Hockey Today - December 7

Hockey Today - December 7

Hockey Today - Friday, December 7
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SCOREBOARD Friday, Dec. 7

Washington at New Jersey (7 p.m. EST). The Devils try for their first nine-game winning streak since an 11-game run that ended the 2005-06 season.

STARS Thursday

-Nik Antropov, Maple Leafs, scored a career-high three goals to lead Toronto to a 6-2 win over the New York Rangers.

-Daniel Sedin, Canucks, scored two third-period goals to help Vancouver defeat Nashville 5-2.

-Dustin Brown and Tom Preissing, Kings. Brown had two goals and an assist and Preissing scored twice on the power play in Los Angeles' 8-2 rout of Buffalo.

-Chris Higgins, Canadiens, had a goal and two assists and Montreal beat Boston 4-2.

-Kris Letang, Penguins, scored the decisive goal in the shootout that gave Pittsburgh a 3-2 win at Calgary.

ON THE RISE

Toronto extended its winning streak to a season-high four games after posting a 6-2 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday night. The Maple Leafs, who hadn't won more than two in a row before this spurt, won both meetings at Madison Square Garden this season.

LUCKEY SEVEN

Montreal defeated Boston for the seventh straight time, 4-2 on Thursday night. The Canadiens, who also snapped a three-game losing streak, have outscored the Bruins 28-11 during the run.

HOME WOES

The New York Rangers have lost four of their past five at home after a 6-2 defeat to Toronto on Thursday night. The Rangers were outscored 9-2 in consecutive home losses this week to Carolina and the Maple Leafs to fall to 9-6 at Madison Square Garden this season.

STREAKING SAVARD

Marc Savard extended his career-high scoring streak to 12 games with an assist in Boston's 4-2 loss to Montreal on Thursday night. He has two goals and 19 points during that stretch.

STORM BREWING

Tampa Bay has won three in a row following a six-game losing streak after holding off Carolina 2-1 on Thursday night. The Lightning moved within five points of the Hurricanes for the Southeast Division lead.

OFFENSIVE OUTBURST

Los Angeles, which hadn't scored more than three goals in any of the previous 11 games, defeated Buffalo 8-2 Thursday night for its biggest offensive output since an 8-6 victory over Atlanta on Jan. 19, 2006 - the night Luc Robitaille became its career goal leader.

GOALIE HELP

Phoenix traded goaltender Alex Auld to Boston on Thursday in exchange for a minor league player and a fifth-round pick in the 2009 draft. The move came the day after Boston starter Tim Thomas was injured and had to leave a game against New Jersey after falling awkwardly while trying to snare a deflected shot. ... Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick, pressed into service because of injuries to Jason LaBarbera and Jean-Sebastien Aubin, made 15 saves in his NHL debut, an 8-2 win over Buffalo.

DEMOTED

Mark Recchi, a career 510-goal scorer who was waived by Pittsburgh earlier this week, was assigned Thursday to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. It is uncertain whether Recchi must report to the Penguins' top farm club. Recchi has not played in the minors since 1990. Recchi, with Pittsburgh for the third time in his career, has two goals and six assists in 19 games but only one goal in 18 games.

LEFT HOME

Minnesota center Mikko Koivu stayed behind as the Wild left for a five-game road trip to continue rehabilitating a broken bone in his left leg. Koivu was injured on Nov. 17 when Vancouver defenseman Mattias Ohlund hit him in the leg with a two-handed swing of his stick that earned Ohlund a suspension.

SPEAKING

''We know how desperate of a situation we're in. We have to get points and we have to get them whenever we can.'' - Calgary winger Craig Conroy after Thursday night's 3-2 shootout loss to Pittsburgh. The Flames have lost five of six, but have gained four points over the past three games.

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Re: Hockey Today - December 7

Friday's NHL betting matchup notes
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils

This is the first meeting of the season between these clubs. The Devils went 3-1-0 against the Capitals last season, and have won 12 of the past 15 meetings.

New York Rangers at Atlanta Thrashers


Atlanta won its fourth straight regular-season game against New York (15-11-2) on October 18. Kari Lehtonen is is 4-1-0 with a 2.61 goals-against average in six career regular-season starts against the Rangers.

New York Islanders at Florida Panthers


Ollie Jokinen, a former Islander, had two goals and four assists in his last game against New York - an 8-5 home victory for Florida on March 17.

That was the only Panthers win in four meetings last season against the Islanders, although two of New York's victories came in shootouts.

Minnesota Wild at Detroit Red Wings

Detroit has been successful in recent years against Minnesota, going 3-0-1 in 2006-07 to give it a point in six straight games (5-0-1) in this series.

Anaheim Ducks at Chicago Blackhawks


Visiting Chicago (14-11-2) should be a good way for the Ducks to keep getting back on track. They have won five in a row there and are 9-0-1 in this series since a 3-1 loss at the United Center on Nov. 2, 2003. Anaheim is 13-1-1 with a tie in the last 16 meetings overall.

Ottawa Senators at Dallas Stars

The Senators are meeting the Stars (15-10-4) for the first time since a 2-0 loss in Ottawa on Dec. 15, 2005. They have also lost their last two trips to Dallas by 5-3 scores, with the most recent coming on Jan. 28, 2004.

Philadelphia Flyers at Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche have won three straight against the Flyers - all in overtime. This will be Philadelphia's first visit to Colorado since Dec. 27, 2003.

St. Louis Blues at Edmonton Oilers


The Blues went 3-1-0 versus the Oilers last season and have won three of their last four trips to Edmonton.

San Jose Sharks at Phoenix Coyotes

The Sharks have won seven consecutive meetings while outscoring the Coyotes 33-7.

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Re: Hockey Today - December 7

Koivu misses start of Wild road trip, Schultz's throat injury not serious
ASSOCIATED PRESS

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota center Mikko Koivu stayed behind as the Wild left for a five-game road trip to continue rehabilitating a broken bone in his left leg.

Koivu was injured on Nov. 17 when Vancouver defenseman Mattias Ohlund hit him in the leg with a two-handed swing of his stick that earned Ohlund a suspension.

Koivu has resumed skating, but the team said Thursday that he was not yet ready for full practice and will stay home for the first two games of the trip.

The Wild play at Detroit on Friday and at Columbus on Saturday before heading West for a three-game California swing that starts in San Jose on Tuesday. Koivu is expected to join the team in San Jose.

Team doctors initially said Koivu would miss only about a week, but in a statement released by Thursday, the Wild said the prolonged absence can be explained because ''bodies heal on their own schedule and there is nothing we can do to hurry it up.''

Doctors say the bone is now showing strong callousing and Koivu is beginning to put more pressure on it.

Defenseman Nick Schultz, who spent Wednesday night in a hospital after injuring his throat in the Wild's game against Philadelphia, only has a bruise and is probable for the game against the Red Wings.

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Re: Hockey Today - December 7

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Mark Recchi has cleared waivers.

The Penguins now have the option to send Recchi to the AHL or negotiate a buyout of his $1.75 million contract.

The 39-year-old winger had been a healthy scratch in seven of the last eight games and did not accompany Pittsburgh on its current road trip through Western Canada.

There are no plans to remove Vesa Toskala from the Leafs' net. Toskala has rounded into form as the Leafs have picked up seven of a possible eight points in their last four games, with Toskala sporting a 2.00 goals-against average in that span.

The Montreal Canadiens got a dose of shock therapy as defenceman Ryan O'Byrne and forward Maxim Lapierre were called up from Hamilton of the AHL.

With no injured players to replace, it was clear coach Guy Carbonneau wanted to wake up his slumping team by bringing in youthful energy.

"For sure it's a message to the other players that the party's over, it's time to play hockey," Carbonneau said.

Dallas Stars defenceman Philippe Boucher underwent shoulder surgery yesterday and was placed on the injured reserve list.

He'll be sidelined for at least four weeks.

The Stars recalled Junior Lessard from their AHL affiliate in Iowa.

Matt Beleskey scored three goals as the Belleville Bulls reclaimed top spot in the East Division standings with a 6-2 win over the Mississauga-St. Michael's Majors in OHL action last night.

Beleskey gave the Bulls a 3-1 lead midway through the second period, and added power-play goals 1:16 apart in the third period.

thestar.com

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Re: Hockey Today - December 7

Friday Ice

Have you lost money on hockey in the past few days? So have I.

Are you looking for a few games on Friday to play that could help turn the tide for you? So am I.

One team that just recently burned me was the Panthers, which host the Islanders on Friday. Florida (12-15-1 straight up, ‘under’ 12-10-6) is stuck in a three game losing skid at the BankAtlantic Center. That is their longest losing streak at home since they dropped four straight in late November last year.

You’d think that would make me want to fade them, but that isn’t the case. As bad as Florida has looked, the Isles haven’t been the model of consistency on the ice.
   
New York (13-11-2 SU, ‘u’ 16-7-2) has lost its past four contests this season. What’s more surprising about this skid is the Islanders have out shot their opponents in three of those four matches.

Even more perplexing is the Isles were fantastic on the penalty kills, allowing just two goals on 26 opportunities.

Special teams is ultimately what I think tilts this game in the Cats’ favor. Florida is second in the NHL, scoring on 23.1 percent of its power play chances. Plus Olli Jokinen has played well against the boys from Long Island, tallying 15 points against them in the past four seasons.

Also, the Panthers have won three of their past five meetings at home against the Isles, seeing the ‘over’ go 3-1-1 during that stretch.

We’ve covered a slumping team and making them a play for Friday. Now let’s look at a team that is on an upswing.

The Blues have had some quality efforts out on the ice recently, posting a 5-2-1 mark during their last eight contests. Although, St. Louis (15-9-1 SU, ‘u’ 14-6-4) has dropped two of its last three games, one of the defeats coming in a shoot out.

St. Louis continues its trip through the “Canadian Triangle” with a game against the Oilers.

This trek through Western Canada has spelled trouble for most clubs, especially in a normally raucous Rexall Place. Surprisingly, the Blues have played well in the “Great White North,” going 3-1 SU at Edmonton, dating back to February 2006. Plus, the Oilers will be ripe for another defeat, losing 4-2 to Pittsburgh on Dec. 5.

You might want to consider making a play on the ‘over’ for this game since it has gone 5-2-1 in the last eight meetings of these two squads.

Speaking of totals, The Capitals playing at New Jersey (15-10-2 SU, ‘u’ 15-9-2) could be as solid an ‘under’ bet as you’ll see on the board.

Now I’m not really playing this off of the Devils so much as I believe Washington (9-16-2 SU, ‘u’ 15-11) makes it possible.

The Caps have the worst record in the NHL right now. But I’m beginning to see a change under new head coach Bruce Bordeau. Now it isn’t improvement of their record, rather it is the little things you notice when playing.

Bordeau made the comment that he was going to have the team refocus on their special teams play after he was promoted from the AHL’s Hershey Bears. So far, the team has responded, allowing just two power play goals in 27 chances since he was hired on Nov. 22.

Washington’s power play has improved dramatically in Bordeau’s short tenure as well, picking up six lamp lighters in 24 opportunities. The Caps had just 14 power play goals in their first 21 games of the year.

The cumulative result for the Capitals is they have seen the ‘under’ go 3-1 in their past four contests. Meanwhile, New Jersey has watched the ‘under’ post a solid 6-3 record in its last nine games.

I figure this line will open around 5 ½ or six. Regardless of the closing total, the ‘under’ looks safe.

vegasinsider.com

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Re: Hockey Today - December 7

Nylander Is Added to Injured List

The Washington Capitals hoped a five-day break between games would allow them to regroup after a hectic schedule that included a coaching change and, just as important, to get healthy.

They accomplished one of their two goals.

When the Capitals make their first visit to Prudential Center, the New Jersey Devils' sparkling new arena in downtown Newark tonight, the team will be more familiar with the intricacies of interim coach Bruce Boudreau's style of play. But they'll be far from healthy with veteran center Michael Nylander joining the list of injured players yesterday.

"It is what it is," Boudreau said, shrugging, when asked about the injury situation. "If somebody is out, someone has to come in and be just as good as that guy."

The Capitals, who remain at the bottom of the league with 20 points in 27 games, did not announce whether a player had been recalled from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League to replace Nylander. But with only 11 healthy forwards, it appeared likely that someone would join them in time for the pregame skate.

What exactly happened to Nylander also remained a mystery.

Team officials declined to divulge the nature or severity of the injury to the 35-year-old Swede, who ranks second on the team in scoring (25 points) and first in assists (18). Officials also declined to disclose when Nylander got hurt or how long he will miss.

He participated fully in Wednesday's practice session and joked with teammates in the locker room after the session. Only when reporters asked why Nylander wasn't on the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex for practice yesterday was it revealed that he had been hurt and would not play against the Devils.

Nylander joins right wing Chris Clark and center Boyd Gordon on the sideline. Clark, who is third in goals with five, is expected to miss his third consecutive game tonight because of a strained groin muscle. Gordon, meantime, has been placed on injured reserve because of a broken right hand and will probably miss several weeks.

Although Clark skated on his own yesterday, it's possible, if not likely, that he and Nylander will also miss tomorrow night's home game against the Atlanta Thrashers.

If a player is recalled today, it's expected that Clark will join Gordon on injured reserve in order to clear room. The move, though, likely would be made retroactive to Nov. 28, meaning he would be eligible to come off at any time.

Boudreau had hoped to have his full complement of players during this extended break between games because it gave him some time to install his forechecking system, work on defensive zone coverage and tweak the power play and penalty kill. Until Sunday, the former Bears coach had presided over only three full practices after taking over behind the Capitals' bench on Thanksgiving.

"They are getting the idea on the power play, they know the neutral zone, we did the end zone yesterday," said Boudreau, who has a 3-2-1 record. "Granted we didn't have everybody, but at least the majority know better today what's going on than they did last week."

What the players don't know is how the lineup is going to shape up against New Jersey, the NHL's hottest team.

The Devils have won eight straight games behind left wing Zach Parise (14 goals, 32 points) and goaltender Martin Brodeur (2.31 goals against average). On Wednesday, they rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat the Boston Bruins, 4-3, in overtime and move into a three-way tie for the Atlantic Division lead with the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.

"They really believe right now," Boudreau said of the Devils. "They've always been an elite team. So you had to know that it was only a matter of time."

Note: Hershey Bears defenseman Jame Pollock has left the team and signed a contract with CSKA Moscow of the Russian Super League. The Capitals, Hershey's parent team, suspended the 28-year-old without pay yesterday.

washingtonpost.com

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