me. That's when I knew," Backstrom told "He was coming with good speed, and I was just trying to wait him out until he got in a good position. Yeah, it was a nice play."

Ovechkin answering critics with dominant stretch

Monday, 03.25.2013 / 4:00 PM / Player Profiles

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin has been the target of quite a bit of criticism during the 2012-13 season, as both he and the Washington Capitals were not producing at expected levels.

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 31
SOG: 136 | +/-: -4
The puck is going in the net again for the two-time Hart Trophy winner, and whether or not his play on the ice is approaching previous seasons, Ovechkin's personality was certainly "back" Monday at the team's practice facility.

"Right now I'm scoring goals and I'm king of the world," Ovechkin said. "Couple weeks ago, I was, you know, almost in the toilet. Maybe [they] just forget to flush me. It is kind of a situation where I don't care right now."

His tone was sarcastic and the retort to his critics was biting. While Ovechkin may never again reach the historic heights he found earlier in his career, the shots on goal were still there when the goals weren't earlier in this truncated campaign.

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