Here are the Eastern Conference morning papers:The Capitals have lost eight of their past ten games, which means that their upcoming three-game road trip may be critical in determining the direction of their season writes Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post.Vesa Toskala has started six straight games and has quietly become the number one goalie in Toronto. While Mats Sundin and Jason Blake have developed great chemistry at even strength play, Paul Maurice has split them up on the powerplay.Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle is set to have a MRI on his wrist after he experienced some discomfort during the team’s last game versus Atlanta.If the Penguins want to improve on their .500 record, they need to play better during even strength play. While their even strength play has been unimpressive, at least the team is improving in the face-off circle.Ed Moran of the Philadelphia Inquirer thinks it is still too early to be able to predict what this year’s version of the Flyers is capable of. Moran’s colleague Tim Panaccio is reporting that Simon Gagne will return from injury tonight versus the Rangers.The Senators defeated the Bruins 2-1 in a shootout yesterday afternoon, however, no one was actually in the TD Banknorth Garden to watch the game. The Sens didn’t play their best game but still managed to pull out the victory writes Chris Stevenson of the Ottawa Sun. Don’t expect Senators’ center Jason Spezza to be in the lineup tomorrow night versus the Leafs as his groin is not yet back to 100%.Mark Hermmann of Newsday tells readers that the eye injury Rick DiPietro sustained on Saturday was not serious and the goaltender may be able to play tomorrow against the Rangers.Rangers’ rookie Brandon Dubinsky did a solid job centering Jaromir Jagr on Saturday night and may play alongside the superstar once again tonight. With the way Henrik Lundqvist has played this season, the Rangers may not need to score as much as they originally thought.Devils’ backup goaltender Kevin Weekes is excited about the prospect of attracting new fans to the Devils’ new arena in Newark. Coach Brent Sutter wants his players to forget the team’s record and start fresh writes Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger.Habs’ coach Guy Carbonneau has not said whether struggling winger Michael Ryder will even dress for tonight’s game versus the Sabres. It looks like Francis Bouillon will dress tonight in his first action since injuring his shoulder a week ago.Panthers’ netminder Tomas Vokoun says his team is not going to win a lot of games playing the type of inconsistent hockey they have so far this season.Hurricanes’ forward Scott Walker remains in excruciating pain and the team has no idea when he will be able to return to the lineup writes Lorenzo Perez of the News Observer.The Sabres haven’t played their best hockey this season so with nine straight intra-division games, now is the time for them to make their move writes Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News.Fluto Shinwaza of the Boston Globe says the Bruins’ didn’t lose yesterday’s game in the shootout, but rather they lost the game after giving up a short-handed goal in the third period. In some encouraging Bruins’ news, winger Chuck Kobasew has started to find the back of the net writes Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald.
Here are the Western Conference morning papers:
- It has taken newcomer Adrian Aucoin some time to adjust to his new surroundings but he has been steadily improving writes Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun. In order to become a team in the upper-echelon of the NHL, the Flames need to improve their overall special teams play.
- The Blackhawks followed up an impressive victory over the Blues on Saturday night with an awful 5-2 loss to the Predators last night. Meanwhile, veteran center Yanic Perreault is becoming more comfortable in his new role as the third line checking center/face-off specialist.
- Don’t look now but it appears that Jose Theodore may be stealing the Avalance starting goaltending position from Peter Budaj, as the veteran will start between the pipes for the Avs tonight as they host the Flames.
- Pascal Leclaire is on pace for the most insane statistical goaltending season of all-time as he recorded his fifth shutout last night versus the Blues in a 3-0 victory. If you are a Blue Jackets opponent, just about the last thing you want to do is allow them to score the first goal. The Blue Jackets organization has been very pleased with the play of Nikolai Zherdev this season writes Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch. (Writer’s note: Edmonton fans will want to check out the Zherdev article to see who they could have had him for in a trade last season)
- No one is without blame for the Stars’ slow start writes Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.
- Daniel Cleary may not be scoring, but he is helping the Wings in a number of other ways writes Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. In other Wings’ news, Johan Franzen has been promoted to the team’s second line.
- Dustin Penner has not lived up to expectations writes Jim Matheson in this morning’s Edmonton Journal. To put the Oilers’ injuries into perspective, veteran defenseman Steve Staios has played more NHL games than the other five starting Oilers’ defensemen combined.
- The Kings have sent Matt Mouloson back to the AHL.
- According to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, it appears veteran Wild center Wes Walz is contemplating retirement.
- Predators’ netminder Chris Mason isn’t giving up his job that easily, as the Alberta native was victorious last night over the Blackhawks 5-2.
- The Blues have been defeated twice by the Blue Jackets this season, both by the score of 3-0.
- As Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun tells readers that Kevin Bieksa will be out for a long time (probably over two months) but that his Achilles tendon was damaged as part of his injury. With all of their defensive injuries, the Canucks are relying on their youngsters to step up and fill the void writes Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.