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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 4:36 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Grigorenko could return to lineup on Tuesday

Top draft prospect Mikhail Grigorenko, who has missed the last four games for the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League while recuperating from an ankle injury suffered at the 2012 World Junior Championship, is expected to make his anticipated return on Tuesday.

Remparts head coach Patrick Roy told local reporters that Grigorenko, who is ranked No. 2 among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting's midterm report, "seems fine."

"The goal has always been that he'll make his comeback [Jan. 24] in Chicoutimi," Roy said. Quebec has two more games on the schedule before meeting the Sagueneens on Jan. 24.

Grigorenko suffered his injury playing for silver medal-winning Team Russia at the WJC. During the second period of an eventual 14-0 victory over Latvia in the preliminary round, Grigorenko collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija at the Russian blueline -- sending him to the ice in pain. He'd miss one game and finish the tournament with 2 goals, 5 points and a plus-2 rating in six appearances.

Despite not playing a period of hockey for the Remparts upon returning from the WJC, Grigorenko still stands 11th in scoring in the league with 58 points (25 goals) in 36 games.

Once he returns to the lineup, the 6-foot-3 1/4, 200-pound center will certainly command the attention of NHL scouts and general managers.

According to NHL Director of Central Scouting, Dan Marr, Grigorenko is not too far behind No. 1-ranked Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting in terms of natural talent. At the time of Central Scouting's midterm release, Marr told NHL.com that Yakupov and Grigorenko were 1-A and 1-B in his mind.

"Right now, Yakupov has shown, with the level that he's played, that he does have the ability to make a difference in the game," Marr told NHL.com at the time. "That's not saying that Grigorenko doesn't make a difference. Grigorenko controls the play, can dictate how the game is played when he's on the ice. But, right now, the consensus was Yakupov has the potential to be a difference-maker in a game. He can just turn a game around in a couple of shifts; he's that dynamic a player."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 5:45 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Mason to start for Jets vs. Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel will ride the hot hand between the pipes when his club pays a visit to Prudential Center to face the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

Chris Mason, who made 25 saves in a 2-0 victory against the Senators in Ottawa on Monday, will get a second straight start against the Devils less than 24 hours later. It will be Mason's third career start against New Jersey (1-1-0, 2.93 goals-against average, .902 save percentage).

"He's played great all year and he's been hot lately," Jets captain Andrew Ladd told NHL.com. "He feels confident in net and we feel confident in having him back there so it's great to see. He's one of those guys who works so hard every day and is just a consummate professional so to see him get this opportunity is fun for us to be a part of."

Winnipeg is 0-6-0 this season when playing the second game of back-to-backs, so Mason will certainly have his work cut out for him. For the season, Mason is 6-3-0 with a 1.99 GAA and .923 save percentage in 12 appearances. It marks the first time this season he'll get back-to-back starts.

"For me, Mason has played well," Noel said. "Why wouldn't I give him back-to-back starts? He's earned the right. Our job as coaches is to try and help players get better and succeed and it's a tough task for him. He's played one of every four or five games, and he has an opportunity to feed off of [Monday night's] win and play well. We're trying to help him and that's why he's getting the start."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 12:02 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Henrique still out; Devils recall Josefson, Mills

NEWARK, N.J. -- Rookie center Adam Henrique will miss his second straight game for the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday when the club opens a six-game home stand against the Winnipeg Jets at Prudential Center.
 
Henrique, who returned to the ice for a 20-minute skate Monday morning to test a groin injury that kept him out of the Devils 2-1 win over Winnipeg on Saturday, wasn't a participant at Tuesday's skate but did skate on his own prior to the team practice.
 
The Devils recalled centers Jacob Josefson and Brad Mills from their American Hockey League affiliate in Albany on Tuesday morning and both players will be in the lineup against the Jets. Josefson, who has missed 37 games with a broken right clavicle suffered Oct. 21 against the San Jose Sharks, played two games in Albany, producing 1 goal and two penalty minutes.
 
"[Devils general manager] Lou [Lamoriello] saw Josefson in Albany and reports out of there were all good," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "Out of necessity, sometimes you have to move guys in maybe sooner than you want to. But he's healthy and we think he can help us."
 
In five games with the Devils this season, Josefson has 1 assist and a plus-1 rating. He'll open Tuesday's game centering left wing Ryan Carter and right wing Mattias Tedenby.
 
"We'll start it that way," DeBoer said. "It gives us some flexibility up the middle. I want him to get out there and feel good about himself. A lot like when Travis [Zajac] first game back from his injury. This will be a slow build to where he needs to get to, and we have to be prepared for that."
 
Zajac, meanwhile, is sidelined through the All-Star break with an Achilles problem.
 
"He's back here resting and he'll shut it down for two weeks; then I believe he'll see the doctor and go from there," DeBoer said. "Hopefully, then he'll get the green light to go again."
 
DeBoer said Henrique, who is second among rookies in scoring with 34 points (13 goals), could return to the lineup on Thursday against the Boston Bruins.
 
"[Henrique] is getting better and feeling better every day," DeBoer said. "I think if tonight was a playoff game, you might see him in the lineup. But I think we're looking long-term at this, and he'll skate [Wednesday] and practice with us as long as he keeps progressing the way he is."
 
With Henrique out, Dainius Zubrus will again center the top line between Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. Petr Sykora, who sat out Monday's practice for some "rest," was back on the ice Tuesday alongside Patrik Elias and David Clarkson.
 
Martin Brodeur will start in goal for the Devils. The Jets, coming off a 2-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday, didn't practice on Tuesday. Ondrej Pavelec is expected to get the start in goal for the Jets, although Chris Mason is coming off a 25-save shutout.
 
Here are the projected lineups for Tuesday night's game between the Jets and Devils at Prudential Center:
 
DEVILS
Zach Parise - Dainius Zubrus - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Jacob Josefson - Mattias Tedenby
Eric Boulton - Steven Zalewski - Brad Mills
 
Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Anton Volchenkov - Kurtis Foster
 
Martin Brodeur gets the start; Johan Hedberg will serve as backup.
 
JETS
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Alexander Burmistrov
Antti Miettinen - Tim Stapleton - Eric Fehr
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
 
Tobias Enstrom - Ron Hainsey
Johnny Oduya - Mark Flood
Mark Stuart - Randy Jones
 
Ondrej Pavelec is the expected starter; Chris Mason to serve as backup.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Friday, 01.13.2012 / 12:33 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Kulak to replace Koekkoek at Top Prospects

Vancouver Giants defenseman Brett Kulak, ranked No. 67 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of North American skaters, will replace injured Slater Koekkoek of the Peterborough Petes for the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Kelowna later this month.

Koekkoek suffered a shoulder injury midway through the third period of a 6-3 loss to the Windsor Spitfires on Nov. 27 after being hit along the boards while reaching for the puck. He's scheduled to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery on Jan. 20.

In 26 games his season, Koekkoek, who is No. 17 on Central Scouting's list of North American skaters, has 5 goals and 18 points with 17 penalty minutes.

Kulak, a 6-foot-0.25, 174-pound native of Stony Plain, Alta., is in his second season with the Western Hockey League's Giants. He has 4 goals, 11 points and a plus-22 rating in 42 games for Vancouver this season. Kulak will replace Koekkoek on Team Cherry at the Top Prospects Game, scheduled Feb. 1 in Kelowna.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Friday, 01.13.2012 / 12:04 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Kitchener's Matia Marcantuoni suffers injury

Kitchener Rangers forward Matia Marcantuoni, who was ranked No. 42 among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting's midterm report, will be sidelined indefinitely after suffering an upper body injury in a victory over the Erie Otters on Jan. 7.

"He's dealing with injury problems right now which may cost him the rest of this year," Kitchener coach and general manager Steve Spott told NHL.com. "We'll know more this week."

The injury shouldn't affect Marcantuoni's draft status -- he is projected to be selected in the second or third round. It remains to be seen whether or not Marcantuoni will attend the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, scheduled Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in Kelowna, as a spectator.

Marcantuoni was invited to the Top Prospects Game along with Kitchener teammate and No. 4-ranked North American, Radek Faksa. Both players were placed on Team Orr.
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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 11:52 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Stefan Matteau opts for QMJHL instead of UND

Stefan Matteau, who currently leads the Under-18 National Team Development Program in scoring, has decided to play for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League next season instead of suiting up for the University of North Dakota.

Matteau's father, a 13-year NHL veteran, was hired as an assistant coach for Blainville-Boisbriand prior to the start of the 2011-12 campaign. The Quebec team acquired Stefan's rights on Jan. 7 via a trade. While he signed his letter of intent in November, it didn't keep him from exploring other options, particularly when it included having an opportunity to play for his father.

Matteau, who models his game after Eric and Jordan Staal, used his Twitter account on Tuesday morning to announce his decision.

"My decision is final," he wrote.

Matteau, who turns 18 on Feb. 23, was one of four players from the U.S. U18 Team to be ranked by NHL Central Scouting among the top 30 skaters eligible for the 2012 Draft in Pittsburgh in June.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 8:00 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia and Sweden ready for golden matchup

CALGARY -- The Swedish National Junior Team has visions of celebrating its first World Junior Championship in 31 years.

In order for that to happen, the club will have to dethrone the defending champion Russia in Thursday's gold-medal match at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Russian coach Valeri Bragin, in a somewhat surprising move, will start Andrei Makarov between the pipes against the Swedes. Andrei Vasilevski had started all the big games for the Russians, but was pulled with less than five minutes remaining in Tuesday's semifinal round match with Canada after allowing four quick third-period goals.

Makarov entered the game cold and proceeded to stop all seven shots he faced in a 6-5 victory.

Not surprisingly, Sweden's Johan Gustafsson gets the nod in goal.

Here are the lineups:

Russia


G: Andrei Makarov
Apalkov-Kosov-Barbashev (Sergeyev-Arzamastsev)
Yakupov-Khokhlachev-Kuznetsov (Antipin-Ozhiganov)
Gusev-Kucherov-Grigorenko (Zheldakov-Nesterov)
Kulikov-Zemchenko-Telegin (Naumenkov)

Sweden

G: Johan Gustafsson
Larsson-Sundstrom-Friberg (Klefbom-Brodin)
Boyce Rotevall-Nordstrom-Thorell (Granberg-Nemeth)
Karlsson-Zibanejad-Rakell (Backman-Claesson)
Collberg-Forsberg-Rask-Rensfeldt (Klinberg)

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 5:08 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Canada beats Finland, 4-0

CALGARY -- Mark Visentin saved his best for last at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

In what would be his final appearance in a game for the Canadian National Junior Team on Thursday in the bronze medal contest against Team Finland, Visentin made several highlight-reel stops on the way to a 27-save shutout to lead Canada to a 4-0 victory.

In what arguably can be considered the best save of the entire tournament, Visentin somehow snared an attempt by Joonas Donskoi at the right post by reaching behind his back to keep the puck from crossing the goal line. The stop was showed well over 10 times on the center ice scoreboard and, each time, fans applauded while offering up plenty of "Oooo's and Ahhh's".

Quinton Howden scored a pair of goals and Tanner Pearson and Mark Scheifele once for Team Canada.   

In the first, Pearson converted a perfect feed from Scheifele to give Canada a 1-0 lead. Just 5:35 into the second Pearson returned the favor, dishing to Scheifele in the slot for a 2-0 advantage. Howden would score a power-play with just 30.7 seconds left in the second to extend the lead to 3-0. Howden converted a feed from Mark Stone with just 2:25 left in the game to close out the scoring.

Finland starting goalie Sami Aittokallio, who has played wonderfully in this tournament, was inadvertently run into by Howden with 9:41 left in the second. The goalie remained down for a few minutes before regaining his senses. He finished with 40 saves.

Canada goalie Mark Visentin, making his first start since Dec. 29 when he made 24 saves in a 10-2 victory over Denmark, has turned aside 18 shots through 40 minutes. Visentin denied Teemu Pulkkinen on a penalty shot with 2:11 left in the second after being whistled for throwing his stick in an attempt to block an original shot. Pulkkinen faked a slap shot and skated in, only to be stopped by Visentin's left pad. The goalie then slapped the puck out of his crease to the delight of the locals.

Pearson, in prime position in the slot, one-timed a perfect pass from Barrie Colts teammate Scheifele from the right circle with his team on the power-play at the 9:08 mark to give the Canadians the early lead. Canada isn't playing in the gold medal game for the first time since 2001, which is also the last time the country earned bronze.

Visentin had a solid opening 20 minutes, turning aside seven shots, including a shorthanded breakaway attempt by playmaker Markus Granlund with just 4:13 remaining in the period.

The Canadians received a bit of a scare in the period when defenseman Dougie Hamilton was struck in the ankle following a shot by Finland's Miro Aaltonen. Hamilton slowly returned to the bench but eventually returned to the ice for his regular shift alongside Brandon Gormley.

The Finns couldn't convert a 2-on-1 in the final minute of the period. Joonas Donskoi and Teemu Pulkkinen broke in but Donskoi failed to release his shot from deep in the left circle.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 4:56 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

IIHF suspends Canada's Jenner; Russia's Isanglulov

CALGARY -- The International Ice Hockey Federation announced on Wednesday that Canada forward Boone Jenner and Russian defenseman Ildar Isangulov will be suspended for their next game at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

As a result, Isangulov, who had no points in six games, will miss Thursday's gold medal game against Sweden at 8 p.m. ET. Jenner, who notched two assists in five games, will have to sit out his team's bronze medal game against Finland on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. ET

At the 15:44 mark of the second period of Russia's 6-5 semifinal-round victory over Canada on Tuesday, Isangulov elbowed Jenner and was whistled for a minor penalty. When Russian captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov made a comment to Jenner after the incident, Jenner speared him and received a five-minute major and game misconduct.

The International Ice Hockey Federation's disciplinary hearing determined, upon review, that Isangulov's elbow was to Jenner's head.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 4:17 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Latvia earns spot in 2013 WJC

CALGARY - The Latvian National Junior Team secured an invitation to the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship on Wednesday in dramatic fashion when Nikita Jevpalovs scored 1:43 into overtime to give his country a 2-1 victory over Denmark in the relegation round before 6,983 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"It was sick," Jevpalovs told the IIHF website. "I only scored one goal in the tournament before, and to score one like this is a big deal."

Jevpalovs controlled a rebound off a shot taken by Robert Lipsberg and slipped his attempt between the legs of Denmark goalie Sebastian Feulk (29 saves). Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 22 shots for Latvia.

The victory enables Latvia to finish ninth at this year's WJC while Denmark places tenth. Denmark will be demoted to Division 1 in 2013, while Germany gets promoted for next year's tournament in Ufa, Russia. The other two relegation round teams, the U.S. and Switzerland, have already punched their tickets into next year's WJC. They will play 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday to determine the seventh-place finisher.

Denmark had taken a 1-0 lead 3:21 into the first when Oliver Bjorkstrand scored off a pass from Thomas Spelling before Latvia evened the score in the second at the 11:34 mark when Kristians Pelss ripped a one-timer eight seconds into a power-play.

"Right now there are not too many words to explain how bad our feelings are," said Denmark's Nicklas Jensen told the IIHF website. "That's not what we wanted. I think the game went quite well for both teams. Both teams had a lot of chances, but Latvia scored on a golden opportunity in the end. That's what won them the game. That's hockey."

Jensen, a 2011 first-round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks, was shaken up early in the third period when he crashed into the boards behind the Latvian net. Jensen did return to the game. Jensen led the Danes with 6 points, including 2 goals.  

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