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Posted On Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 6:58 PM

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

Duchene to return for Avs in New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. - The Colorado Avalanche will have center Matt Duchene back in the lineup on Thursday when they play the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.

Duchene, who suffered a right ankle injury on March 6 against the Minnesota Wild and missed the previous four games, was originally expected to be sidelined three to four weeks.

The third-year forward is expected to center wings Peter Mueller and Milan Hejduk. Duchene has 13 goals and 26 points in 48 games for the Avalanche this season. He also missed 20 games with a knee injury earlier this season -- he was leading the team in goals and ranked second in points at the time of the injury.

Colorado coach Joe Sacco will start Jean-Sebastien Giguere between the pipes. The Devils will counter with Martin Brodeur. The Giguere-Brodeur matchup became quite an item during the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, when Brodeur helped the Devils to a seven-game series triumph -- even though Giguere won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 11:54 AM

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

Zajac able to 'amp up' skating, joins Devils at practice

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac was a welcomed addition to the team's morning skate at Prudential Center on Thursday.
 
Zajac, who has been out of the lineup since Jan. 4 with an injured left Achilles tendon, will miss his 32nd straight game on Thursday when the Devils host the Colorado Avalanche. The fact he was on the ice with the team was certainly a positive step in the latter stages of his rehibilatation.
 
Zajac told The (Bergen) Record on Wednesday that he received medical clearance to "amp up" his skating.
 
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello confirmed that statement, but said there is still no set date for his return to the lineup.
 
"We're not going to have any conversation (with the media) about when he's ready and when he's not ready," Lamoriello told The Record. "When that time comes, you'll know the day when he plays. The coach will say when he's playing. It is not going to happen immediately. It's going to take a while and there is no time frame, but he has been given the OK to practice and have contact."
 
Zajac has missed the last 32 games for the Devils and has played in just eight contests this season -- he has 1 goal and 3 points.

Devils captain Zach Parise was certainly glad to see his former centerman back in the lineup.
 
"He seems real excited," Parise told The Star-Ledger. "He looks like he's walking better. I think he feels more confident skating now."
 
Zajac would like to return before the end of the regular season.
 
"We’ll talk with the doctors every week and go from there," Zajac told reporters after the team's practice on Thursday. "There's no set date. We'll take it a day at a time here. The key for me is getting in good practices when the team does practice and trying to get in some game-like situations."
 
Probable lineup for the Devils:
 

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Steve Bernier
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Marek Zidlicky
 
Martin Brodeur is the likely starter with Johan Hedberg serving as backup.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 11:02 AM

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

Duchene could be set for early return to Avs' lineup

NEWARK, N.J. -- There's a good chance the Colorado Avalanche will welcome forward Matt Duchene back to the lineup on Thursday when they visit the Prudential Center to face the New Jersey Devils.
 
Duchene, who suffered a right ankle injury on March 6 against the Minnesota Wild, was originally thought to be sidelined three to four weeks. The third-year forward, who has missed four games, skated on his own Tuesday and felt good.

The Avalanche, winners of three straight, enter their showdown with the Devils in eighth place in the Western Conference with 80 points through 72 games. They lead San Jose, which has played three fewer games, by only two points.
 
The Avalanche didn't skate Thursday in Newark after scoring a 5-4 shootout decision over the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Wednesday.
 
"His ankle was feeling better, so he skated (Tuesday) for about 40 minutes on his own," Avs coach Joe Sacco told Adrian Dater of The Denver Post. "The plan is to play him (Thursday) if all goes accordingly."
 
If Duchene returns, he would likely center Peter Mueller and Milan Hejduk.
 
Sacco didn't reveal his starter in goal against the Devils following Wednesday's victory over Buffalo. There's a good chance Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get the nod, however, after Semyon Varlamov stopped 20 of 24 shots through regulation and overtime in the victory over the Sabres. The shootout win over the Sabres gives the Avalanche a 12-4-0 record against Eastern Conference opponents this season.
 
Colorado wing Chuck Kobasew did skate Wednesday morning in Buffalo, but remains out with a back injury.
 
Here are the probable line combinations for the Avalanche:
 
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downie
Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Peter Mueller - Mark Olver/Matt Duchene - Milan Hejduk
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Kevin Porter
 
Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Matt Hunwick - Ryan Wilson
 
Giguere is the probable starter with Varlamov serving as backup.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 8:00 AM

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

Alex Galchenyuk's season debut impresses scout

One of the top North American prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft, Sarnia Sting center Alex Galchenyuk, returned to the lineup for the first time in 66 games on Wednesday to the delight of the hometown faithful at RBC Centre in Sarnia.

Galchenyuk, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a Sept. 16 preseason game and underwent surgery in October, said he felt no pain following the game. The only pain felt was the postgame sting that accompanied a 7-1 loss to the Saginaw Spirit.

Ho totaled approximately 10 minutes of ice time and played on a line with Brett Thompson and Charles Sarault.

Despite the long absence, there's a strong possibility Galchenyuk still could be drafted among the top 10 players in the first round of this year's draft. He's ranked as a "limited viewing" player on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term rankings, but was No. 2 among OHL skaters in Central Scouting's preliminary rankings.

Playing alongside top North American draft prospect, Sarnia's Nail Yakupov, Galchenyuk produced 31 goals and 83 points in 68 games last season. It was enough to make believers out of any scout who had the opportunity to watch him play. Yakupov is currently sidelined with an upper-body injury.

On Wednesday, NHL.com caught up with Central Scouting's Al Jensen, who provided immediate reaction to Galchenyuk's anticipated debut this season.
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Posted On Sunday, 03.11.2012 / 6:06 PM

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

Bobrovsky to start against Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will get his first start in almost a month on Sunday when the Philadelphia Flyers visit Prudential Center for an Atlantic Division showdown against the New Jersey Devils.
 
The Flyers scored a 1-0 shootout victory less than 24 hours earlier behind Ilya Bryzgalov's fifth shutout of the season. It was Bryzgalov's 11th straight start between the pipes. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette told the media prior to faceoff that Bobrovsky would get the nod -- Bryzgalov is the likely starter on Tuesday in Philadelphia when the Flyers close out the home-and-home set with the Devils.
 
Bryzgalov is 8-2-0 with a 1.95 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and three shutouts in Philadelphia's last 11 games -- including a no-decision. He's posted a 0.99 GAA and two of the shutouts during the Flyers' current five-game winning streak.
 
"We talked about this, looking at the schedule and what was coming up," Laviolette said. "The back-to-back and the fact Bryz has played 11 in a row, every other night, pretty much. It's a chance to get a fresh goaltender in there."
 
Bobrovsky, who last started Feb. 18 in a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, is 12-8-1 with a 2.99 GAA and .900 save percentage in 24 appearances for the Flyers this season. He is 1-1-1 with a 4.71 GAA and .864 save percentage in three career games against New Jersey.
 
"You look at the schedule and what you have available, we got a guy who has been waiting and wants to get in there and play and this is a perfect spot to get him in there, as opposed to running Bryz down," Laviolette said.
 
Bobrovsky had lost four of the five starts he made in February.
 
The Flyers are 2-0-1 against the Devils in 2011-12 and have won five of eight and eight of the last 12 meetings. New Jersey has won its last two at the Wells Fargo Center, including a 4-3 shootout decision when the teams last met on Nov. 3.
 
The Devils will counter with Martin Brodeur in goal. Brodeur is 44-29-9 in 83 career games against the Flyers with a 2.50 GAA, .904 save percentage and nine shutouts.
 
Here are the projected lineups for each team:
 
DEVILS
 
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Steve Bernier
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Marek Zidlicky
 
Brodeur will start and Johan Hedberg, who earned a 23-save, 2-1 victory on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, will serve as backup.
 
FLYERS
 
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Matt Read - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
Max Talbot - Sean Couturier - Zac Rinaldo
Jody Shelley - Eric Wellwood - Brayden Schenn
 
Nicklas Grossmann - Braydon Coburn
Matt Carle - Erik Gustafsson
Brandon Manning - Andreas Lilja
 
Bobrovsky gets the start in goal, with Bryzgalov serving as backup.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 3:44 PM

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

Report: Tyutin (broken hand) likely out for season

The return of Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter certainly wasn't the only big story coming out of Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Thursday morning.

According to Blue Jackets TV play-by-play voice Jeff Rimer, the team has not only lost third-line center Derek MacKenzie with concussion-like symptoms, but defenseman Fedor Tyutin might be lost for the remainder of the season.

Rimer told NHL Home Ice on Thursday that Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards informed the media of the injuries following the team's afternoon practice.

"Tyutin wasn't on the ice for practice," Rimer said. "He had blocked a shot in third period [of a 3-2 win over Phoenix on Tuesday] from the point and continued to play, but broke his right hand and is likely out for the balance of the season."

Additionally, MacKenzie is out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms. No timetable has been given on his return and, according to Rimer, the team's medical staff will be monitoring him closely.

MacKenzie and Tyutin, along with captain Rick Nash and Vinny Prospal, were the only four to play in every game for Columbus this season. Tyutin has 5 goals and 26 points in 66 games, and MacKenzie has 7 goals and 14 points in as many games.

The absence of MacKenzie opens the door for rookie Ryan Johansen, who had been a healthy scratch the last two games. Johansen will draw back into the lineup and play center. Additionally, Maksim Mayorov has been recalled from the team's AHL affiliate in Springfield.

Johansen has 9 goals and 17 points in 51 games for Columbus this season. Mayorov has 1 goal in eight appearances in 2011-12.

On Feb. 23, the Blue Jackets dealt Carter to the Kings in exchange for defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick. Carter has 2 goals in five games for Los Angeles after scoring 15 goals in 29 contests for Columbus. This will be Carter's first visit to Columbus since the trade.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 11:47 AM

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

"Boo" Nieves ready to join USHL's Indiana Ice

Indian Ice head coach and general manager Kyle Wallack is looking forward to getting New England prep school standout Cristoval "Boo" Nieves on the ice for his first practice with the team on Thursday at Pepsi Coliseum.

Nieves closed out his high school season at the Kent School in Connecticut last weekend with a semifinal-round loss to St. Sebastian's School (Mass.) in the New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association large-schools tournament.

Nieves made the flight to Indiana on Thursday morning.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 11:02 AM

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

Ankle injury to sideline Duchene 3-4 weeks



The Colorado Avalanche on Thursday announced that center Matt Duchene would be sidelined approximately 3-4 weeks while he recovers from a right ankle injury.

Duchene, who was hurt in the third period in a victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, does not need surgery. The Avalanche made the announcement via their Twitter account on Thursday morning.

Duchene needed help getting off the ice after coming in contact with Minnesota's Nick Palmieri.

"We hope he will be OK," Avalanche rookie forward Gabriel Landeskog told local reporters. "We have a good team even without him. It is a team sport and we have a good group."

Duchene, who is in his third season with Colorado, has 13 goals and 26 points in 48 games with the Avalanche this season. He also has 36 hits and 31 blocked shots. The club will play eight of their remaining 14 regular-season games on the road, starting with Thursday's visit to Nashville. The Avs are 10th in the Western Conference with 74 points.

On Thursday afternoon, Duchene tweeted: "I'm gonna work as hard as I possibly can to be back in an Avs jersey before the season is over. It kills me to be out again."
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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 9:52 AM

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

Flyers recall pair from Adirondack

The Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday recalled defenseman Brandon Manning and forward Harry Zolnierczyk from the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League.

The Flyers, who play host to the Florida Panthers on Thursday at Wells Fargo Center, are without defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros due to lower-body injuries. Forward James van Riemsdyk is out 4-6 weeks following foot surgery earlier this week and Jacob Voracek (head) and Jaromir Jagr (hip) are questionable after being injured in Tuesday's game against Detroit.

Zolnierczyk, 24, has 3 goals and 5 points in 36 games with the Flyers this season. He last played Feb. 5 at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. Manning, 21, has yet to play in an NHL game. In 32 games with the Phantoms this year, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound defenseman has 4 goals and 9 points.
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 10:24 AM

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

USNTDP forward Stefan Matteau to serve suspension

Forward Stefan Matteau of the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program knows he is much more valuable on the ice than watching his teammates from the sideline.

Unfortunately, however, Matteau will be doing the latter on Wednesday when the USNTDP host the Muskegon Lumberjacks in a United States Hockey League matchup at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube in Michigan.

Matteau, who NHL Central Scouting has ranked No. 13 among those North American skaters eligible for the 2012 Draft, will be serving a one-game suspension on Wednesday for spearing a player on the Green Bay Gamblers on March 1.

Matteau had scored a pair of goals to give the NTDP a 2-0 lead before being issued a game misconduct for his spear with 53 seconds remaining in the second. The gritty Gamblers scored three unanswered goals in the third to ultimately win the contest, 3-2.

For the season, Matteau has connected for 14 goals and 28 points in 39 games. He also leads the team with 151 penalty minutes.

"I can't take bad penalties when the team needs you most," Matteau told NHL.com. "We were up 2-0 and I was playing pretty well. But you learn from these things. I guess I have to be smarter, but the way I play, I think I will get penalties. It's going to get better, but I'm a physical player."

Matteau, the son of former 13-year NHL veteran Stephan Matteau, was asked if he is upset over the amount of time he's spent in the penalty box this season.

"I don't like getting the penalty minutes, but I like that physical game that makes me a tough player, gritty player," Matteau said.

Matteau racked up 67 PIM's with the U.S. National Under-17 Team last season and 98 penalty minutes with the Notre Dame (Sask.) Hounds midget program in 2009-10 prior to joining the NTDP.

"I'm a big bodied power-forward, got a lot of skill and got a good shot and I play with an edge," Matteau said. "I like to bring an all-around solid game."

The U18 NTDP will next host the Youngstown Phantoms on Saturday.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Quote of the Day

I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride. I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years. I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents.

— Martin St. Louis after announcing his retirement from the NHL on Thursday