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Ray Emery skates for the first time since last spring, hopes to make NHL comeback

As a promising headcase of a goalie for the Ottawa Senators, Ray Emery was known for being as difficult as he was talented. He was also known for eating a cockroach to win a $500 bet with team captain Daniel Aldfredsson, an anecdote that earns a near-mandatory mention whenever I discuss him.

If Emery can make his way back into the NHL – for the second time in only a few years – it might be most accurate to refer to Emery as a resilient battler in the best of ways.

One season after helping the Senators make a run to the Stanley Cup finals, the team let him go thanks to his peculiar attitude and a rough 2007-08 season. (Emery went 12-13-4 with an ugly 89 save percentage a season after playing the best hockey of his career.)

Despite a considerable pedigree and some upside as a young player, no NHL team decided he was worthy of a contract for the 08-09 season, so he was forced to play overseas. He ended up earning enough clout with Atlant in the KHL to gain a second chance with the Philadelphia Flyers last season, only to go down with a hip injury that not only ruined his 09-10 season but some wondered might end his career.

While Emery still has a long way to go from that scary injury, the erstwhile goalie seems determined to earn another opportunity. Sam Carchidi caught up with Emery and shared some details about how his former team might offer him the chance to work his way back at some point.

Former Flyers goalie Ray “Razor” Emery told ESPN.com he will skate next week for the first time since career-threatening hip surgery last spring. The complex operation involved having a bone grafted from the lower part of his leg and being inserted into his hip.
“Usually when you have this type of thing done, they just want you to walk again,” Emery said.
But Emery, 28, a free agent who started his grueling rehab sessions six weeks ago, said he hasn’t abandoned hope of returning to the NHL someday. Emery said the earliest he thought he would be ready to play would be “maybe January.”
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren has left the door open for Emery.
Holmgren said that Emery is an “NHL longshot” this season, but that the team might let him prove his readiness to return by playing in their minor league system at some point during the 2010-11 season. Emery has had his problems – some based on bad luck, others due to his own swagger/hubris – but it’s difficult to root against him as he tries to make another comeback to the NHL. It might be a while before we hear from him again, but it would be great to see Emery (and his wacky antics) back in the league someday in the near future.

A ‘number of concerns’ about Jonathan Quick led Kings to pursue Bishop

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Dean Lombardi revealed that he and Steve Yzerman had been working on a deal for Ben Bishop for about two or three weeks.

On Sunday, a deal between the Kings and Lightning was finally completed and it had basically everything to do with Jonathan Quick. Speaking in a conference call, Lombardi, the Kings general manager, noted a “number of concerns” for Quick coming back from a 59-game absence because of a groin injury before finally returning to game action Saturday.

Quick, 31, was impressive in a win over the Anaheim Ducks, but Lombardi and the Kings just could not be sure about how he would fare in the stretch drive after coming back from such a lengthy time away, and were therefore set on acquiring another No. 1 goalie.

“You’re never sure how well a guy who’s been out this long — is he going to have his ‘A’ game, so to speak, or not? These type of injuries, which are fairly serious, the history of comebacks can go either way,” said Lombardi.

“On the other hand, we all know Jon’s a tremendous athlete. He’s one of the top goaltenders in the game and most importantly he’s one of the game’s top competitors. So you certainly don’t worry about Jon … once he passes the mental part that ‘I’m capable of doing athletically what I have in the past’ that he’s going to be able to give it his all.”

The Kings, currently three points out of a playoff spot in the West, are in a stretch of three games in four nights.

Bishop is expected to join the team for the morning skate tomorrow. Lombardi even mentioned that coach Darryl Sutter had actually planned on playing the newly acquired netminder Monday versus the Wild. That is still to be determined but it’s likely Bishop plays one of the Kings’ next two games. They’re in Calgary on Tuesday.

The condensed schedule over the next few weeks was another factor in making the trade for the Kings. They just simply don’t want to wear Quick down.

“This is not an insurance policy,” said Lombardi. “There’s not a lot of room here for error. We just want to take that out of the equation by making sure that we have a No. 1 goalie in there every night.”

Bishop is a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The Kings have Quick under contract until 2023 at a cap hit of $5.8 million.

While Lombardi didn’t completely rule out the chance of re-signing Bishop — “You never say ‘never,'” he said — bringing in a player on an expiring contract was something the Kings were willing to do in this case.

“If not, we’re comfortable with what we had to pay to give ourselves a chance here to get in. After that, as we know, anything can happen,” he said. “The focus was on getting the best goalie available.”

The Kings face other issues. You could argue more pressing issues.

Sure, they made a move they believe will strengthen the goaltending position. But they’re also 25th in scoring, averaging just 2.44 goals-for per game. They had a nice third-period outburst Saturday, but for the most part, goals have been hard to come by for L.A.

“There’s players that will freely admit right to you that they’re capable of producing more. We don’t want to lose our defensive identity. We’ve got two of the best goalies in the league there now,” said Lombardi.

“Now when we get into the other team’s end … we’ve got to bear down.”

Video: Duncan Keith gets 500th point; Blackhawks put on passing clinic

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The Chicago Blackhawks’ two biggest names (Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane) scored the first two goals against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. It’s fitting that Duncan Keith, the third big core player, hit a milestone in the process.

By assisting on Kane’s goal, Keith collected the 500th point of his already-impressive NHL career.

This currently places him at 89 goals, 411 assists and 500 points in 895 games … with some time to beef up his totals on Sunday.

You can see him get his 500th point in the video above.

The prettier of the two plays was likely the passing clinic Chicago put on with Toews finishing the play. Enjoy that impressive display in the video below:

Keith’s assist could end up being important in this one, as the Blues recently made it 2-1 before the end of the first period. Tune into the game on NBCSN and follow the livestream here.

BREAKING: Wild reportedly acquire Hanzal, White from Coyotes

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The Minnesota Wild have made a bold move and paid a price ahead of the trade deadline.

According to multiple reports, the Wild acquired Martin Hanzal, Ryan White and a fourth-round pick in 2017 from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for a first-round pick this year, a second-round pick in 2018, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2019 and minor leaguer Grayson Downing, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

That’s quite a haul of draft picks for the Coyotes, currently in the midst of a rebuild.

For the Wild, leading the Central Division by three points in their first season under coach Bruce Boudreau, they get a towering center in Hanzal, who stands six-foot-six-inches tall and 226 pounds. He has 16 goals and 26 points in 51 games for Arizona this season.

White has 171 penalty minutes combined between this season and last. He has seven goals and 13 points in 46 games this season.

More to come.

WATCH LIVE: Blues at Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 12: Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck against Jay Bouwmeester #19 and Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues during the season opening game at the United Center on October 12, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The St. Louis Blues will look to improve their cushion in the Western Conference playoff race when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

You can catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

NHL On NBCSN: Blues look to slow down Blackhawks

Blues extend Berglund — five years, $19.25 million

Blackhawks’ Hjalmarsson ‘day-to-day,’ will not play on Sunday