Here are the national morning papers:
- Dave Shoalts of the Globe & Mail provides readers with the apparent conditions under which Cliff Fletcher would agree to accept the Leafs’ GM position.
- Kevin Allen attributes much of the Thrashers’ recent success to the play of Kari Lehtonen in this morning’s USA Today.
Here are the Eastern Conference morning papers:
- According to Craig Custance of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Marian Hossa hopes he can agree to an extension with Atlanta but realizes that may not happen. Thrashers associate coach Brad McCrimmon believes he is ready for a head coaching job in the NHL if he is called upon.
- The Bruins may have a number of their AHL players in the lineup tonight to fill-in for a couple of their players who have gotten a bad case of the flu, writes Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe. Luckily for the Bruins, they get to face the Leafs, a team that is facing as much pressure from its fans and the media as you can possibly imagine.
- Last night’s loss at New York made it ten straight games without a win for the struggling Sabres, writes Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News. Frustrated coach Lindy Ruff thinks Brendan Shanahan should be suspended for his cross-check on Clarke MacArthur in the last minute of the last night’s game. (Writer’s note: To Shanahan’s credit, he was remorseful after the game and took full responsibility for the play.)
- With a couple of important players returning from injury tonight, the excuses will no longer be available for the struggling Hurricanes. The team needs Cam Ward to step up and look like the goaltender he did in October.
- The Panthers lost last night’s game to the Flyers in the first period, writes Steve Gorten of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Steve Downie struck again last night with a late hit on Panthers forward Rostislav Olesz after the whistle.
- Pat Hickey profiles the underrated Tomas Plekanec in this morning’s Montreal Gazette.
- The Islanders continued their domination of the Devils last night with a 3-1 victory in Newark. The Devils outplayed the Isles last night, but the play of Rick DiPietro was the difference according to Islanders coach Ted Nolan.
- Larry Brooks didn’t see much good in the Rangers’ 2-1 home victory over the Sabres on Wednesday night.
- With last night’s victory over the Devils, the Islanders are now only four points back of the division lead, writes Mark Herrmann of Newsday. (Writer’s note: Ted Nolan has to be up there with Wayne Gretzky when it comes to Coach of the Year talk.)
- Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun believes the Senators would be interested in Marian Hossa if he were to become available before the trade deadline. (Writer’s note: I think Hossa will become available before the deadline, but there is no way Waddell deals him back to Ottawa. Why would he? Not only are they in the same conference but the team would have both Dany Heatley and Hossa on the same team, making Waddell look bad for making the trade in the first place.)
- The Hartnell-Downie-Richards line caused havoc for the Flyers last night in their 5-3 home victory over the Panthers.
- It appears that Marc-Andre Fleury’s ankle injury is taking longer to heal than anticipated, writes Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Penguins forward Erik Christensen will not dress for tomorrow’s contest against the Lightning because of a viral infection.
- You can’t say Lightning GM Jay Feaster is not a stand-up guy after reading this piece in the Tampa Tribune.
- Apparently the Leafs are allowed to smile, writes Rick Matsumoto of the Toronto Star. Youngster Anton Stralman has impressed in his recent stint with the Leafs, writes Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun.
- The Capitals are calling upon Boyd Gordon, among others, to replace the scoring of the injured Michael Nylander.
Here are the Western Conference morning papers:
- After having their work ethic questioned on Tuesday by coach Mike Keenan the Flames played with far more intensity in their 3-2 shootout victory at Minnesota last night, writes Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald.
- The Blackhawks took advantage of Blues backup goaltender Marek Schwarz last night by scoring six goals on the AHL call-up after Blues starter Manny Legace left the game after the first period with a wrist injury.
- Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch has an interesting article on the benefits and risks of blocked shots. Reed’s colleague Michael Arace has been impressed with the Blue Jackets organization so far this season. Here are the Jackets’ probable lines for tonight’s game versus the Coyotes.
- It is “gut check” time for the Stars tonight as they roll into San Jose and attempt to put their struggles behind them.
- Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press has some suggestions for the Wings if they want to keep their fan-base strong and prosperous.
- With a five-game road trip on the horizon, the Oilers are shooting to finish the trip above .500, writes Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal. Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun believes the team’s upcoming road trip may decide whether the Oilers make the playoffs or not.
- The Wild had trouble stopping Flames superstar Jarome Iginla last night in their 3-2 home shootout loss to Calgary, writes Michael Russo of the Star Tribune. (Writer’s note: Join the club Minnesota.)
- Jessica Hopp of the Tennessean has a feature on quiet leader Dan Hamhuis in this morning’s paper.
- Radim Vrbata will not suit up for the Coyotes tonight after suffering a groin injury on Tuesday night.
- The Blues chances of winning last night went down with Manny Legace as their number one netminder couldn’t play the final two periods of his team’s 6-1 loss after being runover by Hawks forward Patrick Sharp. (Writer’s note: Coach Andy Murray said it was just a bruise and Legace will play on Saturday.)
- The Sharks are classifying their next four games at home as crucial, writes Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News.
- Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province says the Canucks should seriously consider acquiring Mats Sundin from the Maple Leafs.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.