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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 6:32 PM

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

Extra eye on Yeo

PHILADELPHIA -- As if his team's current slide hasn't been hard enough to deal with, Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo has to deal with an extra layer of criticism -- and it's not from his boss, GM Chuck Fletcher.

His father, Wayne, is among the 32 dads on this week's Wild father and son road trip. Fletcher said it's not just players that have their fathers -- coaches and members of the team's public-relations, medical and equipment staff have their dads along as well.

"Puts some added pressure on me," said Yeo of his father's presence. "It's another watchful eye over the shoulder. If I screw up, he'll let me know."

Yeo obviously was joking, but having the dads around for tonight's game in Philadelphia and Thursday's game in Toronto has fun for all involved.

"It's nice to have them here," Wild forward Devin Setoguchi told NHL.com. "Everyone likes to have their family in town. It's something cool for them to see. Usually it inspires guys to play better when their dad is in town."

Yeo, though, hopes his players don't need any extra inspiration.

"I don't know that we need motivation," said the coach. "There's plenty there for us. We shouldn't have to look too hard, whether it's the challenge of facing this stretch without key guys in our lineup or just the understanding of just how important these games are this time of year, or whether it’s the father's trip, there's plenty of reasons to come to the rink and be motivated."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 3:33 PM

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

Wild careful to not do too much

PHILADELPHIA -- How much do the Minnesota Wild miss Mikko Koivu?

As Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher told NHL.com, "Clearly he's an irreplaceable player. There's nobody on your farm team that can come up and replace his role or the job that he does."

Koivu suffered an upper-body injury early in Saturday's game against the St. Louis Blues and is considered week-to-week. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting the injury, to Koivu's shoulder, will sideline him about a month.

Koivu has led the team in scoring in three straight seasons, and his 33 points in 41 games is tops on the team this season.

And with just two wins in their last 15 games (2-10-3) and in the midst of a stretch where they play eight of 10 on the road, the Wild are preaching what Fletcher said -- no one can replace Koivu, so don't try to.

"We can't worry about anything other than just preparing to play our 'A' game," center Matt Cullen told NHL.com. "Every individual guy has to bring his 'A' game and that's it. Can't focus on picking up the slack or doing something for somebody else -- you have to do your job and you've got to do it your best.

"We don't need every guy to go out and score every time he touches the puck. … You have to go out and do your job, play the game the way you play it."

Cullen said he believes the key to working through the team's issues and missing players right now is to prepare like it's a playoff game.

"At this point in the season you get into these big games, especially when you're down like that, everybody needs to prepare as if it's playoff-style hockey," he said. "That's how we play our best, when we're all focused on playing playoff-style hockey."

Teammate Devin Setoguchi said the team has to adopt a foxhole mentality -- it's everybody in the bunker together, and no one is going to come in from the outside to help them.

"We've got a lot of adversity that we've overcome this season and we're still in a (playoff) position here," he told NHL.com. "We need to take it upon ourselves to maybe dig a little deeper, work a little harder when you're missing guys. If we're going to win games it's not going to be because of a lack of work ethic, sticking with the plan and the process."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 2:42 PM

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

Avoiding the trap

PHILADELPHIA -- Danny Briere said one thing he's noticed in his career is the hardest game is the first one at home following a road trip.

That's where the Flyers are tonight, facing a Minnesota Wild team that could be the perfect opponent.

The Wild are struggling (2-10-3 in their last 15) and are missing their team captain and All-Star, Mikko Koivu. However, facing a desperate team could be just what the Flyers need tonight.

"It could be a dangerous game if we're not ready," said Flyers center Danny Briere. "We can't be looking at the other team … and think that it's going to be easier because they're struggling. We have to come out strong. I'm sure they're not happy with their play lately and they want to turn things around. For us, it's important not to look at them but to make sure we come out of the gate with a bang today and put our own tempo in instead of letting them set the tempo of the game."

The Flyers have played just nine of their last 29 games in Philadelphia, but tonight starts a stretch of nine of their next 12 at home. They're just 10-6-2 at home this season, tying them for the second-fewest home wins in the Eastern Conference.

"It's a dangerous opponent because they're playing with a lot of desperation," defenseman Matt Carle told NHL.com. "The season is only halfway over, but you start looking at the standings and try to put yourself in a playoff position and they're battling right now in that 8-9-10 spot. They've had a tough stretch. You never know, one game, a bounce here or there can turn a team around and start building some momentum. Hopefully we can allow them not to pick up any of that tonight."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 2:17 PM

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

Another new-look lineup for Wild

PHILADELPHIA -- Yet another injury has again forced Wild coach Mike Yeo to juggle his lines.

Team captain and All-Star center Mikko Koivu is week-to-week with a shoulder injury -- reportedly a shoulder injury that could sideline him a month -- meaning Matt Cullen slides into the No. 1 center spot, and Carson McMillan, called up from AHL Houston, makes his season debut.

"I think we're used to that at this point," Yeo said of the constantly changing lineup. "The one thing that's going to be really important for us, with Mikko being out, we didn't handle it too well last time. We have to prove to ourselves that we can do a better job of that this time, continue to go out and play our game and not get taken away from our individual roles and the responsibilities we have as players, just go out and concentrate on what you have to do within the team concept."

McMillan, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward, has 3 goals and 9 points in 29 AHL games. Yeo said it's his size and toughness that earned him his first trip to the NHL this season.

"We're coming into Philadelphia and expect a physical game," said Yeo. "They've got a lot of big, strong, skilled forwards. We're just looking for a guy that's going to go out there and compete and play the game with an edge. Anything that we're going to have to do tonight, we're going to have to earn it and we're going to have to do it the hard way and he's a guy that can play that kind of game."

We had the Flyers' lines earlier, and here's what the Wild lineup probably will look like when they hit the ice tonight.

Dany Heatley - Matt Cullen - Nick Johnson
Darroll Powe - Kyle Brodziak - Devin Setoguchi
Cal Clutterbuck - Warren Peters - David McIntyre
Brad Staubitz - Carson McMillan - Casey Wellman

Marek Zidlicky - Nick Schultz
Mike Lundin - Justin Falk
Clayton Stoner - Jared Spurgeon

Josh Harding will start in goal for the fourth straight game, with Niklas Backstrom the backup.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 1:29 PM

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

Shelley returns to lineup for Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- At age 35 and in his 11th NHL season, Jody Shelley understands how the NHL works and knows what his role is with the Philadelphia Flyers.

That role has consisted of him spending the last 10 games as a healthy scratch, but that stretch comes to an end tonight, as Shelley rejoins the lineup tonight against the Minnesota Wild in place of Zac Rinaldo, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Rinaldo was hurt in practice yesterday.

Shelley hasn't played since Dec. 23 against the New York Rangers, and this will be just his 15th game of the season.

It certainly hasn't been easy for Shelley, nor for coach Peter Laviolette, who respects what Shelley brings to the team.

"Jody has had a tremendous work ethic," said Laviolette, who talked prior to the announcement on Rinaldo. "He's remained very positive in waiting for an opportunity to get back in the lineup. When he does get back in there I'm sure he'll be a positive influence. He's a good teammate and he works hard. He tries to stay positive."

Shelley, who has 1 assist, a minus-4 rating and 17 penalty minutes, told NHL.com his most important job is being a role model to the Flyers' collection of younger players.

"It had a huge impact on my career when I had guys like Luke Richardson, Mike Sillinger, Tyler Wright, Lyle Odelein show up and do their job every single day," he said. "You learn from the men in the room as a young guy. If you pick up on it, you can stay around a while. You try to do that. That's what you try to do. You try to bring something every day, whether it's a positive attitude, a little extra work or a little advice or be there for questions. You just do it. That's part of being an older guy in here."

Here's how the rest of the lineup shapes up tonight:

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

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

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

Defenseman Andreas Lilja will be a 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 Friday, 01.13.2012 / 3:07 PM

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

Potential lineups for Blue Jackets, Coyotes

Columbus' Todd Richards will coach his first home game tonight when the Phoenix Coyotes invade Nationwide Arena.

"It's exciting to be at home and play a home game in front of your family and friends," Richards told the Columbus Dispatch. "But honestly…when the game gets going, you lose where you're at. You're focused on the game. When the game starts, you're just looking at the ice. You kind of block everything else out -- the crowd, the noise. You really zero in."

One of the things the crowd could make noise for is the return of defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who was the first draft pick in Blue Jackets history. The fourth pick of the 2000 Entry Draft, Klesla played parts of 10 seasons in Columbus before being traded to Phoenix last season. The Blue Jackets have announced they will play a video tribute to Klesla during the game.

Here are the likely lineups for the teams. The Coyotes, who lost in Detroit last night, opted against skating this morning:

BLUE JACKETS

Vinny Prospal - Derick Brassard - Rick Nash
Ryan Johansen - Antoine Vermette - Tomas Kubalik
Ryan Russell - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett
Dane Byers - Derek MacKenzie - Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin - Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot - John Moore
Aaron Johnson - David Savard

Curtis Sanford will start in goal, with Steve Mason the backup.

COYOTES
Mikkel Boedker - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Ray Whitney - Kyle Chipchura - Radim Vrbata
Taylor Pyatt - Gilbert Brule - Lauri Korpikoski
Raffi Torres - Boyd Gordon - Paul Bissonnette

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin
Rostislav Klesla - Michal Rozsival

Jason LaBarbera will start in goal, with Mike Smith the backup.

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 Friday, 01.13.2012 / 12:29 PM

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

Lineups for Maple Leafs, Sabres

Here is what the rosters likely will look like when the Sabres and Maple Leafs play tonight in snowy Buffalo. The Sabres skated today at First Niagara Center, and had Derek Roy back in the lineup after the center sat out the last two games with an upper-body injury.

The Maple Leafs opted to stay at their hotel rather than venture to the arena to skate.

MAPLE LEAFS

Joffrey Lupul - Tim Connolly - Phil Kessel
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Clarke MacArthur - Matthew Lombardi - Nazem Kadri
Darryl Boyce - David Steckel - Mike Brown

Keith Aulie - Dion Phaneuf
Mike Komisarek - Cody Franson
Carl Gunnarsson - Luke Schenn

Jonas Gustavsson will be back in net for a fifth straight game, with James Reimer the backup.

SABRES
Thomas Vanek - Jochen Hecht - Jason Pominville
Nathan Gerbe - Derek Roy - Drew Stafford
Luke Adam - Ville Leino - Brad Boyes
Cody McCormick - Paul Gaustad - Patrick Kaleta

Brayden McNabb - Tyler Myers
Robyn Regehr - Jordan Leopold
Mike Weber - Marc-Andre Gragnani

Ryan Miller likely will start in net, with Jhonas Enroth the backup.

Matt Ellis likely will be a healthy scratch.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 12:35 PM

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

Timonen a go?

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen skated out with the rest of the team for pre-game warm-ups, leading to the belief that he will be in the Philadelphia lineup when the puck drops at 1 p.m. against the Ottawa Senators.

The Flyers listed Timonen's status as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The injury has been reported to be to his left hand, which was hit by a puck during the Winter Classic against the New York Rangers and then aggravated in Thursday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Timonen was limited to just nine shifts totaling 5:32, and none in the third third period.

How important is Timonen? In the absence of Chris Pronger, Timonen is the Flyers' lone veteran defenseman. The 36-year-old plays on the top defense paring at even strength, on the power play and the penalty kill. He leads the team's blueliners with a plus-12 rating and averages nearly 22 minutes a game of ice time.

"He quietly comes in here and every day, he shows up, and works hard without a lot of fanfare," said coach Peter Laviolette. "Yet his production on the ice and his value in the locker room as somebody who has been around and a leader on this team, it's hard to express how much he means to the team."


He also hasn't missed a regular-season game since the 2007-08 season, and it looks like his streak of 223 consecutive-games played will click up one more in about a half-hour.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 4:06 PM

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

Kane returns to site of Cup-winning glory


PHILADELPHIA -- Returning to Philadelphia brings nothing but smiles to Patrick Kane's mind.

It was his last visit here, June 9, 2010, that he scored a Stanley Cup-winning goal in overtime of Game 6 to give the Blackhawks their first NHL championship since 1961.

"It was fun," he said of walking into the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since that night. "It brings back a lot of memories. Being at the hotel, coming through and seeing all the stadiums outside the arena – you can remember coming through and all the fans yelling at the bus, different things like that. It was a fun time for a lot of us – definitely looking forward to playing back here tonight. It'll be exciting."

Kane said he couldn't pass up a chance to re-enact his championship goal.

"I didn't do it as intense as I did it a couple years ago, but definitely went through it a little bit, that spot on the ice and where the puck kind of got lost in the net," he said. "It was a fun moment."

He'll aim to have more fun moments tonight when he plays on a line with Marian Hossa and Viktor Stalberg. Here's how the rest of the Blackhawks' lineup looks tonight:

Viktor Stalberg - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Andrew Shaw
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Andrew Brunette
Jimmy Hayes - Michael Frolik - Jamal Mayers

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sean O'Donnell - Dylan Olsen

Ray Emery gets the start in net, with Corey Crawford backing him up.

In case you missed it earlier, here's what the Flyers' lineup likely will look like.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 3:42 PM

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

Jagr skates, but not ready yet for Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- Jaromir Jagr skated this morning with his teammates, but did activities alone while his teammates went through drills.

Jagr is expected to miss 7-10 days with a groin strain that caused him to miss most of the Bridgestone 2012 Winter Classic on Jan. 2. However, that didn't stop the 39-year-old forward from getting on the ice.

"I didn't push it hard," Jagr said. "The reason I'm skating is I want to stay in shape. As soon as I can be pain free, I can go right away. I just didn't push it. I tried to skate to stay in shape."

Jagr said he didn't feel any pain when he skated, and said he only feels it when he extends his left leg to take off at top speed.

"The only way I felt pain is when I push my leg all the way," he said. "That was the game. And today I felt fine. In practice (you're not extending). Even if you do, you don't go with the maximum push."

Jagr said this injury feels different than when he missed four games in late November and early December with a groin injury.

"It's totally different than it was the first time," he said. "First time when I got injured I felt a sharp pain. This one was different pain. There wasn't that much pain, but I knew that if I would play longer it would get worst. That's the way it is and that's why I stopped playing. It's not as bad as the first time."

Jagr wouldn't even rule himself out for this weekend's home-and-home set with the Ottawa Senators.

"I got at least two more practices, two more days," he said. "It heals quick.

"There's a lot of miracles in the world. As soon as I feel pain-free, I'm going to go."

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