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Posted On Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 11:42 AM

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

Bylsma wants to see more of Crosby-Staal combo

NEWARK, N.J. -- Penguins coach Dan Bylsma liked what Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal looked like together on the same line Thursday night. Now he wants to see more of it starting Saturday against the Devils at Prudential Center.

"I'd like to see it a handful of times," said Bylsma, whose team is going for its 11th straight win. "Depending on how the game goes, depending on what matchups they're striving to get, that will maybe depend on how many times we're able to do that. But, I'd like to continue to see them get chances to play together and what that is going to look like."

Crosby played on Staal's wing for three shifts in the second half of a 5-2 win Thursday over the Rangers. They did not produce any points, but Bylsma said he liked how the dynamic looked with Staal using his big body to make plays in the defensive zone and Crosby able to read off that to get up the ice quickly.

Bylsma couldn't recall a time before that Crosby and Staal played together at even strength.

"The one thing that you see with Jordan is his ability to end plays in the defensive zone, and it's not that hard to tell when that is coming so as a winger out there with Jordan you can take advantage of that situation," Bylsma said. "You know he's going to win a puck and then you can read off that. That's something we talked about in the summer time and watching it this year it's even more evident from upstairs (in the press box) that being the case. Being the winger allows you the ability to get some speed and get to an area if that is going to be a case."

Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start opposite Martin Brodeur. Bylsma would not say if Fleury is also going to start Sunday in Philadelphia. Fleury has won nine straight starts and has 38 wins this season.

The Penguins will have to play without Arron Asham, who missed practice Friday because he was sick. Eric Tangradi will likely draw into the lineup for his size and toughness on the fourth line.

The Devils are 7-1 against the Penguins at Prudential Center in the last three seasons. This is the final time they will play host to Pittsburgh this season.

Bylsma touched on Pittsburgh's struggles here in New Jersey.

"I really think maybe more than any other team at any other place it's been our inability to maintain poise in playing the way we need to play, the way we want to play," he said. "I think we've been frustrated and gotten off our games at times in the last three years here. Really that's something we pride ourselves in as our trademark, playing the same way no matter where we are. This is one team we've been really unable to do that against."

Here are the expected lines and defensive pairings for the Saturday matinee:

DEVILS

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Steve Bernier - Ryan Carter - Cam Janssen

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Sidney Crosby - Tyler Kennedy
Craig Adams - Joe Vitale - Eric Tangradi

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

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 12:38 PM

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

Carlyle calls Leafs' play against Bruins 'embarrassing'

TORONTO -- Randy Carlyle spoke candidly Tuesday morning about the Maple Leafs abysmal record this season against the Boston Bruins. He used the word "embarrassing" to describe the Leafs' four losses by a combined 23-6 score against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Carlyle, of course, was not around for any of Toronto's own Boston massacre. It didn't change his thinking.

"When you're with a team, it's we, it's not I, so I'm part of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and to tell you as a head coach of the hockey club and to look at the record, we are embarrassed," said Carlyle, who will make his debut behind the home bench at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday. "We want to make a change in that. As we stated, we have to play the game to a higher level on the road and in this building. This is our building. We want to make it as difficult as possible for teams to come in here and have success against us. That's a fact."

Carlyle put the Leafs through two rigorous practices Sunday and Monday that occupied a combined three and a half hours. There was plenty of teaching going on in each session. He said the key to beating Boston on Tuesday is to basically put into play what he implemented over the last two days.

"The message was we better be prepared to play the type of hockey that is going to be necessary to win the little battles that are out there, to win the 50-50 pucks, the one-on-one battles, or we're going to be embarrassed," Carlyle said. "We can't be embarrassed in our own building.

"We want to try to be first on the puck, use the skating game that we're capable of, be conservative from a standpoint where you don't give up and don't make the Hail Mary plays, and keep as many people above the puck when you don't have it," he later added. "And when you have opportunities to go, you're a transition team and you skate. I've said it numerous times, we've got to get on our horse and get going."

Sticking to his superstitious ways, Carlyle would not verbally announce the starting goaltender for Tuesday's game. But Jonas Gustavsson was the first off the ice and Carlyle said if a guy is playing well he's going to stick with him.

Gustavsson made 21 saves in Toronto's 3-1 win over Montreal on Saturday. He has a 5.44 goals-against average and .852 save percentage in three appearances against Boston this season.

"You've got to play well to earn the next chance. That doesn't change if you get a new coach," Gustavsson said. "I try to make the most of every chance I get. Then, if I get another chance I'll try to do the same thing there. My thinking didn't really change with the new coach. It's just about doing the same thing."

Carlyle did have some lineup news to announce. He said Mike Brown, who aggravated a previous hand injury late in Monday's practice, will not play and John-Michael Liles is a gametime decision. Liles developed a temperature of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit late Monday night.

"We thought it would be best suited for him not to come here this morning," Carlyle said. "He will visit with the doctors prior to the game, before everybody gets here, and we'll make an assessment on whether he's available to us or not."

Here is what Toronto's lines and D pairs could look like Tuesday:

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Matt Frattin
Nikolai Kulemin - David Steckel - Colby Armstrong
Jay Rosehill - Tim Connolly - Matthew Lombardi

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles or Cody Franson - Mike Komisarek
Luke Schenn - Jake Gardiner

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:39 PM

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

Emery back where his NHL career began

As soon as he finished off his sterling relief appearance Wednesday in Chicago, Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery had to know what was coming:

A start in Ottawa. A media blitz at the pregame skate at Scotiabank Place. Questions of how he'll be received by fans in Canada's capital city.

It's all coming true.

Emery will start Friday (7 p.m. ET, TSN) against his old team in his old barn, where he played in the Stanley Cup Final nearly five full years ago. However, Emery, who made 23 saves in a 5-4 come-from-behind relief win against the Maple Leafs on Wednesday, told ESPNChicago.com that he's not necessarily thinking about the past or what happened when he was in Ottawa four years ago.

"It's very special," Emery said Friday morning. "It's the team I was drafted by and we had a good year going to the Cup Final (in 2007), but you have to put that in the back of your head and focus on the game. Especially at this time of the year; it's a huge game for us."

Emery was drafted by the Senators in the fourth round (No. 99) in 2001. He used to room with Jason Spezza when they played with AHL Binghamton, and six years after he was drafted he was the goalie that led Ottawa to the Stanley Cup Final.

Emery won 33 games in the regular season in 2006-07, and won another 13 in the playoffs. He was the "it" guy in a city that has a love affair with its hockey team.

But then it all went south.

Emery had a series of off-ice incidents that caused headaches for GM Bryan Murray and then-coach John Paddock. Murray tried to trade Emery in 2008, but couldn't find any takers and ended up buying Emery out of his contract following the 2007-08 season.

After spending a year playing in Russia, Emery returned to the NHL for the 2009-10 season with the Philadelphia Flyers. However, he suffered a debilitating hip injury that season that nearly cost him his playing career. He made it back with Anaheim last season, and after a strong playoff run, he earned a one-year contract in training camp with the Blackhawks this season.

Corey Crawford's inconsistencies have opened the door for Emery to take over as the Blackhawks' No. 1 goalie, which leads his story back to Ottawa, where it all began.

Emery enters Friday's game with a 12-8-2 record and 2.72 goals-against average. The win he earned Wednesday was his first since Jan. 20, but if he can string together some good starts, odds are he can wrestle the No. 1 job away from Crawford in time for the Hawks to make a run to secure their playoff berth.

"The competitiveness is there and it's good to see him do well," Spezza said of Emery, according to the Ottawa Sun.

Emery isn't sure how he'll be greeted by the fans at Scotiabank Place.

"Getting booed on the road is like getting cheered at home," he told reporters. "We'll see how it goes."

Chris Neil told the Ottawa Sun he expects the fans will greet the former Emery warmly.

"He was a big part of the year we went to the Final, so I think fans will have good memories of him and obviously there'll be a warm welcome for him," Neil said. "He's turned his life and his career around. He's been able to battle back through (his hip injury), and it's a feel-good story."

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Posted On Sunday, 02.26.2012 / 11:26 AM

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

Larsson returning to Devils lineup

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Pete DeBoer said Sunday morning that rookie defenseman Adam Larsson will return to the lineup against Tampa Bay after missing 10 games with a back injury suffered Feb. 2 against Montreal.

Larsson was hit hard by Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban with 5:58 remaining in New Jersey's 5-3 win over Montreal on Feb. 2. He remained down on the ice for several minutes and needed assistance to get into the dressing room. The Devils said after the game he suffered a bruised lower back.

New Jersey has not seemed to miss Larsson much as it has gone 7-2-1 in his absence.

"We're going to monitor his limits, probably to limit him to 5-on-5 rather than add in special teams, but he feels great and it's a good first step," DeBoer said, according to Tom Gulitti of The Record. "There's no right time to do this (if) you look at our schedule and the teams we've got coming up. He feels good, so le's take the first step and get him back in a game."

DeBoer also said Martin Brodeur will start his sixth straight game. Brodeur faced only 16 shots in a 2-1 loss to Vancouver on Friday night. He had won his previous four starts.

Marek Zidlicky will make his Devils debut against the Lightning and he will be paired with Anton Volchenkov. Zidlicky was acquired from the Wild on Friday in exchange for Kurtis Foster, Nick Palmieri, a second-round draft pick in 2012 and a conditional draft pick in 2013.

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Posted On Sunday, 02.26.2012 / 11:08 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Report: Bishop could be heading to Ottawa

With Craig Anderson sidelined due to a fluke hand injury, the Ottawa Senators are reportedly trolling for a new goalie and it could be Ben Bishop of the St. Louis Blues, according to a tweet from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.

Garrioch tweeted Sunday morning that League sources had told him the Senators were close to a deal with the Blues to land Bishop and it possibly could be completed Sunday.

Anderson is out indefinitely after suffering a right hand injury. Alex Auld stopped 33 of 37 shots in a 5-3 loss to Boston on Saturday, the Senators first game since Anderson's injury. Robin Lehner was recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to serve as Auld's backup while the Senators search for help in net.

Bishop, a third-round pick in 2005, is third on the Blues' depth chart behind Jaroslav Halak and All-Star Brian Elliott. He lost the backup job to Elliott in October and hasn't had any opportunity to claim it since due to Elliott's dynamite play all season.

Instead, Bishop, who is scheduled to be a restricted free agent following the season, has spent the entire season with the Peoria Rivermen in the American Hockey League and has posted a 24-14-4 record with a 2.26 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in 38 appearances.

The 6-foot-7, 215-pound goalie played six games with the Blues in 2008-09 and seven last season. He is 4-5-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .896 save percentage in his brief NHL career.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 5:37 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Nash's agent breaks silence, hopes for trade soon

The Rick Nash story got more interesting Saturday afternoon because of comments by his agent to TSN and NHL Network Insider Bob McKenzie.

McKenzie reported via his Twitter account that Joe Resnick, the agent for the Columbus Blue Jackets' captain, has broken his silence on the trade talk about his client with less than 48 hours remaining until the trade deadline, which is Monday at 3 p.m. ET.

"We're hopeful a deal can get done prior to the trade deadline that is fair and equitable for the Blue Jackets," Resnick told TSN, according to McKenzie. "However, if a deal is not reached, then the list of acceptable teams will not change at a later date."

Nash has a no-movement clause in his contract, but he has given the Blue Jackets a list of teams that he would be willing to accept a trade to. Nash's list of teams reportedly includes the Rangers, Canucks, Bruins, Kings, Sharks and Maple Leafs.

Nash is signed through the 2017-18 season and comes with a cap hit of $7.8 million. According to Columbus Dispatch reporter Aaron Portzline, Nash traveled with the Blue Jackets to Pittsburgh on Saturday in advance of Sunday afternoon's game at Consol Energy Center.

The Rangers shed some cap space on Saturday with the deal that sent Wojtek Wolski to Florida in exchange for a third-round pick in 2013 and minor-league defenseman Mike Vernace. There were rumors on Saturday that the Rangers and Blue Jackets were in serious discussions about a trade for Nash.

According to capgeek.com, the Rangers have just more than $10.5 million in acquisition space.

The Canucks put defenseman Keith Ballard (concussion) on long-term injured reserve, freeing up some cap space as well. Capgeek.com has the Canucks with $4.607 million in space.

The Bruins could potentially do the same with Nathan Horton (concussion) and put him on LTIR, but the Bruins already have almost $11.9 million in acquisition space.

The Kings recently acquired Nash's former teammate, Jeff Carter, who is signed for 10 more seasons with a $5.27 million cap hit. Los Angeles, though, is on the outside of the playoff picture and is 30th in goals per game this season (2.05).

Nash has 20 goals and 42 points in 61 games this season. He has 279 goals and 530 points in 653 career games, all with the Blue Jackets.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 3:05 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Gretzky talks respect in game, Crosby



LAS VEGAS -- Wayne Gretzky said Friday from the Bellagio that he believes the respect factor from player to player was lost for some time, but it is coming back into the game now and it's essential that it remains.

"As much as the League is trying to police itself, and I think they do as good a job as they can do, I think it was Sidney Crosby that said it's still up to the players to monitor themselves and understand that you can't just hit guys in the head," Gretzky said in a sitdown interview with the NHL Network.

"If a guy has his head down, yeah you've got to hit him, but you can also take your foot off the pedal a touch with that respect factor," Gretzky continued. "I think it's gotten way better the protection of each and every player. And, listen, the physical aspect of our game can never be taken out. That's what makes our game special. We need to keep that physical presence in our sport, but it can be done in a way when it's not crossing the line."

Gretzky said in his day that respect factor existed because players understood there was life outside of hockey.

"The players understood they had to do whatever it took to become a champion, become a winner, but the guy on the other side also had a wife, kids, a mom and dad," Gretzky said. "There was always that feeling that, 'OK, I can't really cross the line, this is as far as it can go.' For some reason we lost a little bit of that respect factor from the players point of view to each other. We're getting that back now."

Regarding Crosby, Gretzky called him the game's best player and said he's hopeful that No. 87 can soon put this part of his career in the rearview mirror.

"You don't replace the best player, and he's without question the best player in our game today and he has been for a few years," Gretzky said. "More important his importance to that franchise, to helping that team win, and for those fans to get to watch him play, because he is a special hockey player. Then you top that off with what he does as far as being the front guy for the game itself, the ambassador for our game, the people of Nova Scotia, the people of Canada -- you don't replace that.

"It's very disappointing that a player of that caliber is injured, and I hope when he does come back he comes back at the right time, where he does feel healthy and can put this part of his career in the rearview mirror and continue without having to face these setbacks."

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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 2:19 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Savard: Don't blame Crawford in Chicago

LAS VEGAS -- Ex-Blackhawks Hall of Fame forward Denis Savard is quick to come to the defense of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, who has been benched and criticized for his lack of consistency this season.

"Everybody seems to think that Crawford has not played as well as he can, but I don't believe that," Savard told NHL.com Friday morning from the Bellagio. "I think the kid has played well most of the year. They haven't played well in front of him in the games that I have watched closely. I know Corey and he's a competitor, a winner and a really great kid. Of course you'd like to see him put a string of wins together so his confidence doesn't get shattered, but they just need to play better in front of him."

The Hawks are 0-5-1 in their last six games and have dropped to sixth in the Western Conference. Crawford hasn't played since he allowed five goals on 28 shots before getting pulled in the third period of an 8-4 loss to Edmonton on Feb. 2.

"People look at 28 shots and he gave up five goals, well there were probably 15 quality chances against him and that number has to get reduced," Savard said. "I always put on the board 21/7 when I coached. I would say, 'If we do 21 shots against and seven quality chances, we're going to win.' I think their mentality has to get back to that. If they do that, it'll help the kid gain his confidence back.

"I'm pretty sure that's the message they've been given, but they just have to start doing it now. They can't wait any longer."

Does that mean Chicago needs some help before the trade deadline, particularly on the back end?

"I think (GM) Stan (Bowman) would probably say, 'Hey, you know what guys, this is us, let's turn this around. We were a good team for the first 45-50 games,' " Savard said. "I know they have room under the cap and I'll tell you this, this organization is committed to winning and if they feel they need to make some changes they will. It's pretty clear that they want to win. The Hawks will spend right to the top of the cap to try to get it done."

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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 1:56 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Fuhr interested in a new challenge

LAS VEGAS -- Grant Fuhr is comfortable living back in Edmonton and doing community and corporate relations work for the Oilers. He's also busy coaching a bantam team and rehabbing from having surgery on both knees three weeks ago.

Life is good for the Hall of Fame goalie and five-time Stanley Cup champion goaltender, but he wouldn't mind a different challenge down the road.

"I'd like to coach junior," Fuhr told NHL.com Friday morning from the Bellagio. "That's what I'd really like to try at some point in time."

Fuhr is the former goalie coach for the Flames and Coyotes, but he's talking about being a head coach in the Western Hockey League.

Why make the jump? Why bother?

"I enjoy the kids and I enjoy the process of what it takes to be successful," Fuhr said. "I think that's the fun part of it. For instance, this year I coach bantams and you see how focused parents and kids are about the end of the road, but they have no idea about the process of how to get to that point. I can mention it to them, point it out to them, and it's interesting to see that nobody has ever done because nobody knows. They just see the end result."

Fuhr, though, said he has not been putting out feelers to friends in the Western Hockey League as of yet. He moved back to Edmonton from Phoenix five months ago and is still getting settled. He also enjoys working with the Oilers, and can see his role growing in the community capacity.

"I've kind of got the perfect world right now," he said. "I've got free time. I still hang around the rink a bunch. I get to see junior games, NHL games and I get to coach kids games. I still get my share of hockey, but at the same time if I want to pick up and go play golf I can go play golf."

That will change if he starts coaching in the Western Hockey League.

"But that's OK," he said. "Hockey is still the right part of life."

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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 8:49 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Cujo: Leafs need a superstar

LAS VEGAS -- Ex-Toronto goalie Curtis Joseph is intrigued by the direction the Maple Leafs are taking this season, but he said he still believes they lack the superstar power that will put them among the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.

"It used to be that in order to be an elite team you needed superstars. Now in order to make the playoffs you have to have superstars, and you want one at every position if possible," Joseph told NHL.com Thursday from Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Camp. "I think the Leafs have lacked superstars since Mats (Sundin) has been gone."

Joseph said a guy like Columbus captain Rick Nash is exactly the type of player the Leafs need. He used Nash as an example because of the recent trade rumors involving his name and the Maple Leafs.

"If they could do that, whatever they package up to get him, that would be huge for them because Nash is a superstar," Joseph said. "It's just like batting orders, you want your third, fourth and fifth guys to protect each other. (Phil) Kessel and (Joffrey) Lupul need a little protection."

Joseph, though, did have high praise for Phil Kessel, saying he has superstar qualities.

"That guy has got unbelievable skill and he's just starting to realize that he's in that tax bracket so to speak," Joseph said. "But, to be a superstar you have to think like a superstar, carry the weight, carry the team. Now he's got to get 40 goals and get others to hit 30."

But, even without the so-called superstar power, Joseph senses his old team is in a good spot and should only get better. He likes what he is seeing from goalies James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson.

"I think Reimer is going to be a good No. 1. The Monster, it seems like he likes that No. 2 role and he's flourishing with it," Joseph said. "They may have something with 1 and 1A, which is OK. If you can have a 1 and 1A and they both play well, that's great. If you have a B and a 2B, that's not good. So, it looks good, but they have to push each other."

The key, though, is making the playoffs this season. Joseph has been in the market long enough to know patience is wearing thin among the fans.

"The fans are really hungry," he said. "If you're a playoff contender then you're a Cup contender, so they need to be that. It looks like they can be this year. I think they're getting that chemistry and winning breeds chemistry, but I think they're still missing a superstar or two."

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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic