Here are the national morning papers:
- With all the young talent on Washington’s roster, the future looks bright for NHL in the United States capital.
- Pierre Lebrun of the Canadian Press looks back on Gary Betman’s fifteen years of work in the commissioner’s office.
- Peter Forsberg is one step closer to returning to the NHL, writes Michael Traikos of the National Post.
- Kevin Allen of USA Today provides readers with ten reasons why the Coyotes should make the playoffs this spring.
Here are the Eastern Conference morning papers:
- The Thrashers are hoping that Ilya Kovalchuk only misses two games with the knee injury he sustained Wednesday night versus Pittsburgh.
- Even though the Bruins defeated the Eastern Conference leading Senators 4-1 last night, coach Claude Julien wasn’t overly happy with their play. The Bruins were lucky that P.J. Axelsson returned from injury a game early last night, because just prior to the contest Marco Sturm came down with the flu and was unable to play.
- The Hurricanes almost gave away a victory last night, but prevailed over the Maple Leafs 3-2 in overtime and made it four wins in their past five games.
- The Sabres face-off against an Atlanta team tonight that has revenge on its mind due to the 10-1 loss they suffered at Buffalo in January. In injury news, it looks like Maxim Afinogenov should be able to return to the Sabres line up tonight.
- The Rangers were a different bunch last night in Philly than they have been in a while, as they churned out a dominating 4-0 performance over the first place Flyers. “That was probably one of our best games of the year,” said Rangers goaltender Stephen Valiquette who picked up his first career shutout.
- “They were the better team tonight,” said Flyers coach John Stevens after his team’s 4-0 loss to the Rangers. Meanwhile, the Flyers’ managment is shifting their focus to the Peter Forsberg situation.
- Marc-Andre Fleury is going to return to practice today to test out his ailing ankle, writes Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- “I broke my nose, I have stitches, I score four goals. Everything go to my face. It’s the fifth time I broke my nose. It’s okay,” said Alexander Ovechkin after his ridiculous four goal game in his team’s 5-4 overtime victory over Montreal. Mike Wise of the Washington Post says it is going to be hard for the casual fan in Washington to stay away from the newest version of the Capitals.
- Roberto Luongo is returning to Miami for the first time since being traded to Vancouver in the summer of 2006, and he has no clue what the response will be from the fans, writes Steve Gorten of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Meanwhile, Panthers captain Olli Jokinen is questionable for tonight’s game with the flu. George Richards of the Miami Herald evaluates how the Luongo trade worked out for the Panthers.
- The Canadiens were happy to be able to at least get one point against the Capitals last night as they trailed 3-0 midway through the second period and ended up losing 5-4 in overtime. Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette was very impressed with Alexander Ovechkin’s ability to not only score, but give and take in the hit department.
- The Devils are expecting to get Jay Pandolfo back into their line up after the weekend, writes Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger. The Devils are hoping to crack the scoresheet tonight versus the Rangers, as the team has only scored three goals in four games against the Blueshirts this season.
- The struggling Islanders officially dropped out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference last night with a 3-1 home loss to the Kings.
- An angry John Paddock called out Jason Spezza after last night’s 4-1 home loss to the Bruins. Sticking to his win and you’re in policy, the Senators will be starting Ray Emery on Saturday night after Martin Gerber lost yesterday.
- The Lightning/Canucks game last night was enjoyable for John Tortorella not just because his team was victorious 4-3, but because the game was actually an enjoyable game to watch for the fans, players and coaches alike.
- The Leafs lost their composure last night in Raleigh, as they lost 3-2 in overtime to the Hurricanes. In other Leafs news, Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun tells readers that Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos will not hold back Jim Rutherford from taking the Toronto GM position if offered.
Here are the Western Conference morning papers:
- Doug Weight and the Ducks visit St. Louis tonight to take on Andy McDonald and the Blues for the first time since the two players traded places earlier this season.
- The Blue Jackets lost 4-2 last night in Nashville, and Rick Nash believes part of the reason for their struggles against the Predators is that they give the them too much respect. In other Jackets news, GM Scott Howson plans to chat with defenseman Adam Foote today to guage Foote’s interest in staying in Columbus past this season.
- Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News has a very interesting piece about the culture of hockey in Edmonton. (Writer’s note: I suggest you read this article.)
- Just because of one family faked their children’s sickness does not mean the Red Wings are going to scale back their work with sick children, writes George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press.
- The Wild’s Nicklas Backstrom is beginning to display his 2007 form, writes Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune.
- With last night’s 4-2 victory over Columbus, the Predators now find themselves in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Arnott-Dumont-Radulov line has been leading the Predators as of late, especially last night. (Writer’s note: Arnott left last night’s game with a charley horse but is expected to be ready to play on Saturday night.)
- Doug Weight is not going to air his dirty laundry in public, but it is fairly evident that he was unhappy with the way his trade went down from St. Louis, writes Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Dispatch.
- Denis Savard says the Blackhawks need to cut down on their turnovers if they expect to turn their fortunes around. “I’m not shopping him at all,” Hawks GM Dale Tallon said in reference to the recent Martin Havlat rumors.
- “The wrist is getting worse. I’m just trying to focus on the games,” said Oilers winger Ales Hemsky about his injured wrist. Hemsky isn’t the only Oilers star with an injury, as Shawn Horcoff is nursing a sore shoulder. John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal thinks something needs to give in this trading gridlock.
- Even though they blew a third period lead on Wednesday at Detroit and lost 3-2, the Coyotes proved they can play with the NHL’s top team, writes Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic.
- The new Canucks line combinations didn’t work out so well in the team’s 4-3 loss at Tampa last night, writes Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province. “We were down by one goal after two. We didn’t give them much in the third, but their first chance ended up in the back of the net,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault after last night’s game.
- Peter Budaj will be back in the net for Colorado tonight versus Detroit because Jose Theodore is on the mend with back spasms.
Note: The Calgary and San Jose papers were not updated as of this post. Also, the Kings don’t have a beat writer on their current road-trip so that is why their articles have been omitted.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.