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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Saturday, 11.26.2011 / 2:24 PM

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

Nashville's Josi looking forward to NHL debut

DETROIT – Nothing is set for sure, but it looks like rookie defenseman Roman Josi will make his NHL debut for the Nashville Predators on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena against the Detroit Red Wings.

Josi, 21, was a second-round pick for the Predators in the 2008 Entry Draft (No.38 overall) and appeared to be in good position to make a run at a roster spot in training camp. Instead, the puck-moving Swiss blueliner had a concussion early in camp and that set him back.

Now, he’s been called up and may make his debut playing next to Jonathan Blum for the Predators. Nashville coach Barry Trotz didn’t confirm Josi is playing, but did say he’s looking forward to seeing what the young defenseman can add.

“He’s a pretty dynamic player,” Trotz said after Nashville’s morning skate. “He’s such a great skater and he’s more of a puck-mover. If I had to describe him, he’d be more like a Ryan Suter. He’s got great ability to move laterally and he’s got great escapability and is a great passer. He’s a good young defenseman. I’d use him on the power play. That’s a strength for him.”

Trotz said it was simply time for Josi to get more familiar with the League.

“I brought him up to get him acclimatized to the National Hockey League a little bit, with no expectations that he’s going to be in the lineup or not in the lineup,” Trotz said. “I need him to get used to us and us to him.”

If Josi does play for the Predators tonight, he’ll be playing against one of his childhood favorites in Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom – who fronts a team that’s quite popular where he’s from.

“They always had a good team and I always watched the Red Wings (growing up),” Josi said. “They’re pretty famous in Switzerland, too. Everybody watches the Red Wings, especially Lidstom. He was always great and is still great, so I’m excited to see him out there. He was always one of the best players and defensemen and I always looked up to him.”
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POSTED ON Saturday, 11.26.2011 / 1:18 PM

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

Red Wings back at home to face physical Predators

DETROIT – Their 3-2 shootout win Friday afternoon against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in Beantown still had the Detroit Red Wings talking about the atmosphere of that game Saturday morning.

It was the first NBC broadcast of the season, it was the NHL’s inaugural “Thanksgiving Showdown” and it was intense from start to finish, which ended with Todd Bertuzzi’s slick top-shelf move to beat Tuukka Rask for the win.

Some of the Wings even said it felt a little like a playoff game, with the balance of the game hanging on seemingly every rush up the ice down the stretch. Now, Detroit has to face the always-physical, grinding style of the Nashville Predators a day later back home at Joe Louis Arena.

“Every game is a battle and if you’re not up for it or you’re not 100 percent going into the game, you probably will not be in the game,” 38-year old Detroit forward Tomas Holmstrom said following the Wings’ optional morning skate. “[Nashville] doesn’t give up much. They really seem to block lots of shots and their best player is probably the goalie (Pekka Rinne), so we’ve got to get lots of shots and get in his face [so he doesn’t] see the shots coming.”

That probably sounds easier than it’s going to be for the Wings to do. Asked what’s the most difficult challenge about playing back-to-back games, let alone ones that involve a defending Cup champion, Detroit coach Mike Babcock was to the point.

“Energy,” he said. “It’s real simple. You don’t like to play back-to-back if you don’t have to. We’re fortunate it was an afternoon game (in Boston) and we’ll come here and get after it.”

They’ll also “get after it” with a new face in the lineup, as forward Patrick Eaves will get back on the ice for the first time since a Nov. 15 loss against the St. Louis Blues – a span of six games as a healthy scratch.

Detroit didn’t skate forward lines Saturday morning, but Eaves will likely slot into the right wing slot of the third line for Justin Abdelkader – who may drop down to center the fourth line in place of Cory Emmerton. That would mean Eaves would be paired with speed center Darren Helm and another good skater in Jiri Hudler.

“Eaves has been fine,” Babcock said. “The reality is, the way our lineup’s been this year, I like Patty to play with two skaters, so he’s been the odd man out not because of things he’s done. He played great in St. Louis his last time out.”

Eaves also battled a back issue that kept him out for three games in the first week of November, but he said that’s healed and he’s ready to contribute.

“I’ve been waiting to get this opportunity and it should be fun,” said Eaves, who has one assist in nine games played. “Just staying in shape and keeping your mind in the hockey mode is all you can do. You can control what you can control and that’s about it. As a player you’re always motivated to play.”

Here are the projected lineups for the Red Wings and Predators:

PREDATORS

Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Martin Erat - Mike Fisher - Sergei Kostitsyn
Jordin Tootoo - Craig Smith - Nick Spaling
Matt Halischuk - Blake Geoffrion - Jerred Smithson

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein
Roman Josi - Jonathan Blum

Pekka Rinne will get the start in net, while Anders Lindback will be on the bench as the backup.


RED WINGS

Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Danny Cleary
Jiri Hudler - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Jonathan Ericsson - Niklas Kronwall
Jakub Kindl - Brad Stuart

Jimmy Howard will get his 15th straight start in net, while Ty Conklin will be on the bench as the backup.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:58 PM

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

Iginla not ready to panic about slow start

DETROIT – Calgary Flames star captain Jarome Iginla has gone through scoring droughts before, so he’s not ready to hit the panic button just yet because he has just five goals and nine points in 19 games heading into a matchup Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.

Two seasons ago, the two-time 50-goal scorer went through a similar dry spell and still wound up with 32 goals and 37 assists – but even those numbers were very uncharacteristic of Iginla, who’d scored 50
goals just two seasons prior.

Much has been made about the pressure Iginla puts on himself to score goals for the Flames, who don’t have a wealth of star power in their top six forwards, but he’s not ready to sound the alarms just because he’s now 34 years old.

“As far as my game, yeah, it’s tough,” said Iginla, who’s scored just one goal and two points in Calgary’s last eight games. “It’s been a tough stretch, there’s no question. But I’m going to remain positive. I don’t think it’s helpful for myself, personally, in my game to feel sorry for myself or get too frustrated or get negative. I’m going to work and I’m going to go over things I think I can improve on and keep going and I believe it will change.”
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:55 PM

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

Morrison set to return for Flames

DETROIT – Brendan Morrison’s knee is good enough to get back into the active lineup, so that’s what will happen Wednesday night when he joins the Calgary Flames for a game against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

After Morrison didn’t score a goal or point in eight games to start the season, the Flames decided to put him on injured reserve Nov. 8 to do more conditioning work and put his surgically-repaired left knee through more rehab work. Morrison started the season as Calgary’s second-line center and said he felt enough to go. However, practice intensity differed from game intensity and he didn’t feel confident in the knee holding up during games. Now, he’s feeling confident it’s ready to go.

“It’s better for sure,” Morrison said Tuesday. “A little more time helps the (healing) process and just mentally trusting it more. That was the biggest issue early on was not really trusting it and not engaging anybody for fear of being beat and having to chase guys. That has improved over the past 2-1/2 weeks, so I’m excited to try it again and get back to work.”

Calgary head coach Brent Sutter said he’ll get back to work Wednesday night against the Wings – replacing Matt Stajan at center on the fourth line. Morrison said he doesn’t think his decision to start the season in the active lineup was a rushed decision.

“When I came back, I was practicing and felt good in practice,” he said. “There was no issue at all. That’s where I was at that point in time. I felt like I was ready and it was comfortable in practices, but going into the games it was evident I was still lacking a little bit. So, that’s when we made the decision to kind of take some time and work on it.”
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:08 PM

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

Wings tell Smith not to pack bags just yet

DETROIT -- Brendan Smith was excited as he talked about his recent debut as an NHL defenseman, which happened during the Detroit Red Wings' recent four-game road trip to the West coast.

Smith, 22, was so pumped up that he didn't even seem to mind getting sent back to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League following Detroit's practice on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. He hurriedly packed his hockey bag for the short drive to the West part of Michigan and talked about how thrilling it was to make his debut in front of his parents and older brother Rory -- all of whom caught a cross-country flight the morning of his first game, against the San Jose Sharks.

It's just that, unbeknownst to him, Smith's demotion to Grand Rapids wasn't a sure thing in the mind of Red Wings coach Mike Babcock -- who noticed Smith's bag all packed up in the locker room and yelled over to him to unpack it.

Babcock said Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart is dealing with an undisclosed injury and will be a game-time decision after warm-ups, which means Smith might be back in the lineup on Wednesday night despite the return of defenseman Ian White, whose broken cheekbaone prompted Smith's promotion in the first place.

"I'm very pleased with my first three games and there's a lot of things I've learned," Smith said. "A lot of the things the coaches have told me are about how to make the quick play. The biggest thing is that in Grand Rapids I can kind of get away with carrying the puck a little bit more, just because of my skill level and stuff, but it's a lot harder to do it in the NHL. I'm going to have to make that earlier pass and not get into bad habits in Grand Rapids."

Smith also had to sit out five NHL games at the start of this season because of a hit in the preseason on Chicago Blackhawks rookie Ben Smith. Brendan Smith said he wasn't trying to make a malicious hit or target Ben Smith's head, but his shoulder did clip the Blackhawks forward's head and sent him to the ice.

The next day, Brendan Smith sent a text to Ben Smith to explain what happened -- which Ben Smith received and texted back that it was just a hockey play. Since then, both have now played with their respective teams.

Brendan Smith said, if anything, he's learned that he needs to make sure he gets full body contact shoulder-to-shoulder on any future plays like that one, in which Ben Smith toe-dragged the puck to the middle of the ice as Brendan Smith came at him across the ice.

He's also ready to put that play completely behind him and concentrate on the future -- which for the short-term probably includes at least one more game with the Wings, who sent down forward Fabian Brunnstrom on Tuesday to make room to keep Smith.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:02 PM

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

White rejoins Wings after heroic -- but costly -- effort

DETROIT -- The last time he was seen in action for the Detroit Red Wings, defenseman Ian White was diving across the crease to make a remarkable save to keep his team ahead by a goal in the third period of a tight game against the Dallas Stars.

That was 11 days and four games ago -- and that save was made with his face. The puck, shot by Jamie Benn from point-blank range with Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard sprawled on the other side of the net, hit White in the cheek.

It gashed his skin and also broke his cheekbone, causing him to miss the Wings' recent four-game road trip to the West coast. He returned to the ice for practice on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena, skated with the team in the morning skate on Wednesday and plans to play on Wednesday night against the Calgary Flames -- wearing a full plastic facial shield.

"It was a point shot," White said, recalling the play for reporters after Tuesday's practice. "Benn tipped it. The rebound was lying there. Howie was down and out, so they had a tap-in. I tried to block it with anything but my face, but it got me right in the cheek."

It also caused a cut that took 13 stitches to sew up, not to mention a post-game trip to the hospital for further evaluation. And it could've been even worse. White wasn't wearing a visor, but was asked if the experience made him consider wearing one for the rest of his career after he's done with the full shield.

"I'll have to think about it," he said. "I'll wear it for at least the rest of the season. Who knows if it would have even stopped the puck? I dodged a bullet. (I’m) fortunate not to miss that many games."

Howard also felt fortunate to have a teammate willing to go to such lengths to keep a puck out of the net. In fact, the Wings goalie has said he'll definitely pick up a dinner tab for White at some point this season. He would've done it on this past road trip, but White couldn't make the trip.

"I thought I could even play a little bit sooner, (but) I just couldn't fly when you have the sinus and the pressure or something like that," White said. "It doesn't really hurt at all."

White said he will be able to fly with the team on Thursday evening, Thanksgiving night, as Detroit heads East for a one-game trip to play the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins on Black Friday.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:00 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flames, Red Wings

Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena:

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - Mikael Backlund - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Rene Bourque
Paul Byron - Roman Horak - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - Brendan Morrison / Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Scott Hannan - Mark Giordano
Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
Derek Smith - TJ Brodie

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson

RED WINGS
Todd Bertuzzi - Pavel Datsyuk - Johan Franzen
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Danny Cleary
Jiri Hudler - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart / Brendan Smith
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin
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POSTED ON Sunday, 11.13.2011 / 2:59 PM

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

Carcillo on the mend after taking puck to his face

CHICAGO – One of the better talkers inside the Blackhawks locker room is forward Daniel Carcillo, but he’s currently having a little trouble speaking because of stitches left behind from oral surgery to repair a bottom tooth plus cuts to his upper and lower lips.

Carcillo was accidentally hit with a puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets this past Thursday after Grant Clitsome hit him square in the mouth with a clearing attempt behind the net. Carcillo didn’t have time to get out of the way and the puck knocked out a tooth – which was his third lost since he started playing hockey.

The other two are the front upper teeth, which were knocked out by a stick back when he used to play for the Phoenix Coyotes.

“It happens (playing pro hockey),” Carcillo said of getting hit in the face with the puck. “I’ve never had it happen to me until now, but obviously we’re not wearing shields and it’s a fast game. If someone shoots a puck at your face and you’re two feet away, there’s really not much you can do.”

Carcillo said he had surgery Saturday to install the post for an artificial tooth but didn’t know the number of stitches it took to close the cuts. Carcillo, who will be in the lineup Sunday night against the Edmonton Oilers, said that Clitsome apologized for what happened.
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POSTED ON Sunday, 11.13.2011 / 1:19 PM

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

Eager back in lineup, faces old friends

Following Edmonton’s Sunday skate at the United Center, Oilers coach Tom Renney said that former Blackhawks forward Ben Eager – who won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010 – will return to the lineup against his former team (7 p.m. ET)

Eager was a healthy scratch Friday night in Detroit. Renney, however, hasn’t made his mind up about who will come out of the lineup to make room. The thinking among Edmonton reporters is that Lennart Petrell will be the odd man out, but after two straight losses it could by a number of guys.

Renney said he will think about it Sunday afternoon and make a game-time decision. Eager played against the Boston this past Thursday, but Renney said it wasn’t anything he did in that 6-3 loss that prompted his exit from the lineup against the Red Wings the next night.

“I don’t want guys out too long,” Renney said. “We’ve got a young team here and players have to play. It might not be what they’re not doing out on the ice (when they get scratched). It’s who’s out and who needs to get back in.”

The Oilers are looking forward to wrapping up this six-game road trip and hoping to end their two-game losing streak. They’ve dropped three of the first five on the trip.

“Our last really, really good game from start to finish for us was (vs. the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 3),” Renney said. “That was because nobody really cared, other than making sure we all played off the same page and just did a really good job of everything together. We need to get back to that.”

Since that game, Edmonton has averaged just two goals a game and won just once in four outings. Simplifying things against the Blackhawks is what the Oilers are hoping will get them back on track.

“Sometimes when you’re squeezing the stick, whether you’re young or old or a forward or D-man … even a goaltender, you go a little outside of yourself and outside of what’s required of you within the team concept to have success,” Renney said. “That can be damaging.”

Here's the projected lineup for the Oilers tonight:

Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle or Alex Hemsky
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Alex Hemsky or Jordan Eberle
Ryan Jones - Sam Gagner - Eric Belanger
Ben EagerAnton LanderLennart Petrell or Magnus Paajarvi

Ladislav Smid - Tom Gilbert
Corey Potter - Andy Sutton
Theo Peckham - Jeff Petry

Nikolai Khabibulin
Devan Dubnyk
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POSTED ON Sunday, 11.13.2011 / 12:05 PM

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

Bolland still out for Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- Center Dave Bolland will miss his third straight game for Chicago with a foot injury that he hurt while blocking a shot against the St. Louis Blues last week.

Bolland will make the Hawks' annual upcoming six-game "circus trip" to the West coast and Western Canada, with the hope of making his return at some point on that venture.

"He's going to be on the trip," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said following Chicago's optional skate at United Center on Sunday. "Hopefully he gets to play in one of the first two games."

Here is the Blackhawks’ projected lineup for their game Saturday game against the Edmonton Oilers:

Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Daniel Carcillo - Patrick Kane - Patrick Sharp
Bryan Bickell - Marcus Kruger - Michael Frolik
Andrew Brunette - Jamal Mayers - Rostislav Olesz

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Nick Leddy
Steve Montador - John Scott

Corey Crawford will start in net for the Blackhawks and Ray Emery will back him up.
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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory