Here are the national morning papers:
- William Houston of the Globe & Mail tells us about the negotiations going on for the services of play-by-play man Jim Hughson.
- Kevin Allen of USA Today examines the growing number of players from the sun-belt states who are making a name for themselves on the hockey landscape.
Here are the Eastern Conference morning papers:
- After last night's 5-4 loss to the Islanders, the Leafs now sit 29th overall in the NHL standings and the Steve Stamkos watch may as well officially be underway. As long as they continue to lose honestly, the Leafs are better off for it, writes Dave Perkins of the Toronto Star. On the trade front, Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun claims Mats Sundin holds the key to the Leafs' future.
- The Habs are hoping to have Roman Hamrlik back in the line-up this weekend for their home-and-home with the Flyers.
- James Gordon of the Ottawa Citizen wonders if John Paddock is closing in on a decision regarding his number one netminder. Coach Paddock has asked his secondary scorers to step-up and take some of the pressure off the top line to score all the time, writes Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an interview with Marian Hossa.
- Injured center Patrice Bergeron continues to try and rehab his concussion, writes Fluto Shinwaza of the Boston Globe. Stephen Harris runs down all the Bruins' injury details in this morning's Boston Herald.
- Patrick Kaleta is enjoying his first goal a lot more now that he knows Richard Zednik is okay.
- The Hurricanes recorded a big win over the Penguins last night, but it was overshadowed by the loss of captain Rod Brind'Amour for the season to a torn ACL.
- Larry Brooks of the NY Post has the details behind the Rangers' search for a top puck moving defenseman. The recent break in the schedule for the Rangers has worked wonders for Brendan Shanahan.
- Last night's loss to the Lightning made it five losses in a row for the slumping Flyers. The improved play of R.J. Umberger this season is apparently all mental, writes Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News.
- "They were more desperate than us," said Penguins forward Maxim Talbot after his team's 4-2 loss to the Hurricanes on Thursday. It didn't take long the Pens to recall Tyler Kennedy.
- Alexander Ovechkin seems even more focused with the playoffs in his sights.
- The Lightning recorded their seventh road victory in their past eight road games last night with a 5-3 win at Philadelphia. Off the ice, GM Jay Feaster said the team's impending sale will have no impact on what he does prior to the trade deadline.
- The Islanders capitalized on their seven powerplay chances with four powerplay goals, on their way to a 5-4 win at Toronto.
- Martin Brodeur can expect to play most, if not all, of the remaining games on the Devils' schedule, writes Colin Stephenson.
- The Panthers are hoping that Stephen Weiss (flu) can play tonight because they are already without many key offensive contributors.
Here are the Western Conference morning papers:
- The Flames' late game heroics may end up being the difference between making and missing the playoffs, writes Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald. Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun provides readers with the perspective of the Flames' veteran healthy scratches.
- Special teams was the deciding factor last night as the Oilers went into San Jose and came away with a nail-biting 3-2 victory. In roster news, Mathieu Roy was called up as insurance for the Oilers because a couple of the team's defensemen have lingering injuries; however, he has yet to get into game action. Sharks forward Jody Shelley admits he was intrigued by rumors that he may be on his way to Edmonton before he was traded to San Jose.
- The Canucks continued their recent struggles last night with a 5-4 shootout loss to rival Minnesota. The Canucks may not have prevailed, but at least the quality of hockey in the third period was exciting, writes Gordon McIntyre of the Vancouver Province.
- The Ducks play their first home game tonight, in what seems like forever, as they are hosting the Stars at the Honda Center.
- Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash has called the team's upcoming road trip "make or break." Here are some notes about the Jackets/Red Wings heading into tonight's game.
- The Stars were streaking one way, and the Coyotes the other, but that's why you play the games, writes Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic. For those poolies wondering why Shane Doan struggled to start the season, here's why.
- Here is the transcript from a Detroit radio show interview with USA Today writer Kevin Allen about the Red Wings. Meanwhile, coach Mike Babcock has switched up his lines for tonight's contest versus Columbus.
- Lisa Dillman of the L.A. Times gives readers the Dan Cloutier perspective in this morning's paper.
- The Wild gave themselves a small bit of breathing room last night with a 5-4 shootout victory over Vancouver, writes Michael Russo of the Star Tribune. Russo's colleague-- Kent Youngblood--has an interesting article about the top prospects being churned out of the State of Minnesota these days.
- After dominating the Red Wings in the first period of their last game, the Predators were given a taste of their own medicine last night as the Blackhawks jumped on them early and eventually coasted to a 6-1 victory. In other roster news, the Predators have re-assigned Kevin Klein to the minors.
- Playing their final home game before their upcoming road trip, the Sharks looked flat all night, writes David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News. On the injury front, the Sharks are hoping to have Doug Murray back in their line-up when they start their eight game road trip on Sunday.
- The Blues played a heck of a lot better in Colorado last night than they did on December 9th, writes Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Meanwhile, with Hanu Toivonen starting in the AHL, the Blues have assigned Marek Schwarz to the ECHL to get some minutes in.
- The Blackhawks made it two road blowouts in a row last night, with a 6-1 dominating performance at Nashville, writes Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune.
- The return of Ryan Smyth to the Avalanche line-up didn't result in a victory, as the Blues came into Denver and defeated the Avs 4-1 last night. The pressure is square on the shoulders of Joel Quenville to ensure that the Avs make the playoffs, writes Mark Kislza of the Denver Post.
For Illegal Curve, I'm Richard Pollock.
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