Wednesday Morning NHL Papers (Western Conference): Mike Babcock should be in coach of year conversation, Joe Nieuwendyk learning on the job and how serious is Nikolai Khabibulin’s injury?
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- The Blackhawks are good for a variety of reasons but their defensive game–especially their six defensemen–may be the most important. The Hawks are playing good hockey, but the Wings and Predators are still right there behind them, writes Tim Sassone.
- “When you don’t win for awhile it creates hesitation in your game,” said Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock about his team’s performance last night in Minnesota where they lost a heart-breaker. Perhaps the Jackets could turn it around if someone gave Rick Nash some help.
- Mike Babcock should be receiving some coach of the year consideration with the job he has done in Motown, writes Helene St. James. (Writer’s note: I agree and was thinking the exact same thing this morning. Babcock has been the best coach in the NHL for a few years now.) Here is a list of all the Red Wings’ injured players and what ails them. At least Jonathan Ericsson’s injury wasn’t as bad as first thought.
- “I was worried about this being a trap game,” said Predators coach Barry Trotz after his team impressed him with a 7-4 victory over visiting Tampa Bay. Nick Spaling made his Predators debut last night and recorded a point in the process.
- The Blues came into last night’s game with a horrible home record and played the best road team in the NHL–Calgary–but on this night St. Louis came through. Last night’s win bodes well, as the Blues head to Chicago to face the Hawks tonight for the first time all season. It sounds like Brett Hull night was a great experience for the fans and Hull himself.
- The Flames didn’t play a bad first two periods last night but it was the third that let them down, writes Randy Sportak. With a bunch of road games behind them, the Flames will play seven of their next eight games at home. Blues forward Patrik Berglund thinks the Flames will be seeing very good things from Mikael Backlund down the road.
- The Avalanche was blown out by the Capitals last night and it resulted in a post-game meeting. Both Milan Hejduk and Marek Svatos didn’t play last night.
- “First game back from the road … that’s another bloody excuse as far as I’m concerned,” said an angry Pat Quinn after his team’s home loss to the Kings last night. It is fair to say Quinn was in a foul mood after last night’s contest. Jim Matheson has the latest on injuries to Nikolai Khabibulin, Marc Pouliot and Fernando Pisani. With Khabibulin on the mend, Jeff Deslauriers has played twelve straight games, so doesn’t he need a break?
- The Wild pulled out a last minute victory over Columbus after playing probably the fastest period of their careers in the first.
- Mason Raymond has come a long way since last season and there are a few reasons why, explains Ben Kuzma. Willie Mithcell is playing well but will he be back next season?
- Joe Nieuwendyk is in his first year as GM of the Stars and the future Hall of Famer reminds his former teammate Mike Modano of Bob Gainey.
- The Kings must be good–they are actually at the top of the Conference after last night’s win over Edmonton–because the Los Angeles Times has Helene Elliot on the road.
- David Shoalts of the Globe & Mail reports that the NHL expects to break even on the Coyotes sale.
- Gary Peterson of the San Jose Mercury News sees some concerning parts of the Sharks’ game coming to the forefront.
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