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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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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 1:06 PM

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

Detroit's Mursak progressing well in ankle rehab

DETROIT – He’s still a couple weeks away from putting on skates and getting back on the ice, but Detroit Red Wings rookie forward Jan Mursak is progressing from a severely broken ankle that happened in the preseason.

Mursak, who had earned a spot on the Wings before the injury, is encouraged by how quickly he was able to shed both the initial cast and the walking cast that followed. He’s walking around with no cast right now, even though the ankle still feels stiff and isn’t strong enough to run or jump on it yet.

“It’s going pretty good,” Mursak said after working out in the Wings’ weight room Saturday morning at Joe Louis Arena. “Every day it’s a lot better and I can do more stuff. There’s still certain things that I can’t do, yet hopefully in the next couple weeks I can get better and get back on the ice and start skating.”
   
Mursak didn’t require surgery to fix the fracture, which happened in a preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Mursak was bumped during a hard charge to the net and lost his edge. He was sent flying feet-first into the dasher boards behind the net and his foot bent at an awkward angle – snapping a bone in his ankle and damaging some ligaments.

“I was lucky,” said Mursak, who made his debut with the Wings last season and played 19 games with Detroit. “It was kind of … on the line between surgery or not. I had to ask a few more specialists for ankles to see if I’d need one, but in the end I didn’t need (surgery), and it’s good because my recovery … it’s a lot shorter than it would be with surgery.”

The speedy Mursak played in 54 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League last season and finished with 13 goals and 22 assists. He’s just the second Slovenian to play in the NHL after the Los Angeles KingsAnze Kopitar and was eagerly anticipating his first full season in the League before he got hurt.

His last cast came off two weeks early, but Mursak doesn’t want to jump the gun in setting a timetable for a return – which doctors initially said would be around Christmas time in December.

“It just takes time to stretch that ankle now because it’s so stiff,” Mursak said. “We’ll see in the next few weeks how it goes. It’s still healing. It doesn’t hurt as much anymore. It’s just stiff and we have to stretch that out.”
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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 12:48 PM

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

Stars look for options to help replace injured Goligoski

DETROIT – A bad night in Pittsburgh on Friday for the Dallas Stars got worse with the news that puck-moving defenseman Alex Goligoski has a fractured thumb that could keep him out of action for up to a month.

Goligoski was hit in the hand by a shot just six minutes into the game and left the game immediately. He didn’t return and flew back to Dallas after the game for X-rays – which showed the fracture.

“It’s non-displaced, so it’s probably going to be a four-week thing,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said, following Dallas’ optional morning skate Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. “It’s a bad blow for us, but he took a wrist shot off the thumb, so it’s just one of those things that teams go through. Other guys can step up now.”

In the immediate short term, that will include Adam Pardy – who will step into the lineup in place of Goligoski on Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings. He will be on the second defense pairing with Mark Fistric, who was hit in the throat with a puck against Pittsburgh on Friday night but is healthy enough to play.

“(Pardy) is a guy we went after in free agency and really wanted,” Gulutzan said. “He’s a big body that can move, so this can be a good chance for other guys to showcase themselves on a full-time basis.”

Another guy to watch in that regard is 21-year old puck-moving defenseman Philip Larsen, who was recalled from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League on Saturday morning. Larsen, Dallas’ fifth pick in the 2008 Entry Draft (No. 149), could see a lot of ice time while Goligoski. He played for Gulutzan on the Texas Stars last season, so the coach is already familiar with him.

“I like the idea of having a right shot here,” Gulutzan said. “(Goligoski) can skate, (Larsen) can skate. Obviously he’s not at the offensive level that Goose is. Goose is a one or two (defenseman) and Philip, in my mind, is a five or six guy in the NHL. He had a great training camp. I don’t think there will be any huge learning curve for Philip. I think he’ll be ready to step in and help us when he gets an opportunity.”

Gulutzan said that won’t happen in Saturday night, but could after Larsen gets a few practices with the Stars under his belt.

Prior to his call-up, Larsen led all Texas Stars defensemen in scoring with one goal and nine assists in 10 games. He was also their top-scoring defenseman on the power play by racking up six assists with the man-advantage.

“I’ve got a lot of trust in Philip,” Gulutzan said. “He’s got a high compete level. When you get European-skating defensemen like him, you seem to think he’s a real catalyst offensively. He’s good offensively, but he competes real hard defensively and that’s what I think about him.”

Gulutzan said the only other lineup decision to make will be whether Krystofer Barch or Jake Dowell plays left wing on the fourth line for the Stars, which he said will be a gametime decision made after warm-ups.


Here are the projected lineups for tonight at Joe Louis Arena between the Dallas Stars (11-4-0) and Detroit Red Wings (8-5-1):

DALLAS

Loui Eriksson - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Brenden Morrow - Mike Ribeiro - Adam Burish
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Jake Dowell or Krystofer Barch -Tom Wandell - Toby Petersen

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley - Nicklas Grossman
Mark Fistric - Adam Pardy

Andrew Raycroft will start in net for the Stars, while Kari Lehtonen will get a night off as the backup.

DETRIOT

Tomas Holmstrom - Pavel Datsyuk - Danny Cleary
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Johan Franzen
Jiri Hudler - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Patrick Eaves

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

Jimmy Howard will start in goal for the Red Wings and Ty Conklin will be his back-up.

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Posted On Friday, 11.11.2011 / 12:40 PM

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

Projected lineups for Blackhawks, Flames

CHICAGO -- After breaking a three-game losing skid Thursday night in Columbus, the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to hold a morning skate Friday at the United Center.

The Calgary Flames, Chicago's opponent Friday night, did have a morning skate after making a couple of roster moves Thursday. The Flames placed veteran center Brendan Morrison on injured reserve because of "inadequate rehabilitation of ACL knee surgery," and placed veteran defenseman Anton Babchuk on IR because of a broken bone in his hand that happened while blocking a shot Tuesday in Minnesota.

They called up defenseman T.J. Brodie to replace Babchuk and center Paul Byron to take Morrison's spot on the roster.

The Blackhawks could be without two-way center Dave Bolland for the second straight game, after he injured his foot while blocking a shot against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.

If Bolland is unable to play, look for Chicago coach Joel Quenneville to go with a similar lineup to the one he used against the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 6-3 win Thursday night -- save for sixth defenseman John Scott potentially being replaced by Sami Lepisto or Sean O'Donnell.

The Blackhawks finally found some success on their struggling power play against the Blue Jackets, going 2-for-3 after coming into the game having scored just once in their previous 30 man-advantage situations.

One of the biggest changes Quenneville has made to the power-play units is putting defenseman Steve Montador in front of the net as a forward -- which paid off against Columbus. Montador scored one of Chicago's power-play goals and was on the ice for the other one, as well -- scored by veteran forward Andrew Brunette.

"We had a real good first period and when you get the power play going all of a sudden you get some excitement in the team game,"Quenneville told reporters after the game. "It was nice to see a couple nice plays and a couple nice finishes around the net."

Here are the projected lineups for Friday night:

CALGARY

Jarome Iginla - Mikael Backlund - Alex Tanguay
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Rene Bourque
Paul Byron - Roman Horak - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - David Moss - Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
Scott Hannan - Mark Giordano
Derek Smith - T.J. Brodie

Miikka Kiprusoff will start in goal for the Flames, while Henrik Karlsson will be his back-up

CHICAGO

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

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Nick Leddy
Steve Montador - John Scott or Sami Lepisto or Sean O'Donnell

Quenneville didn't reveal Thursday night who would start for the Hawks, but the regular starter is Corey Crawford with veteran Ray Emery backing him up.
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Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday