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NHL Morning Papers

NHL Morning Papers (Sunday Edition): Brodeur’s shutout leaves him 1 shy of Sawchuk, Ilya Kovalchuk decision looming, Leafs booed off ice, Avalanche outshot again and still win, Glendale spent $2.1 million on outside consultants to keep Coyotes in Phoenix.

Saskatoon as the next destination for an NHL team; Peter Laviolette dusting off his coaching suit; Kovalev gets booed and cheered in return to Montreal; Pens avoid dreaded blue jersey curse; Ovechkin does it all for Caps; Honda Center had many empty seats; Huet wasn’t sharp for Hawks; Backstrom finds form in loss to Canucks. These stories and more after the jump.

General NHL:

  • It would appear that the NHL’s top two in command are at least taking notice of Quebec City’s drive to get a new franchise.
  • There may be clamouring for the National Hockey League in Quebec City, Winnipeg and Hamilton, but the next Canadian site to house NHL games is almost certain to be Saskatoon.
  • Based on the crowd last night in Phoenix one of the above cities might be seeing the Coyotes soon.
  • Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry wasn’t amused at forward Marc Savard‘s exclusion from Canada’s Olympic orientation camp in the summer.
  • Indications are Peter Laviolette has already received interest from a couple of teams that might want to make a change.  GMs can’t afford to waste time because, with the compressed schedule, a team could easily be out of the playoff race by mid-November.

Eastern Conference:

  • The Thrashers game had an interesting ending as Maxim Afinogenov scored his first ever goal as a member of Atlanta against his former team undressing promising Sabres rookie Tyler Myers in the process. 
  • A decision by Atlanta forward Ilya Kovalchuk on his future is coming soon as the impending Thrashers free agent will decide in the next few weeks whether he will re-sign with the club or choose to test free-agency.
  • Perhaps news of the Bruins being back was a tad premature as they took the night off against the surging Coyotes and fell 4-1.  Milan Lucic missed the loss to the Coyotes last night because of a broken right index finger.
  • The Florida Panthers were given Saturday and today off by coach Peter DeBoer after he successfully called out his team during Friday’s first period intermission.
  • The Montreal Canadiens didn’t talk very much about Alexei Kovalev’s first game back in Montreal since signing as a free-agent with the Ottawa Senators during the summer.
  • Marty Brodeur stopped all 26 Carolina Hurricanes shots in a 2-0 victory. The shutout was the 102nd of his career, one short of Terry Sawchuk’s NHL record.
  • The streaking New York Rangers extended their winning streak to seven with a 4-1 win over the winless Maple Leafs.
  • It was a great night to be a Del Zotto male at the Air Canada Centre, the pre-game jitters easily surpassed by the thrill of it all.
  • When Doug Weight was named Islanders captain before the season began, he talked about the honor that comes with it.  Is it less of an honor if he lasts less than a season wearing the ‘C’?
  • Sometimes teams manage to win in spite of themselves, and that was certainly the case for the Ottawa Senators in Montreal.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins keep winning, getting contributions from 4 different players tonight, as they rolled over the Lightning.  Even tempting the dreaded baby blue curse, in honor of their 3-5-2 record last season while wearing their alternate baby blue uniforms at home, couldn’t make this game interesting.
  • Hockey has been good to assistant general manager Jason Botterill but even he admits he’s not the most accomplished in his family.
  • For about a minute after Tampa Bay’s 4-1 loss to the defending Stanley Cup champs at Mellon Arena, Tampa GM Brian Lawton ripped his team loud enough to be heard around a corner from the closed locker room door.
  • The last-place Toronto Maple Leafs continue to have a difficult time scoring goals and an easy time making mental mistakes to prolong their horrific beginning to the 2009-10 NHL season.
  • As the Maple Leafs were booed off the ice again last night, one fan’s sign read: “Forget playoffs, just win a game,” with the team’s 0-6-1 record scrawled beneath.
  • Alex Ovechkin provided all of Washington’s offense in the first 65 minutes of Saturday night’s game.  Then the two-time MVP scored the only goal in the shootout to lift the Capitals to their second straight victory.

Western Conference:

  • Nothing went right for the Ducks against the St. Louis Blues in front of many empty seats at the Honda Center, but when you consider their woeful performance in every facet of the game Saturday night, they didn’t deserve any empathy from anyone.
  • Versatile Dustin Boyd bides time for a shot at top-line duty on the Calgary Flames but still doesn’t have a defined role yet.
  • The only one in the Blackhawks locker room who had anything bad to say about goalie Cristobal Huet after the team’s first United Center loss was … Cristobal Huet.
  • Avs coach Joe Sacco is “riding” goalie Craig Anderson, and that’s only smart. A secondary reason is that the coach has zero faith in Peter Budaj — even to use in the traditional “backup” role.
  • Saturday was quite a night for Colorado rookie Matt Duchene who scored his first NHL goal, his team came back to win partly because of it and then he got his picture taken with Gordie Howe?
  • Coach Ken Hitchcock noted that the Jackets were not as sharp as they were against Calgary Tuesday night but they still managed to pull off the victory againt the Kings.
  • Toby Petersen is the Dallas Stars’ Mr. Versatility. The 30-year old from Minneapolis can fill in on a top line if need be.  He can shut down the other team’s best players, as he did in the 2008 playoffs.  He can play gritty on a fourth line.  He can pretty much do it all.
  • It looked like the Red Wings were on their way to delivering a reality check to the upstart Colorado Avalanche, who came into Joe Louis Arena on Saturday with the best record in the Western Conference (5-1-1) but blew it in the third period.
  • While the Minnesota Wild didn’t win a game, the road trip from hell has mercifully come to an end Saturday night and Niklas Backstrom gave an excellent effort in a losing cause.
  • Glendale has spent $2.1 million on outside consultants to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in the Valley, public records show.
  • Sharks coach Todd McLellan has been looking for someone to help light a fire under his offense, and he found that spark in a 5-foot-8 rookie forward who grew up 22 miles from Nassau Coliseum.
  • One Blues player who hadn’t been guilty of sleeping when the puck dropped this season was goaltender Chris Mason.  If not for Mason, the club might have found itself buried quickly in a few games.
  • Head coach Alain Vigneault revamped his forward units Saturday night and it produced a spirited 39-shot attack — and 2-1 victory — against the injury-depleted Minnesota Wild.