· George Johnson of the Calgary Herald can’t get over how entertaining Dion Phaneuf is to watch, even if it is just pre-season. Phaneuf’s game was certainly the story last night, writes Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun. Last night’s game was played in Winnipeg (Writer’s note: I was at the game and will have a report in the mid-morning) and saw Wayne Gretzky answer questions on if the NHL could return to Winnipeg.
· Troy Brouwer has impressed at Blackhawks camp and is making it difficult for Denis Savard to possibly send him down to the AHL.
· Veteran rookie Per Ledin is extremely excited to play his first NHL pre-season game tonight for Colorado. There was a worry that newcomer Darcy Tucker was hurt last night in the Avs’ pre-season tilt versus L.A. but he is fine, writes Rick Sadowski.
· Oilers netminder Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers is feeling confident in training camp thus far. There is not enough room on the Oilers’ roster for both Rob Schremp and Gilbert Brule to make the Oilers’ regular season roster. Most players would be angry about being “demoted” to the third line, but Dustin Penner isn’t says coach Craig MacTavish. It is clear to many Oilers followers that Zack Stortini is not only just a fighter.
· There is a common misconception out there about how coach Jacques Lemaire instructs his defensemen to play the game. Up front, Lemaire was very happy with the play of Benoit Pouliot last night versus Columbus. However, the coach was a bit frustrated that there were so many penalties last night because it limited the ice-time for the team’s younger players.
· Chris Neil popped a couple goals last night and seems to be reborn under new coach Craig Hartsburg. On defense, the Sens don’t lack toughness but they are trying to find out who will be quarter backing their power play. Brendan Bell had a tough start for the Senators last night, but seemed to improve and find a comfort level as the game went on.
· Sabres youngster Chris Butler understands just how passionate Buffalo fans are about their Sabres and Bills.
· Peter Laviolette liked the play of about four of his players last night and that’s about it.
· Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch has the interesting story about the Sigalet brothers. Meanwhile, coach Ken Hitchcock is trying to convince his stay-at-home defensemen that they can be more aggressive.
· B.J. Crombeen and James Neal are competing for the last forward spot on a deep Dallas roster, writes Mike Heika.
· The Kings are deep at center, writes Rich Hammond.
· Josh Bailey has been awfully impressive at Islanders training camp, so much so, that he may begin the season as the team’s number two center.
· Henrik Lundqvist is not as concerned about his knees as some fans may be. Brandon Dubinsky continues to impress the Rangers. Is Petr Nedved doing enough to make the team? Tom Renney asked the same question.
· Simon Gagne needed some extra practice time and that is why he is playing his first exhibition game on Saturday. Heading into the season, Martin Biron wants the Flyers to focus on being more consistent.
· Brian McGrattan knows his role, writes Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic.
· The Penguins are not going to have Sergei Gonchar in the line up for opening night, however, the team is unsure of how long he will remain on the sidelines. The Penguins defeated the Leafs 3-2 last night without Sidney Crosby.
· It was quite a day for Doug Murray on Wednesday, writes David Pollak.
· Erik Johnson’s production is going to be almost impossible to replace, writes Jeremy Rutherford.
· Despite rumors to the contrary, the Lightning hope that Vincent Lecavalier will be ready for game one of the season. Damian Cristodero on Mike Smith’s pursuit to be number one in Tampa. It is tough to crack the Lightning’s roster with so few exhibition games in North America.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.