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November 21, 2006

November 21, 2006

The Hockey News has been providing the most comprehensive coverage of the world of hockey since 1947. In each issue, you'll find news, features and opinions about the NHL and leagues across North America and the world.


Wild doesn’t panic thanks to Johnsson

DEFENSE Kim Johnsson The free agent acquisition gives the Wild what it desperately needed on the blueline. He’s a smart and confident puckhandler, and a strong skater who plays 23:28 a night, including key roles on special teams. With more than 450 games and plenty of post-season experience, Johnsson plays big shifts against top lines, and plays with a calm demeanor that has helped the Wild win close games where panic once paralyzed them. FORWARD Brian Rolston Mr. Everything is poised to improve on a career 2005-06 season. Rolston carried the team offensively through its 10-2-0 start. His confidence with the puck is unmatched, and he’s the key point man on the power play, always ready to unload one of the hardest slapshots in the NHL. He’s equally dangerous shorthanded; his…


Schell-ing the goalies

Gwinnett center Brad Schell produces like a player very comfortable in the ECHL. But his numbers just might earn him a ticket to the AHL. “He has great vision and knows when to give the puck to guys going to the net,” said Gwinnett coach Jeff Pyle of Schell, a 22-year-old Atlanta Thrashers prospect. “He has been running our power play all season.” Schell had an ECHL-best 19 points, including a league-high 15 assists through seven games. The Gladiators won six times for the best start in team history. Schell is on a line with rookie Colton Fretter from Michigan State and Jeff Campbell, the reigning league MVP. “It’s a line that fits together and complements each other,” Pyle said. “Schell has stepped it up from the outset. I like his work ethic. He…


Drummondville beat down by injuries, circumstance

Drummondville was widely expected to be among the top contenders, but it has fallen on hard times. The Voltigeurs have been snake-bitten by injuries and circumstances beyond their control. Right winger Guillaume Latendresse, 19, stayed with Montreal. Center Derick Brassard, selected sixth overall by Columbus in 2006, separated a shoulder in training camp and won’t return until February. Defenseman Olivier Magnan, 20, joined Trenton in the ECHL. “On top of that, we’ve been totally decimated by injuries,” said Voltigeurs coach Guy Boucher, whose team was near the bottom at 7-12-0-2. “We’ve been missing nine guys almost since the beginning due to injuries, so that’s had a major impact. It’s very tough for the organization. They’ve been planning for the past few years to be a top contender this season and things have just…


The SCIENCE of the Shootout

IN TODAY’S NHL, teams spend enormous amounts of money on pro scouting and video analysis. A good GM has the depth charts of each of the 30 teams at his fingertips, or at the very least, on a magnetic board in his office. The day after a game, a rookie can look forward to a nice long video session with an assistant coach, during which each of his shifts is broken down in excruciating detail. When it comes to gaining a competitive edge on their opponents, NHL teams micromanage everything from special teams to defense pairings. They’re obsessed with every minute detail of what happens on the ice and are prepared to adjust their tactics on a second’s notice. That’s what makes their collective approach to the shootout all the more confusing.…