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NHL Morning Papers

Saturday Morning NHL Papers (Eastern Conference): Malkin to return tonight, Panthers have committed new ownership, Canes winless streak at 14, Montreal hosting biggest world premiere ever at Bell Centre!

Ryan Miller outduels Miikka Kiprusoff; Pascal Lecalire expected pressure in coming to Ottawa; Phil Kessel continues to shine; Jeff Carter back to being a playmaker; Tavares has first 2 goal game; Caps lose Knuble for 3-4 weeks; Vokoun seems to be responding to coach’s criticism; Kovalchuk is great in return. These stories and more after the jump.

Northeast Division

  • Buffalo Sabres fans are certainly happy that the NHL has returned to a balanced schedule as it means they got to see a rare appearance by Jarome Iginla who hasn’t been to HSBC Arena since 2006-07.  Even better news for those same fans was that their team outdueled the Flames 2-1 in a battle of Olympic goalies, a tilt in which Ryan Miller came out on top but tonight they face another tough test in the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • The immense pressure Bruins center David Krejci currently is feeling will abate only when he decides to let it go and he thinks it will happen once the offensive output starts again.
  • The Ottawa Senators committed two years and $10 million to winger Alex Kovalev this summer, hoping for a masterpiece of an offensive season.  Pascal Leclaire knew he was coming to a pressure-filled hockey market when the Ottawa Senators traded for him last season.  Jason Spezza‘s flirtation with composite sticks (composite handle, wooden blade) has come to an end.
  • Hindsight is always 20/20 but in looking back to the 2005 draft, the Habs could have had Anze Kopitar instead of Carey Price.  The Canadiens received some good news this week when Ryan O’Byrne joined his teammates for a full practice in Phoenix.  TVA Films president Yves Dion is calling it one of the biggest world premiere screenings ever, and who are we to argue? Pour toujours les Canadiens will have its first public screening tonight in, appropriately enough, the Habs’ home at the Bell Centre, in front of at least 14,000 fans of le bleu, blanc et rouge.
  • Rookie defenceman Carl Gunnarsson will be in the lineup for the Maple Leafs for his NHL debut tonight against the Calgary Flames, possibly at the expense of Luke Schenn.  He doesn’t wear the ‘C,’ but Tomas Kaberle appears to have replaced Mats Sundin as the media’s patron saint of lost causes.  Toronto’s hired gun, Phil Kessel, nearly revived his club after the visitors had fallen behind 3-0 but the comeback fell short.

Atlantic Division

  • Evgeni Malkin has not played in a game since Oct. 28, so he might need a little time to regain his rhythm when he rejoins the Penguins’ lineup tonight.  Chris Kunitz didn’t participate in Friday’s practice, taking what Penguins coach Dan Bylsma called a “maintenance day” to rest an unspecified “nagging injury.”  Speaking of injuries, if you take the half-dozen guys who sat out the Penguins’ most recent game because of medical issues, toss in a few ushers, vendors and parking lot attendants, and you might have the makings of a playoff contender writes Dave Molinari.
  • Flyers forward Jeff Carter is nowhere close to being on the pace necessary to match his 46-goal output of a season ago but by reverting back to being the playmaking center he was in junior, it’s making a huge difference for the Flyers.
  • The AHL reputation of P.A. Parenteau’s is that of a scorer — 10 goals and 10 assists in 13 games for Hartford this season but when it comes to the NHL, he will do anything to prove he’s worthy.
  • Kyle Okposo scored with 14.4 second left in overtime, and John Tavares had the first two-goal game to help the New York Islanders beat Carolina 4-3 on Friday night, extending the Hurricanes’ winless streak to 14 games.

Southeast Division

  • Just as Alex Ovechkin is about to return for the Capitals, they lose Mike Knuble to a broken finger and he will be sidelined three to four weeks.
  • After another goal in a season of goals, another two-point night, there was Steven Stamkos, all 19 years of him, the Lightning’s future king surrounded by the media.
  • Two Boca Raton businessmen who are taking control of the Florida Panthers said Friday they plan to bring a winning culture, accountability and strong leadership to a hockey team that has lacked those qualities for years.  No one has been a harsher critic of Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun than coach Pete DeBoer but even he has softened after Vokoun posted 3 shutouts in his last 4 starts.
  • The Atlanta Thrashers proved two things on Friday night, that they can score a lot and they can handle themselves against  in a fight.  If Ilya Kovalchuk plays this well with a injured right foot, how much better will he be when he’s 100%?  The Thrashers superstar winger might be more apt to keep calling Atlanta home if he has chance to reach post-season.
  • To the Carolina Hurricanes, a 14-game winless streak seems like a recurring nightmare, as if taking on a life of its own.