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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 12:38 PM

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

Projected lineups for Penguins, Islanders

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby took his customary skate this morning during the Penguins' practice session, working with Steve MacIntyre and Mark Letstu.
Crosby won't make his season debut tonight against the New York Islanders, but he was certainly in a jovial mood and having fun with his teammates. He also worked the point on the power-play alongside Paul Martin with forwards Mark Letstu, Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke down low.
With the luxury of the final line change, expect Penguins coach Dan Bylsma to have two-way center Jordan Staal on the ice whenever Islanders center John Tavares, who leads his team with 6 goals and 10 points, takes his shift.
"Tavares did things in our last game that were very dangerous and very good in the offensive zone, cutting the seams and pulling up on rushes and looking for late defensemen," Bylsma said. "His line was dangerous in the game and could have got them on the board. In the third period, he also had several chances. Tonight, playing home gives us a chance to maybe get a little closer matchup on him than we could have on the road.
"In a perfect world, you'll see Jordan Staal out on him a lot either with his wings (Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis) or maybe with (Craig Adams and Dustin Jeffrey)."
The Penguins players wore special purple jerseys at the morning skate and will again don the attire during pre-game warmups on Thursday while the organization supports the NHL's annual Hockey Fights Cancer initiative. Each player will sign his jersey following the warm-up, and those jerseys will then be auctioned off at beginning on Nov. 1.
Bylsma said the lineups would be a gametime decision, but here's what rolled during the morning practice session.
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Richard Park - Arron Asham
Dustin Jeffrey - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams
Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Brooks Orpik - Deryk Engelland
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy
Marc-Andre Fleury, who posted a 33-save, 3-0 victory over the Islanders in Uniondale, N.Y., on Tuesday, again gets the nod between the pipes and Brent Johnson will back him up.
Meanwhile, Islanders defenseman Milan Jurcina will make his season debut in place of Mike Mottau.
"Mike has played extremely well for us, as have all our D," Isles coach Jack Capuano said. "We just want to get Juice (Jurcina) back in."
This should be the Islanders' lineup:
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Brian Rolston - Josh Bailey - Blake Comeau
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Jay Pandolfo
Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina
Evgeni Nabokov will start in net. Rick DiPietro will serve as the backup.
In addition to the game, there's also plenty of fervor and excitement building up over the big League announcement that will be made at 3 p.m. ET here at Consol Energy Center. Stay tuned to for complete details ...

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


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Posted On Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 10:40 AM

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

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli praises talent in USHL

In addition to the Stanley Cup ring he earned last season as general manager of the Boston Bruins, Peter Chiarelli also had a successful debut as part-owner of the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the United States Hockey League last season.

Dubuque captured the Clark Cup as USHL champion by winning Game 4 of its best-of-five series against the Green Bay Gamblers, 6-1, before 3,480 fans at Mystique Ice Center. Don't think for a second Chiarelli didn't know that it was also the largest crowd to see a game in the history of Dubuque hockey, which earned its first USHL crown since the 1984-85 campaign. Dubuque became the first expansion team to win the Clark Cup since the Lincoln Stars won it all during their inaugural season of 1996-97.

For Chiarelli, getting involved in the USHL has certainly turned out to be an exciting business venture.

"I've seen a lot of games in the USHL and our scouting staff sees a lot of games, so we have a good grasp on the league," Chiarelli told radio station 'Super Hits 106.1 FM' in Dubuque during intermission of a recent game. "I feel strongly about the league and I communicated that to those in the organization. The games I saw, the attendance was strong in every arena and the games were entertaining. The depth of the lines and defensive pairs were deeper than people expected, which speaks to the quality of the league."

In defense of their league title this season, Chiarelli is also delighted with the fact the Fighting Saints have two players considered top prospects for the 2012 Entry Draft, including forward Zemgus Girgensons and defenseman Mike Matheson.

"My schedule is all over the place so I like to see a team at home with good prospects, and on the road, and we have two in Girgensons and Matheson," Chiarelli said. "Zemgus has a lot of pro qualities and he's a real solid two-way player. I really like the way he protects the puck.

"You can tell Matheson is still growing into the league (as a first-year player), but he's a terrific talent and terrific skater. He can move the puck … he moves it to places where it's hard to move it, so you have two good players here."

Chiarelli was asked how impressed he's been with the caliber of talent in the USHL.

"I can tell you what we've done in our scouting staff reflects the value and the increasing improvement of the quality of players in the USHL," he said. "We've redirected a lot of our scouting schedules, so to speak, to make sure we have increased coverage in the USHL.

"You have to know the league very well," he continued. "It's a tough league to cover from a scouting perspective because it's spread across such a wide area. There are a lot of hidden gems in the USHL and, as time goes on, it won't be because it'll be heavily scouted. But I've redirected a lot of our scouts to make sure we get increased coverage here."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Tuesday, 10.18.2011 / 12:04 PM

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

Jackets go to QMJHL for backup goalie

In addition to placing center Jeff Carter on injured reserve Tuesday morning, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been forced to call up unsigned draft choice Mathieu Corbeil from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to serve as Steve Mason's backup tonight against the Dallas Stars.

Corbeil, the club's fourth-round choice (No. 102 overall) in 2009, was recalled from the Saint John Sea Dogs on an emergency basis.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the organization's Nos. 2, 3 and 4 goalies all are hurt. Mark Dekanich, Mason's regular backup, is sidelined with a high-ankle sprain. The third goalie on the depth chart, Curtis Sanford, suffered a groin strain in practice Monday.

The team's top American Hockey League prospect in Springfield, Allen York, is recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered over the weekend. According to Columbus General Manager Scott Howson, York was feeling "much better" Tuesday but will remain off the ice and be re-evaluated Wednesday.

By rule Corbeil only can be with the team for 24 hours, meaning he'll have to rejoin the defending Memorial Cup champion Sea Dogs on Wednesday morning.

"We'll get through Tuesday," Howson told the Disptach. "We'll see where we stand on Wednesday. We'll deal with it on Thursday."
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Posted On Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 2:09 PM

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

Kings' Penner debuts; Devils' Pelley, Janssen too

New Jersey Devils forwards Rod Pelley and Cam Janssen each will make their season debuts Thursday -- as linemates -- when New Jersey hosts to the Los Angeles Kings tonight at Prudential Center.
"I'm going to go out and do my things, whether I get two shifts or I get 10," Janssen told the media following practice. "It doesn't matter. I've got to bring it every shift and be responsible and just do what I've got to do."
Bradley Mills, who will center the line with Pelley and Janssen, is looking to "wreak some havoc."
"First and foremost, we want to by physical with lots of energy and be able to get in on the forecheck," Mills told "We want to wreak some havoc."
Said Devils coach Peter DeBoer: "I'd like to see constant energy from that line, defensive reliability, and at times, play hard in order to grab momentum or maintain momentum during parts of the game."
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.12.2011 / 2:40 PM

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

Johansen earns another start for Blue Jackets

Columbus Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel told reporters that rookie Ryan Johansen will be in the lineup on Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche.

Johansen, the team's fourth overall choice in the 2010 Entry Draft, earned 8:46 of playing time in his NHL debut against the Nashville Predators in the team's season-opener on Oct. 7. He totaled 40 goals and 92 points with the Portland WinterHawks of the Western Hockey League last season.

In other news out of Columbus, Arniel said that center Jeff Carter is questionable with the flu.

"We'll see how he is when he comes back in this afternoon," Arniel told The Columbus Dispatch. "We just wanted to get him home, get him away from everybody and let him rest. We'll see if he's feeling better tonight."
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 11:34 AM

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

NHL Director of Euro Scouting Goran Stubb offers overseas insight

There's no question the closer we get to the 2012 Entry Draft, the hot topic not only will be Russian forwards Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk of the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting and Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Quebec Remparts, but that incredibly talented crop of defensive prospects starring in the Western Hockey League.

However, there's also a fine group of prospects starring overseas who also might capture the fancy of NHL scouts and general managers.

Recently, caught up with NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb to find who he thought were the most talented players outside North America. For starters, Stubb didn't hide the fact that Sweden will present a hockey haven for most scouts this season, with Finland coming in second.

"At present, there are some prospects from Russia, but no superstars," Stubb told "The Czechs, Slovaks, Swiss and Germans don't have anyone in the top 10 (among European skaters overseas) … right now."

Here are Stubb's top five European standouts eligible for the 2012 draft:

1. Filip Forsberg, F, Leksand (Sweden) - The 6-foot-1, 180-pound left wing (no relation to former NHL All-Star Peter Forsberg) was spectacular for his country at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August, totaling 4 goals and 10 points in six games for the silver medal-winning Swedes. His ability with the puck has been compared to fellow Swede Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators.

Swedish standout Filip Forsberg
"I think my offensive game is my biggest strength," Forsberg told reporters in July. "I like to shoot the puck, but I think I can play a complete game in terms of scoring, playmaking and defensive play."

Said Stubb: "He's a talented, speedy, two-way forward who can score the big goals. He also has a good selection of shots."

2. Sebastian Collberg, F, Frolunda (Sweden) - With decent size (5-11, 180) and sniper-like mentality off the right wing, Collberg is a player who might be off the radar at this point, but he won't stay there long. Collberg had 21 goals and 44 points in 35 games with Frolunda HC in 2010-11. In addition to a great wrist shot, scouts love the fact he isn't afraid to initiate contact in the corners.

"He has a great first step … is so quick," Stubb said. "He rushes down the wing and shoots a lot; he's got soft hands and a quick shot. He's a player with great offensive instincts."

3. Pontus Aberg, F, Djurgarden (Sweden) - The 5-11, 187-pound left wing, who missed being eligible for the 2011 draft by eight days, offers a right-handed shot. He produced 13 goals and 30 points in 41 games with Djurgarden's junior club in the J20 SuperElit league last season and already has 4 goals and 6 points in nine games playing in the Elitserien this season. Aberg's contract with Djurgarden runs through the 2013-14 season.

"He's played great to open up the fall season," Stubb said. "He's a speedy, hard-working winger with a nose for the net … a sniper with a very good overall skill level."

4. Teuvo Teravainen, F, Jokerit (Finland) - The left-handed Teravainen is being touted as Finland's top performer. NHL Network analyst and prospect guru Craig Button labeled Teravainen as a potential sleeper for the 2012 draft. The 5-11, 187-pound right wing had 16 goals and 35 points through 11 games for his Jokerit U-16 club in 2009-10. Last season, he had 5 goals and 17 points in 11 games for Finland's Under-17 Team. He has compared his style of play to Patrick Kane and Pavel Datsyuk.

"Talk about a dynamic skater ... Teravainen is a guy who can make things happen so quickly," Button said. "He's really smart and able to draw defenders to him and make really good plays. Right now he's a little slight, but when you watch him on the ice, he's a real dynamic player. Right now, for me, he's a guy who is a first-round pick. By springtime, he could be mentioned among the top guys."

Stubb agreed: "He speedy, quick and talented … an offensive-minded winger who, with quick, surprising moves creates scoring chances for linemates and himself around the net. He's a bit inconsistent from game to game and will need to improve in that area."

5. Henrik Samuelsson, F, MoDo (Sweden) - If the name sounds familiar it should -- Samuelsson is the son of former NHL defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, who spent 16 seasons in the NHL. Henrik left the U.S. National Team Development Program when his father was hired as MoDo's coach and has 2 assists and eight penalty minutes in eight games so far this season.

His older brother, defenseman Philip Samuelsson, was selected in the second round (No. 61) by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2009 draft.

Henrik, a 6-foot-2, 193-pound right wing was born in Scottsdale, Ariz., and had 28 points and 98 penalty minutes for the U.S. National Team Development Program's under-17 squad last season.

"He's got good size, works hard and plays with grit," Stubb said.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 1:36 PM

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

Red Deer coach keeping close tabs on Nugent-Hopkins

Just because Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has secured a roster spot for at least nine regular season games with the Edmonton Oilers to open the 2011-12 campaign, doesn't mean his coach in Red Deer, Jesse Wallin, has lost contact with him.

"I talked to him quite a bit early on in camp just to see how he was doing," Wallin told "But I haven't been in touch with him a whole lot lately; just a text here and there to see how he's doing. It was his first camp and he enjoyed himself. It's all new and exciting and a great experience for him and he handled it really well."

Wallin was asked if he's torn between seeing Nugent-Hopkins make the Oilers roster or having him return to Red Deer for his third full season.

"You want the best for him and, selfishly, we'd love to have him back here," Wallin said. "So from that end of things, we'd absolutely want to have him back in Red Deer. But having said that, if he makes the Oilers, then that's what it's all about as well. We're here to develop guys for the NHL and that's our No. 1 goal and if he's prepared to make that step this year, than we've done our job and that's good for our program."

Nugent-Hopkins entered the 2011 draft as the No. 1-ranked North American skater on NHL Central Scouting's final list in April. He led the Rebels and finished tied for third in the WHL scoring race with 106 points in 69 games during the 2010-11 regular season while his 75 assists led all WHL players. He was also named Player of the Game for Team Orr at the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

"Ultimately, at the end of the day, what I want to see happen is what's best for Ryan and for him as a player," Wallin said. "It's about what's going to be best for him this year and not just for this season but for long term as well. I just think he's a very special talent and I think he's going to be a big time NHL player. I say that not only because of his ability but because of his personality traits … he's just got a real level head on his shoulders and has that type of personality that you see in real elite hockey players."

During Canada's National Junior Team development camp in August, Nugent-Hopkins was in the spotlight since the event was held in Edmonton. At the time, Canada head scout Kevin Prendergast said that Nugent-Hopkins had a better than 50 percent chance of making the Oilers. He also said it would be up to the player to convince Renney he's ready to take that next step -- but it won't be easy.

"If playing for the Edmonton Oilers benefits him long-term, than that's great and good for hockey and that's his dream and I'm sure that's what he's trying to accomplish and what he should be trying to accomplish," Wallin said. "But if benefitting him long-term requires he return to Red Deer, we'll certainly welcome him with open arms and continue working with him to get him prepared to make that step when he's ready."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 11:51 AM

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

Trouba intends to fulfill college commitment

Collegiate hockey was making headlines for all the wrong reasons this past summer when three players opted out of their previous commitments and another decided to part ways after one season in the NCAA ranks for the Canadian Hockey League.

Three players drafted in the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft, including Jamie Oleksiak (No. 14 overall, Dallas Stars), J.T. Miller (No. 15, New York Rangers) and Connor Murphy (No. 20, Phoenix Coyotes) and second round pick John Gibson (No. 39, Anaheim Ducks) all had college commitments but changed their minds and instead felt the Canadian junior level was a better fit. Oleksiak had just completed his first season at Northeastern.

Needless to say, when defenseman Jacob Trouba of the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program on Monday announced via Twitter he would continue his career at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2012, the first question on everyone's mind was just how committed he is to play for Red Berenson next season.

"I plan on fulfilling my commitment to the University of Michigan," Trouba told "My parents have taught me to follow through on all commitments I make in life. I'm excited to wear the maize and blue, but right now I'm focused on representing my country and working towards another successful season with my team at the NTDP."

There was speculation that the Rochester, Mich., native would make the jump to the Canadian Hockey League following his first season with the USNTDP U-18 team this campaign. Trouba was chosen in the third round of the Ontario Hockey League's priority selection by the Kitchener Rangers.

"I chose Michigan for a number of reasons, both on and off the ice," Trouba said. "After visiting the campus, I got a great sense of what the hockey program means to the school. It's a great fit for me and I know I'll get along great with my teammates.

"Having the opportunity to play in front of my family was also a big factor in my decision making as I'm very close to them."

In 2010-11, Trouba played 37 games for the U-17 NTDP team and registered 6 goals, 19 points and 35 penalty minutes before being promoted to the U-18 team for the final 21 games of the season.

"The (Michigan) facilities and coaching staff are known throughout the hockey community and I believe they are the best around," Trouba said. "Yost is an awesome rink to play in with a great atmosphere. School was also a big part of my decision. I know hockey will end one day and it was important to know I’d be receiving a great education in addition to playing hockey."

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Posted On Tuesday, 09.27.2011 / 10:49 AM

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

NTDP defenseman Trouba commits to Michigan

Jacob Trouba, one of the more highly touted draft-eligible players from the Under-18 U.S. National Team Development Program, has announced his destination in the fall of 2012.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound defenseman made it official on Monday via his Twitter account when he verbally committed to the University of Michigan. He was reportedly also considering the University of Notre Dame.

"Commited," Trouba tweeted. "It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine!"

Trouba won a silver medal for the U.S. at the 2011 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, producing 2 goals and 9 points in six games. He also scored a goal in the gold medal game of the 2011 U18 World Championships in a victory over Sweden.

Al Jensen of NHL Central Scouting paid close attention to Trouba during the USHL Fall Classic last week. He liked what he saw.

"I really liked the way he played in all three games I viewed; he's a very good size D man," Jensen told "He skates exceptionally well and likes to rush up ice with the puck and with good speed. He'll also join the rush himself, is very confident and has great agility. He's strong physically, can handle the puck and is always alert. He also did a good job with one-on-one rushes against ... he has great upside."

There was speculation that the Rochester, Mich., native would make the jump to the Canadian Hockey League following his first season with the USNTDP U-18 team this campaign. Trouba was chosen in the third round of the Ontario Hockey League's priority selection by the Kitchener Rangers.

The decision undoubtedly is music to the ears of veteran Wolverines coach Red Berenson, who will likely lose All-American sophomore defenseman Jon Merrill (New Jersey Devils) following this season, as well as senior goalie Shawn Hunwick. Michigan has made 21 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to Minnesota-Duluth in the tournament final last year.

In 2010-11, Trouba played 37 games for the U-17 NTDP team and registered 6 goals, 19 points and 35 penalty minutes before being promoted to the U-18 team for the final 21 games of the season.

Former NTDP goalie John Gibson, who was committed to Michigan and was drafted in the second round by the Anaheim Ducks in June, pulled out of his commit over the summer to instead join the Kitchener Rangers for this season.

It seems as though Trouba has no interest in opting out of his commitment.

"I don't want to make a commitment and then back down from it," Trouba told the media during the NHL's Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 5:21 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Classic chatter

Laviolette and Tortorella eager for Winter Classic

Just because Peter Laviolette has already experienced the spectacle that has become the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, don't think for a second he considers having the perfect recipe for success.
Laviolette, whose team dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Classic at Fenway Park, does feel that each player needs to enjoy the experience since, for some, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"I think the Winter Classic presents itself a little differently than the Stanley Cup Final," Laviolette told "It's a tremendous event and there's always a focus
that goes into winning hockey games so that can't be lost in it. But you also need to enjoy it. It's not very often you get to play outside in front of 40,000 or 50,000
fans and those opportunities are rare. The day will be terrific and the days leading up to it. It's nice that family members get to be a part of something like this do, so the players will really enjoy it from both sides so the game.
"I don't think you'll have to worry about the game being competitive, but the thing is, you want to make sure you enjoy the event too."
Rangers coach John Tortorella can't wait to play hockey where the Phillies play baseball.
"I'm a huge baseball fan and I've run around this ballpark but never have been inside," Tortorella said. "There may even be some World Series' games here. I asked some people where the rink would be placed and they said they always put it behind the pitchers' mound because they don't want to take the mound out. I can't really envision it right now but to have this park packed … it'll be exciting for us all."
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Quote of the Day

We've got a team filled with captains, that's what I think. With these first two games we got in, we're really dominating and moving the puck really fast, and it's worked out really good.

— U.S. goalie Brandon Halverson after a 6-0 win against Germany in the World Junior Championship on Sunday