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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 12:48 PM

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

Kostitsyn sees ice time dropping for Canadiens

Andrei Kostitsyn had 4 points over the last three games before the All-Star break, but his minutes have been precipitously dropping over the last four games and now he's being demoted to the fourth line. Kostitsyn is expected to start Thursday's game against the Devils at Prudential Center as the left wing on the fourth line with Louis Leblanc and Yannick Weber.

Over the last six games, Kostitsyn has averaged roughly 14 minutes per game, topping out at 17:12 in a shootout loss to Pittsburgh on Jan. 20, when he had a goal and an assist. He's been limited to fewer than 14 minutes of ice time in four of the last six games after having the same thing happen only four times in his first 34 games.

The Canadiens have had only four power-play opportunities totaling 5:09 in the last two games, but Kostitsyn saw only five seconds of ice time on the extra-man unit. He had been getting a regular shift on the power play.

Mathieu Darche has been bumped up to third-line duty to play with Lars Eller and Mike Blunden.

Carey Price will start in net opposite Martin Brodeur. Chris Campoli will be a healthy scratch.

Here are the Canadiens' lines, D-pairs and goalies for Thursday's game:

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Rene Bourque - Tomas Plekanec - Scott Gomez
Mathieu Darche - Lars Eller - Mike Blunden
Andrei Kostitsyn - Louis Leblanc - Yannick Weber

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Hal Gill - Raphael Diaz
Tomas Kaberle - Alexei Emelin

Carey Price
Peter Budaj

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 12:32 PM

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

Parise's focus on ice, would like to stay in New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils captain Zach Parise is close with Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter, and he got a good laugh during the All-Star break when he learned Suter's comments about not wanting to negotiate a new contract prior to the Feb. 27 trade deadline became big news.

Parise, though, is smart enough to realize he's in the same position as Suter, since both are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on July 1 and thus could be subject to trade rumors.

Parise told NHL.com on Tuesday that he'd like to remain in New Jersey and he's willing to begin negotiations on a new contract, but he doesn't expect Devils GM Lou Lamoriello to initiate talks during the season.

The only time under the current CBA that Lamoriello has signed one of the Devils' potential unrestricted free agents during the season was back in January of 2006 when he got Martin Brodeur to sign a six-year, $31.2 million extension.

"I know that Lou has always been the type to not do it (negotiate contracts) during the season because it's going to be a distraction, and I understand that," said Parise, who avoided arbitration this past summer by signing a one-year, $6 million contract on July 29. "It can be stressful, which it already is without having any talks. So, I just know that that's the way they've done it around here."

Parise said he understands his name could come up in trade rumors between now and the trade deadline, but he's hopeful that if the Devils remain in the race for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference he won't have to worry about any of the rumors coming true. He added that he's not worried about the potential for rumors because there's so much going on with the team, the season and the playoff chase to keep his focus.

"That's people's jobs, to try to make rumors and say this could happen or this could happen," Parise said. "Really only here (in the dressing room) and people in the office know what is going on, so I don't pay attention to the rumors. I know just from working with Lou, unless it comes out of his mouth I don't believe anything when it is a rumor with our team because everything is so in-house and closed doors.

"Sometimes it's out of your hands, but hopefully we'll be in the mix and we won't have to have that conversation."

Parise admitted that the possibility of getting to July 1 without a new contract is something he thinks about.

"But I think there is a lot of time from when the season ends, even if you go to the Cup Final," he said. "There is time once the season ends to worry about that, but who knows. Something could happen tomorrow. I don't really know right now.

"We just haven't gotten to that point yet."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 12:14 PM

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

No easing in to stretch run as Devils face Rangers

NEWARK, N.J. -- Zach Parise got to go home to Minnesota over the All-Star break to work on some of the planning for his summer wedding. He hopefully got a lot of it done, because for the foreseeable future his focus is going to be squarely on the Devils' playoff chase.

It resumes Tuesday night against the New York Rangers at Prudential Center. Martin Brodeur will get the start against Rangers' backup Martin Biron.

"I don't think the intensity part is going to be missing," Parise said after the Devils brief morning skate. "When you come back from a long layoff games can be sloppy, there's no question, and sometimes you have that feeling out first period. But I think it helps that we're playing these guys. These games bring out the best in both teams."

Asked if the Rangers were the perfect first opponent for the Devils coming out of the long break, coach Pete DeBoer said "absolutely."

"For us, listen, they're all intense and we can't take anyone lightly, but obviously the rivalry with the Rangers and where they're at, it definitely makes the motivating speech the coach has to use a lot shorter than on a normal night," DeBoer said.

New Jersey got some good news Tuesday morning when defenseman Andy Greene said he was good to go for the first time since Dec. 6, when he broke his left foot.

DeBoer hinted that he maybe would have preferred to keep Greene sidelined one more game due to the fact that he had only one practice with the team (Monday). But since the Devils are also missing Henrik Tallinder (blood clot), Travis Zajac (sore Achilles) and Adam Henrique (sore groin), DeBoer said they didn't have the luxury to keep Greene out another game once he was cleared to play.

Steve Bernier, who was called up Sunday from AHL Albany, will make his Devils debut on the third line.

"(Greene's) been skating for a week, his conditioning will be good, but he hasn't been in the battles, been bumped, and done those things yet," DeBoer said. "So I'm sure there is going to be some adjustment coming back into that, but other than that I don't have any (reservations)."

The Devils need Greene and all the healthy bodies they can get. They come out of the break in eighth place in the Eastern Conference due to a games-played tiebreaker over the ninth-place Maple Leafs.

Eleven of their last 34 games will come against the three teams ahead of them in the Atlantic Division standings, including five against the Rangers.

"That's 10 points right there, and we need every point we can get right now," Parise said of the games against the Rangers. "We know how well they're playing, but if we want to find ourselves in the top eight at the end of the season these games are going to be really important against the Rangers."

Here were the Devils' lines and D pairs that were listed on the whiteboard inside the team's dressing room Tuesday morning:

Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Zach Parise - Dainius Zubrus - Ilya Kovalchuk
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - Steve Bernier
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Brad Mills

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Kurtis Foster

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 12:08 PM

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

Devils get Greene back from broken foot

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils are getting defenseman Andy Greene back in time to get him up to speed for the sprint to the finish line of the 2011-12 regular season.

Greene, who missed the last 22 games due to a broken left foot, will be in the lineup Tuesday night against the Rangers at Prudential Center. He hasn't played since Dec. 6.

"There's no better game to get right back into it," said Greene, who has 9 assists and is averaging 18:24 of ice time in 23 games this season. "It's going to be an exciting game (against the Rangers), some playoff-type action. Pretty much all the games from here on out are, but this one being the Rangers will obviously have more intensity and it means a little bit more."

Greene didn't practice with the Devils until Monday, but said he spent the All-Star break skating with a few of his teammates. He feels he's in game shape, but he knows that he'll have to focus on keeping things simple Tuesday night because he still has to get his timing back.

"I think we're going to probably have to manage his ice time," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "We'll see how he is. A lot of times these guys come back in this situation and the first game on adrenaline they're really good and then they hit the wall a day or two down the road, so it may be something we might have to watch as the week goes on. I expect him to be fine (Tuesday night)."

DeBoer said he still isn't sure who Greene will play with to start the game, but he was listed next to Mark Fayne on the whiteboard inside the Devils' dressing room.

"After a few shifts I think I'll be back up to speed," Greene said, "but I have to keep it simple and try not to get caught in bad situations."

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Posted On Friday, 01.27.2012 / 6:29 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Phaneuf: Canadian flavor adds to All-Star buzz


OTTAWA -- Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf said Friday that having the NHL All-Star Game in a Canadian city has added a new level of excitement for him.

"Look at the city, you can feel the buzz," Phaneuf said. "This is the first one in a Canadian city that I've been to, and it's an honor to be here. To take part in an All-Star Game in a Canadian city is a lot of fun. They're doing a great job of hosting this event."

Phaneuf was then asked a question pertaining to Alex Ovechkin's absence from the event.

"He's entitled to make his choice," Phaneuf said. "I know I'm enjoying being here."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.26.2012 / 7:28 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend blog

Chara talks All-Star Player Fantasy Draft strategy

GATINEAU, Que. -- All-Star captain Zdeno Chara has a strategy in mind for the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft, but he's also expecting his plan to blow up soon after the first pick is made.

"You have some ideas, but I'm not going to lock into them too much," Chara said roughly an hour before the draft was set to begin. "How wrong can you go when you have such a great group of guys in here. You're going to try to do some picks so you don't pick all right wingers. You have to try to select it by position, but we all know that everybody can play."

Chara said because everyone here is an All-Star, it shouldn't matter who gets picked first and who gets picked last even if those are the two most intriguing picks of the night.

"You want to have a little fun with it, but you also try to make real selections," Chara said. "But, really there is no true first pick or true last pick. Everybody is such a good player that they deserve to be here. This is more to make the whole All-Star event more exciting for fans and people around hockey. I guess you have to pick somebody first and somebody is going to be last, but to me it's just something that creates more excitement."

Joffrey Lupul, Chara's assistant here at All-Star weekend, added that it's not all that bad if you're the final pick.

The reward last year for Phil Kessel was a brand new Honda CR-V.

"I know Phil looked uncomfortable up there last year, but he still has a car," Lupul said.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 6:51 PM

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

Tallinder a late scratch for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Pete DeBoer said Thursday morning he anticipated using the same group of defensemen that played in Tuesday's 5-1 win over Winnipeg. However, Henrik Tallinder was ruled out by the Devils prior to the game with a lower-body injury.

The Devils had an optional skate Thursday morning and Tallinder did not skate in it. Matt Taormina, who hasn't played in the last four games, will take Tallinder's spot in the lineup.

As a result, the Devils have switched up their defensive pairs as well. Mark Fayne, who was initially supposed to play with Tallinder, skated in warmups with Bryce Salvador. Taormina was paired with rookie Adam Larsson. Anton Volchenkov remained with Kurtis Foster.

If Tallinder were healthy, Salvador would have played with Larsson.

Tallinder was also a late scratch on Dec. 16 against Dallas with back spasms. He missed six straight games before returning on Dec. 31. He has played in the previous nine straight games.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 1:30 PM

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

Julien wants Bruins to raise intensity

NEWARK, N.J. -- Boston coach Claude Julien sat his team down Wednesday afternoon and went over some game film in great detail. The point he was trying to get across was simple.
 
"It was about finding our game again," Julien said Thursday morning from Prudential Center. "I think our level of play has dropped off and we just have to pick that up again. It's pretty obvious when you look back maybe a few weeks ago, just before Christmas, how we were playing and the inconsistency in our game since then. We're certainly trying to find that game we had going there for a while, and right now it's dropped off."
 
The Bruins are 6-4-0 in their past 10 games. It's a record most teams would accept, especially in the dog days of the season, after the holiday break and before the All-Star break.
 
"We're still above .500, but for us it's not good enough," Julien said.
 
He wants to see his team increase its battle level. He wants to see his team work just a little bit harder. He wants them to cut down on the goals against (11 in the last three games), and believes it can happen if they simply pick it up a notch.
 
"I'm avoiding using the word slump. It's not a slump. It's a dip in our play and we just have to pick it up," Julien said. "If we pick it up, we're going to be fine. But, what you learn to do is not panic. You want to push your players to battle through it, and as a coach when you've been around a team long enough, you'd like to think you know the right buttons to push."
 
Getting Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley, two energy and speed guys, back in the lineup for Thursday's game should help. However, Julien and the Bruins feel it's about more than just those two players; it's about matching the intensity that teams are bringing toward them on a nightly basis.
 
It hasn't happened enough for Julien's liking.
 
"We knew that from the start of the season that teams would be gunning for us. It's something that happens, a natural thing that happens with teams that have won a Cup," Julien said. "We responded well, we were playing some really solid hockey for a while, and there were a lot of games that we kind of ran away with. Teams all have pride and they all seek some sort of revenge."
 
For example, the Devils will be looking for revenge Thursday night after the Bruins came in here and thumped them, 6-1, on Jan. 4.
 
"When you come in here and beat the Devils 6-1, it's not something you see very often in this building, so we know they're going to be ready for us," Julien said. "We know revenge is on their mind and that's just a natural thing. We have to make sure we're ready to play as well as we can, because we know the other team will be."
 
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 1:06 PM

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

Marchand off suspension, Peverley also back for B's

NEWARK, N.J. -- After waiting for the mandated five games, Bruins forward Brad Marchand is eager to get back in the lineup. He will Thursday night against the Devils at Prudential Center.

Marchand hasn't played since he was issued a five-minute clipping major and game misconduct late in the second period of the Bruins 4-3 loss to Vancouver on Jan. 7. He was subsequently suspended by the NHL for five games.

"It's always tough to have to watch your team play," Marchand said Thursday morning. "I'm just very excited to be back in the lineup and back in the game again."

Marchand isn't the only Bruin getting back in. Rich Peverley, who missed the last two games for personal reasons, is also returning to the Bruins' lineup Thursday.

"I missed the game," said Peverley, who is not disclosing the reason why he was away from the team for their trip to Florida to play the Panthers and Lightning. "I am really excited to be around the guys again. I'm really excited just to play a game."

Marchand and Peverley are energy players who bring a lot of speed. That's two elements of the game the Bruins have been missing of late.

"Fresh legs, some experienced players as well, and guys that play big roles on our hockey club," Bruins coach Claude Julien said in describing what his team is getting back. "Both of those guys are power-play, penalty-killing players, and they obviously play a big role on their lines. No doubt they're a welcome addition right now."

Julien is hopeful that Marchand won't be thinking about the reason he got suspended when he gets on the ice Thursday night. The last thing the Bruins want is for him to tone down his energy.

"He has got to play his game," Julien said. "But, at the same time, you just have to learn from those situations. He seems to understand from what Brendan (Shanahan) has told him, so he's going to try to rectify that."

Marchand said he doesn't think the suspension will affect his game, but he admitted he will have to ward off thinking about it prior to puck drop.

"The game happens so quick that you really don't have time to think about that stuff," he said. "But before the game you have to think about how you have to play, and sometimes that can creep into your mind a little bit."

Here is the Bruins' entire projected lineup for Thursday's game, including starting goalie Tim Thomas:

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Adam McQuaid
Andrew Ference - Joe Corvo

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 11:58 AM

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

Recent thrashing by Bruins fresh in Devils' minds

NEWARK, N.J. -- Not enough time has passed for the Devils to forget about the 6-1 thrashing the Bruins laid on them here at Prudential Center on Jan. 4. The fact that New Jersey has won five of six since that beating means something heading into Thursday's showdown against Boston, but not enough to change the feeling that this game in front of them is a huge test and so important.

"We saw where the bar was for the best team in the League the last time we played these guys, and we didn't measure up," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "We have another opportunity two weeks later to see if we can get there. I think we can get to that level, but it's going to take a team effort to do that."

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was beaten six times on 27 shots the last time these teams met. He'll be back in net Thursday to try to exact some revenge, but it's really about what happens in front of Brodeur that will make the difference.

The Devils had no jump the last time they played the Bruins, and they were beaten to every loose puck and lost just about every physical battle. The Bruins were relentless, too. They took a 3-1 lead into the third period, and then got goals from Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Shawn Thornton before the final buzzer rang.

"You've got to be physical and you've got to work hard," Brodeur said of how the Devils can beat the Bruins. "You've got to win battles along the boards and in the faceoff circles, all the little battles all over the ice. If you can't battle with them, it's going to be tough to win the hockey game."

The Devils feel they'll be able to match that battle level Thursday. They learned the hard way what happens when they don't.

"We were doing well at the time we met them, and we kind of hit a wall there," Brodeur said. "I think we came back and did well on our side, and now we have another chance to see how we measure up. Hopefully we've learned from how we played. They played a good game against us, but we didn't feel we competed to the level that they brought to us. We'll try to change that tonight, that's for sure."

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