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At the Rink blog
Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 3:21 PM

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

Phoenix's Doan set to face "old" team

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Shane Doan has never been traded, never been waved, never turned down a contact offer from the team that drafted him 16 years ago. But today, he's facing his old team.

The Phoenix Coyotes, who arrived from Winnipeg in 1996, tonight welcome the new Jets – not the same as the old Jets – in a weird situation. The Jets, who came from Atlanta this summer, face the Coyotes, who still have a few of the old Jets like Doan, equipment chief Stan Wilson and Director of Public Relations Rich Nairn in the organization now with firmly entrenched lives in the Arizona desert.

Doan, who had seven goals and 17 points in his first and only season in Manitoba, said he was "incredibly glad" to see a team back in Winnipeg. But he's also glad that team didn't come from Arizona, where the ownership situation remains in flux and the future remains uncertain.

He is in the final year of his contract, and he and general manager Don Maloney have agreed to table extension talks aimed at having him finish his career with the Coyotes in hopes that one of two interested suitors complete a deal to buy the team from the NHL.

Meanwhile in Winnipeg, there is a packed building, a huge waiting list for tickets and a stable situation with new ownership.

"You look at the emotion, the attachment, the passion … the opportunity (for Winnipeg) to get a team back is special and for them to have that chance is going to be a lot of fun," Doan said. "Our team and our organization is connected to them and that makes it pretty special. They gave me the opportunity to play in the NHL and I will always be grateful for the incredible opportunity to play there."

Doan is also one goal away from 300 in his career after getting three in the first three games, all on the road this season. He capped a 5-2 win in Nashville Thursday with an empty-netter to give Phoenix a 1-1-1 road trip and spoil the Predators' home opener.

Now the skate is on the other foot: the Coyotes will be dealing with the pomp and circumstance of a home opener and must compose their emotions and channel it into a good start. Phoenix scored three times in the first period against Nashville and never looked back.

Here's a look at the projected lineups:

COYOTES

Ray Whitney - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Mikkel Boedker - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon -Lauri Korpikoski
Paul Bissonnette - Peterri Nokelainen - Raffi Torres

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Rostislav Klesla - David Schlemko
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin

Mike Smith

JETS

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Kyle Wellwood
Brett MacLean - Alexander Burmistrov - Nik Antropov
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Johnny Oduva - Dustin Byfuglien
Tobias Enstrom - Ron Hainsey
Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian

Ondrej Pavelec




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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 3:14 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Maple Leafs, Flames

Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Maple Leafs and Flames in Toronto.

MAPLE LEAFS

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Matt Frattin - Matthew Lombardi - Colby Armstrong
Mike Brown - David Steckel - Philippe Dupuis

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Luke Schenn
Cody Franson - Mike Komisarek

James Reimer will get the start in goal, with Jonas Gustavsson the backup

FLAMES

Alex Tanguay - David Moss - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Lee Stempniak
Niklas Hagman - Matt Stajan - Rene Bourque
Tim Jackman - Roman Horak - Tom Kostopolous

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
Anton Babchuk - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff will start in goal, with Henrik Karlsson the backup.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 3:10 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Welcome to the Madhouse

Tyler Seguin is just 19, and in his second season, he hasn't visited all the buildings in the League.

Tonight will mark his first game in Chicago, and he's excited to see what the United Center -- aka the "Madhouse on Madison" -- is all about.

"There's only two or three buildings left I haven't played in and this is one of them," Seguin said. "I've heard amazing things about the atmosphere here. I'm definitely looking forward to that and I'm very excited."

Tempering that excitement, however, is the Bruins' difficult start. While Seguin is tied for the team scoring lead with 4 points and earned a promotion to center the team's first line tonight, he's more focused on getting the team straightened out from its 1-3-0 start.

"I feel very fortunate and lucky about what happened last year, but I don't think any of us wanted to start off with this record we have right now," said Seguin. "It's definitely time to turn it around."
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 3:06 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Seguin the man in the middle for Bruins

CHICAGO -- Those wondering if Tyler Seguin's recent move to center might stick for the long term might want to wait a bit.

The talented 19-year old will center the Boston Bruins' top line tonight, flanked by Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, when the defending Stanley Cup champions face the 2010 Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks here at the United Center (8:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

According to Bruins coach Claude Julien, this move is more like a sneak peek at what the future may hold for the second pick of the 2010 Entry Draft. Seguin has been playing right wing on the third line and is filling in for David Krejci -- who didn't make the trip because of a core injury -- on the top line.

"I think we all know right now that what we have at center, where he should fit, it's hard to move somebody out of that position," Julien said after Boston's morning skate. "He can be just as beneficial to us on the wing as he can be at center. I think down the road there's a better chance of seeing him there (center), but right now he's got a better chance at growing … and playing both positions, he'll understand it better."

Seguin played junior in his draft season with the Plymouth Whalers, and tied for the Ontario Hockey League in scoring with 106 points, so he knows how to play the position. However, the Bruins are stacked in the middle, with Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell.

Julien also wants Seguin to go through more battles on the outside in order to make himself into a complete player before moving to center full time.

"He's got to be a guy that's got to win battles for pucks -- not physically, but by determination," Julien said. "Putting him on the wing sometimes means that he's got to do those things. So we know where he's better at, but I think he's actually pretty good at both (positions). That versatility is only going to make him a better player."

Seguin says he's fine with either spot.

"It definitely can't hurt me (playing center)," said Seguin, who has a goal and 3 assists in four games. "These first few games I've gotten some good ice time, so I'm just trying to take advantage of that. It's impossible to replace Krejci, so I'm just doing whatever I can. I play the wing, too, so I don't know if I have a more preferred position. I'm just doing the right thing wherever I'm at."

Playing in the middle, however, does give Seguin more of a chance to create plays.

"There's a little bit more room to operate and be more creative," Bruins forward Rich Peverley, who also has flipped between center and the wing, said. "He's a guy who sees the ice very well, but he's got a great shot -- so he puts himself in great situations playing at center. He's played well so far."
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 2:54 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Bruins, Blackhawks

Here is what the lineups could look like for tonight's battle between the defending Stanley Cup champions and the 2010 Cup champs, the Bruins and Blackhawks, at the United Center in Chicago (8:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

BRUINS
Milan Lucic - Tyler Seguin - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Rich Peverley
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Jordan Caron
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno CharaJohnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Matt Bartkowski
 
Tim Thomas will start in the goal, with Tuukka Rask as the backup.

BLACKHAWKS
Andrew Brunette - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Sharp
Daniel Carcillo - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Michael Frolik
Rostislav Olesz - Marcus Kruger - Jamal Mayers
 
Duncan Keith - Nick Leddy
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brent Seabrook
Steve Montador- Sami Lepisto

Corey Crawford will be back in goal, with Ray Emery the backup.

Viktor Stalberg could make his season debut tonight. He took shifts in Hossa's spot on right wing on the Kane line, and at left wing in place of Olesz on the Kruger line.

Defenseman John Scott, a scratch for two of the Hawks' first three games, also could play tonight. He took shifts alongside Montador.

For more on the game, Dave Lozo had a great look at how the teams have had completely different experiences defending their titles. You can also check out the game preview here.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 2:40 PM

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

Former Flyers reunited with Kings

Simon Gagne and Justin Williams arrived in Philadelphia one season apart as teenagers and grew into burgeoning stars during their four seasons as teammates. They spent most of that time as linemates, and grew to be close friends.

Their time as teammates ended when Williams was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2003, but when Gagne became a free agent in July, the chance to play again with Williams was a big reason he chose to sign with the Los Angeles Kings.

"It was one reason I came here, because Justin was a guy that I keep in touch with as a friend outside of hockey," Gagne told NHL.com. "When I learned that maybe I would be able to sign with L.A. and maybe play with him again, we're not sure now what the lines are going to be, but it's fun."

The pair are linemates again through the first three games, and have developed a strong chemistry with center Anze Kopitar.

"I forgot how much I like playing with him," Williams told NHL.com. "He's on the puck, he's speedy, he's easy to read off of. We've had a decent start to the season. We're definitely looking for a big night here. That would be something special."

Gagne also hopes the partnership lasts.

"He brings a lot of energy," Gagne said of Williams. "He just goes all-in. And we've got a center that maybe is one of the best players in the League. … We like what we see. Hopefully we'll be able to play a good game tonight."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 2:14 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Now settled, Pittsburgh's Neal scoring again

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal won't wonder again why some players - even those with a history of producing - struggle after being dealt to a contending team at the trading deadline.

Last season, he was one of those players.

With the injured Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup and the Penguins' scoring average down a goal per game from when their stars were playing, they acquired Neal and his reliable scoring Feb. 21 from the Dallas Stars.

Only that scoring touch disappeared when he left the Stars to join a team loaded with injured stars. Pressing to produce for a team that was winning even without Crosby and Malkin, Neal was held to a single goal in 20 regular-season games. He also had only one in Pittsburgh's seven-game Eastern Conference playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

An unfamiliarity with a new city, new teammates and a new system, and perhaps some loneliness associated with his family being back home in Dallas, admittedly affected Neal's game.

"I underestimated it," Neal said Saturday before the Penguins played the Buffalo Sabres at Consol Energy Center. "I keep saying you get one phone call in your life that turns your life upside down within seconds. You're on a plane and in a whole city, with new teammates, and it's a huge change."

No wonder Neal welcomed a new start this season.

"I came in fresh, a better mindset and everything was easier with the living situation," said Neal, who relocated to Pittsburgh during the offseason. "It was just a lot more of a comfortable feeling coming to the rink. Now, knowing all of your teammates and really being a part of the Penguins is definitely better."

The stats sheet agrees with him. Playing mostly on a line with Malkin and Steve Sullivan, Neal had four goals and an assist in Pittsburgh's first five games, including two goals during a 3-2 overtime loss Thursday to the Washington Capitals.

"When Geno, Sully and Neal are on the ice together, they enjoy every single shift and they create so many chances and plays," defenseman Zbynek Michalek said. "It can be a dangerous line definitely."

Malkin won't play against the Sabres because of right knee soreness - he will be missing his third game in the Penguins' last four - but Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said playing the Penguins without their stars is no treat. The Sabres lost to Pittsburgh twice last season after Crosby sustained a concussion the first week of January.

"They're very dangerous. They're a hard-working, competitive team and they're getting goal scoring from different areas that makes them dangerous," Ruff said. "In our case, we know we've got to take care of our part. We know what to bring and we've got to be ready to outplay them."

The Sabres are looking to bounce back after losing their home opener to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on Friday night after permitting two shorthanded goals. They began the season with a pair of victories in the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere in Europe, beating the Los Angeles Kings in Berlin and the Anaheim Ducks in Helsinki.

"I thought we played a really good two games overseas, but we got away from our game (against Carolina). I think we got caught up a little bit in the hype of home ice, the home opener," Ruff said. "We've talked about that and now it's get back to work and play our game."

Neal is expected to move onto the Crosby line once the Penguins' captain returns; Crosby skated on a line with Neal and Sullivan during the morning skate but still has not been cleared medically to play in games.

"Obviously it would be great  to play with Sid, but the way we're playing with Geno, who knows what will happen?" Neal said. "As long as the team is doing well and I'm contributing, things are going great."
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 2:12 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bergenheim to face ex-Lightning mates for first time

Sean Bergenheim has fond memories of his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning, particularly his impressive playoff performance last season.

But there won't be much time for nostalgia Saturday night when Bergenheim faces his former team in the regular season for the first time as a member of the Florida Panthers.

"There's good guys on that team," Bergenheim said after the Panthers' morning skate Saturday. "Even though I keep in contact with a few of them, on the ice there's definitely contact, but it's maybe not the good kind."

Bergenheim says he still keeps in touch with a few players on the Lightning, among them Victor Hedman, Dominic Moore and Mattias Ritola. There have been text messages exchanged in the last few days, but nothing about Saturday night's game.

The Panthers and Lightning faced each other twice in the exhibition season, and Bergenheim was in the lineup for one of those games.

"I kind of did feel different," Bergenheim said. "It was good to get that over with, the first game against them. Now, I actually feel pretty normal right now. I'm looking forward to playing against the system and these guys. I've got to set aside that there's some friends. They're not friends on the ice."

One of the many veterans acquired by the Panthers in July, Bergenheim signed with Florida after playing a major role in the Lightning's run to the Eastern Conference final, where Tampa Bay lost in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

Bergenheim had 14 goals in 80 regular season games in 2010-11, but then erupted for nine goals in 16 playoff games.

He agreed to a four-year, $11 million deal with the Panthers on July 1 when it was 5 a.m. Finland time. Later that day, he got married in Helsinki.

In his first two games with the Panthers this season, Bergenheim has yet to collect a point but is averaging about 15 minutes a game on the third line with center Marcel Goc and right wing Jack Skille.

Bergenheim's Panthers debut came last Saturday against the Islanders, the team with which he began his NHL career.

Like that game, Bergenheim figures to have just a little bit of extra motivation against Tampa Bay, even if he tries to downplay it.

"When you play against a former team, there's always a little bit of extra," he said. "Right now, we're focusing on our game, getting our game going. There's a little bit of extra motivation, but I really don't see it as that big of a deal."
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 1:30 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Boucher shakes up Lightning lineuup

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher is making some lineup changes for Saturday night's game at Florida, and there are a couple of reasons.

Forwards Tom Pyatt and Blair Jones will be skating after being scratches for Tampa Bay's last two and three games, respectively. Matt Gilroy will suit up on defense after sitting out the last two games, while Mathieu Garon will make his second start of the season in net.

Forwards Ryan Shannon and Teddy Purcell will be out of the lineup for the first time this season, while defenseman Bruno Gervais will sit after playing the last two games.

Boucher said the lineup changes were made both to try to jumpstart his team, which has lost three in a row after winning its opener, and to keep his forwards sharp.

"Jones and Pyatt are guys who work extremely hard," Boucher said. "They're physical, they're in the other team's face, they're very reliable defensively, they block shots, they're great in penalty kills. It's something I hate to get rid of when I don't put them in the lineup, and that's our problem right now.

"It's a good problem to have: We have too many guys that can play as forwards. We've got a lot of depth with the forwards; right now we don't want to lose anybody, so we want to make sure that guys play games."

That said, Boucher is hoping the lineup changes can spark his team.

"If you look at the final four teams, San Jose really hasn't played yet, they've played one game, Boston is 1-3, Vancouver is 1-2 and not playing their best, and it's the same for us," Boucher said. "And I know why. It's because we're still there. We're still in the playoffs, We're still thinking that that's what we are, that's our team. But that's not true. We're a new team, it's a new year and everything is to do right now. We were there because we earned it. We earned it every day last year and right now I think [subconsciously], we talk about it, but [subconsciously] the players think, hey, we are that team. We're not. We have to become that team. That's difficult and it's going to take a lot of work."
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 1:08 PM

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

Former roommates likely to collide

While most of the attention for tonight's game is focused on Kings center Mike Richards and his return to Philadelphia, there is another side to that trade -- former King Wayne Simmonds, who has moved into a top-six forward role with Philadelphia, and has earned a spot on the top power-play unit, will face his former team for the first time.

The previous two seasons, Simmonds shared a home with defenseman Drew Doughty, and the two became very close friends. Doughty said he's looking forward to seeing a lot of his former roommate on the ice tonight.

While it won't be the first time the pair have faced off -- Doughty's Guelph Storm and Simmonds' Belleville Bulls were frequent opponents in the Ontario Hockey League -- it will be a bit different this time because of their relationship.

"We have that friendship that we developed over three years playing together," Doughty told NHL.com, "but I played against him in the OHL so I know how gritty and how tough he is to play against. I'm not really looking forward to playing against him, but there's no friends on the ice. I'm sure we won't be afraid to take a couple runs at each other. … We're not going to try to hurt each other, but if he gives me a shot, I'm going to make sure I give him a shot."

Doughty said while it was rough to see his friend head east, he said the return -- Richards, an All-Star and Olympic gold medalist who captained the Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final -- made it a bit easier to take.

"When he got traded I was pretty disappointed, but getting Richy (Richards) is huge for us," said Doughty. "He makes us a lot better team. The trade is good for both parties. Obviously we miss him, but I think picking up Richy was huge."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres