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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 12:04 PM

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

Projected lines for Flames, Red Wings

Here's how the lineups could look when the Detroit Red Wings try to halt their 0-4-1 slide tonight against the Calgary Flames at Joe Louis Arena:

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

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Mike Commodore

Jimmy Howard will start in goal tonight and be backed up by Ty Conklin


FLAMES

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay - Brendan Morrison - Lee Stempniak
Rene Bourque - Roman Horak - David Moss
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Scott Hannan - Anton Babchuk
Mark Giordano - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff will start in goal tonight and he will be backed up by Henrik Karlsson

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.02.2011 / 1:50 PM

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

No Eaves for Wings; Nyquist sent down

DETROIT -- Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves didn't practice today while taking a "maintenance day" for an undisclosed ailment. Also, rookie forward Gustav Nyquist was sent back to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League after getting called up Monday and playing just one game.

Nyquist, who had 4 goals and 9 points for the Griffins before getting brought up, played 11:07 against the Wild and didn't record a point, a shot on goal or a hit in 13 shifts.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.02.2011 / 1:48 PM

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

Kronwall feeling fine after hard hit by Koivu

DETROIT -- The morning after he appeared to be hurt on the final play of a 2-1 overtime loss Tuesday, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall was back at practice without limitations.

About a minute and 30 seconds into overtime against the Minnesota Wild, Kronwall charged into the corner in the Detroit zone on a penalty kill to play the puck against Mikko Koivu, who'd gotten to it first. Koivu instinctively stepped back and threw a shoulder at Kronwall to shield the puck and appeared to hit Kronwall in the face. The blueliner's head was knocked back and his helmet was jarred loose.

Kronwall, who just signed a seven-year contract extension with Detroit on Monday, was examined after the game, but the Wings didn't provide an immediate update on his condition. After Wednesday's practice, Kronwall met with reporters and said he's feeling fine.

"I just got a little dinged right off the hit for the first five or seven seconds," he said. "I felt fine after. As soon as I got off the ice, everything felt great."

He said he feels fortunate to not have been injured worse.

"Of course, because you never know with incidents like that," said Kronwall, who was also re-examined Wednesday morning before taking the ice for practice at Joe Louis Arena.

"It was a good play on his part," Kronwall said. "He caught me off guard and it ended up costing us the game. Obviously I have to be a little more aware out there. I think it was a square shoulder. I kind of leaned forward to go in and fight for the puck and he just took a step backward and there wasn't any more to it."

Teammates were concerned about Kronwall's health after the hit, but now that they know he's fine, they can go back to worrying about stopping a frustrating five-game winless streak.

"You don't want anybody hurting, especially when you're struggling a little bit as a team," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "You want all hands on deck. He's an important player for us and it was unfortunate the way it happened. But that's part of hockey."
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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 4:55 PM

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

Trotz gives Hawks thumbs-up for offseason additions

CHICAGO -- Consider Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz a fan of the moves the Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks pulled off last summer.

While keeping their "core group" of young stars intact, the Blackhawks added a handful of quality veterans through free agency and trade -- almost all on one-year contracts -- and Trotz said the difference is noticeable in how the new-look Hawks play.

His team will get an up-close look at Chicago on Monday night when the Preds face off against the Hawks at the United Center.

"I love the changes they made," Trotz said after Nashville's Monday morning skate. "I love the character they brought in. They brought in some grit and fire in some of their role players. I think they filled-in very nicely. Two teams in the summer filled-in the best in terms of free agency and that (was) the Blackhawks and (San Jose Sharks). Those two teams fit a lot of the right pieces."

One of those pieces Chicago added is 38-year old top-six forward Andrew Brunette, who played for Trotz both in the minors and for one season in Nashville (1998-99). Trotz was asked about Brunette on Monday and had glowing remarks.

"One of my all-time favorite guys," he said. "As he says, he's the best guy that can't skate in the League. For a guy who 'couldn’t skate' in the National Hockey League, he's had a (long) career and he's fantastic in the room. He's a rink rat, even as he's getting into his late 30s. He loves the game. He will be a good coach someday, guaranteed. He's just too passionate about the game."
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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 4:50 PM

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

Bolland shows knack for scoring 'shorties'

CHICAGO -- He's known for playing stellar defense, which is why Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland is a key figure of the team's top-ranked penalty-killing unit coming into Monday night's game against the Nashville Predators.

His offensive skills often get overshadowed, but he's found at least one way to really showcase both sides of his game -- scoring shorthanded goals. Bolland's 5 goals tie him with Marian Hossa for the team lead, and two have come while playing with just four skaters on the ice.

His latest shorty came against the Columbus Blue Jackets this past weekend, when he darted up ice to set up a breakaway after a great shot block and pass by Michael Frolik from inside the Chicago blue line.

Bolland broke in on goalie Allen York and slid a backhand shot just inside the left post while being hooked to the ice. It happened late in the first period and gave Chicago momentum back after the Blue Jackets had tied the game 1-1 earlier in the period.

The Hawks now have three shorthanded goals in the first 10 games of the season -- the other was scored by Hossa -- and it's helping make up for a power play that's potted just four goals in 38 opportunities coming into Monday night's game against the Nashville Predators.

"Those are huge lifts for you," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of shorthanded goals. "A lot of nights, if you score shorthanded or you kill a 5-on-3, you're going to come out on the winning side of it. When you are able to cash in, it's a huge bonus. It deflates the other team."

As for Bolland's penchant for putting the puck in the net a man down?

"He anticipates really well and he's got some quickness," Quenneville said. "He's got some deceptiveness and he's out there a lot of the time on the PK … so, sometimes you can counter punch 'em."

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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 4:45 PM

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

Hawks' locker room abuzz talking Halloween

CHICAGO -- Halloween was one of most popular topics of conversation on Monday in the Chicago Blackhawks' locker room and star forward Patrick Sharp revealed his most popular, albeit embarrassing, costumes.

"My wife wanted to go as a bumble bee, so I was forced to go as a flower," said Sharp, who has also dressed as Hawks coach Joel Quenneville before. "It wasn't my favorite, but it got a good laugh."

In case you're wondering, it was a pretty detailed get-up.

"I had the green tights and the yellow sunflower hat on," Sharp said. "It was pretty embarrassing. I think there's a picture floating around out there somewhere, but I'll do my best to get it off the internet."

As for his favorite candy to get while trick-or-treating as a kid?

"I'm a big chocolate guy," Sharp said. "Anything chocolate is great. Any of the healthy stuff that the neighborhood people would give us, we'd just throw it right back toward their window or on their front step."

Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz was also asked about Halloween and whether he thinks any kids from Tennessee might dress up as him on Monday night.

"I don't think so," Trotz said. "But if they dress up a little mafia-looking, like Edward G. Robinson or something like that … for the younger people they won't know who that is, but if you go back to the old gangster movies, I think that would probably be me."


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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 2:12 PM

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

Preds missing Fisher, two others vs. Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- This isn't exactly the way the Nashville Predators wanted to go into their first meeting of the season with the Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night at the United Center.

Saturday's 3-0 win against the Anaheim Ducks has taken a toll on the Preds, who incurred a couple of injuries in that game that are holding over to Monday and possibly beyond.

Top center Mike Fisher (upper body) didn't make the trip after he took a big hit against the Ducks and forward Nick Spaling (lower body) was placed on injured reserve after leaving the Anaheim game early. Sergei Kostitsyn, who missed the Anaheim game with a lower-body injury, is also not expected to play on Monday.

Rookie Craig Smith will center the top line, but that's really the only lineup adjustment that appears set in stone heading into the game. The Preds also called up forward Ryan Thang from its AHL affiliate in Milwaukee.

"How do we (respond)?" Nashvile coach Barry Trotz said after the Preds' morning skate. "Like we always do. We'll just put someone in and good luck. Craig will go to center tonight but with the forward lines, we'll move them around a little bit just to give him some support."

Trotz said Fisher seems to be doing better and could make Nashville's upcoming West Coast road trip that starts on Thursday. Spaling is getting a further diagnosis on his injury Monday, while Kostitsyn continues to be day-to-day.
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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 1:20 PM

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

Projected lineups for Predators, Blackhawks

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators at United Center in a battle of Central Division rivals:

PREDATORS

Niclas Bergfors - Craig Smith - Martin Erat
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Ryan Thang - Jerred Smithson - Jordin Tootoo
Matt Halischuk - Blake Geoffrion - Brian McGrattan

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein
Jack Hillen - Jonathon Blum

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

Top-line left wing Sergei Kostitsyn appears to be a no-go, which has thrown Nashville's lines into a state of flux. The Predators called up Thang from their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee.

BLACKHAWKS

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

Duncan Keith - Nick Leddy
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brent Seabrook
Steve Montador - Sami Lepisto

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery

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Posted On Friday, 10.28.2011 / 3:21 PM

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

Mitchell 'very close' to returning for San Jose

DETROIT -- San Jose Sharks forward Torrey Mitchell skated this morning here at Joe Louis Arena, but it doesn't look like he'll make a return to the lineup tonight against the Red Wings.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said his third line -- where Mitchell had been slotted at left wing before sustaining an upper-body injury last week -- most likely will be comprised of Jamie McGinn, Michal Handzus and Benn Ferriero.

Mitchell, who has missed the last two games, apparently is making good headway in his recovery.

"He's very close," McLellan said.
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Posted On Friday, 10.28.2011 / 3:18 PM

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

Sharks still easing Havlat back into action

DETROIT -- After assisting on Logan Couture's shorthanded goal in a 3-1 victory against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, Sharks forward Martin Havlat has some wondering if he and Couture might soon see more time on the penalty kill.

Havlat has played just three games after missing the first four with an upper-body injury, but he's got 3 assists and a plus-1 rating while playing catch-up from a physical standpoint. Couture, meanwhile, is off to a solid start, with 2 goals and 2 assists in seven games.

"(Havlat's) into basically exhibition game No. 4 tonight (against Detroit), whereas everybody else is a month ahead of him," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We're going to manage his minutes and put him in situations that we think he can be successful. We talked about maybe taking some of the penalty-killing minutes away from some of our bigger players and distributing them evenly. Logan could potentially be one of those guys. So, yeah, they will get penalty-killing time. Yes, the goal was very important and we needed it, but for now we'll continue to manage it the way we are."

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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres