Panthers prospect Gudbranson eager to impress in training camp

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While all the attention during this rookie camp is going to be focused on the top two picks from the 2010 NHL Draft in Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, the #3 pick Erik Gudbranson is going to be another player worth keeping an eye on. The Florida Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov caught up with Gudbranson to find out how he’s handling his first camp with the Panthers and what his expectations are going into this season.

“The level of competition just went way up. It skyrocketed. I don’t feel like I’m in the OHL anymore. I was bigger and stronger than most of the guys there; now I’m one of the little guys again. It was fun; it was hard; it was competitive. Based on what I see out there, we can have a great team this year if I stay and everybody else comes together as a team.”

“My hopes are to stay here; that’s my goal. I came here packed to stay to be honest with you. I’m not going to sell myself short of that. That’s what I worked for this summer. I want to make this team. This is where I want to be this year.”

The way the Panthers are set up along the blue line right now, they don’t necessarily need to rush Gudbranson to the NHL. They can have him head back to junior hockey and develop a bit more and continue to grow into his game. While Gudbranson may ultimately be one of the more talented guys that the Panthers will work out and give the chance to make the team, it’s an odd luxury for them to not need to bring him in immediately.

Then again, the Panthers potential blue line doesn’t really inspire fear or much worry of being shut down by opponents with the likes of Dmitry Kulikov and Bryan McCabe being the biggest names there. Guys like Mike Weaver and Nathan Paetsch, despite some of their abilities, aren’t game breakers. Gudbranson will get his time, he’ll just have to really knock Dale Tallon and Pete DeBoer’s socks off to have it be this year.

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    Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

    Alain Vigneault
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    Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

    The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

    He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

    But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

    “Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

    “But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

    Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

    The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).

    Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

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    Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.


    Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

    Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

    Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

    As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.

    Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs


    Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

    Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

    At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

    The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

    Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

    Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

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    Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

    That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 28-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

    On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

    Related: The latest on Price’s injury