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Posted On Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 2:00 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild continue theme of rotating defensemen

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Entering the stretch run of the regular season, Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo said Thursday he's not ready to settle in on a group of six defensemen.

Yeo has a solid top four, with Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon playing or even exceeding 30 minutes a night, and a second pairing of Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella. But when it comes to his bottom pairing, Yeo isn't ready to commit.

Instead, the Wild will continue to play musical chairs, which is what Yeo has done since returning from the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Against the New York Rangers on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center, it's Nate Prosser's turn to sit in the press box. Clayton Stoner, who sat Tuesday, will be paired with Keith Ballard, who was a healthy scratch Sunday.

"We said we were going to go through this rotation a couple of times here and just kind of re-evaluate it after that," Yeo said.

Posted On Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 1:37 PM

By Craig Merz - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets will be without Anisimov against Sharks

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards already needed to replace right wing Blake Comeau because of a suspension. But they will also be without their second-leading goal scorer, Artem Anisimov, Thursday against the San Jose Sharks.

The center missed the morning skate to be with his wife, Ksenia Anisimova, for the birth of their first child. The Columbus Dispatch reported the baby was born Thursday and Anisimov will miss the game.

"Arte's got something more important going on right now than playing hockey," Richards said. "We're assuming he's not going to be in the lineup tonight."

Posted On Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 1:32 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

In need of win, Lightning expect test from Panthers

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning will be looking to snap their five-game losing streak when they meet the Florida Panthers on Thursday at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The Lightning have picked up four points since the NHL stopped for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and one thing is certain for Tampa Bay.

"We're running out of games," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

Calling the game against the Panthers "a pivotal one," Cooper said he doesn't expect it to be easy.

"Florida, realistically, won't make the [Stanley Cup Playoffs], but look at their starting lineup tonight compared to the team we play on Oct. 27 (a 4-3 shootout win). I think there are eight different forwards playing," Cooper said. "But the guys that are playing are fighting for contracts and for jobs, not only for this year but for next year. These guys will be flying; they are hungry hockey players. As hungry as we are, wanting to stay in our playoff spot, these guys are hungry because they want to make sure they are on the Florida Panthers next year. The battle level will be intense."

Posted On Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 1:00 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyotes forward Erat out against Bruins

Phoenix Coyotes forward Martin Erat, who was traded from the Washington Capitals prior to the NHL Trade Deadline after struggling to find a good fit in D.C., was injured after four shifts in Phoenix's road win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

He was ruled out by coach Dave Tippett for the game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday at TD Garden. General manager Don Maloney told the Arizona Republic he hopes to have Erat back in the lineup within a week.

Posted On Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 12:54 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sabres get Sulzer back, start Neuvirth in goal

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan said defenseman Alexander Sulzer will return to the lineup against the Carolina Hurricanes after missing two games with a lower-body injury.

Goaltender Michal Neuvirth will make his second start since being acquired from the Washington Capitals on March 5.

After putting the Sabres through skating drills and addressing their work ethic in practice Wednesday, Nolan made a point of saying he is not down on the team.

"They're not bad. They're not tanking," he said. "It was designed to remind them that we have to work every day. Whether we're in first place or last place, it doesn't matter. It's how you prepare yourself."

Posted On Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 3:49 PM

By Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blackhawks' Raanta gets 'big stage' against Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy was skeptical that rookie goalie Antti Raanta, rather than Corey Crawford, would start Wednesday for the Chicago Blackhawks at Pepsi Center.

"We'll see at game time," Roy said after the morning skate.

Raanta will make his first start since Jan. 28 with second place in the Central Division on the line. Chicago (38-13-14) has a one-point lead (90-89) on third-place Colorado (42-18-5) and each team has 17 games remaining.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville decided on Raanta because Crawford has struggled against the Avalanche, who went 3-1-0 in the first four games between the teams this season. But Quenneville said Crawford would play if the teams meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I think we've played some big games against them this year. We don't like our record and we're making a change," Quenneville said. "[Raanta] has played well for us all year. He hasn't played in a bit. We want to get him in here and we're giving him a big stage here as well. We're confident he can get the job done. He's had some big stretches. He was the guy for us and really put us in a good spot when [Crawford] was hurt. It'll definitely be a good measuring stick for him."

Posted On Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 3:44 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flames' Glencross to return against Ducks

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames will have forward Curtis Glencross in the lineup when they play the Anaheim Ducks at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

Glencross hasn't played since sustaining a high ankle sprain in the first minute of a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 21, a span of 29 games.

"Anytime you come back you want to start right back up where you left off," Glencross said. "Things were just starting to get rolling again when I got hurt there in Pittsburgh. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to get back the timing. Hopefully we can get the bugs out of the way early and hopefully get better and better as we go on."

Posted On Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 2:08 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jets host Canucks in battle of desperate teams

WINNIPEG -- Two desperate teams play Wednesday at MTS Centre when the Winnipeg Jets host the Vancouver Canucks.

The Canucks arrived Tuesday off a 7-4 home loss against the New York Islanders when they surrendered a 3-0 lead and allowed seven third-period goals.

The Canucks will not have any time to dwell on the loss when they attempt to stay in the Western Conference race for a wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Canucks and Jets sit at 68 points, six points behind the Dallas Stars for the second wild-card spot. The Jets hold a game in hand on the Canucks. The Phoenix Coyotes, who have 73 points, also separate the Canucks and Jets from Dallas.

The Canucks opted to not hold a morning skate Wednesday. Canucks forward Zack Kassian will serve the final of his three-game suspension for his hit on Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon on March 6.

A four-game losing streak (0-2-2) has put the Jets in a desperate situation and undone some of the progress of an 11-3-1 run after coach Paul Maurice replaced Claude Noel on Jan. 12.

"We need both points right now," center Bryan Little said of the Jets, who lost 3-2 in overtime Monday at the Colorado Avalanche. "The teams that we are chasing are playing well and winning games. You look at the standings and they're starting to get a bit of a gap on us. Every game is big and we need two points."

Posted On Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 1:26 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Canadiens to sit Bourque for Prust vs. Bruins

MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien made a questionable lineup call the prior time his team played the Boston Bruins and it worked out well.

He appears to be doing the same thing Wednesday.

When the Canadiens played the Bruins in Boston on Jan. 30, Therrien decided to sit goalie Carey Price and start Peter Budaj. The result was a 4-1 win, with Budaj making 34 saves.

Budaj will start Wednesday against the Bruins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, RDS) because Price has a lower-body injury. Left wing Rene Bourque will be a healthy scratch with the return from injury of Brandon Prust.

Posted On Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 7:09 PM

By Craig Merz - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Howard ill; Mrazek starts in goal for Red Wings

COLUMBUS -- Goaltender Jimmy Howard was a late scratch for the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets because of the flu. Backup Petr Mrazek will start because Jonas Gustavsson is out with a neck injury.

Mrazek is 1-3-0 in seven games with a 1.64 goals against average. His last NHL game was Jan. 20. Howard dressed as his backup.

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