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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

The Pittsburgh Penguins enter the second half of the season trying keep pace in what has become a heated race in the Metropolitan Division. The Washington Capitals entered the All-Star break with points in eight of 10 games and are one of four teams vying for a division title.

Pittsburgh (27-12-8) has earned at least one point in eight of its past 10 games, including a 5-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. Washington (24-14-9), which lost its fourth straight game (0-3-1), 4-3 at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, fell five points behind the second-place Penguins in the Metropolitan.

The Capitals will try to get back on track when they host the Penguins in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader at Verizon Center (NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN1, 8 p.m. ET).

On the West Coast, the Chicago Blackhawks will face the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center (NBCSN, SN, SN1, 10:30 p.m. ET). Chicago (30-15-2) won back-to-back games entering the break and is tied for second place in the Central Division. The Kings (20-15-12) have won twice in their past 10 and entered the second half on the outside of the Stanley Cup Playoff race.


Kings need another fast finish to make playoffs

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Recent history shows that the Los Angeles Kings can bank on a strong finish to ramp into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They finished the 2011-12 season with a 9-2-3 run to squeak in and went on to win their first Cup. Last season they went 15-6-2 after the Sochi Olympics en route to their second Cup.

But Kings captain Dustin Brown acknowledged that history works against them as they regroup for the post-All Star break run to the finish, starting Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Staples Center (NBCSN, SN, SN1, 10:30 p.m. ET).

"The bigger challenge is [that] in 2012 we were the L.A. Kings who hadn't won anything," Brown said. "Now it makes it harder. Everyone's ready for you. Everyone knows the position we're in and I'm sure there's a lot of teams that would love to take points from us and prevent us from doing what we want to do."

The Kings (52 points) return to action out of a playoff spot. Coach Darryl Sutter always points to the 100-point threshold for making the postseason; to reach that mark the Kings would have to win two out of three the rest of the way.


Penguins coach Johnston expects improvement

Wednesday, 01.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Through the Pittsburgh Penguins' first 47 games last season, they sat atop the Metropolitan Division with a 16-point lead on the second-place Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins had an eight-point advantage on the Boston Bruins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and they had gone 7-2-1 in their previous 10 games despite being ravaged by injuries through the first few months of the season.

Behind the bench was Dan Bylsma, the winningest coach in Penguins history.

Pittsburgh is again near the top of the division and conference standings through 47 games this season under new coach Mike Johnston, but heading into Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA, SN1) success hasn't come as easily as it seemed to last season.


Penguins acquire Lapierre from Blues for Goc

Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 11:19 PM / News

Wes Crosby - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired forward Maxim Lapierre from the St. Louis Blues for forward Marcel Goc, the teams announced Tuesday.

Lapierre, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound center, had two goals and nine points in 45 games with St. Louis this season. He has 65 goals and 137 points in 579 games of his 10-year NHL career.

The 29-year-old could add a bit of size and grit to a Penguins lineup that general manager Jim Rutherford said could benefit from those assets the rest of the season.

"He’s a big guy. He plays with energy," Rutherford said. "He plays with an edge at times. And he’s averaged roughly nine, 10 goals a year, so he’s capable of scoring a little bit. So I think this is a good addition for us … It certainly seems we’re getting into more physical games than I would’ve expected, so he will help that group of guys that we already have. The [Steve] Downies, the [Zach] Sills and [Robert] Bortuzzos and those guys."


Forward Radek Dvorak announces retirement

Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 7:21 PM / News

Forward Radek Dvorak announced his retirement Tuesday.

He played 1,260 NHL games with eight teams, including 60 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season.

"It was an honor for me to play in the best league in the world for 18 seasons," Dvorak, 37, said in a statement released through the NHL Players' Association. "I would like to thank all the organizations, coaches and teammates I played for or with. Also, thank you to my parents, wife and kids who have always supported me and helped me throughout my whole career. At last I would like to thank my fans who believed in and followed me all these years."


Devils recall Brodeur as 'one of greatest goalies ever'

Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 6:30 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- The news that St. Louis Blues goaltender Martin Brodeur is ready to retire didn't take many of his former New Jersey Devils teammates by surprise.

Those who played with Brodeur in New Jersey discussed one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history after practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Tuesday.

"I mean, hockey had to change the rules because of Marty, and that's impressive," forward Scott Gomez said. "I got two Stanley Cup rings because of the guy. Look at the banners of [Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko] and Marty is right up there when you think about the New Jersey Devils; he was part of the core group and he'll go down as one of the greatest goalies ever."


Czech star Rucinsky, 43, earns national team tryout

Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 5:44 PM / News

Michael Langr - Correspondent

Former NHL forward Martin Rucinsky has been invited to the Czech Republic national team training camp and will play in two games against Russia in February.

Rucinsky, who turns 44 in March, could play for the Czechs in the 2015 IIHF World Championship this May in Prague, Czech Republic if the February games go well.

Still active in the Czech professional league, Rucinsky was invited to the tryout by national team coach Vladimir Ruzicka.

"The invitation to the national team is always an honor. And especially when I got the invitation from Vlada [Ruzicka], whom I never can say no," said Rucinsky, who hasn't represented the Czech Republic since the 2006 Turin Olympics, where he won a bronze medal.


Kings' Richards clears waivers, assigned to AHL

Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 5:42 PM / News

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The Los Angeles Kings assigned center Mike Richards to the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League on Tuesday.

The move was expected after Richards cleared waivers but the repercussions were felt in the Kings dressing room.

"We've got a pretty close team here, so anytime anybody leaves, it's always tough," said Jeff Carter, a close friend of Richards who played with him for the Philadelphia Flyers.

"We understand that those things happen. He brought a lot to this room that, unless you're in this room, you don't see. It was tough. It was tough on him too. But it's an opportunity for someone else to step up and some of the younger guys to play a little more and become leaders in the room."


Martin Brodeur to retire, join Blues front office

Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 3:58 PM / News

Louie Korac - Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Goaltender Martin Brodeur, whose 691 wins and 125 shutouts are most in NHL history, will announce his retirement and join the front office of the St. Louis Blues, the team announced Tuesday.

The Blues will hold a press conference at Scottrade Center on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET with Brodeur, who signed a one-year incentive-laden contract with the Blues on Dec. 2 after a knee injury to starting goalie Brian Elliott left them short at the position but had been on a leave of absence.

Brodeur will be joined by Blues general manager Doug Armstrong and Blues Hall of Fame members Bernie Federko, Brett Hull and Al MacInnis.

Brodeur, 42, holds multiple NHL records that may never be broken, including wins (691) and shutouts (125). His final shutout came Dec. 29 for the Blues in a 3-0 victory against the Colorado Avalanche, coached by Patrick Roy, whose wins record Brodeur broke.

Brodeur finishes his 22-year NHL career with a 691-397-176 record, a 2.24 goals-against average and .912 save percentage in 1,266 appearances, all but seven coming with the New Jersey Devils. He holds regular-season NHL goaltending records for wins, shutouts, games played and minutes played (74,438), and in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs he ranks first in starts (204) and shutouts (24) and second in wins (113).


Analysis: Brodeur defined era with staggering totals

Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 3:34 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

There is one name at the top of every compiled statistical category for goaltenders in the NHL record book, and that name is Martin Brodeur.

There are others who have a stake to the claim as greatest goaltender in NHL history, but no one is close to Brodeur in the categories that involve longevity, and it is possible no one ever will be.

The raw numbers are incredible. He retired Tuesday with 691 wins, 140 more than any other goaltender. There are 19 goaltenders enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame who did not win half as many games as Brodeur, a feat that rivals Cy Young in baseball.

Brodeur stopped 3,121 more shots than any other goaltender. He has the most minutes played, the most losses, and the most shots faced, all by significant margins.

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Quote of the Day

I'm very excited about what happened today. We've worked on this deal with Toronto for a month, or over a month. It got a little bit of legs on draft day, but it really heated up last night, and we were able to complete the deal today.

— Penguins GM Jim Rutherford on Phil Kessel, who he acquired from the Maple Leafs in a trade on Wednesday