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Posted On Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 1:32 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Defenseman Diaz returns for Canadiens

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens will have defenseman Raphael Diaz back in the lineup when they face the Washington Capitals in a key battle for Stanley Cup Playoff positioning Saturday at Bell Centre.

Diaz has missed 25 games with a concussion; he was a key member of Montreal’s defense prior to the injury, playing 20:36 per game. With Alexei Emelin’s season-ending knee injury throwing the Canadiens defense pairings into a state of flux, Diaz’s return is a welcome boost.

In 19 games this season, Diaz has a goal and 12 assists, with seven of his 13 points coming on the power play, where he could help Montreal’s second unit.

The Capitals will be going with the same lineup that lost 3-1 at Ottawa Senators on Thursday, one still missing Brooks Laich (groin) and Joel Ward (knee contusion). By the time the puck drops, the Capitals will know the result of the game between the Winnipeg Jets and the New York Islanders. The Jets began the day two points behind the Capitals in the race for the Southeast Division.

“We’re all scoreboard watching, obviously, and the game’s earlier than ours so it makes it difficult,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “But our job is to play hockey. The guys are going to go to sleep focusing on the game tonight. No matter the outcome of that game, we’ve got to play our game tonight.”

The goaltending matchup pits Braden Holtby for the Capitals against Carey Price for the Canadiens.

Here are the projected lineups for each team:

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Posted On Thursday, 04.18.2013 / 1:24 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Reeling Habs seek to snap slump against Lightning

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens were one of the NHL's best first-period teams through their first 40 games of the season before suddenly and inexplicably getting off to horrendous starts in losing each of their last three games.

They may have a chance to snap out of it at Bell Centre on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that is going through a very similar problem.

Over the first three games of their current four-game road trip that ends here, the Lightning were down 4-0 to the Washington Capitals, 3-0 to the Buffalo Sabres and 3-1 to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, a game Tampa Bay came back to tie before losing 4-3 in overtime.

As for the Canadiens, they were down 3-0 at the Toronto Maple Leafs, 2-0 to the Philadelphia Flyers at home and 4-0 at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night in what was eventually a 6-4 loss.

"Both coaches are probably looking at each other thinking something's got to budge," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said after his team held an optional skate Wednesday morning.

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Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 1:44 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Prust to miss Canadiens' game against Flyers

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens will be missing Brandon Prust when they face the Philadelphia Flyers at Bell Centre on Monday night.

The rugged forward appeared to hurt his left arm or shoulder when he was driven into the glass in a 5-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, but coach Michel Therrien says he should be back in the lineup in time for Wednesday night's game in Pittsburgh against the Penguins.

He said keeping Prust out was a precautionary measure.


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Posted On Tuesday, 04.09.2013 / 1:43 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Erat, Ward out for Caps; Bourque returns for Habs

MONTREAL -- The Washington Capitals will be without trade-deadline acquisition Martin Erat and forward Joel Ward when they face the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

Erat will miss his second game since being driven into the boards by Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson in the first period of a 4-3 Capitals win Saturday. Ward was hurt when he blocked a Sami Salo slap shot with his left leg in a 4-2 win Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ward and Erat made the trip to Montreal, but coach Adam Oates said each needs more time before returning to the lineup.

"[Ward] is still hurt pretty good from that shot," Oates said. "He came on the trip in case he got better, but he just wasn't feeling good this morning. Marty's just loosening up, but he's not quite ready yet."

Oates said there was no timeline for the return of either player.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 2:44 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Plekanec likely for Canadiens, Kelly unlikely for Bruins

MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec and Boston Bruins center Chris Kelly each took part in their respective morning skates Saturday, but only one of them has a chance of playing in the fourth installment of the Northeast Division rivalry this season.

Plekanec missed a 4-1 win Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets with a groin injury, but he was back in his usual spot at Canadiens practice between Michael Ryder and Brian Gionta. Coach Michel Therrien said a final decision on Plekanec will be taken following the warm-up.

“One thing is certain,” Therrien said, “if he plays tonight, it’s because he’s able to play.”

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Posted On Thursday, 04.04.2013 / 2:50 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Byfuglien experiment at forward to continue for Jets

MONTREAL -- With five goals scored over the course a of a four-game losing streak, Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel asked Dustin Byfuglien to take a trip back in time and move to forward in the third period of a 5-2 loss at the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

Byfuglien, who played forward for most of his time with the Chicago Blackhawks from 2005-10, will at least start the game at right wing Thursday when the Jets look to snap their skid against the Montreal Canadiens.

"He gives us a guy on the right side that can create a little more offense," Noel said. "We've been stuck a little bit on the offensive side of things on the top two lines."

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Posted On Monday, 04.01.2013 / 1:42 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Groin injury puts Ruutu back on sidelines for Canes

MONTREAL -- Forward Tuomo Ruutu took a couple of spins around the ice before retreating back to the dressing room prior to the Carolina Hurricanes morning skate Monday after injuring his groin in Saturday night's 3-1 win against the Jets in Winnipeg.

Ruutu will miss Monday night's game against the Montreal Canadiens and is day-to-day, coach Kirk Muller said.

There was also some good news on the injury front for the Hurricanes, however, as defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti skated with the team, though he will miss his fourth game with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Justin Faulk will miss his fifth game with a knee injury, but the Hurricanes are hopeful he will return by the end of the week, Muller said.

Finally, goaltender Dan Ellis will be the backup for Justin Peters on Monday after recovering from a leg laceration that cost him the last three games. He should be ready to start Tuesday night in a big divisional game at home against the Washington Capitals.


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Posted On Saturday, 03.30.2013 / 2:09 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Zuccarello to debut for desperate Rangers team

MONTREAL -- The New York Rangers sounded very much like a desperate hockey team Saturday morning as they prepared to play the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.

Coach John Tortorella was still lamenting his team’s effort in a 3-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, citing it as a glaring example of a problem that has plagued the Rangers all season long.

Tortorella said he was happy with the way the Rangers played in a 5-2 victory at the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. But his disappointment that it didn’t carry over to Thursday’s game was compounded by the fact the season is racing toward its completion.

“There is time here, but we’re running out of it as far as our consistency,” Tortorella said. “That’s been the tough one for us as a group. We see glimpses but then we take a step backwards.”

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Posted On Saturday, 03.23.2013 / 1:08 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Vanek back, Stafford scratched for Sabres

MONTREAL – The Buffalo Sabres will welcome their leading scorer back to the lineup Saturday night when they face the Montreal Canadiens for the second time in four days.

Thomas Vanek is fully recovered after taking a Christian Ehrhoff slap shot off his left hip when the Sabres visited Bell Centre on Tuesday night, a 3-2 overtime win for Buffalo.

Struggling Drew Stafford will be a healthy scratch for Buffalo, and Nathan Gerbe draws in for the Sabres.

For the Canadiens, Ryan White will miss the game with a lower-body injury suffered in a 5-2 win Thursday night against the New York Islanders. He will be replaced on Montreal’s fourth line by Mike Blunden, who was called up from the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday.

Rene Bourque, who has missed the past month with a concussion, did not skate with the team for a second straight day after practicing with the Canadiens on Wednesday then making the trip to Long Island on Thursday. He missed an optional practice Friday and was not on the ice Saturday morning.

Defenseman Yannick Weber, who hurt his knee two weeks ago, did skate with the team Saturday morning for the first time since his injury.

Here are the projected lineups for the Sabres and Canadiens on Saturday night:

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.19.2013 / 12:31 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Kaleta in for Sabres after sitting out one extra game

MONTREAL -- The Buffalo Sabres will be putting Patrick Kaleta back in the lineup Tuesday for their game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Kaleta was held out of Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals in what would have been his first game back after serving a five-game suspension for boarding Brad Richards of the New York Rangers. Kaleta voiced his frustration in being held out through the media following the team's morning skate Sunday and was reprimanded for doing so following the game by goaltender Ryan Miller.

Kaleta said he and Miller, former roommates on the road, have cleared the air and there’s nothing to be concerned about.

"We talked about it right off the bat," Kaleta said. "It was a little misunderstanding. Like I said, he's my brother. I have my blood brother at home, you say things, you fight. But he's my family. I've been his roommate for the past three years, we have an awesome bond together. I have his back 100 percent, no matter what happens."

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Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players