The bottom of the Eastern Conference standings are finally starting to get interesting. But the New York Rangers are doing their best to make sure they don’t have to go through the same drama as last season when they were eliminated from playoff contention on the final day of the regular season.
The Rangers entered play today with 72 points, just one point ahead of the eighth-place Carolina Hurricanes. With four other teams vying for the final seat at the table, the Rangers are doing their best to distance themselves from the pack. Today’s matinee affair against the Philadelphia Flyers—the same team that eliminated the Rangers from playoff contention last season—provided the Broadway Blue-shirts were the perfect opportunity to create some separation in the standings.
Unfortunately, 2011 is going to be another losing season for the New York Islanders. But rookie forward Michael Grabner is giving the Isles reason to hope for the future.
Leading all rookies with 16 points (10 goals, six assists) in 14 games, Grabner was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for February. He scored in six consecutive games from Feb. 5-15, the longest rookie goal streak since Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins had a six-game run to start his NHL career in 2006-07.
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Michael Grabner named February ‘Rookie of the Month’
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With Sidney Crosby’s return still uncertain and Evgeni Malkin gone for the rest of the season because of a knee injury, the Pittsburgh Penguins continued the remodeling of their offensive corps to get ready for the postseason.
Following the acquisition of Dallas Stars forward James Neal, Pens GM Ray Shero has gone out and picked up sniper Alex Kovalev from the Ottawa Senators. The 38-year-old spent parts of five seasons with the Penguins, and had his most productive season (44 goals, 95 points in 2000-01) while a member of the Penguins.
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Penguins, Hurricanes acquire familiar faces
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It’s hard to believe that the New Jersey Devils have endured a 9-23-2 start, a coaching change and several injuries to their Hall of Fame netminder. I say “endure” because not too many people in the hockey world were sure if the Devils were going to make it through Christmas.
But now, here in the middle of February, as teams make their playoff push, the Devils are the hottest team in the NHL. With their latest victory––a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes––the Devils have won seven straight games and are 15-1-2 over their last 18 games. Dainius Zubrus had a pair of goals and Ilya Kovalchuk added an assist to stretch his point streak to 10 games (7 goals, 5 assists).
There are few hockey players who put as much time on the ice as they do in the weight room. And then there is one guy who would have made the bench press into a makeshift bed.
No, Rob Brind’Amour has never slept in a gym, but everyone you talk to who has ever played with the guy will tell you that he was the first guy to hit the weights in the morning and the last to leave the weight room following a game.
The date is quickly approaching for teams with young teenage prospects to decide whether or not they want to keep their talented prospects up with the big club or send them down to their respective junior teams. The deadline for 2010 draft picks varies. Teams can return their teenage players to their junior team at any time, but doing so before they play in their 10th game delays the start of their entry-level contract. Entry-level contracts last for three years for players 21 and under. Deciding on what to do with an 18-year-old’s future isn’t easy, so there are a couple of clubs that have a big decision ahead of them in the next couple of days.