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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 2:38 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Volchenkov set to return for Devils

CALGARY -- The New Jersey Devils will get a boost on the back end, as injured defenseman Anton Volchenkov will be in the lineup tonight against the Calgary Flames.

Volchenkov, who left the first period of New Jersey's New Years Eve tilt against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a lower-body injury, said he is primed to get back on the ice.

"I'm ready to go, ready to play tonight," said Volchenkov, who has missed New Jersey's previous four games. "It feels pretty good. It's been one week. I feel it's been better. It's ready to go."

The Devils were expected to activate Volchenkov from injured reserve Tuesday afternoon. He was originally placed on the list Jan. 7, retroactive to Dec. 31. Volchenkov also missed three games from Dec. 10-13 with a hand injury and has played in 34 of the Devils' 41 games this season.

Travis Zajac, who is battling soreness to his left Achilles, will miss his fourth consecutive game. 

Here is the Devils' expected lineup:

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Mattias Tedenby - Steven Zalewski - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Nick Palmieri

Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Mark Fayne - Henrik Tallinder
Kurtis Foster - Anton Volchenkov

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 1:40 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

No 'Mo' as Flames set to battle Devils

CALGARY -- The infirmary is still full for the Calgary Flames.

With seven players still on the injured reserve list and forward Brendan Morrison not quite ready for a return, Calgary will roll with the same lineup from Saturday's 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.

"Status quo," Calgary coach Brent Sutter said.

Morrison originally thought he'd be ready to go for tonight's matchup against the New Jersey Devils, who drafted him in 1993 and with whom he broke into the League.

"I thought tonight might be a good chance, it's not quite there," Morrison said. "No, I won't play tonight, no. Maybe Thursday, we'll see."

Morrison is out with what the team is describing as an upper-body injury.

"It's progressing but it's not at the point where I can really battle yet, so there's no point in playing if you can't even engage guys," said a disappointed Morrison.

Frustration is mounting in the veteran of 921 career NHL games. Morrison has missed over a dozen of Calgary's 43 games this season between this injury and the lingering effects of knee surgery last year.

"Watching games? I'm sick of it, yeah, it's brutal," Morrison said. "You think it's such a small thing, but it just kind of lingers. You have to deal with it. What do you do? When you're watching you kind of feel helpless."

Tonight's projected lineup:

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Paul Byron - Blair Jones - Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich
Clay Wilson - Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 3:21 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Jones has fresh start in Calgary

It’s been a crazy 24 hours for Blair Jones.

Woken up by a call from Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman indicated he’d been traded to the Flames on Friday, Jones was on a plane bound for Calgary just two hours later.

Twenty-four hours after that, Jones was skating in his first game day skate with the ‘Flaming C’ on his chest.

“It was kind of weird yesterday morning,” said Jones, who will make his Flames debut Saturday against Minnesota. “I was sleeping in and woke up, Stevie was calling me and that was that. I woke up a little foggy and was like, ‘Oh.’ I didn’t know what to say. He said Calgary would be in touch with me shortly and two hours later I was on a plane.”

Flames captain Jarome Iginla did his best to welcome Jones into the Calgary locker room.

“We all introduced ourselves, go over everything as quickly as you can and it’s game time,” Iginla said. “It’s definitely a little different transition being in the middle of the season.”

Even the climate is changing on Jones, but going from the heat of Florida to the bitter winter of Alberta hasn’t soured Jones. In fact, he’s welcoming the change.

“This is a bit of a different look than in Tampa,” said Jones, who was acquired in exchange for defenseman Brendan Mikkelson. “I’m definitely excited being back in Canada where hockey is the No. 1 game.”

With Tampa Bay sitting 12th in the Eastern Conference sporting a 17-19-3 record, Jones knew something was going to happen soon. He just didn’t realize it would involve him.

“I thought with the way things were going there something was probably going to happen sooner or later but you never think it might be you,” Jones said. “It’s part of the game and I’m excited to be in Calgary.”

Though it’s an entirely new organization, Jones isn’t tasked with a new coach. The Central Butte, Saskatchewan native played under Flames coach Brent Sutter for three seasons as a member of the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels.

“He’s a big guy that was a good center iceman in junior hockey,” Sutter said of the team’s newest member. “He’s a big center iceman and we could use some size down the middle.”

That’s not all he brings, said Sutter, who faced Jones and the Lightning back on Dec. 15. Jones left an impression.

“When we played him in Tampa Bay here recently, the first five-to-10 minutes he had five big checks,” Sutter said. “He uses his size to his ability. It’s something we can use down the middle. He’s got good skills and good hands and a really good shot.”

He’s also got an opportunity.

With three forwards – David Moss, Matt Stajan and Alex Tanguay - on Calgary’s injured reserve list and Brendan Morrison out with an upper-body injury, Jones will get the chance to jump head-first into some playing time with Calgary.

“I’m excited,” Jones said. “Nervous too.”
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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 3:13 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Wild lose Bouchard but welcome back Stoner

The Minnesota Wild will be without Pierre-Marc Bouchard as they look to right the ship Saturday night against the Flames in Calgary.

Bouchard suffered a lower-body injury in a 3-0 loss Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks.

“He’s not in, he’s going to be out today,” Wild coach Mike Yeo confirmed. “He’ll get re-evaluated when we get back to Minny.”

The loss is a big one for Minnesota. Bouchard sits fourth in team scoring with nine goals and 22 points this season.

Hoping to ease the pain of Bouchard’s absence is the return of defenseman Clayton Stoner, who was activated off injured reserve Friday and will be in the lineup against Calgary.

“The body is feeling good and I’m excited to get back up in the lineup,” Stoner said.

Stoner rejoins a Wild team that has won just once in its last 11 games after winning seven in a row.

“We’ve had a tough stretch where we’re not playing our best every night,” Stoner said. “If I can come in and be consistent and do whatever I can it’ll help the team.”

Though he’s been out of the lineup since Dec. 22, Stoner feels just as much a part of the losses as his teammates.

“It’s tough,” Stoner said. “You feel for them. You know what you’re going through. I still feel a part of it. Obviously it’d be nice if we won all those games but we didn’t and we’re just trying to build as a team.”

Here is the projected lineup for the Wild:

Dany HeatleyMikko KoivuDevin Setoguchi
Darroll PoweKyle BrodziakCal Clutterbuck
Casey WellmanMatt CullenNick Johnson
Colton GilliesWarren PetersBrad Staubitz

Marek ZidlickyNick Schultz
Jared SpurgeonMarco Scandella
Clayton StonerJustin Falk

Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding
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Posted On Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 2:49 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

More key players out for Flames against Wild

CALGARY -- If getting beat  9-0 by the Boston Bruins on Thursday wasn’t enough, the Calgary Flames also lost two key contributors.

Both Scott Hannan and Brendan Morrison will not be in the lineup for Calgary as the Flames take on the Minnesota Wild in their first home game since Dec. 22.

“They’re both dealing with upper-body injuries,” coach Brent Sutter said. “They are going to need some time. How long each guy will be will determine by how quickly they heal. You take two guys out of your lineup, but it gives two other guys opportunities. It is just part of it. You can’t do anything about it.”

Lance Bouma and newly acquired Blair Jones will have the opportunity to step into the lineup. Bouma was recalled Saturday morning, while Jones was acquired Friday in exchange for defenseman Brendan Mikkelson. Defenseman Clay Wilson will also make his season debut on the blue line.

Hannan joins Mark Giordano (hamstring), Matt Stajan (ankle), David Moss (ankle), Derek Smith (lower body), Henrik Karlsson (knee) and Alex Tanguay (upper body) on the injured reserve list.

“It’s definitely difficult, we have some key guys out,” captain Jarome Iginla said. “Teams go through that. We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves or make excuses. We have to win games. We just keep moving forward. Teams go through things they can’t control and injuries at different times. Hopefully some of the guys will get back sooner than later.”

Here is the projected lineup for the Flames:

Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenJarome Iginla
Lee StempniakMikael BacklundLance Bouma
Paul ByronBlair JonesBlake Comeau
Tom KostopoulosRoman HorakTim Jackman

Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
T.J. Brodie – Anton Babchuk
Clay WilsonCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:40 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Zibanejad calls his own shot

CALGARY -- Mika Zibanejad had a feeling when he woke up this morning that today was going to be a big day for him. He was right.

Zibanejad scored the only goal of the gold medal game 10:09 into overtime, giving Sweden a 1-0 victory against Russian for its first World Junior Championship in 31 years.

The Ottawa Senators prospect picked up a loose puck near the red line, busted down right wing, cut in front of Russian goaltender Andrei Makarov and went forehand-to-backhand to lift Sweden to the win and 18,722 spectators at the Scotiabank Saddledome to their feet.

It was a proclamation he made to teammate Jeremy Boyce Rotevall -- twice.

"He told me this morning he was going to finish this game off," Boyce Rotevall said.

Zibanejad, the sixth player taken in the 2011 NHL Draft, confirmed that fact with a gold medal around his neck and a big smile on his face.

"I told him before the overtime, too," he said. "This morning was a joke, but it's not a joke anymore. It was good to get that goal. You have to decide you want to win this."

Sweden's last title came in 1981, 12 years before Zibanejad was born.

"We haven't won in 31 years so I mean, it's wonderful to win now," he said.

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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:34 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Friberg leads WJC All-Star team

CALGARY -- Max Friberg of Sweden will head home with a little something extra to go along with his gold medal.

Friberg was one of six players named to the World Junior Championship All-Star Team as selected by the media.

Too busy celebrating Sweden's first gold medal at the event since 1981, Friberg wasn't even aware of the honor. During interviews after Sweden's 1-0 OT win against Russia in Thursday's gold medal game, he was more enamored with the reward dangling around his neck.

"Thank you very much, but this is what's really important, this is what matters the most," Friberg said, pointing to his gold medal. "Of course, I'm happy that (the media) liked my game. "But (gold) is what really matters."

Russia's Yevgeni Kuznetsov was also named to the team along with Finland's Mikael Granlund. Defensemen Oscar Klefbom (Sweden) and Brandon Gormley (Canada) and goaltender Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic) rounded out the team.

Though Russia came up a goal short in the gold medal game, the media named Kuznetsov as the tournament's most valuable player.

Kuznetsov was also named the tournament's best forward as selected by the championship directorate. Gormley and Mrazek were cited as the top defenseman and goalie, respectively.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 10:31 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden, Russia heading to OT

CALGARY – The gold medal game of the World Junior Championship is heading to overtime.

 

It’s not uncommon territory for the two teams, who met in the extra period back on New Year’s Eve. Joakim Nordstrom was the hero in that one, scoring 2:44 in to give Sweden a 3-2 victory.

 

Despite building a 50-16 advantage in shots, Sweden couldn’t manage to beat Russian starter Andrei Makarov over 60 minutes. The Russians, who threw a decent share at Johan Gustafsson, couldn’t get on the board either.

 

The 0-0 tie means both teams will play a 20-minute 4-on-4. If neither team scores, the game advances to a shootout.

 

Though heavily outplaying Russia throughout the contest, Sweden may feel lucky to get there.

 

With 32 seconds remaining, Russian captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov found Nikita Gusev on the doorstep with a no-look, spinning backhand pass. Gusev couldn’t get it behind Gustafsson, who has gone long stretches in the game without any action.

 

Though the action was a little more even in the third period, Sweden dominated Russia through the first 40 minutes of action.

 

Sweden has outshot Russia 39-4 through two periods, including firing 22 shots at Makarov in the second period alone.

 

It was the same story in the first period, when Sweden's best opportunity came midway through the frame.

 

Joakim Nordstrom redirected a shot from the point off the stick of Petter Granberg that was handled with great difficulty by Makarov.

 

But Sweden has yet to get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin. Bragin’s inclination to play Makarov over Andrei Vasilevski has paid off throughout the game.
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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 9:47 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden dominates, but still 0-0 after two

CALGARY - Sweden continued its utter dominance over Russia through the first 40 minutes of action in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship -- but still has nothing to show for its efforts in a game that was scoreless after 40 minutes.

Sweden outshot Russia 39-4 through two periods, including 22 in the second period. But Russian goalie Andrei Makarov has been flawless.

At the other end, Swedish starter Johan Gustafsson has barely been tested.

Sweden dominated from the onset of the game, allowing just three shots on goaltender Johan Gustafsson in the first period. In fact, it took Russia 12:34 to get a shot on Gustafsson -- and that was a weak one that off the stick of 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible Nail Yakupov.

But Sweden has yet to get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 8:46 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia and Sweden scoreless after one

CALGARY -- Sweden fired 17 first-period shots at Russian starter Andrei Makarov, but the teams were scoreless after the opening 20 minutes in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship.

Sweden dominated from the onset of the game, allowing just three shots on goaltender Johan Gustafsson. In fact, it took Russia 12:34 to get a shot at Gustafsson -- and that was a weak shot that rolled of the stick of 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible Nail Yakupov.

But Sweden couldn't get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin -- his decision to play Makarov over Andrei Vasilevski has paid off through the opening period.

Sweden's best opportunity came midway through the frame. Joakim Nordstrom redirected a shot from the point off the stick of Petter Granberg that was handled with great difficulty by Makarov.

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I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

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