In today’s collection of notable NHL morning headlines: Chris Pronger could soon return to the Flyers…Ken Hitchcock has successful debut behind Blues bench…Niklas Backstrom helps snuff out Flames…Johan Franzen snows under Avalanche…Ducks need to get on track…Reason for Rangers recent success…Does Letestu trade signal Crosby’s return?…Mark Howe’s hockey legacy.
PHILLY.COM: The Flyers could have defenseman Chris Pronger back in their lineup as early as today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good news for Pronger, who recently suffered an eye injury. Should be interesting to see if he’ll return with a visor.
STLTODAY.COM: Ken Hitchcock had a successful debut behind the bench for the St. Louis Blues, as they shut out the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen how much Hitchcock’s coaching style will affect the struggling Blues, but this is a promising start.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom made 41 saves en route to a 3-0 shutout of the Calgary Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There had been a bit of a “goaltending controversy” as Josh Harding had of late outplayed Backstrom. This performance, however, serves notice Backstrom won’t take a back seat to anyone.
DETROIT NEWS: Johan Franzen potted a hat trick, powering the Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Franzen had been among a handful of Wings singled out for poor play in recent weeks during the Wings losing skid. Looks like he’s ready to rise to the challenge of silencing those critics.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Jeff Miller observed the Anaheim Ducks play 11 of their next 13 games at home, suggesting this is the right time for this struggling team to get themselves back on track.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If they play .500 or less during that stretch, it could be “uh-0h” time in Anaheim.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are crediting disciplined play and few penalties for their recent five-game winning streak.
POST-GAZETTE.COM: Penguins GM Ray Shero said yesterday’s trade of center Mark Letestu to Columbus is not a precursor to Sidney Crosby’s return to the lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out by this weekend if that’s really the case.
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby on how Mark Howe emerged from the shadow of his famous father to carve out his own Hall-of-Fame career.