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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:12 PM

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

Brunnstrom moves out, hopes to move up

DETROIT -- Fabian Brunnstrom no longer is staying with the Zetterbergs, so at least he's moved out on his own in the Motor City.

Now, the task is to move up in the Red Wings' hierarchy of forward lines. The 26-year old Swedish forward has played just two games since making the team out of training camp on a tryout offer -- but his last time out was much better than his first.

After not playing at all in Detroit's first five games, Brunnstrom made his debut in a 7-1 loss in Washington Capitals. Soon after, he was sent to the Red Wings' affiliate in the American Hockey League, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

After playing a game -- and notching a goal -- with the Griffins, Brunnstrom was recalled this past weekend to replace Todd Bertuzzi (illness) in the lineup. He played on the fourth line, but chipped in an assist in a 5-0 win against the Anaheim Ducks. He also buzzed around the net a lot.

Brunnstrom now will get another game at right wing on the fourth line tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. If he continues to play well, you might see his name start to creep up higher in the forward lines – since Detroit coach Mike Babcock has said before that Brunnstrom has the talent to be a top-six forward.

For now, he's content with playing on the fourth line and providing energy.

"It's a great team with a lot of good players, so when I get a chance, I have to take that chance and try to do something good," Brunnstrom said. "You have to take every day one day at a time and just do the best you can. It's professional hockey. You can't take a break and just have to keep pushing every day."

That includes driving to the net and doing some of the dirty work that he wasn't always used to handling back in Sweden.

"Those are the things I've been trying to do a little bit more since I came over here," Brunnstrom said. "It's hard to score goals, but if you go to the net you give yourself a better chance."

Babcock, pleased to hear him say that, hopes that becomes as contagious in the Wings' locker room as whatever flu bug appears to be going around.

"Let's hope he spreads the word," Babcock said.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:06 PM

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

Oh captain … no captain?

DETROIT -- One of the first things that stands out about the Colorado Avalanche roster is the lack of a "C" next to any of the names.

Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny both have an "A" next to their names, as alternate captains, but there's no "C," and might not be a captain for some time.

"It's still a process that will play itself out here at some point," Avs coach Joe Sacco said. "When? I don't know, but it's a process that's playing itself out. We have a number of good leaders in this dressing room and that's why we're doing that right now. It will play itself out when it's the right time."

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:02 PM

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

Colorado's Wilson making presence felt with physicality

DETROIT -- Word is starting to get around the League that you'd better keep your head up on the ice whenever hard-checking Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson is out there.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Wilson has been paired with hard-hitting 6-5, 234-pound Ryan O'Byrne and the pair is making life difficult for opponents trying to get past them. They're also adding some offense for the Avs as the team's third defense pair -- O'Byrne chipping in a goal and 2 assists to go with a goal and 7 assists for Wilson.

Their hits, however, is where they really make their mark -- especially Wilson, whom teammate Matt Duchene said is "one of best open-ice hitters I've ever seen."

"What he brings is pretty simple," Avs coach Joe Sacco said. "He brings an edge to the game and keeps the opponents on their toes when they're on the ice. He's one of those guys who, when you look at his name on the (scouting report), you'd better have your head up when he's on the ice. That's the type of players he is."

More often than not, that physicality to his game helps keep the puck out of the Colorado net, as Wilson leads the Avs with a plus-7 rating.

"He seems to always be a guy who's a plus player," Sacco said. "Last year, before we hit a bit of a tailspin, he was by far our plus/minus leader. He's dependable and he's also chipping in with some points, which is a bonus for us."
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 2:56 PM

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

Avs pleased with Duchene’s play at left wing

DETROIT -- Searching for a way to unlock some of Matt Duchene's untapped offensive potential, Colorado Avalanche coach Joe Sacco recently moved the talented center to left wing on the team's top line.

The results have been good, at least initially, so don't expect Duchene to go back to the middle anytime soon if the production of the new lines keeps up. Duchene, playing on the left side of star center Paul Stastny and right wing Milan Hejduk, has 3 goals and 5 points since the switch -- including a hat trick against the Dallas Stars last Friday.

The trio will try to keep it going tonight night at Joe Louis Arena against the Detroit Red Wings.

"I'm not thinking about it too much," Duchene said. "If I get put back at center, I know what to do with my own end at center. I know how to play it. I've played it my whole life. It's natural.  Wing … I'm getting used to, but I think it makes you a more versatile player. If I can be a good winger, I get to play with (Stastny), you know? He and I can play on the same line. If I'm not very good on the wing, I'm not able to do that. It just adds a different element to our team."

That’s the exciting part for Duchene, who had just 2 goals and 5 points in 12 games before the switch. He looks around the League like anyone else and sees how superstars on other teams often are paired because of that versatility.

"It's just like (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg here (in Detroit)," he said. "They're versatile and able to play on each other's wings when they need them to. Same with (Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews) in Chicago. Those types of great players, in terms of positionally, you want to model your game after."

While those pairs have been split recently -- Kane centers the second line in Chicago, while Datsyuk and Zetterberg mostly play on separate lines -- Duchene on the wing is working for the Avs and Sacco is happy to see it.

"I don't know if it created some excitement for him, I'm not sure, but there's definitely been some positive results individually for him," Sacco said of Duchene. "I'm looking at the big picture, though. I'm looking at what's best for the team here and right now that's what's best for the team, as well. That's a line that we can go to offensively."

As for the move coming as a message about his play, Duchene said it's nothing new to him, if that's the case.

"That's always happened to me," he said. "Since I've been there that's always been the case. It's been the case with almost everybody, just sending a message. Sometimes I'm not as careful with the puck as I should be. I'm a creative guy and sometimes that takes over a little too much. I try stuff that maybe I shouldn't. I'm always going to be creative, but I've just got to know how to manage it."
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 1:22 PM

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

Babcock praises Brunnstrom's contributions

DETROIT -- There won't be many changes to either of the lineups for the Red Wings and Avalanche, other than a shift of Tomas Holmstrom to the left wing on the top line for Detroit with Jiri Hudler moving down to the left side of the third line.

Forward Todd Bertuzzi (sick) is still out of action and didn't skate after not practicing on Monday and missing the game against Anaheim last Saturday. Patrick Eaves (back) skated but also remains out of the lineup after missing the previous two games with the injury.

Jakub Kindl re-enters the defense lineup for the Red Wings in place of veteran Mike Commodore, who got his first two games in last week against Minnesota and Anaheim. Fabian Brunnstrom, who picked up an assist in a 5-0 win against the Ducks last weekend, will remain in the lineup on the right wing of the fourth line -- at least until Bertuzzi or Eaves returns.

"Brunnstrom played great last game," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "He competed, he skated, he was on the puck ... he was good. He earned the right to play again and ideally he'll play well and keep earning confidence and be a player for us."

Meanwhile, Avs coach Joe Sacco said Matt Duchene will remain on the left wing of the top line with Paul Statsny and Milan Hejduk. Sacco likes what he's seen from Duchene on the left side, which he's only done for a few games so far.

"I've definitely seen improvement (from Duchene) the last two games that we put him on the left side with Statsny and Hejduk," Sacco said after Colorado's Tuesday skate at Joe Louis Arena. "The game against Dallas, he scores a hat trick ... but two of those goals are on the power play and he wasn't even on the ice with those two guys. But he just had more jump. He was skating and working."

AVALANCHE


Matt Duchene - Paul Statsny - Milan Hejduk
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
Joakim Lindstrom - TJ Galiardi - Chuck Kobasew
David Jones - Jay McClement - Kevin Porter

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson
Shane O'Brien - Kyle Quincey
Ryan Wilson - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov will start in net for the Avalanche, while Jean-Sebastien Giguere will back him up.

RED WINGS


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

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

Jimmy Howard will start in net for the Red Wings, while Ty Conklin will back him up.




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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 1:20 PM

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

Salo, Burrows out but Rome could return for Canucks

CHICAGO – It will be a game-time decision, but it looks like Vancouver Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome might get back into the lineup after missing the first 14 games with a hand injury.

Rome participated in the morning skate Sunday at the United Center and Canucks coach Alain Vigneault didn’t rule out the possibility of him playing against the rival Chicago Blackhawks. If he plays, Vigneault might opt to put Rome on the second defense pairing with Alexander Edler and re-pair defensive stoppers Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa on the top pairing.

“We’ll see how he feels tonight and we’ll make that call tonight before the game,” Vigneault said of Rome. “We’ll see what we have (for pairings) if Aaron goes back in, but we need our whole group to play well. I thought in St. Louis (on Friday), for the most part it was one of our better defensive games. Against Chicago we’re going to have to be real strong without the puck and I’m confident that we can do that.”

The Canucks will be missing forward Alexandre Burrows and defenseman Sami Salo against the Hawks. Both are considered day-to-day and Vigneault doesn’t expect either to become a long-term absence.

Burrows is dealing with a recent back issue that flared up this past week and didn’t skate Sunday. Salo, who tried to skate, left the workout early and has missed two games with a groin injury.

“We’ll see how they feel in the next couple days,” Vigneault said. “If either one had been able to go, they would’ve went. It’s just both of them feel they’re not quite there, so we’ll see how they do this week.”
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 1:17 PM

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

Keith remains out for Blackhawks

CHICAGO – Duncan Keith will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury believed to be his hand, which was hit with a shot last week against the Nashville Predators.

Keith made the Hawks’ recent two-game road trip to Florida but didn’t play in either game despite practicing. The Hawks didn’t skate Sunday morning at the United Center, but did do some team stretching drills and Keith didn’t appear to be participating.

In his place most likely will be 40-year old defenseman Sean O’Donnell, who will be paired with 20-year old puck-mover Nick Leddy . The pairing of Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson is being used as the top pair in Keith’s absence, with O’Donnell and Leddy the second pair over the boards.

“[Keith’s] not going tonight,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’re looking for him on the next road trip.”

Chicago will hit the road for two games in St. Louis and Columbus this week before heading back to the United Center for a pair of games next weekend – which will lead into the annual “circus trip” that sends the Hawks to the West Coast and Western Canada.
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 12:48 PM

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

Projected lineups for Canucks, Blackhawks

Here's the projected lineup for the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks for their showdown Sunday night at United Center:

VANCOUVER

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
Cody Hodgson - Ryan Kesler - Chris Higgins
David Booth - Maxim Lapierre - Andrew Ebbett
Aaron Volpatti - Manny Malhotra - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Aaron Rome/Andrew Alberts - Alexander Edler
Keith Ballard - Alexander Sulzer

Roberto Luongo will start in goal for the Canucks and Cory Schneider will be his backup.

CHICAGO

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

Brent Seabrook - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sean O'Donnell - Nick Leddy
Steve Montador - Sami Lepisto

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the Blackhawks and Ray Emery will be his backup.
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 2:15 PM

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

Perry enjoys emotional night off

DETROIT – Anaheim Ducks star forward Corey Perry took a special car trip across the U.S.-Canadian border Friday night and drove to London, Ont., where he played junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League.

There, the London Knights welcomed him onto the ice at John Labatt Centre to retire the No.94 jersey he wore there for three memorable seasons. Perry began to get a little emotional as he watched the banner with his former jersey number rise to the rafters.

Afterward, the car he drove there in got a flat tire – but it still couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.

“It was a special night,” said Perry, the reigning Hart Trophy winner and Rocket Richard Trophy recipient. “When you’ve got an organization that does that for you at such a young age … normally they wait until you’re retired and done playing hockey, so to have it done already feels special. It was a lot of fun.’

As for the emotions he experienced?

“It was a special night and it was nice to have my family and friends there,” Perry said. “I looked over at my mom when the banner was going up and she had some tears in her eyes and it just got me choked up as well. It was (a little overwhelming). You see the video and they all started chanting my name, so I was pretty emotional. Then the banner going up and knowing it’s going to be there forever, it’s pretty cool.”
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 2:11 PM

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

Fowler's offseason conditioning paying off

DETROIT – He’s just 19 and is still listed at 6-foot-1, 196-pounds, but Anaheim Ducks second-year defenseman Cam Fowler says he’s bigger than listed and it’s paying off in terms of his improved defense this season.

The puck-moving, speedy Fowler also said his weight gain was the result of a hard off-season training program. He said he came into Anaheim’s camp weighing around 208 pounds this fall, but has since dropped about five to play at 203.

So far, it’s working out well.

“Battling in the corners and pushing off of guys is where I really notice is the most,” said Fowler, who has five assists and in 13 games. “The main thing is that I didn’t want it to slow me down at all, and it hasn’t. That’s a big part of my game. It’s just been a little added strength, which I needed.”

Fowler, an offensive-minded defenseman, had 10 goals and 30 assists as an 18-year old rookie last season. He also had an ugly minus-25 rating, which he targeted for improvement by bettering his defensive skills. It seems to be working, as he’s currently a minus-2 heading into Saturday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings – the team located just across the Detroit River from his hometown of Windsor, Ont.

“It’s just kind of picking your spots out there (to be more offensive),” Fowler said. “A lot of it depends on who you’re matched up with and what line you’re playing against. Some lines you really have to pay attention, because there’s guys that can really hurt you. We played against (Alex Ovechkin) and (Marian Gaborik) and those guys are always on the offense. If you’re getting caught up ice in the play, it really puts you behind the eight ball. You need to know when to jump up in the rush and when to hang back.”
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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday