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Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 4:46 PM

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

WJC teammates happy to see Hodgson on their side

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- In perhaps the biggest move Monday, the Buffalo Sabres acquired center Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer from the Vancouver Canucks for Sabres prospect forward Zack Kassian and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani.

Hodgson, taken by Vancouver with the 10th pick of 2008 Entry draft, currently is tied for second among rookies with 16 goals in 63 games, which makes him the third leading scorer on the Sabres.

Neither player was available for practice Tuesday, as they were back in Buffalo for their physicals. Hodgson also had to take care of paperwork regarding his work visa. The Sabres expected both players to arrive in time for the game.

With the Sabres, Hodgson will be reunited with Sabres center Tyler Ennis and defenseman Tyler Myers; the three won gold medals with Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championship.

"He was a huge part of our gold-medal team,” Ennis said of Hodgson, who led that tournament with 11 assists and 16 points in six games. "He was probably one of the best guys in the tournament."

Added Myers, "If he plays anything like he did in the World Juniors, he's a very good player. He was a really nice kid. I know that was three years ago, but I doubt much has changed."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said it will be "trial and error" working in Hodgson. He said the initial thought would be to have him center Ennis and Drew Stafford.

"I know we're getting a real good player," Ruff said. "I've heard nothing but good things about Hodgson and the offensive side of it. I told the team that there's some guys that are going to get a bigger role, some guys will get different roles. We've got a guy that left that was our top penalty guy, top faceoff guy, and he was the guy that played the last minute of the game. Players are usually begging for those responsibilities and I want to see who comes through."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 4:42 PM

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

Miller unhappy over Gaustad's departure

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The focus was on who wasn't on the ice when the Buffalo Sabres practiced Tuesday for the first time since the trade deadline.

Newly acquired center Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer had not yet arrived because they traveled to Buffalo for medical clearances.

Noticeably absent was veteran center Paul Gaustad, and at least one teammate voiced his disapproval at the organization's decision to deal him to Nashville.

"I'm not going to lie -- I'm not really happy about the way it all turned out," said goalie Ryan Miller. "But (it's) the business of hockey. We don't make those decisions -- there's more proof. If I had any more influence, Paul would still be here. I really appreciate the way he plays and he's been one of my best friends for a long time there."

Miller came up through the Sabres organization with Gaustad, a third-line center who is a key penalty killer and faceoff man. Buffalo sent Gaustad and a fourth round draft pick in 2013 to Nashville for a first round pick in this year's draft.

"If you don't understand, I'm not going to explain it," Miller said of Gaustad's worth. "Because it's just too important for a hockey team, I think. So it is a little frustrating in that regard.

"Personally, we're close friends and also I think he's a big part of the team. No matter the way you view hockey, you have to understand how important players like Paul can be and how long it takes to develop a guy who plays that way at such a high level. Winning those faceoffs is not easy. Killing those (penalties) is not easy. There's not a lot of guys that are willing to do that job."

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said it was difficult when he spoke with Gaustad.

"I've been with him all these years," Ruff said. "I remember his first game. He came up and I thought, 'I don't know. His skating may hurt him. He may never make it.' He's come a long a way. That's a tough one. It's like dealing with a Brian Campbell. You've grown up with a player like that, spent all those years with him. It's tough to see him go."
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 1:46 PM

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

Carter doesn't skate, expected to make Kings' debut

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Jeff Carter did not skate with the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday morning but the club expects him to play against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Carter had a physical off site and is expected to join the team before the 5 p.m. PT game at Staples Center.

“You’re still waiting for the League sign off,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “But he’s been through everything so that’s not an issue but there’s still a formal procedure that they have to do, and because it’s Saturday – I guess its trouble putting all that together.”

Sutter confirmed Carter will play on the second line with Mike Richards. Dwight King has had chemistry with Richards and will likely fill the other wing spot.

Sutter plans to plug in Carter without much hitch.

“Our systems and all that are pretty generic,” he said. “And he’s played most of the season. Other than the odd tweak or maybe three feet where he’s got to be, there’s not much (adjustment).”

Voynov in: Slava Voynov returns to the lineup after he was recalled. A bright spot on defense this season, Voynov is largely why the club justified trading Jack Johnson.

Voynov said he found out about his recall during a game with the Manchester Monarchs. He is aware of this increased responsibility.

“I’ve waited for this time,” Voynov said. “First power-play (unit) – more pressure for me.”

Father watching: Jordan Nolan said his father, former NHL coach Ted Nolan, is in town and will watch him in Los Angeles for the first time.

Jordan Nolan has been put on the fourth line but his stay with the big club has gone on longer than he expected.

“I’m probably the guy they’ll send down next because of waivers,” Nolan said. “You just got to keep on your toes and play your best hockey because you never know.”

Nolan said he’s learned a lot in his brief time in the NHL.

“I think I’ve learned how serious the game is, how badly the guys want to win and how guys want to be successful,” he said. “It’s a business and guys want to stay in the lineup, so that’s all I’m trying to do right now.”
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Posted On Saturday, 02.18.2012 / 3:50 PM

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

Penner returns for Kings, but Sutter wants improvement

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter issued probably his harshest assessment yet of disappointing winger Dustin Penner after the team’s Saturday morning skate.

Penner will return to the lineup on Saturday night against Calgary, and an unusually chatty Sutter made it clear it was only by necessity because Kevin Westgarth has a sore hand.

“He’s a veteran,” Sutter said of Penner. “He better step up to the plate - very simple. He came out of the lineup because he was horse (expletive).  He better step up to the plate or he might not get another look. Simple.”

Penner has been a healthy scratch the past three games and has been a major disappointment to the team that is paying him $4.25 million this season.

He has five goals and 13 points with a minus-6 rating in 43 games this season. L.A. has opted to play rookies Dwight King and Jordan Nolan, who have a combined 12 games of NHL experience, on the second line although Penner has been available.

Westgarth fought Paul Bissonnette of Phoenix on Thursday night.

“If we really needed it tonight (Westgarth would be in), but it’s not the type of team we’re playing,” Sutter said.

Stoll out: Jarret Stoll is not yet ready to return from a hip muscle injury, Sutter said.

The Kings put Trent Hunter on waivers Friday to open up a roster spot for Stoll but his activation will have to wait, meaning King and Nolan will stay up with the club in the meantime.

Hunter cleared waivers Saturday.

Leapfrog game: Los Angeles would fall out of the top eight of the Western Conference with a loss tonight, but Sutter said he didn’t look at it that way.

“You know what? There’s two spots for seven or eight teams, so I don’t see any difference in those teams,” Sutter said. “It comes down to … head-to-head against those teams.”

A lack of scoring is sinking L.A., and Sutter addressed what he perceived to be criticism for a lack of effort in that department.

“They connect effort with scoring and that’s really unfair to the players,” Sutter said.

Sutter said all these close, low-scoring games his team is involved in is good for a team that is still young.
“For me that’s a good measuring stick for a lot of guys that haven’t either been in that position or haven’t had success in that position,” he said. “The biggest mistake that everybody made with this group here was (giving them big) expectations because they lost in the first round last year. That’s got nothing to do with anything.”

Gagne skating: Simon Gagne has been skating for the first time since he suffered a concussion on Dec.26 but there is no timetable for his return.

Simmer honored: Former King Charlie Simmer will be honored before the game in the third edition of the Kings Legends Night series.

Simmer played on the Triple Crown line with Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He is second on the franchise’s all-time scoring list among left wings with 222 goals and ninth on the team’s all-time scoring list.

Simmer is a television color analyst for Calgary. The Kings will wear their vintage purple-and-gold uniforms.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:

FLAMES

Alex Tanguay - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Tom Kostopoulos - Michael Cammalleri - Blake Comeau
Lance Bouma - Roman Horak - Krys Kolanos
Paul Byron - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
T.J. Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff

KINGS

Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jordan Nolan
Kyle Clifford - Andrei Loktionov - Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson - Colin Fraser - Dustin Penner

Drew Doughty - Rob Scuderi
Willie Mitchell - Jack Johnson
Matt Greene - Davis Drewiske

 Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 3:10 PM

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

Drewiske replacing Martinez on defense for Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The personnel of the Los Angeles Kings’ defense hasn’t changed much this season, but there will be one wrinkle Thursday night against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Seldom-used Davis Drewiske will get the call in place of Alec Martinez in the third defensemen pairing.

Drewiske has only played in seven games this season and not since Dec.19, but coach Darryl Sutter said it was time to change it up.

Martinez has been in that spot the past five games with Slava Voynov re-assigned to the AHL, and Sutter hasn’t been pleased with what he’s seen.

“[Martinez] and [Drewiske] are those guys that fight for those spots, and it’s about competing for ice time,” Sutter said. “[Martinez] can certainly play better than he has in the last two or three games, so it’s Davis’ turn.”

Drewiske has made the most of his limited time with two goals and an even plus-minus rating in seven games.

Second line gets another look: Thursday will mark the third time rookies Dwight King and Jordan Nolan flanked Mike Richards on the second line.

King and Nolan were recalled from the AHL last weekend and both got their first NHL goals Sunday against Dallas.

The 6-foot-3, 234-pound King and plays a power forward role while the 6-3, 227-pound Nolan is more of an enforcer type.

“You play with two people that are 6-3, it obviously creates a lot of room on the ice,” Richards said. “They’re big, strong, hard-working guys. I think when you get called up, your first couple of games with the team, you obviously play with a little (fire).

“We’re getting more and more comfortable with each other, and hopefully we can keep having success.”

Sutter hasn’t thrown a ton of praise on the youngsters and made it clear about their situation.

“I just don’t want them to tail off,” Sutter said. “If they have one practice where they tail off … You know what? They’re nothing special. They’re kids who are trying to learn how to play the game. We’re in a position, because of injuries and not scoring enough goals, to give them a chance. They better take full advantage of it.”

Stoll closer, Penner out: Thursday could be the last game for King and Nolan with Jarret Stoll eligible to come off injured reserve on Saturday.
Stoll has been progressing from a hip injury, but Sutter stopped short of saying he could be ready this weekend.

Dustin Penner is expected to be a healthy scratch for a third straight game.

Asked Tuesday about the message to Penner , Sutter said, “Work your (butt) off. Then you get a chance to play again. If you don’t, you don’t.”

Richards on NHL 36: Richards is being followed by a camera crew for the latest edition of “NHL 36,” a day-in-the-life segment in which a player if profiled for 36 hours.

“It’s a little bit different,” Richards said. “I thought the room was little quieter (Tuesday) morning. Not too many people were talking. …everybody was trying to stay away from me.”

The episode will air Feb. 22 before the Kings-Avalanche game on NBCSN.

Here are the projected lineups for Thursday night:

COYOTES

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Daymond Langkow - Mikkel Boedker
Raffi Torres - Kyle Chipchura - Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Rostislav Klesla - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Chris Summers - Michal Rozsival

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

KINGS

Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jordan Nolan
Kyle Clifford - Andrei Loktionov - Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson - Colin Fraser - Kevin Westgarth

Drew Doughty - Rob Scuderi
Willie Mitchell - Jack Johnson
Matt Greene - Davis Drewiske

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 3:36 PM

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

Trying seasons for captains Getzlaf, Staal

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ryan Getzlaf and Eric Staal probably didn't envision their paths following this kind of trajectory.

Two years after both helped Team Canada win gold in the Winter Olympics, their teams are struggling and both captains have had trying seasons.

Both are desperately trying to help their teams cling to dim postseason hopes, and they stand in each other's way when the Anaheim Ducks host the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.

"Both teams have been through a lot this year," Staal said. "(We've had) tough starts and obviously going through a coaching change. Some good players on both teams that probably didn't have the start they wanted, but they're feeling good, are starting to feel some confidence. It's going to be a good game. We obviously know they've been playing very well lately."

Staal has come under scrutiny for his minus-24 rating, worst in the League. Getzlaf said he identifies with Staal and the pressure he's under.

"Staalsy's been through a lot of criticism as well," Getzlaf said. "He's dealt with it. The amount that I do know him, I think he dealt with it fairly well and brought himself back to where he wants to be."

Getzlaf has 1 goal in his past 13 games and has scored only twice since Dec. 6. He's coming off one of his better games, though, with an assist, plus-1 rating and three hits against Calgary.

Staal also knows what Getzlaf is going through.

"He's obviously a tremendous player," Staal said. "He's a player that obviously got off to a difficult start, but he's really coming on better now. We're very similar in how the years have went for both of us -- tough starts, but feeling better lately. He's a good player no matter what. You've got to be aware of him on the ice."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 3:34 PM

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

Projected lineups for Hurricanes, Ducks

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Carolina Hurricanes visit the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center:

HURRICANES
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Drayson Bowman - Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen
Andreas Nodl - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Chad LaRose - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Jaroslav Spacek - Jamie McBain

Cam Ward
Justin Peters

DUCKS

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

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

Jonas Hiller
Iiro Tarkki
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 4:04 PM

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

Kiprusoff chases 300th win, first in Anaheim

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A sort of daily double is on the line when the Calgary Flames take on the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

Miikka Kiprusoff is going for his 300th career victory, and it would snap a 13-game losing streak by Calgary in Anaheim's building.

Calgary coach Brent Sutter, who coached Martin Brodeur in New Jersey, likened Kiprusoff to Brodeur in his ability to not let personal milestones distract from the task at hand.

"There's an element about those guys that's really hard to put into words," Sutter said. "I played with Billy Smith. Eddie Belfour was the same way. Kelly Hrudey was the same way. These guys … they had a very calming influence inside the room but they were also very, very confident in their abilities and everyone knew it inside in the room, which is huge for a goalie, and it's huge for the psyche that it brings inside the room."

Kiprusoff would be the 27th goalie to reach 300 wins. Remarkably, he has never won a regular season game in Anaheim as a Flame.

Kiprusoff was injured when Calgary last won in Anaheim on Jan. 19, 2004.

"That is surprising," Jarome Iginla said. "I think he's going to play a number of more years. Hopefully we've got to change that now."

Iginla optimistic:
Iginla said he plans on staying in Calgary with the Flames on the outside of the playoff picture with the Feb. 27 trade deadline looming.

"I think we're going to be a playoff team," he said. "I believe that. In the Western Conference, it's tight. I don'’t think there's any heavy, favorite front runner. I think we've got a shot. We've played Detroit. We've played Vancouver. We played San Jose and we played them (tightly). While we respect them, we definitely believe we can beat them.

"I believe we can make it here this year. We're four points out, but that can change quickly. That's where the focus is. As far as trade deadline rumors, I haven't kept up on them."

Long drought:
Not only has Calgary not won in 13 straight in Anaheim, it is 1-13-9 past 23 here and the last six games were decided by one goal.

"We don’t bring it up," Iginla said. "The team's turned over so much that most people haven't been through it, so why bring it up and act like they haven't won here? They probably have with other teams. There's only a handful of us that have been through that really tough stretch here.

"We hope that we're due. We'll go with that mindset."

Iginla also missed that 2004 game with an injury. Anaheim defenseman Toni Lydman is the only player from that game that will dress tonight -- Lydman played for Calgary.

"That's a while ago," Lydman said. "Now you made me feel old."

Hagman demoted:
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau broke up the Finnish line of Niklas Hagman, Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne and demoted Hagman to the fourth line.

Matt Beleskey takes the spot of Hagman, who thrived earlier this season but has one goal in his past 17 games.

"He's been up and down," Boudreau said. "There's time when you can see why he was a 28-goal scorer (actually 27) and there's times when he just works and he gets opportunity after opportunity and it seems like he's shooting everything five feet wide. It's never for a lack of work. Sometimes his hands are moving way too quick for his body. But his work ethic is always there."

Sbisa's accident:
Anaheim defenseman Luca Sbisa is sporting a nasty red blemish on the right side of his face from what he told The Orange County Register was a bicycle accident, which has given teammates ammunition for some gentle ribbing.

"We have a bicycle helmet back there somewhere," Lydman said with a smile. "I don't know whose it is."
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 4:02 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flames, Ducks

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Anaheim Ducks host the Calgary Flames at the Honda Center:

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Michael Cammalleri - Krys Kolanos - Blair Jones
Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

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

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

Jonas Hiller
Iiro Tarkki
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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 3:46 PM

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

Jackets get Carter back, Ducks have Blake

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jeff Carter comes full circle just in time to help the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Carter will return to the lineup from a separated shoulder on Friday night in Anaheim, where he suffered the injury from a hit by Francois Beauchemin on Jan. 8.

"It's just kind of the way the schedule worked out," Carter said. "But it will be nice to get back on the ice no matter where it is. The guys have been playing hard here, so I'm going to try and help out a bit."

Judging from the morning skate, Columbus interim coach Todd Richards kept his top line intact and put Carter on the second line with Vinny Prospal and Colton Gillies.

Carter missed 10 games. He said he isn't limited and can take faceoffs.

"I think I should be pretty good," Carter said. "I think it's an injury that you're always going to feel a little bit. I'm sure it will last kind of through the end of the season but I don't think it's anything that is going to hold me back."

Asked if he'll keep his head up for Beauchemin, Carter smiled and said, "Yeah, if I see him coming."

The Jan. 8 meeting also saw Jean-Francois Jacques earn a three-game suspension for an elbow to RJ Umberger. There were also a combined five penalties for boarding, roughing and slashing.

Beauchemin acknowledged Columbus is chippy but said there won't be any carryover.

"We want to win games and we need those points, so we're not really worried about what happened last game," Beauchemin said. "Maybe we can expect them to come a little bit more aggressive, but we have to stay composed and be focused on what we have to do to win the game."

Said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, "I think our focus is in the right place. I think we've reined in our penalties. We know what we have to do and we can't do it from the penalty box."

Clockgate:
Richards made a point to put behind Wednesday night's controversial ending against Los Angeles where the clock stopped long enough for Drew Doughty to score the game-winning goal in the final seconds.

"For me, it's done," Richards said. "It's gone. I'm preparing for Anaheim, and I think that's how the players are, too."

Boudreau, who has playfully taken an anti-Kings stance, was asked if he feels for Columbus.

"I would preferably not feel for them, but because it was (against) LA, I feel for them," Boudreau said. "It shouldn't happen. In today's world, that shouldn't happen."

Blake returns:
Jason Blake will return to the lineup from a foot injury and is expected to go back into the third line left wing spot beside Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano.

Blake was hit by Lubomir Visnovsky's shot and was grateful the foot wasn't broken. It has been that kind of a season for Blake, who missed 34 games because of a severe cut above his left wrist when San Jose's Brent Burns accidentally stepped on him.

"I'm very anxious," Blake said. "Obviously the year has been very frustrating and disappointing -- missing 35 games and getting hit with a shot. It's like, when's it going to end? When you're not playing, especially my age, it's the game that I love and I want to play. I'm very excited."

Does Visnovsky owe Blake dinner?

"He owes me a lot more than dinner," Blake said, joking. "I told him he owes me big."
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