Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 2:45 PM

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

Burmistrov a year older, a year much better

PHILADELPHIA -- Eight games into last season, Jets forward Alexander Burmistrov was an 18-year-old rookie still looking for his first NHL point. Eight games into this season, he's the team's leading scorer with 7 points, including at least a point in five straight games.

"He's been one of our best forwards," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. "He's such a dynamic player. The way he handles the puck, his speed, he creates so much. He's been great for us so far. He's been put in a lot of different situations, he's penalty killing, getting a lot of ice time. He's taken that next step."

"I think it's just maturity," added coach Claude Noel. "He's been one of our better players. He has real good chemistry with (Nik) Antropov. He just looks patient on the ice, he looks like he has the puck a lot. I think he feels more confident making plays. He's way more effective with the puck. I think it's just a maturity thing with him. It's what happens when you get a year's experience under your belt."

Burmistrov said the biggest change for him is going not being awestruck by some of the players he would take the ice against.

"Last year I was coming on the ice and watching the stars, these unbelievable players to play against," he told "I just enjoyed playing against them. This year I try to play hard against them. I want to be like them or better than them. I want to beat them on the ice."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 2:34 PM

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

Kane trying to find way back onto score sheet

PHILADELPHIA -- After scoring 19 goals last season, Evander Kane looked like a player on the rise, a rapidly developing power forward with speed and skill.

This season, however, it's been a bit of a struggle, as he has just 1 goal through his first seven games.

"There's more to the game than scoring," Kane said following yesterday's morning skate. "At the same time, I want to produce. I want to produce consistently, I want to produce nightly."

Jets captain Andrew Ladd said Kane's scoring woes are more endemic of the entire team, rather than one particular player not pulling his load offensively. As a team, the Jets are tied for 22nd with just 17 goals.

"There's lots of guys (not scoring)," said Ladd. "I've only scored twice. My line hasn't produced as much as needed. Evander has had a little trouble putting the puck in the net. He's still doing some good things. He's a strong skater, powerful, takes the puck to net."

Coach Claude Noel said the key for Kane, in his third season, still is learning how to best make use of his vast array of talent.

"What we're trying to do is teach him the way we feel is the best and most efficient way for him to play to be an effective player," he said. "For us, he has to play with some physicality and use his speed and drive and get to the net. He does that well."

Getting physical is something the 6-foot-2, 195-pound left wing enjoys -- he's second on the team with 20 hits.

"For myself, I like to be involved physically … in all aspects of the game," said Kane. "When I'm being physical and taking the puck to the net and getting lots of shots, that's one of the big things for my game."

In the Jets' last game, he was shifted onto a line with leading scorer Alexander Burmistrov and center Nik Antropov, and that trio will be together again tonight.

"I think he's been good," said Noel. "He was good with Burmistrov and Antropov, we moved him up there. He's like a lot of guys, trying to get on the board. The last few games he's played with some real physicality and some real energy and has been real good for us."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 2:09 PM

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

Flyers' Schenn out 4-6 weeks with broken foot

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers announcement that rookie forward Brayden Schenn has a broken left foot and will be out of action for 4-6 weeks.

In four games since being recalled from the team's AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, Schenn was scoreless with a minus-5 rating and seven shots. He had been playing left wing on a line with center Danny Briere and right wing Wayne Simmonds.

The Flyers have called up forward Zac Rinaldo and defenseman Erik Gustafsson from the AHL to fill out the roster.

Rinaldo started the season with the Flyers and had 1 assist and 28 penalty minutes in five games prior to being sent down when Schenn was called up from the AHL and Jody Shelley finished serving his season-opening five-game suspension. In four AHL games, Rinaldo has a goal and an assist and just 11 penalty minutes.

Gustafsson, who was scoreless in three games with the Flyers last season, has 4 assists in eight AHL gamest this season.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 2:05 PM

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

Jets hope to start long trip in positive way

PHILADELPHIA -- Tonight marks the first game of the Jets' season-long seven-game, 14-day road trip up and down the East Coast.

Following tonight's game, they'll head south for two games in Florida, and then come back north for four games in six nights against the Islanders, Devils, Rangers and Sabres.

Coach Claude Noel said the key to surviving so long on the road is not to think about how long the total trip is; rather, just focus on the next game.

"For us, you have to focus on the task at hand," he said. "You take one game at a time and go from there. We're not going to deal with the amount of time that we're away. We just deal with one game and try to win the game that's in front of us and go from there."

At 0-3-1 away from MTS Centre this season, picking up a win in a tough building -- even against a team like the Flyers that's coming on having just played on the road the night before -- would be a nice start.

"We understand it's a long (trip)," said team captain Andrew Ladd. "We're going to be playing in some tough buildings. At the same time, it's a good test for us, coming in here tonight and playing one of the top teams in the League and seeing what we have."

As the Atlanta Thrashers last season, they won three of four games against the Flyers, including both games in Philadelphia.

Ladd is hoping past results bode well for tonight's game.

"We played a lot of our best games last year against top teams," he said. "They seemed to bring the best out of us."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 1:00 PM

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

Potential lineups for Flyers, Jets

PHILADELPHIA -- Coming off last night's 5-1 loss in Montreal, the Philadelphia Flyers opted not to skate today, so there's no real guarantee on what their lineup could look like heading into tonight's game against the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets, meanwhile, will play the first game of their season-long seven-game road trip tonight, and had every player on the ice this morning.

Here is what the Flyers might look like, and what the Jets will look like tonight:

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

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Andrej Meszaros - Andreas Lilja
Matt Carle - Matt Walker

Coach Peter Laviolette was non-committal on his goaltender for tonight, but the guess is Sergei Bobrovsky gets the start, considering Ilya Bryzgalov played last night, in addition to the fact that he's given up at least four goals in three straight games.

The other change in the lineup could be Jody Shelley drawing in on the fourth line in place of Nodl.

Alexander Burmistrov - Nik Antropov - Evander Kane
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Kyle Wellwood
Kenndal McArdle - Tim Stapleton - Blake Wheeler
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Johnny Oduya - Randy Jones

Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal, with Chris Mason serving as the backup.

Ben Maxwell will be a healthy scratch, as Slater returns to the lineup after missing Monday's game with an upper-body injury suffered Oct. 22 against Carolina.

Eric Fehr also skated with the team; check back in a bit for more on him and his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.

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

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 1:53 PM

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

Sens send Zibanejad back to Sweden

The Ottawa Senators have elected to return first-round pick Mika Zibanejad to his team in the Swedish Elite League.

Zibanejad, the sixth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, had just 1 assist in nine games, and was a minus-3.

The Senators had until Thursday, which would have been Zibanejad's 10th game, to make a decision. Returning him to Djurgarden in Sweden delays the start of his three-year, entry-level contract. However, the Senators can't recall him until his European season is over, unless it's under emergency conditions.

"We think, for the long-term development of him, to give him the opportunity to become what we believe he has a chance to become, and that is a quality NHL player, that this is the right step for him at this moment," Senators General Manager Bryan Murray told reporters today.

Murray said the decision came down to the determination that it would be better for Zibanejad to play a top-line role with Djurgarden then on the third line in Ottawa.

"I think the reason we're probably sending him back is that we want him to have the puck, we want him to have a chance to score points, to be a legitimate top-six NHL player," he said. "I think at 18 years of age, he was playing the last little bit to survive and not make mistakes, rather than be a creative kind of kid that we think he'll turn out to be.

"From a selfish point of view, it was very difficult. We like him, he's a good man, he's a guy that will work hard and do everything the coaches ask every game. In turn, I think, from Mika's point of view, we want to have to pay him a lot of money in the future and that will only happen if he becomes, as I say, a legitimate top-six forward and creates offense."

Murray said coach Paul MacLean fought hard to keep Zibanejad, due in part to the player's size (6-foot-1, 200 pounds), skill and defensive-zone ability. However, MacLean said he understood the decision.

"Nowhere is it what's best for Paul MacLean," he said. "It's what's best for the Ottawa Senators and this is the right decision."

Zibanejad said he was going to look at the decision as a positive.

"I really wanted to stay but I knew there was options to send me home," he said. "I was prepared for that and I was prepared to stay. I'm going home. It's sad, but on other hand it's a good thing for me.

"It's going to be a chance for me to improve my game."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 9:58 AM

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

Connolly sticking with Lightning

Facing a rapidly approaching deadline in regard to the future of rookie left wing Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager decided after last night's game against the Sabres.

Connolly is sticking with the team.

"We feel Brett's shown that he belongs in the NHL and makes our team better," Yzerman wrote in a text message to the St. Petersburg Times. "So, we've decided to keep him."

Yzerman had until Thursday's game against Nashville to make the decision on whether to keep Connolly or return him to his junior team, the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. Connolly's ninth game was last night; if they sent him back before he played a 10th game, it would have delayed the start of his entry-level contract for another year.

Connolly has 2 assists in nine games, but is tied for the team lead with a plus-5 rating, and is averaging 13:54 of ice time per game.

Playing on a line with veteran Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis hasn't hurt his development, either.

"Both guys have Stanley Cups and a lot of experience, so, for me, it's nice to have a couple of guys like that I can talk to," Connolly told the Times before Tuesday's game. "I'm just trying to take as much knowledge as I can."

He'll have much more time to listen and learn going forward.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 4:11 PM

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

Unfamiliar faces for Lupul

PHILADELPHIA -- Joffrey Lupul spent two of his best NHL seasons (2007-09) with the Flyers, scoring a total of 45 goals and helping Philadelphia reach the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals, one season after the team finished with the fewest points in the League.

That 2007-08 season saw the Flyers improve so fast thanks to a group of young forwards, chiefly Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Scottie Upshall, R.J. Umberger, Scott Hartnell and Lupul. Four seasons later, the only player from that group still left in Philadelphia is Hartnell.

"The only guy (from Philadelphia) I keep in touch with is Hartnell," Lupul said after the Leafs' practice Monday morning. "I played with (Claude) Giroux and those guys but just for a short period of time. It's a completely different animal over there now."

Lupul said he loved his time in Philadelphia, which ended at the 2009 draft, when he was traded to Anaheim as part of the package that brought Chris Pronger to Philadelphia.

"I played on some good teams here," he said. "I think a lot of us were sort of establishing ourselves, Richy, Carts, Upshall, and I look around the League and all those guys, we're all on different teams, but playing a key role (for those teams). It was a good development for us here. Obviously I would have liked to bring a championship, but we learned a lot. I enjoyed all my time here in the city."

He said he still is close with Richards, and was as stunned as the rest of the hockey world when the Philadelphia captain was traded this past June.

"Complete shock," he said. "Half the building had a Mike Richards jersey, I think. To see him go was unbelievable. Just the way he played and the way he came to the rink every day, he was the ultimate captain and leader."

The only positive for Lupul was Richards landing in Los Angeles, where he lives not far from Lupul's offseason home in Southern California. Lupul said they weren't able to link up this past summer, but is looking forward to catching up next summer.

"Maybe at the end of the season," he said. "We can go play golf."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 2:33 PM

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

Schenn vs. Schenn

PHILADELPHIA -- The first rule tonight when the Leafs' Luke Schenn goes against the Flyers' Brayden Schenn? No fighting.

It's a message Rita and Jeff Schenn have drummed into their boys' heads so much, they don't even have to tell them anymore.

"I've said that so many times, they've heard it at home," Rita told this morning. "They said mom, you don't have to tell us anymore. It won't happen."

But if it did, who would win?

"I would," Luke said with no hesitation. "I would definitely win, no doubt."

Braydon had already left, so there was no chance for a rebuttal. However, Luke is the older brother in both age and size, so the guess is he might be right.

But what stands out is how close the pair is. They're just over a year and a half apart in age, and while hockey has kept them apart, they talk daily.

"That's important," said Rita. "I'm glad they have that relationship. They do talk daily, I don't know how many times a day. When they're on their teams, for sure it's business. They're competitive, but when they get off, it's back to what they know, just brothers."

So who will the family be rooting for? Rita and Jeff will cheer equally -- Luke said Jeff told the family at dinner he wishes there still were tie games -- but the family's two younger sisters divided their older brothers. Macy, 10, will wear a Leafs jersey, while Madison, 14, will wear a Flyers jersey.

While their clothes will split, their loyalty only is to the name on the back.

Madison said she'll be happy if the Flyers score, but added, "If the Leafs do something I'm going to jump up, too."

Here's Brayden discussing tonight's game with the media following the Flyers' practice:

And here's Luke's time with the press following the Leafs' skate:

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 2:21 PM

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

Gustavsson to fill in until Reimer returns Thursday

PHILADELPHIA -- Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer won't play tonight, but coach Ron Wilson expects to have his starting netminder back in time for the Leafs' next game, Thursday at the New York Rangers.

Reimer left Saturday's game with a neck injury after a collision with the Canadiens' Brian Gionta.

"He seems almost 100-percent today," Wilson said following the team's morning skate. "It gives us an opportunity on an emergency basis to bring up Ben Scrivens. The Monster (Jonas Gustavsson) will get the start and we should be fine. James should be fine by Thursday the way it looks right now."

Gustavsson's numbers don't look very impressive -- he's 1-1-0 with a 5.35 goals-against average and .852 save percentage -- but Wilson said those numbers don't tell the whole story.

Gustavsson started last Thursday in Boston and allowed six goals on 43 shots. He was far better Saturday against Montreal, when he relieved an injured Reimer and stopped 15 of 18 shots in 41:23 of work as the Leafs won 5-4 in overtime.

"Both situations have been very difficult, any goalie will tell you that," said Wilson. "We knew we were going in to a hornet's nest in Boston, but that was our plan. He was helpless there in the sense that we didn't support him at all. Lot of point-blanks saves and shots and they had traffic in front of the net and we didn't do a good job of clearing it. And the other night, again, you're in a hornet's nest with a very desperate team. To go in cold like he did, his first shot went in, but I thought he did a pretty good job when you look back at some of the saves he made when we needed him late in the game and late in the second period. They're saves that you remember as a coach but get overlooked by everybody. He found a way to win the game, that's most important thing."

Gustavsson said he sees tonight's game as a chance to continue to impress upon his coach and teammates that he can do the job when called upon.

"You want to prove that you're comfortable, that they can play the same way, they don't have to change the whole system because of Reimer being out," he said. "Of course I want to do that. Good teams count on everybody. That means I count on them and they can count on me."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

That was something I've been dreaming of, something I've told myself before the third period I was going to do ... It was an amazing feeling. It's hard to describe. I didn't believe it went in at first but when I saw all the reaction and all the fans going crazy and my teammates going crazy, it's just an unbelievable feeling. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know whether to jump or just skate and do a Theo Fleury. I don't think I'm the same caliber player he is so I couldn't do it.

— Flames forward Mikael Backlund on scoring the overtime winner against the Ducks in Gm. 3