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Posted On Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 4:34 PM

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

Perry, Sbisa game-time decisions

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Corey Perry and Luca Sbisa will be game-time decisions for the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday when they host the Detroit Red Wings.

Sbisa suffered back spasms before Monday's game and had to sit out, the first game this season he's missed. He took part in a very optional morning skate for the Ducks and appears to be closer to returning for Wednesday's game.

Perry left the ice early and might miss a second straight game with a sore shoulder, the result of a hit by Stephane Robidas of Dallas last Saturday. His streak of 272 consecutive games played ended Monday.

"They're both being worked on," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It's a proverbial game-time decision."

Boudreau said Nick Bonino is ready to play after he suffered a lower-body injury. Ryan O'Marra was re-assigned to Syracuse.
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 4:04 PM

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

Wings get Howard back, but Lidstrom still ailing

LOS ANGELES -- The Detroit Red Wings will get one of their walking wounded back in the lineup on Tuesday night.

Goalie Jimmy Howard is expected to return in net when Detroit plays at Los Angeles.

Howard has missed three games with a groin injury suffered on March 4. Joey MacDonald went 1-2 in his absence, including a 4-3 win against Los Angeles last Friday.

"Joe has been great when he's been in the net, but of course we want Howie back," Johan Franzen said.

Todd Bertuzzi has a sore groin and is expected to return Wednesday at Anaheim. Pavel Datsyuk also skated Tuesday but remains day-to-day in his recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery on Feb.21.

"We're going to see Pavel on this trip," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "When he's ready, he'll let us know."

Lidstrom update: Nicklas Lidstrom reported little progress in his recovery from a bone bruise in his ankle, and Babcock said he probably won't play on this road trip.

Lidstrom skated on his own again, but is able to only do laps with no abrupt starts and stops.

"I still have pain in the ankle, so it's not good stopping or turning or doing any quick starts and stops," Lidstrom said. "I just want to be out there and kind of get a feel of getting the groins going and kind of doing some laps and being on the ice again."

Lidstrom couldn't put a timetable on a possible return.

"I didn't think it was going to take this long," he said. "It's been somewhat frustrating I haven't been able to come back earlier, but the trainers want me to make sure I don't re-aggravate it again and be out for another couple of weeks."

Remarkably, Lidstrom has never missed this many consecutive games (seven) in his 20-year career, according to the Detroit Free Press.

"(The accomplishment) feels good but it's still frustrating when you're not able to play," he said. "After a while you get sick and tired of sitting around and watching the guys play. You want to be part of it. You want to be on the ice and be part of the team again."

Line shakeup?: Babcock appeared to mix up his second and third lines in the morning skate.

Franzen centered Gustav Nyquist and Danny Cleary on the second line, while Darren Helm centered Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader on the third line.

"I did it in the pre-game skate today, so we'll see what happens," Babcock said. "Basically I'm trying to get Helmer in a spot where he can do what he normally does. I want energy. I think him, Abby and Millsy might be able to give me that. I haven't decided 100 percent for sure. Game-time decision."

The Franzen line offers size, but Babcock said they have to change their approach against L.A.

"To me, we've been a bit of a rush team and not much a grind team," Babcock said. "L.A., the last time we played them, got the game on the walls and ground us. That's why we weren't on the inside and we weren't at their net enough to play in their zone. It's got to be different here today. We can't expect to be successful doing that."

Franzen has played pivot in his career but hasn’t done it much this season.

"That's where I feel most comfortable -- at the center position," Franzen said. "But I might be a little rusty. It's been a while since I've played center, but hopefully after a few shifts I'm back into it."

Power-play issues:
Detroit is 0-for-20 on the power play over the past five games and 3-for-41 in its last 11 games.

Babcock said the Wings have to take a "real simplified approach, much like we would do at training camp. Normally you do it four or five times a year. But this is an ongoing thing for us. I think it's in our head more than anything. The way to get out of it is to simplify and shoot the puck, and we'll get one and get on a roll."
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 4:02 PM

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

Projected lineups for Red Wings, Kings

LOS ANGELES -- This is how the lineups could look tonight when the Los Angeles Kings host the Detroit Red Wings at Staples Center:

RED WINGS
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Gustav Nyquist - Johan Franzen - Danny Cleary
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Tomas Holmstrom - Cory Emmerton - Jan Mursak

Brad Stuart - Niklas Kronwall
Ian White - Kyle Quincey
Brendan Smith - Doug Janik

Jimmy Howard
Joey MacDonald

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 Monday, 03.05.2012 / 4:14 PM

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

Hall declares himself fit to play for Oilers

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall pronounced himself fit to play Monday after going through the morning skate pain free at Honda Center.

Hall hurt his shoulder on a cross-check by Mark Fistric of Dallas on Friday night. He was held out of practice Sunday and was thought to be questionable for Monday night's game against Anaheim.

"It was a little sore when I woke up yesterday," Hall said. "(They) kind of recommended not to practice and we took that time to get the swelling down. Going out there today is usually the thing that would hurt it and didn't it at all, so I don't see why I can't play tonight. If (coach) Tom (Renney) has anything else to say, that's fine, but I think I should be in."

Hall might have to address the area during the offseason with a possible procedure but he said he'll cross that bridge when he comes to it.

"There's no question that throughout the season you're going to have little nicks and scrapes, and you have to take care of them when the season’s done," he said. "That's something we're going to have to re-visit."

Omark up:
Edmonton recalled Linus Omark in case Hall couldn't go, but Omark figures to get another look at some point anyway.

Renney said Omark is a game-time decision. It would be the fourth game in four nights for Omark, who played all three games over the weekend for the Oklahoma City Barons.

How will his legs feel?

"I don't know," Omark said. "I don't remember (ever doing) that. Of course it's a chance, so I'm glad to be here. I got to find a way to have fresh legs."

Omark was initially sent down in October to find his scoring touch, but he suffered a broken ankle with the Barons and was out for three months. He has 5 goals and 9 points in 11 games with Oklahoma City since he returned, and this is something of a tryout because he is an impending free agent.

"Where this ends up going, it's hard to say," Renney said. "I think he can contribute to our team, our organization. I think there's an opportunity for him, should he come back and have a real strong training camp and make some noise for himself again. Obviously, he needs to get traction."
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Posted On Monday, 03.05.2012 / 4:10 PM

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

Boudreau: Ducks 'still eligible' to chase playoffs

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Anaheim's locker room was quite sullen and silent after Saturday's loss to the rival Kings, the Ducks' third loss in four games.

Captain Ryan Getzlaf said afterward that they still believe, and coach Bruce Boudreau says it can still be done.

"I've looked at every team's schedule many times over and if we do what we're supposed to do -- there's still 98 points on the boards if we win them all -- I don't think it's going to take 98 points to make the playoffs but we're still  eligible to play," Boudreau said.

So what will it take to make it?

"Not 98," he said.

Brookbank finds his role:
Sheldon Brookbank has quietly put together a statement season in that he has become a regular on the back end of the defense.

Brookbank is two games shy of his career-high 66 games played. He's had three goals in nine games after he went 167 games without scoring.

After spending six years in the minors, he's become a regular.

"You don't have to play thinking that if you make a mistake, you're sitting in the press box, you know?" Brookbank said. "You can't make a bunch of mistakes, but they give you a little bit of rope."

Brookbank has beaten Martin Brodeur, Ray Emery and Jonathan Quick for his career-high three goals.

"The pucks are going in right now," he said. "I'll take every one I can get."

Special teams struggle:
Anaheim has allowed seven power play goals in the last seven games, and Boudreau sees a pattern he would like discontinued against Edmonton's top-ranked power play.

"They're always at the end of the penalty kill," Boudreau said. "We're killing off a minute and 40 seconds and then we make a mistake and then it seems to be in our net. That's something we have to fix. We've sort of figured out a few things and hopefully we apply them tonight. The League's best power play is not the ideal situation coming in, but if you're going to get any confidence from doing something well you might as well start against the best."

Boudreau ripped the officiating after Saturday night's game but said he wasn't fined by the League.
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Posted On Monday, 03.05.2012 / 4:04 PM

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

Projected lineups for Oilers, Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Edmonton Oilers visit the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center:

OILERS
Taylor Hall - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
Lennart Petrell - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Ben Eager
Darcy Hordichuk - Eric Belanger - Ryan Jones

Ryan Whitney - Corey Potter
Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Nick Schultz - Andy Sutton

Nikolai Khabibulin
Devan Dubnyk

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

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

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 3:33 PM

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

Sutter: Carter finding his niche with Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The stat sheet says Jeff Carter has yet to produce a point in three games as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

But coach Darryl Sutter isn’t concerned because Carter has been getting chances. He has eight shots on goal in three games and has hit at least two post going into Saturday' game againt Anaheim.

“He’s been really good,” Sutter said. “He’s had more quality scoring chances than anybody on our team. He moves it around on the power play.”

Sutter also likes that Carter’s role as second-line wing with Mike Richards allows the Kings to use the Dustin Penner-Jarret Stoll-Trevor Lewis line as a shut-down line.

Carter also plays up top on the penalty-killing unit with Richards. The Kings have killed all 10 penalties since Carter joined them in last week's blockbuster trade with Columbus that sent Jack Johnson to the Blue Jackets.

“The important part of it for us is that allows us to have a third line,” Sutter said. “It doesn’t bother us to get the right three there to play against anybody.”

Clifford back: It appears that Kyle Clifford will return to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

Clifford has continued to show great potential as an aggressive fourth-line winger who can chip in a goal. But, he committed pivotal penalties against Phoenix and had a turnover against Colorado that led to a goal. Sutter talked to Clifford and the message was clear.

“I need to get my identity back,” Clifford said. “Every player goes through tough stretches. It’s about finding your identity and being the player that you are.”

Said Sutter, “He’s got a clear role, and when that role slips he becomes an American League player. You have to make clear to him what his identity is. We were saying as a captain or a physical defenseman and seems to step out of that role. Young guys do all the time. You have to reinforce it and be patient with it, but there’s also a point where you have to see it.”

Sutter on Selanne: Sutter caught parts of Friday night’s Anaheim-Calgary game and watched 41-year-old Teemu Selanne create a 2-on-1 and deliver a perfect saucer pass to Bobby Ryan for Anaheim’s first goal.

“Teemu, he must seem about 20 years (younger),” Sutter said. “Unbelievable. If we weren’t playing them so much, I could talk about him all day.”

DUCKS

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

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

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers

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

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

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
   
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 3:22 PM

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

Irving to make rare start for Flames

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Leland Irving is expected to make only his third appearance of 2012 and the sixth of his career Friday against the Ducks after Miikka Kiprusoff backstopped Calgary on Thursday.

Irving grabbed the backup spot ahead of Henrik Karlsson with a 1-3-3 record and 3.26 goals-against average, compared to 0-4-1 with a 3.45 GAA for Karlsson.

While Irving never has faced the Ducks, former Flame Niklas Hagman is familiar with him.

"He's a little bit of a smaller goalie, but he played really good," Hagman said of Irving.

Here is the rest of what the Flames' lineup, and the Ducks' lineup, likely will look like when the teams meet tonight at Honda Center:

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - Mike Cammalleri - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Blake Comeau
Lance Bouma - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

Derek Smith - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Leland Irving will play his sixth NHL game tonight, starting in place of Miikka Kiprusoff, who will serve as the backup.

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

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

Jonas Hiller will start in net, with Jeff Deslauriers the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 3:17 PM

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

Hiller ready for growing workload

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jonas Hiller is wading into new waters, and the Anaheim Ducks need his steady navigation more than ever.

Hiller is expected to make a franchise-record 24th consecutive start Friday when the Anaheim Ducks host the Calgary Flames. It's the heaviest workload in Hiller's young career; he'll match a career-high with his 59th game played tonight.

Hiller never played more than 44 games for his Swiss team, Davos, and never has had to carry the load in this short of a stretch.

"Back home in Europe, you normally play all the games -- but that's just, like, 40-something games," Hiller said. "I haven't played that many games in such a short period of time in quite a while. But at the same time, I'm feeling good. Why not?"

Hiller's durability is needed after coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday that backup Dan Ellis likely will miss another 4-6 weeks with a torn groin muscle.

Ellis was scheduled to see a doctor Friday and the team could announce that he is done for the season. Jeff Deslauriers is Hiller's backup, but Anaheim plans on riding Hiller to the end in a quest at a playoff berth.

Hiller is expected to play again Saturday, when the Ducks play at Los Angeles.

"We give him the time off and he plays the games because we're worried about that sort of thing -- him getting overly tired," Boudreau said. "The only time I saw him look with any sense of fatigue was maybe the Colorado game (on Monday). He's been sharp and he's been strong and I ask him every day how he's feeling to make sure that we're doing the right things for him, because he knows -- unless something negative happens -- that he probably starts most of the games, if not all of them, from here on in."

Hiller seems up to the task and has re-kindled the form that made him one of the top goalies in the League before vertigo symptoms effectively ended his season last February.

If anything, that bizarre ailment has made Hiller more in tune with his body.

"I definitely got a better understanding of how to take care of it and listen to my body about when something's aching," Hiller said.  "I just think, 'Well, just work through it.' I just have to take care of it. Normally, with massage or treatment, you can get rid of stuff before it gets serious. Bruce has given me the opportunity to take my rest, to take my options on certain days or certain practices, which definitely helps to stay sharp mentally, which is as almost as tough as being ready physically."

Ellis, who ably filled in for Hiller during Anaheim's second-half run last season, has been out since December. A team spokesman said he has not suffered a setback, although Ellis reportedly was skating on his own during the team's recent road trip.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.29.2012 / 3:56 PM

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

Hodgson joins Sabres in Anaheim after wild ride

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The 48-hour saga of Cody Hodgson finally saw him skate with his new teammates in Anaheim on Wednesday morning.

Hodgson arrived in Southern California about 9 p.m. on Tuesday night after he flew from Phoenix to Buffalo to complete visa work and medical clearance, then to Anaheim in time for Wednesday night's game against the Ducks.

"We just got something quick to eat (last night) and shut it down really quick," Hodgson said. "It didn't take long to fall asleep.

"There's still unanswered texts and calls. The phone's ringing off the hook -- well-wishers, people trying to know what's going on. It's been a whirlwind. But I'm excited and ready to go."

There was also a fake Twitter account someone is using to pose as Hodgson.

"That's nice," Hodgson said with a smile.

It was by far the craziest two days in the young hockey career of Hodgson, who was traded with Alexander Sulzer from Vancouver to Buffalo for Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani in a shocking move at Monday's trade deadline.

Hodgson did his first full introductory media scrum and acknowledged he was taken aback by the move but didn't say much more.

"I didn't know what to think," Hodgson said. "But I'm excited. I'm looking forward. It's a good group of guys and hopefully I can fit in and do well, depending on where things go. But I'm interested in helping the team get in the playoff picture."

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff will have Hodgson center Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford. Ville Leino will move down to third line center with Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Kaleta.

But Ruff added, "There's nothing etched in stone with these lines. We don't get a chance to practice them, so you don't know what they're going to look like. We can easily take a look at different lines even during the game."

Ruff met Hodgson for the first time and one thing stood out.

"I think the first thing you notice is the thickness," Ruff said. "He's got good hands. I think he understands the game. He's got good hands. Again, a young player (who) wants an elevated role. Obviously that's what we're going to try and give him."

That was an issue in Vancouver, where Hodgson was stuck behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler at center and averaged only 12:43 minutes of ice time.

Hodgson still poured in 16 goals and 17 assists in 63 games. He only said of his role in Vancouver, "They're a solid team, but so is here. They've had a bit of injury troubles, but most guys are pretty healthy now and I'm looking forward to getting back on track."

Hodgson was given jersey No. 19 and had all of 20 minutes with his new teammates. A lack of adrenaline probably won’t be an issue tonight.

"I'm a little nervous, but that's a good thing," Hodgson said.

It appears that Sulzer will start his Sabres career as a healthy scratch as the seventh defenseman.

Goalie matchup:
The rare Anaheim-Buffalo tilt features Jonas Hiller against Ryan Miller.

Hiller will tie a franchise record with his 23rd straight start. Miller backstopped Buffalo to a 4-1 victory in the season opener Oct. 7 in the NHL Premiere Games.

Top line back together:
Judging from the morning skate, it looks Anaheim will go back to its top line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

Ryan has been playing on the second line with Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne, but Niklas Hagman was with Koivu and Selanne on Wednesday morning.

"I don't care, really," Ryan said. "Either way, you got a playmaker in Saku or Getz and you got a guy that's really good around the net in Teemu and Pears. The only thing's that changed is the way you create offense through the cycle. I think for the most part, I've had chemistry with both sides, so I'm comfortable anyway."

Smith-Pelly to stay:
Devante Smith-Pelly will remain with the Ducks for the rest of the season, Boudreau told the Orange County Register earlier this week.

The move speaks to the development of the 19-year-old, who suffered a broken foot in the World Juniors but has carved out a role with his broad shoulders and third-line grit.

Smith-Pelly said he had to adjust to NHL speed, but felt he was a regular shortly before the injury.

"I felt right around the Christmas break, before I went to World Juniors, probably around the time Bruce came on board, that's when I kind of felt I was getting the hang of it and I could be an everyday player," Smith-Pelly said.

"Bruce kind of gave me a little extra confidence and I'm just hoping to continue that."
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Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley