-"You've seen him evolve as a player. He had to change the way he played and was perceived as a player. I think he's done that over the last couple of years." - Ray Shero on Matt Cooke (above).
-The Penguins' magic number for clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference is 12. (PG+)
-Forward Chad Kolarik has a chance at winning the first AHL scoring title in the history of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
-Happy 39th birthday to former all-star Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar (right). A free agent signing in the 2005 offseason, Gonchar spent five seasons with Penguins. Gonchar's debut season in Pittsburgh saw him appear in 75 games and record 58 points. His second campaign saw Gonchar play in all 82 games and match a career-high in points with 67. He appeared in five postseason games that spring and scored four points. In 2007-08, Gonchar as he netted 65 points in 78 games, earned an appearance in the All-Star Game. During that spring's postseason, Gonchar played in 20 games and contributed 14 points while helping the Penguins return to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 16 years. A preseason injury derailed his 2008-09 season as he only appeared in 25 games and scored 19 points. In 22 postseason games that spring, Gonchar appeared in 22 games and scored 14 points while helping the franchise earn its third Stanley Cup title. In 2009-10, Gonchar appeared in 62 games and record 50 points. He saw action in 13 postseason games in 2010 and contributeded 12 points. During the 2010 offseason, he joined the Senators as a free agent. In 322 games with the Penguin, "Sarge" recorded 259 points, 28th-most in franchise history. In 60 postseason games, he scored 44 points, ninth-most in franchise history.
-Happy 35th birthday to former Penguins forward Arron Asham. A free agent signing in the 2010 offseason, Asham has spent the past two seasons with the Penguins. In 2010-11, Asham appeared in 44 games and scored 11 points. He saw action in seven postseason games last spring and collected four points. Last season, Asham saw action in 64 games and scored 16 points. He played in three postseason games last spring and had no points. In 108 career regular season games with the Penguins, Asham has scored 27 points. In 10 postseason games, he has four points. This past offseason, he joined the Rangers as a free agent.
-Happy 50th birthday to former Penguins forward Jim McGeough. Acquired at the 1985 trade deadeline in a deal which sent Mark Taylor the Capitals, McGeough spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins. He finished 1984-85 by appearing in 14 games for the Penguins and recording four assists. In 1985-86, McGeough played in 17 games and recorded five assists. He followed that up in 1986-87 by seeing action in 11 games and netting five points. In the 1987 offseason, he joined Klagenfurter AC in Austria.
-After the Jump: The Devils lose their ninth consecutive game and the Blackhawks clinch the Central Division.
-Flyers forward Daniel Briere is expected to return to the lineup today against the Sabres after missing 10 games due to a concussion.
-Craig Anderson made 33 saves for the Senators in a 2-0 shutout of the Devils. It was the 22nd shutout of his career. New Jersey has lost nine consecutive games.
-Anderson poked New Jersey's Adam Henrique in the face with the butt-end of his stick in the second period:
-Anderson was not penalized for the play.
-EN Says: Anderson deserves an immediate suspension for this. There's no excuse for this action. Even if Henrique thankfully escaped serious injury, Anderson deserves to get hammered with a suspension. He appeared to intentionally poke Henrique near the eyes with his stick. Anything short of three games will be embarrassing for the NHL.
-Some cool photos of the Senators warming up with their shadows. Mika Zibanejad:
-And Robin Lehner:
-Ottawa's Chris Phillips and New Jersey's Patrik Elias each reached out for this puck:
-“Even now, I can’t believe what happened. Marty is a great goalie. He’s got a lot of history in this league and to score my first goal against him, I’m really happy.” - Ottawa rookie forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau on scoring his first career NHL goal against New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur.
-Has Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban become a candidate for the Norris Trophy?
-“I really wanted this season, coming in here, for this team to win and for me to be a part of that. I feel like to a certain degree I’ve felt like I was letting the team down. I’ve never been in this situation before. It’s not fun. You’ve got to let some (of the frustration) go and just go work and hope that if you keep working good things will happen.” - Former Penguins forward Jordan Staal (right) on his first season with the Hurricanes.
-The Lightning assigned forwards Brett Connolly and Tyler Johnson to Syracuse of the AHL.
-The Capitals are being hush-hush about forward Brooks Laich's latest "lower-body" injury.
-Jets defenseman Zach Redmond was given medical clearance to resume practicing for the first tme since suffering a severed femoral artery in his right leg.
-Shootout goals by former Penguin Marian Hossa and Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 win against the rival Red Wings. Fire Ray Shero. Corey Crawford made 27 saves in the victory which clinched the Central Division title for Chicago.
-Happy times in Chicago for captain Jonathan Toews and Michael Frolik:
-The Blackhawks swept a season series from the Red Wings for the first time since 1976-77.
-"I don’t mind the new realignment that the league decided to go with, but the one thing that does suck is not playing the Red Wings a number of times. I think the fans will always appreciate the rivalry, and when we do see them, it’ll be a special game. I like going to Detroit and playing in their building; I like it when they come here. They’re fun games to play in.’’ - Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the NHLs realignment plan which ends his team's divisional rivalry with the Red Wings.
-On the same day he won the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey, St. Cloud State forward Drew LeBlanc signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks. Terms were not reported. He was not drafted.
-Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets in a 4-1 win against the Blues. Sergei Bobrovsky made 31 saves in the victory.
-Defensive Play of the Night: Check out this "save" by Blues defenseman against Blue Jackets forward and Plum native (No, really!) R.J. Umberger:
-Pass of the Night: Check out this feed by Blue Jackets forward and former Penguin Mark Letestu to set up Marian Gaborik for a goal:
-Columbus' Derek MacKenzie being good people:
-An overtime goal and an assist by Mark Giordano gave the Flames a 3-2 win against the Coyotes. Mikael Backlund recorded two assists for Calgary while teammate Joey MacDonald made 29 saves.
-Check out this pass by Phoenix's Derek Morris to set up Keith Yandle for a goal:
-Patriotic times in Calgary:
-The Flames signed former Penguins forward prospect Ben Hanowski to a two-year entry-level contract. Hanowski, a third-round pick of the Penguins in 2009, was acquired as part of the trade which sent Jarome Iginla to Pittsburgh.
-Calgary assigned forward Blair Jones to Abbotsford of the AHL.
-The Wild recalled forward Jason Zucker from Houston of the AHL.
-Tonight's Avalanche-Canucks game will be the last as division rivals before next season's realignment.
-Two goals by rookie Alex Chiasson led the Stars to a 5-2 win against the Predators. Ray Whitney added a goal and an assist for Dallas while teammate Vernon Fiddler recorded two assists. Richard Bachman made 26 saves in the victory.
-Check out this rocket of a slapper by Dallas' Erik Cole:
-Check out this pass by Stars defenseman and former Penguin Alex Goligoski to set up Whitney for a power-play goal:
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Check out this pass by Dallas' Ryan Garbutt to set up Tom Wandell for a goal:
-Check out the placement on this shot by Nashville's Bobby Butler:
-Nashville's Chris Mason was alone in the dark here:
-Nashville's Sergei Kostitsyn was focused on this faceoff:
-The Sharks are 8-1-1 record since trading away pending unrestricted free agents Ryane Clowe, Michal Hanzus and Douglas Murray.
-The Coyotes assigned forward Chris Brown to Portland of the AHL.
(Photos: Cooke-Justin K. Aller/Getty Images; Gonchar-Jamie Sabau/Getty Images; Senators/Devils-Jim McIsaac/Getty Images; Staal-Claus Andersen/Getty Images; Red Wings/Blackhawks-Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images; Blues/Blue Jackets-Kirk Irwin/Getty Images; Coyotes/Flames-Derek Leung/Getty Images; Stars/Predators-Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)