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NHL Morning Papers

Saturday Morning NHL Papers (Eastern Conference): Lucic can’t fight so instead he scores, Devils coach Jacques Lemaire has his players on board, Is clock ticking on Leaf coach Wilson?

Sabres haven’t convinced their fans; Senators looking to add to win streak; Carey Price strong again; Penguins to get Orpik back; James van Riemsdyk still hot; Lighting as a team lack discipline; Canes captain Rod Brind’Amour hasn’t been very good lately. These stories and more after the jump.

Northeast Division

  • The Sabres were only about 400 fans short of a sellout, but it sounded more like 4,000 as the folks in Buffalo still aren’t sure what to think of this team.
  • The remarkable feeling that pervaded the Bruins last season – the sense that somehow they would find a way to win – is starting to creep back in.  Byron Bitz did not get mentioned as one of the three stars in the Bruins but to hear coach Claude Julien tell it, he should have been the No. 1 star of the game.  Milan Lucic can’t fight due to his broken finger, so he did the next best thing, contributing to the team by scoring in last night’s game.
  • After treating fans to a bumpy, inconsistent ride for the past month, a win tonight at Scotiabank Place over the Buffalo Sabres would give the Ottawa Senators their first three-game winning streak since the second week of the season.  Shean Donovan, who suffered a potentially career-threatening knee injury on a knee-on-knee hit by Penguin Matt Cooke and could be lost for the rest of the season will find out what his prognosis looks like today.
  • The Canadiens threw a blanket over high-scoring superstar Alex Ovechkin and made the most of their own opportunities as they defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 Friday night.  It was only one minute and 52 seconds, but it seemed much longer to Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.  Getting over the .500 mark has been a struggle for the Habs, but they’re certainly giving it the old collège try.
  • Twenty games into the season, it is clear the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t a playoff contender so the question is, now what?  He might be safe as Brian Burke’s choice for U.S. team, but the pressure’s on for coach Ron Wilson to start delivering wins in Toronto.  With the miserable Maple Leafs in the basement, fans are evoking memories of the bumbling old days of the Harold Ballard era.

Atlantic Division

  • New Jersey Devils center Dainius Zubrus, who was struck in the right leg by a Kevin Klein shot Thursday night in Nashville, is out 4-6 weeks with a hairline fracture of the patella.  Say whatever you want about his coaching style, Jacques Lemaire has his team off to a 14-5-1 start ,first place in the Atlantic Division and has his team’s full attention.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins are slowly getting their defensive core back and they are hoping it starts tonight with the return of Brooks Orpik.  Captain Sidney Crosby did not practice Friday in Duluth, Ga. as Coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby was given a “maintenance day.”
    Flyers Sharks
  • For all the good things the Philadelphia Flyers have done in the season’s first seven weeks, there remains a familiar problem, which could be a problem if they get to the Stanley Cup final.  Despite the loss, heading into last night’s action, Flyers rookie James van Riemsdyk trailed only the Islanders’ John Tavares for the rookie scoring lead.
  • The New York Rangers started the season as one of the NHL’s hottest teams, but an inconsistent offense has left them frustrated recently.

Southeast Division

  • The Washington Capitals comeback bid fell short to Montreal after Mike Green’s shot hit the post with 21 seconds remaining.  Alex Ovechkin seems to be especially lethal on the Maple Leafs, lighting it up against them almost every time he faces the blue and white.
    Ovechkin 3
  • Seems that both the Lightning players and coach Rick Tocchet agree that the team’s lack of discipline is causing them way too many problems as entering last night’s game they averaged 17.2 minutes per game.
  • Kind of like the Florida Panthers themselves it has taken forwards Cory Stillman and Steven Reinprecht a little while to get going which unfortunately has come to a halt with Stillman’s injury in Detroit.
  • In addition to his team’s poor play, Carolina Hurricanes captain Rod Brind’Amour hasn’t scored in the past 16 games and is last in the NHL in plus/minus at minus-18.