Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 11:00 AM

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

Miller in for Sabres?

When the Buffalo Sabres face the Winnipeg Jets tonight, Ryan Miller likely will be in the Sabres' net. The Buffalo News is reporting Miller was the first goalie off the ice at this morning's practice.

It will be Miller's first game action since being pulled 6:23 into last Wednesday's game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Jhonas Enroth started both games since then, earning one-goal wins against Calgary and Ottawa. It led some in Buffalo to question if Enroth was ready to replace Miller as the undisputed top goalie in Buffalo.

Miller certainly has struggled this season -- he's lost four straight, and in nine games he's 4-5-0 with a 2.48 goals-against average and .922 save percentage -- while Enroth is 4-0-0 in five games, with a 1.41 GAA and .952 save percentage.

However, he's got a far longer track record -- one that includes Olympic silver medal and a Vezina Trophy -- and he'll look to re-discover that form tonight.

"You want to play," Miller told reporters Monday. "My last outing wasn't the way you like to leave the ice. You want to go out and do your job, and the next chance I get I'll be ready."

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 1:47 PM

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

Carter skates with Jackets, could return soon

The Columbus Blue Jackets could be back to the team they were expecting to have when the season began.

Center Jeff Carter, who has missed the last nine games with a broken bone in his right foot suffered Oct. 15, skated for about 20 minutes with the team today according to the Columbus Dispatch and said his foot felt OK. Carter added the plan now is for him to skate a full practice with the team tomorrow, with a chance he could play in the Jackets' next game, Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I'm usually pretty quick to get back to speed," Carter said. "I have to get a decent practice in before I know how it feels. I'll probably know more (Tuesday)."

Carter and defenseman James Wisniewski were the club's major offseason acquisitions, but due to suspension -- Wisniewski sat out the first eight games of the season -- and injury, the pair has yet to be on the ice at the same time since the preseason.

The Blue Jackets also could have forward Jared Boll back in the lineup Thursday. Boll hasn't played since breaking his thumb in a fight in the Jackets' final preseason game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 1:25 PM

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

Kovalchuk doubtful for Tuesday

Nothing has been made official, but it's looking highly unlikely the New Jersey Devils will have forward Ilya Kovalchuk in the lineup for tomorrow's game against the Carolina Hurricanes (7:30 p.m. Versus, TSN2).

Kovalchuk, who hasn't played since leaving late in the third period of last Thursday's 4-3 shootout win in Philadelphia due a pulled leg muscle, sat out today's practice at Prudential Center in Newark.

Coach Peter DeBoer wasn't ready to completely rule Kovalchuk out for tomorrow, but told reporters it would take "a miraculous recovery" for him to play.

Kovalchuk said he worked out off the ice today and told reporters he's hopeful his injury heals enough for him to get into the lineup.

"I worked out a little bit, so it'd definitely better than a couple of days ago," he told reporters. "We'll see tomorrow."

If Kovalchuk can't go, it's likely his top-line spot alongside left wing Zach Parise and center Adam Henrique will be filled by David Clarkson, who played there in Saturday's 3-2 overtime win against the Jets.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 2:55 PM

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

Who's in for the Blue Jackets?

PHILADELPHIA -- We had our guesses on the Flyers' lineup earlier, so now we'll take a look at the Blue Jackets.

The big change will be Cam Atkinson getting back into the lineup. The forward was recalled from AHL Syracuse this morning, and likely will play on a line with Derek MacKenzie and R.J. Umberger.

The defense pairs were jumbled this morning as James Wisniewski is battling a flu bug and was sent back to the hotel not long after arriving at the rink. Coach Scott Arniel said he's hopeful Wisniewski can play tonight, but won't know until game time.

Here's what the Jackets' lineup could look like tonight against the Flyers:

Rick Nash - Vinny Prospal - Derick Brassard
Matt Calvert - Antoine Vermette - Ryan Johansen
R.J. Umberger - Derek MacKenzie - Cam Atkinson
Alexandre Giroux - Samuel Pahlsson - Cody Bass

James Wisniewski - Fedor Tyutin
Marc Methot - John Moore
Aaron Johnson - Kris Russell

Steve Mason will start in goal, with Allen York backing him up.

Derek Dorsett could get in the lineup in place of Giroux. Dorsett didn't practice Friday due to being "banged up" according to Arniel.

If Wisniewski can't play, then Grant Clitsome, a healthy scratch Thursday against the Maple Leafs, will play.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 2:40 PM

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

Johansen adjusting to life on the wing

PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Johansen has spent almost his entire hockey life in the middle of the ice. But it's a move to the wing that earned him a permanent spot in the NHL.

The fourth pick of the 2010 NHL Draft as a center, Johansen started this season in the middle, but since his move to the wing, his play has improved dramatically.

"We watched him play a few games, some exhibition games, in the middle and felt at this time it's too big a responsibility," said Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel. "We didn't get to see his offense, we didn't get to see him play with the puck like we know he can. He was really trying hard to learn the game and not make mistakes defensively that it took away from the offensive side. We threw him on the wing and we think he's blossomed over there e offensively. We started to see what he can do."

After totaling just 1 assist in his first five games, Johansen has 3 goals and an assist in his last five. In the Jackets' two wins this season, Johansen has the game-winning goal.

"To play in the NHL on the wing is pretty different," Johansen told "I just had to learn a couple new things quickly. It wasn't too hard to adjust. Feel pretty comfortable there now. I feel confident with the puck when it comes around the boards or if I receive it on the half wall. I'm not worried about it."

It's a big change from last season for Johansen, who admitted to being overwhelmed by his surroundings when he got to training camp last year.

"When I was first drafted and moving on to my first camp, it was kind … I was in shock the whole time," he said. "I ended up playing against (Sidney) Crosby and (Alex) Ovechkin in exhibition games and my eyes were wide open the whole time. I was having so much fun being around."

He was returned to his junior team, the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, and had an outstanding season -- 40 goals in 63 games -- and went back to Columbus this summer with a new mindset.

"This year I felt I had a really strong chance of making the team," he said. "I'm just focused on winning more than who I was playing against."

His teammates have started to take notice of how the 6-foot-3, 203-pound forward is beginning to blossom.

"He's getting better every day," R.J. Umberger told "He's starting to learn he's got a lot of size and he can use it. He's stronger than he thinks and he's moving his feet more and creating a lot of things below the goal line with his size.

"The challenge for him is just learning to compete every night. It's a hard league. For him, he knows he can play here and contribute."

"Every day it seems like I'm learning new things being up here," said Johansen. "For myself, I'm just taking everything in right now, soaking it all up. It's been a tremendous experience so far. Hopefully we can start winning some more games here."

On a personal note, it was the first time I've seen Johansen since he was drafted in Los Angeles. He and his Portland teammate, Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter, were part of one of my favorite videos since I've been with the NHL. It's worth watching to get some nice insight into two young men with wonderful personalities.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 2:26 PM

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

Welcome back, Carter

Jeff Carter made his return to Philadelphia today, but not in the way the All-Star center would have liked it.

Carter has missed the last eight games with a broken right foot, and has yet to resume skating.

Broken feet are nothing new to Carter -- he broke both feet during the Flyers' run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final -- and this time, he said he's being smart about allowing this injury to heal fully rather than hurry his return just to play against his former team.

"I wasn't going to rush back just to get into this game," he said. "I have to worry about getting healthy, that's the first thing."

Carter said it was an emotional experience walking into the Wells Fargo Center this morning. Prior to the June trade that sent him to the Blue Jackets, it was his only NHL home.

"It's a little weird being on the other side now," he said. "It's different. It's actually first time I've ever been down here (visiting locker room). It's a big change, but it is what it is."

Carter said one of the things he misses most about Philadelphia are the fans.

"I had six great years here," he said. "I enjoyed coming to the rink and playing in front of the fans every night. Everybody says it's one of the best places to play, and the fans are a huge part of that. It makes it a lot easier for guys to go on the ice and play good hockey when you have fans like that behind you."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 2:01 PM

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

Lineup questions for Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- The Flyers had 14 forwards on the ice and didn't practice line rushes, so there's a bit of a question of how their lineup might shake out tonight when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets.

James van Riemsdyk and Matt Read skated for the full practice, but both are considered day-to-day -- van Riemsdyk with a lower-body injury that kept him out of Thursday's game against New Jersey, Read with an upper-body injury that has sidelined him for the last two contests.

Eric Wellwood was called up from Adirondack of the American Hockey League on Friday and also was on the ice this morning, meaning he's a possibility for tonight.

The only forward who didn't skate today was Andreas Nodl, who the team is listing as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

So what will the lineup look like tonight? Can't be 100-percent sure, but here's a possibility. Again, things could change drastically if van Riemsdyk and/or Read are able to play.

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Harry Zolnierczyk - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
Eric Wellwood - Maxime Talbot - Wayne Simmonds
Zac Rinaldo - Sean Couturier - Jody Shelley

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

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

We'll have the Blue Jackets lineup in a bit, but like the Flyers, there's also some question marks on their side.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 1:53 PM

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

Voracek eager to face former team

PHILADELPHIA -- Jakub Voracek said he had three great seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the ending certainly left a sour taste in his mouth. So the Flyers forward certainly has had this game circled on his calendar for quite a while.

"I'd be lying if I said no," he said. "I was pretty excited for this game since the season started. It's going to be a great game. Hope it's going to end for us well. … It's another NHL game for me and I'm going to try to do my best as always, hopefully help the team win, and show them (the Blue Jackets) they made a mistake."

The Jackets picked Voracek with the seventh pick of the 2007 Entry Draft, and in three seasons in Columbus he averaged 13 goals and 45 points per campaign.

Last season, though, he endured the worst stretch of his hockey life, picking up just one point in his final 16 games.

"It was the worst time in my life, in my NHL career," Voracek said. "Even if it's a tough stretch, in 16 games, if you're playing on the first or second line, you still got to be able to get more than one secondary assist, somehow. You've got to get it. It's impossible to not have it. It was a really bad time, nothing went in. We didn't play well as a team and I didn't play well as a player."

It got worst at his season-ending exit interview, when Voracek's conditioning was criticized publicly by coach Scott Arniel.

"The biggest thing that is holding him back is his conditioning," Arniel told the Columbus Dispatch that day. "I think this guy can be an elite player in this League if he gets himself in shape."

Voracek still is bothered by the comments, more because they were made publicly.

"I don't think it's right to talk about it in the papers," he said. "It is what it is, it's what he said. I disagree with him. I went to the World Championship last year and I felt great the whole tournament, which was almost the end of May. It was a long season for me as well, and physically I felt great. Sometimes it doesn't mean if you play bad that you're out of shape."

Voraceck now says he's moved beyond what was said, and spent time on the bench this morning talking to former teammates.

"It is what it is," he said. "It's behind me and I have totally new NHL life."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 1:18 PM

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

Pronger skates, return date unknown

PHILADELPHIA -- Chris Pronger took part in his first full morning skate since injuring his eye Oct. 24, and said the biggest issue for him is getting his conditioning back where it needs to be.

"It's a process," he said following practice this morning at Wells Fargo Center. "When you don't do anything for a week, you lose a little bit, your timing. Really you're just trying to do drills to get that back, get your conditioning back."

Pronger also is adjusting to wearing a visor for the first time in his NHL career. He said he did wear one in juniors, but he played his last junior game in May 1993.

He said he hadn't had too much of an issue with the visor so far, but said he really wouldn't know how it might affect him until he gets into a game.

"I haven't really done much out there, contact-wise, to really tell," Pronger said. "I haven't played in a game so I can't really tell you. I haven't done anything other than skate. It hasn't fogged up because I haven't been doing much.

"It is clear, so I can see through it. But there is that lip (at the bottom), and you're used to not really having to look, it's right there. It is a bit of an adjustment. Sometimes it's something you have to do and you just get used to it."

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Friday that the vision in Pronger's right eye has returned to pre-injury level. Pronger said he still is taking things slowly.

"I have to keep seeing how I do after each day," Pronger said. "I've been slowly doing more and more every day. See how my head responds."

Pronger isn't ready to circle a return date, but after tonight, the Flyers don't play again until Wednesday in Tampa Bay, which certainly works in his favor as far as limiting the number of games he misses.

"I'll get a couple good practices and try to crank it up and see how I feel," he said.

He's missed five games (it'll become six tonight), and Pronger said one of the things he's noticed is a lack of consistency and a missing killer instinct. He cited Thursday's loss to New Jersey, when the Flyers blew two leads en route to a 4-3 shootout loss, as an example.

"I think the biggest thing is consistency," he said. "We have to play 60 minutes of hockey to be successful. Taking periods off, shifts off, all the rest of that costs you games, and has in the past this year, and previous years I've been here. We have to figure out how to play 60 minutes and make sure when you get teams down like we did the other night, 2-0, you put on the gas and put our foot on the throat, closing games out. It's a learning process and something we need to learn early on in the season to make sure as the season goes on we get better at that."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 11.04.2011 / 11:21 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 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 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 Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

I always feel the pressure to produce offensively. It's disappointing and frustrating when you can't help out your team the way you're supposed to.

— Rangers forward Rick Nash on scoring twice in a 5-1 Game 4 victory against the Lightning on Friday