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Posted On Friday, 03.16.2012 / 3:20 PM

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

Workhorse Hiller set for 31st consecutive start

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jonas Hiller is expected make his 31st consecutive start tonight when the Anaheim Ducks host the Los Angeles Kings, which would match Buffalo’s Ryan Miller for the second-longest streak in the past two seasons.  Antti Niemi of San Jose started 34 straight from Jan.15, 2011 to April 4, 2011.

Hiller has played and started in 65 of Anaheim's 71 games. He is on track to break Guy Hebert's franchise record for most games played (69) and most starts (68).

Jonathan Quick is expected to start for Los Angeles. Quick is 2-3-1 with a 3.47 goals-against average in his past six road games and is 4-4 in nine career appearances in Anaheim.

Here's how the lineups project:

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
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

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

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Lubomir Visnovsky - Nate Guenin
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 4:48 PM

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

Datsyuk improving, could return Saturday

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk continued to skate and strengthen his surgically repaired knee on Wednesday and said it felt "outstanding."  He could return Saturday when the Wings play the San Jose Sharks.

"Two more days," he said. "We'll see … every day (it's) better, better. But it's hard to say."

While Datsyuk improves, defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom will miss an eighth straight game because of a bone bruise in his ankle. It is the most consecutive games Lidstrom has missed during a 20-year career.

"It's quite an amazing accomplishment,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "I worry more about the fact that (Detroit) lost last night. Good teams very rarely put two bad games together in a row, and they're a really good team, so I expect them to be a lot better with or without him."
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 4:38 PM

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

Bertuzzi back in lineup for Red Wings

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Detroit Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi confirmed he will return after a four-game absence from a groin injury.

"I feel like it's pretty strong right now," Bertuzzi said. "I just have to get my timing back and all that. But as far as the groin, it feels a lot better than what it was."

As a spectator, Bertuzzi said at least one aspect of the team's has stood out when he's watched his teammates.

"We haven't put the puck in enough and we've made some uncharacteristic mistakes and it has cost us goals," he said. "I think back to basics -- taking care of our zone first and when we get some chances, bury them."

Here's the rest of the lineup the Red Wings likely will use tonight:

Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Johan Franzen
Justin Abdelkader - Danny Cleary - Todd Bertuzzi
Tomas Holmstrom - Cory Emmerton - Jan Mursak

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

Joey MacDonald will start in goal, with Jimmy Howard the backup.
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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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Quote of the Day

I've been so fortunate, blessed, to play a long time with some great players and be on power plays, play in some great cities and stuff. It's been fun.

— Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla on tying Dino Ciccarelli for 46th place on the NHL's all-time list with his 1,200th career point after their win vs. the Predators on Friday