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Posted On Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 1:12 PM

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

Projected lineups for Senators-Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kaspars Daugavins had a season-high two points in Ottawa's last visit to the BankAtlantic Center, but he won't get the chance to duplicate that performance against the Florida Panthers Sunday.

Senators coach Paul MacLean said after the optional morning skate that Daugavins would be a healthy scratch for a third consecutive game. Center Zack Smith, meanwhile, will be scratched for the first time this season.

"We can only play 20 and you have to play well to play," MacLean said. "At this point in the season, people are playing better and that's why they're not playing. You have to earn the right to play in the league and you have to play well on a game-by-game basis. We evaluate on a game-by-game basis and at this point the other 12 forwards are playing better."

MacLean also said that rookie Robin Lehner would make his fourth consecutive start in net. Lehner is 3-1 with a 1.50 GAA, his only defeat coming Friday night when he stopped 37 of 39 shots in a 2-1 loss against Chicago.

For the Panthers, defenseman Ed Jovanovski is expected to return to the lineup after being given what Coach Kevin Dineen called a "maintenance day" Saturday and sitting out the 3-1 loss against Nashville.

With Florida carrying seven defensemen, Dineen will have a decision to make when it comes to who to sit. Rookie Erik Gudbranson didn't play in the last 13 minutes of Saturday's game after he was involved in a bad line change that led to the final goal.

OTTAWA SENATORS

Forwards
Rob Klinkhammer - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Bobby Butler
Nick Foligno - Jim O'Brien - Chris Neil
Colin Greening - Zenon Konopka - Erik Condra

Defensemen
Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Gilroy

Goalie
Robin Lehner

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Forwards
Sean Bergenheim - Stephen Weiss - Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Wojtek Wolski
Tomas Kopecky - Shawn Matthias - Jack Skille
Marco Sturm - Jerred Smithson - Mike Santorelli

Defensemen
Jason Garrison - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Brian Campbell
Keaton Ellerby - Tyson Strachan

Goalies
Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 12:38 PM

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

Callahan out today against Boston

NEW YORK -- Rangers captain Ryan Callahan will miss Sunday afternoon's contest with the Boston Bruins due to a bruised foot, the third straight game Callahan will sit out.

Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who was absent from Friday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Lightning due to a hip injury, is back after a one-game absence.

Forward Ruslan Fedotenko took a shot off his left foot during the first period of Friday's game and sat out practice Saturday along with defenseman Dan Girardi, but both will be in the lineup against the Bruins.

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in search of his 31st win of the season.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 12:35 PM

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

Klinkhammer gets into Sens lineup for the first time

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Three months after being acquired in a trade with Chicago, forward Rob Klinkhammer will play his first game for the Ottawa Senators Sunday at Florida.

It will be the second NHL game overall for Klinkhammer, who was called up from Binghamton of the AHL on Saturday.

Klinkhammer, acquired Dec. 3 for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2013, made his NHL debut on Dec. 8, 2010 with the Blackhawks.

"I'm just super excited," Klinkhammer said after Ottawa's optional morning skate. "I'm just glad to be here, so thankful to get an opportunity and I'm just going to try to make the most of it and have some fun and try not to be too nervous."

Klinkhammer, who will start off playing on a line with Daniel Alfredsson and Kyle Turris against Florida, had 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) in 35 games with Binghamton. Prior to the trade, he had only six points in 18 games for Chicago's AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs.

"He's worked real hard, can really skate, can make plays, and his work ethic is probably his best attribute," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "We like that. We're still looking for depth on our team and we're going to give him the opportunity to be a part of it."

Another Binghamton player soon will be joining Klinkhammer in Ottawa, with MacLean saying goalie Ben Bishop would get a start for the Senators before too long.

Bishop was acquired from St. Louis on Feb. 26 in exchange for a second-round pick. In his first two starts in Binghamton, Bishop stopped 82 of 85 shots for an exceptional .965 save percentage.

With Craig Anderson out with a hand injury, rookie Robin Lehner has started the last three games for Ottawa and he'll again get the call against Florida Sunday.

"We do have plans for Ben Bishop that we want to see him play in some games," MacLean said. "Obviously it's not tonight. That could change after that or moving forward next week. With this injury to Craig Anderson, we fully plan to take a look at Ben Bishop. We want to make sure he's comfortable and he's ready to come up and play a game before we do anything. He's playing well down there, Robin is playing well up here, so we're going to monitor it and evaluate it on a daily basis."
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 10:24 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

BUF @ VAN - 5:10 of the First Period

At 5:10 of the first period in the Sabres/Canucks game, the Toronto video room initiated a review and conclusively determined that Brad Boyes' shot went into the net. Good goal Buffalo.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 9:48 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blues-Sharks

SAN JOSE -- Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the San Jose Sharks face the St. Louis Blues at HP Pavilion:

BLUES
Vladimir SobotkaDavid BackesT.J. Oshie
Andy McDonaldPatrik BerglundChris Stewart
Chris PorterJason ArnottChris Stewart
B.J.Crombeen – Scott NicholRyan Reaves

Carlo ColaiacovoAlex Pietrangelo
Barret JackmanKevin Shattenkirk
Kent HuskinsRoman Polak

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock juggled his top three lines in order to spread his firepower throughout the lineup. McDonald moved from the first line to the second, with Sobotka jumping from the third to the first. Stewart dropped from the second to the third line.

SHARKS
Ryane CloweJoe ThorntonLogan Couture
Daniel WinnikPatrick MarleauJoe Pavelski
TJ GaliardiDominic MooreTorrey Mitchell
Brad WinchesterMichal HandzusJim Vandermeer

Marc-Edouard VlasicDan Boyle
Brent BurnsDouglas Murray
Jason DemersColin White

Sharks coach Todd McLellan will miss his third straight game after suffering a concussion Sunday at Minnesota when he was hit by a stick, the team announced. Assistants Jay Woodcroft and Matt Shaw will fill in behind the bench. The Sharks had an optional skate Saturday morning, so there were no line rushes, and Woodcroft said the lines had yet to be set. Couture is expected to return to the lineup after missing two games with a lower body injury, and Murray might be back after missing eight games since being hit in the throat with a puck.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 9:11 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CBJ @ PHX - 5:18 of the Second Period

At 5:18 of the second period in the Blue Jackets/Coyotes game, the Toronto situation room initiated a review because Rick Nash's shot crossed the goal line. Video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck crossed the goal line prior to the net becoming dislodged. Good Goal Columbus.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 8:01 PM

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

Coyotes shake up struggling power play

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Looking to jump-start the League's worst power-play, the Coyotes make two tweaks to their starting lineup for tonight's game with Columbus.

Defenseman David Rundblad, who had collected six goals and 10 points in 15 games with the AHL's Portland Pirates, has been recalled and will replace Michael Stone in the Phoenix lineup. Rundblad, acquired from Ottawa in December in the Kyle Turris deal, has played only two games with the Coyotes, registering an assist in each game.

The Coyotes will also have Gilbert Brule back in the lineup for the first time since he took a hit to the head from Kyle Clifford of the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21. Brule has three goals -- one on the power play -- and seven points in the 17 games he played for Phoenix since being acquired on waivers from Edmonton on Jan. 10. Brule will replace enforcer Paul Bissonnette in the lineup.

The Coyotes have just 26 power-play goals this season in 196 chances (13.3 percent) and are the worst in the League at home, converting just 14 times in 106 chances (13.0 percent). They were 1-for-6 in Thursday's 4-2 home loss to Calgary and are 1-for-13 over the last four games.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 5:52 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Blues, Sharks savoring Saturday's test


SAN JOSE – It’s safe to say that the St. Louis Blues have had San Jose’s number this year.

The Blues are 3-0 against the Sharks entering the fourth and final game of the series Saturday night at HP Pavilion. They beat the Sharks 4-2 in San Jose when Davis Payne was still the coach, and they shut them out 1-0 and 3-0 in St. Louis under coach Ken Hitchcock.

The numbers don’t lie, but the Blues are approaching Saturday night’s game as if they were looking up at San Jose in the Western Conference standings rather than the other way around. Hitchcock said there’s zero chance of his team having a letdown on the final leg of its six-game road trip because of the “respect” it has for the Sharks.

“San Jose plays us tough,” Hitchcock said after the Blues’ morning skate at HP Pavilion. “They’re a hard team for us to play against. They’ve got weight, they’ve got size up front. They lean on you pretty hard. They get our attention all the time. In a lot of ways, I know they’re a difficult opponent, but our players really like playing against them because it really tests your competitiveness.

“I think both teams play with similar structure, we use similar terminology, we use a similar style of game. We measure ourselves. Any time it’s Vancouver, Detroit, San Jose or Chicago, we measure ourselves to see if we’re ready for the test, so any time we play these teams, those four teams, we get pretty excited.”

The Blues enter Saturday night’s game with 87 points and the fourth spot in the West – three places ahead of San Jose, which has gone 3-6-1 in its past 10 games and is coming off a 1-0 loss Thursday night to Buffalo. St. Louis is 4-1 on its road trip, but suffered a 2-0 loss Thursday at Vancouver.

The Sharks see Saturday night’s game against St. Louis as a chance to prove they’re still one of the West’s elite teams, despite their recent slide.

“They’ve been the hottest team in the League since Hitch took over there,” Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said. “We need a game like that tonight to get us back on track, just a sound game against a real good team. It’s going to be a great test and we all know that. We got to pass that test. If we can create some chances and prove to ourselves that we are a dominant team, too. Especially if we get power-play opportunites – they’ve had our number in that area. We got to get that going tonight if we get those opportunities.”

During their 3-0 loss on Feb. 12 at St. Louis, the Sharks went 0-for-4 on the power play while the Blues scored a pair of power-play goals. The Blues killed all six penalties during their 1-0 win against San Jose on Dec. 10. The Blues PK units come into the game on a hot streak. St. Louis has killed 24 straight penalties during a span of nine-plus games.

Jaroslav Halak was in goal for the Blues during that Feb. 12 shutout, and he’ll be in goal Saturday night against San Jose and goaltender Antti Niemi. Halak has six shutouts this season to go with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. Niemi (2.43, .914) has five shutouts and allowed just one goal in his past two games, snapping out of a slump.

In other words, goals should be scarce, as they usually are when St. Louis plays. The Blues lead the NHL in goals-against per game (1.91) shots-against per game (26.2) and shutouts (12). St. Louis will face a Sharks team that has scored just 15 goals in its past eight games and just one in its past two games.

“They’re a tough team to play,” Sharks forward Logan Couture said. “They come hard on the forecheck. Great defensive team, haven’t given up very many goals all year. To beat them you have to play one of the best games that we’ve played all year and step up tonight.”

Former Shark Scott Nichol, now a fourth-line center for St. Louis, said the Blues are “really buying into” Hitchcock’s defense-first system.

“We all just kind of stick together, playing a hard game, a heavy game,” Nichol said. “It’s been working out for us.”

Hitchcock said he expects to see the Sharks at their best, especially on a Saturday night at HP Pavilion.

“Teams that have been there before, they know when the light’s at the end of the tunnel,” Hitchcock said. “They’ll be there at the end. They’ll play at a high level. It’s hard for teams that keep going back to the same well year in and year out. The players know when to crank it up. There’s a month left in the season, I’m sure they’re going to crank it up and go to another level. That’s why we want to test ourselves. We think they’re going to play at that level now, and we want to test ourselves.”

Here’s how the lineups could look Saturday night:

SHARKS

Ryane CloweJoe ThorntonLogan Couture

Daniel WinnikPatrick MarleauJoe Pavelski

TJ GaliardiDominic MooreTorrey Mitchell

Brad WinchesterMichal HandzusJim Vandermeer


Marc-Edouard VlasicDan Boyle

Brent BurnsDouglas Murray

Jason DemersColin White


Sharks coach Todd McLellan will miss his third straight game after suffering a concussion Sunday at Minnesota when he was hit by a stick, the team announced. Assistants Jay Woodcroft and Matt Shaw will fill in behind the bench. The Sharks had an optional skate Saturday morning, so there were no line rushes, and  Woodcroft said the lines had yet to be set. Couture is expected to return to the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury, and Murray might be back after missing eight games since being hit in the throat with a puck.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 5:43 PM

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

Ex-mates pepper Hodgson with good-natured barbs

Cody Hodgson may receive a warm welcome back to Vancouver from the fans that quickly warmed to him during this Rookie of the Year candidate season. His ex-Canucks teammates weren’t so kind.

With all the hype on Hodgson and Zack Kassian playing their former teams just five days after the promising former first-round picks were swapped for each other as part of a four-player deal at the NHL Trade Deadline, the best material after the morning skate came from the rest of the Canucks, who were having a good time with Hodgson’s quick return as a Buffalo Sabre – not to mention his large head and fashion sense.

“Slow feet, big head,” joked defenseman Kevin Bieksa when asked if he had a scouting report on facing Hodgson. “No, he’s a good player. … I feel we put a lot of time into him this year and he’s in a lot better place now than he was at the beginning of the year. He’s dressing a lot better now.”

Vancouver goaltender Roberto Loungo was asked about facing Ryan Miller at Rogers Arena for the first time since the 2010 Olympic gold-medal game.

“I’m a bit more worried about their superstar, Cody,” Luongo said, before delivering his own scouting report in a perfect deadpan. “He’s got a huge head. Apart from that, he’s very skilled, good vision, quick release.”

Hodgson was able to laugh off jokes he probably knew were coming.

“They like to make fun of me for that,” Hodgson, who is known for his smarts on the ice, said of his head size. “Hopefully I put it to good use tonight.”

As for Kassian, he admitted there is extra motivation playing the Sabres.

“Definitely I feel I have something to prove to the Sabres and to Vancouver,” he said. “As a young player in this League you have to make a name for yourself and being traded away from Buffalo I want to play well and show them what I could have been and I want to show Vancouver they didn’t make a mistake.”

That includes being physical – even against ex-teammates and good friends – something Kassian said he wouldn’t hesitate to do Saturday night.

“Once the game is over you go back to being friends,” he said.

The same goes for Hodgson’s ex-teammates.

“Once the puck drops there’s no friends out there,” Bieksa said. “I don’t know if you’ll see a couple guys take a run at Cody or not, but it will be all in good fun.”

It may just hurt a little more than the jokes about head size and shirt choice.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 5:43 PM

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

Chicago's Toews ruled out for at least two more games

DETROIT -- There seemed to be a slim glimmer of hope from Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Thursday regarding injured star Jonathan Toews, who's out with an upper-body injury that's believed to be a concussion.

Quenneville replied, "hopeful," earlier in the week when asked then whether Toews might join the Hawks at some point during their current three-game road trip -- which began Friday night in Ottawa with a big win and continues Sunday in Detroit before concluding Tuesday night in St. Louis.

Jonathan Toews
Center - CHI
GOALS: 29 | ASST: 28 | PTS: 57
SOG: 185 | +/-: 17
On Saturday in Detroit, Quenneville said Toews will not make it on the trip at all, which means he'll miss at least two more games -- Sunday against the Red Wings and Tuesday against the Blues -- before his status is re-evaluated for Friday's home game against the New York Rangers.

"No change," Quenneville said of Toews' day-to-day status. "Still progressing, but no change. He's not going to be on the trip."

Quenneville was also asked if he's concerned the Toews' injury might become more long-term.

"We're saying day-to-day and we're seeing progress," Quenneville said.  "So, we're kind of optimistic on the bright side that he's going to be back."

Also out for Sunday's game with what's believed to be concussion-related issues is defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who participated in Saturday's practice.

Hjalmarsson appears to be close to returning to action, after missing seven games and possibly returning too quickly.

Sunday's game will be the fifth he's missed in a row and 12th in the past 13 games, so getting his conditioning back up might be one of the last hurdles to clear.

"He's had a couple conditioning skates here and he's really progressing," Quenneville said. "He's real close."

Hjalmarsson is a possibility to suit up on Tuesday in St. Louis, but he's remains day-to-day in the eyes of the Hawks.
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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic