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Posted On Saturday, 02.18.2012 / 11:38 AM

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

JVR, Briere, Jagr all in for Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- The injury-plagued Philadelphia Flyers will be welcoming back a hat trick of forwards for Saturday's game against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.

Jaromir Jagr is over his bout with the flu, and Danny Briere, who sat out the final two periods of Thursday's game against the Sabres with an upper-body injury, will be back in. And James van Riemsdyk, out with a concussion since Jan. 12, will make his return to the lineup.

Here's what the Flyers' lineup -- which also will include newly acquired defenseman Nicklas Grossman -- likely will look like.

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
Danny Briere - Matt Read - Jaromir Jagr
James van Riemsdyk - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Eric Wellwood

Braydon Coburn - Kimmo Timonen
Matt Carle - Marc-Andre Bourdon
Andrej Meszaros - Nicklas Grossman

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

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma swapped a few of his lines around at Friday's practice, including welcoming back Arron Asham, who hasn't played since Jan. 15 due to a concussion.

Bylsma said Friday the move mostly was to add a bit of extra bulk on each line to counter the Flyers' physical forwards.

"Not having the matchup on the road plays into that a little bit as well," Bylsma said. "Having another physical presence on each line is something you saw we had today. One of the things that was evident against Anaheim, we had some good shifts and zone time. We didn't a lot get around the net and we didn't get inside there, penetrate. Against teams like that, bigger defensive teams that crowd the house, you have to get on the inside. Playing on the outside is not going to get you much. A little bigger presence on some of those lines."

Here's what their lineup likely will look like:

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Pascal Dupuis - Jordan Staal - Steve Sullivan
Matt Cooke - Dustin Jeffrey - Arron Asham
Craig Adams - Joe Vitale - Richard Park

Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Deryk Engelland - Paul Martin
Matt Niskanen - Zbynek Michalek

Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal, with Brent Johnson the backup.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 2:32 PM

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

Stars' Benn out for weekend games

The Dallas Stars will be without All-Star forward Jamie Benn for weekend games against the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators due to a cut on his leg suffered during Thursday's game against the Calgary Flames.

Benn was tangled in the corner with the Flames' Mark Giordano and suffered a skate cut to his left knee that required 13 stitches to close.

"We're hoping on Tuesday (at Montreal)," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan told the Dallas Morning News. "He's got a significant cut on his leg, Thank goodness nothing else was involved, just a very deep, significant, painful cut, and we're glad that nothing else happened. So he'll be a day-to-day guy."

The Stars certainly hope it won't be too many days. Benn leads the Stars with 32 assists and 48 points. The third-year left wing also has 17 goals and a team-high plus-13 rating. The Stars enter the weekend 10th in the Western Conference, but just four points out of seventh and six points out of sixth place.

The team recalled forward Ryan Garbutt from their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars, and he could make his NHL debut Saturday in Phoenix. Garbutt was second on the AHL team with 16 goals and fourth with 33 points in 50 games.

"I was pretty excited," Garbutt told the Morning News. "It was tough to fall asleep. It's been a long journey and a lot of work, but it went by pretty fast for me. I'll play both sides of the rink, two-way forward. I'll just do whatever I'm asked to do."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 11:58 AM

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

Bruins lose Peverley for 4-6 weeks

The Boston Bruins will be without forward Rich Peverley for 4-6 weeks with a sprained ligament in his right knee.

Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday that Peverley suffered a third-degree sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee during the Bruins' game against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.

Peverley is second on the Bruins with 29 assists, and he also has nine goals and 38 points in 49 games.

The team had called up Josh Hennessey from AHL Providence on Thursday, and the native of Brockton, Mass., will make his Bruins debut tonight in Winnipeg.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 11:40 AM

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

Report: Bruins talking contract with four forwards

TSN is reporting the Boston Bruins, who recently signed defenseman Johnny Boychuk to a contract extension, are working on new deals for four forwards to keep them off the free-agent market.

According to the report, the team has approached centers Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell, left wing Daniel Paille and right wing Shawn Thornton with offers that would keep them from becoming unrestricted free agents July 1.

All four played major roles in the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup championship.

Kelly, acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline last season, has 14 goals, 12 assists, a plus-25 rating and in 55 games this season, and has won 55.2-percent of his faceoffs.

Campbell, Thornton and Paille make up the Bruins' fourth line -- nicknamed the "Merlot Line" by Thornton due to the maroon-colored practice jerseys they wear.

Campbell has six goals and seven assists in 52 games, Thornton has four goals, seven assists and a team-high 117 penalty minutes in 55 games, and Paille has nine goals and five assists in 51 games.

Earlier this week, the Bruins signed Boychuk to a three-year, $10.1 million deal that prevented him from becoming a free agent.

Along with the four forwards, the Bruins' only other prospective unrestricted free agent is defenseman Joe Corvo.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 2:58 PM

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

Big night for Sabres' Leino

PHILADELPHIA -- There hasn't been a lot for Buffalo Sabres forward Ville Leino to smile about this season, but a return to Philadelphia certainly is a high point for him.

Leino had his best NHL experiences in his two seasons with the Flyers, going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 and setting career highs last season with 19 goals and 34 assists while playing on a top line with Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell.

An unrestricted free agent after the season, he signed a six-year, $27 million deal with the Sabres in the hope that last season was the foundation for extended success. It hasn't worked out, though, as Leino has just four goals and 11 assists in 45 games, and was a healthy scratch once.

"I had a lot of fun here," Leino told reporters following the Sabres' morning skate. "It was so far the best time of my career. But it's still fun in Buffalo. ... We've been struggling a little bit, but we have a good team here and it can get better."

Leino has bounced from center to the wing, and tonight will play left wing on a line with center Derek Roy and right wing Jason Pominville.

"I think we had a good run those five games or whatever we were playing (together earlier in the season)," said Leino. "We were winning games, so hopefully we can get back to those winning ways and get some goals tonight and help the team."

"When he's played with Derek he's played well," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "We're hoping to get the same type of play."

While Leino already has faced the Flyers twice this season, Pominville told he expects to see Leino have an extra jump in his skates tonight.

"It's going to be a special night for him, I'm sure," he said. "This is the place where he really made a name for himself, had the most success, and has done really well here. It's a special night. He wants to do well in front of friends and old teammates. We'll try to help him out. He won't need that extra motivation tonight, he'll already have that."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 2:37 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 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 "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 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 Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 1:56 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 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 Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 1:33 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 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 Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 1:58 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 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 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 Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 10:31 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 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 Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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