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NHL Morning Papers

Saturday Morning NHL Papers (Western Conference): Nick Lidstrom confirms he’ll play in Olympics, Corey Perry takes aim at Gretzky’s record, Avs demote Matt Duchene to 4th line, Patrick Marleau is red hot.

Avs pentalty killing isn’t good; Miikka Kiprusoff is lights out; Oilers lose Hemsky for the year; Hossa feel’s no pain; Wings have a scoring drought; Darryl Sydor the mentor; Marc Crawford has big shoes to fill; Coyotes move into 8th. These stories and more after the jump.

Northwest Division

  • Colorado Avalanche rookie Matt Duchene received the first “message” of his NHL career Friday when he was demoted to the fourth line against the Minnesota Wild.  The Avs penalty killing unit, which looked so strong earlier this season, appears to be suffering some mistaken identity.
  • Hopefully someone from Team Finland took notice of Miikka Kiprusoff magificent performance, as he backstopped the Calgary Flames to a 3-0 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings.
  • On a night when loud and proud Edmonton Oilers fans came to serenade San Jose Sharks winger Dany Heatley with a chorus of boos, they also offered up a symphony of cheers for their injury-riddled team — well, at least for 58 minutes.  The Oilers playoff aspirations took a major blow after the team announced Ales Hemsky has to undergo shoulder surgery, which will more than likely put a premature end to his season.
  • The Minnesota Wild were given a first-rate performance by recently returned Chuck Kobasew, who conntected for a hat trick while subbing on the first line.

Central Division

  • There was no magic from Marian Hossa on Friday in his second game with the Blackhawks, as the team fell 3-0 to the Anaheim Ducks.  Marian Hossa‘s second game with the Blackhawks didn’t quite match the success of his first but most importantly he felt no pain.
  • Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne fell just short of breaking Tomas Vokoun’s team record of seven straight victories Friday.  The Pre­da­tors didn’t neces­sa­rily play a bad game in losing 3-1 to St. Louis on Fri­day, but they paid the price for beco­ming too reliant on the power play and goa­lie Pekka Rinne over the past few contests.
  • The Red Wings keep talking about shooting the puck, going to the net and creating traffic against opposing goaltenders as the scoring slump continues for 2nd straight game.  In good news for Team Sweden, Wings’ captain Nick Lidstrom confirms he’ll play in Olympics.
  • After five games on the road, the Blue Jackets finally got settled back into Nationwide Arena but won’t have a lot of down time as they prepare for a visit from the red hot Flames.
  • Darryl Sydor has been around the NHL for 18 seasons and doesn’t need to sit around, being a health scratch for multiple games, but he does it because he loves the game and has embraced his role as mentor.

Pacific Division

  • The Sharks Patrick Marleau late goal gave him his first hat trick in three years and forced overtime in a seesaw game in which the Oilers had taken a 4-3 lead with about five minutes remaining.
  • New Dallas Stars coach Marc Crawford has a strong resume and is off to a good start, but he has some pretty big shoes to fill.
  • Real progress you can clearly measure was sometimes impossible to find as the Ducks descended down to the bottom of the Western Conference and fought to dig their way out but after last night’s 3-0 win over the streaking Hawks, perhaps they have begun the climb.  Now that he has tied Teemu Selanne’s club record of 17 consecutive games with at least a point, Ducks right wing Corey Perry can take dead aim at Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record. 
  • The Phoenix Coyotes 5-2 victory over the Stars in front of an announced crowd of 10,691 moved the team into the eighth spot in the Western Conference.