Hockey Today - December 1

Hockey Today - December 1

Saturday's NHL matchup betting notes

New York Rangers at Ottawa Senators

Ottawa has won 15 of the last 18 meetings overall with the Rangers, including five straight.

Carolina Hurricanes at Buffalo Sabres

Carolina (14-9-3) beat Buffalo (11-11-1) in seven games in the 2006 conference finals, but lost all four games between the teams last season.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs

The Penguins and Maple Leafs have split their first two meetings this season, with each winning on the road. The last four games in Toronto have featured plenty of offense, with the teams combining for 38 goals.

Nashville Predators at Montreal Canadiens

Nashville (12-9-2) has recorded a road win against each team but is 0-3-1 all-time at Montreal's Bell Centre, where they'll take the ice for the first time since a 5-4 overtime defeat on Dec. 18, 2003.

Atlanta Thrashers at New York Islanders

Atlanta has won just five of the last 18 meetings with the Islanders.

Dallas Stars at Philadelphia Flyers

This is the first meeting between the teams in Philadelphia since a 2-2 tie on March 11, 2004. The Flyers are 1-1-0 with three ties against the Stars dating back to 2001.

Washingtion Capitals at Florida Panthers

The Panthers have won four straight at home against the Capitals, and are 7-1-1 against them there since the start of the 2005-06 season.

Phoenix Coyotes at Detroit Red Wings

Detroit has won five straight over Phoenix, including a 5-2 victory on Oct. 20.

Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Bruins have won five straight against the Lightning, including a 4-1 home victory on Oct. 18, and four in a row at Tampa since Dec. 27, 2003.

Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues

The Blackhawks dropped their first matchup with the Blues this season, but have scored seven goals en route to wins in its last two meetings including a 4-2 victory on Nov. 9.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Calgary Flames

This is the Blue Jackets' first meeting with the Flames (10-13-3) this season after splitting the 2006-07 series, but losing both visits to Calgary.

Columbus has not scored more than two goals in six straight games in Calgary, losing five of them, and is 3-8-0 there since winning its first visit in 2000.

Colorado Avalanche at Los Angeles Kings

Colorado is 1-3-1 with two ties in its last seven games in Los Angeles. Overall, the Avalanche are 0-2-1 in their last three games against the Kings.

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Re: Hockey Today - December 1

Volchenkov may miss month with broken right finger

OTTAWA -- Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchenkov may be sidelined up to a month with a broken right index finger.

Coach John Paddock said Friday that Volchenkov is expected to be out about four weeks.

The 25-year-old Volchenkov was hurt during Ottawa's 6-5 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night - the Senators' fifth straight defeat.

''It's not a good situation,'' Senators defenseman Chris Phillips said. ''He's been big for us - blocking shots and penalty killing. Things are going to change a little bit here and we'll deal with it, but it's certainly a tough blow for the team.''

The Senators (16-6-2) are stuck in their longest winless streak in more than a year.

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Re: Hockey Today - December 1

Wild, Walz to hold press conference Saturday

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- There finally appears to be an answer coming for the Wes Walz saga in Minnesota.

The Wild said late Friday night that they will hold a press conference with their missing center on Saturday morning, when Walz is expected to announce his retirement after 12 seasons in the NHL.

The center played in the first 11 games this season, but then suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. The team excused him for ''personal reasons'' on Nov. 1 and granted him an indefinite leave of absence on Nov. 8.

The Associated Press left a message with Walz's agent, Jay Grossman, seeking comment.

Wild spokesman Aaron Sickman said the team would have no further comment until the press conference.

One of Minnesota's two alternate captains, the 37-year-old Walz is also one of only two players remaining from the Wild's inaugural season in 2000-01.

Walz, one of Minnesota's two alternate captains, thought about retiring last spring. Instead, he agreed to a one-year contract for this season, the fourth time he's signed with the Wild.

Though his career high is a modest 19 goals and 37 points in 2005-06 and he has missed time to several lower-body injuries, Walz has long been one of the team's most valuable players for his speed, grit and defensive ability. He skated on the first line for the season opener with Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra.

A determined, defensive forward, Walz had 109 goals and 151 assists in a career that began in Boston and also included brief stints in Philadelphia, Calgary and Detroit before he found a home in Minnesota.

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Re: Hockey Today - December 1

Panthers enter December on hot streak after strong November

MIAMI -- November hasn't always been kind to the Florida Panthers.

In 2006, Florida watched its playoff hopes fizzle after picking up just three November wins. But even that was an improvement from 2005, when the Panthers won just one game that month.

The Panthers won seven games this November. They are a game below .500, within four points of Carolina in the Southeast Division. Boston beat Florida on Thursday, 4-3.

''It's been a lot better than the last few I've been a part of. So that's definitely a positive,'' center Stephen Weiss said. ''Hopefully, we're peaking a lot earlier than we have in the past. This has generally been a tough month for us where we haven't gotten a lot of wins and really had to battle back in the second half of the season. If we can finish real strong here this month, it'll give us a lot of confidence.''

Thursday's loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Florida, which included a 3-2 shootout victory over the New York Rangers before a sellout home crowd Friday and another shootout win Wednesday, 2-1 over the Washington Capitals. With new goalie Tomas Vokoun, the Panthers are 3-0 in shootouts this season.

''I think shootouts are unpredictable,'' Vokoun said. ''I've been on losing sides and winning sides. I'm glad we won a couple and definitely we need those points, but I would rather win the game in regulation than have to get the shootout.''

The recent hot streak is not good enough for Panthers' captain Olli Jokinen, whose team sputtered early again this season. Florida lost seven games in October, including its first three.

''I don't think there's a reason to be satisfied with how we played overall in a month,'' Jokinen said. ''I think our expectations should be to go win every game. I think we're definitely on the right direction. Last week was a good week for us.''

Wednesday's shootout ended 4-3 and at 11 rounds was the longest in Panthers history. Jokinen, Nathan Horton, Kamil Kreps and Weiss scored Florida's shootout goals. Vokoun stopped Washington defenseman Brian Pothier's attempt to end the game.

''There's no relief. You look at the standings, how close it is,'' Florida coach and general manager Jacques Martin said. ''It just shows the parity in this league. From one day to the other, the changes. Some teams that were struggling ... a lot of teams have turned things around.''

Jokinen gave part of the credit for Florida's November success to its younger players, including David Booth, who has six goals this month.

''With young players, there's going to be a lot of up and downs before they find their place in the league,'' Jokinen said. ''Lately, they've been doing their job. That's the expectations that we have for them.''

Florida fell six points short of the playoffs last season, finishing at 35-31-16, in part because of their lackluster fall play and 16 overtime and shootout losses.

''We're playing the same way, in the same type of games last year, tight games that came down to a big play here and there that maybe last year we were on the other side of,'' Weiss said. ''This year, we're getting that bounce or we're getting someone to make a big play for us to keep us in the game or give us a lead. We're finding a way to win some games.''

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Re: Hockey Today - December 1

Thrashers recall goaltender Lehtonen
December 1st, 2007

Uniondale, NY (Sports Network) - The Atlanta Thrashers recalled goaltender Kari Lehtonen from the club's American Hockey League affiliate in Chicago after a brief conditioning stint.

In a corresponding roster move, Atlanta reassigned goaltender Ondrej Pavelec to the Wolves.

The 24-year-old Lehtonen missed the team's last 16 games since suffering a groin injury on October 18 against the New York Rangers. The Thrashers first- round draft pick, the second overall selection, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft was activated off injured reserve and assigned to Chicago on Monday.

Lehtonen has struggled for Atlanta this season with no victories in five games. The Finnish netminder also has a robust 4.49 goals-against average and .879 save percentage.

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