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At the Rink blog
Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 5:21 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Landeskog out for Avs, Mitchell moves to second line

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche is shaking up its lines to try and shake an early funk – and a much longer skid against the Vancouver Canucks.

Coming off consecutive losses, winless in three road games, still missing captain Gabriel Landeskog to injury, and facing a team they haven't beaten in regulation in 17 tries, Colorado moved third-line center John Mitchell into the top-six as a left wing and inserted call-up Michael Sgarbossa to make his NHL debut in Mitchell's usual spot.

"Just shake it up a little bit and see what happens," coach Joe Sacco said. "With Gabe being out just thought I'd change it up a little bit."

Sacco didn't have an update on his captain and usual top-line left wing Landeskog, who returned from a big, high hit in San Jose on Saturday and finished the game, but did not dress in Edmonton on Monday night. He is still with the team and watched part of the Canucks morning skate Wednesday from the tunnel outside the Avalanche locker room, but did not take part in Colorado's skate an hour later.

"Same status," Sacco said of Landeskog. "Head/leg injury and no timetable as far as returning."

Without Landeskog, Sacco hopes Mitchell will add "a little more jam" to Stastny's line, something he noticed from the trio after making the switch in the third period of a 4-1 loss to the Oilers. The hope is that leads to more power play opportunities for the Avalanche, which is averaging three chances per game and giving up a little more than six.

"It's fair to say we need to do a better job of playing inside the dots, getting to the net more, making the opposition tug us down," said Sacco, who liked the way his team is playing five-on-five but has seen them give up seven power play goals the last two games.

"Our Achilles heel has been our penalty kill," Sacco said. "Even when we do a pretty good job of killing a penalty it seems to end up in the back of our net. No excuses, we have to be better in that area."

Here are the rest of the new Colorado lines as the Avalanche tries to end a 0-15-2 skid against the Canucks on Wednesday night:

Jamie McGinnMatt DuchenePA Parenteau

John MitchellPaul StastnyDavid Jones

Chuck Kobasew – Michael Sgarbosa – Milan Hejduk

Cody McLeodMark OlverPatrick Bordeleau

Erik Johnson - Ryan Wilson

Greg Zanon - Matt Hunwick

Ryan O'Byrne - Jan Hejda or Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratched: Shane O'Brien and Tyson Barrie or Jan Hejda

Injured: Gabriel Landeskog, Steve Downie

Notes: Sacco said O'Brien, a former Canuck, would sit out for the fifth time in six games for sure, but as "still deciding" between Barrie or Hejda as his sixth defenseman.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 4:43 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Canucks split up Garrison-Edler defense pairing

The Vancouver Canucks only have one new defenseman playing regularly this season, but they've got two trying to make big adjustments.

Asking them to do so on the same pairing has been problematic early, so for now they have split up newcomer Jason Garrison and Alexander Edler, who is being asked to play the less familiar right side after his old partner Sami Salo left for Tampa Bay as a free agent.

The change came shortly after both defensemen committed egregious turnovers that led to goals early in a 4-1 loss in San Jose on Sunday night. Garrison moved onto a pairing with Kevin Bieksa and Edler, a left-handed shot, stayed on the right side with steady veteran Dan Hamhuis, a top-four mix that stayed intact during a 3-2 shootout loss the next night in Los Angeles.

"We felt we needed to make a couple little changes and adjustments and I felt it worked really well in the L.A. game," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Playing against the Stanley Cup champions, it was our fourth game in six nights, and we played a real solid game."

For Garrison, who signed in his hometown as a free agent after a breakout season in Florida, it's about learning a new system, getting comfortable with a new playing partner, and reacting on the ice rather than thinking.

"There is going to be a period when you think about things more than just reacting to them, and that's part of the process," said Garrison, who is pointless but plus-2 in six games. "But you have to make that timeline very short and make it reactionary more than learning very quickly."

Here are the rest of the lines as the Canucks look to extend a 15-0-2 streak against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night, including goaltender Roberto Luongo getting a surprise second-straight start:

Daniel SedinHenrik SedinZack Kassian

Chris HigginsAlexandre BurrowsJannik Hansen

Mason RaymondJordan SchroederDale Weise

Manny MalhotraMaxim LapierreAaron Volpatti

Dan HamhuisAlexander Edler

Jason GarrisonKevin Bieksa

Keith BallardChristopher Tanev

Roberto Luongo

Cory Schneider

Injured: Ryan Kesler, David Booth

Scratched: Andrew Ebbett, Andrew Alberts, Cam Barker

Notes: Lapierre, who has been playing through a groin "tweak" the last two games, participated in the morning skate, but could come out in favor of Andrew Ebbett on the fourth line.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 4:19 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Report: Landeskog to miss second straight game

The Denver Post is reporting that Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will miss his second straight game when he sits out Wednesday's game at the Vancouver Canucks due to head and leg injuries.

Landeskog was hurt during the first period of a game Jan. 26 against the San Jose Sharks on a hard hit by defenseman Brad Stuart. Landeskog returned to the game, but has not played since.

The newspaper reported that while Landeskog is traveling with the team and was at the arena during the morning skate, it only was to receive medical treatment and he did not get on the ice.

Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said there is no timetable for Landeskog to return.

In four games, the 20-year-old forward has one goal and a plus-3 rating.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 2:39 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Luongo earns second straight start for Canucks

Roberto Luongo will be back in goal for the Vancouver Canucks against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night -- the first time he's made consecutive starts since losing the No. 1 job to Cory Schneider in last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Coach Alain Vigneault said the surprise start was his decision, but wouldn't elaborate on why he made it, or whether it raised more questions about who was his No. 1 goaltender.

"Tonight Louie is No. 1, he’s playing," Vigneult said. "I'm not going to get into all the logistics of what goes behind making a decision. Those are internal things and we'll just leave it at that."

Schneider was the presumed No. 1 after taking over from Luongo three games in last year's playoffs.

Luongo replaced a struggling Schneider in the season opener, and Vigneault made headlines by keeping Luongo in goal the following night. But he went back to Schneider for the third game, saying he was playing the goalie "that gave him the best chance to win," a line that seemed to re-confirm Schneider as the No. 1 going forward.

Schneider also started the next two games, including a shutout in Anaheim on Friday night and a 4-1 loss in San Jose on Sunday, before Luongo got another start in the second half of back-to-back games Monday in Los Angeles. Most assumed Schneider, who has a .897 save percentage overall but .935 since being pulled early in that opening game, to be back in goal against the Avalanche.

Instead it will be Luongo, who many -- including the goalie himself -- assumed would be traded before the season even started.

"My decision," Vigneault said after Wednesday's morning skate. "It's just my call. Just got back yesterday and that's what I decided."

Luongo has lost both his starts in shootouts, but has a .917 save percentage and looked sharp stopping 26 of 28 against the Kings.

"I couldn't tell you if I was surprised or not," Luongo said. "Like I have been saying, I just get ready to play every day and when I am called upon I just want to be ready. I am excited to get the start tonight and hopefully build off last game and get a win most importantly."

Luongo, a notorious slow starter in past seasons, feels good about his game after spending seven weeks working with former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending coach Francois Allaire in Florida.

"I put a lot of work in during the lockout, and skating four times a week by yourself is something you don't get a chance to do very often, and working on some things you need to improve on really helped me out," Luongo said. "Coming into camp I found I was able to see the puck much better and make some good reads off shots that maybe took me a little while to get going in the past."

As for when he'll get another chance after Wednesday, Luongo wasn't sure, saying the goalies usually find out the day before.

"I don't know if there is a plan or not," he said.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 2:20 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Oilers, Coyotes

Here are the projected lineups for Wednesday night's game between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers practiced at a separate site than the Coyotes, so their lines are an estimate based off their game Monday against the Avalanche.

OILERS

Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky

Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Lennart Petrell

Teemu Hartikainen - Eric Belanger - Magnus Paajarvi

Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry

Nick Schultz - Justin Schultz

Ryan Whitney - Corey Potter

Devan Dubnyk

Nikolai Khabibulin

Scratches: Darcy Hordichuk, Mark Fistric

COYOTES

Steve Sullivan - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan

Mikkel Boedker - Alexandre Bolduc - Radim Vrbata

Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - David Moss

Nick Johnson - Kyle Chipchura - Paul Bissonnette

Zbynek Michalek - Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris

David Schlemko - Michael Stone

Chad Johnson

Jason LaBarbera

Scratches: David Rundblad

Injuries: Mike Smith (lower body), Rostislav Klesla (lower body), Martin Hanzal (lower body)

Hanzal and Klesla, game-time decisions Monday against the Predators, were unable to go in that game and were not on the ice at all Wednesday.

On the other hand, Smith, who is recovering from a groin injury suffered in warm-ups prior to the Jan. 23 game against the Blue Jackets, was able to practice fully and even stayed on the ice late with goalie coach Sean Burke for extra work. There is optimism he will be able to start on Friday when the Coyotes open a home-and-home against the Stars.

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett will go with Chad Johnson again Wednesday after he picked up his first career shutout against Nashville. Tippett said one of the big reasons for sticking with Johnson over veteran Jason LaBarbera is the amount of work Johnson had in the AHL this season, getting himself into a good rhythm.

Tippett added that he would like to see more communication on the ice between his top defensive pair of Michalek and Ekman-Larsson. Expected to be the team's shutdown pairing, both players are known to be quiet in nature, and Tippett would like to see them be more vocal on the ice.

Also, suspended forward Raffi Torres will be eligible to return Saturday night against Dallas. Torres has been skating fully and is expected to play once he becomes eligible.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 1:53 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Wild, Blackhawks

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Here are the projected lines for tonight's game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center:

WILD

Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Dany Heatley

Pierre-Marc Bouchard - Mikael Granlund - Devin Setoguchi

Matt Cullen - Kyle Brodziak - Cal Clutterbuck

Darroll Powe - Zenon Konopka - Torrey Mitchell

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Clayton Stoner - Tom Gilbert

Marco Scandella - Justin Falk

Josh Harding

Niklas Backstrom

BLACKHAWKS

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Patrick Sharp - Dave Bolland - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Viktor Stalberg

Jamal Mayers - Marcus Kruger - Michael Frolik

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Johnny Oduya

Sheldon Brookbank - Nick Leddy

Corey Crawford

Ray Emery

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 1:49 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Rozsival skates, still out for Hawks against Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival took another step in his recovery from a lower-body injury sustained last week by skating for the first time since the injury Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center, though he won't play in tonight's game against the Minnesota Wild

Rozsival has played in three of Chicago's six games to start the season, posting two assists, two hits and blocking two shots. He is a plus-2 and provides the Blackhawks with a veteran presence on the blue line.

"Not tonight," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "But we expect him soon."

Chicago opens a six-game road trip tonight against Minnesota, and Rozsival will likely be back in the lineup at some point on the trip. The Hawks are off Thursday before playing back-to-back games Friday and Saturday in Vancouver and Calgary.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 1:16 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Canadiens, Senators

OTTAWA -- Here are the projected lines for the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Place.

CANADIENS

Lars EllerDavid DesharnaisErik Cole

Rene BourqueTomas PlekanecBrian Gionta

Brandon PrustAlex GalchenyukBrendan Gallagher

Travis MoenRyan WhiteColby Armstrong

Andrei MarkovAlexei Emelin

Josh GorgesRaphael Diaz

Tomas KaberleFrancis Bouillon

Peter Budaj

Carey Price

Scratches: P.K. Subban, Yannick Weber, Mike Blunden

Injuries: Petteri Nokelainen, Max Pacioretty

SENATORS

Milan Michalek - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson

Guillaume Latendresse - Peter Regin - Jakob Silfverberg

Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Jim O'Brien - Mika Zibanejad - Erik Condra

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Sergei Gonchar - Mark Borowiecki

Patrick Wiercioch - Chris Phillips

Craig Anderson

Ben Bishop

Injured: Jason Spezza, Mike Lundin

Scratches: Andre Benoit, Kaspars Daugavins

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 12:53 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Devils place Janssen on waivers

The New Jersey Devils on Wednesday placed forward Cam Janssen on waivers.

Janssen, 25, had no points and a minus-1 rating in three games this season. He was a healthy scratch Thursday, and has played less than four minutes per game when he has been in the lineup.

A 2002 fourth-round pick, Janssen has played four of his eight NHL seasons with the Devils. He's also played with the St. Louis Blues, and in 311 NHL games, he has 11 points and 750 penalty minutes.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 12:32 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Oilers send Danis to AHL, open spot for Khabibulin

The Edmonton Oilers announced goaltender Yann Danis has cleared waivers and been re-assigned to the club's American Hockey League team, the Oklahoma City Barons.

That move could mean veteran Nikolai Khabibulin is healthy enough to return to the lineup. Khabibulin has not played this season while continuing to work his way back from hip surgery in April.

Khabibulin, who turned 40 earlier this month, went 12-20-7 in 40 games last season, with 2.65 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.

If Khabibulin is activiated, it's likely he'll be the backup to Devan Dubnyk on Wednesday when the Oilers play at the Phoenix Coyotes.

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Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff