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Posted On Wednesday, 02.29.2012 / 2:34 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Maple Leafs, Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Here's a look at how the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks might line up on Wednesday night:

MAPLE LEAFS
Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Matthew Lombardi - Tim Connelly - Matt Frattin
Colby Armstrong - Dave Steckel - Mike Brown

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Mike Komisarek
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson

Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer

BLACKHAWKS
Andrew Brunette - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp - Marcus Kruger - Viktor Stalberg
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Andrew Shaw
Jimmy Hayes - Jamal Mayers - Brandon Bollig

Duncan Keith - Nick Leddy
Johnny Oduya - Brent Seabrook
Sami Lepisto - Dylan Olsen

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 4:20 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Blackhawks report 'no progress' yet on Toews

CHICAGO -- It looks like captain Jonathan Toews will sit out again when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night at the United Center (8 p.m., TSN).

Toews, the Hawks' captain, has missed four straight games with what the team is calling an upper-body injury that's believed to be concussion-related. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville sounded hopeful this past weekend that Toews might be ready to face the Leafs, but the young superstar and Chicago's sparkplug didn't practice on Tuesday and there is no change in his prognosis of "day-to-day" with the injury.

"Toews is the same, didn't skate today," Quenneville said when asked after Tuesday's practice. "[He's] about the same he's been the last few days. No progress."

The Hawks are also missing defensemen Steve Montador and Niklas Hjalmarsson, who are also out with suspected concussions. Hjalmarsson skated on his own Tuesday, but was also ruled out for Wednesday's game -- which will be his second straight game missed since returning from a seven-game absence last week against the Dallas Stars.

Missing Toews, however, is a crushing blow to the Hawks -- who feed off his drive, emotion and sheer will to win. They also lack a true center to play on the top line, which is why star forward Patrick Kane will likely man that position on Wednesday night between Andrew Brunette and Marian Hossa.

"Obviously we'd like to see him on the ice and get a pretty good idea when he'll be back," Quenneville said of Toews. "He enhances our team in all areas, so it's tough when we don't see him on the ice. He's watching games and he's disappointed he can't be out there helping."

Knowing Toews, however, the term "disappointed" is probably understating his frustration by quite a bit.

"Injured guys definitely deal with that," Quenneville said. "We know the leader he is and how meaningful he'd be in our lineup. That's part of the frustration, as well."

Chicago also called up rookie forwards Andrew Shaw and Brand Bollig in the past two days now that the trading deadline has passed and teams no longer have to limit their rosters to 23 players.

Shaw is a gritty two-way forward who's not afraid to play around the net despite a lack of size, while Bollig is a big enforcer type who was put on a fourth line for Tuesday's practice with big bodies Jimmy Hayes and Jamal Mayers.

The Blackhawks now have five rookies on their roster, and all could suit up to play the Leafs on Wednesday in a big game for two teams trying to stop out of slumps. Quenneville wants his veterans to lead the way and try to take some pressure of all the young guys as the final portion of the regular season comes at them.

"The stretch drive is going to be very competitive, [and] going to be extremely tight," Quenneville said. "[We] lost the nice position we were in a month ago. It's evaporated and we have to come together here quickly and push and help each other."
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 6:12 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Wings may make a move, just not a big splash

DETROIT -- As Monday's trade deadline approaches, more sports talk on local radio stations is being dedicated to the Detroit Red Wings.

Callers and show hosts will probably be a little disappointed, however, when they learn the Red Wings aren't even kicking the tires on a major deal such as the kind that would bring Columbus Blue Jackets power forward Rick Nash to the Motor City.

The price would probably be way too high in return for the Stanley-Cup minded Red Wings to get a deal like that done -- not to mention the fact Columbus would likely be gun shy of trading Nash within the Central Division. The Wings are also looking at their situation in a different light than many fans – who’ve noticed Detroit’s scoring woes the past five games and think trading for a top goal-scorer is the
answer.

"That's not what we're looking for," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said on Saturday. "We're looking for depth people."

Detroit general manager Ken Holland has already pulled off one depth-related maneuver this week when he reeled in former Red Wings prospect and draft pick Kyle Quincey from the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche in a three-team deal.

Quincey, who's 26, is a restricted free agent and is an insurance policy of sorts in case veteran defenseman Brad Stuart opts to leave when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this coming July. Quincey scored a goal in his first game back with the Wings on Thursday while shifting with Jonathan Ericsson on the third pairing. He has 6 goals and 18 assists in 55 games overall this season.

Quincey gives the Wings eight defensemen with NHL experience heading into the stretch run of the regular season, which is exactly the kind of quality depth Holland sees as ideal for a team hoping to make a long playoff run.

Detroit is also set in goal, where starter Jimmy Howard continues to shine and 32-year old backup Joey MacDonald played great filling in while Howard was injured for eight games. The Wings also have veteran Ty Conklin working on his game down in Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. The only area left to address, possibly, is up front -- where Detroit likely won't get veteran depth forward Patrick Eaves [concussion] back this season.

"[Quincey] has a chance to be a real impact guy [on D] because he gives us depth and he's a good player," Babcock said. "That's, to me, what we're looking for. We're looking for depth because there's injuries. We got kids in the minors, but they're kids. So, if we can add a veteran type player who knows how to win and knows how to play, then maybe that happens. If not, then all hands on deck and let's go."

One name that has surfaced among those who cover the Red Wings is Montreal forward Travis Moen, who is currently out with an upper-body injury. If Montreal makes him available, the Red Wings are thought to have legitimate interest.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 3:32 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Abdelkader hopes for happy birthday against rival Avs

DETROIT -- While growing up in Muskegon, Mich., in the 1990s Justin Abdelkader enjoyed the bitter rivalry that developed between the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche.

Though the rhetoric has almost evaporated from those old battles, which featured two goalie fights and other physical run-ins, Abdelkader said he still thinks there is some leftover spite between the two organizations.

“I think it's still there," said Abdekader, who turned 25 on Saturday. "Maybe it's a little different, because I think both teams were pretty much 1-2 during the late [1990s], when they were battling it out. It's a little different, but I think there's still some of that intensity there.''

The Red Wings and Avalanche will face each other for the fourth and final time during the regular season on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena, which gave Abdelkader an opportunity to reflect on his days growing up as a Red Wings fan.

"It was '97, so I was probably 10 years old or so when it got heated up," Abdelkader said of the rivalry. "Just watching on TV, watching the battles, the playoffs, looked like it was really neat. I remember the fights. Lot of good memories."

If things go well on Saturday night, Abdelkader might make a few memories of his own in the rivalry with the Red Wings. He'll be lined up at right wing on the third line and will try to duplicate his one goal and one assist performance from Thursday night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

Also, he'll  have a sizable group of family and friends attending the game and celebrating his birthday.

"It's crazy," Abdelkader said. "Seems like each year goes by faster and faster. Talking to my parents on the way down to the rink ... 25 ... you know, it's wild, but it's pretty neat to get an opportunity to play a game on my birthday."
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 2:58 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Young Wings will be happy to see deadline pass

DETROIT -- Cory Emmerton, like many young players, will have a little sense of relief after the Monday trade deadline comes and goes.

The Detroit Red Wings rookie center isn't part of speculation, but many players don't really know if they're staying or going until after the deadline passes -- especially young guys.

"It's kind of nice when it's all said and done," Emmerton said on Saturday morning. "As much as you say you don't think about it, it's  always there. It's just part of hockey. It's more of a media thing. It's the biggest day of the year in Canada."

Emmerton actually finds that part of it entertaining.

"It's funny how they make a big production out of it," he said. "It'll be fun when it's overwith and we can just worry about playing hockey and not have to worry about what's going on with trades in the League."

Forward Justin Abdelkader, who turned 25 on Saturday, agrees.

"Obviously it's always a time of year when you never know, teams are always looking to upgrade their rosters," he said. "Players always have it in the backs of their minds. You can't really worry about it. You just have to go out and play. When it passes you don't need to worry anymore, but it's one of those things where you can control what you can control. Just go out there, play hard and do your best."

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland has already pulled off a trade on Tuesday to bring in 26-year old defenseman Kyle Quincey from the Colorado Avalanche in a three-team deal that gives Detroit depth on the blue line with eight NHL defensemen.

Backup goalie Joey MacDonald has a firm handle on that role, so all that's really left to address -- if anything -- is a depth forward to help replace the likely loss of Patrick Eaves (concussion) for the rest of the season.

"We’re all in our organization and as a management group right now focused on if we can improve our team," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "At the same time, we like our team. If there’s something there that can help us and makes sense, then that’s a great thing. Change just to change isn’t going to be the approach."
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 2:51 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Datysuk better, but not skating yet

DETROIT -- His knee continues to recover from the arthroscopic knee surgery that was performed on Tuesday, but Detroit Red Wings star center Pavel Datsyuk hasn't gotten back onto the ice just yet.

The dynamic Russian two-way centerman continues to do rehab work off the ice, but said he's glad he had the procedure to clean up a ligament fragment now rather than waiting. Datsyuk could be out up to two more weeks or longer, but is expected to be fully recovered by the time the playoffs start.

"Yeah, it's better now," Datsyuk said on Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. "I'm lucky to have [it done] now and not late in the season. I have more time to come back.''

Datsyuk said he was getting closer to skating on his own, but sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether he's being 100 percent serious.

"I would like to skate [Sunday] but maybe we have day off and I not come," Datsyuk said, smiling. "I'm not sure."

A reporter asked if he might try to skate somewhere other than Joe Louis Arena on Sunday.

"Yeah, I skate somewhere else," Datsyuk said, now clearly joking. "Maybe in Russia."
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 1:34 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Wings look to get back to basics, winning ways

DETROIT – It's not about starting a new home winning streak for the Detroit Red Wings as much it is about getting back to the basics of what helped them reel off an NHL record 23 straight victories at Joe Louis Arena in the first place.

They need to skate better than they have the past two games, both one-goal losses, and they need to fix their puck-possession game – which, when it's right, is dominant.  The hurdle on Saturday night (7 p.m.) will be doing it against the hungry, athletic Colorado Avalanche (31-37-4), who have won two straight games including a 5-0 thrashing of the Columbus Blue Jackets in Ohio on Friday night.

Colorado finds itself deadlocked in the Western Conference standings at 66 points with two other teams – who are all two points behind the Dallas Stars for the final playoff spot. So, the Avs ought to be highly motivated.

Detroit (41-18-3) should be, too, after Vancouver passed the Red Wings by a point for the top spot in the West after winning on Friday night in New Jersey.

"They’ve won their last two games total and they’re playing well," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the Avs on Saturday morning at Joe Louis Arena. "They play fast, and they’ve got some skill up front. Their back end is young, but they’ve got some good skill. They’re going to be a test. The other thing is, we haven’t been as good. You’ve got to reestablish how you play and your structure."

The Red Wings will also try to accomplish that for the third straight game without star center Pavel Datsyuk, who could be out for up to two more weeks recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery this past Tuesday.

The dynamic Russian two-way centerman's prowess in the faceoff circle – among all other facets of his game – has been noticeably missed in the last two games against the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks, which leads to the Wings not possessing the puck as much as they'd like.

Babcock said it's merely another opportunity for somebody else to step forward and fill the gap until Datsyuk returns.

"It’s important that you can have enough guys to keep everybody hungry," Babcock said. "It’s like anything. Am I satisfied with our scoring ability without Pav? Am I satisfied with our defense without Pav? Well, I like having Pav on the team. We don’t have him on the team, but opportunity knocks for somebody else."

Newly-acquired Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey – who was traded from the Colorado Avalanche in a three-team deal on Tuesday – didn't meet with reporters prior to the game after making a few comments about his former teammates "having their bags packed" hoping to be traded.

After Friday's practice, Quincey said the comments – which he gave to reporters in Detroit on Thursday – were taken out of context and didn't think they should be bulletin board material for Saturday night's game against the Avs.

Colorado only held a sparsely-attended optional skate at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday morning and didn't have many players who will play in the game available for comment.

Here is how the Avalanche and Red Wings will likely line up to start Saturday night's game:

AVALANCHE

Matt Duchene - Paul Statsny - Milan Hejduk
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downie
Daniel Winnik - Mark Olver - David Jones
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew

Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan Wilson
Stefan Elliott - Matt Hunwick

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

RED WINGS

Johan Franzen - Henrik Zetterberg - Todd Bertuzzi
Jiri Hudler - Valtteri Filppula - Danny Cleary
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Jan Mursak - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Kyle Quincey

Jimmy Howard
Joey MacDonald
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Posted On Friday, 02.24.2012 / 5:06 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Quincey says remarks about Avs 'came out wrong'

DETROIT -- During his first media session in the Detroit Red Wings' locker room on Thursday morning, newly-acquired defenseman Kyle Quincey sounded an awful lot like he was ripping his former team, the Colorado Avalanche, which traded him as part of a three-team deal that also involved the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings.

Quincey said a lot of Colorado's players "had their bags packed" and were waiting to get dealt like he did -- and were probably upset they weren't part of a package deal with him. About 24 hours later, the 26-year old Quincey was asked about the comments, especially since the Avs are coming into Detroit to play the Red Wings on Saturday night.

"That was taken out of context and I didn't mean any of that," Quincey said. "It wasn't all in Colorado, it was the whole League. Everyone until Monday at [3 p.m.] is pretty anxious. That goes for everybody, not just Colorado. Everybody in the League. I don't want to put any of my former teammates in hot soup. I regret saying the stuff that I did, but it wasn't towards them."

He then had some glowing remarks for two-plus years spent with the Avs.

"Colorado is an unbelievable place to play," Quincey said. "I had a great time there. I love it there. I bought a house there and that's my home now. So, the last thing I want to do is get them upset with me."

Quincey said he hadn't been contacted by any of his former teammates about the comments, but it does give a new twist to Saturday's matchup at Joe Louis Arena.

"I haven't talked to any of them at all, but they know me and they know that I'm not a negative person at all … so they know that I didn't mean that at all," said Quincey, who scored a goal in first game after the trade that returned him to the team that drafted him in 2003. "Obviously, being [in Colorado] for three years and how much I liked that organization and what they did for me, I have nothing but positive things to say and those things came out wrong."

Is the former Avs defenseman looking forward to facing his old teammates so quicky?

"It's going to be weird," Quincey said after Friday's practice. "I remember the first time I came back here [to Joe Louis Arena], I was squeezing the stick pretty hard. I think the biggest challenge is going to be going back to Pepsi Center, but I'm looking forward to it."

As for that first game back in a Red Wings uniform since leaving via the waivers process in 2008, it was kind of a roller coaster for Quincey. He put the Vancouver Canucks on the power play with a pair of minor penalties in the second period, then scored a goal early in the third for a 2-1 lead before finding himself on the ice when Daniel Sedin sent it to overtime with just 15.4 seconds left in regulation.

"The second period with the two penalties, I'd like to have those back," Quincey said. "They were weak penalties, not very good penalties by myself, and I wanted to get that back … and scoring that goal was just an unbelievable feeling. I was hoping that it was going to be the game-winner, but you have to give [Vancouver] credit. They're a great team. They played well going down the stretch and they didn’t give up. They did the same exact thing to us two weeks ago in Colorado and I was like, 'This is déjà vu.'"
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 3:26 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Quincey thrilled to be back where he started

DETROIT -- The new face inside the Detroit Red Wings locker room on Thursday morning was actually a familiar face.

Kyle Quincey made a familiar walk down the hallway decorated with Red Wings history, hung a left turn and headed straight into the locker room where he made his NHL debut with Detroit in 2005. After departing the Red Wings through the waivers process and being claimed by the Los Angeles Kings, Quincey developed into a solid NHL defenseman.

He spent one year in Los Angeles and the next three in Colorado, before being dealt back to Detroit on Tuesday in a three-team deal that had his head spinning when he finally got to his cell phone.

"I think I was the last to find out," said the 26-year old Quincey, a restricted free agent after this season. "I was in the dentist's chair and I had about 50 messages when I got out. The trade was already made with Detroit before I found out, so that was kind of nice. All my buddies in Tampa were calling, excited, but I guess they'll have to wait."

His buddies in Detroit only had to wait until Thursday morning, when he showed up at Joe Louis Arena once again as a Red Wing. How has Quincey changed as a player since the last time he wore the Winged Wheel logo on his chest?

"Last time I was here I didn't have any confidence," said Quincey, whom Detroit took in the fourth round of 2003 NHL Draft [No. 132]. "I was just a young guy trying to squeak under the radar, but getting the opportunity and getting the confidence and knowing I can be a good player in the NHL, play good minutes, it's huge. I'm just so excited to come back to this team."

Almost as excited as he was to leave. Getting claimed by the Kings off waivers wasn't all that painful for Quincey to accept, mainly because he knew the opportunity ahead of him was a good one.

"At the time it was actually awesome because it gave me the opportunity to play," said Quincey, who played just 13 regular season games with the Red Wings spread over three seasons. "If I went through waivers and went to Grand Rapids [again], that would have been real frustrating. But if you ask a lot of guys that aren't playing, they'd
probably asked to get waived. That's the great system we have, the CBA. It's a rule that helped my career. Who knows, I could still be in Grand Rapids. I'm very fortunate [the Kings] took a chance on me. I just went from there. I told [Holland] that back then, 'Thanks for the opportunity and I appreciate it.'"

On Thursday morning, Holland had a message for him.

"I just saw him on my way to the ice, so it wasn't that much, but we smiled and he just said, 'Welcome back,' and just laughed," Quincey said. "I was glad to be back, for sure."

He not only knows all but three Red Wings players from his previous stint here, but he's also happy to be back in coach Mike Babcock's system -- where he'll start out paired with Jonathan Ericsson on the third defense unit, get some time on the second power-play group and maybe log some penalty-kill time.

"I played with [Ericsson] in Grand Rapids," Quincey said. "Hopefully it's a pretty seamless transition. This system by far, with [Babcock], is by far the best I've ever played in. Absolute nightmare playing against these guys, so I'm glad I'm on the other side of the puck. I'm happy to be back in this system. I think it's good for everybody. Players with skill … they have so much of it here. By far the best system I've ever played in."

Will the skills that got him established in Los Angeles and Colorado fit back in with that system?

"For sure," Quincey said. "A lot of other teams try to get you to rim the puck along the glass and I know these guys don't like that. I'm all for that. I don't like giving the puck up either. I'm excited to play in this system."

Babcock and Holland are pretty stoked about it, too. Now the Red Wings have eight NHL-caliber defensemen, so if injury strikes they'll be prepared down the stretch and into the postseason.

"He's a good player," Babcock said. "It gives us depth. We're in a situation now where we have a lot of top-four [defensemen]. We think it's great for now and it's really great for the future of our team."
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:48 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Two days after surgery, Datsyuk already eyes return

DETROIT -- Star Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk underwent minor arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday, but don't be fooled into thinking he's just reclining in a comfy chair for a few days.

Datsyuk was at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday morning getting started on off-ice workouts and wondering when he'll be able to get back on the ice just to get skating again.

"Yeah, for sure, no time to relax," Datsyuk said, when asked if he'd begin working out off the ice since having the surgical procedure. "No free tickets to Florida. I need to work out."

Datsyuk was having a great season before it was interrupted by a twinge in his knee that didn't feel right after Detroit's last home game -- a 3-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday that pushed the Red Wings' NHL-record home winning streak to 23 games.

He's amassed 59 points in 59 games (16 goals and 43 assists) and was again near the top of the League in takeaways. Something happened in the San Jose game, however, that caused Datsyuk to mention how his knee felt to Red Wings athletic trainer Piet Van Zant. An MRI was performed, which showed a loose fragment of cartilage that needed to be cleaned up.

"I felt something in my leg, needed to check it," Datsyuk told reporters on Thursday. "I felt it after San Jose game. Maybe it was bothering me a little bit [before], but not like what happened in San Jose game."

When does the jovial superstar hope to get back into some skates and go for a spin?

"Tomorrow," Datsyuk deadpanned.

Really … that soon?

"No," Datsyuk said. "Maybe not. We'll see."

The initial timetable for a return to game action was between two and three weeks, which Datsyuk is hopeful will be the case.
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Quote of the Day

You know what? We've played in some pretty special buildings along this playoff run so far. You start in Detroit, you go to Montreal, you come here … I think it's the first team to beat three Original Six teams to get to the Final if I'm not mistaken. That says how tough the road has been. Those are tough places to win.

— Lightning forward Steven Stamkos after Game 7 win vs. Rangers on Friday in New York