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Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 1:43 PM

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

Lidstrom demanding more

When the captain says something is wrong, you fix it.

That's the tact Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has taken with 41-year old captain and top defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who made it known after last season that he didn't really like having his ice time reduced.

Lidstrom still led the Wings in ice time last year, with an average of 23:28 per game, but he didn't play much on the penalty kill and Babcock also tried to back off his usually heavy workload through the regular season.

However, Lidstrom wasn't a big fan of sitting more.

"Last year we backed him off a little bit and he told me in the spring he didn't like it, so we just fixed it," Babcock said following the Red Wings' morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. "He says he plays better when he's playing. Last year, we didn't penalty kill him near as much. This year we are. We've got a little different rotation, so this year we are. He's been excellent."

He's also leading the Wings in ice time yet again through the first four games, logging an average of 24:01 per game thus far. That could change a little because of the schedule. Only playing four games to this point has allowed the players to get plenty of rest, but also will require some taxing back-to-back games ahead.

"When you play night in and night out and you travel like we do in the West here, especially with the three-hour time change, that might be different as time goes on," Babcock said of Lidstrom leading in ice time. "Right now it hasn't been an issue."

Lidstrom concurred.

"I still take a lot of pride in playing a lot of minutes and playing against the top lines and still being on specialty teams as well," said Lidstrom, who will play in his 1,500th NHL game Saturday against the Washington Capitals. "That's something we talked about in the offseason, to get the minutes up a little bit more. (Babcock) asked if I was ready for it and could still do it, and I said, 'Oh yeah. I'm more than willing to play more minutes.' When you're used to it, I think it's harder to play less and stay in a good rhythm."
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Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 12:32 PM

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

Projected lineups for Blue Jackets, Red Wings

Here's what the projected lineups could look like for Friday night's game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena:

BLUE JACKETS
RJ Umberger - Derick Brassard - Rick Nash
Vinny Prospal - Antoine Vermette - Alexandre Giroux
Maksim Mayorov - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett
Cody Bass - Derek MacKenzie - Ryan Johansen

Fedor Tyutin - Radek Martinek
Grant Clitsome - Marc Methot
Kris Russell - Aaron Johnson

Steve Mason is expected to be the starting goalie with Allen York, an emergency recall from AHL Springfield, backing him up.

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

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

Jimmy Howard is expected to be the starting goalie with Ty Conklin backing him up.




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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 3:59 PM

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

Stalberg feeling better for Hawks

While Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wasn't tipping his hand about which injured players would skate tonight against the Boston Bruins, there's a chance forward Viktor Stalberg will give it a go.

Stalberg has been out since suffering a sprained left knee in a collision with Detroit's Justin Abdelkader. He was having a great preseason before the injury, and hopes to pick up where he left off whenever he does get back into a game.

"It's feeling good," he said. "It's the way I want it to feel and I feel like I'll be ready to play (against the Bruins). I haven't played a game in a couple of weeks, so it play it simple and make it short shifts I guess, if I'm in."

At this morning's practice, he saw time at right wing on Patrick Kane's line, and at left wing on Marcus Kruger's line.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 3:56 PM

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

Kane: 2010 Hawks would top 2011 Bruins

Chicago Blackhawks center Patrick Kane was posed a hypothetical question after Saturday's morning skate: Who would win a Stanley Cup Final series between the 2010 champion Hawks and the 2011 champion Boston Bruins?

"I think we'd win," Kane said. "But it would be a good series. Tim Thomas was on fire, though, at the end of the series last year. It seems like every game they won they kind of blew out the Canucks. It would've been a good series."

The 2010 Cup Final certainly was a good one for Kane -- he scored the Cup-clinching goal in overtime of Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 3:54 PM

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

Seguin all grown up?

The way 19-year old Tyler Seguin has started this season -- he's tied with Brad Marchand for the team lead with 4 points -- begs the question of whether young stars like him have an advantage against the so-called "Stanley Cup Hangover" that's seemed to affect some of his older teammates.

Seguin said he doesn't really know the answer, since this past summer was his first official NHL offseason. So, he busted out a good one-liner instead.

"Well … I'm not 18 anymore, right?" he said.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 3:10 PM

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

Welcome to the Madhouse

Tyler Seguin is just 19, and in his second season, he hasn't visited all the buildings in the League.

Tonight will mark his first game in Chicago, and he's excited to see what the United Center -- aka the "Madhouse on Madison" -- is all about.

"There's only two or three buildings left I haven't played in and this is one of them," Seguin said. "I've heard amazing things about the atmosphere here. I'm definitely looking forward to that and I'm very excited."

Tempering that excitement, however, is the Bruins' difficult start. While Seguin is tied for the team scoring lead with 4 points and earned a promotion to center the team's first line tonight, he's more focused on getting the team straightened out from its 1-3-0 start.

"I feel very fortunate and lucky about what happened last year, but I don't think any of us wanted to start off with this record we have right now," said Seguin. "It's definitely time to turn it around."
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 3:06 PM

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

Seguin the man in the middle for Bruins

CHICAGO -- Those wondering if Tyler Seguin's recent move to center might stick for the long term might want to wait a bit.

The talented 19-year old will center the Boston Bruins' top line tonight, flanked by Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, when the defending Stanley Cup champions face the 2010 Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks here at the United Center (8:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

According to Bruins coach Claude Julien, this move is more like a sneak peek at what the future may hold for the second pick of the 2010 Entry Draft. Seguin has been playing right wing on the third line and is filling in for David Krejci -- who didn't make the trip because of a core injury -- on the top line.

"I think we all know right now that what we have at center, where he should fit, it's hard to move somebody out of that position," Julien said after Boston's morning skate. "He can be just as beneficial to us on the wing as he can be at center. I think down the road there's a better chance of seeing him there (center), but right now he's got a better chance at growing … and playing both positions, he'll understand it better."

Seguin played junior in his draft season with the Plymouth Whalers, and tied for the Ontario Hockey League in scoring with 106 points, so he knows how to play the position. However, the Bruins are stacked in the middle, with Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell.

Julien also wants Seguin to go through more battles on the outside in order to make himself into a complete player before moving to center full time.

"He's got to be a guy that's got to win battles for pucks -- not physically, but by determination," Julien said. "Putting him on the wing sometimes means that he's got to do those things. So we know where he's better at, but I think he's actually pretty good at both (positions). That versatility is only going to make him a better player."

Seguin says he's fine with either spot.

"It definitely can't hurt me (playing center)," said Seguin, who has a goal and 3 assists in four games. "These first few games I've gotten some good ice time, so I'm just trying to take advantage of that. It's impossible to replace Krejci, so I'm just doing whatever I can. I play the wing, too, so I don't know if I have a more preferred position. I'm just doing the right thing wherever I'm at."

Playing in the middle, however, does give Seguin more of a chance to create plays.

"There's a little bit more room to operate and be more creative," Bruins forward Rich Peverley, who also has flipped between center and the wing, said. "He's a guy who sees the ice very well, but he's got a great shot -- so he puts himself in great situations playing at center. He's played well so far."
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 2:54 PM

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

Projected lineups for Bruins, Blackhawks

Here is what the lineups could look like for tonight's battle between the defending Stanley Cup champions and the 2010 Cup champs, the Bruins and Blackhawks, at the United Center in Chicago (8:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

BRUINS
Milan Lucic - Tyler Seguin - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Rich Peverley
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Jordan Caron
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno CharaJohnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Matt Bartkowski
 
Tim Thomas will start in the goal, with Tuukka Rask as the backup.

BLACKHAWKS
Andrew Brunette - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Sharp
Daniel Carcillo - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Michael Frolik
Rostislav Olesz - Marcus Kruger - Jamal Mayers
 
Duncan Keith - Nick Leddy
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brent Seabrook
Steve Montador- Sami Lepisto

Corey Crawford will be back in goal, with Ray Emery the backup.

Viktor Stalberg could make his season debut tonight. He took shifts in Hossa's spot on right wing on the Kane line, and at left wing in place of Olesz on the Kruger line.

Defenseman John Scott, a scratch for two of the Hawks' first three games, also could play tonight. He took shifts alongside Montador.

For more on the game, Dave Lozo had a great look at how the teams have had completely different experiences defending their titles. You can also check out the game preview here.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 1:06 PM

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

Chicago's Hossa questionable against Cup champs

CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa did not participate in the morning skate Saturday for the Chicago Blackhawks and was classified as a "game-time decision" by coach Joel Quenneville against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

Hossa, 31, also missed practice Friday because of an upper-body injury that Quenneville expects to be "very short term."

Hossa, who's missed a total of 42 games since joining the Hawks in 2010, is off to another good start after tallying a goal and two assists in three games while playing right wing on the second line next to center Patrick Kane.

Kane, who was moved to center in training camp, hadn't spent much time on the ice at the same time as Hossa prior to the move. It's been working out great so far, though -- with the pair of slick playmakers setting their line up for good scoring chances on almost every shift of a 4-3 win Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets.

Forward Viktor Stalberg skated in Hossa's place Saturday morning and could play there if Hossa can't go. Stalberg's also been out since the preseason with a minor knee injury and could play on the fourth line if Hossa does play.

"I've been playing with (Hossa) for the past couple weeks now and developed a little bit of chemistry," Kane told NHL.com. "Right now, you'd like to see him in, because we played pretty well last game. So, it just seems like we're starting to hit our stride. I was talking to him this morning and hopefully it's one of those things where if he takes off a night it's better for him for the whole season."

Kane said Stalberg's speed could also mix well with his own playmaking skill.

"Viktor's obviously very fast, so it's kind of the same thing," Kane said. "I'll try to get him the puck in good areas and hopefully he can win some pucks back for us."

Boston's top center, David Krejci, is also out. He didn't make the trip after injuring a core muscle in practice earlier this week, while defenseman Adam McQuaid (upper body) was ruled out for this game on Friday by coach Claude Julien.

Matt Bartkowski will likely dress in place of McQuaid.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 3:49 PM

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

Remembering the Jets

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews still remembers when the Winnipeg Jets left his hometown, back in 1996.

He was only 8.

"I remember it all," Toews said. "I remember having talks with my buddies ... a friend of mine who lived down the street was asking his dad why he didn't just buy the Winnipeg Jets. I don't remember what his dad said, but I went home and asked my dad the same thing."

What was the answer?

"I don't know," Toews said. "He probably just brushed it off and made up some story. But I remember going to games and all that stuff. You don't understand as a kid, really, what it means or how much you'll miss having a hockey team. Now, looking back, you realize what it meant to our city and what it means for them to get that second chance. Great memories. For me, that's where it all started. The NHL dream kind of came from that, going to Jets games and all that."
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