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Player Profiles

Fleury's hot play a big reason for Penguins' win streak

Friday, 12.10.2010 / 12:15 PM / Player Profiles

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- A smiling Marc-Andre Fleury turned around to face his locker stall, made a fist and lightly pounded on the smooth, wooden bench.

"Knock on wood," Fleury said, giggling ever so slightly, after making 23 saves in a 5-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

When was the last time the Penguins' goalie can remember being as hot as he is right now?

"I don't know, maybe bantam, something like that," Fleury said after winning his 10th straight game. "It's been a while. I really don't know. I can't remember."

He definitely can remember the last time he was colder than Pittsburgh's December air. It was only about 40 days ago, but Fleury seems as far removed from his horrific start to the 2010-11 NHL season as he is from those bantam days in Sorel, Que.

Hard to overlook Sharp's value to Blackhawks

Wednesday, 12.08.2010 / 9:07 AM / Player Profiles

Brian Hedger - Correspondent


G-A-P: 16-13-29
+/-: -5 | PIM: 8 | PP: 4

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane just shook his head from the Chicago Blackhawks' bench.
Teammate Patrick Sharp had just scored for the 16th time this season in the first period of a Nov. 30 home win against the rival St. Louis Blues. Leading a 2-on-1 rush, Sharp used a few head-and-shoulder fakes to deke Blues goalie Ty Conklin to the ice before pulling the puck to the backhand and scoring from the blue paint.
It was merely the continuation of a red-hot start for the unheralded 28-year old, who leads the Hawks in scoring with 29 points. Over on Chicago's bench sat Kane, the Hawks' second-leading scorer.

Bobrovsky named November's Rookie of the Month

Thursday, 12.02.2010 / 12:05 PM / Player Profiles

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers goalie coach Jeff Reese clearly is the most qualified person to respond to the most asked question in the City of Brotherly Love these days.
"What about Bob?"
After all, it's Reese who usually is the first one fist-bumping his newest protégé, Flyers rookie goalie Sergey "Bob" Bobrovsky, whenever he takes the ice for his morning skate.
"And if I'm not smiling he'll go, 'Jeff, what's the matter? You OK? Happy, happy?'" Reese said with a grin. "Because it seems like he's always happy. He's having the time of his life and he's an absolute pleasure to work with. He loves to be at the rink and loves to work and that's exciting for me."

Williams shows that health is wealth (of goals)

Thursday, 12.02.2010 / 10:00 AM / Player Profiles

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

"My injuries have been … when I do it, I seem to do it good. It was tough. There were definitely tears and thoughts of, 'Will I ever be healthy again? Am I ever going to be back on top where I was? Am I ever going to be a player in this League?' Mentally pushing through, there was obviously a lot of family support, but ultimately it came down to me and I've still got a long way to go."
-- Justin Williams

Justin Williams' hockey career should be defined by a list of accomplishments and awards.

Unfortunately, a more apt description of the dynamic Los Angeles Kings forward's time in the NHL would be a list of injuries.

From the time he broke his finger in his rookie season with the Philadelphia Flyers in January 2001, Williams has been subjected to a seemingly never-ending string of bad luck on the injury front. But every time Williams has managed to remain healthy enough to play 82 games, he's topped the 30-goal mark; however, that's happened just twice in his career.

Now, heading into Thursday's home game against the Florida Panthers (10:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-CA), Williams is on pace to stay healthy and score at least 30 goals with the Kings.

Streaking Crosby November's Star of the Month

Wednesday, 12.01.2010 / 12:05 PM / Player Profiles

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Wayne Gretzky set the NHL record for consecutive games with at least one point when he ripped it up for 153 points in the first 51 games of the 1983-84 season. Mario Lemieux fell five short of Gretzky's mark six seasons later when he put together a run of 46 straight games with at least one point.

Sidney Crosby's current point streak reached 13 games Monday at Madison Square Garden, and he swears he's not gunning to catch his current boss or his former hero because it seems so far-fetched right now.

"Yeah, I don't expect that," Crosby said with a smile. "That's for sure."

Big Buff makes big impact on Thrashers' blue line

Wednesday, 11.24.2010 / 9:26 AM / Player Profiles

John Manasso - Correspondent

DULUTH, Ga. -- Twenty-one games into the NHL season, the marriage of Dustin Byfuglien on defense in the first season of Craig Ramsay's tenure as coach of the Atlanta Thrashers looks like a match made in heaven.

After Byfuglien arrived during the offseason from Stanley Cup champion Chicago via trade, Atlanta elected to move the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder, fresh off a dynamic performance in the playoffs as a forward, back to defense. General manager Rick Dudley made the trade and hired Ramsay within a whirlwind 24-hour period in June.

Maybe somewhere in the hockey savant mind of Dudley, the vision of Byfuglien paired with Ramsay's system, which encourages defensemen to join the rush, such a potent mix had first bloomed. Entering Wednesday's games, Byfuglien ranks third among defensemen in points with 19 (only 15 shy of his total for all of last season), trailing the League co-leaders by a single point and leading all defensemen in goals with seven. The Thrashers host Detroit and Nicklas Lidstrom, one of those 20-point defensemen, on Wednesday.

Iginla rolling again, hopes Flames will follow

Tuesday, 11.23.2010 / 5:37 PM / Player Profiles

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Jarome Iginla met with a confidant within the Calgary Flames organization early last week in order to get his head on straight. Iginla wouldn't say who it was that he spoke to and hinted that it was not the same meeting in which a team official told him not to worry, that they weren't going to ask him to waive his no-trade clause.

This was strictly about hockey, about breaking down Iginla's game to the most simplistic form.

"I had to get my game level back up, so I had to break it down, concentrate on just a couple of things," Iginla told "It helped me focus."

He's been spectacular since taking a good hard look in the proverbial mirror.

Comfortable Howard reaching potential in Motown

Tuesday, 11.23.2010 / 4:18 PM / Player Profiles

Brian Hedger - Correspondent


RECORD: 11-1-2
SV%: .911 | GAA: 2.46 | SO: 1

DETROITJimmy Howard had to laugh when told the new design on his goalie mask might be the coolest in the League.
On the front are two Ford Mustangs separated by white racing stripes down the middle, with an Old English "D" on the chin.
"The one last year had the speedometer on it with all the retired numbers, but people didn't really realize that," said Howard, who's in his second season starting for the Detroit Red Wings. "They just kept asking, 'What's up with the clock?' So, we decided to just get rid of that and go with something new."

Neuvirth has carried minor-league swagger to Caps

Tuesday, 11.23.2010 / 4:03 PM / Player Profiles

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEWARK -- Rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth has been a lot of things for the Washington Capitals so far this season.

A surprise is not one of them.

"We know he can play," captain Alex Ovechkin said. "We trust him."

"He's had a lot of success down in the minors and it's a big transition to do it in the pros, but he's handled himself well," added defenseman Mike Green. "He's not a surprise to me at all."

Neuvirth joined the Capitals on a full-time basis this season after winning back-to-back championships in the American Hockey League for the Hershey Bears while his counterpart, Semyon Varlamov, was building himself an NHL resume.

Humble Giroux states his case with on-ice production

Tuesday, 11.23.2010 / 11:09 AM / Player Profiles

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Claude Giroux offers only a wishy-washy answer when he's asked to tell precisely when his confidence started to grow, precisely when he figured out he could have some serious success at the NHL level.

"At the end of the season last year it just started clicking," is all Giroux offers. "Since then we haven't stopped."

Giroux uses the plural we because he wants to include his teammates, but the Flyers' run to the Stanley Cup Final this past June and their successful first quarter this season has as much to do with Giroux as it does with anyone else in that dressing room.

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