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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 7:47 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Keenan talks current state of the Rangers

LAS VEGAS -- Ex-Rangers coach Mike Keenan envisions his old team as being a tough out come playoff time because they're built to withstand the rigors of a physical series.

"That's the way they're built," Keenan told NHL.com Wednesday from the Las Vegas Ice Center, where he was scouting players he will wind up coaching at Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Hockey Camp. "You can't be running out, waving a flag and declaring that this is a dynasty. But, their work ethic, goaltending and their team defensive posture has done it for them."

Keenan, who is a part-time analyst for Rangers' broadcasts on the MSG Network, isn't ready to plan the victory parade down the Canyon of Heroes just yet, but he appreciates the team philosophy and dynamic coach John Tortorella has crafted in New York.

"Early in the season, at least by November, I picked up the fact that they were one of the hardest working teams in the League and hard to play against," Keenan said. "John has them playing a defensive style and a physical style. They are a competitive group. They work well together. They have defensive posture and are willing to sacrifice for each other. And, they play a real demanding, physical style based on the players they have."

The last part is important to note because with the trade deadline quickly approaching (3 p.m. ET on Feb. 27), Keenan is wondering what, if anything, the Rangers will do? He noted that they're not among the top teams in scoring this season (13th entering play Wednesday) and that both Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Boyle are having down years offensively based on what they did a season ago.

Dubinsky had 24 goals last season, but only six so far this season. Boyle had 21 goals last season, but only four so far this season.

Keenan said the key is for teams such as the Rangers, who are in first place in the Eastern Conference, to not be afraid to pull the trigger on a deal.

"The New York Rangers were in first place at the trading deadline in 1994 and we made very significant trades to improve the team," Keenan said. "People said, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'Well, through my experience, I have already been to the Cup Final three times and have a pretty good handle on what the ingredients are for success in the playoffs.' There is an ingredient that you know and understand that you need. John Tortorella and Glen Sather both won the Cup so they know what the ingredients are. If they can find that ingredient that they don't have, then they should do that."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 7:41 PM

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

Henrik Sedin in walking boot, sits out practice

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault split identical twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin for parts of the last three games, a rare move designed to spark both the brothers and the team. Vigneault may not have that option Thursday night against the Wild in Minnesota.

Henrik Sedin
Center - VAN
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 46 | PTS: 57
SOG: 76 | +/-: 16
Captain Henrik Sedin missed practice Wednesday and was scheduled to have a CT scan after taking a slap shot off the outside of his right ankle early during Tuesday's 4-3 shootout win in Nashville. Multiple media reports said Sedin was seen limping around in a large walking boot at the team's hotel in St. Paul.

"They did an x-ray and couldn't tell from the x-ray and he was just obviously in a lot of pain so just doing a follow up," Vigneault told reporters after practice Wednesday.

Sedin dropped to the ice after blocking the shot and could barely skate off on his own -- but was back after a few minutes in the locker room and had two assists later in the period. Despite not having any extra forwards, they had not called up anyone from their Chicago of the American Hockey League as of yet.

Henrik leads the League with 46 assists and is fifth in NHL scoring with 57 points. He is also second to only Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester with an ironman streak of 552 consecutive games played and hasn't missed a game in more than six seasons.

"It just shows how effective and durable and demanding Hank is on himself and hopefully the streak will continue tomorrow," Vigneault said.

The last time one of the Sedin twins missed an extended period was two seasons ago, when Daniel's left foot was broken by a teammate's shot early in the season. Henrik responded by stepping out of his comfort zone as a pass-first setup center, scoring 10 goals in the 18 games his brother missed en route to an NHL-leading 112 points and the Hart Trophy as League MVP.

Vancouver forward Dale Weise was also having a CT scan Wednesday after blocking a shot and needing stiches the night before, and the Canucks were already missing top-six winger Chris Higgins, who is struggling with the draining effects of medication to help with recurring staph infections.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 5:48 PM

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

Flames' Kiprusoff goes for 300th win

SAN JOSE - As a team fighting for its playoff life, the Calgary Flames will have plenty of motivation Wednesday night against the San Jose Sharks. But the Flames should have an extra boost with goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff going for his 300th career victory -- against his former team.

The Sharks took Kiprusoff with the 116th pick in the 1995 NHL Draft. But with an overload of talent in goal, they traded him to Calgary in November 2003 for a 2005 second-rounder they used to draft defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

"It would be huge," said Calgary defenseman Scott Hannan, a former Shark. "He's a great goalie. Everybody knows what he's done for the franchise and how special a player this year he's been for us. He's been huge in every game that we've needed him to be in. He gives us a chance every night, which is more than you can ask of a goalie. To get him a win here would be great."

Kiprusoff has a career record of 299-194-62 with a 2.45 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. This year he's 23-17-4 with a 2.29 GAA and a .920 save percentage.

"He's a hell of a goaltender," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said after his team's optional skate Wednesday morning at HP Pavilion. "Fans, not only in San Jose early in his career, but obviously in Calgary for most of it, appreciate his talent and what he brings to the rink every night. I think it's probably fair to say when their players walk into the locker room in Calgary and see his number or name circled, they get a pretty good feeling. And that's a true sign of a goaltender that can carry a team, and he's been that for many years there."

Kiprusoff is 13-12-3 against the Sharks overall, but he's 0-1-1 this season despite playing well both games. The Sharks beat Kiprusoff and the Flames 2-1 in a shootout at HP Pavilion then 1-0 at Calgary.

San Jose's Antti Niemi, a fellow Finn, got both wins, improving to 8-1-0 lifetime against Calgary. Niemi said facing a countryman always gives him an extra dose of motivation.

"Playing Finnish guys, just the veteran goalies who have been in the League for a long time who you remember from a long, long time ago," Niemi said. "So of course you get a little extra energy playing against those guys.''

Based on the past two games, goals should be at a premium Wednesday night. What's more, the Flames have allowed a total of 12 goals over their past seven games as they've turned up the defensive pressure.

"We're certainly playing better defensively that we were earlier," coach Brent Sutter said. "I think it's just more consistent now. It's a commitment that you have to have from every individual inside your dressing room. I understand that guys in the room, or any dressing room, are goal scorers, but when you get into the final third of the season everybody's got to be committed to doing it the right way, back checking like they can and making sure they're doing it the right way in their own zone. You want to have the puck. You've got to be able to play with the puck to win games, and you've got to be able to get it back from your opposition. The only way that happens is by playing a good team game."

Flames forward Blair Jones said the improved defense is "just kind of in direct relation to where we are in the standings and the time" in the season. "It's time to tighten up and start playing good hockey every game. There's no excuses for the next 28, 29 games we have left. It's got to be the same way every night. Just try to pay attention to details and bring a good defensive effort every game."

Sharks forward Ryane Clowe expects another hard-fought, low-scoring game.

"I think if we can get three goals, we've got a good chance. I think we can hold them under three goals," Clowe said. "Lately all their games have been pretty low scoring -- 2-1, 2-0, that sort of game. So if we can put three on the board, I like our chances."

With 55 points, the Flames are in 12th place in the Western Conference standings, but they're just three points behind Minnesota and Phoenix, who are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot. Just as a reminder of how tight the race is and how important each game is, the conference standings were posted in Flames' dressing room at HP on a grease board.

"It's a learning curve from the start of the season until now," Hannan said. "At times in games when we've lost it's been that little mental break. That's just something to reaffirm in our minds how important every shift is, how important every play is in the game. You never know what's going to break the other team or in essence break you in that game. I think that's just a reminder of how important that is."

The Flames won't have defenseman Derek Smith against San Jose - he's still recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered Dec. 29 against the Islanders - but Calgary locked him up for the next two seasons Wednesday with a new deal worth $1.5 million.

Smith initially signed this season with the Flames as a free agent after playing nine games with Ottawa and 71 games with Binghamton of the AHL last season.

"He's a 27-year-old player that came to training camp wanting an opportunity, and he earned that throughout camp," Sutter said. "He came in and did everything we wanted from him. He just has grown. You look at it, when he got hurt he was arguably our best defenseman at that point in time. We've missed him, but it's good both from an organizational standpoint and his standpoint that they can get something worked out. It's a commitment made by both sides and it's great to see that Smitty can be a Calgary Flame for the next two years and not worry about losing him because he is an important part of our defense."

Smith, who did not travel with the team on its road trip, has two goals and eight assists in 32 games this season.

"Derek came to training camp this year on a two-way contract and played his way into our starting lineup," GM Jay Feaster said in a statement. "When Mark Giordano went down with his hamstring injury, Smitty stepped up and shouldered an increased workload and did so in excellent fashion."

Here's how the lineups could look Wednesday night when the San Jose Sharks face the Calgary Flames at HP Pavilion:

SHARKS

Benn Ferriero - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Ryane Clowe

Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell

Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - John McCarthy

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle

Douglas Murray - Brent Burns

Colin White - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi

Thomas Greiss

FLAMES

Alex Tanguay - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla

Michael Cammalleri - Blair Jones - Blake Comeau

Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Krys Kolanos

Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler

Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan

T.J. Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff

Leland Irving

Joe Pavelski will play his 400th NHL game Wednesday night, all as a Shark. McLellan hinted that he was going to shuffle his lines. Andrew Desjardins will likely move from first-line winger to fourth-line center, where he's spent most of the season. Benn Ferriero will likely return to the top line. One day after announcing his retirement, Owen Nolan will drop the puck during a pre-game ceremony. Nolan played for both San Jose and Calgary during his 18 NHL seasons.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 5:17 PM

By Jeremy Roenick -  NHL Network Contributor /NHL.com - World According to JR

Roenick: Birthday wishes to an elite young scorer

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick pens a weekly blog for NHL.com. "World According to JR" appears every Wednesday and includes Roenick's sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League.

Wishing happy birthday to a young superstar in Tampa and hoping that the officials in the NHL can receive some help in the future to make one of the judgment calls there is to make in the game. Read on to find out who and what I'm talking about:

What's clicking?

Steven Stamkos is just lighting it up this season and he's probably going to be the only 50-goal scorer in the NHL. He should get to that 50-goal mark and regain the Rocket Richard Trophy.

It couldn't go to a better guy.

Steven Stamkos
Center - TBL
GOALS: 35 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 58
SOG: 184 | +/-: 5
It was Stamkos' 22nd birthday on Tuesday and we saw players on his team chasing him around, trying to stuff one of those shaving cream pies in his face. You can tell how much these guys love to be with Stamkos.

Everybody around the League should sit down in front of a television set to watch him play. Just watch his demeanor, how he conducts himself, how he treats others -- he's truly a treat to be around and he's one of the great ambassadors for the NHL.

He's also one of the most dynamic players in the League and one of the most talented goal scorers we've seen in a long time. When you put a guy like that with Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, you're going to have something special.

It's great to see that as of late the Lightning have been winning some games and trying to get back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. They work so hard, but unfortunately the team's defensive liabilities take away from the offensive ability it has, an offensive ability that Stamkos leads the way on.

So, this is a happy birthday blog for Stamkos, a guy I love to watch play. He should get to 50 goals again this season, but no matter how many he scores, his personality doesn't change. He's humble and fun to be around. He's a treat, and he deserves to be recognized for it.

What's missing?

After seeing what happened in New York on Tuesday, when Marian Gaborik was called for goalie interference, negating a game-tying goal with only seconds remaining in the third period, I think it's time that the League allow the officials to go to video review to determine such plays.

This happens a lot, especially late in games, when guys are going to the net and defensemen are valiantly trying to keep them away. But a lot of the times the goaltender interference happens as a result of the defending team's actions. The Gaborik incident was an example of that.
 
On the play, it appears that Gaborik is trying to stop when Anton Volchenkov pushes him into his own goalie, and the goal is disallowed. If the officials had the opportunity to go to a video review of that play, it's possible the goal would have been allowed and that game would have gone to overtime. The officials would have had the opportunity to review if Gaborik was trying to stop and if Volchenkov created the contact between Gaborik and Martin Brodeur.

At the very least, the officials would have been allowed to take what is a split-second decision amid chaos and further analyze it before coming to a better judgment.

The officials have an incredibly hard job and they do it quite well, but it wouldn't hurt for them to have a little help on plays such as the Gaborik interference. It also wouldn't take very long for them to determine with 100 percent certainty, or as close to it as there is in this game, that they are making the right call.

It is such a reviewable circumstance because goals are so hard to come by in this League, especially late in a game when a team is going for the tying goal to get it to overtime.

I know the goalies are being protected, and they should be, but a lot of times it is the defenseman's fault that they're getting contact. And who's to say it is not the defenseman's strategy or tactic to push or ride an attacking player into his goalie, especially when he knows he's likely going to get the call to go in his favor.

There has been so much talk about protecting the goaltenders and using the instant replay for goals to find out if pucks are in the net, but these plays are also critically important and the officials should be allowed to have every piece of technology available to make sure they get it right.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 4:51 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Reports: Henrik Sedin seen wearing walking boot

Several tweets indicate that Canucks captain Henrik Sedin was seen wearing a walking a boot at the team hotel with Vancouver paying a visit to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.

Sedin blocked a shot in the Canucks' 4-3 shootout win against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night and did not return. He wasn't on the ice for practice at the Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 4:28 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place: NHL Trade Deadline

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 4:27 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Roenick ready for first crack at Gretzky camp

LAS VEGAS -- The always gregarious Jeremy Roenick will arrive here Thursday morning to take part in his first Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp, and he told NHL.com on Wednesday that he can't wait for it.

"Just to be invited by Gretz was awesome," Roenick said. "I love that."

But, more to the point, Roenick is looking forward to getting on the ice and getting to hang out with the guys who will be known as campers this week.

"To be around other people, all these fans, that get to pay and hang out with us, get on the ice with us -- I love fan interaction," he said. "It's one of my favorite things about being a professional hockey player, so I'm looking forward to meeting some of the guys, the people that supported me for so long, getting on the ice with them and maybe getting to teach them a couple of things."

He's also interested in getting a chance to catch up with some of his old colleagues and teammates that will join him as the former players in camp.

"There will be some storytelling," Roenick said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 4:24 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place: Coaches Injuries

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 3:36 PM

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

Trying seasons for captains Getzlaf, Staal

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ryan Getzlaf and Eric Staal probably didn't envision their paths following this kind of trajectory.

Two years after both helped Team Canada win gold in the Winter Olympics, their teams are struggling and both captains have had trying seasons.

Both are desperately trying to help their teams cling to dim postseason hopes, and they stand in each other's way when the Anaheim Ducks host the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.

"Both teams have been through a lot this year," Staal said. "(We've had) tough starts and obviously going through a coaching change. Some good players on both teams that probably didn't have the start they wanted, but they're feeling good, are starting to feel some confidence. It's going to be a good game. We obviously know they've been playing very well lately."

Staal has come under scrutiny for his minus-24 rating, worst in the League. Getzlaf said he identifies with Staal and the pressure he's under.

"Staalsy's been through a lot of criticism as well," Getzlaf said. "He's dealt with it. The amount that I do know him, I think he dealt with it fairly well and brought himself back to where he wants to be."

Getzlaf has 1 goal in his past 13 games and has scored only twice since Dec. 6. He's coming off one of his better games, though, with an assist, plus-1 rating and three hits against Calgary.

Staal also knows what Getzlaf is going through.

"He's obviously a tremendous player," Staal said. "He's a player that obviously got off to a difficult start, but he's really coming on better now. We're very similar in how the years have went for both of us -- tough starts, but feeling better lately. He's a good player no matter what. You've got to be aware of him on the ice."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 3:34 PM

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

Projected lineups for Hurricanes, Ducks

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Carolina Hurricanes visit the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center:

HURRICANES
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Drayson Bowman - Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen
Andreas Nodl - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Chad LaRose - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Jaroslav Spacek - Jamie McBain

Cam Ward
Justin Peters

DUCKS

Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Niklas Hagman - Rod Pelley - George Parros

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

Jonas Hiller
Iiro Tarkki
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