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Posted On Monday, 02.13.2012 / 1:03 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Ducks, Jets exchange minor-league forwards

The Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets swapped minor-league forwards Monday, with the Ducks sending Maxime Macenauer to the Jets in exchange for Riley Holzapfel.

Macenauer, 23, had a goal and three assists in 29 games with the Ducks earlier this season, the first NHL action of his career. He also has four goals and two assists in 13 games with the Ducks' American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. He was a 2007 third-round pick by Anaheim.

Holzapfel, 23, was a 2006 second-round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers. He's in his fourth AHL season, and first with the St. John IceCaps. In 29 games this season, he has eight goals and seven assists.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 02.13.2012 / 9:56 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Sutton signing further limits defense market

It appears playoff teams looking for veteran help along the blue line just lost one more option leading into the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

With the Edmonton Oilers reportedly poised to sign Andy Sutton to a one-year contract extension, the possibility of contending teams standing pat 14 days looks better and better.

Speculation still surrounds a number of defensemen possibly being moved in the next two weeks -- Montreal's Hal Gill, Carolina's Jaroslav Spacek and Bryan Allen, Toronto's Luke Schenn and Tampa Bay's Pavel Kubina -- but none of them are blockbuster, franchise-changing quality.

Now, if Nashville decides to move unrestricted free-agent-to-be Ryan Suter, that would change things. But with the Predators fifth in the Western Conference, and Suter vowing not to sign with any team prior to the offseason, it's highly doubtful he goes anywhere.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 10:38 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Howson soon to focus on draft

PHILADELPHIA -- The first priority for Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson is determining how best to handle his roster heading into the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

After that, he said he'll turn his focus toward the 2012 NHL Draft.

"It's certainly started already," Howson told NHL.com prior to watching Saturday's Flyers-Rangers game in person at Wells Fargo Center. "We're getting multiple views (of top draft prospects). I think that will pick up in intensity as we get through the deadline and get into March. But our amateur scouts are all over, they're in Europe some of them. For the guys in the Ontario league, the Western league, the Quebec league, we'll have lots and lots of opportunities to see them over the next month, two months."

Howson said he's done some scouting already, and said he'll start doing even more once the trade deadline passes.

"I think I'll see a little bit more," he said. "(Senior Advisor) Craig Patrick is going to see a little bit. The scouts are the ones who are going to see these guys 10, 20 times this year."

Howson said Director of Amateur Scouting Tyler Wright and Director of Amateur Scouting and Development Coach Paul Castron will have the final decision on the team's selection.

"We'll let them make the decision (but) it's good for us to have a little bit of familiarity with the players," said Howson.

Howson wouldn't reveal much as far as personal favorites or which way the staff is leaning, but added he feels like many others that the strength of this year's draft lies in its deep pool of talent on defense.

"Throughout the first round there will be a lot of defensemen picked," he said. "Looks like we're going to be picking fairly early, so there's other things that will come into play with that. I think with this draft it's correct to say it's very strong in defense."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 5:30 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Howson, Gauthier take in Flyers-Rangers tilt

PHILADELPHIA -- There were two very interesting parties taking in the Flyers-Rangers game today at Wells Fargo Center.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier and Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson both were in attendance, with Howson spending extra time meeting with Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.

With the Feb. 27 trade deadline rapidly approaching, Howson said he enjoys the opportunity to talk to other GMs one-on-one rather than over the phone.

"You do it both ways, obviously," Howson told NHL.com. "But anytime you can get face-to-face with somebody and talk to them and have a little more time in a face-to-face encounter … I prefer it be face-to-face because I think you can get more out of it."

He wouldn't comment directly on any of his plans approaching the deadline, but said his roadmap runs well beyond what will happen between now and Feb. 27 – and he promised to be an active player in the trade market.

"We've determined what we want to do," he said. "I'm not going to disclose what we're going to do, but we certainly have a plan in place. We're working on it, we're talking to teams. We'll see … it's not just a pre-deadline plan. It's a plan leading up to the draft and leading into next season. We'll see what happens before the 27th and we expect to be active."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 12:12 PM

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

Flyers seek elusive victory against rival Rangers

PHILADELPHIA -- It's been nearly a calendar year since the Philadelphia Flyers have recorded a victory against the New York Rangers -- Feb. 20, 2011, to be exact. And despite going six straight without a win (0-5-1) in that span, the Flyers remain confident they can snap that streak today when the teams meet for the fifth time this season.

"Even though they're a great team, I still believe we can beat them," Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr told reporters following practice Friday.

A big part of making that belief a reality is beating Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, which they've had trouble doing this season. Lundqvist has stopped 112 of 118 shots (.949 save percentage) in four games this season. And in 35 games against Philadelphia, he's 20-10-3 with a 2.60 goals-against average, .910 save percentage and four shutouts.

It doesn't hurt that the Rangers have the sixth-most blocked shots in the League.

"Against Lundqvist, it's all about traffic, and try to battle hard in front of the net," center Maxime Talbot said. "They don't give much. They play really tight defensively, so it's about putting the puck there and fight for rebounds, because he's probably the best goalie in the League this year."

"If he sees the puck, he's going to stop it," added center Claude Giroux.

The Flyers, however, are clinging to the fact that they were tied or ahead in the third period in the teams' last two meetings.

"We have to outwork them and outskate them," defenseman Andrej Meszaros said. "They're a good transition team and they can score off the rush, so we have to play (better) defense."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 11:53 AM

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

Fedotenko out for Rangers against Flyers, projected lineups

PHILADELPHIA -- With an early start today at Wells Fargo Center, neither the Flyers nor the Rangers skated. But with both teams coming off wins, the lineups shouldn't look too different.

One big change for the Rangers, however, will be the absence of forward Ruslan Fedotenko, who is out following taking a hard hit in a win Thursday win against Tampa Bay.

On Friday, Rangers coach John Tortorella said he would dress seven defensemen rather than call up an extra forward from Connecticut of the American Hockey League, meaning Stu Bickel will return to the lineup.

Here's how the rosters for both teams should look today:

RANGERS

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Mike Rupp - John Mitchell

Marc Staal - Steve Eminger
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal, with Martin Biron the backup.

FLYERS

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read - Maxime Talbot - Jakub Voracek
Zac Rinaldo - Sean Couturier - Tom Sestito

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Matt Carle - Marc-Andre Bourdon
Andrej Meszaros - Erik Gustafsson

With Ilya Bryzgalov still suffering from the flu, Sergei Bobrovsky will start in net today. Jason Bacashihua will be the backup.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 2:35 PM

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

Flyers' Bryzgalov out with the flu

The Philadelphia Flyers will be without goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov for tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN) due to the flu.

In his place, Sergei Bobrovsky will start, and Jason Bacashihua was recalled from AHL Adirondack on an emergency basis to serve as the backup.

In 17 AHL games this season, Bacashihua is 7-6-1 with a 2.98 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.

A 2001 first-round pick of the Dallas Stars, Bacashihua has 38 games of NHL experience, with the Stars and Blues, but none since the 2006-07 season with St. Louis.

It will be Bobrovsky's first game since he allowed six goals in 28 minutes in Saturday's 6-4 loss to the Devils. In his only start against the Leafs this season, he stopped 24 of 26 shots in a 4-2 victory in Philadelphia on Oct. 24.

Bryzgalov is coming off one of his best outings of the season, an 18-save shutout Tuesday against the New York Islanders, and while he allowed two goals in the shootout to suffer the overtime loss, it marked the fifth time in his last seven starts he's allowed one goal or fewer.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 1:25 PM

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

Lineups for Flyers, Islanders

PHILADELPHIA -- Here are what the lineups likely will look like when the Flyers and Islanders face off tonight here at Wells Fargo Center.

Highlighting the Flyers' lineup is the return of center Danny Briere, who missed the last six games due to a concussion. While the team didn't skate in line combinations this morning, the assumption is the line combinations will look something like this:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Matt Read - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
Maxime Talbot - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Zac Rinaldo - Sean Couturier - Tom Sestito

Braydon Coburn - Kimmo Timonen
Matt Carle - Marc-Andre Bergeron
Andrej Meszaros - Erik Gustafsson

Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal, with Sergei Bobrovsky the backup.

Healthy scratches will be forwards Jody Shelley and Harry Zolnierczyk, and defenseman Andreas Lilja.

With the Islanders missing defensemen Milan Jurcina (elbow laceration) and Travis Hamonic (facial injuries), rookie Aaron Ness will make his NHL debut. Here's how the rest of their lineup could look:

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
PA Parenteau - Frans Nielsen - Michael Grabner
Matt Martin - Josh Bailey - Rhett Rakhshani
Jay Pandolfo - Nino Niederreiter - Tim Wallace

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Dylan Reese
Aaron Ness - Mark Eaton

Evgeni Nabokov will start in goal, with Al Montoya the backup.

Forward Brian Rolston will be the only healthy scratch.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 1:15 PM

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

Ness excited to make NHL debut

PHILADELPHIA -- With the New York Islanders missing defenseman Milan Jurcina and Travis Hamonic, Aaron Ness will make his NHL debut tonight here against the Flyers.

The 21-year-old blueliner, in his first professional season, has 17 points and a plus-6 rating in 48 games with AHL Bridgeport. A 2008 second-round pick (No. 40), Ness' strength is his offensive ability.

"I'm going to try to play on the offensive side as much as possible," he said following this morning's practice. "But for me, the first game tonight, I have to just be solid out there defensively, as well."

Coach Jack Capuano said Ness will start the game paired with veteran Mark Eaton.

"He must be really excited," said Isles captain and fellow defenseman Mark Streit. "He's a good player. He played a couple preseason games and he did really well. He's a great skater. That makes it way easier for him. He gets to pucks quick and I'm sure he's going to have a great game … just keep it simple. Move the puck, skate, play good defensively and I'm sure he'll be all right."

Streit said the most important thing for Ness is to enjoy the moment.

"It's important that you enjoy it a lot," he said. "You shouldn't be overly nervous. Enjoy it. You don't get too many first games in the NHL."

Ness said he knows the key for him will be playing to his strengths and not trying to do too much.

"The biggest thing (teammates) have been telling me is play my game," he said. "Obviously why I got the call here is they like what I'm doing, and I just have to continue what I'm doing in the American league."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 11:49 AM

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

Briere back in lineup for Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers will have forward Danny Briere back in the lineup when they host the New York Islanders Tuesday.

Briere has missed the last six games with a concussion suffered in a Jan. 21 game against the New Jersey Devils.

"I'm back and I'm in," Briere said following the Flyers' morning practice here at Wells Fargo Center. "Things have been going well the last two-and-a-half, three days. I feel ready. I feel like it's time. No symptoms the last few days. We'll give it a go. I know I'm excited."

Teammates were also excited, especially coming off their lost weekend -- a 6-4 home loss to the Devils on Saturday followed by a 5-2 defeat at the Rangers on Sunday.

"It's going to be awesome," Scott Hartnell told NHL.com. "Anytime you come off an injury, especially a concussion, he might be a little bit nervous. But I know everyone on our dressing room … can't wait to see him back. He looks good in practice the last few days. I'm excited for him to get back in the lineup."

Briere has 17 goals and 13 assists in 43 games, and likely will center the second line. The hope is his presence can lighten the checking load on the team's top line of Claude Giroux, Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr.

"Anytime you get pieces back in the lineup it's good," said coach Peter Laviolette. "I think it'll add to the offensive punch. … When you take a guy like Danny and put him back in the lineup, it makes it harder to defend. You can't just focus on one line or one player."

Briere said he's been symptom-free for about three days, and after meeting with doctors Monday, Briere said it came down to his decision.

"We had some talks (Monday)," said Briere. "And just basically what they told me was it's all up to me, depending on how I felt this morning waking up. It was good even after the contact I had yesterday. That was part of the reason why."

Briere, who had been averaging 18:15 of ice time per game prior to his injury, said he feels capable of playing his usual ice time.

"I'm 100 percent," he said. "It's all about the symptoms. It's not like a knee or a shoulder where you're finding your way back. Basically when you don't have symptoms you're ready to go. It's not something that's lingering or preventing you from doing a few things. Whenever you're symptom-free, you're 100 percent.

"The conditioning is not going to be an issue. I was working with Blair Betts for a few days, and you know how hard he works. That wasn't relaxing. I think it's more the timing of the game -- making plays, read and react. That's something that we'll see. I don't know what to expect in that regard. Conditioning I should be OK."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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