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Tag:Chicago Blackhawks
Posted on: December 14, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 5:06 pm
 

'Hawks' Bolland rips Sedin 'sisters,' Vancouver

By Brian Stubits

If you are looking for drawbacks in the NHL's realignment plan -- you likely aren't, most people found enough of those -- then here's one for ya. The death blow to the non-traditional rivalry that is the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks.

Playoff familiarity has bred a lot of contempt between these two teams. So much that I don't think it's exaggeration for one team to call the other their biggest rival in the sport right now. Sure, the Blackhawks have the Red Wings and the Canucks have, well, all of Canada, but no relationship seems to have the vitriol that this one is harboring at the moment.

Despite the fact that the two teams haven't played each other since Nov. 16 and won't play again until Jan. 31, they are still chirping away.

Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland is the man responsible for getting this fire burning once again when he joined WGN radio with Chicago goalie Corey Crawford on Tuesday night. He then proceeded to become the first person in the history of ever to refer to twins Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin as the "Sedin Sisters." OK, he was actually the second person on the show to say it, parroting the remarks of the show's host Dave Kaplan (full audio here).

Bolland was then asked if he would still call the Sedins sisters if they ever became Blackhawks. Bolland's response?

"Well, they'll never become 'Hawks," Bolland said. "I don't think we'd let them on our team. That'd probably be one thing. We'd be sure not to let them on our team. And, yeah, they probably still would be sisters. I think they might sleep in, like, bunk beds. The older one has the bottom one, the younger one's got the top."

But he didn't end his verbal assault on Vancouver there. No, he continued, this time branching out to the entire city. From the Vancouver Sun:

Bolland also talked about Canucks fans. Kaplan asked Bolland what Blackhawks players do in their spare time when on the road. Bolland mentioned that he tries not to venture too far from his hotel room when he has to play the Canucks at Rogers Arena.

"There's a lot of weirdos there," said Bolland of Vancouver. "You don't want to be out there too long."

A young fan asked Bolland, "Do you hate everyone on the Canucks, or just a lot of them?"

"I hate of all of them," said the Blackhawks forward.

Of course, it wouldn't be a full story without the Canucks retort. I'll give you one guess as to who was the player from Vancouver to issue a response, and you know it wasn't one of the Sedins.

That's right, it was Kevin Bieksa, the very vocal defenseman who seems to be the team spokesman in situations like this. He was equally stinging of Bolland.

"If it wasn't for the twins, I don't think anyone would hear about Dave Bolland," Bieksa said on Wednesday. "If he doesn't want them on his team, he's crazy. But it's probably b/c he'd be out of a roster spot."

Heck, even the coach is getting in on the action. You know it's getting interesting when that happens.

“When you have comments like Bolland, obviously an individual who’s IQ is the size of a bird seed and a face only a mother can look at," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.

Now that is an original put down. Much better than the tried and clearly not true sisters line.

But don't think for one second that Bolland didn't know what he was doing. He knew full well what the ramifications of what he was saying would be. He didn't care.

He also seemed to be pandering to the crowd. It was a bit reminiscent of a wrestler being purposely outrageous to give the fans what they want. To draw a parallel to competitive sports, it was more like a booster pep rally for a college football or basketball team. If he was trying to bait the Canucks, it worked.

Figures that just when this rivalry is getting really good, they are going to only have two guaranteed meetings starting next season. Of course, if they meet in the semifinals or even Stanley Cup Final, depending how the playoffs will work, there will be that much more juice on the line.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 12, 2011 6:00 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 8:52 pm
 

Terry Murray replaced by John Stevens

Murray1

By: Adam Gretz

Just hours after reports initially surfaced that the Los Angeles Kings could be the next team to make a coaching change, the front office did just that on Monday evening by announcing that head coach Terry Murray has been relieved of his duties. He will be replaced on an interim basis by assistant coach John Stevens.

Murray was in his fourth year as the team's head coach and had compiled a 139-106-19 regular season record, while qualifying for the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, exiting in the first round each time.

“I don’t think words can ever describe how hard something like this is," said Kings general manager Dean Lombardi during a conference call. "You’re talking about, first off, a really good man. As far as a coach, if you look at what he’s done for us, he really stabilized this franchise, pointed it in the right direction. He taught these players a lot. When they look back, they’re going to realize they learned a lot from him. The team got younger and got better under him. He did a lot for this franchise.’’

After a blockbuster trade over the summer that saw the team acquire top-line center Mike Richards in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Kings were expected to be -- and probably still should be -- one of the top contenders in the Western Conference as he joined a team that already had young Stars Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty. So far, things have not worked as planned as they have stumbled out of the starting gate with a 13-12-4 record that currently has them in fourth place in the Pacific Dividion, ahead of only the struggling Anaheim Ducks.

Making the slow start even more frustrating is the fact the Kings have received excellent goaltending from Jonathan Quick since the season started. The problem, however, has been that the offense, once you get past Kopitar and Richards, has been pretty much invisible in all situations (even strength, power play).

Replacing him on an interim basis is the 45-year-old Stevens who joined the Kings organization last season as an assistant.

He'll be taking over a team that has plenty of talent, and what should be high expectations given the talent at his disposal. Will this be the kick in the rear the Kings need to get things going back in the right direction? And, perhaps more importantly, is Stevens the right person to do that?

He does have previous head coaching experience in the NHL, running things behind the bench in Philadelphia between the 2006-07 season and 2009-10. He replaced Ken Hitchcock early in the '06-07 season and remained on the job until early in the 2009 season when he was replaced by Peter Laviolette. The Flyers then went on to win the Eastern Conference and lose in the Stanley Cup Final to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. During his stint with the Flyers the team had a record 120-109-34 under his watch.

But while he's currently behind the bench, he may not be there for long. Speculation has already started that his tenure is going to be a temporary one, and one name that's been mentioned is Darryl Sutter. Lombardi was asked specifically about Sutter and how he's spoke highly of him in the past.

“Like I said, there’s no timeline and we’re looking at all our options. Right now, I think that’s as far as I can comment.’’

This is already the fifth coaching change of the NHL season. Previously, the St. Louis Blues replaced Davis Payne with Hitchcock, while the Capitals, Hurricanes and Ducks all made changes over the past month.

More on the NHL's Coaching Carousel here

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 12:36 pm
 

Show to follow NHL players, starting with Kane

By Brian Stubits

There is no denying the success of sports reality shows (the real ones, not shows like Pros vs. Joes). Best I can remember, it all started with HBO's Hard Knocks series where the cameras followed an NFL team through training camp. The show has been a hit every season it has been on.

Then last year HBO showed it can work just as well with hockey, running the 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic series featuring the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. It, too, was a big hit so HBO is rolling out the series again this year, debuting on Wednesday of this week featuring the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. The excitement is high, people can't wait to see more of what we watched last year.

So clearly, inside-the-ropes shows are all the rage these days. That's why the NHL is getting in on the act in another way, launching NHL 36, a 30-minute show to air on Versus that will follow an NHL player through a normal day. The pilot episode will feature Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.

And wouldn't you know it, the show is set to air this Wednesday, Dec. 14. As in the same day as the HBO series. But they won't compete, so you can catch both. NHL 36 will air before the national game on Versus, so it will be shown at 6:30 ET.

Here's more from the press release.

Providing the ultimate behind-the-scenes peek into the life of this NHL superstar, NHL 36 takes viewers into Kane's world for 36 straight hours as he lives the life of a not-so-average 23-year-old. Through an array of microphones and isolated cameras, the 30-minute documentary will offer unique insight into Kane's game on the ice. The show also will feature interviews with Kane's family.

"We are excited about the opportunity to create individual player portraits with unprecedented depth -- at home with family, out with friends and in the workplace," said Ross Greenburg, executive producer, NHL 36. "Wherever they go, whatever they do, our cameras are there, capturing what a day in the life is like for some of the biggest names in the NHL."

"NHL 36 is a great new series that is part of the high-quality storytelling and production values of NBC Sports," said Sam Flood, Executive Producer for NBC Sports and VERSUS. "It's an example of programming that dives deeper into the sport and its players, and one that viewers can expect to see more of from the new NBC Sports Network."

No word yet if the show will have any footage of a night out on the town with Kane or he and Jonathan Toews meeting girls in local cafes.

Right now the show is scheduled to feature 10 players. If it's a success, you can imagine there will be more after that. Who doesn't love these behind-the-scenes shows?

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 4, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 7:17 pm
 

Check out Carey Price's All-Star campaign video

By Brian Stubits

All-Star campaigns have existed as long as fans voted for all-stars. Hockey is no different.

There were the Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews dueling campaign ads. And who could forget the Rory Fitzpatrick campaign?

Then there is this one from Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.

Not like a good goaltender playing in a city like Montreal needs much help getting all-star votes. I don't see how this is going to help his cause. But apparently this is a takeoff of something funny in Montreal. Beats me.

H/t to Pro Hockey Talk

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 4, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: Broadway boys continue to be a hit

By Brian Stubits

It's about time we start taking the New York Rangers seriously, wouldn't you say?

The view in the Eastern Conference is that it's the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins followed by every other team. While that's still the case -- I mean, they have combined to win two of the last three Stanley Cups -- there has to be a setting at the table for the Blueshirts, no? (Yes, Flyers fans, Philadelphia too.)

It's amazing to think about a team from New York being overshadowed. Teams all across Major League Baseball wish that were possible in their sport. But this Rangers team is rather quietly just chugging along. The latest steamrolling effort came in Tampa, where Brad Richards returned to one of his favorite places and helped the Rangers take down his and coach John Tortorella's former team, the Lightning, 4-2.

Since losing to the Ottawa Senators 5-4 in a shootout on October 29, the Rangers have gone 12-2-0. They won seven straight games before dropping two on the road and then have since reeled off five wins in a row since being shutout by the Panthers on Nov. 23.

And how about Richards, the big acquisition in the offseason? In the most recent five-game winning streak he has four goals and five assists. Looking at the team's last nine games, Richards has points in seven of them. The only two he didn't get on the score sheet? The two losses.

Don't think he didn't savor a win in his old stomping grounds. From the New York Daily News.

“It was the first win I had back here, and I really wanted it,” said Richards, who had lost both previous visits to Tampa Bay after being dealt to the Dallas Stars. “Torts wanted this one, too. I don’t know if he wanted it more or not, but the way it ended here was a little frustrating, so I was really happy to get that one.”

Tortorella said he and Richards meant no disrespect to Tampa Bay’s current front office, including general manager Steve Yzerman, but recalled watching in February 2008 as then-Tampa GM Jay Feaster traded away the man who won the Conn Smythe trophy during the Lightning’s Stanley Cup run.

“Not this organization, not the owners here or the people here, but the people that moved him had no clue,” Tortorella said. “I was in the meetings. I watched it happen, and I thought they jammed it to him. How he was handled, I don’t think he’s too unhappy about getting a win here.”

I don't think anybody that's in the organization or is a Rangers fan is too unhappy these days.

The problem in recent seasons in New York certainly hasn't been the goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist has been outstanding in recent seasons and could have been a Vezina Trophy winner at some point if he had a little more offensive help. Let's be honest, team success is helpful in winning individual awards and the lack of offense wasn't helping the team achieve a whole lot of success.

More from the weekend
Recaps
Stories

But things are finally clicking. It's no wonder the Rangers have won 12 of their last 14 games. In six of their last seven wins, the Rangers have scored at least four goals.

Marian Gaborik is back to scoring like he did before coming to New York. He has a team-high 12 goals. It would appear he's beginning to thrive again now that there is somebody else -- Richards -- to take a good chunk of the spotlight and expectations off of him, somebody to share those heavy burdens with.

Start spreading the news, the Rangers aren't leaving any time soon.

Moulson nice

The other team in New York, the Islanders, have been anemic when it comes to scoring goals. The offense has been horrible all season long. So of course they became the first team this season to have one of its players score four goals in a game.

The Isles needed all four scores from Matt Moulson on Saturday in Dallas, his final tally of the night being the game-winner.

"They [John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau] really gave me some good chances, all I had to do was sweep it into an open net," Moulson said. "The win's the biggest part. Score as many goals as you want, but the win's the most important thing."

The win in over the Stars caps off a very successful four-game road trip for the Isles. They picked up seven of the eight possible points, the only point missing came in Friday's shootout loss to the Blackhawks.

Yes, there is actually a hint of optimism on the Island again after another brutal start.

Good to have Gabby back

Bruce Boudreau's debut as the Anaheim Ducks coach was eerily reminiscent of his debut with the Capitals for years ago. His team was playing the Flyers, built a three-goal lead before losing it and going to overtime. The only difference was the Capitals won that game four years ago while a double minor in overtime cost his Ducks dearly as they lost in overtime.

But Boudreau had plenty of positives to take from the game, most notably the team's effort.

However it's what he said after the game that really caught my eyes and made me grateful Boudreau is already back in coaching. Having familiarity with the Flyers from his time in Washington, Boudreau said he was anticipating what Philly would do.

“I knew exactly what Philly was going to do,” he said. ”I knew the guys that were going to dive and they did. They got away with it. The only one that didn’t get away with it was [Wayne] Simmonds. It looked like he got shot. And he went down until he start peeking and no one was calling it and then he had to get back up.

“[Scott] Hartnell looked like he’d gotten shot by a bazooka. He didn’t miss a shift and then he comes in and scores the tying goal.”

Props for dropping a bazooka reference on us, Bruce. The implication is that the Ducks didn't really deserve all of the penalty minutes they accrued to contribute to the loss.

I'm sure Philly fans will love Boudreau as much as Rangers fans after this.

Rude welcome

While the first leg of the Flyers' back-to-back was all about the opposing team and its new coach, the second leg was about one of the Flyers players.

For the first time this season, Ilya Bryzgalov started both ends of a back-to-back, and it's probably no coincidence that it involved playing in his former city, Phoenix (or Glendale, if you'd prefer). They saw the Bryzgalov they came to know and love, too.

The Flyers goalie was sharp enough to allow just two goals and lead his new team over his old team with a 4-2 victory.

"I was walking in the building, and I can't explain what I felt, but it's something," Bryzgalov said about his return. "I played here three-and-a-half years. Winning lots of games, losing lots of games. Part of my soul is left here.

"I was surprised if they were going to boo me because I don't think I deserved it. I think I did lots of good things for this city and for this team and same thing. They did lots of good things for me. I really appreciate everything they've done for me."

He shows his appreciation by beating his old team. Nice (we kid).

Rat pack

This is how you make people believe you're for real.

The Florida Panthers just made a quick cross-country trip for games in Los Angeles and San Jose. While they lost 2-1 to the Kings on Thursday, they outshot and pretty much outplayed the Kings.

On Saturday they went into San Jose and fell down early to the Sharks. The Panthers stormed back in the second period and eventually won the game 5-3. It was the first time this season the Sharks lost a game when scoring the first goal.

As is becoming common again, there were even a few plastic rats on the ice, even in California.

Of course, it was the top line of Kris Versteeg-Stephen Weiss-Tomas Fleischmann doing the damage again after Versteeg missed the Kings game with a bad neck.

Now the Panthers begin their third consecutive week (!) as the Southeast Division leaders by welcoming Tomas Vokoun and the Washington Capitals to Florida on Monday. Still quite stunning.

Unbeatable Bruins

This is as great of a run as we've seen in hockey in a long time. The Bruins just finished reminding the Toronto Maple Leafs who the boss of the Northeast is. After beating the Leafs earlier in the week in Toronto, the B's took care of the Leafs a second time, this time back in Boston, 4-1.

With the win, the Bruins haven't lost in regulation since Oct. 29. That's an entire month (14 games) of earning points in every game. The only non-two-point game was the shootout loss to the equally hot Detroit Red Wings on Black Friday.

There are a lot of heralded players on the team. One of them, David Krejci, just received a big extension from the club. Another guy that could soon be getting a nice new contract is Chris Kelly, and he'd be on the unheralded side.

But his goal on Saturday, the game-winner, was already his 10th on the season. He came in to Boston as more of what people love to call a "role player." (Resisting urge to rant ...) Now he is only five goals from matching his career high of 15, which he set twice with the Senators, most recently in 2009-10.

We'll have more on the Bruins later this week from Adam Gretz, but this is one helluva run

Quote of the weekend

There were a few candidates this week. We shared them already, lines from Richards, Bryzgalov and Boudreau.

But none were more interesting than what Ilya Kovalchuk had to say after the Devils lost their fourth straight, 4-2 in Winnipeg to the Jets.

Like a lot of other players this season, Kovalchuk was booed in his visit to the 'Peg. What were his thoughts on the matter?

"They should support me, maybe I'm one of the reasons they moved here." Ouch. Sorry, Atlanta.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 3, 2011 9:12 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 2:46 pm
 

David Perron scores in return to lineup



By: Adam Gretz

Appearing in an NHL game for the first time since last November due to a concussion, St. Louis Blues forward David Perron scored in the first period of his return to the lineup on Saturday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

He missed 97 games due to the concussion that he suffered in a game against the San Jose Sharks when he was hit by Joe Thornton. Prior to the game on Saturday Perron Tweeted that Thornton sent him a text message wishing him luck in his return.

It took him just three shifts to score his first goal of the year, and it was a nice one as he went to the front of the net, picked up a loose puck and demonstrated some nice puckhandling ability in a tight space, beating Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery.

Prior to his injury last year Perron had scored five goals in 10 games, and in 235 career games entering Saturday the former first-round pick had scored 53 goals over parts of four NHL seasons, including a career-high 20 during the 2009-10 campaign.

Previously At Eye On Hockey

Perron to return after missing 97 games
David Perron cleared for contact drills

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 2, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 4:15 pm
 

Blues' David Perron to return Sat. after 97 games

By Brian Stubits

David Perron is finally back for the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues announced that the forward will return to the game action with Saturday's game vs. the Chicago Blackhawks. Including missing Friday's game in Colorado, that will make it 97 games since Perron last played.

"It's been a long road obviously," Perron said Friday (courtesy of Jeremy Rutherford of St. Louis Post-Dispatch). "I didn't expect it to be that long. But I'm really excited to get back into the lineup."

Optimism picked up that Perron was nearing a return to game action when he was cleared for off-ice workouts on Sept. 26. Then he was given the OK for participating in full-contact drills on Nov. 19. A couple of setback-free weeks later, and his return is finally set to happen.

"It's the end of a long journey for David Perron and we're excited to get him back in a Blues' uniform," GM Doug Armstrong said. "One thing that never wavered was [Perron's] passion to get back on the ice."

He's been out since taking the following brutal hit to the side of his head from the San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton on Nov. 4 of 2010.

Before the injury, Perron had scored five goals with two assists in 10 games for the Blues last season. For his career, the 23-year-old has 53 goals and 78 assists in 235 games, including highs of 20 goals in 2009-10 and 35 assists in 08-09.

The next question becomes how will Perron fit in with new coach Ken Hitchcock's lines? Andy Strickland at True Hockey says it's most likely that Perron will return to a top-six forward role right away and will likely spent most of his time with Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart. There will likely be a little more line juggling, but this one can be filed under the "good problems" file.

I think I speak for a lot of hockey fans when I say it's great to see Perron back, it's been too long.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 2, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 8:42 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Quick on top of his game again

By Brian Stubits

Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

It's tough to find a position in sports that lends itself to streakiness more than goaltender in hockey. For some reason, most of them fail to maintain an even balance throughout the course of a season -- Tim Thomas' consistently spectacular play notwithstanding. There season charts resemble roller coasters tumultuous enough to turn even the heartiest rider's stomach.

L.A. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick isn't immune to the turbulence. In the opening month of the season, Quick was absolutely phenomenal. He turned in three consecutive shutouts in mid-to-late October. For his work, he was given a day off on Oct. 25 and that good mojo seemed to vanish.

In his next seven starts and nine of 11, he surrendered at least three goals. Instead of being a large part of why they were winning early in the season, he became a large part of why they were losing. It was a quick reversal of fortunes, if you'll pardon the pun.

But like any streaker -- we're still talking goalies here -- he has reversed course again. Entering Saturday's matinee against the Montreal Canadiens, Quick comes in on a tear. Thanks to a shutout of the Sharks and a nearly flawless 41-save showing against the Panthers, Quick has stopped 74 of the last 75 shots he has seen. Go back a little further and he has actually saved 84 of the last 85 shots.

Here's what Pierre McGuire told an Ottawa radio station about how good Quick was in Thursday's win. "If the kings don't have Quick Florida wins that game. Kevin Dineen's team dominated with speed game".

Yes, he's back on his game. It really is no coincidence, then, that the Kings enter their game against the Habs having earned points in seven of their last 10 games.

They really need him to be the good Quick this season. The Kings have high hopes for this season. Many, myself included, saw them as legitimate threats in the Western Conference race this season. Despite the addition of Mike Richards to some other talented offensive players like Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, the Kings aren't going to do a whole lot of scoring. As of now, they are 24th in the league in goals per game with 2.32.

So much more than other goalies, when Quick is playing poorly it shows.

Assuming he'll get the start on Saturday, he'll have a chance to extend his already league-high shutout mark of four. The Canadiens haven't been very good this season, that's obvious. But moreover, they have really struggled on the road. You have to go back four weeks to Nov. 4 to find the last time the Habs won a road game in regulation.

In Kings terminology, that was near the beginning of the bad Quick days.

As a bonus for L.A., if the Kings are victorious, coach Terry Murray will have his 500th career victory.

The Bryz is back in town

When the Flyers visit Phoenix on Saturday Ilya Bryzgalov's arrival will be highly anticipated by the local crowd for the second time this season. Earlier this year he made his first trip to Winnipeg, a city he wasn't too fond of possibly moving to once upon a time. He didn't play in that game.

Now Bryzgalov returns to Phoenix, the city where he did play and left this past offseason. It was with the Coyotes that Bryz built up his reputation as one of the better goaltenders in the league before taking a bigger pay day with the Flyers.

This will be the second time Bryzgalov has faced his former team this season. Before the first meeting in Philadelphia, some of his former teammates had some less-than-kind things to say about Bryz. Derek Morris even admitted to being glad that Bryzgalov was gone.

Everybody knows the Coyotes don't draw a lot of butts to the seats. But this game should have a few more tickets purchases not only because of the abundance of Flyers fans who will be there -- rest assured, they will be -- but likely from a few of the Coyotes fans who just want to boo. Or thank Bryzgalov for his time there. Take your pick.

Welcome back, Bruce

We hardly forget ye.

Anaheim Ducks' coach Bruce Boudreau (looks weird) will make his debut with his new team on Friday with the Philadelphia Flyers in Southern California. One thing we know we'll see, at least to start the game, will be the reunion of Bobby Ryan with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on the top line.

In his final days as coach, Randy Carlyle had been trying to mix and match, trying to find the best results and cure the woes the lack of depth was causing his team. Boudreau, however, restored the top line to its old self and will try to make due.

Remember, when he arrived in Washington he didn't inherit a Caps team with a lot of depth. It was a very similar situation, actually, with some highly skilled forwards. They soared under his leadership. Will the same happen in Anaheim? We'll get the first glimpse on Friday when the Ducks host the Flyers.

Too bad HBO hasn't begun the 24/7 filming yet and depriving us a chance of more Boudreau, if only in a very small sampling.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

In this case, the ranch would be Washington, Boudreau's old stomping ground.

The Capitals enter the third game of the Dale Hunter era still searching for their first win. If the third time's the charm, it will have to come at the expense of the Ottawa Senators, who visit the Caps on Saturday.

They are badly in need of a win, for their confidence if nothing else. The Caps have lost four games in a row and seven of their last nine. They have fallen -- get this -- five points behind the Florida Panthers in the Southeast Division, and that's even with the Panthers leveling off in recent weeks.

There has been a whole lot of difference so far for Washington, but they do appear to be focusing more on defense again and the effort has appeared to be better. But right now they just need a win.

Jason Chimera put it better than I can. "We're going to find ourselves packing an early golf bag."

Still searching Part II

Carolina Hurricanes new coach Kirk Muller is in the same boat as Hunter, 0-2 in his NHL career behind the benches. His task, on paper at least, looks a bit tougher than Hunter's.

That's because the 'Canes will host the high-flying Penguins on Saturday night. Not exactly the team you want to see when trying to bust out of a slump.

It has to start with getting the defense squared away. In the Hurricanes' current five-game losing streak, they have given up at least three goals in each game. Tomas Kaberle isn't working out, that's no secret. But that's only part of the defensive woes. The unit continues to leave Cam Ward high and dry in net behind them.

Nobody told Muller this was going to be easy.

More to prove

The St. Louis Blues have been ridiculously good since Ken Hitchcock came aboard. They are 8-1-2 under his leadership.

But Hitchcock is still delaying his excitement for the team's play until their next stretch of games. Starting with the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night, they will begin playing teams for a second time. That's when you can start to draw some conclusions.

"We're going to get a push," Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "You can surprise a team, but we're now playing a second wave. When we start playing the Chicago's and Detroit's again, now we'll have a look. They'll be ready for us. They won't be surprised by our game

What's shocking about it all is that by the end of the weekend, the Blues -- 14th in the West when Hitchcock was hired -- could be leading the Central Division. With their crisp and disciplined play, that's certainly a possibility.

We're going streaking!

New York Rangers: It took them a few games to get going at the beginning of the season, but when they got going, boy did they. John Tortorella heads back to Tampa Bay with the Rangers having won four in a row.

Blues: In addition to Saturday's game against Chicago, they play the Avalanche on Friday night. That's where they take their four-game win streak.

Detroit Red Wings: All this team does is streak. No seriously, look at their schedule. Like the Blues, they have two games over the weekend, Friday in Buffalo then Sunday at Colorado.

Canadiens: Already mentioned, the Habs go into Los Angeles on Saturday having lost four straight.

Capitals: See above: Caps have lost four in a row headed into Saturday date with Senators.

Hurricanes: Currently at five losses in a row, the Penguins visit next. Ouch.

Edmonton Oilers: With the battle of Alberta looming, the Oilers enter on a three-game skid. They would probably like to have Taylor Hall back.

Photo: Getty Images

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