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Posted On Friday, 11.04.2011 / 11:21 AM

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

A few more OHL players to watch

There are certainly more than seven players NHL scouts are keeping an eye on from the OHL for the 2012 NHL Draft. NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards, who specializes in OHL prospects, and Central Scouting goaltending guru Al Jensen have been keeping close tabs on a few other top prospects.

Dylan Blujus, D, Brampton -- In his second OHL season, the 6-2.75, 193-pound blueliner is developing into a star.

After totaling 26 points and a minus-14 rating in 67 games this season, Blujus has 10 points in his first 15 games, and is a plus-9.

"He's getting better every time I see him," said Edwards. "He's a real solid guy, and every viewing I've had he's gotten better. He's starting to show real good decision-making and puck movement. … His playmaking is good, his play in his own end. He's being used in a top-two role with Brampton, on the power-play and penalty-killing units."

Edwards also has been impressed not just by Blujus' shot, but his accuracy with it.

"He's got a real good shot and it hits the net," said Edwards. "He's getting it on net, making the goalie make a save," unlike another player he recently watched, who he said, "took eight shots and missed the net on all eight."

Trevor Carrick, D, Mississauga St. Michael's -- He hasn't produced much offensively yet, but the 6-1.5, 172-pound blueliner is earning attention for his smart play on the ice.

"He's a very poised guy," said Edwards. "He's got good mobility, and he picks it apart on the back end with good outlet passes. At times you look at him and he might be high-risk, but he makes it work. He's a real smart, heady type of defenseman."

Edwards said in the games he's seen Carrick play, it's been a slow build to his game.

"Early in the game he's on the third defense pair, in the first period he takes a regular shift," said Edwards, "but by the end of the night he's logging all the ice and playing against the other team's top line. He's a really reliable guy. Not many mistakes."

Michael Clarke, C, Windsor -- The 5-11.25, 184-pound center is tied for the lead among all first-year OHL players with 8 goals, but it's his work ethic that has impressed scouts.

"He's going to get his goals by going to the net and knocking in rebounds," said Edwards. "I'm not sure you'll see him go end-to-end and dangle people. He's going to get his points in setting up plays, scoring dirty goals, ugly goals."

Edwards said Clarke reminds him of a top player from last year's draft, Blue Jackets second-round pick Boone Jenner.

"He'll do anything you have to do to win," said Edwards. "He's great in the faceoff circle, he's a great competitor, he'll block shots. He's used in all situations, he's on the second line, killing penalties. He might be a little better skater than Jenner was. … This guy is a competitor. So far from what I've seen, he might be best competitor in the draft."

Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville -- The hard-working forward is scoring at a near point-per-game clip this season and is showing improved skill in the offensive zone.

But like Clarke, it's Gaunce's work ethic that is earning positive reviews from scouts.

"He's a hard-working, up-and-down guy," said Edwards. "On the power play he really handled it well, creating good scoring chances. Five-on-five he's also solid. He'll get involved and win battles for pucks. He's tough. He'll separate guys from the puck and knock people down. To go along with his good skill set, he can be a pretty dangerous player."

Matthew Murray, G, Sault Ste. Marie -- The 6-4 netminder is tied for third in the OHL with nine wins, to go with a 3.29 goals-against average and .891 save percentage.

Jensen told NHL.com what impresses him most is Murray's technical skill.

"He's got that NHL presence of a goalie," said Jensen. "He just looks like a goalie in there. He's big, his net coverage is very good, he's very controlled in the net. He plays the bulk of the games and is very consistent. His technical part of the game is very good. He's very controlled in his movements. He gives himself a chance to stop the puck because he's always in the proper position. He doesn't have to come all the way out all the time. He plays mostly in the paint because he covers all the holes."

Jake Paterson, G, Saginaw -- Jensen said the three times he's seen Patterson in action, "all three were 'A' games."

The numbers the 6-1.5, 183-pound goalie has posted so far -- 5-6-0, 3.95 GAA, .893 save percentage -- don't look all that great, but Saginaw is ninth in the 10-team Western Conference and has allowed the second-most goals in the league.

"He's got a great feel for the game," said Jensen. "He challenges when he has to, he battles, he's quick, he's strong, he's smart. … He's given his team a chance to win every night.

"I like his size in there. He's got great quickness and a great glove hand. He moves very well technically. He really reads the play well."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 7:15 PM

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

Flyers' van Riemsdyk, Devils' Andy Greene to sit

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers will be without forward James van Riemsdyk tonight. He was a late scratch after taking warmups.

Van Riemsdyk appeared to injure his knee Wednesday night on a hit into the boards by Sabres defenseman Robyn Regehr. Van Riemsdyk told reporters in Buffalo that he felt fine, but apparently things changed since then.

Van Riemsdyk's absence means Jody Shelley will play.

Devils defenseman Andy Greene also will sit out tonight. According to Tom Gulitti of The (Bergen) Record, Greene doesn't have any serious injury, just some bumps and bruises that could use a night off on the back end of back-to-back games. Mark Fraser will play in his absence.

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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 5:38 PM

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

Voracek feeling fine after head-butt incident

PHILADELPHIA -- A night after being head butted by Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said he felt fine, and didn't even know exactly what happened until he saw the replay this morning.

Today it was announced Kaleta was suspended four games for the incident.

"I didn't even know he hit me with his head," Voracek said. "I felt something hit and when I saw it on the replay this morning, I found out he head butted me."
 
At 4:58 of the first period, with a group of players battling along the boards -- among them Voracek and Kaleta -- the Sabres forward drove his head into Voracek's face.

"I was battling for the puck and I felt something hit me," Voracek said. "He made a few steps back and hit me with his head. The way the League looks at those things right now, it was possible he gets suspended."

Voracek refused to say if he thought it was intentional or not.

"It's hard to say," Voracek said. "He's got to know if he did it on purpose or not. I can't go into his head."

Voracek also was asked about Saturday's visit by the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team that traded him to Philadelphia in June.

"It's going to be very exciting," he said. "But we have a big game tonight and I have to re-focus on tonight. Tomorrow we'll worry about Saturday."

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

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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 5:15 PM

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

Battle of the backups in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- The New Jersey Devils confirmed Johan Hedberg would start in net, and Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette confirmed a few minutes ago that Sergei Bobrovsky would start in goal for the Flyers.

With both teams having played their No. 1 goalies last night, there's no real surprise with these decisions.

In 20 (19 starts) against the Flyers, Hedberg has a career record of 7-10-1 with a 3.03 goals-against average and .899 save percentage. Last season, he went 3-3-0 against Philadelphia, including a 26-save effort in a 3-1 Devils win Jan. 11, his last start in Philadelphia.

Bobrovsky started just once against the Devils, stopping 23 of 26 shots Dec. 4, 2010, in a 5-3 victory in Philadelphia.

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









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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 3:50 PM

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

Briere could draw back in for Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers center Danny Briere has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, and as of this morning, his status for tonight's game against the New Jersey Devils remained in doubt.

Well, the doubt might have just left town, along with center Ben Holmstrom.

The Flyers announced Holmstrom, a center called up from AHL Adirondack to play last night in Buffalo due to injuries to Briere and fellow center Matt Read, has been returned to the AHL. With Read not scheduled to return from his upper-body injury until Saturday at the earliest, that opens a spot for Briere to return to the lineup.

Nothing is set until coach Peter Laviolette writes out his lineup -- and the Flyers are carrying an extra forward in Harry Zolnierczyk -- but the guess is it's Briere who goes back in. How the rest of the lineup looks outside the Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr - Scott Hartnell line, however is anyone's guess.

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






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Posted On Wednesday, 11.02.2011 / 11:55 AM

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

Injuries mean new look for Flyers

We had the Sabres lines a bit earlier, and here's a look at the lineup the Flyers could put on the ice tonight in Buffalo (7:30 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN2).

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
James van Riemsdyk - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
Andreas Nodl - Maxime Talbot - Wayne Simmonds
Jody Shelley - Ben Holmstrom - Zac Rinaldo

Braydon Coburn - Kimmo Timonen
Matt Carle - Erik Gustafsson
Andrej Meszaros - Andreas Lilja

Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal, with Sergei Bobrovsky backing him up.

It's almost a completely new look for the Flyers up front, as Danny Briere and Matt Read will be out with upper-body injuries.

The only line that remains the same is the top line, and why not? Jagr was Third Star of the Week with 5 goals in four games, and Giroux is tied for second in the League with 15 points.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.02.2011 / 11:14 AM

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

Leino on top line part of potential Sabres lineup

Here is what the Buffalo Sabres' lineup could look like tonight when the host the Philadelphia Flyers (7:30 p.m., Versus, TSN2).

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

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

Ryan Miller will start in goal, with Jhonas Enroth backing him up.

The big change for the Sabres comes on the top two lines, where Leino gets the chance to play between Vanek and Pominville, while Adam switches to the second line. The rookies skated at left wing with Roy in the middle Tuesday, but they could flip-flop for the game.

On defense, Weber will make his season debut tonight, playing alongside Regeher. Weber's insertion into the lineup makes Marc-Andre Gragnani a healthy scratch.

With injuries sidelining Flyers forwards Danny Briere and Matt Read tonight, it'll be interesting to see how the Flyers' lines shape up when they skate later this morning.

For more information on the 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, 11.01.2011 / 1:36 PM

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

Nyquist to start on second line for Wings

The big news from Detroit's morning skate was rookie Gustav Nyquist skating on the second line in place of Jiri Hudler, who will be a healthy scratch tonight against the Wild. He's also likely to see time on the second power-play unit.

"When you're in a situation like we're in when you haven't scored much in four games (four goals) ... you can continue to go the way you're going or you can change things," coach told reporters after today's morning skate. "We moved our lines around a little bit. There's nothing wrong with our last two games, but we're not winning."

Also sitting out tonight will be forward Cory Emmerton and defenseman Mike Commodore.
 
Here's what tonight's lineup likely will look like:

Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Tomas Holmstrom
Gustav Nyquist - Johan Franzen - Todd Bertuzzi
Danny Cleary - Valtteri Filppula - Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Patrick Eaves

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Jakub Kindl
Jonathan Ericsson - Brad Stuart

Jimmy Howard will start in goal, with Ty Conklin backing him up

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.01.2011 / 1:12 PM

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

Briere, Read out for Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers today called up forwards Ben Holmstrom and Harry Zolnierczyk from AHL Adirondack, and they'll play Wednesday in place of forwards Danny Briere and Matt Read, who are out with upper-body injuries.

Briere sat out Saturday's game against Carolina, and while he definitely won't play tomorrow against the Sabres, there's a chance he could play Thursday against the Devils. Read won't play again until Saturday's game against Columbus, at the earliest.

Holmstrom, a 24-year-old center, was scoreless in two games with the Flyers last season. He had 4 assists and a minus-3 rating in eight AHL games.

Zolnierczyk, a 24-year-old left wing, had a goal in his first NHL game, Oct. 18 against Ottawa. In 10 AHL games, he has 5 goals and 4 assists.

The Flyers also sent defenseman Matt Walker to the AHL. Walker had been waived Oct. 4 but after clearing waivers never was sent down. He was scoreless in three games, with a minus-2 rating and 16 penalty minutes.

Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren also said the plan for tomorrow was to have defenseman Chris Pronger skate by himself, the first time he'll be on the ice since suffering an injury to his right eye Oct. 24. Holmgren had said the night of the injury that the hope was Pronger could return to skating within 7-10 days and rejoin the team within 2-3 weeks.

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

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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 3:47 PM

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

Flyers limiting Bryzgalov's media access

Few players are more entertaining for the media to cover than Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, but that fun is going to be curtailed a bit.

The Flyers today announced a new policy limiting the goaltender's media availability. As of now, Bryzgalov will speak on off-days, but not on days before a game or the day of a game. He will, however, talk after all games.

Flyers goalie coach Jeff Reese had told reporters Friday that he felt Bryzgalov's recent struggles -- prior to Saturday's win against the Hurricanes, he had lost four straight, allowing at least four goals in each game -- were due in part to distractions that included his daily interactions with the media.

The new policy went into effect today, so while Bryzgalov did not speak to reporters today -- the original version of the policy said Bryzgalov would talk only after games he played in and at no other time -- the next time Bryzgalov will meet with the media will be Wednesday night, if he plays in Buffalo.

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

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday