Here are the national morning papers:
- William Houston of the Globe & Mail wonders what the NHL would be like with two Canadian divisions and a European division.
- Jim Matheson examines the obstacles that the city of Buffalo faces in preparing for its outdoor game versus Pittsburgh on New Year’s day.
- Kevin Allen of USA Today uses numbers to give fans some tidbits about the 2007/08 NHL season.
Here are the Western Conference morning papers:
- After defeating the Flames 3-2 last night at the Saddledome, the Canucks are now a perfect 5-0 versus Northwest division foes. Prior to the game last night Mike Keenan warned his team about facing teams with a lot of injuries being dangerous and boy was he right as the Canucks dominated the first two periods of action and just hung on in the third.
- Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that the Central Division has become one of the more competitive divisions in the NHL.
- Ryan Clowe of the Sharks is not going to let his knee injury take him away from conversing with his teammates and being apart of the total team atmosphere as he rehabs for his return.
- The Coyotes won their first game at home in 36 days last night as they defeated the Stars 5-2.
- John Glennon has an interesting piece on the maturation of Jason Arnott as a leader in Nashville.
- Wes Walz has not yet decided whether he wants to keep playing in the NHL, but the Wild is being a classy organization by not suspending him without pay while he takes time away from the rink to make his decision.
- Michal Handzus may not be posting high point totals to start the season, but he is helping the Kings out in a variety of different ways writes Lonnie White of the L.A. Times.
- Craig MacTavish defended his choice of Marty Reasoner for the shootout on Wednesday night when the Oilers were in a must-score situation. As Joanne Ireland writes in this morning’s Edmonton Journal, the next six games for the Oilers are within their division, and are crucial if the Oilers want to get back into playoff consideration.
- Both Niklas Kronwall and Dominik Hasek will return to the Red Wings’ lineup tonight as they face the Columbus Blue Jackets.
- After defeating the Sharks the on Wednesday night, the Stars were beat by the Coyotes last night by a score of 5-2. “They just outworked us; it’s as simple as that,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas.
- If the Blue Jackets think they can simply out-muscle the Red Wings they are wrong writes Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch. Here are the probable Blue Jackets’ lines for tonight’s contest.
- Jose Theodore is slated to get the start tonight for the Avs, as coach Joel Quenville continues to swap him and Peter Budaj every other start.
- Once the injured Martin Havlat is ready to return to the lineup, he will be placed on a line with Jason Williams and Robert Lang writes Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune.
- The Flames have now last four in a row, after last night’s 3-2 loss to the Canucks, and are now a below .500 team. When asked why the team can’t put together a full 60 minute effort, Mike Keenan said, “I have some ideas, but I’m not prepared to share them right now.”
- Dan Wood of the Orange County Register touches on the rumors of a Scott Niedermayer return to the Ducks mid-season.
Here are the Eastern Conference morning papers:
- It looks like Ilya Kovalchuk will be suiting up for the Thrashers tonight after leaving Tuesday’s game with back spasms. Additionally, rookie Ondrej Pavelec will get his second consecutive start between the pipes.
- The Bruins hardly took advantage of a long third period 5-on-3 opportunity and ended up only getting one more shot on net during the penalties than did the Habs, as they were defeated by Montreal 2-1. Glen Murray’s slump is partially due to the lack of shots he’s getting on net. Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald has a very well-written piece about having to see Patrice Bergeron struggle at the most basic things during yesterday’s press conference in Boston. The Bruins lost yet another player to a concussion last night as Aaron Ward collided with Francis Bouillon during last night’s contest.
- Thomas Vanek believes that his offensive and defensive struggles are one of the main reasons that the Sabres are below .500 at the moment.
- The Hurricanes got into a hole last night and then couldn’t get out of it due to the terrific play of goaltender Johan Holmqvist for the Lightning. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have not yet set up a timeline for Andrew Ladd’s return to the lineup.
- Jacques Martin questioned the Panthers intensity yesterday writes Jackie Friedman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Defenseman Bryan Allen not only have a facial injury, but he also sustained a concussion against the Lightning earlier this week and is listed as day-to-day.
- Carey Price is seemingly unfazed by everything around him, as the rookie netminder exhibited that trait again last night, turning aside 28 of the 29 shots he faced.
- The Devils dominated the Flyers last night in a 4-1 victory, and let’s just say it had something to do with the talking to and hard practices dished out by coach Brent Sutter earlier this week.
- The Rangers were able to put together a solid defensive contest that included a significant offensive output in their 4-2 win over Pittsburgh last night writes Larry Brooks of the NY Post. Sean Avery scored his first goal of the season and got under the opponent’s skin as per usual.
- Mark Hermmann of Newsday has an interesting piece about the maturation of Charles Wang as owner of the NY Islanders.
- In a battle of two teams heading in opposite directions, the trends stopped last night as the slumping Capitals defeated the streaking Senators 4-1. The Senators were poor in all aspects of the game writes Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. The Senators sure could have used Jason Spezza versus the Capitals writes Chris Stevenson of the Sun.
- “They were quicker to the puck, stronger around our net,” said Flyers’ coach John Stevens about is team’s loss to the Devils on Thursday night. Simon Gagne was held out of last night’s game after it appears like he suffered another concussion.
- The Penguins just can’t seem to get their offense going as they lost to the Rangers 4-2 last night at MSG.
- The Lightning eliminated all the talk about their road struggles last night with a 5-1 victory at the division leading Hurricanes. It looks like Ryan Craig is ready to return to the lineup for the Bolts.
- The Maple Leafs will have a new look, yet familiar, first powerplay unit in place for tonight’s game versus the Sabres writes Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star.
- The Capitals finally got a victory last night, and boy was it impressive, as they knocked off the top team in the NHL 4-1 on the road.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.