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Posted On Wednesday, 12.11.2013 / 6:08 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flyers to give Emery start against Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- From a plot perspective, Ray Emery's return to the Windy City couldn't have worked out any better.

The Chicago Blackhawks (22-6-5), with whom Emery won the 2013 Stanley Cup, are playing with a rookie in net because of lower-body injuries sidelining top goalie Corey Crawford and backup Nikolai Khabibulin (signed over the summer to replace Emery).

The Blackhawks could probably use a proven veteran like Emery during the next couple weeks, despite Antti Raanta making an impressive start to his NHL career with a 4-0-1 record, 2.14 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

Instead, Emery will be in net for the Philadelphia Flyers (13-14-3) on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

"Ray's been good for us this year and we use him, but it's good to get him in this game tonight," Flyers coach Craig Berube said following his team's morning skate. "He had a great year last year with [Chicago] and won a Cup, so he's looking forward to it."

Posted On Wednesday, 12.11.2013 / 3:53 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Wild will be extra mindful of Ducks' potent top line

ANAHEIM -- Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise didn't hesitate when asked the key to going up against the Anaheim Ducks' top line of Dustin Penner, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

"Don't turn the puck over," Parise said. "That's the type of line you want to keep in their end as much as you can. For a scoring line like that, you just try and make them defend as much as you can. You can't turn it over in the neutral zone. They don't need a lot of chances and suddenly they have four points at the end of the night. They're that good."

Posted On Wednesday, 12.11.2013 / 1:39 PM

By Joe Yerdon - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Maple Leafs get Lupul back after seven-game absence

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs will have forward Joffrey Lupul back in their lineup when they face the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.

Lupul has missed the past seven games with a groin injury; he'll return playing on a line with center Peter Holland and wing Nikolai Kulemin. The Maple Leafs went 2-3-2 without Lupul in the lineup.

"To put it bluntly, we're not playing very well," Lupul said. "We're not playing how we'd like. We're giving up too many chances and probably not creating enough. We've talked about some things. Penalties are killing us. … So we're going to try and stay out of the box and give our penalty kill a break, give our goalies a break, and go from there."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 5:10 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sharks return home determined to fix power play

SAN JOSE -- After losing the final three games on their four-game road trip, the San Jose Sharks will try to get back on track Tuesday night at SAP Center against the New York Islanders, a team winless in 10 consecutive games and 10 straight on the road.

The Sharks led the powerful Pacific Division when they hit the road. Now they trail the Anaheim Ducks (47 points) by four points, and are just one point ahead of the Los Angeles Kings and two points ahead of the Vancouver Canucks.

"You look at it and everybody's right there now," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said after his team's morning skate. "Last week we were ahead of everybody. Now we're right with the pack. It's a big game for us to put us back where we want to be. These guys, they've been struggling, but they're really dangerous. I like how they played against [the Pittsburgh Penguins] last year in the playoffs. They looked fast. It should be a good test for us tonight."

Job No. 1 for the Sharks is to fix their broken power play. They went 0-for-4 Sunday in a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild and were 1-for-13 on the road trip. The Sharks' only power-play goal came during a 4-2 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the Sharks' past 10 games, they've gone 3-for-35 with the man advantage.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 4:47 PM

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

Avalanche face Coyotes, Smith in critical game

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche know they could be in for a difficult game Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes and goalie Mike Smith at Pepsi Center.

Smith has frustrated the Avalanche as much as any goalie in the NHL, using his size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and ability to move from side to side to fashion an 8-1-3 record in 12 games against them, with a 1.85 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and one shutout.

"I think it's his athleticism," Avalanche center Matt Duchene said. "I played with him last season at Worlds [2013 IIHF World Championship] and I couldn't believe how good that guy is, especially for playing as deep in the net as he does. You can see a lot of net at times but it doesn't necessarily mean it's there. He's so good with his reflexes. You get a goal on him you know you did something really right."

The Avalanche had 44 shots at Smith on Nov. 21 and needed an overtime goal from Ryan O'Reilly for a 4-3 win against the Coyotes.

"We have to do the same thing, get a lot of shots and rebounds," Duchene said. "I think we scored more against him last time than he's used to against us."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 3:42 PM

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

Bruins place Eriksson on IR, recall Johnson

CALGARY -- The Boston Bruins have placed forward Loui Eriksson on injured reserve with a concussion and have recalled Nick Johnson from Providence of the American Hockey League.

Eriksson left the Bruins' game against the Pittsburgh Penguins after being hit by defenseman Brooks Orpik in the opening minute of the first period. Eriksson missed five games earlier this season due to a concussion.

"Some of the guys have texted him and had very limited contact with him right now," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It's really early in the concussion stage. You don't want too much stimulation and stuff like that. It's been done purposely. I'll reach out to him when my trainers tell me he's starting to turn the corner a little bit and I'll be able to reach out to him which I've done the last time as well."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 3:16 PM

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

Oilers still searching for consistent, 60-minute efforts

EDMONTON -- The only thing consistent about the Edmonton Oilers of late has been their inconsistency.

The Oilers have alternated between winning and losing in their past eight games. They host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday at Rexall Place, having lost to 2-1 in overtime against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

"The ups and downs of our team are sometimes understood and sometimes not," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "The last game against Calgary was a head-shaker for all of us. We thought we made some progress, we were feeling very good about ourselves and we made some knucklehead plays that cost us some offense."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 3:16 PM

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

Blues looking for better starts

WINNIPEG -- While the Winnipeg Jets' three-game homestand needs a good start Tuesday, it will be the visiting St. Louis Blues looking to reverse a trend of poor first-period showings.

The Blues visit Winnipeg fresh off a 5-2 loss Saturday to the Anaheim Ducks in which they allowed three goals in the opening seven minutes. In a stretch of three losses in the past four games, opponents have outscored the Blues in the first period 9-1.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock put his team through practice Monday before departing for Winnipeg and saw a similar pattern play out.

"[Monday] was a slow start and a great finish," Hitchcock said with a chuckle after the team's morning skate Tuesday. "Kind of like our games. I think for us we just have to play the right way earlier and not dig ourselves a hole. I think every team goes through these lulls. Ours seem to be in the first period.

"But I think we won't have a choice with Winnipeg having a first game back after such a long break and the fans the way they are here. They're going to be engaged at the start, so I don't think we have any choice but to get engaged here."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 2:53 PM

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

Red Wings' Weiss makes initial return to Florida

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Detroit center Stephen Weiss didn't try to downplay the significance of his return to South Florida.

The Florida Panthers' all-time leader in games played and assists will face his former team for a second consecutive game Tuesday night, but this one will be his first game back at BB&T Center, where he played the past decade.

"First time back, real excited to get the game underway," Weiss said after the Red Wings' morning skate. "The last few days I've been thinking about it quite a bit. I'm just real excited to start.

"It felt strange for sure [walking into the arena]. I really didn't know which way to come in the building, didn't know really where to go when we got in. A different feeling for sure coming to the rink. Just excited to get the game underway, but it certainly feels a little bit strange being on the other side."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 2:38 PM

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

Kings' Doughty focused on outplaying Habs' Subban

MONTREAL -- In spite of the fact they practically never play each other, the game Tuesday between the Los Angeles Kings and Montreal Canadiens has a ton of interesting storylines.

Each team is on an extended roll, are playing well defensively and rely on a young, dynamic defenseman who eats a lot of minutes.

On that last point, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said he sees it as his responsibility to outplay Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.

"Even though it's a matchup between both teams," Doughty said, "in order for us to win I have to outplay P.K."

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