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Posted On Wednesday, 11.27.2013 / 2:20 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Red Wings sign Ericsson to six-year extension

DETROIT -- Jonathan Ericsson was the ultimate "Mr. Irrelevant" when he was selected by the Detroit Red Wings with the 291st pick in the 2002 NHL Draft.

Now, the 29-year old defenseman is anything but irrelevant in his role on the right side of Detroit's top defense pairing with Swedish countryman Niklas Kronwall. The Red Wings confirmed it Wednesday morning by announcing a six-year contract extension for Ericsson worth a reported $25.5 million.

Ericsson, who's missed 10 games with a shoulder injury, has one goal and four assists with a plus-3 rating in 15 games heading into a "Wednesday Night Rivalry" game against the Boston Bruins at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m., NBCSN).

"When I got drafted this was a longshot for me," Ericsson said following Detroit's morning skate. "Just being able to maybe one day to play for the Red Wings, that's one thing. But to be able to play here for, I don't know how many years it's going to be now, it's an amazing feeling. Being a part of this top-ranked organization for my whole career is great."

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Posted On Sunday, 11.17.2013 / 5:35 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks looking to rebound against Sharks

CHICAGO -- The way their weekend started Saturday night in the "Music City," the Chicago Blackhawks hope to sing a different tune after playing the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at United Center.

Not only did the Nashville Predators defeat them 7-2 at Bridgestone Arena, the Blackhawks also played without Marian Hossa, a late scratch because of a lower-body injury, and lost goalie Nikolai Khabibulin to an undisclosed injury in the first period.

Corey Crawford, who was supposed to get a day off, finished the game and allowed five of the seven goals. He'll go again Sunday against the Sharks, who have one of the most potent offenses in the League.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.16.2013 / 12:55 AM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Alfredsson late scratch for Red Wings

DETROIT -- Daniel Alfredsson was a late scratch Friday night for the Detroit Red Wings because of a groin injury.

The 40-year old took warm-up prior to the game against the Washington Capitals at Joe Louis Arena but was scratched as a precautionary measure. His absence left the Red Wings with 17 skaters.

"I had no idea what was going on there. I came up after warm-up and evidently he had some groin tightness and so [trainer Piet Van Zant] scratched him," coach Mike Babcock said after a 4-3 shootout loss. "Obviously, you'd like to have enough players but it worked out good, our rotation was fine. That wasn't an issue. That had nothing to do with the game."

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Posted On Friday, 11.15.2013 / 2:00 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Ericsson back for Red Wings, Green out for Capitals

DETROIT -- Jonathan Ericsson isn't cherry-picking his return to the Detroit Red Wings starting lineup.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound defenseman will make his return to Detroit's top defense pairing Friday night at Joe Louis Arena against the high-powered Washington Capitals, who are led by superstar Alex Ovechkin (14 goals, seven assists).

After missing 10 games with a shoulder subluxation, Ericsson is ready to get back on the ice with defense partner Niklas Kronwall.

"We'll keep him under 30 minutes and obviously he's a real good defender for us and can pass the puck [and has] huge size," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said following Detroit's optional morning skate. "It gives us one more high-end guy to get the puck going and be a better team. The forwards need the puck and he can do that plus play against real good players."


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Posted On Thursday, 11.14.2013 / 2:29 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Hanzal, Vrbata returning to Coyotes' lineup

CHICAGO -- The Phoenix Coyotes will get two of their most important players back Thursday at United Center against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Top center Martin Hanzal (illness) and second-line right wing Radim Vrbata (lower body) will return to the lineup after going through a full morning skate.

Hanzal missed one game, a 3-2 overtime win Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, while Vrbata missed the past two games. Defenseman Derek Morris, who has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury, went through the skate but will not play.

"It gives us a little more depth at the forward position," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "They're two guys who we put in our top-six forwards, so you take two of them out together, that's a big hole. [Hanzal] touches so many parts of the game for us at center ice and Vrbata's been, for the last couple years, our leading goal scorer. They're both valuable players who can hopefully jump back in and contribute."

Morris also is getting closer to returning.

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Posted On Sunday, 11.10.2013 / 5:33 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks look to continue fast start against Oilers

CHICAGO -- Joel Quenneville isn't letting a storyline get in the way of putting his best lineup on the ice.

The Chicago Blackhawks' coach will start his top goalie, Corey Crawford, against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday at United Center (7:30 p.m., WGN, SNET-W, SNET-EDM), less than 24 hours after earning the win in a 5-2 road victory against the Dallas Stars.

The decision means that struggling 40-year old veteran Nikolai Khabibulin will have to keep waiting for a chance to turn his season around.

"[Khabibulin] definitely got some consideration," Quenneville said during a press conference two hours before puck drop. "I know the last couple of weeks it's been a light schedule, only going like four games a week, so we expect to get him in here real soon."

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.06.2013 / 8:02 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jets' Kane scratched against Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Evander Kane (lower body) was scratched from the Winnipeg Jets' lineup on Wednesday before their game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Kane, who missed the Jets' 4-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, participated in an optional morning skate Wednesday and was a game-time decision.

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Posted On Sunday, 11.03.2013 / 5:58 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames' Berra makes NHL debut against Blackhawks

CHICAGO – The trade that sent Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues is about to start paying dividends for the Calgary Flames.

After being recalled from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League on Saturday, rookie goaltender Reto Berra will make his first NHL start Sunday night against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.

"He wants to play and I’ll never try to hold back a thoroughbred," Flames coach Bob Hartley told reporters after his team's skate Sunday. "I know of Reto because of my Swiss connections. This guy was probably the biggest free agent in the Swiss League, and he didn't even sign any contracts over there, [do] any deals. His mindset was to play in the NHL. He came here for a reason and that's why he's in [this] game."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.29.2013 / 6:16 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Senators reunite Spezza, Ryan, promote Zibanejad

CHICAGO -- Since blowing out the Detroit Red Wings 6-1 last week at Joe Louis Arena, the Ottawa Senators have only scored three combined goals in a pair of losses at home to the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.

Looking for a spark offensively, Senators coach Paul MacLean is set to reunite forward Bobby Ryan and captain Jason Spezza on the top line while putting 20-year old Mika Zibanejad in Ryan's former spot at right wing on the second unit.

Spezza (seven goals, four assists) and Ryan (six goals, three assists) are Ottawa's top-two scorers, while Zibanejad has a goal and an assist in three games since being recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League.

"We played together earlier in the year and I was banged up a little bit," Spezza said. "So we'll get another opportunity to play together and hopefully we'll make the most of it. If we're going to play together, we have to help guide the team offensively. When we're split up, it's a little bit more by committee. We have to try to be good together offensively and also play solid against the other teams' top lines."


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Posted On Saturday, 10.26.2013 / 3:13 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks continue roster, lineup shuffle against Wild

CHICAGO -- The wheel of change keeps spinning for the Chicago Blackhawks, with new faces continuing to get auditions and more familiar faces seeing looks in different roles.

This time, part of the lineup shakeup was caused by veteran center Michal Handzus, who did not participate in the Blackhawks' morning skate Saturday because of an upper-body injury. Marcus Kruger will fill in for Handzus at center on the second line Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild at United Center (8 p.m., FS-N, WGN), playing between star wingers Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane.

The move means Andrew Shaw will shift back to the middle of the third line, where Kruger's been playing of late, and rookie Jeremy Morin will get his first look at right wing on that unit this season. Morin was recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League on Friday afternoon.

"[Handzus] could be out for a little bit, we'll see," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "[Morin] gives us a little bit of something there, some speed and quickness and can score goals ... and things happen when he's out there."

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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic