Joe Yerdon

Ribeiro’s season-changing tip for Ovechkin: Shoot five-hole

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Phoenix Coyotes forward Mike Ribeiro and Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin were teammates last season.

The two will face each other Saturday night in Glendale with Ovechkin perhaps benefiting from some advice imparted to him by Ribeiro last season as he told Tyson Nash on the Coyotes’ website.

“I actually told him to stop shooting high and try to go 5-hole a few times,” Ribeiro said. “And he started shooting 5-hole. The thing there is that a lot of people are scared to talk to him because he’s such a big [star] and I don’t really care. I was just telling him what I thought and it helped him to change a bit, to give different looks to goalies.”

The advice helped Ovechkin turn his season around into an MVP-winning one as the Capitals turned things around to win the Southeast Division.

As for playing against his former team, Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.com says the Capitals will be ready for what Ribeiro has in store for them in their game tonight.

Panthers take Thomas off IR, starts against Ottawa

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The Florida Panthers finally have some good news.

John Shannon of Sportsnet reports the Panthers are taking goalie Tim Thomas off of injured reserve and will get the start in their game this afternoon against the Ottawa Senators.

Thomas has been out since October 22 with a lower-body injury. Since he’s been hurt, the Panthers have lost six games in a row including games to the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers. Thomas’ absence also coincided with the firing of former coach Kevin Dineen. In all, the team has lost seven straight.

While Thomas’ numbers haven’t been great this year (2-3-0 record, .905 SV%,  3.11 GAA) he’s been the most consistent goalie the Panthers have had all season compared to Jacob Markstrom and Scott Clemmensen.

Interim head coach Peter Horachek hopes Thomas’ return can help turn things around on South Beach.

Flames and Oilers prospects facing criminal charges

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A pair of NHL prospects could be in big trouble following an off-ice incident in Vancouver.

CKNW radio in Vancouver reports Calgary Flames prospect defenseman Brett Kulak, 19, and Edmonton Oilers forward prospect Jackson Houck (pictured), 18, were each charged with assault causing bodily harm. Kulak also has a secondary charge of making threats to cause death or bodily harm. The charges stem from a house party in August.

The players are teammates with the WHL Vancouver Giants and continue to play while the charges are pending.

Kulak was the fourth-round pick of the Flames in 2012 and Houck was the Oilers’ fourth-round pick in 2013. The two players are the Giants’ top offensive players. Kulak leads the team in points and Houck leads them in goals.

According to the report, the two players have had three court appearances so far. Kulak is due back in court on November 20 while Houck won’t be back until February 28.

Good signs: Nash skates in New York, Ward takes shots in Carolina

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For New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes fans, today’s morning skates provided plenty of optimism.

Rangers forward Rick Nash skated with the goalies today and while that won’t help narrow down when he may come back from his concussion, it’s a positive sign nonetheless. The two-time 40-goal scorer has played in just three games this season and was hurt against the San Jose Sharks on October 8.

The Rangers offense has bounced back in recent games, but going without Nash isn’t a good plan in the long run. Concussion recovery takes time, something GM Glen Sather knows all about.

“Obviously he’s on the road to recovery,” Sather said. “He wouldn’t be skating. He still has a ways to go.”

In Carolina, goalie Cam Ward was on the ice for the first time since going out of action with a lower-body injury.

Ward took shots and got a light test to see where he was at in his recovery. The Hurricanes have won two games in a row, but are without both Ward and his backup Anton Khudobin. Justin Peters has been leading the way in goal with both of them out of action.

Carolina coach Kirk Muller says Ward could rejoin the team at practice next week.

Leafs return to Boston for first time since Game 7 collapse

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Last season was a huge success for the Toronto Maple Leafs. After all, making the playoffs for the first time in seven years is a positive thing.

Then again, blowing a three-goal lead in Game 7 of the first round against the Boston Bruins before losing in overtime made the end of the season feel like a disappointment.

On Saturday night, the Maple Leafs return to Boston with those bad memories lingering for fans but not so much for the players as The Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts shares.

“It’s a new year, two different teams, so realistically none of that stuff comes into play,” Kadri said. “But we’re excited to go back to Boston, we know it’s going to be a challenge and we’re excited about it.

“It was tougher before the season started and waiting all summer and just having to deal with it. But now that the season is started and we’re 15, 16 games into it, I think a lot of guys have forgotten about it. But it’s still in the back of your head.”

The Maple Leafs sit tied atop the Atlantic Division with Tampa Bay going into action Saturday. Boston has had a slightly slower start but sit just three points behind them. With the Leafs coming off a shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday, they’ll look to keep the good times going. Boston would love nothing more than to make them relive their playoff nightmare one more time.