Since ending a two-month goalless drought on Jan. 16, Dallas Stars forward Ales Hemsky has five goals in his last 14 games, and head coach Lindy Ruff is rewarding him for his efforts.
The 32-year-old veteran skated with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn on the team's first line during Friday's practice and is expected to remain on the top unit for Saturday's game against the Boston Bruins.
Hemsky is in the midst of his most productive stretch of the season, with four points in his last five games, and he credits his recent success to being more relaxed.
"Confidence helps for sure," he said, according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News. "Sometimes, you just have to stop thinking so much and just try to play your game. I think I'm skating better, and when you get a role that's more involved, that helps you. It feels good."
Though Hemsky's recent surge has come playing alongside youngsters Mattias Janmark and Valeri Nichushkin, Ruff is hopeful the Czech Republic native will continue to make plays with the team's pair of All-Stars.
"When Hemmer is skating the way he's skating, he's creating a lot of his own chances," Ruff said of the lineup shuffle. "It's an option I would like to try. I like where he's at. It's an opportunity to see if we can find something that's really dynamic."
The Stars will look to end a two-game losing skid Saturday as they sit one point behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the division lead.
TORONTO - Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux will not play Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs due to an upper-body injury.
Giroux is considered day-to-day, according to a statement from Flyers general manager Ron Hextall.
Giroux was the recipient of a P.K. Subban hit late in the third period of Friday's game in Montreal. He left the game briefly, but was able to return for overtime and participated in the shootout. No penalty was called on the play.
The Hearst, Ontario native and Flyers captain has appeared in all 57 games this season, and leads the team in scoring with 49 points.
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos became the third player in franchise history to reach 300 goals, and the Lightning ended a long losing streak in Pittsburgh with a 4-2 win over the Penguins on Saturday.
Stamkos knocked in a ...
The NHL's latest outdoor adventure is set to take place Sunday, and the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks took some time to get acquainted with their temporary surroundings with respective practices.
The Wild, who will host the game at the University of Minnesota's TFC Bank Stadium, took to the ice first in advance of what will be the first outdoor game in franchise history.
For Chicago, it will be their fifth outdoor game, but the novelty doesn't appear to be wearing off.
Once again, the Blackhawks invited the USA Warriors - a hockey program for injured and disabled veterans - to join them on the ice.
The actual Stadium Series game is set for Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
The Tampa Bay Lightning captain recorded his 300th career goal with a first-period tap-in against the Pittsburgh Penguins, becoming the third player in team history to reach that mark, following Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.
Only Alex Ovechkin accomplished the feat faster among active players.
The goal came in his 550th game, giving him a career average of 0.54 per contest.
The impending unrestricted free agent now has 24 on the season, a pace that puts him on track for one of the lowest single-season totals of his career.
Set to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end, Ladd appears destined to hit the trade market as a rental player with the Jets already committed to Dustin Byfuglien long term and sitting well outside the playoff picture.
Winnipeg is expected to make one last push to sign Ladd to a contract extension, but it doesn't help his case that he's recorded only 15 goals and 17 assists in 57 games, putting him on pace for his worst output since joining the team.
Still, an attractive deadline option he remains. Here are three teams that could be vying for his services.
Ladd is no stranger to Chicago, where the Blackhawks are reportedly in hot pursuit of a top-line left winger.
A member of the first of Chicago's three recent Stanley Cup championship teams, Ladd recorded six points in 19 playoff games back in 2010, but was subsequently traded to the then-Atlanta Thrashers in a cost-saving measure.
Ladd has more than come into his own over the past six seasons since his name was engraved on the Cup, averaging 0.71 points per game with the Thrashers/Jets while becoming a leader both on and off the ice.
His familiarity with the Blackhawks and his ability to meet a clear need for the defending champions makes him a perfect fit to boost a Chicago team with a great chance at coming out of the West once again.
Ladd also has ties to the Panthers, namely general manager Dale Tallon, who brought the winger to Chicago prior to the deadline in 2008 by way of the Carolina Hurricanes (the club which drafted him fourth overall in 2004).
The upstart Panthers hold a five-point lead in the Atlantic Division, and, barring complete disaster, are indeed headed for the postseason for only the fifth time in franchise history. And in a year when the Eastern Conference seems to be Washington's to lose, the new divisional playoff format means the Panthers could very well advance to the conference finals if all goes their way.
Florida is led by a host of young talent, with veterans Jaromir Jagr, Roberto Luongo, and Brian Campbell - also a member of Chicago's 2010 Cup squad - serving as reason to believe this team can succeed sooner than expected.
The addition of Ladd, even as a rental, could go a long way toward ensuring some measure of postseason success, but Tallon will no doubt be weary of giving up too much in order to pull off such a deal.
New York Rangers
The Rangers have been one of the most successful playoff teams in recent years, with three trips to the conference finals and a Stanley Cup Final appearance to their credit over the past four seasons.
They haven't been able to achieve the highest goal, however, and perhaps only have limited chances at reaching the NHL's peak with their current crop of players.
With Rick Nash recovering from a bone bruise and Chris Kreider not living up to expectations, GM Jeff Gorton finds his club weak at left wing, with a surprise breakout from J.T. Miller - a natural center - helping fill the void for now.
The Rangers likely wouldn't be able to keep Ladd long term based on their cap situation, but he's exactly the type of player they need in their top six if they want to make good on their quest for a Cup.
After only 31 games played at Barclays Center, both sides are believed to be exploring ways to modify the terms of their lease agreement or even sever ties altogether, according to the New York Post.
In 2012, Islanders owner Charles Wang signed a 25-year lease with the Brooklyn arena to have the team play there beginning this season, but a source tells the Post the agreement includes "a little-known out clause that kicks in after the fourth season that both sides could take advantage of."
Under the agreement, Barclays pays the Islanders an average lump sum of $53.5 million per year, while the arena retains cash made off tickets, suite sales, and sponsorships.
Jonathan Ledecky, who heads a group of investors set to take over ownership of the Islanders on July 1, is hearing complaints from longtime fans about the setup at Barclays - including high ticket prices and obstructed views - and is considering a move back to Long Island or to another venue in the New York area.
Nassau Coliseum, the team's former home, is undergoing renovations that include cutting its seating to 13,000, rendering it too small to host NHL hockey.
Barclays Center CEO Brett Yorkman, however, denies the report claiming the Islanders could play elsewhere in the near future.
"We are enjoying the first year of hockey in Brooklyn," he told the Post. "We are looking forward to a heated playoff run and a long future and partnership with the Islanders."
The Islanders rank 28th with an average attendance of 13,424, while posting the league's fourth-best home record at 19-8-4.