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Iginla will go it alone in Montreal

by Phil Coffey
"Shhhhh. Be very quiet," as the inestimable Elmer Fudd used to say, "we're going goal hunting."

Now Elmer was more worried about rascally rabbits than goals, but in Jarome Iginla's case, this is all about goals, or 1 goal.

What Iginla doesn't want to talk about is that he is yet to score a goal in his previous four appearances at the NHL All-Star Game. So, perhaps this season's game in Montreal on Jan. 25 will be the charm. After all, it isn't like the All-Star Game is a tight, defensive struggle.

"I've been goal-less in the past," Iginla smiled as he spoke with the Calgary Herald's Jean Lefebvre. "I'm not going to talk about it this year, this is the last time I'm going to mention it. Maybe this year, I'll get one."

Even if he doesn't score, having Iginla around the All-Star Game makes sense. He is a bright, engaging guy who reinforces the point that the NHL has some great players who double as great people.

And there is no mistaking his enthusiasm to make the trip to Montreal, passing up on a few days off.

"You know, we get weekends off in the summer," Iginla said.  "Careers go too quick and I'm very thankful for the opportunity.  I'm thrilled to get an opportunity to go there. I've never been to an All-Star Game in Canada. Every one I've been to in the past has been a lot of fun."

A career honor -- The Dallas Stars' Mike Modano is another veteran player who will happily make the trip to Montreal to don a Western Conference All-Star jersey. Modano was named as a Western Conference reserve, making it the ninth time he has been asked to play.

"It feels good," Modano told Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News. "My first one ever was in Montreal, and this will probably be my last one ever, so it's kind of a neat finish. There's nothing more fun than an All-Star Game in Canada."

"It's a great honor for him," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "He's a guy who's been a real consistent performer for us. He looks like he's having fun out there. He realizes he's not a young guy anymore and he's just enjoying the game."

All-star reactions -- Being named to the All-Star teams provoked some interesting comments from the players involved. Here are a few.

"It's a nice honor for sure, hopefully they forgot my nickname is Lou over there, as in Louuuuuuuuu." -- Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray or returning to Montreal.

"It probably won't be the funnest night, but it's something you'll remember when you're done. It can be your first and last, so you have to enjoy being there." -- Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom on the unfortunate fate that awaits All-Star goalies.

"We all knew it was coming, the way he was playing for us and the way he's stepped up this year. I'm really proud of him. He's really come into his own and deserves it more than anyone." -- Nashville Predators captain Jason Arnott on the selection of teammate Shea Weber.

"I'm a big Shane Doan fan. I played with him here in '99, and he's gone through some tough times, but one thing I'm glad for Shane, he's got to represent his country, Olympics, world championships." -- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet on Shane Doan's selection to the Western Conference All-Star team.

"I'm very excited. Anytime you represent your team, especially in Montreal, it's going to be fun and obviously it's going to be a great atmosphere. My family and I are going to enjoy it big-time. My kids are at the age when they're more excited to meet their heroes ... they like to see these guys more than they do their dad." -- St. Louis Blues captain Keith Tkachuk

Fixing things -- The Atlanta Journal Constitution asked several members of the Thrashers what needs to be done to get on the winning track this season. Here are the responses.

"The same effort level [in every game]. That's all you can ask. Start from that, and hopefully the rest will follow." -- Colby Armstrong

"Spending less time on our end of the ice is one of the biggest things. ... When you spend 25 of the first 35 minutes in your end, in the third period when you need a goal you've got guys who look dead tired." -- Ron Hainsey

"We need to play a better team game. Sometimes individuals try to do too much, and then you end up doing less. That's a pattern you see when you struggle." -- Mathieu Schneider

"We have to talk more out there. This is one of the quietest groups I've ever played with. It's tough when you get the puck down low and you don't know if a guy's coming in on you or where your support is. ... It goes a long, long way when you have someone talking to you." -- Jason Williams

Gold medal reward -- Team Canada defenseman Keith Aulie, whose courage in saving his father from drowning are inspirational got a nice reward from the Calgary Flames in a entry-level contract.

The Flames drafted Aulie with the 116th selection in the 2007 Entry Draft. Aulie, who is the captain of the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings, had 1 assist in five games at the 2009 World Junior Championships as Canada won its fifth straight title.

If you want to relive the Canadian's heroics, check out our Adam Kimelman's excellent coverage of the tournament here.

Panic? Why panic? -- Sometimes you have to wonder. As we pounded away on the keyboard here, the Boston Bruins are the surprise team of the NHL, sitting atop the Eastern Conference with a 29-7-4 record and an 8-2 mark in their last 10 games.
But since those two losses came back-to-back, a 1-0 loss to Minnesota and a 4-2 setback to Buffalo, both at home, coach Claude Julien was asked if it was time to panic.

In a word, Huh?

"There is no panic, there really isn't," Julien told reporters. "There is reason for concern that our game is slipping, but there's no panic. We just have to take that concern, address it and move our way back up. We haven't lost our confidence. We just don't have our confidence at the level we did when we were on that roll. ...

"This is just one of those situations (in which) you have to play a little smarter, really minimize the mistakes and work hard at not giving the other teams scoring chances, and at creating them at the other end without getting overly fancy."

Now as we all know, coaches are a different breed. They need to keep the pedal to the metal, keep their players focused and all that, so it isn't unusual to hear them cry "The sky is falling," when the rest of us are blinded by the sunny day. So it was refreshing to hear Julien talk about what adjustments the Bruins had to make rather than recite a "batten down the hatches" speech.

"We looked at some of the things that have been slipping from our game and addressed those," Julien said. "Again, without panicking -- it's just two losses -- we've just got to find our game again and work hard at it. Through the course of the season, we've talked about having the highs and the lows. You want to minimize the lows. Sometimes it's about working harder and keeping your game simpler.

"When confidence is high, you can do almost anything. The guys have shown that. Right now, (what's needed is) a simpler and more straightforward game."

Now, if the Bruins were to keep losing, say drop four in a row, then all bets are off!

Red Wings step up -- You probably have all heard the story now about how some jackass posing as a security guard took a Henrik Zetterberg stick away from a young fan at the Winter Classic.

Well, the good news for the 14-year-old is he will get a replacement.

Kalan Plew told the Chicago Tribune he rushed over to high-five the Red Wings as they left Wrigley Field after beating the Blackhawks on New Year's Day. Zetterberg made eye contact, Plew told the Chicago Tribune, "kind of winked. Then he gave me his stick."

As the kid left to meet his father, he was stopped by a guy in a security guard's uniform, who said he couldn't have the stick without his parents around, and it would be held for him.

When Plew returned with his dad, the stick and guy were gone.

"I appreciate it," Plew said. "I feel great, but it's just not the same."

Hope the "security guard" chokes on the stick.

Even coaches can learn
-- Credit Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet for being a smart guy. This is his first trip behind an NHL bench as a head coach and he has kept an open mind about the approach he must take to get his team on track.

Tocchet told Damain Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times that he had to learn to not take things personally.

"I personally was getting too negative," Tocchet said. "Instead of being positive in certain situations, I would take the negative route because the losses were bugging me. As a coach, the one thing you have to learn is when to push the buttons."

Since taking over for Barry Melrose earlier this season, Tocchet has earned the trust of his players, and the Lightning are slowly turning things around.

"I think they've got their coach," veteran Mark Recchi told Cristodero. "They don't have to look any further. He's handled himself very well. He has the respect of the players, and he deserves it."

"I've been very pleased with the team's response to him," general manager Brian Lawton said. "It bodes well for the future."
Another aspect of coaching Tocchet has learned quickly is his assistant coaches, in this case Mike Sullivan, Wes Walz and Cap Raeder, are there for a reason -- to help.

"Some coaches, they want to do it all. That's not my style," Tocchet said. "I utilize those guys big time. Mike Sullivan can run a meeting. Some coaches always have to have the last word. I really don't."

After Tocchet took over, the team went 2-9-5. That is when he became too negative and that negativity was creating an unhappy bench.

"I had to change my attitude and enjoy the ride more," he said.

And that applies to practice too.

"I may not be happy, but I take the approach of it's a challenge," he said. "How do you get this guy to play better? How do you get the team to play better? That's what I've enjoyed most."

At first glance, a pass -- With one game under his belt, Mats Sundin can now start to focus on life as a Vancouver Canuck. He played 15 minutes against the Oilers on Wednesday night and seemingly answered all the questions about leaving Toronto for Vancouver. Heck, the rest should be easy.

"It felt better physically than I would have expected," Sundin told a horde of reporters. "The thing you feel that is missing is your hands and your timing with shots and all that, but you have to play games to get that back. It's nice to get that first game out of the way. It's nice to be part of a win my first game."

Sundin said there were a number of moments during the game when it was apparent that he hadn't played for nearly half a season.

"There was more than one," Sundin said. "It's just power play and stuff, timing. When you try to make a pass over a stick, you can tell. It felt exactly like where you are at the start of a season, where you're trying to get that back.

"That feeling you get before a National Hockey League game is tough to get anywhere else," he said. "It was really exciting. I'm very glad to be back playing again. Hockey's the biggest part of my life, and it will be the rest of my life.

"At the bottom of my heart, I'm happy to get a chance to play again in the National Hockey League and compete at my age and my stage of my career. I realized if I didn't play this year, my career would have been over. Just to get a chance to play the rest of the season, I'm excited about it."

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