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Hockey Today - Feb 7

Hockey Today - Feb 7

Vancouver Canucks vs. Atlanta Thrashers

- The Vancouver Canucks and the Atlanta Thrashers will both be trying to pick up a win on Thursday when they battle at Philips Arena.

The Canucks were defeated 3-2 by the Stars in a shootout on Tuesday, as +130 underdogs. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under (5).

Markus Naslund scored both goals in regulation time for the Canucks. Roberto Luongo made 32 saves in the loss.

The Thrashers lost 3-2 to the Flyers on Tuesday, as +120 underdogs. The five goals were UNDER the posted over/under (6).

Ilya Kovalcuk and Eric Boulton scored in the loss for Atlanta. Kari Lehtonen made 33 saves in the loss.

Current streak:
Vancouver has lost 4 straight games.

Team records:
Vancouver: 26-21-7
Atlanta: 26-26-4

Vancouver most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 6-4
Before playing San Jose are 5-5
After playing Dallas are 4-6
After a loss are 3-7

Atlanta most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 6-4
Before playing NY Rangers are 2-8
After playing Philadelphia are 6-4
After a loss are 5-5

A few trends to consider:
Vancouver is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing Atlanta
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Vancouver's last 7 games
Vancouver is 1-8 SU in its last 9 games
Vancouver is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Atlanta's last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Atlanta's last 8 games at home
Atlanta is 3-6 SU in its last 9 games
Atlanta is 1-4-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Vancouver

Next up:
Vancouver home to Colorado, Saturday, February 9
Atlanta home to Tampa Bay, Saturday, February 9

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Re: Hockey Today - Feb 7

Anaheim Ducks vs. New York Rangers

- The Anaheim Ducks and the New York Rangers will both be trying to pick up a win on Thursday when they battle at Madison Square Garden.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 25 saves for the shutout Tuesday, as the Ducks defeated the Islanders 3-0. The Ducks won the game as -150 favorites, but the three goals were UNDER the posted over/under (5).

Scott Niedermayer scored on the power play, while Todd Marchant and Doug Weight added even strength markers in the win.

The Rangers were doubled 4-2 by the Kings last time out, as -210 favorites. The six goals made it OVER the posted over/under (5.5).

Chris Drury and Sean Avery scored for the Rangers, and Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves in the loss.

Team records:
Anaheim: 28-22-7
New York: 27-23-6

Anaheim most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 8-2
Before playing New Jersey are 5-5
After playing NY Islanders are 3-3-1
After a win are 7-3

New York most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 4-6
Before playing Florida are 7-3
After playing Los Angeles are 2-2-1
After a loss are 5-5

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Anaheim's last 6 games
Anaheim is 4-1 SU in their last 5 games when playing on the road against NY Rangers
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Anaheim's last 5 games on the road
Anaheim is 1-5 SU in its last 6 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of the NY Rangers last 6 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of the NY Rangers last 8 games
NY Rangers are 5-2 SU in their last 7 games
NY Rangers are 4-2 SU in their last 6 games at home

Next up:
Anaheim at New Jersey, Friday, February 8
NY Rangers at Philadelphia, Saturday, February 9

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Re: Hockey Today - Feb 7

Los Angeles Kings vs. Detroit Red Wings

- The fans at Joe Louis Arena will be treated to a game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Detroit Red Wings when they take their seats on Thursday.

Alexander Frolov and Anze Kopitar scored once and added an assist to lift the Kings to a 4-2 win over the Rangers on Tuesday, as +180 underdogs. The six goals made it OVER the posted over/under (5.5).

Scott Thornton and Brian Boyle also scored for the Kings, while Jason LaBarbera made 32 saves in the win.

Brett Lebda scored the OT winner Tuesday, lifting the Red Wings to a 3-2 victory over the Wild. The Red Wings won the game as -130 favorites, while the five goals went as a PUSH against the posted over/under (5).

Johan Franzen and Daniel Cleary scored in regulation time for the Red Wings. Dominik Hasek made 24 saves for the win.

Current streak:
Detroit has won 8 straight games.

Team records:
Los Angeles: 22-30-3
Detroit: 41-10-4

Los Angeles most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 5-4-1
Before playing Dallas are 4-6
After playing NY Rangers are 4-6
After a win are 4-6

Detroit most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 8-2
Before playing Edmonton are 5-5
After playing Minnesota are 7-3
After a win are 9-1

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Los Angeles's last 5 games when playing on the road against Detroit
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Los Angeles's last 6 games on the road
Los Angeles is 6-3 SU in its last 9 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Los Angeles's last 6 games
Detroit is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
Detroit is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Los Angeles
Detroit is 16-1 SU in its last 17 games when playing Los Angeles
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Detroit's last 6 games

Next up:
Los Angeles at Pittsburgh, Saturday, February 9
Detroit at Toronto, Saturday, February 9

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Re: Hockey Today - Feb 7

Florida Panthers vs. Ottawa Senators

- The Florida Panthers and the Ottawa Senators will both be trying to pick up a win on Thursday when they battle at Scotiabank Place.

Richard Zednik scored three times and added an assist Tuesday, as the Panthers routed the Maple Leafs 8-0. The Panthers won the game as +125 underdogs, and the eight goals sailed OVER the posted over/under (5.5).

Nathan Horton, Olli Jokinen, Cory Murphy, Steve Montador and Brett McLean also scored for the Panthers. Tomas Vokoun made all 24 saves to post the shutout.

The slumping Senators lost 4-3 to the high-flying Canadiens Tuesday as +115 underdogs. The seven goals made it OVER the posted over/under (5.5).

Chris Kelly, Jason Spezza and Antoine Vermette scored for the Senators.

Current streak:
Florida has won 3 straight games.
Ottawa has lost 3 straight games.

Team records:
Florida: 25-25-5
Ottawa: 32-18-4

Florida most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 3-7
Before playing NY Rangers are 6-4
After playing Toronto are 7-3
After a win are 4-6

Ottawa most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 5-5
Before playing Boston are 8-2
After playing Montreal are 8-2
After a loss are 4-6

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Florida's last 5 games when playing on the road against Ottawa
The total has gone OVER in 8 of Florida's last 11 games
Florida is 12-5 SU in its last 17 games on the road
Florida is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games
Ottawa is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing Florida
Ottawa is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against Florida
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Ottawa's last 6 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Ottawa's last 5 games when playing at home against Florida

Next up:
Florida at Boston, Saturday, February 9
Ottawa home to Montreal, Saturday, February 9

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Re: Hockey Today - Feb 7

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens

- The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens will both be trying to pick up a win on Thursday when they battle at Bell Centre.

The Maple Leafs were routed 8-0 by the Panthers last time out, as -145 favorites at home. The eight goals sailed OVER the posted over/under (5.5).

The Canadiens allowed two goals in the third period, but hung on to defeat the slumping Senators 4-3 on Tuesday, as -135 favorites. The seven goals made it OVER the posted over/under (5.5).

Tomas Plekanec scored two goals for the Canadiens, while Andrei Kostitsyn and Mark Streit added the other markers in the win.

Team records:
Toronto: 21-25-9
Montreal: 29-16-9

Toronto most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 6-3-1
Before playing San Jose are 3-3-2
After playing Florida are 2-8
After a loss are 4-6

Montreal most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 4-6
Before playing Ottawa are 7-3
After playing Ottawa are 6-4
After a win are 4-6

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

Next up:
Toronto home to Detroit, Saturday, February 9
Montreal at Ottawa, Saturday, February 9

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New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

- The New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins will both be gunning for a victory on Thursday when they meet at Mellon Arena.

The Islanders were shut out 3-0 by the Ducks last time out, as +130 underdogs at home. The three goals were UNDER the posted over/under (5).

Rick DiPietro stopped 23-of-26 shots in the loss.

The Penguins blew a two-goal lead and fell 4-3 in overtime to the Devils last time out, as +165 road underdogs. The combined score made it OVER the posted over/under (5).

Ryan Malone, Petr Sykora and Jordan Staal scored for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin pocketed two assists in the loss.

Current streak:
New York has lost 5 straight games.

Team records:
New York: 24-24-6
Pittsburgh: 29-19-5

New York most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 4-6
Before playing New Jersey are 6-4
After playing Anaheim are 6-6-1
After a loss are 3-7

Pittsburgh most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 3-7
Before playing Ottawa are 4-6
After playing New Jersey are 7-3
After a loss are 8-2

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

Next up:
NY Islanders at Minnesota, Saturday, February 9
Pittsburgh home to Los Angeles, Saturday, February 9

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Dallas Stars vs. Minnesota Wild

- The Dallas Stars and the Minnesota Wild will both be gunning for a victory on Thursday when they meet at Xcel Energy Center.

Brenden Morrow scored the shootout winner and added another in regulation for the Stars Tuesday, as they defeated the Canucks 3-2. The Stars won the game as -150 favorites, and the combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under (5).

Jere Lehtinen scored a power play for the Stars, and Marty Turco stopped 22 points in the win.

The Wild lost 3-2 to the Red Wings last time out, as +110 road underdogs. The five goals went as a PUSH against the posted over/under (5).

Brian Rolston and Pavol Demitra scored in the loss for Minnesota. Niklas Backstrom stopped 35-of-38 shots.

Current streak:
Dallas has won 4 straight games.

Team records:
Dallas: 32-20-5
Minnesota: 30-19-4

Dallas most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 7-3
Before playing Los Angeles are 5-5
After playing Vancouver are 7-3
After a win are 7-3

Minnesota most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 5-5
Before playing Florida are 2-2-2
After playing Detroit are 5-5
After a loss are 7-3

A few trends to consider:
Dallas is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games on the road
Dallas is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
Dallas is 8-2 SU in its last 10 games when playing Minnesota
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Dallas's last 5 games when playing on the road against Minnesota
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Minnesota's last 5 games when playing at home against Dallas
Minnesota is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games
Minnesota is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against Dallas
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Minnesota's last 9 games when playing Dallas

Next up:
Dallas home to St. Louis, Saturday, February 9
Minnesota home to NY Islanders, Saturday, February 9

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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators

- The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators will both be trying to pick up a win on Thursday when they battle at Sommet Center.

Paul Ranger scored two goals in helping the Lightning defeat the Blues 5-4 on Tuesday. The Lightning won the game as +110 road underdogs, while the nine goals sailed OVER the posted over/under (5.5).

Martin St. Louis, Jason Ward and Nick Tarnasky added the other goals for the Lightning.

Chris Mason stopped all 31 shots for the shutout Tuesday, as the Predators got past the Hurricanes 1-0 at home. The Predators won the game as -145 favorites, while the lone goal fell UNDER the posted over/under (5.5).

J.P. Dumont scored the lone goal for the Predators in the win.

Current streak:
Nashville has won 3 straight games.

Team records:
Tampa Bay: 22-27-5
Nashville: 28-21-5

Tampa Bay most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 5-5
Before playing St. Louis are 3-7
After playing St. Louis are 4-6
After a win are 3-7

Nashville most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 5-5
Before playing Minnesota are 7-3
After playing Carolina are 8-8-1
After a win are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
Tampa Bay is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 13 of Tampa Bay's last 17 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Tampa Bay's last 6 games
Tampa Bay is 4-1-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Nashville
Nashville is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games at home
Nashville is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Nashville's last 7 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Nashville's last 6 games

Next up:
Tampa Bay at Atlanta, Saturday, February 9
Nashville at San Jose, Saturday, February 9

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Chicago Blackhawks vs. Calgary Flames

- The Chicago Blackhawks and the Calgary Flames will both be gunning for a victory on Thursday when they meet at Pengrowth Saddledome.

Patrick Sharp marked the lone goal for the Blackhawks in their 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

The Oilers won as -127 home favorites as the game pushed the 5-goal totak posted by sportsbooks.

Jarome Iginla scored the shootout winner and added another in regulation to lift the Flames to a 4-3 win over the Coyotes last time out, as -170 favorites. The combined score made it OVER the posted over/under (5).

Dion Phaneuf scored twice for the Flames, and Miikka Kiprusoff made 20 saves in the win.

Current streak:
Chicago has lost 5 straight games.

Team records:
Chicago: 23-25-5
Calgary: 27-19-8

Chicago most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 4-6
Before playing Edmonton are 6-4
After playing Edmonton are 6-4
After a loss are 1-9

Calgary most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 6-4
Before playing Los Angeles are 4-6
After playing Phoenix are 6-4
After a win are 7-3

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Chicago's last 11 games when playing on the road against Calgary
Chicago is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Calgary
Chicago is 5-9-5 SU in its last 19 games when playing on the road against Calgary
Chicago is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games on the road
Calgary is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Calgary's last 11 games when playing at home against Chicago
Calgary is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Calgary's last 6 games at home

Next up:
Chicago at Vancouver, Sunday, February 10
Calgary home to Edmonton, Saturday, February 9

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Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Phoenix Coyotes

- The Columbus Blue Jackets and the Phoenix Coyotes will both be trying to pick up a win on Thursday when they battle at Jobing.com Arena.

The Blue Jackets lost 4-3 to the Capitals in overtime on Tuesday, as -130 favorites. The combined score made it OVER the posted over/under (5.5).

Rick Nash scored twice for the Blue Jackets, and Jason Chimera added the other marker in the loss.

The Coyotes were defeated 4-3 by the Flames in a shootout on Tuesday, as +150 underdogs on the road. The combined score made it OVER the posted over/under (5).

Peter Mueller scored a hat trick for the Coyotes, and Illya Bryzgalov stopped 35-of-38 shots in the loss.

Current streak:
Columbus has lost 4 straight games.

Team records:
Columbus: 25-23-7
Phoenix: 28-22-4

Columbus most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 4-6
Before playing San Jose are 6-4
After playing Washington are 3-4
After a loss are 5-5

Phoenix most recently:
When playing on Thursday are 4-6
Before playing Chicago are 4-6
After playing Calgary are 5-5
After a loss are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Columbus's last 5 games when playing on the road against Phoenix
The total has gone OVER in 8 of Columbus's last 11 games when playing Phoenix
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Columbus's last 6 games
Columbus is 7-12-3 SU in its last 22 games when playing Phoenix
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Phoenix's last 5 games when playing at home against Columbus
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Phoenix's last 5 games at home
Phoenix is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 8 of Phoenix's last 11 games when playing Columbus

Next up:
Columbus at San Jose, Friday, February 8
Phoenix home to Nashville, Sunday, February 10

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On the Ice -- Thursday
By Judd Hall

There is no rest for the weary when it comes to hockey with 10 games on Thursday’s slate. The betting public really can’t get an edge on siding with the “chalk” right now, seeing the favorite go 8-8 at end of Tuesday’s play. At least the ‘over’ came in strong, going 10-3-3 this week.

Anaheim at New York Rangers

The Ducks snapped their five-game road losing skid on Tuesday night in blanking the Islanders 3-0. Anaheim has seen the ‘under’ go 5-1 in their last six contests this season. New York just had its three-game win streak snapped on Feb. 5 at home against the Kings, 4-2. It was the first ‘over’ to hit in Madison Square Garden since Jan. 10, a span of five tilts.

The road team is 7-3 in the last 10 head-to-head meetings of these two squads. And the ‘under’ has hit in the last three contests played on the Rangers home ice.

Vancouver at Atlanta

The Canucks are continuing their free fall right now, losing their fourth straight matches. Vancouver has lost five consecutive games on the road right now. Perhaps more telling about the defensive woes the Canucks are feeling is the ‘over’ has gone 5-0-2 in their last seven contests. Atlanta had won three straight tilts before falling to the Flyers at home on Tuesday, 3-2. The Thrashers have seen the ‘under’ post a 5-1 mark in their previous six games this season.

Vancouver has won its last two visits to Atlanta, the last coming in March 2002. The Canucks are 9-5-2 when following a loss on a days rest.

Toronto at Montreal

The hits keep on coming for the Leafs, losers of four of their last five matches. Their most recent embarrassment came in the form of an 8-0 blowout to the Panthers at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto has seen the ‘under’ go 4-1-1 in its last four games this year. The Habs have alternated wins and losses in their last five contests. However, their 4-3 victory over Ottawa on Tuesday night puts the Canadiens just one point out of the Northeast Division lead. Montreal has watched the ‘over’ 5-2 in its past seven tilts.

The Canadiens are 5-3 in their last eight meetings with the Maple Leafs, watching the ‘over’ go 5-3 as well.

New York Islanders at Pittsburgh

The Isles are yet another team mired in a funk, losing five straight games. Their last defeat came at the hands of Anaheim at the Nassau Coliseum, 3-0, on Feb. 5. New York has watched the ‘under’ hit in three straight contests. Pittsburgh is learning to live without Sidney Crosby in the lineup, but it’s a slow process as evidenced by its 3-2-2 record since Jan. 19, with the ‘over’ going 4-3.

The Pens are 4-2 against the Islanders at Mellon Arena in their last six showdowns at the venue, seeing the ‘over’ go 4-2. Pittsburgh is 4-1 when coming off of a loss with two days off this year.

Florida at Ottawa

Don’t look now, but the Panthers have actually won three games in a row for just the fourth time this year. Their last game was an 8-0 triumph on the road versus the Maple Leafs. Florida has watched the ‘over’ go on a 5-2 run in its last seven contests. The Senators are slumping right now, losing three straight contests and six of their last eight. Ottawa has watched the ‘over’ go 5-2-1 in that time.

Ottawa has won its last three home games versus the Panthers by a combined score of 14-1, cashing the ‘under’ each time.

Los Angeles at Detroit

The Kings have so far split the first four stops on their eight-game road trip, winning at the Rangers last Tuesday 4-2. Los Angeles has been involved in a lot of high-scoring affairs at the turn of the New Year, seeing the ‘over’ go 10-5 since Jan. 1. Detroit just never seems to cool off, reeling off eight straight victories, posting a 5-1-2 mark for the ‘under.’

The Red Wings have won their last five home games against Los Angeles, with the ‘over’ going 4-1 in that time frame. And the Kings have won back-to-back road games just once all year long.

Tampa Bay at Nashville


The Lightning haven’t been playing their best hockey for the better part of the season. However, they have won two of their last three games, with the ‘over’ cashing in two of them. Tampa Bay has given up at least one power play goal in five of its last six games. Nashville is making a nice little push to make it into the playoff race in the Western Conference by winning three straight matches, seeing the ‘under’ hit in the last two.

Tampa Bay has had good luck in Music City USA recently, going 3-2 in its last five trips to Nashville. Bettors have seen the ‘under’ go 3-1-1 during that stretch.

Dallas at Minnesota

Times are good in Dallas right now. The Stars have won four straight matches to solidify their hold on the Pacific Division lead. Their last game was a 3-2 victory over the hapless Canucks on Feb. 5. The ‘over’ has gone 3-2-2 in their last 7 matches. The Wild just had their three-game win streak broken up by Detroit in a 3-2 home defeat in overtime last Tuesday. Minnesota has watched the ‘over go 3-1-3 in its last seven contests.

Columbus at Phoenix

The Blue Jackets can’t seem to buy a win right now. They’ve lost four straight right now, cashing the ‘over’ in three of them. Phoenix has been one of hockey’s hottest clubs, but they’ve dropped three of its past four fixtures to close out a five-game road trip.

Columbus is 3-0-1 in four road showdowns with the Coyotes, posting a 4-0 record for the ‘over.’

vegasinsider.com

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‘Original Six’ rivalry heats up on Thursday

The hotly contested Atlantic Division has three teams in action on Thursday, as the Rangers host the defending Stanley Cup champions from Anaheim while the Islanders and Penguins will also do battle. But the focus will be north of the border in Montreal, where another edition of the NHL’s most historic rivalry takes place between the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Toronto at Montreal

The Leafs received some good news this week as they prepare to head to the Bell Center, as Bryan McCabe and Alex Steen could both hit the ice in this contest after spending time on the injured list. This could not come at a better time for the Leafs, who are in danger of falling out of the playoff race already. For the Leafs to have success in this game, they will need to slow down the league’s best power-play unit. This will be the sixth meeting of the year between these two rivals, with Montreal winning three times. Four of those five games were decided by one goal.

Anaheim at New York Rangers

The Ducks travel to Madison Square Garden to meet the Rangers, who had won five of their last six before losing 4-2 to Los Angeles on Tuesday night. Anaheim will have Teemu Selanne in the lineup for this game, as the veteran sniper decided to forego retirement for one more season and rejoin the Ducks. Selanne picked up an assist in his first game back on Tuesday night as the Ducks blanked the Islanders 3-0. The Rangers’ offense has been showing signs of life lately, as offseason free-agent signing Chris Drury has started to heat up in recent weeks. The two teams have met twice this season, with the visiting team winning in each contest.

New York Islanders at Pittsburgh

These Atlantic Division rivals have met four times this season, splitting the series so far at two wins apiece. The Islanders have scored the fewest goals in the NHL, often leaving goalie Rick DiPietro to stand on his head to earn a victory for the team. The Penguins have played well in the absence of injured captain Sidney Crosby, in large part to the inspired form of young scorer Evgeni Malkin. The Russian replaced his superstar teammate in the All-Star Game, and he is also carrying the scoring load for the Penguins in Crosby’s absence.

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Tocchet returns from 'long ordeal'

A contrite but enthusiastic Rick Tocchet, who said his time away from hockey made him appreciate the game more, is ready to get back to work.

The assistant coach's two-year hiatus for his role in a betting operation is over, and he'll be behind the bench tonight when the Coyotes host the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"Anytime something is taken away from you for a while that you love . . . you take it for granted sometimes," he said Wednesday. "It's tough to be on the sidelines.

"I'm happy to be back in the NHL. It's been a long ordeal. It's funny. You try to go through things in your head over the last couple of years. People who know me, I usually speak from the heart. It's been a tough time."

When the allegations surfaced, Tocchet went to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and asked for a leave of absence. After he was sentenced to two-years' probation, Bettman extended his ban 90 more days.

"I commend the NHL," Tocchet said. "They hired Mr. (Robert) Cleary, a respected prosecutor. Gary did a great job in getting the facts done and took a lot longer than maybe I wanted, but the sport of hockey, I think they did a great job.

"I made a mistake. I should not have gotten involved in illegal gambling. I paid a heavy price. A lot of people were embarrassed by this, my family, my friends, the NHL, the Coyotes."

He said he initially was disappointed and upset when he was given the additional three months, but after taking a hard look at the situation, he respected the fact that Bettman "had to do what he to do . . . and it's over."

CEO Jeff Shumway said he and team President Doug Moss met with Tocchet and reached the conclusion that "he is a man of integrity, a person we are excited to welcome into the . . . family."

Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky, who held Tocchet's coaching spot open, did not attend the news conference but said in a statement, "I'm extremely happy that Rick will finally be returning to the Coyotes. With this episode behind us, we can now all move on and concentrate on the great game of hockey and working to make the Phoenix Coyotes a playoff team."

Tocchet said it meant a lot to him that a coaching position remained available.

"I appreciate it tremendously," he said. "It's hard to watch a game, knowing they're holding a spot for me. I'm grateful to have that kind of friend."

Now it's back to business, and Tocchet said he is excited that he is going to be able to work with a young and energetic team.

"I like the hard work," he said. "These guys never die. They do it every game. They're shocking the NHL world. These guys are a well-oiled machine right now. They got a good ship going, and I just want to be part of it. It'll be exciting."

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Re: Hockey Today - Feb 7

Dallas Stars place defenseman Sergei Zubov on IR; G Marty Turco sidelined.February 7, 2008

DALLAS (AP) -Dallas defenseman Sergei Zubov was placed on injured reserve Thursday because of a groin injury and starting goalie Marty Turco will miss the game against Minnesota with a sore neck.

The Stars recalled goaltender Tobias Stephan from their minor-league Iowa Stars club.

The 37-year-old Zubov has missed seven games with the injury. Mike Smith will start at Minnesota on Thursday night.

The 24-year-old Stephan made his NHL debut Oct. 13 at Chicago and blocked 38 of 40 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss. In 39 AHL games, he went 17-16-2 with a 2.60 goals-against average, a .907 save percentage and two shutouts.

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