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Posted On Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 3:49 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Remembering the Jets

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews still remembers when the Winnipeg Jets left his hometown, back in 1996.

He was only 8.

"I remember it all," Toews said. "I remember having talks with my buddies ... a friend of mine who lived down the street was asking his dad why he didn't just buy the Winnipeg Jets. I don't remember what his dad said, but I went home and asked my dad the same thing."

What was the answer?

"I don't know," Toews said. "He probably just brushed it off and made up some story. But I remember going to games and all that stuff. You don't understand as a kid, really, what it means or how much you'll miss having a hockey team. Now, looking back, you realize what it meant to our city and what it means for them to get that second chance. Great memories. For me, that's where it all started. The NHL dream kind of came from that, going to Jets games and all that."
Posted On Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 3:47 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Happy Birthday, gramps?

Sean O’Donnell doesn't look like he's 40, but for his 40th birthday today, the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman received a gag gift from his teammates that made him chuckle.

"There might have been a walker in my stall and a nice cake," said O'Donnell, who signed a one-year contract with the Hawks in the offseason. "Hockey guys, they'll never let you get too big (of an ego). If there's something to tease a guy on, they'll be pretty ruthless. I've heard a couple of good ones today, but that's part of the fun of a locker room."

As for culprits, he wasn't ready to single anybody out.
"It was one of those things where there were quite a few giggles," O'Donnell said. 'So, I think it was a team effort."
Posted On Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 3:29 PM

By Steve Hunt - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Stars look to get power play going vs. Blues

Through their first three games of the 2011 season, the Dallas Stars are just 1-for-14 on the power play, including 0-for-7 with the man-advantage in their most recent game, a 2-1 shootout win against Phoenix on Monday.

Facing the St. Louis Blues tonight, however, could be just the shot in the arm that Stars unit needs. That’s because through their first two games, the Blues are 29th on the PK, having allowed three goals in seven shorthanded situations (57.1 percent).

However, two members of that unit don't feel the Blues' early man-down struggles dictate that the Dallas power play will be rolling tonight.

"To me, it's too early to say," Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "We've just got to look at ourselves and what we do right. We'll look at what they do on their PK. Teams kill penalties different ways. It's always like a chess match. They might change their PK based on what we're doing. That's why you have to have a plan and be ready for anything."

Stars center Mike Ribeiro sees the cure to his club's early struggles on the power play as having a relatively simple solution.

"We know we have the skills to do it. We just have to put the work into it," Ribeiro said. "We just need to settle down a little bit, come out with a good breakout with good speed and throw pucks at the net. We know what we have to do but it’s only three games."
Posted On Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 2:54 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Erat, Hornqvist to miss Nashville's home opener

The Predators placed veteran forward Martin Erat on injured reserve Thursday retroactive to Oct. 8. In addition, right wing Patric Hornqvist also will be out for Nashville's home opener Thursday with Phoenix, meaning Niclas Bergfors and Brian McGrattan will make their debuts for the organization.

Erat has an upper-body injury, while Hornqvist, a 30-goal scorer in 2009-10, has a lower-body injury.

A member of the NHL All-Rookie team in 2009-10, the Preds are Bergfors' fourth team since February 2010. He was a healthy scratch for Nashville's first two games -- both wins on the road, against Columbus and St. Louis -- but is a former 20-goal scorer.

"Bergfors is coming into the lineup and he'll probably play with Sergei Kostitsyn," Predators coach Barry Trotz said of the line centered by Nick Spaling. "… I think he's a little bit like Sergei (in 2010-11), I think he had an OK camp, but it's just like last year, Sergei took a while to get used to how we play and I think Bergie had to catch up a little bit there.

"But he's really a pretty good detail guy, he's pretty competitive. What you notice about him, he's quick, but not fast. Sergei's more … he can get from goal line to goal line a little quicker, but Bergie really darts in the short areas and he's got a really good release and that's sort of his game. With the way the game's played now, he should be pretty effective if we can get him into the offensive zone and get cycling around and making those short plays. He'll probably do a really good job there."

McGrattan, claimed Tuesday on waivers from Anaheim, brings a physical element. He has 395 penalty minutes in 182 NHL games. The Preds made room for him earlier in the week when they sent Zack Stortini to Milwaukee of the AHL.

Trotz said in terms of Nashville's defense that rookie Mattias Ekholm will be a game-time decision. Jack Hillen and Teemu Laakso, both of whom are minus-1, have formed Nashville's third pair. Ekholm was sick for the Preds' first two games last week.

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett did not announce any lineup changes after his morning skate.

So here's how the lineups for the two teams could look tonight:
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Craig Smith
Sergei Kostitsyn - Nick Spaling - Niclas Bergfors
Jordin Tootoo - Cal O'Reilly - Matt Halischuk
Blake Geoffrion - Jerred Smithson - Brian McGrattan
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Jonathon Blum - Kevin Klein
Jack Hillen - Teemu Laakso
Pekka Rinne will start in goal, with Anders Lindback the backup
Ray Whitney - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Patrick O'Sullivan - Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon
Raffi Torres - Petteri Nokelainen - Mikkel Boedker
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
David Schlemko - Rostislav Klesla
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin
Mike Smith will start in goal, with Jason LaBarbera the backup.
Posted On Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 2:41 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - At the Rink blog

Milestone night on tap for Price, Kiprusoff

The starting goalies at both ends of the ice will be looking to reach significant milestones when the Montreal Canadiens host the Calgary Flames in their home opener Thursday.

For the Flames, Miikka Kiprusoff will be taking his second shot at passing Mike Vernon to become the franchise leader in wins. They're tied with 262.

"That’s an individual accomplishment that really is a reflection of a team, the team he had in front of him, but also the fact he's a very good goaltender," said Flames coach Brent Sutter. "The one thing is he's constant; he's been very consistent for the most part in how he prepares and everything he does. He's a true professional."

Though getting the record for Kiprusoff is important, the Flames simply are looking to win a game at this point after starting the season with two losses where they allowed five goals in each game.

"We're definitely still upbeat in this room," said captain Jarome Iginla. "But at the same time, we know we need to play better."

At the other end of the ice, the Canadiens' Carey Price will be looking to become the seventh-youngest goalie in League history to reach 100 career wins.

Should Price get the win Thursday he will have done it at age 24 years, 58 days old. That would leave him behind Harry Lumley, Tom Barrasso, Terry Sawchuk, Grant Fuhr and Patrick Roy, all of whom registered their 100th win at the age of 23 or younger.

Former Canadien Jocelyn Thibault was 24 years, 32 days old when he got his 100th win to slide into sixth on the list, while Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was 24 years, 91 days old when he hit the milestone.

Fleury will fall to eighth on the list at some point, unless it takes Price more than a month to get another win.

"It's cool to be able to get to 100, but I'd like to get a couple of hundred more," Price said after practice Wednesday. "It shows how many good teams I've played on because you don't win if you're not on a good team."
Posted On Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 2:09 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Kings' Penner debuts; Devils' Pelley, Janssen too

New Jersey Devils forwards Rod Pelley and Cam Janssen each will make their season debuts Thursday -- as linemates -- when New Jersey hosts to the Los Angeles Kings tonight at Prudential Center.
"I'm going to go out and do my things, whether I get two shifts or I get 10," Janssen told the media following practice. "It doesn't matter. I've got to bring it every shift and be responsible and just do what I've got to do."
Bradley Mills, who will center the line with Pelley and Janssen, is looking to "wreak some havoc."
"First and foremost, we want to by physical with lots of energy and be able to get in on the forecheck," Mills told "We want to wreak some havoc."
Said Devils coach Peter DeBoer: "I'd like to see constant energy from that line, defensive reliability, and at times, play hard in order to grab momentum or maintain momentum during parts of the game."
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Quote of the Day

It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
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