Thursday Morning NHL Papers (Western Conference): Marian Hossa booed heavily in return to Detroit, Blues do something they have never done and the Oilers need Shawn Horcoff to return to old form
- Shutting out the rival Red Wings is becoming a pattern for the Blackhawks, as they went into Joe Louis Arena and defeated Detroit 3-0. Antti Niemi’s record after last night is 8-1-1 with an amazing four shutouts. In Marian Hossa’s return to Detroit he was booed each time he touched the puck.
- Make it eight straight losses for Columbus after being defeated by Dallas on Wednesday. So far the “win and you’re in” mantra for Blue Jackets netminders is not exactly working.
- It is odd to say, but the Red Wings lost last night because they lacked talent, writes Chris McCosky. Here is some good news for Wings fans, Valtteri Filppula is expected to return from injury on Saturday. Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press thinks the Wings will be fine when healthy.
- Predators forward Jerred Smithson will not play this weekend because of an “upper-body” injury.
- The Blues did something last night that the organization had never done before and that’s sweep their three-game Western Canadian road trip. Eric Brewer returned to the St. Louis lineup last night.
- The Flames cannot score and their recent struggles have moved the team onto the cusp of being out of a playoff spot. Randy Sportak has the report card for last night’s loss to St. Louis. The Flames didn’t lack effort last night, writes John Down.
- The Avalanche players believe their best chance at keeping late game leads is by staying aggressive.
- To say Niklas Backstorm has the Oilers’ number would be an understatement, writes Jim Matheson. If the Oilers are going to get out from the bottom of the Conference, they will need Shawn Horcoff to return to old form. Coach Pat Quinn thinks Dennis Grebeshkov is playing scared to make a mistake.
- With equipment problems and the flu bothering the team, the Wild was very happy to head into the Christmas break on a high note, writes Michael Russo. So far during his time in Minnesota, Clayton Stoner has proved capable of handling the pressure–but can he keep it up?
- In Vancouver, Alain Vigneault has some high praise for Ryan Kesler.
- For all the momentum the Ducks looked to be gathering, last night’s performance at Phoenix unfortunately looked like a team that had taken a step back, writes Eric Stephens. At least the Ducks’ penalty killing has improved.
- James Neal may have been a target last night–but he ended up hitting the target twice to lead the Stars to a 3-1 victory over Columbus. Mike Heika thought the Stars looked calm, cool and collected last night.
- Jack Johnson, Brandon Segal, Wayne Simmonds and Ryan Smyth are all expected to return to the Kings lineup on the weekend.
- Ilya Brzgalov is playing well, so the Coyotes have kept it simple and, as a result, continue to win. Martin Hanzal continues to prove why he is a complete player.
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The Morning Papers will be on a two-day break for the Christmas Holiday and will return on Sunday morning.