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Posted On Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 2:05 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Depleted Red Wings to rely on youth against Rangers

NEW YORK -- When the Detroit Red Wings play the New York Rangers on Thursday at Madison Square Garden, they'll look markedly different from the last time they came to the Big Apple on March 21, 2012.

A number of key veterans, including Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Alfredsson and Johan Franzen, did not skate Thursday and will not play at MSG. With so many injuries the Red Wings have relied on their prospects, a number of whom won the Calder Cup last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins. The latest of those prospects to arrive in the NHL is 21-year-old Tomas Jurco, who was recalled from Grand Rapids on Tuesday after an earlier seven-game NHL stint.

"There's lots of stuff I learn every day," Jurco said. "One of them is consistency. Just to be good every night. Even if there is no game just to be great at practice."

Jurco said having so many familiar faces in the room has made adjusting to the League that much easier.

"It's good for me," he said. "I'm used to all those guys being my teammates for the last couple of years. It's good to have them here. It makes me feel a little more comfortable."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 2:33 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Lightning's Bishop expected back in net

NEW YORK -- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper wouldn't guarantee that No. 1 goaltender Ben Bishop would get the start Tuesday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, but he did sound confident that Bishop would get his first start since sustaining a sprained right wrist Jan. 5 in a 5-3 loss at the Edmonton Oilers.

"Bishop has got a real good chance to be in [Tuesday]," Cooper said Tuesday, hours after the Lightning lost 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday, a game that saw them allow a pair of third-period power-play goals that cost them the game.

The hope is that Bishop, who ranks in the NHL's top five in wins, save percentage and shutouts, can provide a spark. Tampa Bay has dropped three of its past five during a stretch that will see them play their eighth game in their eighth different city when they take on the Rangers.

Posted On Sunday, 01.12.2014 / 11:53 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

Rangers' Zuccarello excited to lead Norway in Sochi

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello admits it has been some time since he represented his country on the international stage. But it was an eye-opening experience for Zuccarello when he skated for his native Norway in 2010.

Zuccarello's international experience that year started with the Vancouver Olympics, where he led an overmatched Norwegian team that lost all four games by a combined score of 23-8. But things got better for Zuccarello and the Norwegians when they competed at the IIHF World Championship that spring in Germany. The wing led a vastly-improved Norwegian squad, scoring the winner in a 3-2 win against Switzerland, as well as a big goal in a major 3-2 upset of the Czech Republic.

Now being called upon to represent his country at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Zuccarello is hoping to continue that steady improvement for his national team.

"It's going to be cool. A good experience. We're a small country. I guess we have as many hockey players as Toronto has ice rinks," said Zuccarello, who met with Norwegian hockey officials last week to discuss logistics for the upcoming games. "It's going to be tough but at the same time we made it to the Olympics, we'll do our best and work hard. We're equally as proud to represent our country as the Canadians and the Swedes and everybody else."

Posted On Sunday, 01.12.2014 / 1:53 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flyers' Downie to sit against Rangers

NEW YORK -- When the Philadelphia Flyers face off against the New York Rangers on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, they'll do so with forward Steve Downie watching from the press box. With the right wing struggling of late, coach Craig Berube decided Downie will be a healthy scratch.

"His intensity level is not where it needs to be shift to shift," Berube said following Philadelphia's optional skate.

Downie has dealt with a concussion and an upper-body injury since being traded to Philadelphia on Oct. 31 in a trade that sent Maxime Talbot to the Colorado Avalanche. He has been held without a point in his past nine games and took two penalties in a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday afternoon. He was also on the ice for Valtteri Filppula's winning goal, which was scored 66 seconds after Jakub Voracek scored in the second period to tie the game 3-3.

"I just have to come to work and work hard every day. It is what it is," said Downie, who hinted that he might still be dealing with injuries. "I feel good. I'm definitely not feeling great. It comes down to playing hard. I have to find that game again."

Posted On Friday, 01.10.2014 / 2:04 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Benn, Seguin look to lead Stars' turnaround

NEW YORK -- That captain Jamie Benn and top scorer Tyler Seguin have carried the Dallas Stars offense this season is no secret. The pair's 36 combined goals account for 30 percent of the Stars' 120 non-shootout goals. That's a lot of accountability for two young players.

But with Dallas taking a four-game losing streak into its game Friday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the pair is looking to help provide a spark for a team that has four goals in its past three games, including a 1-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

"Throughout the year you're going to go through your ups and downs and your adversity here and there," Benn said. "We've hit that point right now. Things aren't going the way we want. It's about sticking together and getting through it as a team and finding a way to get out of it."

The high-scoring duo has combined for one goal and no assists in the past three games. So with a three-game road swing through the New York/New Jersey area concluding Friday, they want to recapture their scoring touch.

Posted On Monday, 01.06.2014 / 1:44 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets begin crucial stretch against Rangers

NEW YORK -- The Columbus Blue Jackets received some great news Monday. Franchise goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will start against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden after missing 14 games with a groin injury. And his return couldn't have come at a better time.

Columbus sits seventh in the Metropolitan Division with 44 points but trail the third-place Washington Capitals by six points and the fifth-place Rangers by four. Bobrovsky returns at the beginning of a crucial stretch that will see Columbus play four of its next five games against divisional opponents and nine of its next 13 at home.

"This would be huge. These are the games you're going to look back at the end of the season. We know that," said forward Nick Foligno, who couldn't help but smile when asked about Bobrovsky's return. "It's great. He's worked hard to get himself healthy. He's a big part of this team, a great goaltender. We're excited to get him back. It's a big boost for our team."

The Blue Jackets should have some confidence heading into their game at MSG. The last time they played there on Dec. 12, they raced out to a 3-0 first-period lead and chased Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist before winning 4-2 despite playing without Bobrovsky and losing starter Curtis McElhinney to an injury. That one-sided win will likely motivate both teams heading into the game Monday.

"It's a divisional game and we're looking up at them in the standings," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "We were just here and had some success. I think that's something we can build off of, but they're probably using that for motivation."

Posted On Monday, 01.06.2014 / 12:45 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Bobrovsky returns for Blue Jackets against Rangers

NEW YORK -- Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will start Monday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden after missing 14 games with a groin injury.

The 2013 Vezina Trophy winner's return couldn't have come at a better time. Columbus begins a stretch Monday in which it plays four of its next five games against teams from the Metropolitan Division, where six points separate the third-place Washington Capitals from the seventh-place Blue Jackets.

In light of this crucial stretch of games, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said he was willing to ride his franchise goaltender.

"Bob is in the lineup because he's 100 percent healthy. To be 100 percent means he's just like he was prior to the injury," Richards said. "If we need to play Bob in back-to-back games, we believe he's healthy and capable enough to do that.".

Posted On Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 7:47 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Van Riemsdyk creates new memories at the Big House

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Making his third appearance in the Winter Classic and his first with the Toronto Maple Leafs, forward James van Riemsdyk already had plenty of outdoor experience before Toronto beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on Wednesday.

It may have been van Riemsdyk's first time playing at the Big House, but it's a building he was already very familiar with before becoming an NHL player.

As a member of the United States National Team Development Program under-18 team, van Riemsdyk lived in Ann Arbor for two years. While developing the skills that would one day take him to the NHL, he attended Pioneer High School, which is located down the street from Michigan Stadium. So it was slightly surreal to prepare to play in a game at the stadium as hundreds of revelers tailgated in the Pioneer High School parking lot.

Posted On Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 2:57 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Actor Perry enjoying Winter Classic experience

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Actor Matthew Perry is used to grand spectacles. The famous actor is accustomed to the glitz and grandiosity that can occasionally come with film premieres and award shows. Still, none of it prepared him for what he's experienced this week at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

"It's such an overload, it's too much. I don't even know the score in the game, there's too much going on," Perry said while attending the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium. "I went to the alumni game [Tuesday]. It was fun seeing those guys. A lot of them look like they haven't lost a step."

A diehard Los Angeles Kings fan, Perry is used to attending big sporting events. He was a fixture at Staples Center when the Kings enjoyed a deep playoff run that resulted in the franchise's first Stanley Cup win. But he had never been to an outdoor hockey game, so when a friend invited him to the Winter Classic this year he knew he had to experience the spectacle firsthand.

Posted On Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 1:11 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Winter Classic a family affair for Jimmy Howard

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Since the details of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic were first announced, players on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings have been fielding numerous ticket requests from friends and family. But for Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard, the big game at Michigan Stadium will be a huge moment for his family that could potentially be made even more special after the game ends.

Howard lived in Ann Arbor while playing with the United States National Team Development Program as a teenager, so he'll have plenty of old friends in attendance. But the Big House will also host four generations of Howard's family for the Winter Classic. Howard's grandfather, James Howard I, will be in attendance, along with his father, James Howard II, and his two-year-old son, James Howard IV.

For Grandpa Howard, known as J-one among friends and family, it's an incredible event that he didn't exactly envision when the Detroit goalie was a child. A wrestling coach at Oswego State University in western New York, the eldest Howard had different plans for J-three.

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Quote of the Day

It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
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