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(Page 3 of 22)
Player Profiles

Kane raises his game with consistent, motivated play

Monday, 03.25.2013 / 3:43 PM / Player Profiles

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau appeared to hit the bulls-eye last week when asked about the stellar play of Chicago Blackhawks star right winger Patrick Kane.

After touting Kane's improved consistency, Boudreau concluded with this gem: "He's getting more like Jonathan Toews every day."

Upon hearing the comparison, Kane initially laughed. He and Toews are still polar opposites on and off the ice. Toews is all business, while Kane has vast reserves of flash and dash. They're the yin and the yang for a Blackhawks team that's sitting atop the National Hockey League standings with 51 points, but Boudreau did make a good point.

Kane has been more consistent this year, especially on defense.

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On verge of assist milestone, Jagr reflects

Monday, 03.25.2013 / 3:16 PM / Player Profiles

Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent

DALLAS -- Jaromir Jagr may not remember who scored when he logged his first NHL assist on Oct. 19, 1990 as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres played to a 4-4 tie at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. But, the current Dallas Stars wing does realize just how huge his next assist will be.

With his next pass that leads to a Dallas goal, Jagr will reach 1,000 assists, a feat achieved by only 11 other players in League history. That milestone moment could come as early as Monday night when the Stars host the Minnesota Wild.

"It's a big achievement. There's no question about it," Jagr said. "Only eleven guys in history have done it. First I have to get there, I guess."

Of the 11 players who have already reached 1,000 assists, the veteran wing has been teammates with four -- Ron Francis (1,247 assists for second place on the list), Mark Messier (1,193, third), Paul Coffey (1,135, fifth) and Mario Lemieux (1,033 tenth).

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Getting Erat going vital to Predators' playoff hopes

Monday, 03.25.2013 / 1:09 PM / Player Profiles

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- With one of his best and most consistent offensive performers over the last decade mired in the worst goal drought of his career, Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz decided to give right wing Martin Erat a pep talk during the team's morning skate on Thursday.

Trotz reminisced with Erat about the arc of where the two men -- and the franchise -- had come. Erat was a long-shot selection in the 1999 NHL Draft, as the Predators selected him in the seventh round, but over time he delivered on the promise he showed Nashville's scouts. Today, Erat ranks second in franchise history in games played (718), goals (163), assists (315) and points (478).

During that span, the expansion franchise has gone from one that ranked among the worst in the Western Conference, to one that scratched and clawed to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, to one of the best regular season teams in the League and a club capable of winning playoff rounds.

"They were hard, but they were fun," Trotz said of the franchise's early years.

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Tlusty flourishing on Hurricanes' top line

Thursday, 03.21.2013 / 2:09 PM / Player Profiles

Kurt Dusterberg - NHL.com Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina Hurricanes forward Jiri Tlusty has spent his six-year professional career split nearly evenly between Toronto and his current team. Given that the beginning of his NHL career was a constant shuttle between the Maple Leafs and the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies, those early years are now disappearing from his view.

"I spent [parts of four] years there, and I'm such a different player," Tlusty said. "I've learned so many things from the roles that I've been playing over here."

The 13th pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, Tlusty always knew expectations were high. Equally adept at setting up a scoring chance and finishing one, he also was willing to do hard work deep in the offensive zone.

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Jets' Kane developing into premier power forward

Thursday, 03.21.2013 / 11:30 AM / Player Profiles

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- This prairie city of 750,000 knows a goal scorer when it sees one.

Bobby Hull put the Winnipeg Jets on the pro hockey map and on an instant path to credibility more than 40 years ago. Then Dale Hawerchuk powered the original Jets in the 1980s in their annual Smythe Division battle to keep pace with the Edmonton Oilers, and a 76-goal 1992-93 rookie season still affords Teemu Selanne rock-star status.

Now Jets left wing Evander Kane is motoring past some initial hurdles in a quest to become the next great sniper in Winnipeg hockey history. All members of the NHL's 500-goal club, Hull used his slap shot, Hawerchuk utilized hockey sense and Selanne's hands make him one of the NHL's all-time pure scorers.

Kane scores his goals in his own fashion, an approach that he brings to many areas of his life. The 21-year-old power forward possesses a combination of speed and sheer power that scouts foresaw when the Atlanta Thrashers made the Vancouver native the fourth pick in the 2009 NHL Draft. Kane possesses excellent speed and hands, and he is as apt to crash opposing nets as he is to unleash one of the NHL's most dangerous wrist shots.

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Larsson steadily growing into role on Devils' blue line

Thursday, 03.21.2013 / 9:39 AM / Player Profiles

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Adam Larsson has earned more responsibility on the penalty kill this season, averaging 1:18 of ice time per game with his team shorthanded. (Photo: Getty Images)

NEWARK, N.J. -- It's never unusual to spot New Jersey Devils defenseman Adam Larsson sitting at his locker stall in a reflective state of mind immediately following a game or practice.

Life as a young defenseman in the NHL is unforgiving; the talent and speed of the players in today's game can create some tense moments for any player backing into position.

Larsson is proof of that, particularly as someone who only began playing in North America as an 18-year-old NHL rookie last season.

"You want to improve every day, and this year it's a little bit unique since we have eight [defensemen] here, so you have to earn a spot in the lineup … it's tough, but also good at the same time," Larsson told NHL.com.

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Green light for Gardiner in return to Toronto

Wednesday, 03.20.2013 / 3:05 PM / Player Profiles

Neil Acharya - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- "Jake Gardiner is free," exclaimed Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek as he walked by the throng of reporters assembled in front of Jake Gardiner's dressing room stall.

Gardiner smirked a little during that moment but was otherwise serious as he answered question after question regarding his return to the Maple Leafs lineup when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday at Air Canada Centre.

Gardiner has been under the spotlight in Toronto ever since his agent, Ben Hankinson, tweeted the words, "#FreeJakeGardiner" after a Maple Leafs loss to the Winnipeg Jets over one week ago.

Jake Gardiner
Defense - TOR
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 4 | +/-: -1
After playing in two games with Toronto, Gardiner was sent to the American Hockey League on Jan. 25, and remained there ever since. One season prior, he was a regular in the Maple Leafs' lineup, recording 30 points in 75 games and averaging 21:35 in ice time as a rookie.

"Right now I'm kind of getting a second chance, so I have to make sure I play well and help get this team a win," Gardiner said. "I feel like I have definitely gotten better each game [in the AHL]. I still think I have a long way to go to be where I want to be. Whether it's every game or every practice, I want to keep getting better."

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Kronwall a steady presence for post-Lidstrom Wings

Wednesday, 03.20.2013 / 2:10 PM / Player Profiles

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- If anybody knows just how much Nicklas Lidstrom did for the Detroit Red Wings, it is countryman and former teammate Niklas Kronwall.

Lidstrom, the Red Wings' legendary former captain, left a gaping hole for Detroit when he retired last spring. He quarterbacked the power play to near perfection, rarely made a mistake defensively and handled all responsibilities that come with wearing the "C" in a Red Wings uniform -- both on the ice and in the locker room.

To his credit, Kronwall has never pretended he could replace Lidstrom and his many qualities. The 32-year-old has, however, filled in nicely as Detroit's top blueliner.

"He's in a tough spot," Jonathan Ericsson, Kronwall's defense partner, told NHL.com. "He's absolutely our No. 1 defensemen and he's got some big shoes to fill ... but you know, it's Nick Lidstrom and you can't really do that. Nick's got what, seven Norris trophies? That pretty much says it all, but without [Kronwall], it would've been tough to be where we're at."

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Career path beginning to pay off for Blues' Allen

Tuesday, 03.19.2013 / 9:00 AM / Player Profiles

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- When Jake Allen was a teenager, he had quite the dilemma on his hands. It had nothing to do with everyday teen issues.

Allen was faced with the prospect of sticking with hockey or trying to become the next great golfing sensation.

As it turned out, becoming the next Tiger Woods only was a dream, apparently.

"I wish," Allen told NHL.com. "I love golf. I absolutely love it, but you finally have to pick one sport and go with it. I think I finally realized when I was like 15, I sort of stuck with hockey and it's worked out."

Worked out may be understating it a bit for the Fredericton, New Brunswick native, who not only has stabilized the St. Louis Blues' goaltending situation, but has become somewhat of a fan sensation in the Gateway City.

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Chara still striving to improve, earn Norris attention

Sunday, 03.17.2013 / 1:00 AM / Player Profiles

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- Even with a Norris Trophy, a Stanley Cup championship and multiple All-Star and Olympic team selections in his past, Zdeno Chara still strives to improve.

And as much has he utilizes an aggressive workout regimen, atomic slap shot and brute strength as the NHL's tallest player ever (6-foot-9) to achieve his goals, the Boston Bruins star defenseman uses a tool many mere mortals also put to use when they need to remember things or organize thoughts.

Chara keeps a notebook every day in an effort to make sure he continues getting better.

"I try to write down things that I think I can do better or more adjust to either new rules or the game," Chara said. "Certain things that maybe I can back off a little bit or others than I can work more on.

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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp