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Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 2:37 PM

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

Ruff feeling better, Sabres happy to have him back

PHILADELPHIA -- About the only thing that's been in Western New York longer than Lindy Ruff is Niagara Falls.

So it was a bit of a strange sight for the Buffalo Sabres players to look toward their team's bench the last week and not see Ruff, who has been coaching the team since 1997.

"Definitely was different," right wing Drew Stafford told NHL.com. "He was still around, but to not have him on bench, even during practice a couple times, he wasn't on the ice because he couldn't go on the ice. It was a little different having that feeling."

Ruff ended up with three broken ribs in a collision with defenseman Jordan Leopold in a practice Feb. 6. Leopold lost his footing during a puck-retrieval drill and slid into Ruff, who was looking the other way. The force of the blow took Ruff's legs out from under him, and the coach, who turns 52 on Friday, hit the ice hard.

"He got it pretty bad but he could have gotten it a lot worse," Sabres captain Jason Pominville told NHL.com. Pominville is one of 15 Sabres whose only NHL coach has been Ruff. "If he hits his head (on the ice) at the speed those guys were going when they hit him, he could have had some pretty big damage to his head. … As he was falling he tucked his head so it didn't hit the ice."

The injuries kept Ruff off the bench for three games, with assistant coaches James Patrick, Kevyn Adams and Teppo Numminen running the bench in Ruff's absence.

The Sabres won two of the three games before Ruff returned Wednesday against the New Jersey Devils.

"It's good to have him back on the bench, back to normal," said Stafford. "The rest of the coaching staff did a great job on the bench in his absence. They did a great job, made it comfortable for us, made it easy for us. At the same time, to have Lindy back, it's nice."

Pominville, now in his eighth season playing for Ruff, said little changed in the coach's absence.

"Maybe the first meeting," he said. "You're so used to having Lindy control the meeting. Hearing somebody else was a little different.

"The only difference was the voice, a different voice speaking in the room. The message was the same. They (Ruff and the assistant coaches) were constantly in communication with each other. The message was absolutely the same, just someone else delivering it to us."

Ruff is back to being able to deliver the message himself, but he said he's far from 100 percent. His injuries prevent him from raising his voice to yell out instructions, he's wearing a flak jacket on the bench and he's not yet able to get on the ice for practice yet.

"I don't feel good enough yet, but it feels better," he said. He added that flying Wednesday from Buffalo to Philadelphia was uncomfortable.

"I traveled OK," said Ruff. "I don't think it was ideal, but I traveled OK."

His players are happy he's able to be with them in any shape or form.

"The (assistant coaches) did a good job, but at the same time, Lindy's our guy," said Pominville. "He's the voice that needs to be heard, he's the leader of this whole boat. … He's the one that gets us going and finds different ways. Just his presence is nice."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 1:56 PM

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

Sabres hope to continue recent road success

PHILADELPHIA -- Have the Buffalo Sabres put their road woes behind them?

They snapped a 12-game road losing streak Jan. 24 in New Jersey, and enter tonight's game in Philadelphia winners of three in a row away from home.

So what's changed?

"I think you look at it, it has been the depth," said Ruff. "(Paul) Gaustad on the Island was able to help us win a game. If you look at it, the (New) Jersey game, that was a game that stayed really tight and we end up pushing through and winning. The islander game, we scored late in the third. But it has been the depth that's been able to get us some goals, three lines contributing in the scoring column.

One of those lines Ruff is hoping to get something extra out of is the trio of Nathan Gerbe, Tyler Ennis and Thomas Vanek.

"We're looking at with this stretch of games, with four in less than six days, we know we're going to have to play four lines, we know we're going to need depth in scoring. Especially on the road. I don't think our road scoring has been very good. I don't think Thomas on the road has gotten much done. So we're looking for some opportunities. We're looking for that line to push through and make a difference for us."

The Sabres had an optional practice this morning, so here's how their lineup likely will look tonight:

Nathan Gerbe - Tyler Ennis - Thomas Vanek
Ville Leino - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Drew Stafford - Paul Gaustad - Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis - Brad Boyes - Zack Kassian

Mike Weber - Christian Ehrhoff
Jordan Leopold - Robyn Regehr
Andrej Sekera - Tyler Myers

Jhonas Enroth will see his first action in goal in almost a month when he starts tonight. In his last game, Jan. 18 against the Chicago, he allowed six goals on 35 shots. Ryan Miller will serve as the backup tonight, but will start tomorrow at home against Montreal.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 1:33 PM

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

Voracek back, but injury bug hitting Flyers hard

PHILADELPHIA -- It appears the injury-plagued Philadelphia Flyers will get at least one player back in the lineup today, as right Jakub Voracek went all-out in practice.

Voracek sat out the final 35 minutes of Saturday's game against the New York Rangers and all of Sunday's game with the Detroit Red Wings with an upper-body injury.

Voraceck wouldn't reveal much about his injury, but said he felt good and was hopeful of playing again.

"I'm not used to missing games," he said. "Hopefully I'll be in tonight. If not tonight, it'll be Saturday."

While Voracek looked good, the Flyers could be without a few other key players. Forward James van Riemsdyk practiced, but will not play while he continues to recover from a concussion.

Forward Jaromir Jagr and defenseman Andrej Meszaros and Marc-Andre Bourdon skipped practice completely. Jagr has the flu and likely will not play. Meszaros has an upper-body injury and is questionable for tonight's game, while Bourdon missed practice for an undisclosed reason.

The Flyers didn't break into lines, so here's what they could look like, assuming Voracek and AHL call-up Eric Wellwood play tonight:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Jakub Voraceck
Eric Wellwood - Maxime Talbot - Matt Read
Jody Shelley - Sean Couturier - Tom Sestito

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

Ilya Bryzgalov will be in net after recovering from his own bout with the flu. Sergei Bobrovsky will serve as the backup.

If either Meszaros or Bourdon can't play, Andreas Lilja would enter the lineup for the first time since Feb. 4.

The Flyers also will be without forward Zac Rinaldo, who will serve the first game of his two-game suspension tonight.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 1:58 PM

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

Isles' Parenteau wants to focus on wins, not contract

TSN is reporting New York Islanders forward PA Parenteau, who is fifth in the League with 39 assists, will table any talk of a contract extension until after the season.

"This contract is going to be my only big one left," Parenteau recently told Newsday. "I want to make sure I'll be paid at my value. Having said that, I love it here and I've said all along I'd love to stay here."

Parenteau, who signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract over the summer, is second on the team with 51 points, two shy of matching the career-best 53-point output he had last season.

Parenteau's agent, Allan Walsh, told TSN that while his client would rather focus on winning hockey games than talking contract, they would listen if the Islanders made a contract proposal between now and the end of the regular season. He added the goal is to have a deal in place before July 1.

"He's made it very clear from the outset that he's highly motivated to stay with the New York Islanders," Parenteau's agent, Allan Walsh told TSN.ca via e-mail. "The Islanders gave him his first real opportunity to thrive in the NHL, he has a fantastic relationship with his teammates, the coaches, (GM) Garth Snow and the fans. Most importantly, PA sees the Islanders trending up and believes they will be a contending team for many years to come.

"With that being said, the Islanders are currently six points out of a playoff spot. Now is the time to play hockey, not to discuss or focus on contracts. When the season is over, I'm sure both parties will work diligently towards an agreement that will insure a mutual long term commitment to one another."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 10:31 AM

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

Report: Five possible destinations for Nash

If the Columbus Blue Jackets were to follow through on any rumored deal for team captain Rick Nash, the Columbus Dispatch lists five potential landing spots.

According to beat writer Aaron Portzline, the teams that have shown the most interest are the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.

Nash has a full no-movement clause in his contract.

Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson has refused to respond directly to any rumors, but told the Dispatch, "We're open to all options to try to improve the team."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 10:04 AM

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

Report: No deal yet for Wild's Zidlicky

Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher on Wednesday told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the club has not asked defenseman Marek Zidlicky to waive his no-trade clause for any specific trade.

The newspaper, along with TSN, reported earlier Wednesday morning that Zidlicky had waived his no-trade clause so the Wild could send him to the New Jersey Devils.

"I haven't asked Zid to waive his no-trade for any specific trade," Fletcher told the newspaper's Mike Russo. "I haven't called him and said anything's close. I can tell you for sure I'm planning on talking to other teams. We haven't traded Zid, we haven't made the decision to trade Zid at this point. I have not formally asked him to do anything because at this point I honestly don't have anything to take to him, I don't have anything for him to say yes or no to."

Fletcher said a deal with New Jersey for Zidlicky could still happen anytime between now and the Feb. 27 deadline, but he just as likely could move Zidlicky to another team, or hold onto him and move him over the summer, or wait even longer.

"Maybe he's here next trade deadline and we're having the same conversation," Fletcher said.

The 35-year-old Zidlicky reportedly has been unhappy with how he's been used by first-year coach Mike Yeo, including being a healthy scratch four straight games between Jan. 21 and Feb. 2. According to the Star Tribune, after the third benching, Jan. 31, Zidlicky told Fletcher he would waive his no-trade clause for a move to the right team.

In 39 games this season, Zidlicky has no goals, 13 assists and a minus-7 rating. He has one year and $4 million remaining on his contract.

The Devils certainly could use a player with Zidlicky's skill set. While he doesn't have any goals this season, 42 of the 60 he's scored in his eight NHL seasons have been on the power play. In the absence of Henrik Tallinder and Adam Larsson, the Devils' power play has slipped to 17th in the NHL at 17.0 percent.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 2:46 PM

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

Report: Boychuk, Bruins agree on extension

TSN is reporting the Boston Bruins and defenseman Johnny Boychuk have agreed to a three-year contract extension with an average annual value of $3.36 million.

Boychuk, 28, has three goals and seven assists in 52 games. The three goals tie his career high from last season, and he's in range for matching the 16 points he had in 69 games last season.

He's is fourth on the team with a plus-23 rating while averaging the third-most ice time per game at 20:30. He's also second on the team with 92 blocked shots and fourth in hits with 93.

Now in his fifth NHL season -- fourth with the Bruins -- Boychuk has 11 goals and 30 assists in 177 games.

Boychuk, who is in the second year of a deal that saw him make $2 million this season, would have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 12:45 PM

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

Could Jackets be looking into Nash trade?



Could the Columbus Blue Jackets be investigating a trade of captain Rick Nash?

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the team has made it clear to certain NHL clubs that Nash would be available for the right price.

"We're open to all options to try to improve the team," Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson told the newspaper this morning. "As far as rumors go, we're just not going to comment."

The rumor Howson mentioned is one from French-language TV station RDS, which reported Monday that the Jackets had put Nash on the trading block.

Citing a source, Dispatch writer Aaron Portzline wrote that Nash -- who has a no-movement clause -- has not requested a trade.

"The last couple of weeks there have been so many rumors," Nash told the newspaper following the team's morning skate. "And when a team loses, more rumors keep on surfacing. That's what it seems to be right now, is just rumors.

"I'm a Blue Jacket right now. I've played my whole career here and it's a special place to me. So as of right now I'm a Blue Jacket."

However, Portzline reports that following recent organizational meetings, which included, among others, owner John P. McConnell, president Mike Priest, Howson, senior advisor Craig Patrick and interim coach Todd Richards, that the possibility of trading Nash needed to be explored.

Last month, Nash told the Dispatch he had no desire to leave Columbus.

"I love Columbus. I love being here. I love being a Blue Jacket," he said. "The city of Columbus deserves a winner and deserves a good product on the ice. If it comes to that -- like you said, all speculation -- but if they don't want me here, they want to move me? I’m not going to do something where it's going to hurt the franchise just because I have that in my contract."

Howson, speaking with NHL.com Saturday in Philadelphia, said he wouldn't be commenting on any trade rumors leading into the deadline, but said he's determined the path the team wants to take.

"I'm not going to disclose what we're going to do, but we certainly have a plan in place," Howson told NHL.com. "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 Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 9:41 AM

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

Howson won't comment on Nash rumors

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson declined to comment on a report by French-language TV station RDS that Jackets captain Rick Nash has been placed on the trading block.

Dispatch writer Aaron Portzline, citing his sources, said Nash is not being shopped, nor is the club intent on moving him. However, he adds, the Jackets have reached a point where every player on the roster could be available for the right price and that includes Nash.

Nash has a no-movement clause in his contract, and told the newspaper late last month that he has no desire to leave Columbus.

"I love Columbus. I love being here. I love being a Blue Jacket," Nash said. "The city of Columbus deserves a winner and deserves a good product on the ice. If it comes to that -- like you said, all speculation -- but if they don't want me here, they want to move me? I’m not going to do something where it's going to hurt the franchise just because I have that in my contract."

Howson, speaking with NHL.com Saturday in Philadelphia, said he wouldn't be commenting on any trade rumors leading into the deadline, but said he's determined the path the team wants to take.

"I'm not going to disclose what we're going to do, but we certainly have a plan in place," Howson told NHL.com. "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 Monday, 02.13.2012 / 4:07 PM

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

Avs' Duchene back skating with teammates

Matt Duchene, who hasn't played since Dec. 29 due to a left knee injury, skated in practice for the first time since getting hurt.

According to the Denver Post, he was wearing an orange (non-contact) jersey, Duchene at least was happy to be back on the ice with his teammates.

On his personal Twitter account, Duchene posted: "Felt great to skate with the boys again after 6 1/2 weeks! Can't wait to get back in the lineup now."

That might not happen for at least a bit. The newspaper reports that it's unlikely he plays in the Avs' next game, Wednesday in Vancouver, but he will be on the team's three-game road trip, that includes stops in Edmonton and Winnipeg.

In 39 games, Duchene has 12 goals and 12 assists. The Avalanche, who started the week 10th in the Western Conference, two points out of a playoff spot, certainly could use another gifted offensive player in the lineup.

"He looked good out there," Paul Stastny told the newspaper. "It's good to see him with a smile on his face, and hopefully he can be back with us real soon."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

It's about enjoying the moment. It's pretty cool to get that many people together and that excited about hockey to the point they really want you to mess up. They've got a ton of red jerseys and you have to sit back and appreciate people love hockey that much and you are the one out there who gets to play the game. Just try and stick with that respect for the game and also the mentality that for me it's just about entering the fight and seeing how long I can stay in it.

— Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller on what he expects from the fans in Calgary for Game 6