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At the Rink blog
Posted On Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 1:03 PM

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

Concussion ends Price's season

The Montreal Canadiens announced Wednesday that goalie Carey Price will miss the final three games of the season with a concussion.

In a statement issued by the team, the Canadiens said Price was examined by Dr. David Mulder, who diagnosed a mild concussion.

Price was hit on the head during practice last Thursday when teammate David Desharnais landed on him during a drill. Price started Friday's game against the New York Rangers, but sat out Saturday's game against the Washington Capitals.

Price told the team Monday he was suffering from headaches.

Peter Budaj will start Wednesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, with Robert Mayer called up from Hamilton of the American Hockey League to serve as the backup.

Price finishes the season 26-28-11 with a 2.43 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 65 games.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 12:45 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blues, Red Wings

ST. LOUIS -- Probable lineups for Wednesday night's Central Division battle between the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings from Scottrade Center.

BLUES
David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald - Patrik Berglund - Matt D'Agostini
Alex Steen - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
Jamie Langenbrunner - Vladimir Sobotka - Ryan Reaves

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott
Jaroslav Halak

It will be Elliott's first action since the third of three straight shutouts recorded. Elliott comes in with a franchise- and personal-best streak of shutout minutes at 186 minutes 33 seconds; Halak, who started the last two games, is the backup.

The Blues' scratches include forwards Scott Nichol, B.J. Crombeen and Chris Porter as well as defensemen Kent Huskins and Ian Cole.

RED WINGS

Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Gustav Nyquist - Pavel Datsyuk - Johan Franzen
Danny Cleary - Justin Abdelkader - Todd Bertuzzi
Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Jonathan Ericsson
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jakub Kindl - Ian White

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin

Red Wings D Kyle Quincey will serve his one-game suspension tonight after being disciplined following an elbow to Florida's Tomas Kopecky Sunday in Detroit. LW Jan Mursak is a healthy scratch. C Patrick Eaves (fractured jaw) is on injured reserve, as is RW Darren Helm (MCL sprain) and G Joey MacDonald (bulging disk).
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 12:02 PM

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

Clarkson back on ice, expected to play Thursday

NEWARK, N.J. -- David Clarkson was back at Devils practice Wednesday after missing Tuesday's game against the New York Islanders.

The 30-goal scorer was skating on a line with Adam Henrique and Alexei Ponikarovsky and showed no visible signs of the lower-body injury that sidelined him. Coach Peter DeBoer said afterward that he expects to have Clarkson back in the lineup Thursday night against the Red Wings.

The Devils have two games remaining -- in Detroit on Thursday night and home against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday -- and still have a chance to finish fifth in the Eastern Conference by winning those games and having the Philadelphia Flyers lose their final two games in regulation.

DeBoer simply wants to avoid injury and keep the Devils, who have won four straight, on the right track with the playoffs a week away.

"The priorities are play well, keep the confidence level high, and stay healthy," DeBoer said. "Obviously winning games is important. It'd be nice to be the fourth team in the division with 100 points. But those are secondary motivators. For me, those are the three main things -- keeping our structure, playing well and staying healthy.

"I don't have any plans on resting anybody right now."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo






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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 5:30 PM

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

Bieksa, Sedin remain out of Canucks' lineup

Top-four Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa was back on the ice for an optional morning skate, but will miss his fourth straight game Tuesday night against the Anaheim Ducks as he continues to take an extended "maintenance day."

"I'm just going to take it one maintenance day at a time,” Bieksa said, using the words "maintenance" or "maintain" more than a dozen times during a brief but entertaining back and forth with the media. "There's no problem."

The status of Daniel Sedin, who will miss a seventh-straight game because of a concussion, isn't a laughing matter. Vancouver's top goal scorer still isn't skating, but reports Sedin has been at the rink working out off ice for three-straight days are at least positive, and indicate he could be back for the start of playoffs.

In the meantime, the healthy Canucks are taking motivation in a chance to stay atop the Western Conference and possibly claim a second-straight President’s Trophy as the NHL's top regular-season team. Thanks to a six-game win streak without Sedin, Vancouver is one point ahead of St. Louis in the West, and tied with the New York Rangers overall, with three games left for each team.

The Canucks play all three against non-playoff teams, and will use the chance to lock up home ice advantage in the playoffs as a way to get fired up

"We want to finish as high up in the conference as we can and obviously it's second or first and we want first," associate coach Rick Bowness said after Tuesday's morning skate. "Do we have a shot at the Presidents' Trophy again? Absolutely. Are we focused on making sure we take care of the day-to-day process and the in-game process to give ourselves a chance to do that? Absolutely. We want home-ice advantage. We saw the benefit of it last year, and even though it didn't help us in Game 7 against the Bruins, it was certainly nice going into every round knowing we had home ice. So we'd like that again."

For an Anaheim team in 13th place, the chance to spoil that is a goal.

"It is kind of what we've been talking about," Ducks top-line winger Corey Perry said. "They have something to play for and we just want to go out and play our game and if it happens to be as a spoiler, we're happy to do that."

Here are the expected lines as the 49-21-9 Canucks try to reach the 50-win mark for a second-straight season by extending their longest win streak of this season against a 33-35-11 Ducks team playing out the string -- possibly for the last time for veteran Finnish forwards Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu:

CANUCKS
Alexandre Burrows - Henrik Sedin - Maxim Lapierre
Mason Raymond - Ryan Kesler - David Booth
Chris Higgins - Samuel Pahlsson - Jannik Hansen
Andrew Ebbett - Manny Malhotra - Zack Kassian

Dan Hamhuis - Christopher Tanev
Marc-Andre Gragnani - Alexander Edler
Andrew Alberts - Sami Salo

Roberto Luongo
Cory Schneider

Luongo will get a second-straight start in the late-season goaltending rotation, with Schneider expected to play in Calgary on Thursday.

While the Canucks only have six healthy defensemen right now, Bieksa said he could play now if the playoffs started early, and Aaron Rome (knee) and Keith Ballard (concussion) are also skating, though Ballard is still wearing a white helmet to indicate he hasn't been cleared for contact.

DUCKS
Jason Blake - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Niklas Hagman - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Bobby Ryan - Nick Bonino - Devante Smith-Pelly
Matt Beleskey - Andrew Cogliano - George Parros

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Luca Sbisa - Lubomir Visnovsky
Mat Clark - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers

Veteran defenseman Toni Lydman is out with an upper-body injury, so Clark draws back into the lineup on the back end.
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 5:00 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Crosby addresses Milbury comments

BOSTON -- After the Pittsburgh Penguins' morning skate Tuesday at TD Garden, star center Sidney Crosby was asked if he wanted to respond to recent comments NHL on NBC analyst Mike Milbury made about the perennial All-Star in the aftermath of Sunday's Pittsburgh-Philadelphia game.

Milbury used comments in a Monday morning radio interview to describe Crosby's play as dishonest. Milbury has since apologized for those comments.

"I reached out to (Pittsburgh president) David Morehouse and the Penguins about the comments I made yesterday on Philadelphia radio," Milbury said. "In hindsight, I realize what I said was inappropriate and wrong, and I want to apologize to the Penguins organization and their fans."

Crosby offered the following on Tuesday:

"No, not really. I don't really have to get into that," Crosby said." I don't what he's looking for, if he's looking for attention or what it is. I don't have much to say there. I really don't know where that came from. You can really twist something a certain way, and he's obviously showing he's more than capable of doing that. He's pretty good at twisting stuff around, that's for sure."

Crosby and the Penguins face the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, looking to hold off the Flyers, who are one point behind Pittsburgh in the race for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and home-ice advantage that comes with that seeding.
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 4:12 PM

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

Suspension up, Keith eager to rejoin Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have a couple of injured players who may or may not be ready to return on Thursday in Minnesota, but one of them isn't star defenseman Duncan Keith.

Keith's return from a five-game suspension against the Wild is a sure thing after sitting out for elbowing Vancouver's Daniel Sedin in the head during Chicago's 2-1 overtime win on March 21 at the United Center.

"It's been awhile, five games, but it's gone by quick, too," Keith said after Tuesday's practice. "I'm looking forward to getting back and helping the team here in the last couple games and the playoffs."

Quenneville said that Keith will slide back into his usual spot on the top pairing with Brent Seabrook, while Niklas Hjalmarsson will likely go back to the third pair with rookie Dylan Olsen after playing well in Keith's absence.

"It was tough," Keith said of sitting out. "Obviously you want to be out there playing and helping the guys. They did a great job and played well. We've been playing well for a long time now, I think. I just want to help out and keep it going."

Keith declined to comment on Sedin's condition -- which is said to be concussion-related -- or about the incident itself.

Chicago went 2-1-2 in the games Keith missed, but it might turn out to actually help the speedy, puck-moving defenseman for the playoffs. Keith, the 2010 Norris Trophy winner,  usually logs the most minutes in the League each season and is again right at the top at 26:53 -- behind only former Hawks teammate Brian Campbell (26:55).

It was suggested that fatigue from all that skating might've caught up with Keith last season and even stretching into this one, but he's always denied it. However, Keith didn't downplay the potential importance of the time off he just received -- which, per the current collective bargaining agreement, also cost him $149,688.15 in foreited salary to the Player's Emergency Assistance Fund.

"I don't think taking a suspension is ever a good thing, but you know, I think if you're looking at it and trying to look for the positives ... I guess getting some rest at this time of year would probably be beneficial in that regard," Keith said. "I didn't feel like I needed rest. I've been able to play a lot of games every year, so I don't feel that's a reason or anything why I need rest. I feel good and I feel stronger than I was before, so hopefully it pays off."

Meanwhile, he had quite a bit of unexpected down time the past couple weeks. What did Keith do with it all?

"I just worked out and not a whole lot (else)," he said. "I walked the dogs a lot."
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 3:00 PM

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

Versteeg starting to rediscover his offensive game

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kris Versteeg is still looking to end his scoring drought, but he's been creating chances in recent games and his overall play has picked up.

The Florida Panthers right wing clearly is not "brutal" anymore.

Versteeg has used that term to describe his play a couple of times this season, most recently after a 3-2 shootout loss to Edmonton on March 23.

That was one of the nine scoreless games Versteeg has played since returning from a lower-body injury that caused him to miss nine games. Versteeg also went scoreless the six games before the injury, meaning he's on a 15-game goal-less streak.

But after going eight games without even a point, Versteeg picked up an assist in each of Florida's last two games and he's also come close to scoring on a couple of occasions.

"Last four games it's been a lot better and feeling better out there, too," he said. "You come back and you want to be a big part right away and everyone is firing on all cylinders. You've got to, I guess, get back in the game and get back into the swing of things. When you're hard on yourself, it's tough, but I definitely feel the last four games it's been going better, and I expect better every game."

Versteeg led the Panthers in scoring most of the season before just recently being overtaken by both Tomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss.

There's no question the Panthers could use some more offense from Versteeg, starting with Tuesday's game against Winnipeg.

"Steeger is a guy that cares a lot and when things don't work out ... he's not a guy that hides his emotions," coach Kevin Dineen said. "When things are not going the right way, he is extremely hard on himself. When you take a breath and you regroup and you go out and start doing little things, even if the points aren't coming, you still feel like you're contributing. He realizes his importance to the team and, as always, when his focus is in the right place, he's a top-end player for us."

Versteeg, acquired last summer in a trade with Philadelphia, said he may have been trying to do too much after returning from his injury.

His last goal came Feb. 12 in a 4-1 road victory against the New York Islanders, but he's not concerned about the goal-less streak.

"I'm not worried about it," he said. "It was more so frustration about trying to do stuff when maybe my body couldn't at the time or my mind couldn't at the time because you're trying to get back into it. Now, I'm starting to feel [better] and these last four games are a good step."
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 2:48 PM

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

Jets give Cormier another look with Wellwood out

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Forward Patrice Cormier, one of the players acquired from New Jersey in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade, is getting another look with the Winnipeg Jets.

Cormier has been recalled from the St. John's IceCaps to replace Kyle Wellwood, who will miss the rest of the season with a broken ankle.

It's the fourth call-up this season for Cormier, who didn't record a point in his first six games. Cormier had 17 goals and 14 assists in 54 games with St. John's.

Wellwood, for his part, ended his season with a career-high 47 points (18 goals, 29 assists). Wellwood, who is fourth on the team in scoring, was injured in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss at Tampa Bay when he was hit by a slapshot from teammate Grant Clitsome.

The Jets' third-leading scorer, defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, will remain in the lineup despite being hampered by a lower-body bone bruise. There had been some thought he might be shut down because Winnipeg is out of playoff contention, but coach Claude Noel said Byfuglien would be in the lineup Tuesday night against Florida.

"Buff is going to play the games," Noel said. "Nothing has changed with him. He still has the same issue and he'll have it the rest of the year. It's something we deal with. He'll be in the lineup."

The Panthers, for their part, have no apparent injury issues beyond their two players on injured reserve -- forwards Matt Bradley and Jack Skille.

Based on the lines at the morning skate, it appears forwards Jerred Smithson, Krystofer Barch and Mike Santorelli will be healthy scratches.

Here are the projected lines:

JETS
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Antti Miettinen
Chris Thorburn - Jim Slater - Spencer Machacek
Patrice Cormier - Tim Stapleton - Nik Antropov

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart - Grant Clitsome

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason

PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Mikael Samuelsson
Scottie Upshall - Shawn Matthias - Wojtek Wolski
Marco Sturm - John Madden - Tomas Kopecky

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 2:40 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Peters expected back in Wild lineup

NASHVILLE -- Warren Peters was expected to return to the Wild lineup on Tuesday against the Predators after missing one game with an upper-body injury.
 
The Wild had recalled Cody Almond from Houston (AHL) to fill in for Peters, and then sent him down on Tuesday. Almond, 22, who has played in 10 games this season, totaling 1 goal and a minus-5 rating, only played 7:37 in a 5-4 overtime win over Chicago on Sunday, but was even and had two shots. Wild coach Mike Yeo said he liked what he saw.
 
"I really liked what Cody did last game," Yeo said. "I thought that that was a real good game for him but, obviously, Petey coming in now and we're off emergency, but that was a really good performance by Cody, I thought."
 
Projected lineups:
 
Dany Heatley - Mikko Koivu - Devin Setoguchi
Darroll Powe - Kyle Brodziak - Cal Clutterbuck
Jason Zucker - Erik Christensen - Nick Johnson
Stephane Veilleux - Warren Peters - Jed Ortmeyer
 
Clayton Stoner - Tom Gilbert
Justin Falk - Nate Prosser
Marco Scandella - Kurtis Foster
 
Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 2:28 PM

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

Spoiler role aside, Jets just want to finish strong

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Winnipeg Jets are back in action Tuesday night for the first time since being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

But they say they're not concerning themselves with playing the role of spoilers against the Florida Panthers.

"We look at it more as a situation where we want to try to play well and win," coach Claude Noel said after the morning skate. "With our road record being what it is, we'd like to continue getting points and hopefully getting two points and getting a win out of here would be good for us. We talked about finishing out on a positive note and that's what we want to do."

In their first year in Winnipeg after moving from Atlanta, the Jets saw their playoff hopes officially terminated in a 3-2 overtime loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday night.

The Jets found themselves only two points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference after beating Washington 4-3 in overtime on March 23, but have gone 2-5-1 since.

"Obviously, we're disappointed with how our season ended up and being on the outside of the playoff picture," captain Andrew Ladd said. "It's something that as a player, it's the time of year you want to be playing. It's where the fun starts. We've still got some work to do to make sure it doesn't happen next year."

It was fitting that the Jets' playoff hopes would end on the road because that's where the team really struggled this season.

Winnipeg has only 31 points in 39 road games to rank 28th in the League. The Jets' last road game will be Thursday against the New York Islanders before they close the season at home against Tampa Bay on Saturday.

That means the Jets will play a game with playoff implications for the last time Tuesday.

"We should be on the same page, everybody, to finish hard, to finish the season with three wins," goalie Ondrej Pavelec said. "Of course, it's disappointing we didn't make the playoffs, but that doesn't mean we're going to stop playing. The fans, everybody deserves for us to play as hard as we can and we'll see how everything is going to go.

"I think it's going to be pretty exciting tonight. Florida is battling for a playoff spot. It should be a great game. It's going to be a big chance. We expect the three wins and finishing strong and having fun."

The Panthers certainly don't expect the Jets to let them clinch the division title without a fight.

"We know Winnipeg is a well-coached team," defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. "They respect the game, so they're going to play hard. We've got to be on our toes early."

Ladd is familiar with several Panthers players, having played in Chicago with Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg, Tomas Kopecky and John Madden when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010.

After being traded to Atlanta last season, Ladd once again is playing out the end of the regular season with nothing at stake.

"It's tough," he said. "They mean pretty much absolutely nothing now. At the same time, we owe it to ourselves and to our fans to show up and work and see where the chips fall. It's all part of creating a culture where you show up and you work every day. This is part of it."
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He's able to play now, we just want to see other guys. We know what he can do.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on not rushing Steven Stamkos onto the ice