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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 4:18 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Richardson getting an opportunity

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Jeff Carter's from the Kings' lineup has opened a spot for Brad Richardson, who became the odd-man out when L.A. acquired Carter on Feb. 25.

Richardson subsequently was scratched in all but two of the first 16 games following the trade and admitted it didn't sit well with him.

"At times it's not easy," Richardson said. "You always want to be in there. It's a thing you learn as you get older. You got to stay positive. You have to be a good teammate. You don't want the other teammates to see that.

"Even though you're [angry] at not playing, you still have to show up at the rink and have a positive attitude. But it's never easy. There are times where I was [angry] and I did want to be in there, but when you come back you try to be that much better."

So far, Richardson has taken advantage of his playing time. Sutter put him on the top line Saturday and Richardson scored twice, his first points since Jan. 12 and his first goals since Dec. 31.

"We talked to Brad," Sutter said. "He wasn't very happy [sitting out]. I don't blame him. You're not playing, you better not be happy. You better work your butt off in practice. If the coaches tell you that we want you to start preparing to play, then you have to go through that. You have to do that to reinforce it in your mind."

Richardson has played on every line since he came to L.A. Last season he had a prominent role playing with Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford, as the trio was the club's most effective line against San Jose in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Sutter still wants more out of Richardson and said that, “OK is not OK."

Sutter didn't have any reservations putting Richardson in a top-line role, but said Richardson has to produce there.

"We're at the time of the year where those kids with that same skill set are playing every other night in (American Hockey League affiliate) Manchester," said Sutter.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 4:13 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kings' Carter has bruised ankle

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- An MRI exam on Jeff Carter's ankle revealed the Los Angeles Kings forward has a deep bone bruise and no structural damage, the team announced Monday.

Carter is considered day-to-day but is not expected to play when the Kings host the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. The Kings have two days off the Oilers game and finish the regular season with a critical home-and-home series against San Jose.

Carter caught his toe along the boards in Calgary on March 28 and twisted his ankle. He was seen on crutches with a walking boot.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter did not yet know the results of the MRI after the morning skate but said that the severity of Carter’s injury wasn’t too much of a concern.

"It really doesn't have any impact other than we miss him in the lineup," Sutter said. "What the results are doesn't really matter. He's getting better. We're not going to amputate, I don't think."

L.A. has gone 1-0-1 without Carter.
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 3:46 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Boudreau has Ducks embracing role as spoilers

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks will embrace the spoiler role as they can affect the race with remaining games against San Jose, Phoenix, Vancouver and Calgary. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau is using that to light a fire.

"We know it's definitely not a good-looking situation as far as continuing playing too much in April, but we're playing at home, we've got a chance to derail a little bit of San Jose's opportunities, so we'd love to be able to do that," Boudreau said. "It's motivation for us."

Said Teemu Selanne, "We still have to do our job. Obviously, every team that wants to make the playoffs has to earn it. That's how it goes."

Boudreau said he has an obligation to field his best lineup, although he said Jonas Hiller won't play all six remaining games. Anaheim re-assigned young winger Kyle Palmieri so he can help the Syracuse Crunch secure a playoff berth. Another prospect, Emerson Etem, the WHL's first 60-goal scorer since 2000-01, is helping Medicine Hat in the quarterfinals and there is not an urgency to recall him before the season ends.

As far as his approach down the stretch, Boudreau acknowledged that, "This is new territory for me, quite frankly. I've never been out of it at this stage. But as far as development goes, we won't change the way we play. We might put guys in different situations that they haven't been in before, maybe do a little experimentation in that regard."

Ellis closer: Dan Ellis has been practicing with Anaheim for a few days in his comeback from sports hernia surgery on March 2.

"I've always looked at that last week of the regular season in order to make it back," Ellis said. "I think, given our schedule, this week we've only got two games so it gives you a few practice opportunities -- some time to really push it and see where your body is at. I think I can push it as hard as possible and see where I am at the end of the week."

It would be a personal achievement for Ellis to return. He suffered a tear in his groin in practice on Jan. 7, a freak injury in which he said "the groin comes completely off the bone and you get an ab tear with it."

Ellis has appeared in only 10 games this season and won once.

"It would be nice to finish the season on a good note," he said. "The season didn't quite go the way I would have planned it. But you take it as a challenge to push through. You set some goals for yourself, and you always want to end on a good note."

Here's the projected lineup for the Ducks:

Niklas Hagman - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Bobby Ryan - Nick Bonino - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jason Blake - Rod Pelley - Matt Beleskey

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Lubomir Visnovsky - Luca Sbisa
Sheldon Brookbank - Toni Lydman

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 3:34 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sharks don't want to let Ducks damage chances again

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- If the San Jose Sharks didn't have motivation already, there is a lingering subplot to Wednesday's game against the Anaheim Ducks.

Anaheim dealt San Jose a big blow with a 5-3 victory at HP Pavilion on March 19. That gave the Ducks four wins in five meetings this season.

"I remember the feeling afterward and obviously we were not very thrilled with our performance and some of the things that happened throughout that game," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "It's pretty fresh in our minds. But again, it's a new day, a new game and we've got to bring a better effort."

Said San Jose coach Todd McLellan, "It's fresh enough (in our minds), and we're 1-4 against this team. That's really hurt our opportunity to be a successful team this year, is just our record against Anaheim alone. That's not any disrespect to them.

"We've talked to our guys about not letting their guard down. This is a team that's had our number, that's played better than we have and deserved to win the games, and something we're going to have to try and correct it tonight."

Galiardi to return: TJ Galiardi is expected to return after he missed six games with an upper-body injury.

"I believe he's healthy and there's a good chance he can play," McLellan said.

Galiardi went a step further and said he will play with Dominic Moore and Torrey Mitchell. He said their role is to be solid defensively and generate a cycle at the other end.

"We're all pretty good at controlling the puck down there," Galiardi said. "We're not going to score too many highlight reel goals. It's just going to be greasy ones."

Here's the projected lineup for the Sharks:

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
Dominic Moore - Torrey Mitchell - TJ Galiardi
Daniel Winnik - Andrew Desjardins - Tommy Wingels

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Justin Braun - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 2:48 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Bruins, Kings


Here are the projected lineups for Boston and Los Angeles as those two teams meet Saturday night at Staples Center:

BRUINS

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jordan Caron
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuck
Greg Zanon - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Marty Turco

KINGS

Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Matt Greene - Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 3:52 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Penner starting to see the goals gravitate his way

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It was a throwaway line by Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter, but it got Dustin Penner's attention.

After Penner scored for the second straight game Tuesday, Sutter said, "He looked like Mark Messier."

"I heard that," Penner said with a slight smile.

After a rocky start to the season in which Penner endured knee, hand and back injuries and was a healthy scratch as recently as Feb. 22, things have looked up for the former 30-goal scorer.

Penner said he's been getting chances for a while, and now some results are tangible. He had 3 goals in his first 38 games and 4 over his next 18 going into Wednesday's game against St. Louis.

"Inertia's a powerful thing," Penner said. "Hopefully more goals will gravitate towards me."

The goal have come, ironically, after Sutter put Penner in a defensive third-line role playing with Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis.

"It's basically Penner's chance to do something or not to play anymore," Sutter said. "That's the way you get in. He's been a healthy scratch to playing on the third line."

Penner said it helps that his line has developed an identity. Whatever offense he brings is a bonus.

"I think we've been playing well as a line for quite a few games now," Penner said. "I think as a third line, we've been really sound defensively. I'm playing with two guys who (have done that) a lot … Stolie, especially, since I've been here. He's got great speed, he's a workhorse. He's great on both sides of the puck. We all bring different elements to the line that have combined for a pretty good third line."

No changes: Sutter has cited identity as a reason for L.A.'s uptick, so it's no surprise there aren't any lineup changes against the League-leading Blues.

Since they acquired Jeff Carter on Feb. 25, the Kings are the highest scoring team in the Western Conference at 3.5 goals per game. League-wide, only Pittsburgh has more with 4.25 per game.

Penner said the improved depth and balance can be traced to the fourth line of Kyle Clifford, Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan.

"They're playing a lot of minutes in comparison to other team's fourth line and they're playing against other teams' top lines," Penner said. "While they're out there, our top guys are getting a rest. It's maybe a small gain at that time, but it accumulates and that's why you see at the end of the game or end of second beginning of the third, they start taking over."

Elliott against Quick:
Brian Elliott is expected to start for St. Louis after Jaroslav Halak suffered a loss to Anaheim on Wednesday night.

Neither has a track record of success. Elliott is 0-3 with a 3.64 goals-against average lifetime against Los Angeles, while Quick is 2-8-1 with a 2.69 GAA against the Blues.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 3:48 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blues, Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Here's how the lineups project for tonight's game at Staples Center between the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues:

BLUES
David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - Jamie Langenbrunner
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
Chris Porter - Scott Nichol - B.J. Crombeen

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kent Huskins - Ian Cole

Brian Elliott
Jaroslav Halak

KINGS
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Matt Greene - Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 4:38 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Boudreau still angry at Halak

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is all too familiar with Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, who beat Boudreau's Washington team in the first round of the 2010 playoffs when Halak was in Montreal.

Asked if he has seen a better performance than that, Boudreau playfully replied, "Nope, and I’m still pissed at him for that.

"He got in that zone and he was incredible. Even the last game in St. Louis, I thought he was incredible. His leg save on (Saku) Koivu in the first period -- he kept it 0-0 -- had our guys shaking their heads."
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 4:35 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ducks' Lydman questionable, Smith-Pelley on top line

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman will be a game-time decision because of an upper-body injury that has kept him out of the past two games, said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau.

Lydman fought through the end of last season with a shoulder injury that needed surgery. He said, "I wasn't feeling that great" from the surgery at the beginning of the season, and now it appears he will have to work through an injury again to finish this season.

"Everything kind of piles up during the year," Lydman said. "I want it to be a little better. It's nothing new."

If Lydman can't play, Nate Guenin likely will take his spot.

Boudreau said there was a "good chance" that veterans Jason Blake and Niklas Hagman will return to the lineup. He scratched both Monday, citing their fatigue in back-to-back games this season.

At the morning skate Blake, 38, played on a line with Saku Koivu, 37, and 41-year-old Teemu Selanne, in perhaps the oldest line in the NHL.

Another Ducks line will feature rookie Devante Smith-Pelly playing on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry

It's a vote of confidence from Boudreau to give Smith-Pelly, 19, a look there after he has played mostly on the third line since being returning from an injury suffered at the 2012 World Junior Championship in December. It's also an adjustment playing the left side given that Smith-Pelly played right wing his whole junior career.

"I felt Bruce has been pretty confident in me since I came over," Smith-Pelly said. "My role is slowly increasing and I'm happy about it. I think I've been playing pretty well since I came back from injury. I'm just happy the coaching staff has confidence in me."

Here's the rest of the lineup the Ducks likely will use Wednesday:

Devante Smith-Pelly - Ryan-Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Jason Blake - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Bobby Ryan - Nick Bonino - Kyle Palmieri
Matt Beleskey - Andrew Cogliano - Niklas Hagman

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Lubomir Visnovsky - Nate Guenin
Luca Sbisa - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller will be in goal, with Jeff Deslauriers the backup.
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 4:28 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Blues getting healthy for Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A healthy and rested St. Louis Blues team probably is not what the Anaheim Ducks want to face, but that's exactly what they’ll get Wednesday.

Jason Arnott will return from an undisclosed injury. David Backes did not skate Wednesday but appears to be fine after he took a shot in the foot last Saturday. Defenseman Kris Russell (concussion) did not skate Wednesday but coach Ken Hitchcock said he is getting closer.

This is a precarious time for Hitchcock, who must balance keeping his foot on the gas pedal while allowing his players to get some rest. He's opting for the former.

"I've said this before: Whatever you are in March … if you think you can dial it up in April when it counts, you're wrong, because you got holes in March and you got holes in April," Hitchcock said. 

"I think we're a little bit afraid that if we stop this cycle, can we get it started again? … We've played good defensive hockey all year by managing the game, managing the puck properly. I think we've gotten away from managing the puck properly and played too much east-west, and that's hurt us. I think the last couple of games we got back playing the right way and it's really helped our game again. That's our focus: Just playing the game the right way."

Here's the lineup the Blues likely will put on the ice Wednesday:

David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - Jamie Langenbrunner
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Chris Porter

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kent Huskins - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak will start in goal, with Brian Elliott the backup.
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Right now I'm just happy to be back and get through this season and make sure I do my job. I've never had an issue with having to prove myself again and I'll try to do it again. We'll see where it takes me.

— Defenseman Torey Krug on signing with the Boston Bruins
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