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Posted On Monday, 03.05.2012 / 12:19 PM

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

Tringale excels for Lawrence in N.E. Prep tournament

If forward Devin Tringale of Lawrence Academy in Massachusetts wasn't on the radar of those NHL scouts prior to the New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association tournament, he is now.

The 5-foot-11 3/4, 195-pound left wing, ranked No. 98 on NHL Central Scouting's list of 2012 draft-eligible North American skaters, scored the overtime winner in the tournament semifinals on Friday before connecting for the eventual game-winner in the championship contest on Sunday at the IceCenter in Salem, N.H.

It marked the first time the fourth-seeded Spartans, who defeated top-seeded Salisbury in the semifinal and then No. 2 seeded Noble & Greenough in the final, celebrated a state championship.

"This is quite an achievement for our boys and we're all very proud of them," Lawrence athletic director Kevin Potter told the media.

Tringale, who is bound for Harvard, scored the decisive goal with 18 seconds left in the second period against Noble & Greenough (Mass.) en route to a 3-2 championship verdict. He also assisted Tyler Whitney's goal a little over two minutes earlier to pull Lawrence into a 2-2 tie.

"It's crazy," Tringale, the team's captain, told ESPNBoston.com following the victory. "We got the coach with the bucket of water. We're all on top of the world right now. On top of New England."
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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 12:42 PM

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

DeBoer happy to see Booth performing once again

NEWARK, N.J. -- Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault gave his players a deserved morning off on Friday after scoring a dramatic shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings less than 24 hours earlier.
 
The Canucks will arrive at Prudential Center a little after 4 p.m. ET to prepare for their intriguing tussle with the surging New Jersey Devils.
 
The victory at Joe Louis Arena gave the Canucks an NHL-best 21-10-2 mark on the road -- the team finished as the League's best road team last season (27-10-4). On top of that, Vancouver is 7-2-1 in the last 10 contests away from home and have scored more road goals (107) and more road power-play goals (29) than any other team in the NHL.
 
At the center of that offensive assault, of course, are Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who have combined for 41 goals and 88 assists this season on the team's top line. Henrik leads the club with 66 points and Daniel is tops with 28 goals.
 
In addition to the Sedin twins, however, Devils coach Peter DeBoer can also point to the production coming from a player he knows very well, right wing David Booth. Booth, who was acquired by Vancouver from Florida, DeBoer's former team, on Oct. 11, has collected 11 goals and 22 points in 34 games with the Canucks. He has played on a line with Mason Raymond and center Ryan Kesler.
 
The 27-year-old Booth couldn't catch a break in 2009-10 after watching his point totals increase during his first three years in the League. One of the scariest images of that season was Booth absorbing a crushing open-ice hit from Philadelphia captain Mike Richards in October 2009, and being carried off the ice on a stretcher with a concussion that would cost him 45 games and any hope of earning a roster spot on the U.S. Olympic Team heading to Vancouver.
 
"David is a great kid," DeBoer said. "He was heading towards a great career and then had that hit and it really set him back. He missed a ton of hockey."

He'd return to the lineup and suffer a second concussion in March, falling victim to another open-ice hit from Canadiens defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, officially ending his season.
 
DeBoer, who is ecstatic to see Booth having such success in Vancouver, said he may have erred in his decision to bring Booth back into the lineup so soon after his head injury.
 
"Looking back, I probably asked and expected too much out of him coming off the injury that he was coming off, and he didn't have the year he wanted to," DeBoer said. "When you look at the guys coming off those types of concussions around the League, very few of them don't take at least a year to recover, so I think when I watch him now, I see the David Booth of the pre-injury and that's good to see."
 
Booth seemed to make up for lost time last season, connecting for 23 goals and 40 points while averaging just over 19 minutes a game. He led the club with a whopping 280 shots. In 41 games this season, he has 11 goals and 23 points.
 
Here's what the Canucks lineup might look like against the Devils on Friday:
 
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Mason Raymond - Ryan Kesler - David Booth
Chris Higgins - Cody Hodgson - Jannik Hansen
Manny Malhotra - Maxime Lapierre - Dale Weise
 
Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Aaron Rome - Christopher Tanev
 
Cory Schneider (13-5-0, 2.25 goals-against average, .928 save percentage) is scheduled to make his first start in three games with Roberto Luongo serving as backup.

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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 11:54 AM

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

Devils get Foster, Carter back against Canucks

NEWARK, N.J. -- As if New Jersey Devils fans needed additional good news these days, on top of a successful climb up the Eastern Conference standings in recent weeks, the team is also regaining its health.
 
In the midst of a 9-1-1 run since the All-Star break, which has catapulted the team from eighth to fourth in the Eastern Conference, the Devils will have defenseman Kurtis Foster, who missed the last two games with back stiffness, and forward Ryan Carter (eight games, right hand fracture) back in the lineup against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday at Prudential Center.
 
Coach Peter DeBoer, who confirmed the return of the players after his team's practice, also noted that defenseman Adam Larsson will miss his 10th straight game with a bruised lower back. Larsson skated with the team the last two practices, but DeBoer wants the rookie at 100 percent before re-inserting him in the lineup.
 
"[Larsson] has had one full contact practice with the team in three weeks, so we want to make sure we do the right thing," DeBoer said.
 
Both Foster, who will begin the game alongside Matt Taormina, and Carter, who opens on left wing with center Jacob Josefson and right wing Peter Harrold, are looking forward to their return.
 
"I'm ready to get back in there and play a big game against the Canucks, who play a well-rounded game; the Sedins are top players in the game," Foster said. "We have to make sure it's a difficult game for them."
 
Carter, notified by DeBoer that he'd be in the lineup on Friday morning, said you can only watch from the sideline for so long before getting that itch to return to the lineup.
 
"It's that time of the year that's crunch time," Carter said. "I just want to keep it simple. You don't want to go out and try to win it yourself, so I'll just work my way into it and go from there."
 
The timing is impeccable as the Canucks, the League's top team on the road, are coming off an emotional 4-3 shootout decision over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. The victory ended Detroit's NHL-record home winning streak at 23 games.
 
"This is a great test for us to see how we match," DeBoer said. "The Sedins seem to know where each is on the ice. They almost invite contact and say, 'Come on out here and try and hit us.' Then they expose areas behind you better than anyone in the League … they're fantastic at that. So while you want to take away their time and space, you have to be aware they are dangerous in those situations if you get a little bit reckless."
 
Henrik Sedin leads the team with 66 points, including 53 assists. He holds a three point lead on twin brother, Daniel, who owns a team-leading 28 goals.
 
Here is how the Devils will likely line up on Friday:
 
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Dainius Zubrus - Steve Bernier
Ryan Carter - Jacob Josefson - Peter Harrold
 
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Matt Taormina - Kurtis Foster
 
Martin Brodeur will make his fifth straight start and Johan Hedberg will serve as backup.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 11:13 AM

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

Halifax forward Martin Frk has regained confidence

After sitting out the first 29 games of the regular season and missing the 2012 World Junior Championships with concussion-like symptoms, Halifax Mooseheads right wing Martin Frk has regained his confidence.

Frk, who has 10 goals and 17 points in 24 matches with the Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is ranked No. 25 on NHL Central Scouting's list of the top draft eligible North American skaters.

He had 22 goals and 50 points in 62 games as a QMJHL rookie last season and 4 goals and 2 assists in three pre-season games in August before his injury.

First-year Halifax coach Dominique Ducharme, who might very well have the best draft-eligible prospect for 2013 on his roster in rookie forward Nathan MacKinnon, said Frk has been symptom-free since his return to the lineup.  

"I think we should see the best of him in the playoffs," Ducharme told NHL.com. "That's where we're going to see him playing at 100 percent. I don't think his injury is playing any role in his head though.

"He's not tentative and not playing in a way not to get hit. He's 100 percent back from his concussion and he's showing no signs that it bothers him physically."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 10:03 AM

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

Nail Yakupov heating up for Sarnia

There's no question Sarnia Sting right wing Nail Yakupov, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American skater, has scored plenty of highlight-reel goals in his two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League.

But Sunday's marker in a 6-2 victory over the Canadian Hockey League's top team, the London Knights, may have surpassed all others.

With Sarnia holding a 4-2 lead midway through the third period, Yakupov collected the puck at his own blueline, curled London forward Andreas Athanasiou before speeding up ice and bringing a crowd of 5,100 to the edge of their seats in anticipation.

It was Yakupov's first home game since Dec. 11, as he had been sidelined by a knee and wrist injuries suffered at various points throughout the season.
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Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 1:10 PM

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

Selanne still having fun, producing for Ducks

NEWARK, N.J. -- How well the Anaheim Ducks close out the season will not only determine their playoff fate, but perhaps the career of 41-year-old Teemu Selanne.
 
"Over the last six years, I've always tried not to think about what my plan would be at the end of the regular season," Selanne told the media following his team's practice at Prudential Center on Friday. "I think there are times when you get the whole picture after the season … how much you really enjoy it and how your body feels. Then it's the right time to make a decision. So far I've really enjoyed the game and enjoy coming to the rink every morning."
 
There's no question Selanne is having fun, now that the Ducks have reeled off five wins over their last six games to move within eight points of eighth-seeded Los Angeles in the Western Conference standings.
 
"You know what, I enjoy this hockey way more now than when I was younger," he said with a huge grin. "Obviously, you start to appreciate what you have and appreciate that you can do some things that you love to do. When you get to the end of the road, you know that you have to enjoy every game and I think it's a great feeling.
 
"If I was able to enjoy the game more when I was younger, as I do now, that would have been unbelievable."
 
Selanne's next goal will move him past Brendan Shanahan and into sole possession of 12th place on the all-time NHL list. In a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, Selanne scored his 19th goal of the season and the 656th of his career to become the fifth player in League history to score 50 goals after turning 40-years-old.
 
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he joins Gordie Howe (113), Johnny Bucyk (61), Mark Recchi (60) and Mark Messier (51).
 
"I'm surprised with how good I still feel," he said. "It's not easy to compete on this level, at this age, but most of the nights I feel great so that's why I'm still around and enjoy this game. There's a lot of things you have to do better and concentrate on, so I think the recovery time is the biggest thing."
 
Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa, 22, hopes his recovery time is as good as Selanne's when he turns 40.
 
"Why is he still so good?" Sbisa said. "He's a guy everyone looks up to no matter if you’re 20- or 38-years-old ... you still look up to this guy. He's done everything possible in this League and just the passion he still has for this game is incredible. The guy works his tail off every game, every night, so you have to make sure you keep up with him. He's still one of the fastest guys out on the ice every game."
 
Here are the projected lineups for the Ducks:
 
Jason Blake - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Bobby Ryan - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Matt Beleskey - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Niklas Hagman - Rod Pelley - George Parros
 
Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Luca Sbisa - Lubomir Visnovsky
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank
 
Jonas Hiller will make his 17th straight start in goal, with Jeff Deslauriers serving as backup.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Friday, 02.17.2012 / 11:51 AM

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

Palmieri back in lineup for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Amidst all the rumors of a potential trade in the works for Minnesota Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky, the Devils went to work Friday morning at Prudential Center in preparation for the surging Anaheim Ducks.
 
The Ducks were 20 points out of eighth place Jan. 6, but have gone 14-2-3 in 19 games since and are in the hunt for a playoff berth. New Jersey, meanwhile, is 6-1-1 in their last eight games.
 
"They're a dynamic team and their best players have been their best players lately," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said of the Ducks. "That's why they're winning."
 
With the exception of rookie defenseman Adam Larsson, who is dealing with a bruised lower back, all active players on the Devils' roster were participants during Friday's morning skate.
 
The Devils recalled forward Nick Palmieri from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Albany on Tuesday and he'll be in the lineup Friday. Palmieri, who last was in the lineup Jan. 14 against Winnipeg, will begin the game on the fourth line, with center Jacob Josefson and Eric Boulton.
 
"We just want him to come in and play that regular role," DeBoer said. "We don't need a top-six power-play forward right now … we might need in that role down the road, but we need him coming off the bench with energy. I want him to be a player who's hard to play against, who's hard on the puck. A lot like (Steve) Bernier and (Alexei) Ponikarovsky have done for us."
 
One player leading the surge offensively for the Devils recently has been Ilya Kovalchuk, who recorded his 12th career hat trick and first as a Devil on Tuesday in a victory against the Buffalo Sabres. Kovalchuk has 13 goals and 26 assists in his last 17 games, 10 of which have been multi-point games.
 
Here are the possible line combinations for the Devils:
 
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Dainius Zubrus - Steve Bernier
Eric Boulton - Jacob Josefson - Nick Palmieri
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov
Matt Taormina - Kurtis Foster
 
Martin Brodeur will get the start in goal, with Johan Hedberg serving as backup.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 3:11 PM

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

Grigorenko compared to two big legends

The closer we get to the 2012 NHL Draft, the more fans will want to know which Russian forward will be the first off the board -- Sarnia's Nail Yakupov of the Ontario Hockey League or Quebec's Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

While the odds are squarely in the corner of Yakupov, NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau wouldn't at all be surprised if Grigorenko gets the nod. Many draft pundits have compared Grigorenko with Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin, but Bordeleau offered another interesting take.

"Mikhail doesn't possess the speed of Malkin, but do you remember Alexander Yakushev, the big center on the Russian team from the 1972 Summit Series?" Bordeleau asked.

Yakushev, nicknamed 'The Big Yak', led the Soviets in scoring against Team Canada in the famous '72 Summit Series with 7 goals and 11 points. His goal total tied him with Canada's Phil Esposito and Paul Henderson for the tournament lead.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 11:12 AM

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

Kelowna's Colton Sissons suffers concussion

Might as well add Kelowna Rockets captain Colton Sissons to the long list of coveted 2012 draft prospects suffering from injury or illness this season.

According Dubnation Magazine, Sissons will be sidelined at least one month with a concussion.

The 6-foot-1, 189-pound forward, who is NHL Central Scouting's No. 14-ranked skater in North America, is first in goals (26) and second in points (41) for the Rockets this season. He also has a team-leading 13 power-play goals, and has produced two shorthanded goals.

Sissons was injured in the team's 3-2 loss to the Kamloops Blazers on Feb. 11 at Prospera Place in Kelowna.

There are some scouts who feel Sissons might just be the best two-way forward available in the upcoming draft.

"I definitely look up to a guy like Ryan Kesler," Sissons told NHL.com at the 2012 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Feb. 1. "I like watching Mike Richards also. I like those type of guys who are reliable in their own zone and put up numbers in the offensive zone. They're always working and they're always moving their feet. Kesler and Richards are definitely guys I look up to and want to be like one day in the NHL."

Sissons said he could be put in any situation on the ice.

"I could pretty much play any position … wing or center," he said. "I'd prefer center, no doubt about that, but I've been adjusting to wing a lot in my career."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Monday, 02.13.2012 / 9:19 AM

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

Yakupov scores first shorthanded goal

The wrist injury that forced Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov from the third period on Saturday, didn't keep him sidelined very long.

Yakupov, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American skater, scored two goals and was the only player of six to score in a shootout when the Sting earned a 7-6 victory over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Sunday.

Yakupov returned to the Sting lineup on Saturday and scored a goal in a 5-3 loss to the Sudbury Wolves, but suffered a wrist injury in the third period that forced him to the dressing room.

Yakupov was given a two-game suspension for skipping the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Feb. 1 in Kelowna, B.C. He returned to the lineup on Saturday.

Despite playing with what the team deemed a "sore wrist" on Sunday, Yakupov appeared to be his usually effective self.

"Ryan [Spooner] and Nail took over in the third period and they couldn't be stopped [against the Greyhounds]," Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu told Dave Borody of sarniasting.com

Yakupov pulled Sarnia into a 6-6 tie at 18:29 of the third when he connected for his first shorthanded goal in two seasons with the Sting. Yakupov is 21st in the Ontario Hockey League with 59 points, including 25 goals this season, in 31 games.

Following a scoreless overtime, Yakupov scored the only goal of the shootout to give the Sting the win.

Sarnia will next visit Guelph on Friday before traveling to Saginaw on Saturday. The Sting will then return home to host London on Feb. 20 at RBC Centre.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Quote of the Day

I had one really not-good game. I came back to the hotel and he [his father] was on Skype. My mother called first and said, 'Your father wants to talk to you.' So he moved my mother away, and he yelled at me for like 30 seconds. I understood him, and then he said, 'I'm done.' And he was gone. The next game I got my first shutout.

— Anton Khudobin recalls a fond memory, explains why he was so sharp in the Hurricanes' 3-0 win against the Capitals on Friday
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