Here are the national morning papers:
- As Dave Shoalts of the Globe & Mail tells us, Ducks GM Brian Burke wants to see the return of the blockbuster trade.
- Mike Ribiero has found his comfort zone in Dallas, writes Eric Duhatschek of the Globe & Mail.
- John MacKinnon of the National Post tells readers that Wayne Gretzky endorses the sale of the Oilers to Daryl Katz.
- A.J. Perez of USA Today has an interesting article on the increased amount of composite sticks being made in Mexico.
Here are the Eastern Conference morning papers:
- Ilya Kovalchuk has scored a high-percentage of his team's goals this season but it is not as if his team is deferring to him during the course of the game, writes Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Nothing like a practice without pucks to wake up the troops in Boston. “It’s up to those guys to show their character (tonight) and I’ll leave that up to them,” said coach Claude Julien heading into Thursday night's game versus the Habs.
- Jocelyn Thibault will be in between the pipes tonight as the Sabres take on the high-powered Senators. In disappointing news, it does not look Teppo Numminen will return to the Sabres' line-up this season.
- Coming to Carolina, Sergei Samsonov's resolution is to put the puck in the net. With a number of the Hurricanes missing the morning skate, the team has recalled Keith Aucoin and Brandon Nolan for tonight's game.
- Not surprisingly, coach Jacques Martin of the Panthers believes that if his team plays better defensively then more scoring chances will result.
- Habs coach Guy Carbonneau has high expectations for his team's upcoming road trip, writes Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette. Meanwhile, veteran forward Bryan Smolinski is ready to return to the lineup whenever coach Carbonneau feels like making a change to his starting roster.
- Even though Devils coach Brent Sutter called John Madden his most consistent forward of the first-half, Madden believes he can be even better through the rest of the season.
- Larry Brooks of the NY Post says the Rangers have reached desperate times. In positive news, injuries to Martin Straka (concussion) and Sean Avery (hand) don't appear to be very serious and the two should return to the lineup fairly soon.
- Miroslav Satan has been moved to the Islanders' first-line alongside Mike Comrie and Bill Guerin.
- With Saturday's game against the Red Wings just around the corner, the Senators have to make sure not to overlook the Sabres tonight, writes Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen. Meanwhile, John Paddock doesn't approve of anything Steve Downie has done so far this season, however, he believes that almost every team in the NHL wants a player like that on their own team.
- Simon Gagne will return to the Flyers lineup tonight for the first time since November 7 when he suffered a concussion. Interestingly, Anterro Nittymaki will be the starting netminder for tonight's game, marking the third straight game he has started.
- It is a battle of, arguably, the two best players in the NHL tonight in Tampa Bay as the Penguins visit the Lightning. Sidney Crosby will not only try and outduel Vincent Lecavalier but he will also try to end the Penguins' five year losing streak in Northern Florida tonight.
- You are not going to hear a lack of respect from either Crosby or Lecavalier when talking about each other, writes Carter Gaddis of the Tampa Tribune.
- Damien Cox informs readers that the Leafs are close to rock bottom after last night's 5-0 defeat in Anaheim. In addition, Cox wonders what happened to Nikolai Antropov's career year?
- The Capitals were happy to open their homestand with a victory, writes Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post.
Here are the Western Conference morning papers:
- The Ducks are really starting to gel together and last night's 5-0 victory over Toronto was an example of the quality of their play recently. While the Leafs enjoy much success off-the-ice, on it they have been struggling for years, writes Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register.
- Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald has a must-read interview with Flames GM Darryl Sutter at the half-way point of the season.
- The Blackhawks are struggling badly right now as they lost last night in Dallas by a score of 3-1, making it seven straight losses for the original six club.
- After losing 2-1 last night to the Capitals, the Avalanche have now lost six of their past seven games and just can't seem to get any of their top scorers onto the scoresheet, writes Adrian Dater of the Denver Post. Although the team is struggling, it did receive some good news when young center Paul Stastny was named to the All-Star team.
- The Blue Jackets have revenge on their minds when they face the Blues on Friday. It is likely that Nikolai Zherdev will miss tomorrow night's game against St. Louis and Saturday's game against Nashville.
- It was like old times last night as Mike Modano had three points and led the Stars to a 3-1 victory over the Blackhawks.
- After signing an extension on Wednesday, Chris Osgood received some more great news on Thursday as he was named to the All-Star team.
- Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal has a great article about coach Wayne Gretzky. (Writer's note: You would have to be a fool to not read a Jim Matheson article about the Great One.) In other Oilers news, coach Craig MacTavish has instructed captain Ethan Moreau to stop dropping the gloves.
- Helene Elliot of the L.A. Times is calling for the Kings to give their youngsters lots of playing time with a chance of a playoff spot too far out of reach.
- As Michael Russo of the Star Tribune tells us, Mikko Koivu is close to returning, but the Wild has not yet made a roster move to clear a spot for him.
- Chris Mason's shutout of the Kings on Tuesday has given the netminder some confidence after he was benched four straight games.
- Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic provides readers with his mid-season report on the Coyotes.
- For all the criticism the team has received, the Sharks are the fourth best team in the NHL, writes David Pollak.
- The mood in St. Louis at mid-season is a lot more positive than it was last season, writes Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- One Sedin brother is leaving the other behind on his way to the All-Star Game, writes Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province. In other Canucks news, the team claimed Kris Beech off waivers from Columbus.
For Illegal Curve, I'm Richard Pollock.