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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 9:02 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CAR @ NJD - 10:56 of the Second Period

At 10:56 of the second period in the Devils/Hurricanes, the referee ruled that Devils forward Dainius Zubrus tipped the puck into the net with his stick below the crossbar. Video review looked at the play but was inconclusive. The call on the ice stands, New Jersey goal.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 5:18 PM

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

Injured defenseman Rozsival skates for Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For the first time in a month, Phoenix defenseman Michal Rozsival took to the ice Tuesday and skated for about 15 minutes on his own before practice at Jobing.com Arena.

Rozsival, 33, hasn't played since suffering a facial injury on Oct. 8 in the first period of the season opener at San Jose when a slap shot off the stick of Sharks winger Patrick Marleau deflected off another stick and into Rozsival's face. The facial injuries have healed, but the post-concussive symptoms have remained and Rozsival has been unable to skate for the last month.
 
David Schlemko has stepped into Rozsival's starting spot and played very well. The Coyotes have been carrying only six defensemen for the last two weeks and are about to head into the most daunting stretch of the season, beginning with a five-game road trip that begins, ironically, in San Jose on Saturday. Rozsival isn't anywhere close to playing, but the sight of him back on the ice was a positive step.
 
"He skated 15 minutes and there seemed to be no ill-effect from that, so we'll continue to ramp that up," coach Dave Tippett said. "It's hard to put any timetable on it, but it's good to see him on the ice. This has been longer that we would have thought, but when your dealing with the concussion syndrome ... I don't think anyone expected Sidney Crosby to be out as long as he has, either. Today was a positive step getting him on the ice, and we hope he can move forward."
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:52 PM

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

For now, Lindback waits and watches

LOS ANGELES -- Pekka Rinne will eventually get a night off -- but will it be tonight?

Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz wouldn't tip his hand but he did say that backup Anders Lindback would start one of the final two games on their five-game road trip. Nashville plays at Los Angeles on Tuesday and at Anaheim on Wednesday.

For what it's worth, Lindback was off the ice first at Nashville's morning skate Tuesday.

"He works hard with (goaltending coach) Mitch (Korn) every day," Trotz said. "Lindy's got a good understanding. He knows he's backing up an elite goaltender in the league and A) learn from that and B) work on his game. Mitch has been outstanding in getting guys who aren't playing to be ready and improve their game while they’re not playing."

Rinne has started all 13 games for Nashville. Lindback's only appearance came Oct. 20 when Vancouver chased Rinne after 20 minutes.

"It's not easy, but it's all about staying sharp in practice," Lindback said. "I kind of see the practices as my games. It's tough, but that's my job and I've got to really get comfortable as quick as possible when you get out there and try to get into the flow."

Lindback, whose 23 career games still qualifies him for rookie status, might not see the 25-game threshold for a while backing up Rinne.

"I've been joking with him about it," Lindback said. "He's been playing as he always plays -- awesome. I think he's the best goalie. He gives us a chance to win and sometimes he almost does it by himself. It's good for me to watch him and learn."
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:48 PM

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

Projected lineups for Kings, Predators

Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Nashville Predators and Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center:

KINGS
Simon Gagne - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Dustin Brown
Scott Parse - Jarret Stoll - Ethan Moreau
Kyle Clifford - Brad Richardson - Trevor Lewis

Drew Doughty - Willie Mitchell
Rob Scuderi - Jack Johnson
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene

Goalie: Jonathan Bernier

PREDATORS
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Jerred Smithson - Craig Smith - Jordin Tootoo
Niclas Bergfors - Blake Geoffrion - Brian McGrattan

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Francis Bouillon - Jonathon Blum
Jack Hillen - Teemu Laakso

Goalie: Anders Lindback

Kostitsyn (lower body) and Kevin Klein (ankle) practiced and are game time decisions, coach Barry Trotz said.

Kostitsyn has practiced for at least two days and appears to be further along after he suffered the injury last week against Tampa Bay.

Blum played with Bouillon in Klein’s absence on the second defensive pairing and Trotz indicated he liked that pairing if he had to go to it again.

Blum grew up in south Orange County and will have another homecoming in Southern California. He said he has about 40 ticket requests from friends and family.

"People want to come and say hi," Blum said. "It's great."


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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:29 PM

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

Ian Cole recalled, will make season debut for Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Defenseman Ian Cole, recalled from Peoria on Monday, will make his season debut tonight for the St. Louis Blues against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blues are carrying nine defensemen on their roster, including Kent Huskins (bruised ankle), but want to give Cole, a 2007 first-round draft pick (No. 18), another look after a strong stretch of games with the Rivermen.

"I started in the same pattern as the team, kind of slow," Cole said, referring to the Rivermen. "Everyone just wasn't clicking. After those first couple weekends, everyone started figuring out and playing well. The past couple weeks, I've been playing well."

Cole, who played in 26 games and tallied 1 goal and 3 assists last season, will play with Roman Polak tonight. He was among the last cuts during the preseason.

"Of course you're disappointed but at the same time, I didn't see it as something that was debilitating," Cole said.

"There's a real trust within the organization for Ian," new Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They want to see what he can do. He's had a very good AHL campaign so far this year. He's played very well, he's been really solid. He's a left shot, which can really help the group here and I think we're excited to give him a go here and see what it looks like.

"You want to reward him. He's been knocking on the door for a couple years now, and you want to reward a guy when he's been playing well down there. They wanted to give him the extra time, a ton of ice time down there. Now it's time to see if he can play."

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:26 PM

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

New coach, but no major changes yet for St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues have had two practices, a full one Monday and Tuesday's morning skate, with new coach ken Hitchcock and haven't noticed too much of a change -- at the outset, at least.

The 59-year-old Hitchcock, who said Monday he doesn't want to change too much until he gets a better grasp of his players, will do some in-game tweaking if necessary.

"Not so much from a systems standpoint," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "He's really kind of hammering in his fundamentals and what he likes to see in his team and the game they play.

"I think he's coaching that within our systems we have now and how we're playing. He's going to make some tweaks, but we're not going to be seeing a completely different team here tonight."

Said Hitchcock, who will go with the same lineup tonight aside from Ian Cole going in for Taylor Chorney on defense, "For me, the game is the easy part. The 24-48 hours for me, it's changed. It's not changed on the ice. That's the simple part for me."

Cole said Hitchcock won't take long to implement his style.

"I feel he's just observing right now, and in the next couple days, he's going to start ramping it up pretty good ... get back to being the man, the myth, the legend that you hear about," Cole said.

One part of the team's game Hitchcock definitely plans on changing is the dump and chase style.

"I don't like the chip and check game and I think we're doing that a little too much here," he said.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:24 PM

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

Humor from Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS -- One thing Ken Hitchcock has acquired with his days in the NHL is a sense of humor.

When he came in for his gathering with the media after Tuesday's pregame skate, he offered up the following:

"I got good advice today in the lobby: Be sure you sign Pujols," Hitchcock said, referencing St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols, a free agent-to-be, and getting a good laugh from the media throng. "That lady informed me of that at 6:05 (this morning). ... I better get it done."

Somehow, Hitchcock said he somehow found himself at the Peabody Opera House next to Scottrade Center -- "It's a nice place ... pretty dark though."

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:20 PM

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

Hawks' Sharp endorses new Blues coach

ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp is among those that endorses Ken Hitchcock's move to St. Louis. Sharp, who played for Hitchcock with the Philadelphia Flyers, said the Blues are getting a good man, someone who helped elevate his game.

"He transformed my game a little bit. I think him along with John Stevens, the coach in the minors at the time, really taught me to play the right way," Sharp said. "He's probably mentioned that over there ... playing the right way. I learned that from him and I was thankful I got to play under him for two years.

"He'll have St. Louis playing great. I know that. It's not a good thing he's coaching in out division, but we need to play better and beat these guys. ... He has a proven record of building teams and building winners. ... They're going to get used to having team meetings and they're going to get used to the details and the finer points of the game. Those are all things Hitch is the best at."

Hitchcock said Sharp was one of those players that adjusted to his style.

"Patrick and I, we're pretty close," Hitchcock said. "I think the tight ship is skill level is not relevant. Everybody has to be a worker. That's kind of what I'm very determined at. I don't do a lot of yelling and screaming and embarrassing people. I'm relentless in that. To me, like any good coach in any sport is to have everyone play on the same page when the other team has the puck."

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:16 PM

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

Zetterberg says winning early is crucial

DETROIT -- Despite ending a six-game winless streak last weekend, the Detroit Red Wings are well aware that it was just one win and they need to keep winning to make up the ground they lost in the Western Conference standings.

The way things are in the West -- and the way they were last season -- every standings point matters, but especially those early in the season, when teams usually are at their peak from a health standpoint.

"It's so tight on both sides, and when you're looking back at the end of the year, it's a win here and a win there and that's a playoff (season)," Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "That could determine whether you're going to make it or not. You have to get a good start."

That's why he understood the rationale behind the St. Louis Blues firing Davis Payne on Sunday and hiring highly-regarded veteran coach Ken Hitchcock to replace him.

"If you don't have a good start, it's real tough to get something going," Zetterberg said. "All of a sudden you have 55 or 60 games left and you know you're done. Teams don't want that to happen, so (sometimes) you have to make a tough decision early."
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:15 PM

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

Hitch has high praise for Patrick Kane

ST. LOUIS -- New Blues coach Ken Hitchcock paid the ultimate compliment to Hawks star Patrick Kane, who has been playing center for Chicago after previously playing exclusively on the wing.

"That's the worst nightmare for all of us," Hitchcock said, referring to coaches around the NHL. "That's not good because a player that's that strong and that competitive and that patient with the puck, we've all kind of dreaded that day when he was going to move into the middle of the ice. It's not fun. When you come with a 1-2 punch like that, it's not a lot of fun."

When hearing those comments, Kane responded, "It's fun to hear that, especially from a coach like that who's so well-respected like that and who has so many wins under his belt.

"I feel like I can a little more consistent. I can probably do some better things all around, but I guess it comes with the territory of learning the position. So far, I think it's been a pretty good thing for the team. It gives us an option, if now, maybe down the road a little bit."

Hitchcock said Kane's transformation will be fine and the rest of the league will just have to deal with it.

"We were hoping it didn't come. It's there," Hitchcock said. "You've got to deal with it, but there were a lot of 'Oh, no's,' because the game isn't played in the middle of the ice much anymore, but he's got enough trust and confidence in his own ability. He knows how to play in there. It's a nervous defending time when you have a player with that type of skill level and patience with the puck that can make plays with people. It's a little bit scary.

"Joel (Quenneville, Blackhawks coach) could have made it a lot easier if he would have put Kane and (Jonathan) Toews together. That kind of screws up our plan. We'll have to adjust."

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It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery