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Posted On Friday, 03.15.2013 / 1:18 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Devils understand importance of creating separation

PHILADELPHIA -- The New Jersey Devils heard all the talk earlier in the week about how the Philadelphia Flyers were approaching the teams' home-and-home set as if they were the Flyers' biggest games of the season.

After a 5-2 win Wednesday at Prudential Center, the Devils go into the rematch Friday at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) with a chance to give themselves an eight-point lead on the Flyers, as well as continue to lock in their spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

"We want to try to bury the teams below us as quickly as possible," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "Doesn't matter whether it's Philadelphia or Florida or anybody else -- you get an opportunity to separate yourself from the teams below you, you want to take full advantage of that. It's all about getting points right now. It's not necessarily about the opponent; it's about putting points on the board and trying to solidify a spot in the top eight."

Posted On Friday, 03.15.2013 / 12:59 PM

By Staff -  / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Wild's Zucker skates, questionable to return to lineup

Though Minnesota Wild left wing Jason Zucker remains questionable to return to the lineup Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche, the team did receive a positive sign Friday when the 21-year-old forward joined the team for its morning skate at Xcel Energy Center.

Zucker left Tuesday's game against the Anaheim Ducks after receiving an illegal hit to the head from Corey Perry in the second period, and did not return. Perry was given a four-game suspension by the NHL's Departement of Player Safety on Wednesday.

Posted On Friday, 03.15.2013 / 12:44 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Flyers preaching focus, accountability

VOORHEES, N.J. -- After a day of meetings and a light morning skate Friday, can the Philadelphia Flyers get into the right mindset heading into their game against the New Jersey Devils on Friday night (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US)?

"I hope so," defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "What else could it be? If it's not in the right place, in the right spot, then we're not doing the right things. Looks like we're focused. We had a lot of meetings [Thursday], so hopefully it's in the right place."

The Flyers enter the game with losses in four of their past five, including a 5-2 defeat Wednesday at the Devils, and they enter the game Friday 11th in the Eastern Conference, five points out of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot with 20 games left in the regular season.

Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 4:51 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Quick expected to start for Kings

SAN JOSE -- Jonathan Quick was the first goaltender off the ice at the Los Angeles Kings' morning skate and is expected to make his sixth straight start Thursday night at HP Pavilion against the San Jose Sharks and goaltender Antti Niemi.

Quick allowed five goals on 29 shots in a 5-2 road loss Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes. Last season he went 0-1-2 with a 2.56 goals-against average against the Sharks at HP Pavilion. He's 8-4-4 lifetime against San Jose with a 2.52 GAA.

Niemi is 8-3-2 for his career against Los Angeles with a 2.15 GAA.

Brent Burns, typically a defenseman, skated at right wing on the Sharks' top line with center Joe Thornton and left wing Logan Couture. He played forward Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues for the first time this season, opening on the third line but moving up to the first line late in the second period.

Sharks forward Martin Havlat was on the ice during the morning skate but remained on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Havlat has made significant progress in his recovery.

"He's getting better," McLellan said. "It's nice to see him skating at almost full speed."

Sharks backup goaltender Thomas Greiss remained on injured reserve with a strained neck but "skated a little bit" Thursday morning, McLellan said. "Won't play tonight. I think he's a little bit further down the road, but getting better."

Here's how the lineups could look Thursday night when the Sharks face the Kings at HP Pavilion:

Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 4:32 PM

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

Bieksa expects to return Thursday for Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Kevin Bieksa isn't planning to ride in on a white horse, but the Vancouver Canucks are counting on a boost when the defenseman returns from a groin injury against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

Despite being listed as a game-time decision, all signs at the morning skate pointed to Bieksa coming back after missing seven of the past eight games. After losing six of those seven without him (1-4-2), the Canucks will welcome him back with open arms.

"I don't think I am the savior," said Bieksa, who leads Vancouver's defense with five goals. "The answers are definitely in this room right now."

Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 2:47 PM

By Neil Acharya - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Liles back in for Maple Leafs after spell as scratch

TORONTO -- Looking to add a spark to the defense corps, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle will dress offensive-minded John-Michael Liles for the first time since Feb. 16.

Liles, who has been a healthy scratch for the previous 12 games, said he has watched video and heeded advice from Carlyle on what he needs to improve.

"It's a learning process regardless of if you are playing or not playing," Liles said. "By not playing, I was able to maybe scrutinize the film a little bit more than normal. It's just a matter of always trying to reevaluate and always trying to improve."

Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 2:15 PM

By Steve Hunt - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Ducks, Stars both missing key players

DALLAS -- When the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars hit the ice at American Airlines Center on Thursday, both clubs will be without key players.

Anaheim will be without its second-leading scorer, Corey Perry, as he begins serving a four-game suspension for an illegal check on the Minnesota Wild's Jason Zucker in a 2-1 win at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday.

"Yeah, four games are a lot. What are we going to do?" Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "There's nothing I can do. It's done with and I don't think Brendan [Shanahan, NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety] is going to phone us and say, 'Geez, you guys are good guys. We're going to make it two [games],' so we just have to drop it and go without him for four games."

Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan, whose team will be without top-line center Jamie Benn (wrist) and captain Brenden Morrow (groin) for a second straight game, took a tongue-in-cheek approach when discussing Perry's absence from the Anaheim lineup.

Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 2:09 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Hamrlik back in on Rangers' blue line

WINNIPEG -- The New York Rangers (13-10-2) held a lively practice Wednesday after the team's arrival here in preparation for a date Thursday with the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.

Eighth-place in the Eastern Conference is at stake for the clubs, who each have 28 points.

Roman Hamrlik likely will return to the Rangers' defensive rotation after a two-game absence, replacing Matt Gilroy. Defenseman Marc Staal remains injured and will miss his fifth consecutive game, leaving the Rangers to look for help to ease some of the burden on their blue line's top four.

"It's crucial that someone steps up in the five-six spot," coach John Tortorella said. "When you lose a guy like Marc Staal, and we have guys playing minutes that they're not used to playing, we'd really like to get a rotation of six [defensemen] playing. But we also have to try to win each game, so that's where we're making the call on the bench. We have a few guys looking to take that spot."

Forward Arron Asham participated in practice Wednesday, but is not expected to return to the Rangers' lineup against the Jets.

Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal for the eighth time in the team's past nine contests.

Here is the Rangers' possible lineup:

Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 1:54 PM

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

Bouchard will take Zucker's spot in Wild lineup

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Pierre-Marc Bouchard has been a healthy scratch each of the previous three games for the Minnesota Wild, but he will re-enter the lineup Thursday in place of injured Jason Zucker.

Zucker, who was hit in the head by Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry on Tuesday, will accompany the Wild on its three-game road trip beginning this weekend against the Colorado Avalanche. Zucker skated for the second straight day Thursday and has reported no problems so far.

For the Avalanche, veteran Milan Hejduk will return to the lineup after missing five games with a stiff neck.

Colorado's Semyon Varlamov and Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom are the expected starters in net.

Here are the projected lineups for the game Thursday at Xcel Energy Center:

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Quote of the Day

Yeah, I guess so. That empty-netter was pretty lucky, but I'll take it.

— Senators forward Mike Hoffman when asked if his two-goal game was a good way to celebrate his 26th birthday
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