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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 3:46 PM

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

Sutter gets game-day experience with Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It was a different game-day experience on multiple levels for Darryl Sutter on Thursday morning.

Besides being with a new team, Sutter wasn't quite used to having the morning skate at one venue and then playing a home game at another.

"I'm almost feeling today like we're on the road again," Sutter said.

Sutter otherwise was ready for his debut as coach of the Los Angeles Kings, who play the rival Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center.

Among Sutter's points of emphasis is improving the Kings' 8-9-1 record at home, and he expects energy at the puck drop in front of an expected sellout crowd.

"I think we're ready to go," Sutter said. "If you look at our season, we've struggled at home, right? We need to get out of the gate and get all our lines and all our defensemen playing well at the start. That's what I want to see."

Players almost view this first game as an audition for Sutter, and they obviously want to make a good impression.

"Everyone wants to kind of show him the kind of things they can do and maybe where they want to be in the lineup," defenseman Drew Doughty said.

"I think we'll have a lot of energy tonight. It's going to be a lot of fun playing behind a new coach and to finally be at home against the Ducks, it will be a lot more intense game than usual."

Sutter wasn't worried about them possibly being too amped up.

"I think we've been through that," he said. "You've got to harness it a little bit. I think, at the same time, if we can go with that group of lines that we've been using, I think we have enough veteran presence on each line that we can handle it."

Richards returns: Mike Richards was activated off injured reserve and will return to the lineup for the first time since he suffered a head injury on Dec. 1.

"I'm excited to play again," Richards said. "It's frustrating, I think, sitting in the dressing room and not being able to do anything to help. I'm looking forward to playing tonight."

Sutter has pointed to the absence of Richards for a large portion of the Kings' offensive struggles.

Despite missing eight games, Richards is their leading goal-scorer with 11. Two of those have come shorthanded.
The Kings are 2-6-0 without Richards and 13-8-4 with him.

Said Doughty, "We miss him at both ends of the ice."

Los Angeles does not have to send someone down to make room for Richards because the holiday roster freeze allows 24 players on the roster.

New lineup:
Sutter changed the lines significantly by putting Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis in top-six forward roles.

Richardson is with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown on the top line while Lewis is with Richards and Simon Gagne on the second line.

With many of their top players failing to produce, Sutter is looking for consistency with the veterans and contributions from younger ones.

"I know the veterans," Sutter said. "I know they're going to come around … the younger players have struggled to score, too. You give them the opportunity. Why not? That's what your background is. Put them together, maybe it rubs off one way or the other. I think if you look at our schedule, it's pretty busy. You're not going to rely on just one or two lines. We're going to have to count on everybody."

Sutter-Boudreau connection:
Sutter played with Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau on the AHL's New Brunswick Hawks (which also had Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson) in 1978-79 and in Chicago during Boudreau's brief stint with the Blackhawks. Sutter also played with Ducks general manager Bob Murray in Chicago.

"I got to believe they'll play their best game of the year," Boudreau told the Orange County Register. "When they get a new coach, especially one with the reputation of being a tough taskmaster and an intimidator like Darryl is, they'll put their best foot forward."
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 3:44 PM

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

Projected lineups for Kings, Ducks

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Here are the potential lineups for when the Los Angeles Kings host the Anaheim Ducks tonight at Staples Center in Darryl Sutter's debut behind the LA bench:


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

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

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

Niklas Hagman - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Bobby Ryan - Teemu Selanne
Matt Beleskey - Nick Bonino - Kyle Palmieri
Andrew Gordon - Rod Pelley - George Parros

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Toni Lydman - Lubomir Visnovsky
Luca Sbisa - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Dan Ellis

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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 2:48 PM

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

Sunny days are here again

PHILADELPHIA -- Workers in T-shirts moving panels and hammering things into place was a common sight here at Citizens Bank Park today.

It's not your usual December Wednesday in the Northeast, but after two straight days of irritating drizzle and dreary skies, seeing some sun was a good thing.

Rather than bundling up, the folks on the work crew needed a bit of suntan lotion this morning.

"This is probably the best weather we could have for a set-up," NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig told NHL.com. "Can't ask for better than this. … Today it's a lot brighter. You get a suntan coming off these panels."

The sun also allowed other work adjacent to the rink to get sped up. Three stages have been built in the outfield, and the broadcast platform is taking shape. The hope is those get locked in, because Craig hopes to run his coolant hoses and pipes down to the ice trays today. Once those go in, it limits where the forklifts can go.

"Once we lay hoses down, we can't have any more forklifts coming back and for through this area, so we want to make sure they're all buttoned up on the staging platforms," Craig said. "Once we load (the hoses) up, everybody has to drive all the way around the field."

Craig said he hopes to have his hoses in place later today and start clearing the air out of them and the ice panels. Once that's done -- a process that could take up to 12 hours -- he'll be able to run the refrigerant that will freeze the panels. After that will come the first water spray and the beginning of actual ice being made -- Mother Nature willing, of course.

"I'm hoping to do tomorrow morning as a test," Craig said. "It looks like we're supposed to get a lot of rain tonight so that may slow us down again. But we just do what we do any other day -- we wake up, and whatever we have (weather-wise), that's what we work with."

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

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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 2:23 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Red Wings starting Conklin against Flames

CALGARY -- Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard will get a rare night off as the Red Wings try to tackle the Flames in Calgary tonight.

In his place, Ty Conklin will draw into the crease for just his fifth start and sixth appearance this season.

"Jimmy's been playing so well, too, and it'll be nice to get in there and get some action," Conklin said.

Keeping focused while waiting for an opportunity to get back between the pipes has been the mandate in practice for Conklin, who hasn't played since a Dec. 4 loss against Colorado.

"Just trying to stay sharp in practice," he said. "When you don't get in there that often you want to make sure you take advantages of the opportunities you do get. It's always difficult. It's been my role for most of my career. That's just the way it is."

Outside of Conklin's start, the Red Wings are expected to ice a similar roster that dropped a 4-2 decision to the Vancouver Canucks last night.


Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Danny Cleary - Darren Helm - Drew Miller
Cory Emmerton - Justin Abdelkader - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Ty Conklin
Jimmy Howard
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 2:06 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Canadiens looking to snap four-game skid

WINNIPEG -- The Montreal Canadiens arrived in Winnipeg a reeling club as they prepare to meet the Jets.

Lugging a four-game losing streak and a controversial coaching change, the Canadiens (13-15-7) have slipped to 12th place in the Eastern Conference and are in the midst of a six-game road trip. The last time the Canadiens were in Winnipeg was in October for the Jets' season-opener at the MTS Centre. That afternoon, the Canadiens spoiled the event for Jets fans in handing Winnipeg a 5-1 defeat.

After a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, new interim coach Randy Cunneyworth is 0-3 behind the Montreal bench since taking over for Jacques Martin.

Injury woes also plague the Canadiens. The Canadiens had 236 man-games lost in the 2010-11 season, but already have lost 179 man-games just 35 games into this season. Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez are both out with lower-body injuries, and defenseman Andrei Markov (knee) has yet to play this season.

Carey Price will start for the Canadiens. Price made 31 saves against the Jets in the game on Oct. 9.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Montreal:

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

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Hal Gill - Raphael Diaz
Tomas Kaberle - Chris Campoli

Carey Price
Peter Budaj
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 1:42 PM

By Dennis Ryan -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Leafs, Sabres have battled injuries, inconsistency

TORONTO -- Tonight's Battle of the QEW features a pair of faltering squads hovering around the playoff bubble. Both the Sabres and the Maple Leafs sport 3-5-2 records in their last 10 games, and have nearly identical records on the season -- the Leafs are currently tied for seventh in the Eastern Conference with 36 points, one point up on the Sabres, who are tied for ninth. Ryan Miller and James Reimer will be between the pipes.

Injury problems have plagued both teams; Buffalo currently has seven players on IR, and forwards Tyler Ennis (ankle) and Jochen Hecht (lower body) are questionable for tonight. On the plus side, forward Patrick Kaleta is expected to return to action after missing a month with a groin injury.

With the Leafs placing forwards Colby Armstrong (concussion) and Philippe Dupuis (upper body) on IR Tuesday, highly-touted prospect Nazem Kadri was among the call-ups from the Toronto Marlies. The seventh pick in the 2009 draft has failed to make a strong impression with the Leafs, producing just 13 points in 33 career games (1 assist in three games this season), but his play in the minors this season has drawn raves. The AHL's player of the month for November will get a chance, starting tonight, to earn a permanent spot on the big club. Kadri will skate on a line with Tim Connolly and Clarke MacArthur.

Also of note for Toronto, rookie defenseman Jake Gardiner is expected to be scratched in favor of Keith Aulie. Gardiner has been impressive this season, but has struggled recently. In the last three games he has a minus-5 rating and has seen his ice-time steadily reduced, down to just 16:39 in Monday's loss to the Kings. 

Here are tonight's projected lineups.

Thomas Vanek - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Luke Adam - Paul Gaustad - Patrick Kaleta
Derek WhitmorePaul Szczechura - Drew Stafford
Cody McCormick - Matt Ellis - Zack Kassian

Robyn Regehr - Andrej Sekera
Christian Ehrhoff - Brayden McNabb 
Jordan Leopold - Mike Weber

Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth

Scratches: C Jochen Hecht, LW Tyler Ennis, D Marc-Andre Gragnani

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Tim Connolly - Nazem Kadri
Matt Frattin - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Darryl Boyce - David Steckel - Joey Crabb

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
Keith Aulie - Luke Schenn
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson

Scratches: D Jake Gardiner, RW Colton Orr, LW Jay Rosehill

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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 1:36 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flames surprised to be without Tanguay

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames will be without winger Alex Tanguay tonight against the Detroit Red Wings, much to the surprise of coach Brent Sutter.

"I can't even pinpoint anything on it," said Sutter, who ruled out illness as the cause of Tanguay's absence. "I will say I was somewhat surprised after the game (against Minnesota). He's played some of his best hockey here in the last four games that he's played all year for us. I was quite surprised to see that he was out on a day-to-day basis."

The Flames have recalled Greg Nemisz from the Abbotsford Heat, who will skate with Roman Horak and Paul Byron. All three have spent time in the American Hockey League this season.

Tonight's game marks the second time Nemisz has been recalled in a span of two weeks. In his season debut, Nemisz was held pointless while playing 6:26. He hopes to show Sutter marked improvement.

"They just told me to go out and be myself and play hockey and not worry about systems too much," Nemisz said. "I feel like last game I was a little clouded and I didn't move fast enough. Tonight I'm just going to go play hockey and lay it all on the line."

Sutter was willing to cut Nemisz some slack on his earlier performance this season.

"In fairness to him that was a tough situation," Sutter said. "He had a 6 o'clock in the morning flight and it was a tough day of travel. He played the night before. It was three games in three days. It was a tough situation. No, he didn't have one of his better games or a game we'd like to see him play, but he gets that opportunity again now in a whole different set-up going into it. Hopefully it'll help him out and he can respond the right way."

Nemisz expects to take full advantage of his second opportunity, which will mark just his eighth career NHL game.

"It's good to get a second chance here," he said. "I just have to play my game with a little more energy than I did last time."

Calgary's projected lineup for tonight's game:

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

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

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 1:34 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Jets look for solid 60-minute effort vs. Habs

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets' home-heavy December slate continues tonight at the MTS Centre when the Montreal Canadiens visit.

The Jets, 6-2-1 this month, will play for the 10th time at home over their past 11 games tonight in the first of back-to-back home dates this week. Though the Jets have beaten the likes of the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild at home this month, they also dropped a 3-2 shootout decision on Tuesday night to a New York Islanders club that ranked 14th in the Eastern Conference entering the game.

"We're going to have to play a solid 60-minute game," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "We're going to have to get to [Montreal starting goaltender Carey] Price. We're going to have to get way more traffic at the net. We're going to have to get more shots through to the net."

The Jets will again go without first-line center Bryan Little, who will miss his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury.

Ondrej Pavelec will again start in net for Winnipeg, his 29th start of the season.

"Energy's going to be a huge part of the game tonight," Pavelec said. "We have to play right away and all 60 minutes. It's going to be about us. How are we going to show up, and how are we going to play?"

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:


Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Antti Miettinen
Chris Thorburn - Tim Stapleton - Eric Fehr

Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Dustin Byfuglien - Tobias Enstrom
Ron Hainsey - Johnny Oduya

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 12:19 PM

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

Jaden Schwartz named captain of Team Canada

St. Louis Blues prospect Jaden Schwartz on Thursday was named captain of the Canadian National Junior Team for the upcoming 2012 World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta.

Defenseman Brandon Gormley and forwards Brett Connolly, Quinton Howden and Devante Smith-Pelly were named the team's alternate captains. Schwartz, Connolly and Howden are the only three returning skaters from last year's silver medal-winning Canadian team in Buffalo, N.Y.

Goalie Mark Visentin is also a returnee.

Schwartz had a goal and 2 assists while playing key minutes alongside center Brayden Schenn and Louis Leblanc in the first two games of the WJC last year, but it ended suddenly when he suffered a broken left ankle in a 7-2 victory against the Czech Republic just two games into Team Canada's preliminary-round schedule.

"I've been waiting for this ever since that tournament ended," Schwartz told NHL.com. "I'm excited to be here. Sometimes you don't know how lucky you are, and if you get another opportunity to play for your country, you want to make the best of it and leave everything out there because you don't know how many chances you're going to get."
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 12:12 PM

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

Projected lineups for Senators, Panthers

KANATA, Ont. -- Here are the projected lines for Thursday night’s game between the Florida Panthers and the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place:

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

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

Craig Anderson
Alex Auld

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Tomas Kopecky - Shawn Matthias - Matt Bradley
Michal Repik - Tim Kennedy - Evgenii Dadonov
Bill Thomas - Mike Santorelli - Krystofer Barch

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

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen

Florida recalled Repik and Dadonov from San Antonio on Wednesday to replace Mikael Samuelsson (upper body) and Marco Sturm (leg), who did not make the flight for Thursday's game.
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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