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At the Rink blog
Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 4:18 PM

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

Richardson getting an opportunity

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Jeff Carter's from the Kings' lineup has opened a spot for Brad Richardson, who became the odd-man out when L.A. acquired Carter on Feb. 25.

Richardson subsequently was scratched in all but two of the first 16 games following the trade and admitted it didn't sit well with him.

"At times it's not easy," Richardson said. "You always want to be in there. It's a thing you learn as you get older. You got to stay positive. You have to be a good teammate. You don't want the other teammates to see that.

"Even though you're [angry] at not playing, you still have to show up at the rink and have a positive attitude. But it's never easy. There are times where I was [angry] and I did want to be in there, but when you come back you try to be that much better."

So far, Richardson has taken advantage of his playing time. Sutter put him on the top line Saturday and Richardson scored twice, his first points since Jan. 12 and his first goals since Dec. 31.

"We talked to Brad," Sutter said. "He wasn't very happy [sitting out]. I don't blame him. You're not playing, you better not be happy. You better work your butt off in practice. If the coaches tell you that we want you to start preparing to play, then you have to go through that. You have to do that to reinforce it in your mind."

Richardson has played on every line since he came to L.A. Last season he had a prominent role playing with Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford, as the trio was the club's most effective line against San Jose in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Sutter still wants more out of Richardson and said that, “OK is not OK."

Sutter didn't have any reservations putting Richardson in a top-line role, but said Richardson has to produce there.

"We're at the time of the year where those kids with that same skill set are playing every other night in (American Hockey League affiliate) Manchester," said Sutter.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 4:13 PM

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

Kings' Carter has bruised ankle

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- An MRI exam on Jeff Carter's ankle revealed the Los Angeles Kings forward has a deep bone bruise and no structural damage, the team announced Monday.

Carter is considered day-to-day but is not expected to play when the Kings host the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. The Kings have two days off the Oilers game and finish the regular season with a critical home-and-home series against San Jose.

Carter caught his toe along the boards in Calgary on March 28 and twisted his ankle. He was seen on crutches with a walking boot.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter did not yet know the results of the MRI after the morning skate but said that the severity of Carter’s injury wasn’t too much of a concern.

"It really doesn't have any impact other than we miss him in the lineup," Sutter said. "What the results are doesn't really matter. He's getting better. We're not going to amputate, I don't think."

L.A. has gone 1-0-1 without Carter.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:39 PM

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

Flyers' Briere, Grossmann injured

The Philadelphia Flyers won Sunday's battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins but did not emerge unscathed.

The team announced Monday that center Danny Briere is out indefinitely with an upper-back contusion, and defenseman Nicklas Grossmann is out 7-10 days with a lower-body injury.

Grossmann was injured midway through the first period when he collided with the Penguins Joe Vitale.

Vitale's hit on Briere with 1:03 left in regulation sparked the late-game melee that saw 52 minutes in penalties assessed, as well as the ejections of and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato.

The Flyers play their final three regular-season games this week -- Tuesday against the Rangers, Thursday against the Sabres and a rematch with the Penguins on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:26 PM

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

Ehrhoff won't return this week, Myers questionable

Buffalo's bid for a playoff berth will have to go on without defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and possibly fellow blueliner Tyler Myers.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Monday that Ehrhoff will not play in the final three regular season games. He added that Myers could be back this week, but the towering defenseman was not on the ice for Monday's practice after sitting out Saturday's game with a foot injury.

Ehrhoff has missed the last two games since injuring himself last Tuesday in Washington when he appeared to have a knee-on-knee collision with Capitals forward Troy Brouwer.

Buffalo is 0-2 and has allowed a combined nine goals in the games Ehrhoff has missed. He has 32 points in 66 games this season.

Ruff said Ehrhoff would probably be available for the playoffs, but the Sabres have to get there first and that's not going to be easy.

Buffalo trails the Capitals by two points for eighth place, but Washington could extend its lead to four points with a win Monday in Tampa Bay. If the Capitals beat the Lightning, the Sabres will only stay alive in the race if they pick up at least one point Tuesday against Toronto.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:10 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lightning promise 'work-ethic show' against Capitals

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning play their final home game of the 2011-12 season Monday night when the Washington Capitals visit the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

For the Capitals, with three regular season games remaining and a slim two-point grip on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the game has huge postseason implications.

"It's a big game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "We need all those points and we have to be ready to battle out there and get our two points."

But for the Lightning, the contest is meaningful, too, as they have the chance to play spoiler and send the home crowd off with optimism for the future.

With that in mind, Tampa Bay is planning somewhat of a fan appreciation night.

"We'll try to give the fans a great show tonight," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "Regardless of playoffs or no playoffs, we've always talked about isolating games and this game is isolated. We want to please our fans with a work-ethic show."

To the players' disappointment, there is little else left for them to offer the fans now except hard work.

"We're disappointed that we won't be playing some hockey in April and May," Martin St. Louis said. "It's a tough League and we want to finish strong and make the fans feel good about the last home game. It's not about the wins and losses, it's the effort you put on the ice. The fans will recognize the work ethic and the effort, and if you do that you give yourself a good chance to win games. We'll work on that tonight."

Also on display, though the team is playing it down, will be Steven Stamkos' continued drive to be the first NHL player to get 60 goals since Alex Ovechkin notched 65 in 2007-08. Stamkos currently has 56 with four games remaining.

"I'll be honest, I'm not big on these things," Boucher said. "Nobody in the room talks about that. The only people that talk about it are the media. If he gets 59, does that diminish him as a player? When players chase these intangibles they aren't part of a team-oriented mentality. Steven is the first guy to be an unselfish, team-oriented guy. Whether he stays at 56 or goes to 62 he's still going to be a great leader, and I wouldn't be surprised if he had 59 and an open net, if he didn't pass the puck to someone else."

Boucher might not be surprised, but everyone else in the building would be.

Still, Stamkos has been making a point of telling teammates not to go out of their way to set him up for scoring chances.

"I think what Steven is saying with that is that he wants everyone to understand that he's not going after 60 goals," Boucher said. "He's going after our team winning. But that's him. That's what makes Steven special. He sees things as they are and he's a great leader for it."

This is the sixth and final meeting between these two clubs this season. The Capitals have won three of five, but the Lightning (2-1-2) have points in four of five. They have defeated the Capitals in two home games previously.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:06 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Capitals, Lightning

Here's how the lineups project when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Washington Capitals on Monday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum:

CAPITALS

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

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

Michal Neuvirth
Braden Holtby

LIGHTNING
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Vincent Lecavalier - J.T. Brown 
Tim Wallace - Tom Pyatt - Nate Thompson
Brandon Segal - JT Wyman - Brett Connolly

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Keith Aulie
Brian Lee - Brendan Mikkelson

Dwayne Roloson
Sebastien Caron

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Posted On Sunday, 04.01.2012 / 5:19 PM

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

Projected Bruins-Rangers lineups

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers coach John Tortorella doesn't care that his team can clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference on Sunday night.

When asked if it means anything to get it done immediately against the Boston Bruins and if he discussed the situation with his team, he answered in the negative three times before walking out of the media room at Madison Square Garden.

Henrik Lundqvist will make his season-high ninth consecutive start for the Rangers.

The Rangers need just one point after the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on Sunday afternoon at Consol Energy Center. In order for the Penguins to catch the Rangers, the Penguins must win their final three games and the Rangers must lose their final four all in regulation.

The Bruins can clinch the Northeast Division with a victory. With a win, the Bruins will guarantee themselves the second seed in the East.

Lundqvist stumbled a bit during March, dropping three of four starts before going 6-1-0 in his last seven starts with a 2.11 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.

Tim Thomas will make the start for the Bruins. Much like Lundqvist, he too has found his game of late, going 4-1-1 in his last six starts and hasn’t allowed more than two goals in any of those starts.

Here are the likely lineups for tonight's game, which will be aired on NBCSN and TSN2:

BRUINS

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Rich Peverley
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Brian Rolston
Shawn Thornton - Gregory Campbell - Jordan Caron

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Andrew Ference - Greg Zanon
Mike Mottau - Joe Corvo

Tim Thomas
Marty Turco

RANGERS

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Brian Boyle - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Derek Stepan - Artem Anisimov
Mike Rupp - John Mitchell - Brandon Prust

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Sunday, 04.01.2012 / 2:01 PM

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

Panthers-Red Wings projected lineups

DETROIT -- The regular season is winding to a close this week and as it does, there are some in the Motor City who are starting to look at possible first-round matchups and hoping for the most favorable opponent for the Detroit Red Wings.

The Red Wings, however, are not among those sizing up the opposition in the Western Conference. They know whichever team they face first will pose a tough challenge, which means the only thing they care about now is trying to secure at least one round of home-ice advantage.

Some fans have even hoped the Wings -- currently fifth in the West -- would slip into the sixth seed to avoid playing the well-balanced, defense-oriented Nashville Predators first.

"You know what, with that you're flirting with danger there when you're trying to pick your matchups," Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said after Saturday's practice at Joe Jouis Arena. "You want to be playing your best and you want to go in there feeling like no matter who you're playing, you'll beat. You don't want to be flirting with disaster there by trying to pick your opponent."

The Red Wings host the Florida Panthers on Sunday afternoon at the "Joe" in a big game for both teams in terms of the postseason. Florida is trying to hang onto first place in the Southeast Division and the third seed in the Eastern Conference that comes with it, while Detroit will try to surpass the West's fourth-place Predators and surging Chicago Blackhawks.

Nashville lost at home on Saturday night to the Blackhawks, which pulled Chicago even in points (97) with the Red Wings. Detroit is technically ahead because of tie-breakers, but Chicago could pass both the Wings and Preds with a Panthers win on Sunday in the Motor City and a Blackhawks win on Sunday night in the Windy City.

Why are the remaining games and the points at stake still more important to all three Central Division rivals than who they face in the quarterfinal round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

"Because home ice advantage, even if it's only for one round ... can be vital in the playoffs in a series," Howard said. "By no means can we just coast in there. We've got to be playing and all be on our game."

Neither Florida nor Detroit skated on Sunday morning, but here is a look at how both teams could line up when the puck is dropped:

PANTHERS

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

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

Scott Clemmensen
Jose Theodore


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
Kyle Quincey - Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin
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Posted On Sunday, 04.01.2012 / 1:17 PM

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

Letang makes surprise return to the lineup

PITTSBURGH -- Penguins defenseman Kris Letang made a surprise return to the lineup for a key Atlantic Division game Sunday against Philadelphia.

Letang missed three consecutive games with a lower body injury that resulted from him slamming feet first into the boards after he was tripped last Sunday against New Jersey. Letang did not accompany the Penguins on a two-game road trip in which they played the Islanders Thursday and the Sabres Friday.

The Penguins also did not practice Saturday -- coach Dan Bylsma called off a scheduled practice -- but Letang returned to play Sunday despite not being on the ice with the team for a week.

Letang, one of the NHL's premier two-way defensemen, has nine goals and 27 assists in 47 games, missing nearly two months with a concussion earlier in the season.

Letang has 20 points, including three goals, in 26 games against the Flyers, who went into the game trailing Pittsburgh by three points in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division standings.
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Posted On Sunday, 04.01.2012 / 11:30 AM

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

Fleury, Bobrovsky get the start Sunday

PITTSBURGH -- Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers in a key Atlantic Division game Sunday that could help decide home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
 
Fleury gave up nine goals combined in his previous two starts, home-and-home losses to the New York Islanders Tuesday and Thursday. Brent Johnson, returning from a 17-game layoff with an injury, started and beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 Friday for his first win since Feb. 12.
 
Fleury is 21-12-2 in his career against Philadelphia, which will be coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to Ottawa Saturday.
 
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang could play after missing three games with a lower-body injury caused when he was tripped and went feet-first into the end boards March 25 against the Devils. Coach Dan Bylsma said he will be a game-time decision.
 
As expected, Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net for the Flyers -- just as he was for each of Philadelphia's four victories in Consol Energy Center since the start of the 2010-11 season. The Flyers have not lost in Consol, where they play twice this week. The Flyers and Penguins wrap up the regular season there Saturday afternoon.
 
The Penguins, currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, go into Sunday's game with a three-point lead over the Flyers, 102-99.
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Quote of the Day

He seemed to thrive on his own and didn't really need any push from me. I certainly don't want to get in the way of the coaches. You see how that goes sometimes. I never really worried about it and just enjoyed the ride.

— David Ekblad on his son's [Aaron Ekblad] journey to the NHL, signing with the Florida Panthers