SHARE
Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:32 PM

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

Arniel sees better battle from Blue Jackets

NEWARK, N.J. -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel points to his team's ability to battle away from the puck that has made a world of difference over the last week.
 
The coach spoke to the media following his team's brisk workout at Prudential Center on Wednesday in preparation for the New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET).
 
"Our work away from the puck has gotten so much better," Arniel said. "A majority of the game is played between the two dots, from one end of the rink to the other, and the teams that work the hardest through those areas, whether you have the puck or don't have the puck, are the ones who have success. Our play without the puck through those areas has been so much better the last four games. It has allowed us to create turnovers, eliminate odd-man rushes and eliminate second and third chances off shots coming wide."
 
The Blue Jackets enter Wednesday's game riding a season-high two game winning streak and they're just hoping to keep it going against Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who sports a 6-2-2 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and .907 save percentage in 10 career games against Columbus.
 
"During our slump, we had some practices where we went back to the basics and did a lot of drills without the puck, focusing on where we needed to be on the ice and setting ourselves up for offense," Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen told NHL.com. "He's been emphasizing that and we've been executing that on the ice. It just goes to show that if you're good without the puck, it creates a lot more offensive chances for you."
 
While the rookie Johansen hasn't scored in four games, his work ethic as the team's second-line wing hasn't gone unnoticed.
 
"It's tough for young guys to jump into this League and play against full grown men right out of junior," Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash told NHL.com. "Ryan got off to a slow start … I think it was an eye opener as to how fast it was. Lately, he's been one of our more dominant players. He's got all the tools, the size, speed and skill, and he's really come on these last couple of weeks and that's positive to see."
 
For Nash, who has 1 goal and 3 points in back-to-back victories, the season has certainly been tough. But he's optimistic that the team is beginning to turn the corner.
 
"I think there have already been two halves to our season," he said. "The first half, we couldn't squeak out wins, couldn't find ways to win. Now we're in the half where, over the last five games, we've been really good … guys have been on the same page. I really think we're turning the corner. We have a lot of healthy bodies now and that's made a difference."
 
Nash agreed that the team's play away from the puck has also led to success.
 
"When you watch video of Boston and San Jose, their work away from the puck is great," Nash said. "They always come back hard and stop in their zone; earlier in the season, we were getting away from that and trying to get a bit too offensive, but last five games we've been pretty solid."
 
Goalie Curtis Sanford will make his fourth straight start in net. In four games this season, the 32-year-old Sanford is 2-0-1 with a 1.46 GAA and .943 save percentage. In two career appearances against the Devils, he is 0-1-0 with a 3.57 GAA.
 
"Right now, I'm feeling good about my game," Sanford told NHL.com. "Guys are playing well in front of me. It's important for me to stay square and be aggressive on my shot."
 
Here are the probable lines for the Blue Jackets against the Devils:
 
Vinny Prospal - Jeff Carter - Rick Nash
RJ Umberger - Mark Letestu - Ryan Johansen
Samuel Pahlsson - Antoine Vermette - Derek Dorsett
Cody Bass - Derek MacKenzie - Jared Boll
 
Fedor Tyutin - Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot - James Wisniewski
John Moore - Grant Clitsome
 
Goalie Curtis Sanford earns the start and Allen York will serve as backup.


Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 11:56 AM

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

DeBoer pleased with early returns from Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer said he's happy with the identity of his team at the quarter mark of the season.
 
If that's the case, he should be ecstatic in a couple weeks when top-line center Travis Zajac makes his anticipated return from an offseason injury that has sidelined him all year.
 
According to Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, Zajac skated on his own on Tuesday and Wednesday in New Jersey and could begin practicing with the team in as many as two weeks.
 
"I wanted him at Thanksgiving," DeBoer laughed when asked if having Zajac back in the lineup would be a nice Christmas gift.
 
"Still, it was nice to see him [Tuesday]. I got a chance to sit and talk to him, and he's excited and in a great place mentally. The light is at the end of the tunnel. It's good that he's around the team and practicing … good for the guys to see him. He's a key piece here, obviously."
 
DeBoer should have defenseman Anton Volchenkov in the lineup for Wednesday's matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Volchenkov sported several stitches on his upper lip after having to leave Monday's loss to the Florida Panthers following a hit to the face from the Panthers Shawn Matthias.
 
The Devils recalled center Tim Sestito from their American Hockey League affiliate in Albany on Wednesday and the 27-year-old forward will be inserted into the lineup against the Blue Jackets. It will be Sestito's 2011-12 debut with the Devils.
 
"I'm more comfortable now," Sestito told NHL.com. "I've been up and down a few times and it's an opportunity you have to take advantage of … help your team. As long as you're playing hard, hopefully good things happen."
 
Sestito was skating on the fourth line with Mattias Tedenby and Cam Janssen during the team's morning skate.
 
"I'm hoping he can provide some energy," DeBoer said of Sestito. "We're coming off a five-game road trip and I think that moving guys in and out on the third and fourth lines gives us a spark at different times. This is one of those times."
 
After sitting out as a healthy scratch against the Panthers, wing Nick Palmieri (3 goals, 6 points, minus-5 rating) will also be re-inserted into Wednesday's lineup.
 
Here were the line combinations for the Devils during morning warmups:
 
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Nick Palmieri - Ryan Carter - David Clarkson
Mattias Tedenby - Tim Sestito - Cam Janssen
 
Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov
 
Martin Brodeur will make his fourth straight start between the pipes.
 
"It's always nice to roll them over [and get right back in net following a loss]," Brodeur told NHL.com. "That's how you go through your ups and downs; you can deal with it a little easier."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 10:44 AM

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

Devils have encouraging news on Zajac

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac, who hasn't played a game this season after suffering a torn left Achilles tendon during the offseason, skated on his own on Tuesday and Wednesday in New Jersey and could begin practicing with the team in two weeks.

Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello spoke to the media during his team's morning skate at Prudential Center to provide the media with an update on center Zajac.
 
"Travis has been released by the doctors and is in town and skated [Tuesday and Wednesday] and will continue to do that for the next week and a half to two weeks," Lamoriello said. "If everything is on schedule as it has been, he'll start practicing with the team in two weeks. Everything to this point has been exactly the way the doctors predicted it would be, and it feels good, but he's certainly not there yet. It'll take conditioning off and on the ice before he can return to practice."
 
The Devils recalled center Tim Sestito from their American Hockey League affiliate in Albany on Wednesday.
 
"Tim has played well in Albany so we've called him up to take a better look at him," Lamoriello said.
 
Defenseman Anton Volchenkov (facial laceration) and forward Ilya Kovalchuk were also on the ice for the Devils during the team's morning session in preparation for the Wednesday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Monday, 11.21.2011 / 12:42 PM

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

Jagr to miss another game for Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- Jaromir Jagr will not return to the lineup on Monday when the Flyers play host to the Carolina Hurricanes at Wells Fargo Center.

Jagr, who suffered a lower-body injury in Thursday night's game against the Phoenix Coyotes and missed Saturday's game at Winnipeg, remains listed day-to-day.

The 39-year-old veteran did skate with the team on Monday and looked relatively sharp in his turns and cuts on the ice. According to CSNPhilly.com, Jagr injured his groin a little over a minute into the team's victory over the Coyotes last week. He did skate on his own on Sunday.

"When it comes to injuries, we don't want to put anybody in trouble at this point," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "We'd like everybody healthy and back and ready to go. If a player is cleared and they say they feel good and they want to play, then that's what we go by."

Brayden Schenn also skated with the club and told NHL.com afterward that he was feeling "very good." When asked when he expected to return to the lineup, Schenn said it was up to the coaching staff and that he'd be ready.

The 20-year-old Schenn has no points and a minus-5 rating in four games this season.

Besides the Philadelphia injury update, there was another big topic to discuss on Monday following Flyers practice. In particular, the return of Sidney Crosby to archrival Pittsburgh, and former teammate Maxime Talbot was more than willing to share his thoughts.

"It's definitely good news for the League and, most of all, for him," Talbot said. "It was a long and tough road back but I think it's great for hockey and he's such an important player for the NHL and as a person, too. I know [Flyers and Penguins] is a big rivalry but every hockey fan should be happy that he's back and healthy again.

"I'm sure every single hockey player this morning said, 'Have you heard Sid is coming back?' It's something that everybody is anticipating and that's great."

When Laviolette was asked if Crosby's return is good for hockey, the coach responded, "It's good for the Penguins."

Talbot spent six seasons in Pittsburgh with Crosby before signing a free agent contract with the Flyers in the offseason.

"I texted [Crosby] on Sunday morning and he texted me back last night and was excited," Talbot said. "We all know how big of a media circus it will be [Monday] for the NHL. It's probably the hottest ticket all season; I can compare it a little like when Mario was coming back."

Talbot said that despite the fact he now plays for the rival Flyers, Crosby is and always will be a dear friend.

"I've known him since he was 13-years-old," he said. "Just because you change teams, it doesn't mean all of a sudden he's a bad guy. Sid is someone I respect and he's a great competitor, great for the game. We had the same agent when he was 13 and we were in a camp in Los Angeles. Even then, he was already better than me at 13, and I was 16. He was better than a lot of people; you knew he had something special in him."

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Monday, 11.21.2011 / 12:38 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flyers, Hurricanes

While it was an optional skate for both teams Monday morning, here are the expected line combinations for tonight's matchup between the Flyers and Hurricanes.

FLYERS
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Harry Zolnierczyk
James van Riemsdyk - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read - Maxime Talbot - Jakub Voracek
Jody Shelley - Sean Couturier - Zac Rinaldo

Chris Pronger - Matt Carle
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Andreas Lilja - Andrej Meszaros

Ilya Bryzgalov will start between the pipes.

HURRICANES

Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Jiri Tlusty - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Brett Sutter - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

Bryan Allen - Tim Gleason
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Jamie McBain - Tomas Kaberle

Cam Ward should get the start

General manager Jim Rutherford on Monday recalled forward Brett Sutter from Charlotte of the American Hockey League and reassigned forwards Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe to the Checkers.

Sutter, 24, has earned 1 assist in four games this season with the Canes. He has 2 goals and 4 points in 14 games with the Checkers this campaign.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 10:59 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Edwards offers final assessment of Dumba

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards was taking plenty of notes in the upper deck of ENMAX Centre as the Red Deer Rebels and Lethbridge Hurricanes did battle in a regular season game here on Friday.

Edwards sat alone in the corner of the building -- away from the crowd.

His primary focus was Red Deer defenseman Mathew Dumba, who is rated No. 3 among on Central Scouting's preliminary list of Western Hockey League skaters. Not until the third period did Dumba really take his game to another gear.

Dumba dished out three assists in the third period of a 4-3 shootout loss and performed extraordinarily well following two average periods. Edwards came away very impressed with the 5-foot-11, 171-pound Calgary native in the games he witnessed this week, including Wednesday's contest when Dumba played for Team WHL against Team Russia in the Subway Super Series.

"Dumba was average through two periods against Lethbridge but really came on strong in the third when Red Deer came back, even though he did a lot of traveling in the last week," Edwards said. "He made good outlet passes and those passes were hitting the tape."

Dumba missed at an opportunity to win the game for the Rebels in the shootout, but his attempt was turned aside by Lethbridge goalie Damien Ketlo.

"He made one heck of a play at the point to deny a player late in the second period," Edwards said. "The thing I'm picking up [Friday] is the fact he'll take a hit to make a play. He's not just bailing when another player is bearing down on him and that means a lot in my eyes."

Edwards was also charting the progress of Lethbridge left wing Juraj Bezuch, who is also on the 2012 draft radar for some scouts.

"He worked hard and has been involved in the play," Edwards admitted. "He's a high-energy type guy. He's not big enough (5-10, 165) to really knock anybody around, but he was noticeable at time."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 10:03 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Edwards learned from the best

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- Long before NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards became a respected scout, he was learning from the best of them.

It's the same road every scout takes, actually.

"Mike Sands worked with us at Central Scouting and I did a lot of traveling with him," Edwards said. "Then, he went on to Calgary and I actually took his job scouting when he left, but he was a guy who really helped me out a lot."

Sands previously served as an amateur scout for the Flames and with Central Scouting.

But the list doesn't end there. Edwards also received assistance from Frank Bonello (Central Scouting director, 1992-2005), Paul Goulet, Gerry Blair and several others.

"Frank Bonello gave me the opportunity to start scouting so I did a lot of traveling with him as well," Edwards said. "The thing is, you learn how to travel and live the life as a scout with veterans who have done it. I was fortunate enough where I learned how to that before I started scouting. I've been around all the guys, and listened to them for a lot of years while driving in the car with them."

Edwards then recalled Hockey Hall of Famer Jim Gregory. After 1979, Gregory became Central Scouting's director and, in 1986, the Executive Director of Hockey Operations. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2007 and is the current chairman of the Hall of Fame committee.

"I remember doing all that video work and I used to have to go with Jimmy Gregory to a lot to Detroit, Ottawa and Buffalo hockey games," Edwards said. "We had to make certain the video replay system was running properly. We had some bugs in the beginning, so I spent a lot of time with Jimmy over the years. During that time, I was able to go into the coaches' office and I remember going in and listening to Jimmy and Scotty Bowman talk. You learn about the game just by listening to these guys and it made a big impression on me."

Most importantly, however, Edwards remembers how gracious, understanding and personable Gregory always happened to be.

"There are so many good people in the game and especially Jim Gregory," Edwards said. "When you see the way he treats people; he's a guy in the Hall of Fame … to treat people as well as he does, that's the way you've got to be in this game if you're going to survive. There are some guys who come in and don't last very long, and it's simply because they lack the good people skills."

Then, there was the bond Edwards created with the late E.J. McGuire, who passed away last April following a five-month battle with cancer.

"E.J. taught me a lot about what it takes to be a pro hockey player and that came from his coaching days," Edwards said. "You listen to him talk about a player and he'd say this player does this very well and I could use him as a checker or whatever. You'd listen to the way the game is played from a guy who just finished coaching; it was very helpful."

The relationship between Edwards and McGuire wasn't just a one-way street, either. McGuire benefitted from Edwards' familiarity of Canadian geography. Something NHL.com has learned this week during the 'Life of a Scout' series -- Edwards doesn't use a GPS system or even a map at any time!

"E.J. didn't know where Moose Jaw was in relation to Swift Current or Medicine Hat," Edwards said. "So from my end of it, I may have helped him out with travel through the junior loops."

Bottom line here is, scouts help scouts. The respect is always mutual.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 8:57 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Edwards provides best & unheralded scouted player

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- During pregame warmups for the Hurricanes and Red Deer Rebels at the ENMAX Centre on Friday, I was able to ask NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards a few off the cuff questions.

First, I was curious to know what player happened to be the finest slam dunk candidate to make it big that he had scouted in his 12 years in the business.

"Sidney Crosby," Edwards said.

Crosby, of course, was drafted by the Penguins out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League first overall in 2005 after earning consecutive Canadian Hockey League player of the year awards with the Rimouski Oceanic in 2003-04 and 2004-05.

"Crosby dominated right out of junior; there weren't any questions asked on the day of our final scouting meeting," Edwards said. "Crosby was one and then we began the debate with No. 2."

While Crosby might have been a definitive star in the making, Edwards had to think a few minutes when I inquired about the player he scouted who wasn't considered a slam dunk candidate in his draft year but certainly turned out to be that type of performer.

"I'd have to say Mike Richards," Edwards said. "I had Richards rated, at the time, between No. 27 and No. 32 in the OHL on the final list."

Richards, who is now playing in Los Angeles, was drafted No. 24 overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003. He had 133 goals and 349 points in 453 games for the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League.

"During his draft year, the new rules were beginning to kick in," Edwards explained. "He was considered a smaller (5-foot-11) player at that time and general managers were frowning on those types of players. But he made the world junior teams and has had a great NHL career. There was the stigma at that time that smaller players wouldn't make it, but Mike had that hockey sense, that playing ability that was rare in a player."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 8:27 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Arrival in Lethbridge; set for some junior hockey

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- So the NHL.com crew and NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards crossed the border and into the province of Alberta early this afternoon and, in the process, gained an hour.

Great! The day is even longer now … peachy.

In case you need it, you need to take just two highways to reach Lethbridge from Moose Jaw, Sask. That would be Highway 1 and Highway 3. It takes approximately six hours and 6 cups of coffee. Got it?

On the ride over, it was a steady minus-14 degrees Celsius and we saw a fox, cattle, horses, deer and buffalo. My window in the back seat was covered with frost buildup. In other words, I could have used an ice scraper on the inside of our Nissan Altima.

We've arrived at the ENMAX Centre and are awaiting the contest between the Red Deer Rebels and the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Edwards will be watching Red Deer defenseman and top 2012 draft prospect Mathew Dumba closely and I hope to get some additional analysis later on.

Stay tuned …

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 7:58 AM

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

Morgan Rielly could miss season with knee injury

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- Unfortunately for the rabid hockey fans that flooded Mosaic Place on Thursday to catch the final game of the 2011 Subway Super Series, highly touted and local prospect Morgan Rielly would be unavailable to participate.

The mobile defenseman, rated second on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary list for 2012 NHL Draft eligible players from the Western Hockey League, will have surgery within the next two weeks to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered Nov. 6.

"Morgan went to the University of Saskatchewan and had an MRI done, which showed that his ACL was indeed torn," Rielly's father, Andy, told NHL.com via e-mail. "At this point, we are confident that he will be 100 percent by mid-April. The doctor has not ruled out a return as early as mid to late March but that will be a decision made at the time."

While it is a major blow for Rielly, who was in his second season with the Moose Jaw Warriors, it really shouldn't affect his draft status at this time.

The 5-foot-11.5, 190-pound Rielly led Moose Jaw in rookie scoring last season and was second among defensemen with 28 points, including 22 assists, in 65 games. He was the second youngest player to represent Team Canada at the 2011 World Under-18 Championships and he competed at the 2011 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial.

"Morgan is in pretty good spirits all considered, and very determined to get fully healed ahead of schedule," Andy Rielly wrote.

Rielly was injured on a play against the Calgary Hitmen after skating hard to the net at top speed before being knocked to the ice by former teammate Joe Kornelsen.

"It's unfortunate for our hockey club and obviously it's unfortunate for Morgan," Warriors director of hockey operations Alan Millar told the Moose Jaw Times-Herald. "The way we look at it, if he was to be back with our hockey team this year you're talking late in the season, playoff time or possibly not at all."

Rielly will have his surgery performed back home in Vancouver.

Rielly is the second top 2012 NHL Draft prospect to undergo major knee surgery this season. Sarnia Sting center Alex Galchenyuk had surgery to repair a torn ACL on Oct. 27 and likely will miss the rest of the season. Still, he was ranked second on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary ranking of the top Ontario Hockey League skaters for this year's draft.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
First | Prev | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99-104 | Next | Last
Quote of the Day

That's a really tough thing to play through; when you finally are thrown out there, the game is fast, intense, every single play matters, you've got to find a way to play through that and make smart plays. So it's a huge testament to [Vermette] and some other individuals in our locker room that are putting their own ego, their own wants and needs aside, and are ready for those opportunities when they do come.

— Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews on teammate Antoine Vermette, who returned from being a healthy scratch in Game 3 to score the double-overtime winner in Game 4