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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 1:30 PM

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

Flyers back in Tampa Bay, shrug off 1-3-1 talk

TAMPA -- On Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Flyers make their first visit to the St. Pete Times Forum since Nov. 9. Early in that contest, the Flyers launched into their version of the "hesitation waltz," virtually freezing the puck and daring the Tampa Bay Lightning to break a 1-3-1 defensive formation and attack.

The tactic set loose a firestorm of comments and reactions from notables throughout the hockey world.

But despite the notoriety, don't rule out a repeat performance by the Flyers tonight. In fact, coach Peter Laviolette doesn't see what all the fuss was about.

"I don't think it was a controversy," Laviolette said, "it was a tactic. We normally don't share our game plans with the papers, so we'll just keep our plans for tonight to ourselves."

At the time the two teams met, both Tampa Bay and Philadelphia were enjoying success on the ice; the Lightning had won six of their last eight games and the Flyers had collected points in four consecutive games.

Since that meeting, only Philadelphia has been able to maintain its momentum, going 7-2-1 over its last 10 games while battling the New York Rangers for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. It's been a different story for the Lightning, who have managed to win only six of 19 contests since that first meeting, including a 5-2 drubbing by the Flyers in Philadelphia on Dec. 10, during the course of which the Flyers attacked the Lightning aggressively.

"But things are different in their building," Laviolette said.

Different or not, how the Flyers attack their defense will be of little concern to the Lightning, who are hoping that the three game homestand which opens Tuesday night will give them some traction to advance in the standings.

"It won't matter to us at all, not really," Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier said. "We just play our system. If we start moving around that's when there will be holes for them to take advantage of."

FLYERS
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Wayne Simmonds - Maxime Talbot - Danny Briere
Matt Read - Blair Betts - Jakub Voracek
Jody Shelley - Zac Rinaldo - Harry Zolnierczyk

Braydon Coburn - Andreas Lilja
Matt Carle - Andrej Meszaros
Kimmo Timonen - Marc-Andre Bourdon

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

LIGHTNING
Martin St. Louis - Vincent Lecavalier - Ryan Malone
Steve Downie - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Tom Pyatt - Dominic Moore - James Wyman
Adam Hall - Dana Tyrell - Blair Jones

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Marc-Andre Bergeron - Matt Gilroy
Brett Clark - Pavel Kubina

Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Roloson
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 12:52 PM

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

Only 23, Jordan Staal set for 400th NHL game

PITTSBURGH -- He is only 23, hardly an age at which most NHL players are considered to be grizzled veterans. Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins is an exception.
 
When the Penguins try to extend their winning streak to four games while taking on the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, Staal will be playing in his 400th career game. At 23 years and 108 days, Staal will become the seventh youngest player since the NHL expansion in 1967 to reach that mark.
 
"It's a pretty rare feat and when you consider how many playoff games  (67) he's played in addition to that, it's pretty amazing for a young player," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "He's still a very young man but he's also a guy who, right now, has found a different level in how he plays the game more physically and what he does on the ice."
 
Interestingly, Staal didn't know of the feat until he arrived at Consol Energy Center. It's an added bonus for the Staal family of Thunder Bay, Ontario, that Eric Staal of the Hurricanes will be on the ice for his younger brother's 400th.
 
"It's nice, obviously. It's a lot of games and any player that plays that many, it's a great accomplishment," Jordan said. "Hopefully I can play many more."
 
Especially if he can play at his current level. Considered one of the League's best two-way forwards since his rookie season in 2006-07, Staal is on pace for one of his best seasons offensively with 13 goals and 6 assists in 30 games. His career high is 29 goals as a rookie.
 
While Staal has been a finalist for the Selke Trophy given for outstanding defensive play by a forward, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he isn't close to peaking.
 
"If you're looking for a guy to vault into the top 10 in scoring, I'm not sure that's what his upside is. But this year, the way he can dominate a game on both sides of the puck, is where his game can go," Bylsma said. "I hate even talking about him being a third-line center, because what he can do on the ice is more like a top guy on your team."
 
Staal is frequently called the best No. 3 center in hockey because Sidney Crosby, when healthy, and Evgeni Malkin man the Penguins' top two lines. Bylsma said Staal is much more than that to Pittsburgh.
 
"He can dominate the puck at both ends of the rink, defensively and offensively," Bylsma said. "Faceoffs have gone to a different level. He's a guy you can count on to win faceoffs, not to mention that his penalty kill has always been exceptional."
 
Staal will center the Penguins' No. 2 line against Carolina, which is coming off a 4-2 victory over New Jersey. Carolina is trying for its first three-game winning streak since Oct. 12-18; the Penguins last won four in a row during a five-game winning streak that lasted from Oct. 18 through Oct. 27.
 
The Penguins’ projected lineup:
 
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Pascal Dupuis - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Steve Sullivan - Joe Vitale - Matt Cooke
Arron Asham - Craig Adams - Jason Williams
 
Brooks Orpik - Matt Niskanen
Zbynek Michalek - Simon Despres
Ben Lovejoy - Alexandre Picard
 
Marc-Andre Fleury, second in the League with 18 wins, will be in net. He is 4-1 in his last five starts and 15-5-2 over his last 22. Brent Johnson will be the backup.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 12:48 PM

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

Maple Leafs place Liles on injured reserve

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman John-Michael Liles on IR Tuesday as he continues to experience concussion-like symptoms.

Liles was injured on Dec. 22 when he took a hit from Buffalo wing Paul Gaustad during the Leafs’ 3-2 victory.

"We're shutting him down for a few days," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said after the team's morning skate. "He was better today, but not ready to go. If we run into a crisis, we've got to have another defenseman available in case of illness or another injury."

Liles joined five other Toronto players, including defenseman Mike Komisarek, on the injured list. The others are forwards Colby Armstrong, Mike Brown, Philippe Dupuis and Matthew Lombardi.

"We just wanted to make sure," Wilson said. "You don’t want to over-diagnose somebody. You have to give it a couple of days and right now it's best that he just sits out and stays away from the rink for a couple of days. As simple as that."

Liles had appeared in the Leafs' first 34 games before being injured. He is tied with fellow defenseman Dion Phaneuf for fourth on the team in scoring with 21 points (4 goals, 17 assists) and is second in ice time behind Phaneuf with an average of 21:32.

"Injuries are part of the game," said Phaneuf, the Leafs' captain. "We're confident with the group that we have. He's definitely a big piece of our back end, but when guys get injured, other guys have to step up and I think we're definitely ready to do that. We did that last game and we're going to have to do it again."
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 12:26 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Senators, Canadiens

KANATA, Ont. -- Here are the projected lineups for Tuesday night's game between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators:

SENATORS

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Bobby Butler
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Kaspars Daugavins - Zenon Konopka - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Brian Lee - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Alex Auld

After missing the last five games due to a concussion, Milan Michalek returns to the lineup. Chris Phillips did not take part in the morning skate and won't play tonight. There was no update on Jesse Winchester, who has missed the last two games with a concussion.

CANADIENS
Michael Cammalleri - David Desharnais - Louis Leblanc
Erik Cole - Lars Eller - Max Pacioretty
Andrei Kostitsyn - Tomas Plekanec - Travis Moen
Mathieu Darche - Petteri Nokelainen - Mike Blunden

P.K. Subban - Alexei Emelin
Tomas Kaberle - Hal Gill
Josh Gorges - Raphael Diaz

Carey Price
Peter Budaj

Eller and Subban, who were both healthy scratches against the Jets on Dec. 22, are expected to return to the lineup.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 10:18 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

More Eyes on the Ice

PHILADELPHIA -- NHL Facilities Operations Supervisor Don Moffatt was on his way back to Citizens Bank Park shortly before 9 a.m. this morning, a mere eight hours after he left the ballpark.

Moffatt, who was heading to the NHL staff shuttle, told NHL.com the crew was able to create almost an inch of ice before leaving the park after midnight. He seemed pleased with how well the night shift went and said he already had spoken to NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig, who arrived at the park just after 6 a.m. to start the day shift.

Moffatt said the goal this morning is to try to get between an eighth of an inch and a quarter of an inch of ice on the surface before rain is expected to arrive around 11 a.m., but Craig told NHL.com later that with the rain coming there is no need to spray any more water.

So, instead he had members of the crew installing more cables for the Eye on the Ice technology.

Eye on the Ice -- long cables with temperature sensors on the end -- provides real-time information on the ice surface to Craig and his staff and allows them to make any necessary adjustments. In addition to the two sensors installed this morning, there are two others frozen to the ice trays on the rink floor.

Moffatt said having the two measurements gives the crew a much better idea of how the floor is running in relation to what the refrigeration truck is pumping.

NHL.com will have more on Eye on the Ice later, including a video with Craig explaining it in detail.

Craig and his staff could have some challenges to tackle depending on the type of rain that falls on Philadelphia.

It's expected to be a warm rain, but if it's the light, misty kind, then they'll be able to freeze it and, as Moffatt said, Mother Nature would have done their job for them. However, if it's a heavy, warm rain with large droplets, freezing it could be difficult and it could create some run-off, which may lead to some melting on the edges.

That would mean the crew would have to do more slushing. Slushing is a process by which they take snow from neighboring Wells Fargo Center, haul it to Citizens Bank Park, and pack clumps of it into the edges of the rink to fill the gap of roughly three quarters of an inch between the boards and the ice surface.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 2:34 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Stewart back on track in St. Louis

The Chris Stewart of the previous two seasons and the one from this year have been two entirely different players.

In each of the past two seasons, Stewart has collected 28 goals. This year? He was on pace for 12.

In each of the past two seasons, Stewart has collected at least 53 point. This year? He was on pace for 29.

Then Monday night happened and the 6-foot-2, 232-pound right wing collected a pair of goals en route to an impressive 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Included in those two goals was a power play tally. He also ended the night with seven shots thrown on the cage.

In short, the 24-year-old showed flashes of the 25-plus goal-scoring threat he's been in prior campaigns. In fact, the flash started two games ago when Stewart scored a goal and threw another seven shots on net. It's that kind of night in, night out effort that's been missing from Stewart for the better part of the season. For players who've shown they can score consistently at the NHL level, often times it takes just the slightest hot streak before consistent productivity occurs.

Still, even with his strong play of late, on the whole, Stewart has been a disappointment for fantasy owners, so caution should be taken when thinking about adding him to your squads. However, it's equally as important to consider taking a risk on a player who has proven to be successful in consecutive seasons and has show that he may be on his way for number three.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 2:19 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Stewart showing scoring touch

The Chris Stewart of the previous two seasons and the one from this year have been two entirely different players.

In each of the past two seasons, Stewart has collected 28 goals. This year? He was on pace for 12.

In each of the past two seasons, Stewart has collected at least 53 point. This year? He was on pace for 29.

Then Monday night happened and the 6-foot-2, 232-pound right wing collected a pair of goals en route to an impressive 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Included in those two goals was a power play tally. He also ended the night with seven shots thrown on the cage.

In short, the 24-year-old showed flashes of the 25-plus goal-scoring threat he's been in prior campaigns. In fact, the flash started two games ago when Stewart scored a goal and threw another seven shots on net. It's that kind of night in, night out effort that's been missing from Stewart for the better part of the season. For players who've shown they can score consistently at the NHL level, often times it takes just the slightest hot streak before consistent productivity occurs.

Still, even with his strong play of late, on the whole, Stewart has been a disappointment for fantasy owners, so caution should be taken when thinking about adding him to your squads.

However, it's equally as important to consider taking a risk on a player who has proven to be successful in consecutive seasons and has show that he may be on his way for number three. 
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 1:13 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden's Larsson exits game against Latvia

Forward Johan Larsson left Sweden’s 9-4 victory over Latvia in the first period for what the team is calling a precautionary move.

The team isn’t concerned with their captain, who assisted on Max Friberg’s first goal before leaving the game with what the team is calling a contusion on his thigh.

“He had a hit on his thigh in the first period,” said team doctor Bjorn Sandstrom. “That’s why he didn’t play anymore. I don’t think it’s a dangerous injury. I’m not very worried about him.”

Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg wasn’t about to take a chance with Larsson on tournament's opening day.

“He got a small injury in the first but we don’t take any chances this early in the tournament,” coach Roger Ronnberg said.

The team is already playing without 2012 draft eligible forward Pontus Aberg, who was knocked out of the World Junior Championship before the tournament got underway.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 1:06 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Canada's Devante Smith-Pelly fractures foot

A big opening-day win on Boxing Day before 16,647 screaming fans in the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship proved a tad costly to the Canadian National Junior Team on Monday at Rexall Place in Edmonton.

The Canadians' 8-1 win over Finland was tempered when it was learned after the game that defensive-forward Devante Smith-Pelly would be lost for the remainder of the tournament with a fractured left foot. Smith-Pelly suffered his injury when he slid to the ice to block a shot from the right point by Teemu Pulkkinen.

In 26 games with the Anaheim Ducks in his rookie NHL campaign this year, Smith-Pelly had 3 goals, 5 points and 10 penalty minutes. The Ducks announced that Smith-Pelly would be sidelined 4-to-6 weeks.

Adding insult to injury is the fact Team Canada cannot replace him on its roster. The only situation that would allow a team to add another player would be in the case of a goaltender injury.
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Posted On Monday, 12.26.2011 / 9:33 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

DET @ NSH- 12:52 of the Second Period

At 12:52 of the second period in the Detroit / Nashville game, video review was used to determine if Pavel Datsyuk's wrap around shot crossed the goal line. Video Review was inconclusive, referee's call on the ice stands. Good goal Detroit.

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