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Posted On Thursday, 11.06.2014 / 2:00 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Panthers at Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- As Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad took the ice at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday, he had a bit of a flashback.

It was a little more than four months ago that Ekblad was here for a much different purpose, the 2014 NHL Draft, when the Panthers selected him with the first pick.

"I kind of remember [where I sat]," Ekblad said after the Panthers optional morning skate. "Off to the side there. I pointed it out to one of the guys."

Since that day in late June, Ekblad has emerged as one of the Panthers' top defensemen. He has one goal and four points in 10 games, and he's averaging 21:41 of ice time per game, fourth on the Panthers and second among NHL rookies.

Not bad for the youngest player in the League, who won't turn 19 until February.

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.04.2014 / 2:17 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Oilers at Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- In his five 82-game seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, R.J. Umberger scored 20 goals four games and had 18 in another season.

This season, however, he hasn't had that scoring touch with the Philadelphia Flyers, with one goal in his first 11 games. However, a move to a more offensive-themed line could jump start his production.

Umberger switched spots with Brayden Schenn at the morning skate Tuesday, skating on the left wing with center Vincent Lecavalier and right wing Wayne Simmonds when the Flyers prepared for a game against the visiting Edmonton Oilers.

"[Simmonds] is a puck-possession guy," Umberger said. "He has the puck a lot, wins a lot of battles. I'm hoping that creates a lot more offensive time in-zone, down low. For me, I'm used to being a three to four shots guy per game and I'm not getting many shots, and that's frustrating to me."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 7:19 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

Kopitar sits vs. Flyers, Kings go with 19

PHILADELPHIA -- Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will not play Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers because of an upper-body injury.

The Kings were unable to call up a player from Manchester of the American Hockey League because they have no roster or salary-cap space, leaving them with 19 players for the game.

"Some of us got to step up," center Jarret Stoll said. "There's going to be four or five of us that play more minutes than we usually do, two or three more minutes. Just be smart; staying out of the penalty box is a key issue too. We don't want to put ourselves down where we have to kill penalties and chase the game. Want to just play a simple, smart road game with everybody going -- everybody going minus one guy."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 1:52 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Kings at Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar took part in the morning skate but likely won't play Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers because of an upper-body injury.

Kopitar took line rushes with injured teammate Marian Gaborik, rather than his usual linemates, but after the skate refused to rule himself out.

"I felt pretty good on the ice [Tuesday]," Kopitar said. "We'll see about [the game]. I'm going to prepare like I'm going to play and we'll see how I feel."

Kopitar was injured during the second period of the Kings game Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He's missed one game in the past four seasons.

"I had a day off [Monday] so that obviously helps," Kopitar said. "We had a nice plane coming here. I laid down; it was nice. Cross-country flight, it was great."

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Posted On Saturday, 10.25.2014 / 1:58 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Red Wings at Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- Shayne Gostisbehere certainly remembers the last meaningful game he played at Wells Fargo Center.

So do the Philadelphia Flyers fans who watched Gostisbehere score one goal, assist on two others and finish with a plus-7 rating as Union College won the NCAA title and Gostisbehere took home the trophy for Most Outstanding Player of the Frozen Four.

Gostisbehere will make his NHL debut Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.

"It's the NHL and college; big steps there," Gostisbehere said after his first regular-season morning skate. "It's going to be a different game. First NHL game, I'm going to take it shift by shift there and calm my nerves."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.14.2014 / 1:56 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Ducks at Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare wasn't sure if coming to the NHL was the right decision.

Now, three games into his NHL career, the Philadelphia Flyers have installed him as their second-line center.

With Vincent Lecavalier out at least two weeks with a lower-body injury sustained during the Flyers' 4-3 shootout loss against the Montreal Canadiens, Bellemare, 29, will play between Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

"I plan to skate hard and play simply," Bellemare said. "I know those guys are so skilled offensively that we're going to get the chances. My game is pretty much the same as the first ones, play a strong defensive game and the offense is going to come."

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Posted On Saturday, 10.11.2014 / 1:58 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Canadiens at Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers are in the same place they were last season, but the feeling among the players is vastly different.

Last season the Flyers started 0-2-0, then after falling to 0-3-0 coach Peter Laviolette was fired. Players were confused and frustrated and it showed on the ice.

"I think last year at this time after two games it was a huge panic in here," captain Claude Giroux said. "Guys were trying to figure out what was going on, our coach got fired. It was a big panic."

While they again are 0-2-0, the players are more confident a turnaround could start as soon as their game Saturday against the visiting Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET, TVA, CITY).

"I think we can learn from last year," Giroux said. "Last year after a few games we hit the panic button and tried to change everything. Finally we came back to playing our game, having fun and come to the rink and enjoy being here. When we did that we started winning games. We're going to start with that [Saturday]."

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.01.2014 / 10:01 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Orr, Cherry to coach at CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

Hockey Hall of Fame member Bobby Orr and longtime NHL broadcaster Don Cherry will return as coaches for the 2015 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 22, 2015 in St. Catharines, Ontario.

The 20th edition of the game, which will feature 40 of the top prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft playing in the Canadian Hockey League, will be played at the Meridian Centre, the new home of the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League.

"When this event began in 1996 it was the support of Don Cherry and Bobby Orr that helped build this showcase of top draft-eligible CHL players into a prestigious annual event," CHL president David Branch said. "The CHL is honored that Don and Bobby will participate behind the bench in the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in what will truly be a special experience for the 40 players competing on the ice, and for hockey fans in St. Catharines and across the CHL."

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Posted On Friday, 08.15.2014 / 3:39 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Canada, Czech Republic to play for Hlinka title

Top 2015 NHL Draft prospect Dylan Strome had a hat trick as Canada beat the United States 11-5 on Friday in the semifinals of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in a game played at Zimny Stadion in Piestany, Slovakia.

Canada will play the Czech Republic in the championship game Saturday. Canada has won the tournament in each of the past six years and 18 of the 23 times it's been held since 1991.

"We've got to go out and play our game," coach Jody Hull told Canadian Press. "If we can go out and play our game for 60 minutes, that's going to be the key. You've got to be ready for anything. So we're just going to enjoy this [Friday] and be focused and ready to go [Saturday]."

Travis Konecny had two goals for Canada and Mitchell Stephens and Jansen Harkins had one goal and two assists each. Goaltender Zachary Sawchenko allowed five goals on 29 shots.

Thomas Novak had two goals and an assist for the United States. Evan Sarthou started the game in goal but allowed five goals in 29:58 of action. His backup, Matthew Jurusik, allowed the final six goals. The U.S. was outshot 48-29 for the game.

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Posted On Wednesday, 08.13.2014 / 11:53 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - World Junior evaluation camps

McLennan impressed with crop of U.S. goaltenders

NHL Network analyst Jamie McLennan spent parts of 11 seasons playing goalie in the NHL with five teams from 1993 to 2007. And at 6-foot and 207 pounds, he said he considered himself "a big guy."

But while watching the goaltenders USA Hockey invited to Lake Placid, N.Y., last week for a summer evaluation camp geared toward picking the players that will play for the United States at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, he didn't feel so big.

"Being a 6-foot goaltender I thought I was a big guy," McLennan said. "Today I'd be a shrimp. Everyone is 6-2 and up and that's what teams draft."

All four goaltenders at the camp each stood 6-foot-3 or taller, but it was Thatcher Demko, the biggest of the four at 6-4 and 192 pounds, who stood out the most to McLennan.

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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic