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Posted On Tuesday, 10.25.2011 / 10:36 AM

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

Islanders to start Nabokov against Penguins

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Evgeni Nabokov will start in net for the second straight game when the Islanders play the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum. Rick DiPietro will dress as the backup for the first time since suffering a concussion in practice on Oct. 12.

Nabokov made 29 saves in a 4-2 loss at Florida on Saturday night. He also made 29 saves in a 4-2 win over the Rangers on Oct. 15 to earn his first win as an Islander. Nabokov is 8-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average and .939 lifetime against the Penguins.

DiPietro served as the backup to Al Montoya for the first two games of the season, but suffered a concussion in practice on Oct. 12 when Brian Rolston's shot went off his mask.

"It's early in the season, but obviously with Nabby he's someone I didn't really know," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "He's a character guy, a great teammate and there's no question on a big stage, like we had here the other night against the Rangers, he played very well for us and he also gave us a chance to win the game down in Florida. I don't know where my expectations are, but he's certainly on his way to being that guy that I thought he was."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 1:05 PM

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

Devils expect to see extra motivation from Sharks

NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Havlat will make his Sharks debut tonight and he'll play on the second line with Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe. San Jose coach Todd McLellan has talked about how Couture and Clowe have to be better than they have been through four games, and hopes Havlat's presence will give them a jolt.

"Hopefully this is a catalyst to get them going," McLellan said.

McLellan said he will try to manage Havlat's minutes depending on how the forward feels, but he expects the speedy right wing to be flying tonight.

"Usually when guys come back, their first game is a good one and you have to watch them in Games 2 and 3 after that," McLellan said. "We hope we get that from him tonight."

Devils coach Peter DeBoer expects Havlat to be dangerous.

"He's another talented weapon they're adding to the arsenal," DeBoer said. "It doesn't change the game plan, but he's another guy you have to deal with. It spreads their offense over two lines and makes it a difficult matchup."

DeBoer also expects the Sharks to play with desperation because they're 1-3-0 and need to start their six-game road trip on a positive note.

"Obviously they're one of the best teams in the League and they're not where they want to be, which tells you there is going to be some desperation in their game," DeBoer said. "That makes them very dangerous. We have to be prepared for that."

The Sharks will have extra incentive tonight because Joe Thornton is playing in his 1,000th NHL game, and defenseman Colin White is returning to New Jersey as a visitor for the first time in his long career.

"White and Thornton shouldn't be the motivators for our team; it should be getting a win and playing properly for 60 minutes," McLellan said. "We've played well in a lot of the games, but not for a full 60. We've made some errors that have cost us, and we've talked about that -- how it's been on our tape, on their tape and into the net. We have to clean that up."

The Sharks are averaging over 40 shots per game, but they've scored only 10 goals.

"I'd like to see us get more determined around the opposition's net," McLellan said. "With the amount of opportunities we've created, not many have come on second and third chances."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 11:43 AM

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

More minutes OK for Kovalchuk

NEWARK, N.J. -- It's only a four-game snapshot, but Ilya Kovalchuk is looking good and feeling good despite logging ice time befitting a No. 1 defenseman, not a first- or second-line left wing.

Kovalchuk enters Friday's game against San Jose fourth in the NHL in ice time per game at 27:01.

Last season, he was 45th in the NHL -- although first among forwards -- at 22:33 per game.

"The season just started, so it's too early to say anything, but it works," Kovalchuk, who has 4 points through four games, told NHL.com. "The team played well and the coach decided to play me a lot of minutes. I was ready for it and I like to play a lot."

Devils coach Peter DeBoer said Thursday that the minutes Kovalchuk are playing are more a result of a favorable early-season schedule. New Jersey played its first four games over an eight-day span, and hasn't played since last Saturday.

Also pumping up Kovalchuk's minutes is the fact that the Devils have averaged over four power plays per game this season, and he rarely, if ever, comes off the ice when the team has the man-advantage. Kovalchuk also is playing some on the penalty kill.

"Obviously he's not going to play that much as the season goes on, but we've had a favorable schedule early here that we can give out some bigger minutes to some guys because of the way it's set up," DeBoer said. "It's not going to continue at that amount, but he's gotten my confidence that he's a big-minute guy. He has that type of engine and he's that type of skater that you can play him and it's not going to have an adverse effect on him the next day."

Kovalchuk agreed, saying his body feels fine after he plays a lot of minutes, especially when it comes during a Devils win.

"It's the worst when the team didn't play well and you played a lot of minutes," Kovalchuk said. "If nothing comes of it, that's when you get tired. But I'm used to playing a lot and it never bothers me. I want to play a lot and I feel much better when I play a lot of minutes."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 10:34 AM

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

Likely lineup for Devils, Sharks

NEWARK, N.J. -- Here are the likely lineups for the Devils and Sharks based on this morning's practices. Tonight's game also will be Sharks captain Joe Thornton's 1,000th NHL game.

DEVILS
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Ilya Kovalchuk - Jacob Josefson - Nick Palmieri
Mattias Tedenby - Petr Sykora - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Rod Pelley - Brad Mills
 
Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
 
Johan Hedberg will start in net. Keith Kinkaid will be his backup.
 
Martin Brodeur (bruised shoulder) remains out of the lineup. Cam Janssen, who took rushes with the fourth line, likely will be a healthy scratch.

SHARKS
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
Ben Ferriero - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Murray - Jamie McGinn

Douglas Murray - Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brent Burns
Colin White - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi will start in goal, with Thomas Greiss the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
 
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Posted On Tuesday, 10.18.2011 / 12:02 PM

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

Bobrovsky looks to be Flyers starter in Ottawa

Sergei Bobrovsky was the first goalie off the ice for the Flyers this morning in Ottawa, meaning he will be getting his first start of the season tonight against the Senators.

Ilya Bryzgalov started the first four games for the Flyers and went 3-0-1 including a shutout, posting a 1.99 goals-against average and .927 save percentage along the way.

Bobrovsky went 28-13-8 over 54 appearances as a rookie last season. He had a .915 save percentage and 2.59 GAA.

Posted On Tuesday, 10.18.2011 / 10:44 AM

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

Penguins recall Strait for possible blue-line insurance

Facing the possibility of not having Kris Letang available for Tuesday night's game in Minnesota, the Penguins have recalled defenseman Brian Strait from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the American Hockey League.

Letang has a disciplinary hearing set for Tuesday with NHL Senior V.P. of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan for his boarding penalty in the third period of Monday's game in Winnipeg.

Strait leads all WBS defensemen with 3 assists and 4 points through the first five games of the season. His plus-6 rating leads the Baby Penguins and is second in the AHL.

The 23-year-old Strait played three games for the Penguins last season.
Posted On Tuesday, 10.18.2011 / 10:36 AM

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

Pens cancel morning skate in Minney

After playing Monday night in Winnipeg, the Penguins chose not to hold a morning skate in Minnesota today prior to tonight's game against the Wild, which can be seen on Versus and TSN2 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Pittsburgh is winless in its last three games (0-2-1).

The Penguins fell, 2-1, to the Jets at MTS Centre and defenseman Kris Letang faces a hearing today with NHL Senior V.P. of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan for a boarding penalty he received in the third period.

While not known yet, it is possible that Letang won't be available for the game tonight against the Wild. The Penguins are already playing without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Tyler Kennedy, Dustin Jeffrey and Brooks Orpik (back).

Kennedy missed his first game of the season Monday. Malkin, who is with the team on the trip, is still bothered by soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. Kennedy missed his first game of the season Monday with a conccusion.

Since Marc-Andre Fleury started Monday night, it's possible Brent Johnson gets the nod for the Penguins against the Wild. It wouldn't be a bad call by coach Dan Bylsma considering Johnson has a 3-3-2 career record against the Wild with a 1.60 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

Wild coach Mike Yeo was an assistant with the Penguins from 2005-10.
Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 6:52 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Woywitka arrives, eager to be a Ranger

STOCKHOLM -- Jeff Woywitka was wide awake and excited Saturday morning. Nothing could wipe the smile off his face, not even the jet lag he had to be feeling or the thought that he'll be back on a plane after the game against the Ducks, heading to another hotel bed.

The Rangers claimed Woywitka off waivers from Montreal on Thursday. He didn't play Friday and he won't play tonight either, but he's here and he's excited to be a Ranger despite his whirlwind last two days.

"It's been interesting and also exciting," Woywitka told NHL.com after taking part in his first optional skate as a Ranger. "I was put on waivers the other day, and you never know what can happen. If you clear you can end up going down, but obviously your main goal is to stay in the NHL. To get picked up and have another opportunity to play it's exciting for me, especially with an organization like the Rangers. I know a few of the guys here, and things are good."

Since Woywitka was in Toronto with the Canadiens, he left from there on an 8:50 p.m. ET flight to Copenhagen. After an hour and a half layover, he flew to Stockholm and got here around 1 p.m. local time Friday.

Woywitka didn't walk into the Rangers team hotel here until 2:30.

"Most of the guys were already in their pregame naps," said Woywitka, who played the last two seasons in Dallas with Brad Richards. "I got to the hotel and saw Brendan Bell, a guy I played World Juniors with. I hung out in the lobby, talked to him, met a few of the guys -- it was good. I came to the game, saw a good one, and Stockholm looks like a very historic, unique city. It's nice to get a chance to experience that and see a new part of the world."

Woywitka experienced his first team meeting with Rangers coach John Tortorella on Saturday. He was also one of 12 guys to skate after the meeting.

He'll get a better crash course in the Rangers ways when the team gets back on its routine in New York next week. For now, though, he couldn't stop raving about how well he is being treated.

"Everything was set up perfectly," he said about his travel here. "Everything was straightforward, lined up. You can just tell these guys do it first class here. That's all you can ask for. It makes you feel comfortable."

It also makes him feel confident that once he gets to New York, Woywitka will have some help setting up his life there. He's a single guy so he doesn't have to worry about moving a family, but the adjustment is still taxing.

"That's part of the NHL," Woywitka said. "There are a lot of movements here and there, but I'm excited about it. The way I've been treated here already, I'm sure it's not going to be a big issue getting settled. Obviously there is going to be a change, but I'm looking forward to it."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 6:29 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

A new challenge from the Ducks

STOCKHOLM -- After getting beaten all over the ice by Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams and Simon Gagne in the first period Friday night, the Rangers tightened up against the Kings top line and managed to keep them in check.

The difference was in their forecheck. Or, better yet, the difference was that they actually forechecked starting in the second period.

"We knew the ice was bad so the times when you don't want to forecheck or stretch yourself out too much, we decided we were going to go and get two guys on (the Kings) D," Brian Boyle told NHL.com. "Once we started doing that we got the puck back more. When they got the puck back after that we were closer to them to have some contact. Earlier we were giving them too much room to skate."

The Rangers can't wait to do the same Saturday night against the Ducks leading trio of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. As good as the Kopitar line is, Anaheim's first line might be the best in the NHL.

"They're very dangerous," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan told NHL.com. "They have a lot of talent up front and the more time we spend in their zone below the dots it'll be for the better. That's a big thing for us, getting pucks deep behind their D."

The more the Rangers have the puck, the better their chances are to draw penalties. They only drew one Friday night, but they took five and the fifth one burned them.

"That's the biggest thing for us, we have to hold on to pucks, especially when you're up against top lines," Callahan said. "If you have the puck, they don't."

Slight advantage: The Rangers went back to their hotel Friday night, had a quick meal and were off to bed. They woke up Saturday and took what has become a familiar route to Ericsson Globe Arena, the arena they've called home since Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Ducks played in Helsinki Friday night, had a quick team meal, and then went to the airport, where they sat for a while before finally taking off to fly to Stockholm. They didn't get to the team hotel until close to 3 o'clock in the morning, and then woke up Saturday in an unfamiliar place and took an unfamiliar route to an arena they've never been in.

Advantage Rangers.

"Yeah, that might be," Boyle said. "It's easier when you don't have to travel, but we lost last night so I'm sure a lot of guys were up late trying to get to sleep. I know I was. It was tough. At this point, you could argue that we have a little bit of an advantage, but it's minimal. We know they're going to come hard and we've got to do the same."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 6:55 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Erixon, Rupp and Tortorella's gems

STOCKHOLM -- Swedish journalists are quickly learning what not to ask Rangers coach John Tortorella.

For instance, someone asked him if he ever played in Sweden?

"Oh, don't ask me questions about me," was Tortorella's response.

The next question was from another Swedish journalist who wanted to know how Tortorella felt about what he's seen from Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards.

"They haven't started yet," Tortorella said. "You can come back to the States in a couple weeks and ask me that."

His comment drew some laughs and Tortorella smiled. He said it somewhat in jest, but everyone got the picture.

The Rangers coach was interested in one thing Friday morning, and that was talking about Friday night's game.

"I thought we created an identity of how we wanted to play and what we were last year and we want to go right back to it and keep building," Tortorella said.

Tortorella confirmed that Tim Erixon will be in the lineup for his NHL debut in his home country. Erixon's father, Jan Erixon, a former Ranger, is expected to be in the building Friday night.

Mike Rupp will also play after sitting out Thursday's practice with a sore knee. Rupp told NHL.com his knee had been acting up so he was given a day off to rest it and ice it.

"I'm ready to go now," he said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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The old saying in hockey is 'weather the storm.' I put the notion in their heads that we don't want to weather the storm, we want to push just as hard and matched their work ethic. I thought our guys exceeded that in the first period.

— Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after their loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday
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