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Posted On Tuesday, 11.04.2014 / 10:20 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Blues' Lehtera sharpening his game to match skates

NEW YORK -- Jori Lehtera arrived in NHL this season with the goal of becoming a full-time player with the St. Louis Blues in his mind and 80 pre-sharpened sets of skate blades in his luggage. And yes, one definitely has to do with the other.

"I played last four years in Russia after my first year I went to [Finnish] national team and the equipment guy there told me I played the whole season with the same sharpening on my skates that the goalies had," Lehtera told NHL.com. "After that I hooked up with this guy in Finland and he gave me the sponsor so I can use these blades and he sharpens them for me."

The hollow on Lehtera's skate blade in his first season in the KHL was flat, so it made cutting through the ice and turning much more taxing on his legs. Since he's been using his pre-sharpened blades he said he is faster and doesn't feel nearly the amount of stress in his legs.

That's why he has continued to use the Ramonedge blades, which he said are wider than the normal blade and require a different sharpening technique. He has them pre-sharpened by a friend of his in Finland.

Lehtera said he has a sponsorship agreement with Ramonedge so he can use the blades for free. He said he knows Kimmo Timonen and Mikael Granlund use the same blades.

Posted On Monday, 11.03.2014 / 7:03 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

Rangers forward Zuccarello out vs. Blues

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello is not in the lineup Monday against the St. Louis Blues because of an undisclosed injury. Right wing Ryan Malone is in the lineup in Zuccarello's place.

Malone was placed on waivers Sunday and cleared at noon ET Monday. He has no points and is minus-3 in five games.

Malone will start on the fourth line with Chris Mueller and Tanner Glass.

Posted On Monday, 11.03.2014 / 4:12 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Blues' Backes could be moving to right wing

NEW YORK -- St. Louis Blues captain David Backes should expect to find himself on the right wing when center Paul Stastny returns to the lineup, perhaps as early as Thursday.

Stastny went through a rigorous physical testing Monday to evaluate his readiness to return from a shoulder injury he sustained Oct. 18 against the Arizona Coyotes. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said it's unlikely he will play Tuesday at the New Jersey Devils, but later in the week is possible.

St. Louis starts a five-game homestand Thursday against New Jersey. It plays the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Posted On Monday, 11.03.2014 / 1:41 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blues at Rangers

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers will try to defeat the St. Louis Blues on Monday without four of their top-six defensemen, potentially one of their top-six forwards, and with their backup goalie in net.

Rangers goalie Cam Talbot will make his second start this season, but the defense in front of him will be quite different from when he played Oct. 11 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Defensemen Ryan McDonagh (shoulder separation) and Kevin Klein (foot contusion) have joined Dan Boyle (broken hand) and John Moore (suspension) on the sidelines since sustaining their injuries in a 1-0 shootout loss Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

Matt Hunwick and Michael Kostka, seventh and eighth on the Rangers defensive depth chart entering the season, are expected to make up New York's second defense pair Monday.

Conor Allen and Dylan McIlrath were recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Sunday to fill in for McDonagh and Klein.

In addition, forward Mats Zuccarello did not participate in the morning skate because of an undisclosed injury. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he's a game-time decision. Ryan Malone, who cleared waivers Monday, will be in the lineup if Zuccarello is unable to play.

Posted On Saturday, 11.01.2014 / 1:55 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Jets at Rangers

NEW YORK -- Winnipeg Jets left wing Evander Kane doesn't want to wait any longer.

Kane said he's ready for his breakout game of the 2014-15 season, even if the Jets' game Saturday against the New York Rangers is his third game of the season and his second since returning to the lineup from a knee injury.

"It's Madison Square Garden, Saturday night, in New York City," Kane said. It's going to come [Saturday]. As a line we know if we generate those scoring chances [from Thursday against the New Jersey Devils] we're going to score a lot more times than we're not."

Kane returned to the lineup Thursday after missing eight games with a knee injury he sustained when he collided with center Mark Scheifele on his third shift in Winnipeg's season-opening 6-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 9.

He returned to playing with Scheifele and right wing Blake Wheeler. As a line they combined for nine of Winnipeg's 25 shots on goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Devils. Kane, Scheifele and Wheeler combined for 13 shot attempts.

Posted On Saturday, 11.01.2014 / 1:55 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Rangers have an excuse for struggling power play

NEW YORK -- Excuses are typically seen as signs of weakness in a team or player, but the New York Rangers can make a case for an airtight excuse for their struggling power play.

They worked throughout training camp with Dan Boyle on the right point, quarterbacking both units, but that lasted all of about 43 minutes. Boyle broke his hand in the third period of the season-opener Oct. 9. The Rangers have scored two power play goals in 19 chances since.

New York already was playing without center Derek Stepan, who sustained a fractured leg in training camp. It is 2-for-23 on the power play this season (8.7 percent).

"I don't want to use that as an excuse," Vigneault said Saturday, "but we did work throughout training camp with a different set up and having Dan jump over the boards first and run whichever unit we were going to go with. Losing him in the first game, since then we've had to look for adjustments."

Those adjustments have included changes to each power-play unit, trying five lefties on one and three righties on the other, and using Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and John Moore as the power-play quarterback.

None of it has seemed to work.

Posted On Wednesday, 10.29.2014 / 11:39 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Capitals' Trotz finding less is more with Mike Green

Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz might have found the magic formula with defenseman Mike Green.

Less might very well be more.

Green enters the game Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA, SN360) with eight points in seven games despite averaging approximately three fewer minutes of ice time than he played last season (19:50 vs. 22:43). He has played more than 20 minutes in two games.

That has as much to do with the additions of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik as it does with Trotz's desire to get the most out of Green, who had 38 points in 70 games last season.

"We use our three sets so you don't find guys playing 28 or 29 minutes," Trotz said. "What I do see is Mike Green playing 28 minutes like he did last year, or 27, and now 20 minutes this year, he's got a lot more juice to do what he does best and that is deliver the puck and be a part of the offense."

Posted On Wednesday, 10.29.2014 / 10:00 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Rosen's mailbag - Oct. 29, 2014

Here is the Oct. 29 edition of Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday during the season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

Do you think Dany Heatley will make an immediate impact with the Anaheim Ducks now that he is finally healthy? -- @TheKidBigKip

Not immediate, but he could make an impact. Heatley is being given a great opportunity in Anaheim to play with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. He has to skate and create some room, but Perry and Getzlaf are so big that they will create room for Heatley too. He couldn't ask for a better opportunity considering he wasn't all that hot of a commodity this past summer.

As soon as Heatley signed his one-year, $1 million contract several people in the media, myself included, thought he could become the biggest bargain signing of the 2014 offseason. But several people in the media, myself included, also said they wouldn't be surprised if he busted out in Anaheim. It's not as if Perry and Getzlaf are speed burners, but they're straight line players and they get up and down the ice well. Heatley has to keep up with them. If he does, he'll be fine.

Posted On Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 4:09 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Capitals' Trotz on 'analytics death,' power play

Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz isn't against analytics in hockey as a useful evaluation tool, but he's against his team playing what he calls an analytics game.

Trotz said he saw the Capitals do too much of that on their recent three-game road trip into Western Canada, when they went 1-2 with a win against the Calgary Flames and losses to the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.

We'll let Trotz explain:

"Teams were really clogging us up and when we needed to chip pucks and have self-retrieval we we're trying to dangle," Trotz said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. "I call it analytics death. There's a time to carry and there's a time to self chip it. You've got all the speed so self chip it, get on the other side of the guy, and hang onto it. We were trying to dangle guys."

Posted On Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 10:35 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Wild's Koivu staying optimistic despite slow start

NEW YORK -- Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is trying to remain calm, confident and somewhat optimistic even though he has one goal and no assists through seven games this season.

He had 54 points on 11 goals and 43 assists in 65 games last season.

"Individually I feel good. As a line we've been playing good," Koivu said Monday prior to the Wild's 5-4 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden where he and his linemates, Charlie Coyle and Thomas Vanek, were shut out again.

Koivu's line has combined for three goals and six assists in seven games. Coyle has two goals and four points. Vanek has four assists, but he's still trying to score his first goal in a Wild uniform. Koivu has one goal on 16 shots.

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Quote of the Day

He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow. I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense... I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver.

— Coyotes GM Don Maloney on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson