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At the Rink blog
Posted On Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 7:05 PM

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

Toews expects to play in Game 1

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Acknowledging that he would be surprised if he isn't on the ice Thursday night, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews went through a symptom-free practice at Jobing.com Arena on Wednesday and expects to be ready to go for Game 1 against the Phoenix Coyotes.
 
Skating on a line between Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, Toews took part in all phases of practice and had an extended chat with Chicago coach Joel Quenneville before meeting with reporters. Toews missed the final 22 games of the regular season because of a concussion, but has been back practicing with the team for a week.

"I feel good. I'm right there," Toews said. "It's another day when I feel like I'm better and better and getting back to where I want to be as far as playing."

Asked if he was surprised if he didn't play Thursday, Toews quickly answered, "Yeah." Upon reflection, he qualified the answer by saying, "That's the goal we've set, but we're going to make that decision tomorrow. We're sticking to that program."

Quenneville was pleased with what he saw from the line in practice and was targeting Thursday as his captain's return.

"That line looks fine together," he said. "Their upside's going to be high-end, puck possession, lots of ability. For sure we'll get clarification tomorrow, but we're optimistic."
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Posted On Monday, 04.09.2012 / 3:22 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Beauchemin to require surgery for torn labrum

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Anaheim Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin said Monday he will need surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Beauchemin said the issue got worse from the beginning of the season and he wasn't able to be as physical toward the end. The recovery will take about three to four months.

"It's been bothering me for a few weeks," Beauchemin said on Anaheim's day of exit meetings.

"A few months, actually … I'll take care of it now and then. I've got all summer to get it better, rehab it and everything."

Beauchemin was perhaps the team's best defenseman for much of the season and excelled after he signed a three-year contract extension Jan. 20.

Selanne's decision:
Teemu Selanne had no update on his impending decision to retire or return for a 20th season.

Selanne has said he will inform general manager Bob Murray his decision by July 1, his 42nd birthday. Selanne has typically delayed that decision until at least August although that happened last year because of knee surgery.
That’s not an issue this time around.

"I'm really thankful that the knee is holding up so well and I had no real issue," Selanne said.

Selanne said coach Bruce Boudreau didn't try to persuade him into returning.

"We had a good meeting," he said. "Obviously he's going to respect my decision either way. He said he's really open arms welcoming back if I want to come back. That’s really good news."

Selanne and Saku Koivu both said they are undecided about playing for Finland in the World Championship.

Visnovsky OK: Lubomir Visnovsky said he's OK from a hit he took last Thursday in Edmonton in which he was upended and banged his head.

"I had the test (for) concussion symptoms and I was OK," he said. "I'll be OK."

Visnovsky said he was quite disappointed with his season, so much so that he contemplated retirement.

"I was very mad in the season because I don't feel comfortable," he said. "I think it was (my) worst season ever for me. My confidence was very low."

Visnovsky said he is "retired" from the Slovakian national team and won't play in the worlds. The tournament was held in Slovakia last year and Visnovsky wanted to end it there.

"That was my world championships," he said.

Ducks headed to the Worlds:
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry confirmed they will play for Canada in next month's World Championship. Bobby Ryan said he will suit up for the U.S. and indicated that Cam Fowler and Nick Bonino will join him.
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Posted On Monday, 04.09.2012 / 2:56 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Jets envision Winnipeg as player destination

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel believes working in the NHL's smallest market will prove to be no hindrance in attracting top-flight talent.

"I think that we've got a good thing going here," Noel said during his season-ending press conference. "For one second, I will not take a backseat to anyone else. This is a great place to play. It's going to be a destination."

Captain Andrew Ladd signed a five-year contract shortly after the club relocated to Winnipeg. The Jets dominate the city's newspapers, radio and television, and Jets apparel is easy to spot across the city of 750,000. The club sold out all 41 home games, a long season-ticket waiting list is in place, and Jets players have been very vocal about the reception and treatment that they have received from the fans and the organization.

Winnipeg's reputation has spread across the NHL as opponents have made their first visits to the city and the cozy 15,004-seat MTS Centre, the League's smallest rink. Players find various locales attractive for an assortment of reasons, but the Winnipeg dressing room believes that the city's all-hockey mentality could prove to be a valuable recruiting tool.

"Guys talk," Ladd said. "We have friends all over the League. Just talking to guys who have played in the building this year, they're impressed with the excitement and electricity in the building. It's fun to be a part of on a consistent basis and know that when you're playing home games that every time you step out onto the ice that is the reaction you're going to get."

Noel compared Winnipeg to football-mad Green Bay, Wisc., a city he visited during his time as coach of the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League.

"Green Bay wins," Noel said. "What is in Green Bay? I've been to Green Bay, and it's a nice town. For me, Winnipeg is going to be a good place to play. I think players like it. The response that we get from our players is that they love playing here."

Noel also revealed that Hockey Canada has not contacted him about a role at the upcoming 2012 IIHF World Hockey Championship that begins in May. Noel will spend the next few weeks reviewing the season, but he will have something else on his mind.

"I have fly-fishing trout on the brain," Noel said. "It keeps going through my brain. I see the trout just calling my name. I see rivers, and I pull over."
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Posted On Monday, 04.09.2012 / 2:49 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ladd, Kane to play for Team Canada at Worlds

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets will begin to scatter across the globe this week, but more than a handful of players might reconvene when the IIHF 2012 World Championship begins next month in Finland and Sweden.

Jets captain Andrew Ladd indicated that he will play for Canada after participating last spring at the event in Slovakia. Canada finished fifth in the 2011 tournament. Ladd will join Evander Kane, who led the Jets with 30 goals this season, as returnees from last season’s Canadian team.

“I had a great experience last year with it,” Ladd said. “Hockey Canada treats you very well, and it's fun to be a part of.”

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec led the Czech Republic to a bronze medal last year, but his status for this year remains to be determined.

Defenseman Zach Bogosian will not play for the United States, as he battled late-season injuries. Dustin Byfuglien still is considering playing for the U.S. team, but Blake Wheeler seems unlikely to participate.

Other Jets who may be possibilities for the tournament are Nik Antropov (Kazakhstan), Alexander Burmistrov (Russia), Tobias Enstrom (Sweden), and Antti Miettinen (Finland).
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Posted On Monday, 04.09.2012 / 10:49 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Broken foot would have kept Myers out of first round

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers revealed Monday he has a broken foot and would not have been able to play in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs if the team had gotten there.

As the players cleaned out their lockers for the final time, Myers revealed the full extent of his injury, which kept him out of the final four games of the regular season. The Sabres went 1-2-1 without him, and had their playoff hopes ended in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in second-to-last game of the season.

Injuries limited Myers to just eight goals and 15 assists in 55 games this season.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 5:25 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lundqvist, Stepan will play for Rangers

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers want the Presidents' Trophy, and they'll take their shot at it with center Derek Stepan and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in the lineup.

In a game Thursday in Pittsburgh, Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik was assessed a five-minute major penalty for kneeing Stepan late in the contest. Stepan was so slow to get off the ice and missed practice Friday, but he will be in the lineup against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night (6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at Madison Square Garden.

Tortorella was fined $20,000 by the League for his comments that followed the game in which he called the hit "cheap" and "dirty" and offered no response to the fine Saturday.

"I wonder what would happen if we did it to their two whining stars? Wonder what would happen?" Tortorella said Thursday, referring to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. "So I'm anxious to see what happens with the League. There's no respect amongst players. None."

Tortorella moved on from the incident, saying his team his highly motivated to finish with the most points in the NHL.

"I want us to win that trophy," Tortorella said. "I think that's a part of our motivation. I'll tell you that right now. You check off the division, check off the conference. There's two other checks that need to be done here. One is this Presidents' Trophy, and the next is the real deal. We're looking to get No. 3 here tonight."

Lundqvist was dealing with a swollen right arm after a shot by Claude Giroux of the Flyers caught the goaltender in an unprotected area on Tuesday night. Lundqvist received the night off against the Penguins, but never missed a practice and will start against the Capitals.

Here's the projected lineup for the Rangers:

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Brandon Dubinsky - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Mike Rupp - John Mitchell - Brandon Prust
 
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
 
Martin Biron
Henrik Lundqvist

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Posted On Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 5:07 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Holtby to start for Caps with division title still in sight

NEW YORK -- With the Washington Capitals securely in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it's not as though 22-year-old Braden Holtby has the weight of the world on his shoulders against the Rangers on Saturday night.
 
But with a Southeast Division title within reach -- a Washington win coupled with a regulation loss by the Florida Panthers would make if five straight for the Capitals -- Holtby is facing some pressure. If the Capitals lose, they will be right back at Madison Square Garden as the No. 8 seed for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the top-seeded Rangers.
 
Holtby is 3-2-1 this season and will be filling in for Michal Neuvirth, who is day-to-day with a leg injury that coach Dale Hunter said isn't serious, and Tomas Vokoun, who is out with a groin injury. Holtby played well in road games against the Flyers and Red Wings in March, something Hunter feels will help Holtby against the League's top team.
 
"He went to Detroit and played well, he went to Philly and played well, and those are pretty hard buildings to play in," Hunter said. "There was a lot at stake. He came up big for us."
 
The Rangers will win the Presidents' Trophy for the first time since 1993-94 with a win, which means the Capitals won't have anything handed to them.
 
"We still have stuff on the line, so do the Rangers," Hunter said. "It's one of those games when everyone is going to be battling like any other game. We have to play our best because they're well-balanced, they have good goaltending."
 
The only lineup change for the Caps will be Joel Ward replacing Mike Knuble. Ward has been out since blocking a shot against the Flyers on March 22. Knuble has just two assists in his past eight games and played just 6:43 in the Capitals' 4-2 win against the Panthers on Thursday.
 
CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Keith Aucoin - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Joel Ward

Karl Alzner - Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
Dmitry Orlov - John Carlson

Braden Holtby
Dany Sabourin

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Posted On Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 4:49 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sharks, Kings could play for division title

SAN JOSE – Just two days after playing one of the wildest and strangest games of the season in Los Angeles, the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings will meet again Saturday night, this time at HP Pavilion.

The contest Thursday night had three fights, a combined 63 penalty minutes and seven power-play goals – four by the Kings and three by the Sharks – as well as a strange-but-true moment in the third period when Sharks forward Ryane Clowe reached over the bench with his stick and knocked the puck away from Kings center Jarret Stoll.

San Jose prevailed 6-5 in a shootout, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan and Kings coach Darryl Sutter agreed that the last thing they need in their final playoff tuneup is an instant replay.

“We can’t have an undisciplined game like that again from now until the end of the season or it will cost us immensely,” McLellan said. “To give up four power-play goals and win a game, I don’t know how that happens in today’s game, but it did. We can look at the penalty kill. There are some areas, again, that we can be better at, but quite frankly to me it’s the march to the box that was disappointing.

“And from what I understand, Darryl was saying the same thing. It’s two coaches trying to get their teams to play with some focus and some discipline, not cross the line on so many occasions, and get ready to play in the playoffs.”

Phoenix can clinch the Pacific Division title with a win at Minnesota in a game that starts at 5 p.m. PT, but if the Coyotes lose, then the Sharks and Kings will be battling for the division crown and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

Sutter said that no matter what’s on the line as far as playoff positioning, he’s more concerned about getting his team prepared for the postseason and playing the right way.

“Quite honestly I want us to do some things better that prepare us for the first game of the playoffs, that we didn’t do as well as we should have last game,” Sutter said.

Stoll said he expects to “a little bit better discipline” from both teams.

“Way too many penalties -- this late in the year you want to be playing hard, heavy hockey, but you want to be disciplined,” Stoll said. “We know if we play our style of game, our way, we’ll be fine. We started off that way in L.A. the last game. Penalties got in the way and some loose play got in the way. A little bit of a track meet started. We know how we need to play. It’s strong defensively. It’s smothering them, being all over them, being hard and heavy on the forecheck and staying out of the box.”

Clowe was not penalized for his pokecheck from the bench, and the NHL did not issue any supplementary discipline. Stoll said the Kings aren’t thinking about on-ice paybacks.
“We move on past that game, past that day and refocus for this one,” Stoll said. “It’s over with now, and we’re moving on.”

Clowe said he doubts that the Kings will target him on the ice.

“If I get targeted, I’m more than willing,” Clowe said. “I’m ready.”

The Sharks will be without third-line wing Torrey Mitchell, who suffered an undisclosed injury Thursday night on a first-period hit by Kings forward Colin Fraser.

Michal Handzus, who played the previous four seasons with Los Angeles, will return to the lineup after missing five games. Handzus is expected to center the third line, with Dominic Moore moving from center to wing.

“We liked the way our four lines were playing, the energy that we got from them. That kept Michal out of the lineup,” McLellan said. “It also gave him some time to heal. Now, him drawing an assignment  … tonight gives us a big body, it gives us a faceoff guy, which we were poor in in L.A. for most of the game. It gives us a guy that can play on the penalty kill and the power play, and it also gives him an opportunity to get his game together, at least once, before the playoffs start.”

This game gives Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who has 10 shutouts and a 1.93 goals against average, a chance to regroup for the playoffs after one of his worst games of the season.

“It’s a big challenge when you play San Jose. San Jose has a goaltender (Antti Niemi) that’s won a Stanley Cup and quietly goes about his business and doesn’t get much credit, just criticism,” Sutter said. “And we have one that gets a lot of credit.”

Sutter was asked if Quick gets too much credit.
"I’m not getting into that, because you know what happens when you answer those questions. You have to prove it, right?” Sutter said. “That’s’ what it’s about.”

Here’s how the lineups could look Saturday night when the San Jose Sharks face the Los Angeles Kings at HP Pavilion:

SHARKS

Patrick MarleauJoe ThorntonJoe Pavelski
Ryane CloweLogan CoutureMartin Havlat
TJ GaliardiMichal HandzusDominic Moore
Daniel WinnikAndrew DesjardinsTommy Wingels

Marc-Edouard VlasicDan Boyle
Colin WhiteBrent Burns
Jason DemersJustin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

KINGS

Brad RichardsonAnze KopitarDustin Brown
Dwight KingMike RichardsJustin Williams
Dustin PennerJarret StollTrevor Lewis
Jordan NolanColin FraserKyle Clifford

Rob ScuderiDrew Doughty
Willie MitchellSlava Voynov
Alec MartinezMatt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 4:27 PM

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

Canucks after top spot in West, Presidents' Trophy

The Canucks can lock up the top spot in the in the Western Conference - and perhaps the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's top team - by winning Saturday's regular-season finale against Edmonton.

Perhaps more exciting, however, are reports that top goal scorer Daniel Sedin, out since an elbow to the head from Duncan Keith on March 21, has been skating on his own. First reported by TSN's Farhan Lalji Saturday afternoon and confirmed later in a Vancouver Province story, word that Sedin has skated by himself the last few days and is expected to be ready for the playoffs puts a positive spin on his twin brother's comments a bit earlier.

"As time has moved on he's felt better," Henrik Sedin said. "But until you are on the ice and feel comfortable playing a game, [concern is] always going to be there."

Henrik said those concerns are fueled by seeing players like Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who has missed 22 games with a concussion, still out.

"For sure, those guys I'm sure after a week they thought they were going got be able to play in three or four days, and 20 games later they still haven't played," he said. "That's always going to be there until he's back."

With the absence of Daniel, and fellow top-six forward Mason Raymond away for the birth of his first child, the Canucks will shake up their forward lines again. Here's how all the lines are expected to look Saturday:

CANUCKS

Andrew EbbettHenrik SedinAlexandre Burrows
Maxim LapierreRyan KeslerDavid Booth
Chris HigginsSamuel PahlssonJannik Hansen
Manny MalhotraByron BitzZack Kassian

Dan Hamhuis – Chris Tanev
Alexander EdlerSami Salo
Andrew AlbertsAaron Rome

Roberto Luongo is back in goal after watching Cory Schneider start in Calgary on Thursday, giving Luongo one last chance to erase the memories of being pulled form his last start before the playoffs start next week.

Maxim Lapierre, who has played well since moving up from the fourth line to the first line in place of Daniel Sedin, is moving down to try and spark a struggling second line. Andrew Ebbett, playing his fourth game after missing almost three months with a broken collarbone, moves up to the first line, while AHL call-up Byron Bitz centers the fourth unit.

The only line that remains intact is the checking unit anchored by Samuel Pahlsson, which has been the team’s best trio for at least two weeks.

On the back end, Chris Tanev comes back from a maintenance day, while Marc-Andre Gragnani, who now has played enough games to become a restricted free agent instead of an unrestricted free agent, will be a healthy scratch.
 
OILERS

Teemu HartikainenRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle
Ryan JonesSam GagnerAles Hemsky
Eric BelangerShawn HorcoffRyan Smyth
Darcy HordichukChris VandeVeldeBen Eager
 
Ryan WhitneyNick Schultz
Cam BarkerJeff Petry
Andy SuttonColten Teubert
 
Devan Dubnyk starts in goal for a fourth straight game – and 12th time in the last 14 – ahead of veteran Nikolai Khabibulin
 
The Oilers are locked into 14th place in the Western Conference and another lottery pick in the NHL Draft, but coach Tom Renney made it clear they have something to play for beyond just spoiling the Canucks’ night.

“The fact we’ve had the type of season we’ve had is motivation in itself and as I explained to the guys out on the ice just now this is the first game of next year,” Renney said. “Better play that way.”

Ben Eager, who has a long history of antagonizing the Canucks during his time in Chicago and San Jose, draws back into the lineup on the fourth line.

With defensemen Ladislav Smid (neck), Theo Peckham and Corey Potter (both concussions) all still out, prospect Colten Teubert remains with the Oilers on emergency recall and gets to play his first NHL game in front of family and friends form his nearby suburban hometown of White Rock, B.C.
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Posted On Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 2:47 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Predators, Avalanche

DENVER – These are the projected lineups for a matchup Saturday between the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center:

PREDATORS

Sergei Kostitsyn -- Mike Fisher -- Martin Erat
Andrei KostitsynDavid Legwand -- Alexander Radulov
Gabriel BourqueNick SpalingPatric Hornqvist
Jordin TootooPaul GaustadBrandon Yip

Ryan Suter -- Shea Weber
Francis BouillonKevin Klein
Hal Gill -- Roman Josi
 
Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

Injuries: None

AVALANCHE

Mark Olver -- Ryan O’Reilly -- Gabriel Landeskog
Jamie McGinn -- Paul Stastny -- David Jones
Milan Hejduk -- Matt Duchene -- Steve Downie
Cody McLeod -- Jay McClement -- Peter Mueller

Jan Hejda – Ryan O’Byrne
Matt HunwickErik Johnson
Shane O’Brien – Tyson Barrie

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

Injuries: D Ryan Wilson (torso) is out   
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— Colin Wilson on teammate Eric Nystrom, who scored a goal in Predators' win vs. Kings
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