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Edmonton Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins shoots the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Texas February 28, 2013. (MIKE STONE/REUTERS)
Edmonton Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins shoots the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Texas February 28, 2013. (MIKE STONE/REUTERS)

NHL

Around the rinks Add to ...

By the numbers

2

Points in his past 11 games for Edmonton Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has struggled offensively since returning to the NHL from the minors and then the world junior tournament.

10

Of their first 20 games, the number in which the Nashville Predators played beyond the regulation 60 minutes. The Predators went 5-5 in that span, posting a 3-1 record in overtime, but going 2-4 in shootouts.

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They said it:

“You can feel it. Every team is ready for us as they try to stop this team and try to be the first. It’s getting tougher and tougher. [Teams] check harder and everybody gets prepared for us more and more.” ~ Marian Hossa...The Blackhawks’ forward, after Chicago recorded a point in each of its first 19 games, establishing an NHL record. Since then the Blackhawks have made it 20 games with a point.

“Winning is a feeling. When you have the right feeling going, you win all the close games. You get the goal at the end, you win in overtime [and] you win in the shootouts.”~ Ken Hitchcock...The St. Louis Blues’ coach, on the mindset of a team on an unexpectedly long winning streak.

Tweet of the week

I just wanted to apologize to all the people who had to replace their Budweiser Red Light bulb after yesterday’s debacle #LUON8O Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo (@strombone1) pokes fun at himself following an 8-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, in which his goals-against average soared to 2.11 from 1.45 in just a single game.

Around the rinks

One statistic to ponder when you hear Danny Brière’s name in trade rumours: Since the 2005-06 season, no player has scored more playoff points than the Philadelphia Flyers’ forward – an extraordinary 106 in 102 games. Why would the Flyers, a team desperate to win a Stanley Cup, trade a player with such an exceptional postseason pedigree? In those seven years, Brière has been on one team that qualified for a Stanley Cup final once and three others that made it for the final four. Even last season, when the Flyers bowed out in the second round, Brière’s eight playoff goals tied for the overall playoff goal-scoring lead with two players, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, who played two extra rounds. Rounding out the top five in post-lockout playoff scoring, according to the Elias Sports Bureau are two members of the Detroit Red Wings – Henrik Zetterberg (97) and Pavel Datsyuk (82) – and two members of the Pittsburgh Penguins – Sidney Crosby (90) and Evgeni Malkin (81). … The Brière speculation stems largely from the fact that the Flyers never seem set, no matter how well, or poorly, things are going. This week, they went back to their past again, acquiring Simon Gagne from the Los Angeles Kings for a conditional draft choice. Gagne scored a goal in his debut, but the more significant return was Scott Hartnell, back from IR after missing 16 games with a broken foot. Hartnell led the team with 37 goals last year and was able to step back in on the top line alongside Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek after Matt Read went down with an injury. Hartnell had four points in Wednesday’s win over Washington. The Flyers went 8-7-1 without him in the lineup. … The Flyers received Voracek, plus a first-rounder that they turned into Sean Couturier, from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the controversial trade for Jeff Carter two summers ago. It’s an interesting trade to revisit because Carter wasn’t a good fit with Columbus, but he is flying high with the Kings, having scored a team-leading 11 goals. But Voracek has thrived in Philadelphia as well – he is the current player of the week after scoring 11 points in four games. Couturier is an interesting player because when teams approach the Flyers in trade talks, he is a coveted commodity. Theoretically, Couturier is an untouchable because of his youth (just 20) and his complete game, but you wonder, with Brayden Schenn ahead of him on the depth chart and Giroux locked in as the No.1 centre, would they part with him if he was the asking price for say a Jarome Iginla at the trading deadline? … With five wins in their first 20 games, plus an injury list that includes their two top defencemen (James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson), plus their top three centres (Derrick Brassard, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov), the Blue Jackets are winning the turtle derby at the bottom of the NHL standing, the competition to see who might draft first overall and select one of a trio of highly regarded prospects – defenceman Seth Jones, or forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. New Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen is known for his player evaluation skills, and he was with the St. Louis Blues in 2006 when – faced with a similar choice – took a defenceman (Erik Johnson) ahead of centres Jordan Staal and Jonathan Toews. The problem in Columbus is that with Rick Nash no longer on the team, and Ryan Murray – the second player chosen in last year’s draft – already in the pipeline, the more acute need is for a dynamic offensive forward. That could make for a tough call because many scouts believe Jones is starting to separate himself from the pack as the consensus overall first pick. … The Kings, meanwhile, felt they could give up Gagne, because they plan to carry eight defencemen once Alec Martinez returns from IR; and believe that if they need help up front, one of three prospects lighting it up for their AHL affiliate in Manchester – Linden Vey, Tyler Toffoli or Tanner Pearson – could adequately fill in. … Jordan Staal played his first game against his former Penguins’ team on Thursday, on a night when the Carolina Hurricanes received some positive news on the injury front. A quartet of players were back playing: Forwards Jeff Skinner and Tim Brent, defencemen Tim Gleason and Jamie McBain. … In a season in which injuries are taking a heavy toll everywhere, the St. Louis Blues had an especially tough day at the office earlier this week, losing two players within minutes of each other in an edgy practice session. First, Andy McDonald collided with teammate Vladimir Sobotka and appeared to injure his leg. He was placed on IR. Just before that happened, Alex Steen – McDonald’s usual centre – was hurt in a puck battle. He is day-to-day. The third member of the line, rookie sensation Vladimir Tarasenko (12 points in 17 games) is also out recovering from concussion symptoms.

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