Hockey Today - November 30

Hockey Today - November 30

Hockey Today - November 30
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SCOREBOARD

Montreal at New Jersey (7 p.m. EST). The Devils try to push their winning streak to six games when they host the Canadiens.

STARS

-Martin Erat, Predators, scored with 22.2 seconds left to give Nashville a 6-5 victory over Ottawa.

-Roberto Luongo, Canucks, made 26 saves for his third straight shutout and Vancouver defeated Columbus 2-0.

-Zdeno Chara, Bruins, scored two power-play goals to help Boston edge Florida 4-3.

-Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Ducks, made 38 saves and Anaheim beat Calgary 4-1.

-Jiri Hudler, Red Wings, had a goal and an assist in Detroit's 4-2 win over Tampa Bay.

THREE IN A ROW

Vancouver's Roberto Luongo set personal and franchise records with his third straight shutout, making 26 saves in a 2-0 win over Columbus on Thursday night. Luongo, who began the streak against Chicago and Anaheim, hasn't allowed a goal in 193 minutes, 59 seconds. Luongo, who had consecutive shutouts three times with Florida, passed his personal best, set with the Panthers in 2004, at 8:39 of the third period. He then eclipsed a 32-year-old franchise record at 10:22, moving past Ken Lockett, a backup who played 55 games over two seasons and set the mark in April 1975.

APPROVED

The NHL's board of governors approved the sale of the Nashville Predators and changed the league's scheduling format Thursday night to allow every team to face each other at least once every season. After a three-year experiment in developing rivalries in hockey's far-flung outposts, the NHL voted to go back to the scheduling format used before the 2004-05 lockout, most notably decreasing the current eight games against every team's divisional opponents to six. The sale of the Predators was awarded to an investment group led by David Freeman, the CEO of a venture capital firm.

FINALLY

The New York Rangers defeated the Islanders for the first time in four tries this season after their 4-2 victory on Thursday night. The Rangers were 3-8-1 in the past 12 matchups dating to April 11, 2006.

SLUMPING

Tampa Bay has dropped six in a row after a 4-2 defeat at Detroit on Thursday night. ... Ottawa's losing streak reached five games after a 6-5 defeat to Nashville. The Senators tied the game with 46 seconds left, but allowed the game-winner 23 seconds later. After racing to a 15-2 mark, the Senators are 1-4-2 in their past seven games. ... New York Islanders captain Bill Guerin does not have a point in his past 12 games after a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

SWEET SIXTEEN

Detroit goalie Chris Osgood improved to 16-0 lifetime against Tampa Bay after making 21 saves in Thursday night's 4-2 win. Osgood is also 12-1-1 on the season.

LONGEVITY

Jarome Iginla played in his 804th career game Thursday night, moving him past Hall of Fame defenseman Al MacInnis into first place on Calgary's career list. Iginla ranks second in goals (337), third in points (698) and fourth in assists (361).

SNAPPED

Florida's winning streak ended at a season-best four games after a 4-3 defeat to Boston on Thursday night. The loss also prevented the Panthers from breaking the .500 mark for the first time this season (12-13-1).

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Ilya Kovalchuk scored his NHL-leading 20th goal in Atlanta's 4-2 loss to Toronto on Thursday night. The goal 16:20 into the second, breaking an offensive drought for the Thrashers that lasted seven-plus periods and covered 166 minutes. Kovalchuk has 12 points, including six goals, in his past seven games.

AN INNOCENT MAN

Blackhawks forward Tuomo Ruutu was mistakenly arrested and detained briefly as a suspect in a robbery attempt in a Chicago suburb, according to authorities. He was released after indulging an officer's request for an autograph. Bensenville police arrested the 24-year-old Ruutu on Wednesday because he matched the description of a robbery suspect, said Bensenville Village Manager James Johnson.

CAPITAL PAIN

Washington forward Boyd Gordon will miss at least the next two games with an undisclosed injury, and captain Chris Clark was listed as questionable for Friday's game at Carolina. Gordon scored in the shootout during Washington's loss to Florida on Wednesday night, but did not skate Thursday. Clark was listed day to day after missing the end of Wednesday's game with a groin injury.

SPEAKING

''He said he is going to take my stitches out. I think that was stupid. I think he could show a little bit of respect, but he didn't. I cannot respect him.'' - New York Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek on what Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg said to him during a scuffle between the teams on Thursday night. Martinek received 15 stitches on the left side of his face after being cut by a skate blade Wednesday night against Ottawa. Hollweg denied the allegations.

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Friday's NHL matchup betting notes
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Montreal Canadiens at New Jersey Devils

New Jersey has won its last eight meetings with Montreal dating to a 3-2 road loss on March 20, 2004. Since that defeat, the Devils have outscored the Canadiens 29-16.

Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes lost to the Capitals 5-2 on Saturday bringing their season series record to 1-2 in three games against the Caps.

Dallas Stars at Pittsburgh Penguins

The Stars and Penguins have played just once since 2004, a 4-3 shootout win for the Penguins last season in Dallas. This is their only meeting this season.

St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild


The Blues defeated the Wild just over four weeks ago but have not won two straight over Minnesota since March 2003.

Phoenix Coyotes at Chicago Blackhawks

Phoenix went 3-1-0 versus Chicago last season, but fell 7-5 to the Blackhawks at home on March 10 in the teams' most recent meeting.

Anaheim Ducks at Edmonton

Anaheim (12-10-4) has just one win in 14 games in Edmonton since the start of the 1999-2000 season, going 1-10-3 over that span. The lone victory came was a 3-2 shootout win on Nov. 28, 2006.

Colorado Avalanche at San Jose Sharks

San Jose lost 6-2 in Colorado on Oct. 7 in the only meeting between these teams this season.

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Capitals forwards Clark, Gordon expected to miss Friday's game
ASSOCIATED PRESS

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals forward Boyd Gordon will miss at least the next two games with an undisclosed injury, and captain Chris Clark was listed as questionable for Friday's game at the Carolina Hurricanes.

Gordon scored in the shootout during Washington's loss to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night. He did not skate Thursday, and the Capitals did not say where or when he was hurt. He was listed as week-to-week and won't play Friday or at Florida on Saturday.

Clark was listed as day-to-day after missing the end of Wednesday's game with a groin injury.

Another forward, Alexander Semin, is expected to play Friday after missing time because of an ankle injury.

The Capitals, who have the NHL's worst record at 8-15-2, likely will recall someone from their AHL affiliate before Friday's game.

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Walz's absence a mystery

Jacques Lemaire is not generally at a loss for words, even in his second language. But when asked Wednesday if he expects center Wes Walz back, the Minnesota Wild coach took a good 20 seconds to express a complete thought.

Finally, he kicked out, "I haven't thought about that."

It has been 29 days since Walz mysteriously left the team he has been with since 2000, and Wednesday's game against Phoenix officially puts him over for having missed more games (12) than he has played (11) this season.

If anyone has heard from the team's erstwhile center and alternate captain, they're not saying. Players, coaches and management insist they know little to nothing about why Walz is not here, despite being paid his $900,000 salary.

"Guys don't talk to him, guys don't know what's going on," center Eric Belanger said. "You're hoping he's fine, that everything's fine. At the same time, we're here and we have a job to do. But we're still hoping he comes back, because he's a good player."

That looks more and more unlikely as each day passes, though it's hard to speculate when there is literally no information. Walz is a non-roster player whose salary does not count against the cap, though his absence leaves a hole at center, a position that has gotten thinner since Mikko Koivu's left leg was broken Nov. 16 in Vancouver.

Lemaire said he is not planning for the veteran to return, "because he's not here and maybe there's a chance he won't be here. There is a chance he won't
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be here, so I can't say, 'When we have Wes ...' and build on that. He may never come."

Schaefer back: Goaltender Josh Harding was placed on injured reserve Wednesday because of a head injury suffered in a Nov. 21 loss to Vancouver. The move freed space for winger Pavol Demitra to return from a groin injury.

It also moved Nolan Schaefer one step closer to playing his first game for the Wild. Schaefer signed a two-year contract this summer, mostly to be the top goalie in Houston. But he has a decent NHL pedigree, a 5-1 record and 1.88 goals-against average with the San Jose Sharks in 2005-06.

That's roughly the kind of numbers Harding had last season before earning the backup job with the Wild this season. Schaeffer went on to play parts of two seasons in Cleveland; Worcester, Mass.; Hershey, Pa.; and Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

"It's a little bit frustrating," Schaeffer said. "There's a lot of guys in the league, and there's a lot of young goalies that get that chance when they've sort of proven themselves in that amount of games, the same as I did.''

Schaeffer backed up Niklas Backstrom against the Coyotes and will continue in that role until Harding comes off IR.

Briefly: Defenseman Sean Hill sent two Phoenix players off the ice with big checks, Jeff Carcillo with a hip check in the second period, and Peter Mueller with a shoulder check into the boards in the third. Hill was shaken up himself when former Gopher Keith Ballard checked him hard into the boards with 50 seconds left and Hill had to be helped off the ice. The Wild, however, said Hill is OK and expected to practice today.

-- Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky had high praise for Mueller, a 19-year-old rookie from Bloomington who is 6-4-10 in 20 games this season.

"For a guy who could still be playing junior, we're really happy with his progression, and we're happy with his production," Gretzky said.

twincities.com

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Kipper 'injury' still a mystery

There's still confusion about the circumstances surrounding Miikka Kiprusoff's premature exit from Tuesday's contest at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.

Coach Mike Keenan said he was concerned about the netminder's health after Kiprusoff took a Nicklas Lidstrom blast upside the head.

Kiprusoff himself insists he was feeling fine and that there was no need for his corner to chuck in the white towel.
The one thing both men will certainly agree on is that they'd love to see nothing but complete games from the Finn the rest of the way.

"When you get pulled," Kiprusoff said Wednesday afternoon, "it's because you're not doing your job. Hopefully, it's the last time it happens this season."

Three times this season Kiprusoff has received the beckoning finger from Keenan, although on each occasion the coach has pleaded mitigating circumstances - the injury concern Tuesday and an attempt to shake up his lacklustre club on previous hooking occasions.

"When you're a goalie and you get pulled," said Kiprusoff, "you're usually not the happiest person. But it's not your call. It's always the coach's call."

As for Tuesday's mask-cracker, the Finn reported no lingering effects.
"It was a pretty hard shot," he conceded, "but I'm all right. Nothing serious. I went to the bench and I said, 'I'm OK,' but it was a hard shot and many guys thought I was a little out, but actually I felt pretty good."

Keenan, on the other hand, thought he detected Kiprusoff wasn't quite right.
"When he went back in (after a brief delay while his mask was inspected for damage) he let the first shot (by Tomas Holmstrom) in and he hesitated a bit and I thought, 'Well, maybe he is hurt and he doesn't even realize it.' He could even have had his bell rung with that shot - it had a lot on it. There's a saying in hockey, where sometimes players say: 'Shoot to score and I you don't shoot to score, shoot to kill.' Well Lidstrom was shooting to kill. I think it stunned him a bit and he didn't even realize it."

The main reason the entire matter is the subject of conjecture is that despite better results in recent weeks, Kiprusoff's overall numbers remain subpar.

"I suspect he will play to his expectations and to the expectations everyone has of him in the hockey industry," predicted Keenan. "I think he would be the first to admit he hasn't done that (yet)."

"I think I can play better," confirmed Kiprusoff. "It's a lot of little things (responsible for his early struggles). I've been working with (goaltending coach) David Marcoux in practice and I believe it's going to be better."

Keenan is even looking for outside help.
"I'm going to ask Dave Marcoux to listen to the scouting report from John Vanbiesbrouck (the former Rangers, Panthers and Flyers netminder who is now a Versus analyst)," said the coach, "because John commented quite a bit about his goaltending style and ability (during the telecast of the Flames-Wings contest). Those are probably comments that only a goaltender of his ability could have made and did make."

canwest.com

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Montreal Canadiens vs. New Jersey Devils

- The Montreal Canadiens and the New Jersey Devils will both be gunning for a victory on Friday when they meet at Prudential Center.

Andrei Kostitsyn scored the shootout winner on Tuesday, as the Canadiens got past the Maple Leafs 4-3. The Canadiens won the game at -110 odds, and the final score was a PUSH against the posted over/under (6).

Alexei Kovalev potted two goals for the Canadiens, while Guillaume Latendresse added the other goal.

Brian Gionta, Dainius Zubrus, and Zach Parise all had a goal and an assist as the Devils defeated the Dallas Stars 4-2 on Wednesday night.

The Devils cashed as -135 home favorites as the teams played over the 5-goal total listed by sportsbooks.

Current streak:
New Jersey has won 5 straight games.

Team records:
Montreal: 13-8-3
New Jersey: 12-10-2

Montreal most recently:
When playing on Friday are 2-8
Before playing Nashville are 7-3
After playing Toronto are 7-3
After a win are 4-6

New Jersey most recently:
When playing on Friday are 6-3-1
Before playing Buffalo are 9-1
After playing Dallas are 6-6-2
After a win are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
Montreal is 6-3 SU in its last 9 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Montreal's last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Montreal's last 6 games when playing New Jersey
Montreal is 0-4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against New Jersey
New Jersey is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing Montreal
New Jersey is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
New Jersey is 8-0-1 SU in its last 9 games when playing at home against Montreal
The total has gone UNDER in 10 of New Jersey's last 13 games

Next up:
Montreal home to Nashville, Saturday, December 1
New Jersey home to Atlanta, Sunday, December 2

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Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

- The Washington Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes will meet on the ice at RBC Center on Friday in a battle of division rivals.

Chris Clark was the goal scorer for the Caps as Alexander Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet in Washington's 2-1 SO loss to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night.

The Panthers cashed as +115 underdogs as the game played under the 5.5-goal total set by books.

Cory Stillman marked the lone goal for Carolina in its 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night.

The Flyers upset the Canes as +130 road underdogs as the game played under the 6-goal total listed by oddsmakers.

Current streak:
Washington has lost 2 straight games.
Carolina has lost 2 straight games.

Team records:
Washington: 8-15-2
Carolina: 13-9-3

Washington most recently:
When playing on Friday are 5-5
Before playing Calgary are 5-5
After playing Florida are 1-9
After a loss are 2-8

Carolina most recently:
When playing on Friday are 4-6
Before playing Boston are 5-5
After playing Philadelphia are 7-3
After a loss are 7-3

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Washington's last 7 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Washington's last 7 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Washington's last 6 games when playing on the road against Carolina
Washington is 6-17 SU in its last 23 games on the road
Carolina is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against Washington
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Carolina's last 6 games when playing at home against Washington
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Carolina's last 9 games
Carolina is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games at home

Next up:
Washington at Florida, Saturday, December 1
Carolina at Buffalo, Saturday, December 1

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Dallas Stars vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

- The Dallas Stars and the Pittsburgh Penguins will both be gunning for a victory on Friday when they meet at Mellon Arena.

Jussi Jokinen and Stu Barnes scored for the Stars in their 4-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

The Devils cashed as -135 home favorites as the teams played over the 5-goal total listed by sportsbooks.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots to earn the shutout as the Penguins defeated the Atlanta Thrashers 5-0 on Saturday night.

The Pens won as -170 favorites as the teams played under the 6-goal total set by books.

Current streak:
Pittsburgh has won 2 straight games.

Team records:
Dallas: 13-8-4
Pittsburgh: 10-11-2

Dallas most recently:
When playing on Friday are 5-5
Before playing Los Angeles are 5-5
After playing New Jersey are 4-6
After a loss are 5-5

Pittsburgh most recently:
When playing on Friday are 4-6
Before playing Ottawa are 4-6
After playing Atlanta are 5-5
After a win are 3-7

A few trends to consider:
Dallas is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Dallas's last 6 games when playing on the road against Pittsburgh
Dallas is 2-4-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Pittsburgh
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Pittsburgh's last 6 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Pittsburgh's last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Pittsburgh's last 6 games when playing at home against Dallas
Pittsburgh is 3-6 SU in its last 9 games

Next up:
Dallas at Philadelphia, Saturday, December 1
Pittsburgh at Toronto, Saturday, December 1

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St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild

- The fans at Xcel Energy Center will be treated to a game between the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild when they take their seats on Friday.

Paul Kariya and Brad Boyes each had a goal and an assist to lead Blues to a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.

The Blues upset the Sabres as +115 underdogs as the game played over the 5.5-goal total set by books.

James Sheppard had a goal and an assist as the Minnesota Wild got by the Phoenix Coyotes 3-1 on Wednesday night.

The Wild won as -180 favorites as the game played under the 5-goal total set by oddsmakers.

Current streak:
St. Louis has won 3 straight games.
Minnesota has won 2 straight games.

Team records:
St. Louis: 14-8-0
Minnesota: 13-9-2

St. Louis most recently:
When playing on Friday are 3-6-1
Before playing Tampa Bay are 4-4-1
After playing Buffalo are 3-3-1
After a win are 5-5

Minnesota most recently:
When playing on Friday are 3-5-2
Before playing Florida are 2-2-2
After playing Phoenix are 5-5
After a win are 5-5

A few trends to consider:
St. Louis is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of St. Louis's last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of St. Louis's last 5 games when playing on the road against Minnesota
The total has gone OVER in 5 of St. Louis's last 7 games when playing Minnesota
Minnesota is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing at home against St. Louis
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Minnesota's last 5 games when playing at home against St. Louis
Minnesota is 9-3 SU in its last 12 games when playing St. Louis
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Minnesota's last 7 games when playing St. Louis

Next up:
St. Louis home to Chicago, Saturday, December 1
Minnesota home to Vancouver, Sunday, December 2

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Phoenix Coyotes vs. Chicago Blackhawks

- The Phoenix Coyotes and the Chicago Blackhawks will both be gunning for a victory on Friday when they meet at United Center.

Radim Vrbata potted the only goal for Phoenix in its 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.

The Wild won as -180 favorites as the game played under the 5-goal total set by oddsmakers.

Martin Havlat netted two goals to lead the Blackhawks to a 5-1 rout of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.

The Hawks cashed as -125 favorites as the game played over the 5.5-goal total set by oddsmakers.

Team records:
Phoenix: 11-11-0
Chicago: 13-9-2

Phoenix most recently:
When playing on Friday are 5-3-2
Before playing Chicago are 4-4-1
After playing Minnesota are 5-5
After a loss are 5-5

Chicago most recently:
When playing on Friday are 5-4-1
Before playing Edmonton are 5-5
After playing Tampa Bay are 6-6-1
After a win are 5-5

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Phoenix's last 8 games when playing on the road against Chicago
Phoenix is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Chicago
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Phoenix's last 5 games on the road
Phoenix is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Chicago's last 8 games when playing at home against Phoenix
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Chicago's last 5 games at home
Chicago is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 12 of Chicago's last 15 games when playing Phoenix

Next up:
Phoenix at Detroit, Saturday, December 1
Chicago at St. Louis, Saturday, December 1

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Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

- The Anaheim Ducks and the Edmonton Oilers will both be trying to pick up a win on Friday when they battle at Rexall Place.

The Ducks ruined Jarome Igina's record-setting night on Thursday, as they defeated the Flames 4-1. The Ducks won the game as +110 underdogs, while the five goals were a PUSH against the posted over/under (5).

Todd Marchant, Chris Kunitz, Corey Perry and Rob Niedermayer scored.

Shawn Horcoff and Raffi Torres had markers for the Oilers, who were outshot 43-13 in their 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.

The Avs cashed as -220 favorites as the game played over the 5.5-goal total set by sportsbooks.

Team records:
Anaheim: 12-10-4
Edmonton: 10-14-1

Anaheim most recently:
When playing on Friday are 9-0-1
Before playing Edmonton are 5-5
After playing Calgary are 8-2
After a win are 5-5

Edmonton most recently:
When playing on Friday are 3-5-2
Before playing Detroit are 8-2
After playing Colorado are 6-4
After a loss are 5-5

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 17 of Anaheim's last 25 games when playing on the road against Edmonton
Anaheim is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Anaheim's last 6 games
Anaheim is 6-3 SU in its last 9 games
Edmonton is 14-2 SU in its last 16 games when playing at home against Anaheim
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Edmonton's last 5 games at home
Edmonton is 17-5 SU in its last 22 games when playing Anaheim
The total has gone UNDER in 17 of Edmonton's last 25 games when playing at home against Anaheim

Next up:
Edmonton at Anaheim, Sunday, December 2

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Colorado Avalanche vs. San Jose Sharks

- The Colorado Avalanche and the San Jose Sharks will both be gunning for a victory on Friday when they meet at HP Pavilion.

Milan Hejduk had a goal and two assists to lead the Avalanche to a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

The Avs cashed as -220 favorites as the game played over the 5.5-goal total set by sportsbooks.

Craig Rivet and Joe Thornton had markers for the Sharks in their 3-2 SO loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.

The Kings upset the Sharks as +180 underdogs as the game played under the 5.5-goal total set by oddsmakers.

Current streak:
San Jose has lost 3 straight games.

Team records:
Colorado: 13-9-1
San Jose: 11-8-4

Colorado most recently:
When playing on Friday are 3-5-2
Before playing Buffalo are 8-8-1
After playing Edmonton are 4-6
After a win are 5-5

San Jose most recently:
When playing on Friday are 4-6
Before playing Toronto are 2-2-3
After playing Los Angeles are 7-3
After a loss are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Colorado's last 6 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Colorado's last 5 games when playing San Jose
Colorado is 16-7-1 SU in its last 24 games when playing on the road against San Jose
Colorado is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of San Jose's last 5 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 4 of San Jose's last 5 games when playing Colorado
San Jose is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games when playing at home against Colorado
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of San Jose's last 7 games

Next up:
Colorado at Los Angeles, Saturday, December 1
San Jose at Colorado, Monday, December 3

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NHL approves scheduling change for next season
November 29th, 2007

New York, NY (Sports Network) - The NHL Board of Governors on Thursday approved a scheduling change for the 2008-09 season.

The new schedule will feature more inter-conference matchups as the teams will now play every squad in the NHL at least once each season.

Under the new format, teams will play each club in their division six times for a total of 24 games, and the 10 other clubs in their conference four times for a total of 40 games.

The remaining 18 games will involve each team playing all 15 clubs in the other conference at least once, home or away. The three remaining games will be devoted to inter-conference scheduling.

"The sense of the board was we heard the concerns raised by some of the fans, and this was an attempt to be responsive to the concerns of our fans," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Under the current format, adopted for the 2005-06 season, teams play their four division rivals eight times each, the other 10 teams in their conference four times apiece, and 10 games against teams in the other conference, with five home games against one division and five away games against another division in the opposing conference.

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Maltby sidelined by injured back, loses 188-game ironman streak

Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper were out of the Wings' lineup Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Maltby got lit into by teammates who found it curious that the linemates suffered injuries in the same game.

Draper is out 10 to 14 days with a sprained knee suffered in a 5-3 loss Tuesday against the Calgary Flames. Maltby said he suffered a back injury against the Flames. He skipped practice Wednesday and still felt sore Thursday morning.

"This morning I made Drapes an English muffin, just like to get a chuckle, and they jumped all over that," Maltby said. "It's funny, but I'd much rather be playing than dealing with all the hassle."

Maltby said he thought the injury occurred when he took a hit after Draper's goal, which gave the Wings a 2-1 lead at 16:12 of the first period.

"It's a little better today, but as far as getting hit, hitting or just battling, I don't think I'd be able to do it right now," said Maltby, adding he hoped to return for Saturday's home game against Phoenix.

Maltby had played in 188 straight games before missing Thursday's, and he had played in 431 of a possible 434 since the 2001-02 season. All three of the games he missed came during the 2003-04 season. He missed two for the birth of his daughter and was kept out of the final game of the regular season by then-coach Dave Lewis.

The Wings recalled Mark Hartigan from Grand Rapids (AHL) to take Maltby's place. Hartigan was leading the Griffins with 11 goals in 20 games.

Hartigan is "right there on the cusp of being an NHL player," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Is he going to learn that he's not a top-six NHL forward and he's going to have to play a different way? In other words, he's going to have to be great defensively, good in the face-off circle. If you can get a guy to do that, with his offensive skill, he can chip in a bit."

Bypassing Russia? NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Reuters on Wednesday he might not send players to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. Bettman reasoned that shutting the league down for the Olympic break "is a strain on the players, on the schedule and on our fans here." He added that the benefits tend to be greater when the Olympics are played in North America, as opposed to a distant time zone. NHL players will play in the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

Pavel Datsyuk, a native of Sverdlovsk, Russia, said he would want to play in 2014 if his country selected him to play. "It doesn't matter if it's in Russia or Switzerland or another county," Datsyuk said. "It's Olympic Games. Every country plays there. Maybe I be more upset because it's my country. ... But it's a long time, 2014. Might be able to still play. I hope so."

Nick Lidstrom said: "Playing in Italy a couple years ago (2004), I really enjoyed that. It was a six-hour time difference from here. Russia is what? Eight hours? It's not a big deal. I would love to play if I were still playing and still available. I think it is great exposure for the league to get a chance to see the best players in the world play against one another."

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Re: Hockey Today - November 30

Devils' iron man takes a seat

Pat Burns was still the Devils' coach when Jay Pandolfo began his iron man streak back on Jan. 22, 2003, in San Jose. The team had not yet won its third Stanley Cup.

Pandolfo has played through injuries, trades and five coaching changes, but tonight at the Prudential Center the left winger's consecutive games-played streak will come to an end at 307 because of a pelvic/abdominal injury suffered Wednesday night when he crashed hard into the end boards.

"I won't be able to play tomorrow," Pandolfo said yesterday as he sat out practice at the Rock. "It's disappointing. You never want to be hurt. Hopefully, it's not that bad. I'll take it day to day."

The Devils, who have won a season-high five straight thanks in large measure to Pandolfo's contributions, will host the Montreal Canadiens tonight. Pandolfo, whose streak is the third-longest in Devils history, is only 14 behind Habs assistant coach Kirk Muller. Ken Daneyko holds the franchise record with 388 consecutive games played.

"It would take a lot for Jay to miss a game," longtime linemate John Madden said. "Anybody that knows Jay and his character, knows that for him to not get up quickly and to miss a game, he's not right."

Pandolfo, 32, has discovered how unforgiving end boards can be in the past, including a head-first crash at Joe Louis Arena on Jan. 29, 2000, that badly cut his face. He missed three games after that incident.

One of the league's top defensive forwards who shares the Devils' goal-scoring lead this season with eight, Pandolfo is probably fortunate he was able to skate off the ice Wednesday night and could walk without too much trouble the morning after.

"I'm a little sore," he said. "I hit my lower back against the boards and it kind of shifted my pelvis and everything in front. This morning I actually feel a lot better than I did walking around last night."

The Devils were shorthanded when Pandolfo hit the right post on a shot with 15:38 remaining in the game. He crashed hard into the end boards in a sitting position, hitting his lower back. He said he did not hit his head.

"I saw him go hard into the boards," Madden said. "I think he was trying to hold onto the puck and lost his balance when he released his shot. I think his back took most of it. Assuming he's not in the lineup, it's going to be difficult."

Coach Brent Sutter said he'll decide today whether to go with seven defensemen or put left winger Mike Rupp back into the lineup.

"Until he's back to where he is able to play, guys will have to fill that role," Sutter said. "Playing that many games is impressive in any sport, but it's even more impressive in hockey when you think about the number of games you play, the travel and the bumps and bruises you play through. It was a great run by Pando."

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Re: Hockey Today - November 30

Coyotes' Jovanovski suspended
November 30th, 2007

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski has been suspended for one game without pay after delivering a blow to the head of Minnesota forward Marian Gaborik on November 28.

Jovanovski will forfeit nearly $35,000, which will go to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund. He will miss Friday's game at Chicago and will be eligible to return December 1 at Detroit.

The 6-2, 210-pound Ontario native has two goals, 13 assists and 23 penalty minutes so far this season.

The first overall selection by the Panthers in the 1994 NHL Draft, Jovanovski has amassed 99 goals and 262 assists for Florida, Vancouver and Phoenix.

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