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At the Rink blog
Posted On Wednesday, 04.09.2014 / 12:56 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Penguins' Crosby, Kunitz in after one-game absences

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will welcome back several players to their lineup when they face the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.

In addition to the return of defenseman Kris Letang, forwards Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz were back at their normal positions on Pittsburgh's top line during the morning skate Wednesday, and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma confirmed defenseman Olli Maatta will be paired with defenseman Matt Niskanen against Detroit.

Crosby and Maatta missed the Penguins' game against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday each with an upper-body injury, and Kunitz was sidelined with a lower-body injury.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 7:37 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Panthers goalie Luongo scratched from start

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo was scratched from his start against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night because of an upper-body injury.

Luongo led the Panthers onto the ice for warm-ups, but was ruled out shortly before game time. He is in uniform and on the bench.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 4:13 PM

By Derek Van Diest -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Oilers envious of Avalanche's quick turnaround

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers are going into their game against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday with a bit of envy.

The Avalanche are where the Oilers hoped they would be this season.

A year ago Colorado was at the bottom of the NHL standings and selected first at the 2013 NHL Draft.

This season the Avalanche are going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Oilers, with three No. 1 picks on their roster, are heading back to the draft lottery.

"They built the same way we did as far as through the draft," Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle said. "They have a lot of young guys and they've been able to put it together as far as the wins go. When I look at that I'm for sure jealous. They're going to be in the playoffs and we're not. That being said, it's just another game [Tuesday] where we want to beat them and show we can play with them. They somehow found a way to do it and we have to do that."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 3:12 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues' Steen returns to lineup vs. Capitals

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues will have forward Alexander Steen back in the lineup Tuesday against the Washington Capitals (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).

Steen had missed the past three games with an upper-body injury. He leads the Blues with 33 goals and is tied with T.J. Oshie for the scoring lead with 60 points.

"He'll play," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Steen. "He's good to go. … If he's not healthy, he's not playing. He wasn't healthy the last few games, so he wasn't ready to go.

"This was the player's call and the trainer's call. When they leaned over the boards and said, 'I'm good to go,' I think it's my obligation considering he's had an unbelievable year and he's been our best player most nights. I'd be smart to put him in, so I'm pretty smart and putting him in."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 2:47 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Stars return home looking to control destiny

DALLAS -- With four regular-season games remaining, the Dallas Stars enter Tuesday one point ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes for the second Western Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As the Stars begin a three-game homestand Tuesday against the Nashville Predators, coach Lindy Ruff would like to see his team maintain control of its destiny.

Dallas (38-29-11, 87 points) is 8-1-2 at home since Jan. 30, and after going 3-2-0 during a five-game road trip, Ruff is happy to be returning to familiar surroundings.

"We've played well here of late and played some real good hockey. If you asked me if I wanted to play at home or on the road, I'd pick home," Ruff said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 1:55 PM

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

Wild can wrap up playoff berth against Bruins

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild are on the verge of clinching a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight year and could wrap up the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference as early as Tuesday against the Boston Bruins.

One win or post-regulation loss in any of their final three games would get the job done. So would one regulation or post-regulation loss by the Phoenix Coyotes. Even a post-regulation win by the Coyotes would get it done.

Minnesota's magic number to clinch a berth is one point, so the number of clinching scenarios are plentiful. But coach Mike Yeo said he'd prefer to keep it as simple as possible: Win tonight against the NHL's best team and the Wild not only clinch a playoff spot, they lock in the top wild-card position.

"Hopefully the experience of last year has helped us, and I think it has," Yeo said. "We just need to concentrate on the game. That's just another one of those end results."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 1:47 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Rangers' McDonagh, Kreider skate, but not ready

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward Chris Kreider participated in the team's optional skate Tuesday but neither will play against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden.

McDonagh remains day-to-day and did not shoot the puck while on the ice, indicating that his injured left shoulder is not yet ready for game action. Kreider participated in some hard skating drills but did not wear a glove over his injured left hand, which was wrapped in a cast.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said there was a 50-percent chance that McDonagh would return to action before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers clinched a postseason berth after the New Jersey Devils lost 1-0 to the Calgary Flames on Monday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 1:46 PM

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

Bolland likely scratch as Maple Leafs face must-win

TAMPA -- The Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday facing possible elimination from the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If the Maple Leafs lose to the Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets defeat the Phoenix Coyotes, the season ends for Toronto.

Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle is looking for his team to bounce back from a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

"Off our morning skate I feel good about it," Carlyle said. "We had some life. We have met and talked about our situation and where we are at. More than anything it's a response. We are looking for a response from our performance the other night. That's what we spoke to them about; that's what we ask of them, because we were not happy about the other night, and the only way we are going to be judged is if we come out and compete to the level we are capable of."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 1:30 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Poised to clinch, Flyers get Downie back

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Philadelphia Flyers will have forward Steve Downie back in the lineup Tuesday when they try to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After going 1-7-0 to start the season, the Flyers will clinch a playoff spot with a victory against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center.

"It's really special for us," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said after the morning skate. "The start of the year was really tough on us, and for us to kind of battle back and be able to be in the position we are right now, we've got to be proud of that."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 1:22 PM

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

Horton returns at opportune time for Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Nathan Horton is expected to reunite with linemates Boone Jenner and Ryan Johansen for the game Tuesday against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes.

Horton has missed the past four games because of a lower-body injury, but his return comes at an opportune time with the Blue Jackets losing forwards Nick Foligno and RJ Umberger to injuries in the past week.

Johansen, the Blue Jackets' leading scorer with 57 points (31 goals), is looking forward to centering for Horton again with the rookie Jenner manning the left wing.

"We've played a lot of good hockey together, me and Horts and Boone," Johansen said. "It's nice being back with [Horton] and him being healthy, or healthier."

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Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players