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Posted On Tuesday, 01.22.2013 / 11:33 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Zajac, Josefson should be in the lineup

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils centers Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson returned to practice Tuesday in preparation for the team's home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday at Prudential Center.

The game marks the first appearance by the Devils on their home ice since winning Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 9, 2012.

Zajac and Josefson sat out Monday's practice for "maintenance" reasons, according to coach Peter DeBoer. Zajac had "tweaked something" in Saturday's season-opening 2-1 defeat of the New York Islanders, while Josefson still is recovering from a sore foot he sustained during practice with the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Albany.

Zajac assumed his usual role on the top line, flanked by Dainius Zubrus and Ilya Kovalchuk, while Josefson centered rookie Stefan Matteau and Cam Janssen during the brisk morning session.

"No issues with either player," DeBoer told the media after practice.

Here's the lineup the Devils likely will use Tuesday:

Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk

Mattias Tedenby - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Stefan Matteau - Jacob Josefson - Cam Janssen

Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne

Henrik Tallinder - Anton Volchenkov

Martin Brodeur

Johan Hedberg

Injured: Adam Henrique

Scratched: Adam Larsson, Peter Harrold, Krystofer Barch

All fans in attendance Tuesday will receive an opening-night puck sponsored by Prudential. There also will be a brief, pre-game ceremony Tuesday with the usual opening night introduction of the players, but nothing out of the ordinary. The 2011-12 Eastern Conference championship banner already is hanging from the rafters.

When asked if he would have wanted a pre-game ceremony to honor last season's run to the conference title, DeBoer grinned.

"You know my boss [Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello]," he said. "No parades for second place."

Posted On Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 8:51 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Top Prospects Blog

Team Orr leads 3-0 after two periods

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- Team Orr has received goals from three different players to open a 3-0 lead on Team Cherry after two periods in the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Metro Centre

Both coaches relieved their starting goalies with 8:39 remaining in the second. Halifax fan favorite Zachary Fucale, despite allowing three goals on 20 shots, did play admirably. Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) was splendid at the other end for Team Orr, turning aside all 16 shots he faced. Martin was rated No. 6 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of North American goalies on Tuesday; Fucale was the top-rated keeper.

Posted On Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 8:01 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Top Prospects Blog

Team Orr leads 1-0 after first period

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- Quebec Remparts forward Adam Erne scored the only goal of the first period and goalie Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads turned aside 11 saves to give Team Orr a 1-0 lead on Team Cherry after 20 minutes in the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Metro Centre.

Team Cherry's Zachary Fucale of the hometown Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) made 11 saves in the opening period.

Posted On Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 6:44 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Top Prospects Blog

Line combinations set for Top Prospects Game

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- The line combinations for the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game have been set here at the Metro Centre.

As expected, the local favorites from the Halifax Mooseheads, forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin and goalie Zachary Fucale, will start the game.

Posted On Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 1:07 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Top Prospects Blog

Team Orr coach impressed with prospects

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- One practice and discussion with his players was all it took for Team Orr coach Mike McPhee to realize times have changed from his playing days.

McPhee, who will oppose Don Cherry at the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet) here at Metro Centre, took some time out to discuss those differences with

"The pace of the practice, movement and size of these kids … it's different than it was 20 years ago in the NHL, but it sure is fun to be involved," McPhee said. "Everyone talks about the kids being bigger, faster and stronger. I think maybe they're training harder and the technology is a lot better so you know how to attack things.

"The other thing is how well they handle themselves as 17- and 18-year-old kids. Maybe they're more used to the media with how widespread the Internet is today. Still, I think all the players will be nervous [Wednesday] and they realize it's big, but they're good kids and respectful and will look you in the eye. So whether they make it in the NHL or not, they all have that good quality moving forward."

Posted On Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 12:38 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Top Prospects Blog

Cherry ready for exciting game

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- The ever-loquacious Don Cherry met the media Wednesday morning to set the stage for what he believes will be an unforgettable matchup in the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet) here at Metro Centre.

"I think, as coaches, we won't have a problem getting the kids up for the game, but we'll probably have to take them down a few notches," Cherry said after Team Cherry practice and a team photo. "After the first couple of shifts, you'll start to feel the hate but it takes a couple of shifts. I guarantee this will be a great game."

While Cherry will be offering some words of wisdom to his players prior to the game, he said assistant coaches Brian Kilrea, Bert O'Brien and Nick Kypreos will do much of the coaching.

"I'm there and I'll do a little bit, but you can't have 50 guys telling them what to do," he said. "Brian and Bert are the guys who will take charge out there. Brian Kilrea is the winningest coach in junior hockey. And you better not stay on your shift too long. I remember Daniel Briere [in the 1996 Top Prospects Game] staying out longer than he should have … holy smokes. And they're going to have Kypreos miked for this -- they better have a seven-second delay going on, I can tell you that."

Posted On Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 12:04 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Top Prospects Blog

Erie's Harper helping future star

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- In addition to the excitement of playing in his draft year and having an opportunity to take part in the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet), Erie Otters forward Stephen Harper also is looking ahead to the 2015 NHL Draft, when good friend and linemate Connor McDavid already is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick.

McDavid, granted exceptional-player status March 21, 2012, by Hockey Canada, allowing him to be eligible for the 2012 Ontario Hockey League draft at age 15 (a year earlier than other prospects), currently leads all first-year OHL players in scoring with 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) in 38 games. He also was the youngest player ever to compete in the 10-year history of the Subway Super Series when he suited up for Team OHL against Russia on Nov. 8 in Guelph, Ont.

In an effort to make McDavid's first season less stressful, Harper, who serves as an alternate captain for Erie in his second season, asked team management if he could room with the young prodigy this season.

"He said he thought he could mentor him," Otters general manager Sherry Bassin said. "He did that without any encouragement. He came to me of his own free will. That's the character this kid has."

Posted On Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 10:59 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Top Prospects Blog

Jones among five Americans in Top Prospects game

    Ryan Hartman, Plymouth Whalers, OHL

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- While the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will be dominated by Canadian-born players, it's worth noting that five Americans will also be strutting their stuff on Wednesday at Metro Centre.

Leading the way is Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones of Plano, Texas. He will be joined on Team Orr by Quebec Remparts forward Adam Erne of New Haven, Conn., and Kitchener Rangers forward Justin Bailey of Williamsville, N.Y.

The two U.S. representative on Team Cherry are Plymouth Whalers forward Ryan Hartman of West Dundee, Ill., and Oshawa Generals forward Cole Cassels of Columbus, Ohio. Hartman and Jones each played a big role for Team USA in a gold medal-winning performance at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.

NHL Central Scouting's David Gregory believes it's a sign of the times to see more Americans participating at the CHL Top Prospects Game.

"First of all, more Americans are comfortable coming to the CHL to develop their career and when you get a guy like Seth Jones, who is a potential first overall pick doing it, I think that's the kind of trend you're starting to see," Gregory told "The teams pick who they want here, so it's almost on who they feel are the best prospects and who they want to see in this game. I think there's more Americans in the league so there's a chance more Americans will get here.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 12:25 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Top Prospects Blog

Goalies could steal Top Prospects spotlight

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- In addition to there being plenty of high-caliber forwards and defensemen on the rosters for the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet), the four goaltenders set for battle might have a say in the outcome.

The four goalies were ranked among the top six on NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of North American goaltenders -- No. 1 Zachary Fucale of the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, No. 3 Tristan Jarry of the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, No. 5 Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League and No. 6 Philippe Desrosiers of the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL.

Eric Comrie of the Tri-City Americans (WHL), No. 2 on the list, originally was invited to participate in the game, is unable to participate due to an undisclosed injury. He was replaced Monday by Desrosiers.

NHL Central Scouting's Al Jensen, who specializes in goalie prospects, gave an analysis of each player. Fucale and Jarry will split duty for Team Cherry, while Martin and Desrosiers will share the net for Team Orr.

Fucale, who is 28-4-2 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .896 save percentage, will have the hometown faithful in his corner with the game being played at his home rink, the Metro Centre in Halifax. Fucale probably is the only goaltender of all the 2013 draft-eligible prospects at his position to have the best chance at being chosen in the first round. Earlier this season, he became the fastest 17-year-old goaltender to reach 50 career wins in the QMJHL, and his 28 wins this season ranks first among all Canadian Hockey League goaltenders.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 10:00 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Top Prospects Blog

Central Scouting's Dan Marr discusses midterm ranks

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- Dan Marr, the director of NHL Central Scouting, believes the top spot in 2013 NHL Draft is a four-player race.

While that may be the case, there are also two clear frontrunners -- defenseman Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks and center Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads.

In the release of its midterm rankings Tuesday, Central Scouting pegged Jones the top-rated skater in North America, followed by MacKinnon.

"Jonathan Drouin and Aleksander Barkov are going to make a case for themselves," Marr told "Ultimately, the teams selecting will pick their players, but I can tell you that No. 1 and No. 2 are fluid. It wasn't an easy decision, and there's nothing negative to say about either [Jones or MacKinnon].

"They are both very good in their own right, and they play different positions. That will influence some people since they are the best players at their position. To say one is the best overall was tough."

So why did Jones finally earn the nod?

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Quote of the Day

I'm a hockey player and that's what I love to do. That is what I am here for. Everything else is just a side note.

— Oilers forward Connor McDavid on moving beyond the anticipation of his long-awaited arrival in the NHL