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Posted On Monday, 01.23.2012 / 10:58 AM

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

Caps' Backstrom takes short turn on ice

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, who hasn't played since being hit in the head by then-Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque during a game Jan. 3, skated for the first time today since Jan. 6.

According to the Washington Post, Backstrom skated for five minutes at the team's practice facility wearing warm-up clothes rather than his full equipment, and during his time on the ice he did nothing strenuous.

Backstrom took part in two practices in the three days after the Calgary game, but after a practice Jan. 6 in San Jose, Backstrom suffered a setback which kept him off the ice until this morning. There's still no timetable for his return.

Despite missing the last nine games, Backstrom still leads the Capitals with 42 points.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Sunday, 01.22.2012 / 12:48 PM

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

Off-ice issues leave Flyers, Bruins lineups in question

PHILADELPHIA -- It's a quiet afternoon here at the Wells Fargo Center. Because of the early start to today's game, plus the fact that both teams played yesterday, there was little happening prior to puck drop.

How the team's rosters could look today also is in question. The Bruins could be without defenseman Andrew Ference, who was facing a disciplinary hearing early Sunday for his hit yesterday on the Rangers' Ryan McDonagh.

Meanwhile, the Flyers will be without two of their top-six forwards due to injuries suffered in yesterday's game in New Jersey. Jaromir Jagr played just four shifts totaling 3:16 before being forced out with a lower-body injury, while forward Danny Briere is out indefinitely after being diagnosed with a concussion following the game.

Also, the team could be without fourth-line forward Zac Rinaldo, who left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury.

The Flyers called up forwards Tom Sestito and Ben Holmstrom from AHL Adirondack to fill out the roster.

Briere is the sixth Flyer to miss time with a concussion, and the third to currently miss time, joining defenseman Chris Pronger and forward James van Riemsdyk.

Jagr's loss marks the third time this season he'll miss time with a lower-body injury, which Jagr has said is a groin issue. Yesterday, rookie Brayden Schenn moved into Jagr's top-line spot, alongside Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. Whether he stays there remains to be seen.

Also up in the air is the starting goalie for either team. Philadelphia's Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 30 of 31 shots yesterday against New Jersey, and has started games on back-to-back days four times this season. However, he also was in goal the last time these teams met, allowing five goals on 20 shots in a 6-0 loss in Boston on Dec. 17. Lifetime against the Bruins, Bryzgalov is 5-2-1 with a 2.41 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in eight games. Backup Sergei Bobrovsky is 0-1-0 with a 1.96 GAA and .938 save percentage in two games against Boston.

Tuukka Rask stopped 30 of 33 shots in yesterday's 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers, meaning it's likely Tim Thomas starts today against the Flyers. In 16 games against the Flyers, Thomas is 11-3-2 with a 2.04 GAA, .939 save percentage and two shutouts. He stopped all 31 shots Philadelphia threw at him in that Dec. 17 game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 01.20.2012 / 4:58 PM

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

Ducks sign Beauchemin to three-year extension

The Anaheim Ducks have signed defenseman Francois Beauchemin to a three-year contract extension. Terms of the deal were not released, but the Orange County (Calif.) Register is reporting the deal to be worth a total of $10.5 million.

Beauchemin, 31, would have been an unrestricted free agent this summer.

With the Ducks sitting 13th in the Western Conference, 13 points behind eighth-place Colorado, it was thought Beauchemin would be an appealing candidate for a team looking for help on the blue line.

"Francois is a dedicated, versatile and hard-working defenseman who is committed to our organization," said Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray. "We are extremely pleased to have him under contract for the next three years."

Beauchemin has 18 points in 41 games, and leads the team in ice time per game at 25:44. He also leads the team with 95 blocked shots and is third with 88 hits.

In eight seasons with the Canadiens, Blue Jackets, Ducks and Maple Leafs, Beauchemin has 151 points in 454 games. He was part of the Ducks' Stanley Cup winners in 2007, and after signing as a free agent with the Maple Leafs in July 2009 he was traded back to the Ducks on Feb. 9, 2011 for forward Joffrey Lupul and defenseman Jake Gardiner.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 7:52 PM

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

Holmgren trying to stay optimistic about Pronger

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren called himself "a glass is half full kind of guy," but admitted there's almost no chance defenseman Chris Pronger plays again this season.

It was announced Dec. 15 that Pronger would miss the rest of the season and playoffs due to major post-concussion syndrome. He originally was injured when he was struck in the eye by a stick Oct. 24, and while he returned two weeks later and played five games, he was removed from the lineup following a Nov. 19 game in Winnipeg and hasn't played since.

Pronger's wife, Lauren, said during an interview with Comcast SportsNet on Wednesday, "It's a tough go at home. We're going day-to-day right now -- good days, bad days. It's been a lot of trauma going on. We're just praying right now. He's battling. He wants to be out there more than anybody. It's tough for all of us to watch him go through this."

Holmgren said he's spoken to Pronger a number of times, and told reporters before tonight's game against the New York Islanders that Pronger is going through different procedures in an attempt to help him feel better.

"He was prescribed glasses, I think that's helped him a bit," said Holmgren. "He's doing some other stuff, some other treatment regiments. He's seeing the doctors again Feb. 1. We'll have a little better idea where we're at -- or maybe we won't, I don't know. We'll continue to monitor and hope for the best."

Holmgren had left the door open for Pronger to return this season, but said from what he's heard from Pronger, that doesn't seem feasible.

"I'm a glass is half full kind of guy," he said. "I don't know. We'll see. I would say the odds of that happening aren't very good."

Holmgren also commented on the chance of signing Jaromir Jagr to a contract extension in the near future. Jagr told reporters following the team's morning skate that he'd like to return to Philadelphia but wants to table those discussions until after the season.

"I don't want to talk about it because we've got 40 games to go and the playoffs," he said. "I just want to let it go. If I'm going to play good, I don't think it's going to be a problem (returning)."

Holmgren said he's spoken with Jagr and his agent, Petr Svoboda, about a new deal, and envisions speaking further.

"We've had some talks," said Holmgren. "I don't really want to comment any further on that right now. We've talked about it. We'd like to have him back, too. I made that public a little earlier. He was the one that was hesitant, let's see how it goes type of thing. I sat with Jaromir and Petr yesterday for a quite a while and talked to Petr again today. We'll see. No need to comment on it any further than that right now."

Holmgren also gave an update on the Flyers' other concussed player, forward James van Riemsdyk.

"He did a little better today," said Holmgren. "He worked out today and didn't have any effects."

The news wasn't as good for center Blair Betts, who has been on injured reserve all season due to a knee injury.

"I think it's safe to say he's not going to play this year," said Holmgren. "I don't think Blair is going to be able to play. I don't think he could pass a physical at this point. … He skated yesterday before our meeting and it didn't go very well. His one knee is not going very well, not responding."

Holmgren said the next step would be to try to find Betts another role in the organization.

"We'll meet again and see if there's some little area now we can get him involved in," said Holmgren. "I'm not sure what that is."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 6:22 PM

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

Isles' Reese ready to face his idol -- Jagr

PHILADELPHIA -- Growing up in the Pittsburgh suburbs, New York Islanders defenseman Dylan Reese said watching Jaromir Jagr with the Pittsburgh Penguins was one of the reasons he started playing hockey.

Tonight, he'll go head-to-head with his idol.

"He came in right around the time I stared playing," Reese, 27, told NHL.com. "He's one of the reasons I started playing, him and (Mario) Lemieux and the Penguins' Cup (winners) in '91 and '92 -- that's when hockey picked up in Pittsburgh and that's when guys my age started playing the sport."

Reese, a 2003 seventh-round pick of the Isles, got a close-up look this morning when he watched part of the Flyers' morning skate, said he thought this day never would happen once Jagr left for Russia in 2008.

"It's pretty exciting to play against him," said Reese. "I always admired his playing style and how he uses his body to protect the puck and he always seems like he's one of the toughest guys to get the puck off of. I'm excited to play against him tonight."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 4:16 PM

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

Concussion recovery 'day-to-day' for Pronger

Chris Pronger was one player notably absent from Wednesday's Flyers Wives Fashion Show in Philadelphia.

Pronger's wife, Lauren, hosted the event and told Comcast SportsNet that "it was not a good day" for the All-Star defenseman, who is recovering from serious post-concussion syndrome that will sideline him for the remainder of the season and the playoffs.

Pronger initially was injured Oct. 24 against the Toronto Maple Leafs when he was hit in the eye by the stick of the Leafs' Mikhail Grabovski. Pronger missed two weeks and played just five more games due to what the team called an illness. He last played Nov. 19 in Winnipeg, and was shut down for the season Dec. 15 after consulting with two Pittsburgh-based concussion experts, Dr. Joseph Maroon and Dr. Michael "Micky" Collins.

"It's a tough go at home," Lauren Pronger said. "We're going day-to-day right now -- good days, bad days. It's been a lot of trauma going on. We're just praying right now. He's battling. He wants to be out there more than anybody. It's tough for all of us to watch him go through this."

The only words out of Chris Pronger since being shut down for the season came Jan. 14, when he released a short statement through the Flyers: "It is very, very tough right now. I don't feel well and it hurts so much not to be playing."

Lauren said the family's three children have been affected by Chris' injury, as well.

"They're confused all the time," she said, "'Dad, when can we go to a game? Dad, when can you play?' And he looks at them and says please don't ask that question. I want to get out there and play, too."

Lauren added the last month has been a major change for her, as well.

"It's been an adjustment for all of us," she said. "He's around a lot more -- I'm not used to that. I do as much as I can to support him. I want to see him better."

She said she had hoped Chris would be able to attend the fashion show, which raised money for Comcast-Spectacor Charities, a list that included the Police Athletic League, PAWS, the Ronald McDonald House and Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

"It was not a good day today, he's not here tonight," she said. "Breaks his heart, breaks my heart. We're hoping for a better day tomorrow, and at least a couple good days in a row would be nice."

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

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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 2:04 PM

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

Jagr having fun, not rushing to decide NHL future

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr made one thing very clear in speaking with reporters this morning -- in his world, happiness comes before money.

Jagr, who has had an outstanding return to the NHL after three seasons in Russia -- 34 points in 38 games, a spot on the team's top line -- says he's having as much fun now as he ever has in his long career.

"Everything right now is good and nobody is panicking," Jagr said. "That's what I like, nobody's panicking. We lose, coach has confidence, we don't panic, we don't switch lines. Our line didn't play good for four games, nobody panicked. Coach (Peter Laviolette) said to us, 'You have to play better,' but no panicking."

He's having so much fun a month shy of his 40th birthday that he said he'd be amenable to signing another one-year contract with the Flyers -- assuming things stay the way they are.

"I don't think it'll be a problem to make something here," he said.

Jagr did say, however, he's in no rush to sign any contract extension now. He's still not completely healed from the nagging groin injury that kept him out four games in November and two more in January. He'd said he'd rather wait until the end of the season and see how he feels and where he thinks he fits with the team.

"I don't want to talk about it because we've got 40 games to go and the playoffs," he said. "I just want to let it go. If I'm going to play good, I don’t think it's going to be a problem."

And Jagr said money won't be the biggest issue with him.

"If it would just be money, I wouldn't be here," he said. "Why would I come here when I get twice or three times as much in Russia and play 50 games? I came here just to play. Can you buy happiness for two years? Are you going to take the risk to go somewhere else and not be happy? I want to be happy. At my stage, I want to come to work and be happy. There's lots of places where the guys don't like each other, but they have to come (to the rink) because that's their job. I don't want that at my stage.

"We play good, have a lot of young guys, having a lot of fun. The coach is great, organization is great. It's like a family."

And to that extended family -- the Flyers' fans -- he says not to worry about next season.

"They don't have to worry," he said. "If I'm going to play good, I'll probably be here."

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

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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 1:23 PM

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

Numbers point to Bobrovsky

PHILADELPHIA -- The Flyers held a full skate this morning, but they didn't break into line rushes. Considering coach Peter Laviolette has a tendency to stick with things when they're working -- and they certainly were working in Tuesday's 5-1 win against the Wild -- it's likely the line combinations and defense pairings remain the same.

The only place it could change would be on the fourth line, where Zac Rinaldo could return to the lineup in place of Jody Shelley. Rinaldo sat out Tuesday due to an upper-body injury. He told CSNPhilly.com that it was a neck injury suffered last Saturday in Nashville that stiffened up on him. He skated with the team at practice yesterday and was a full participant in drills this morning.

Also, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start in place of Ilya Bryzgalov. While Bryzgalov was very good against the Wild, Bobrovsky's numbers demand he plays against the Isles.

In eight career games, Bobrovsky is 7-0-0 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. Bryzgalov, meanwhile, is 0-1-0 in three games against the Isles, with a 5.50 GAA and .825 save percentage.

We had the Islanders' lineup earlier; here's how the rest of the Flyers' lineup could look:

Jaromir Jagr - Claude Giroux - Scott Hartnell
Maxime Talbot - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
Matt Read - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Jody Shelley/Zac Rinaldo - Sean Couturier - Harry Zolnierczyk

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

Either Shelley or Rinaldo will sit out, along with defenseman Andreas Lilja.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 1:09 PM

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

Isles want Parenteau to think shoot-first more

PHILADELPHIA -- Islanders coach Jack Capuano certainly is happy that forward PA Parenteau is tied for seventh in the League with a team-best 30 assists, but he believes there's more to the right wing than his set-up skills.

"A lot of times he's a guy that thinks pass-first," said Capuano. "The more he shoots the puck, the more (positive) results we're going to get. That's something we always stay on top of him about. He has had, the last few games, four or five shots a game and that's paid dividends for him."

Parenteau has nine goals this season, but two of them came Tuesday in Washington for his first two-goal game in the NHL.

"I am a little too generous at times passing the puck," Parenteau told NHL.com. "It's something I like to do. When I'm well-surrounded, I like to pass the puck. But he (Capuano) is right, I can definitely shoot it a little more. I did last game and I got rewarded for it. Maybe I'll look to shoot it a little more the rest of the year here."

Parenteau admitted playing on a line with top goal-scorers John Tavares and Matt Moulson, it was easy to think pass-first. Now that he's been moved onto a line with Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner, it's easier for him to start shooting the puck more.

"Maybe sometimes playing with Moulson and Johnny I was a little too generous because I know they're such good goal scorers," said Parenteau. "And they were always open. … I try to be the same player -- try to move the puck well and make some plays, and take the puck to the net when it's needed."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 12:49 PM

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

Islanders staying the same

PHILADELPHIA -- Coming off a 3-0 win against the Capitals in Washington on Tuesday, New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano said he didn't see any reason to change his lineup for tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

That means defenseman Dylan Reese stays in the lineup for a second straight game in place of veteran Steve Staios.

Capuano said he's been impressed by what he's seen of Reese since the 6-foot-1, 201-pounder was recalled from AHL Bridgeport on Jan. 6.

"In Bridgeport, he's a 26-, 27-minute guy down there, he plays in all situations," said Capuano. "When you play that many minutes in those situations, you work on a lot of things. His game has come a long way."

Here's the rest of what the Islanders' lineup will look like when they hit the ice tonight:

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

Mark Streit - Milan Jurcina
Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald
Mark Eaton - Dylan Reese

Evgeni Nabokov will start in net, with Al Montoya backing him up.

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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