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Flyers' Lecavalier returns from back injury

Saturday, 12.21.2013 / 7:18 PM / News

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS - Philadelphia Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier made an earlier-than-expected return from injury Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Lecavalier was expected to be out until early January with a non-displaced back fracture and had not played since Nov. 30 against the Nashville Predators. He skated with the team Saturday morning and was not scheduled to play, but Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said prior to the game that Lecavalier would replace forward Steve Downie, who will miss seven to 10 days with an upper-body injury.


Daily Primer Dec. 21: Winter Classic warm-up

Saturday, 12.21.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The next time the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs get together, they'll do it in front of about 107,000 fans outdoors at Michigan Stadium. For the dress rehearsal to the Jan. 1 Bridgestone 2014 NHL Winter Classic, "only" 19,000 or so fans will pack Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

The Original Six rivals will face each other for the first time since Jan. 7, 2012. They're coming into the game off slump-breaking victories two nights earlier: Toronto beat the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 in a shootout; Detroit defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2 in overtime.

The cameras that are following both teams for HBO's "24/7" series will be in evidence on both sides, though the players will try to ignore them.

"I don't think we're focusing on the Winter Classic as a group, we're focusing on tomorrow's game with Detroit," said Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who's optimistic he'll be able to dress despite a lower-body injury. "I think right now as a team we need those wins, and [Thursday] night was a really big win for our confidence. We can be happy but not satisfied, because we haven't won too many games lately."


Red Wings' Jurco finding new ways to work magic

Saturday, 12.21.2013 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- The video is entitled "Tomas Jurco the Magician" and it's approaching 360,000 views on YouTube.

It shows Jurco breezing through an impressive set of gravity-defying puck tricks at the 2011 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, five months before the Detroit Red Wings selected him with the 35th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft.

Of those who watched it, more than 500 gave it a "thumbs up." Only a handful thought it deserved a "thumbs down," and it wouldn't be a surprise to discover Jurco was one of them.

"When I was younger I did all those tricks and a couple years ago I told myself, 'That's enough,' because everybody was thinking I was just a 'YouTube guy,' and it really [ticked] me off," said the 6-foot-3, 193-pound forward, who has played his first three NHL games thanks to a spate of injuries in Detroit. "I stopped doing those tricks and stuff and I just tried to be more focused on driving to the net a little more and doing that kind of stuff."


Tapped In: Jackman talks family, four-legged friends

Saturday, 12.21.2013 / 3:00 AM / Tapped In

Kathryn Tappen - NHL.com Contributor

One of the toughest competitors on the ice, defenseman Barret Jackman has followed his Calder Trophy-winning season in 2002-03 with more than 640 games played for the St. Louis Blues and he's the longest-tenured professional athlete in St. Louis. Jackman recently discussed his active involvement with animal rescue in St. Louis, the reason behind wearing No. 5, and the benefits of Elf on a Shelf in his household.

Kathryn Tappen: Born in Trail, British Columbia, you grew up just one town over in Fruitvale. Describe what it was like there.

Barret Jackman: Home of Adam Deadmarsh! It's a real small town. You don't do much besides play hockey and baseball. It was a fun upbringing in a small town where you can roam free and do what you want, and not have to worry about all the things you have to worry about now. I have two sisters, Michelle who is two years younger, and an older sister Danielle who is two years older.


Capitals' Ovechkin scores 400th goal

Saturday, 12.21.2013 / 12:19 AM / News

Kurt Dusterberg - NHL.com Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals became the 89th player in NHL history to reach the 400-goal mark when he scored at 19:35 of the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.

Ovechkin scored into an empty net to seal a 4-2 win for the Capitals.

"I didn't feel like I would be in this position when I started playing in the NHL," he said. "Of course I wanted to be, but thanks goes to my coaches and [teammates]. Without them, I can't reach those numbers."

Ovechkin's 400th goal came in his 634th regular-season game; he is the sixth-fastest player to reach the milestone.

Predators delay start to next stage in Rinne's rehab

Friday, 12.20.2013 / 8:50 PM / News


Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne will not begin the next stage of his recovery from a hip infection, as was targeted earlier this month, the team said in a statement Friday.

The target date for Rinne to begin more strenuous activity was Dec. 20, general manager David Poile said Dec. 5.

"However, as we have realized and learned throughout this process, the recovery and rehabilitation from a bacterial infection does not involve a specific timetable. It does come with a degree of uncertainty," the statement Friday said.

"To that end, and in taking every possible precaution to ensure the bacterial infection is managed and controlled with a goal of returning Pekka to full strength, the doctors have recommended Pekka remain on limited activity for two weeks before considering more strenuous activity in his recovery and rehabilitation."


Coyotes say Doan has Rocky Mountain fever

Friday, 12.20.2013 / 7:00 PM / News


Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who hasn't played since Dec. 4 due to what was an unidentified illness, has symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, general manager Don Maloney said Thursday.

"Our medical team is on top of it," Maloney told Azcentral.com. "Every day he seems like he's getting a little better and a little more energy and has started to exercise a little more. We're encouraged. He's trending in a positive manner and for us. It's just going to take time."


Blue Jackets activate Gaborik, Wisniewski

Friday, 12.20.2013 / 4:28 PM / News


The Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday activated forward Marian Gaborik and defenseman James Wisniewski off injured reserve and they will be available when the team completes a home-and-home against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday at Nationwide Arena.


Maple Leafs adjust to life in front of the cameras

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- When the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at Air Canada Centre (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC), it will be a warm-up act for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1.

Part of that process leading up to the Winter Classic for each team is to be a part of HBO’s "24/7" documentary series. That means having cameras following them around to practices, meetings, games, even their home life.

For Maple Leafs players and the coaches, it calls for an adjustment to their normal routines.

"It's unusual," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's not normal what we're living right now. I've talked about white noise and I've talked about distraction and this is just another one for us. It's hard in some ways to blame people for not paying attention to it or not being attached to it, but on the other hand we have a job to do.”

The HBO cameras started following the Maple Leafs on Dec. 4. Since then, they have gone 4-5-0.


Assault charge against Colorado's Varlamov dropped

Friday, 12.20.2013 / 4:04 PM / News


A misdemeanor assault charge against Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov was dropped Friday at the request of prosecutors.

The judge dismissed the case against Varlamov, 25, after prosecutors filed a motion Friday to dismiss the remaining misdemeanor assault charge because further investigation led prosecutors to believe they could not prove the case at trial.

"That's not to say we don't believe our victim," district attorney spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said in the Denver Post. "It became clear we didn't have a belief we could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt."

Varlamov was arrested on Oct. 30 for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend.

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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory