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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 5:20 PM

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

Projected lineups for Rangers, Flyers

NEW YORK -- The Rangers won't mess with success. They also have little choice with all the injuries they're facing of late.

John Tortorella said he will ice the same team he used in the Rangers' 4-2 win against the Islanders on Thursday for Friday night's game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden. The only change will be in net, as Henrik Lundqvist will make the start after Biron picked up the win Thursday.

Personnel won't change, but there might be some shuffling of the lines. Tortorella was asked about the performance of the Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan line against the Islanders on Thursday and wasn't pulling punches.

"Not too much," Tortorella said when asked what the thought of the line. "They didn't accomplish a whole hell of a lot."

That could be a sign that Brandon Dubinsky, who scored his second goal of the season, will be elevated to that line in place of Hagelin. Defenseman Jeff Woywitka (foot) is out, but Tortorella wouldn't say if the injury was long-term or short-term.

There's some guesswork, but this is likely the lineup the Rangers will send out against the Flyers:

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

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Tim Erixon - Stu Bickell

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

The Flyers, meanwhile, will be without Danny Briere against the Rangers. Again, the Flyers didn't reveal their lines at Friday morning's practice, but they could look this way:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
James van Riemsdyk - Matt Read - Wayne Simmonds
Tom Sestito - Maxime Talbot - Jakub Voracek
Jody Shelley - Harry Zolnierczyk - Zac Rinaldo

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

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 5:00 PM

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

Quick likely to start as Sutter faces old team

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks are coming off a 7-2 win Wednesday over Tampa Bay. They jumped to a 5-0 first-period lead, scoring the five fastest goals in team history. But the last time they faced Los Angeles, the Kings and goaltender Jonathan Quick shut them out 2-0. Quick stopped all 33 shots he faced.

After the Kings' optional skate at HP Pavilion, new coach Darryl Sutter said he never reveals his starting goaltender before game time. But backup Jonathan Bernier was on the ice for nearly an hour, and Quick, who was in goal Thursday night in the Kings' 3-2 shootout win over Anaheim, didn't skate. It's likely that Quick was resting up for another start.

Sutter coached the Sharks four-plus seasons before being fired 24 games into the 2002-03 season by former San Jose and current Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi. Only one current Sharks player -- Patrick Marleau -- played in San Jose for Sutter, who was hired later that season as Calgary's coach. Sutter said that after being gone for so long, returning to San Jose this time doesn't feel like a homecoming.

"I think I've been here enough, been through enough with San Jose -- the Flames, the playoffs, all those things," Sutter said. "It's a long time, but it's still good being back and seeing people outside the game. That's still the best part."

Former Shark Owen Nolan dropped by HP Pavilion on Friday morning to visit Sutter.

This is Sutter's second time taking over a team during a season.

"The toughest part is because you are new to the group," Sutter said. "You only know a handful of guys. The only advantage you have is if you have some experience with it and some experience with the League. You might not know them personally, but you know pretty much what type of players they are. So you try and get something happening right away.

"This is a different situation than the last time I did it. I was going to a team that was basically out of it. They were in a total restart. We're trying to do it a little bit quicker and you believe that it is a good group, so you're trying to get them to believe it. You put in what you can to help them along the way."
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 4:58 PM

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

Havlat expected to miss 6-8 weeks after surgery

SAN JOSE -- Two days after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn tendon on his left hamstring, winger Martin Havlat came by the Sharks' dressing room at HP Pavilion. He was on crutches and had a large brace on his left leg. General manager Doug Wilson said a good "ballpark" estimate is that Havlat will miss 6-8 weeks. The Sharks initially feared he had a complete tear and could miss most, if not all of the season.

"After surgery better news than what we heard before, so hopefully it's going to be good," Havlat said. "I think everybody's pretty pleased with the results, with what they saw in there."

Havlat was injured Saturday against Edmonton while jumping over the boards at HP during a shift change. He said his skate got caught on the hard rubber protective padding on top of the new boards.

"They've got to change the boards here," Havlat said. "I'm just kidding. It just got stuck there a little bit. Then I put all my weight, when I was going down, on my leg, and my ankle twisted a little bit. … It is disappointing. I was trying to get my game back, and I was a little better the last couple games, but unfortunately this is what happened, and I'll have to deal with that."

Havlat, who came to San Jose from Minnesota in an offseason trade for Dany Heatley, has recovered from numerous shoulder injuries and surgeries before, but he said this is the first major leg injury he has suffered during his career.

"This is just another hurdle I have to jump over," he said. "I just have to do everything I can to get back as quick as I can."

Joe Pavelski was back on the ice Friday morning after missing practice Thursday because of the flu. He said he felt "a little bit" better. "Game time comes around, no one cares how you feel," Pavelski added.
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 4:54 PM

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

Sharks recall Niittymaki off conditioning assignment

SAN JOSE -- Antero Niittymaki was recalled Friday from Worcester of the AHL after his three-game conditioning assignment, giving the Sharks three goaltenders on their active roster.

Niittymaki joins No. 1 goaltender Antti Niemi and Thomas Greiss, who has been the backup this season while Niittymaki recovered from offseason hip surgery.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said the team's immediate plan is to have Niemi start Friday night against Los Angeles with Greiss as his backup in the team's final game before its two-day Christmas break.

"After Christmas we'll have to sit down as an organization and determine which direction we're going," McLellan said. "Our schedule is not going to be friendly January through April, and we will need two, maybe three goaltenders at that point. It's a luxury to have right now, that depth at that position, and we'll manage it as we move forward."

Trading Niittymaki or Greiss is one obvious option if the Sharks decide they can't afford the luxury of carrying three goaltenders.

Niittymaki went 1-2 with a 3.38 goals against average and an .878 save percentage with Worcester. More importantly, his hip passed that physical test.

"I'm ready," Niittymaki said after the Sharks' optional morning skate. "I feel good. The hip feels good. A couple of those games were good tests. A lot of post-to-post stuff. Hip held up pretty good. That's why I went there, to see how it feels and get a couple games. I'm happy how it went."

Niittymaki signed with the Sharks as a free agent on July 1, 2010, and was expected to be their No. 1 goaltender last season. But they signed Niemi that September, and the two goaltenders shared the job early in the season. But after Niittymaki was sidelined by a lingering lower-body injury, Niemi grabbed the starting job and earned a four-year contract extension. Niittymaki is in the final year of his contract, while Greiss re-signed this season for two years after playing last season in the Swedish Elite League.

"It's a good problem to have, much like having eight defensemen," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said Wednesday, looking ahead to Niittymaki's return. "You can go from eight defensemen down to five pretty quickly, and you can go from three goalies down to one pretty quickly."
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 4:46 PM

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

Projected lineups for Sharks, Kings

Here’s how the lineups could look Friday night when the San Jose Sharks face the Los Angeles Kings at HP Pavilion:

SHARKS
Benn Ferriero - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Patrick Marleau
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Andrew Murray

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Brent Burns - Jason Demers
Justin Braun - Colin White

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

KINGS
Brad Richardson - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Simon Gagne - Mike Richards - Trevor Lewis
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Kevin Westgarth

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Jack Johnson - Matt Greene
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 4:38 PM

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

Sedin set to tie Canucks' ironman mark

VANCOUVER -- It's amazing the lengths Henrik Sedin will go to just to one-up brother Daniel.

The Canucks captain will match a franchise record by playing in his 534th consecutive game Friday night against Calgary, a more that seven-year streak that he happily points out to his identical twin.

"It's amazing nowadays with the physicality and the speed and all that stuff, that you could stay healthy for so long -- all just to show off how much tougher he is than his brother," said goaltender Roberto Luongo, joking about Henrik's ironman streak.

Henrik credits luck, preparation and being tougher than his younger-by-minutes sibling for a run of good health that dates back to March 21, 2004.

"Of course," he said with a laugh directed at Daniel. "But you've got to be lucky. You got to be prepared. In the summertime, you've got to prepare for a grind. I've been fortunate to not have the groin injuries or the hip flexors and stuff like that. So it's been good."

It's fitting he'll tie the Canucks' record against the Flames, and not just because Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is the only player with a longer active NHL streak (by eight games). Former Vancouver teammate Brendan Morrison, now playing for the Flames, set the Canucks' mark from March 16, 2000 through Dec. 10, 2007.

"He was a major part of that core group that (taught) us how to be professional and how to treat the ups and downs through the seasons," Henrik said. "He was always a smile on his face, it didn't matter if he hadn't played well for a few games, he was always positive and really loved the game. He's been a big part of our success that way."

That success includes back-to-back NHL scoring titles for the Sedins. But their durability often gets overlooked by critics. Shots from his brother aside, Daniel missed 18 games with a broken foot two seasons ago but has only missed three other games -- including one eight days ago because of back spasms -- since Henrik's streak started.

"When people talk about the twins not being tough I laugh, because these are two of the toughest guys I've ever played with," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "With the punishment they take, you rarely see them in the trainer's room. They couldn't be any closer to Canadian."

It was a sentiment echoed by Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, who has yet to fill out a roster card without Henrik.

"It takes incredible determination and will to be able not just play games, but play at the level he does every night," Vigneault said. "To put your body out there and play hard and efficient, and it takes a very extraordinary person and obviously a little bit of luck too. That's part of the equation, too, but I do believe you make your luck and Hank is a great example of a player that puts in a tremendous amount of time with his conditioning and preparation. … It says a lot about his mental toughness and his overall toughness."
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 4:28 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Lightning, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

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

Victor Hedman - Eric Brewer
Pavel Kubina - Brett Clark
Evan Oberg - Marc-Andre Bergeron

Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Roloson

Injuries: D Matt Gilroy (lower body), D Mattias Ohlund (both knees), RW Ryan Shannon (lower body) and C Nate Thompson (lower body) are out.

AVALANCHE
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Daniel Winnik
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Brad Malone - Jay McClement - TJ Galiardi
David Van Der Gulik - Kevin Porter - Cody McLeod

Jan Hejda - Shane O'Brien
Stefan Elliott - Erik Johnson
Matt Hunwick/Kyle Quincey - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

Injuries: RW David Jones (groin), RW Chuck Kobasew (head), LW Peter Mueller (head), C Mark Olver (head) and D Ryan Wilson (head) are out.
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:58 PM

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

Irving gets second start, Bourque back for Flames

Here's how the Calgary Flames' lineup could look tonight against the Vancouver Canucks:

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Blake Comeau - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Rene Bourque - Roman Horak - Paul Byron
Tim Jackman - Brendan Morrison - Tom Kostopoulos

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Derek Smith - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Leland Irving is expected to make just his second career NHL start while Miikka Kiprusoff gets a rare night off after playing three games in the last five days. Irving wasn't talking to reporters, another sign of his preparation to play.

The Flames held a sparsely attended, coach-free morning skate in Vancouver after a 3-2 win in Detroit the night before, so roster adjustments are somewhat uncertain, including the status of Alex Tanguay, who was a surprise scratch against the Red Wings.

There's no question, though, that they'll find a spot for Rene Bourque, who returns from a two-game suspension for his hit on Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook during a game Sunday.

Bourque, who could return on the third line despite being tied for second on the team with 11 goals this season, is trying not to change anything about his game.

"A little early vacation, but I'm ready," Bourque said. "It's only been a few games, so I am not really worried about losing a step. … I've moved on from it. Obviously it wasn't the cleanest hit, and I still feel bad about it, but what can I do now? I've just got to make sure it doesn't happen again and worry about getting myself ready to play tonight."

Especially against a Canucks team that has won five straight against Calgary, including two straight by 5-1 scores, and is 10-0-2 in the last 12 against the Flames.

"We have to believe before the puck drops we have a chance to win and we've just got to compete," Bourque said. "Everybody has to play with an edge and with emotion."

That shouldn't be a problem for Irving, who was drafted by the Flames with the 26th pick in Vancouver in 2006, and has played the last three seasons for their AHL affiliate down the road in suburban Abbotsford. Even his call-up is because regular backup Henrik Karlsson sprained his knee in a game in Vancouver Dec. 4. No wonder some teammates thought it was a homecoming for their 23-year-old rookie despite being born in Alberta.

"I'm sure he's pretty excited to be playing in his home province, and I think everyone knows how big the game is for him," forward Blake Comeau said of Irving, who played well before losing his first NHL start 3-2 in a shootout in Florida a week earlier.

"He never gives up on pucks," Bourque said. "He made a lot of big saves against Florida off second and third chances. He's really well-positioned in net and he's a competitor, he never gives up and plays hard in practice, and we have confidence in him."



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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:56 PM

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

Status of Edler, Ballard uncertain for Canucks

Here's how the Vancouver Canucks' lineup could look for tonight's game against the Calgary Flames:

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Mason Raymond - Ryan Kesler - Chris Higgins
Manny Malhotra - Cody Hodgson - Jannik Hansen
Dale Weise - Maxim Lapierre - Andrew Ebbett

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Andrew Alberts - Alexander Sulzer

Roberto Luongo, 7-0-1 in his six starts since coming back from injury, is in goal for a fourth-straight game, with Cory Schneider backing up.

The Canucks will start the same forward lineup that scored four times -- one from each of the first three lines and another shorthanded -- in a 4-2 win over Detroit on Wednesday, with Ebbett back on the fourth line again after missing the previous six weeks with a broken foot, and temporary fill in Mark Mancari sent back down to the AHL.

The uncertainty comes on the back end, where Edler, who scored the shorthander early in the third period but missed the end of that win over Detroit because of back spasms, said he was ready to return after taking the morning skate -- only to have coach Alain Vigneault declare him a game-time decision. Keith Ballard also skated after missing the last two games with back spasms, and while he declared himself a game-time decision, Vigneault said he was ready to return, but wouldn't say if he will.

"We've got a couple of decisions on our back end," Vigneault said. "Pleasantly surprised how Alex Edler came in today, skated this morning and felt all right. Once we know about Alex then we'll be better suited to tell you who will be in lineup and who won't be."

If Edler can't play, Ballard will take his spot in the top-4 alongside Sami Salo. If Edler plays, the top-four stays intact and the question is who comes out of the bottom pairing to make room for Ballard, who has struggled there with Alberts on the right side and played his best with Aaron Rome, who is out since breaking a thumb Saturday in Toronto.






 



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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:42 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

More than slush being done

PHILADELPHIA -- Workers spent the day installing a viewing stage around the rink, giving it a more elevated look. The entrance for the Zamboni was finished -- the doors were installed and the ramp for its path onto the ice was built. The platforms for the NBC and CBC broadcast crew were finished in short center field. And just now, the player benches were brought out and sent into place.

And since this is a Flyers-Rangers game, maybe one of the most important aspects of the rink was built -- the penalty boxes.

If all goes to plan, the next addition to the rink will be water, and when everyone returns from the holiday weekend, we might see some ice on the rink.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK




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Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley