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Posted On Sunday, 02.26.2012 / 7:03 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Was Sunday Nash's last game as a Jacket?

PITTSBURGH -- The Columbus Blue Jackets without Rick Nash? Interim coach Todd Richards didn't even want to think about such a possibility.
 
Less than 24 hours from now, Richards understands he might have to do exactly that.
 
Nash, an elite forward with the talent to significantly improve a contender's Stanley Cup playoff chances, played what possibly was his final game Sunday with the Blue Jackets. If it was, Nash gave Columbus fans something to remember him by as he scored a shorthanded goal – his first since 2009 – during a 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh at Consol Energy Center.
 
Columbus' asking price for the former All-Star is reported to be immense, with a mix of current NHL players, prospects and draft picks. But with no other marquee type players known to be on the market, that could be a price a desperate team is willing to pay as the NHL Trade Deadline nears at 3 p.m. ET.
 
Richards knows it, too, even though he tried to deflect any Nash-might-be-traded questions following the Blue Jackets' fourth loss in five games.
 
"Why would I even answer that?" Richards said when asked what the Blue Jackets (18-37-7) might look like post-Nash. "Rick Nash is part of our team. Right now, he's a Columbus Blue Jacket. Twenty-four hours from now, it might be a different story. But, right now, he's a Columbus Blue Jacket and I treat him as one of our players."
 
While Nash's 2011-12 stats are down compared to those earlier in his career – he has 21 goals and 22 assists in 62 games – he has the combination of size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), skill and intangibles that franchise players possess. Nash had 40 goals in the 2008-09 season and 38 the season before that.
 
Nash's goal Sunday was his 280th in 654 career games, and he can only wonder how productive he might be on a team with more talent, more depth, more of everything that is missing in Columbus.

Even if that was exactly what Nash didn't want to do.
 
Nash suggested he has the patience to ride this out, if the Blue Jackets do, too.
 
"It's been a great time living in Columbus," he said. "I'm a Blue Jacket today and we're going to do everything we can to move forward as a team. These fans deserve a winning game and a winning team; they're the ones who've been the most patient."
 
This time, though, it will be Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson whose patience is about to be tested.
 
As the minutes tick down Monday, Howson might be forced to decide if an offer that doesn't quite match what he is seeking might be preferable to that he gets when more players are on the open market next summer.
 
Nash wouldn't comment Sunday on comments made Saturday by his agent, Joe Resnick, to TSN that the list of teams acceptable for a trade won't expand if Columbus doesn't make a deal by Monday's deadline.
 
"There's been so many rumors, so much speculation, it's been tough on everyone," Nash said.

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Posted On Sunday, 02.26.2012 / 3:14 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CBJ @ PITT - 4:45 of the Third Period

At 4:45 of the third period in the Blue Jackets/Penguins game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Chris Kunitz kicked the puck into the net with his right skate. No goal Pittsburgh.

According to rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net."
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Posted On Sunday, 02.26.2012 / 1:17 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks-Wild

ST. PAUL -- With its season potentially on the line tonight against San Jose, Minnesota will have to make a go of it without captain Mikko Koivu, still out with an undisclosed injury.

Koivu, who was not on Minnesota's brief two-game road trip to Florida and Dallas this week, has missed the last four games.

The Wild will also be without defenseman Mike Lundin, who has also missed the last four games with a lower body injury. Both guys skated on their own before the team session this morning, but there is no timetable on either of their returns.

"I know he's getting better, getting closer," said Wild coach Mike Yeo on Koivu.

Niklas Backstrom will start in goal for Minnesota. Defenseman Nate Prosser and forward Matt Kassian are expected to be healthy scratches.

San Jose will be without Douglas Murray (fractured Adam's apple) and Martin Havlat (hamstring), but should otherwise be healthy. The Sharks are playing the final game of a nine-game road trip which has seen San Jose go 2-5-1 and drop out of the top spot in the Pacific Division.

The Sharks, who lost 6-2 in Nashville last night, arrived early this morning and did not skate. With the early face-off tonight and the end of a long road trip in sight, it will be interesting to see how much energy the Sharks have left in the tank.

WILD

Devin Setoguchi - Kyle Brodziak - Dany Heatley
Cal Clutterbuck - Matt Cullen - Nick Palmieri
Darroll Powe - Erik Christensen - Nick Johnson
Jed Ortmeyer - Warren Peters - Stephane Veilleux

Nick Schultz - Greg Zanon
Kurtis Foster - Justin Falk
Jared Spurgeon - Marco Scandella

Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding


SHARKS

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryan Clowe - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Jim Vandermeer

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

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss
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Posted On Sunday, 02.26.2012 / 1:15 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Familiar faces Foster, Veilleux excited to be back

ST. PAUL -- Defenseman Kurtis Foster and forward Stephane Veilleux both established themselves as NHL players with the Minnesota Wild.

Following Friday's trade that brought both of them back to the Wild in exchange for defensemen Marek Zidlicky, both say they are excited to be back in a familiar spot and are looking forward to helping Minnesota make one final playoff push.

For Foster, a fan-favorite during his first stint with the Wild, his stop in Minnesota will be his third team this season. After starting the year in Anaheim, the Ducks traded him to New Jersey. He played just nine games on the west coast and only 28 with the Devils.

"You never like being traded," Foster said. "But when you come to a team like this… I've been here, know a lot of the guys, know the city, know how great the fans are, it definitely makes it a lot easier."

Foster and his booming shot will immediately step into Zidlicky's role on the No. 1 power play and will pair with Justin Falk, providing the Wild with a couple of big bodies on the blueline.

"A steady, reliable puck mover, someone who is going to help out our power play," said Wild coach Mike Yeo. "You look at the amount of offense we've been able to generate from the back end this year and certainly he will be a welcome addition."

For Veilleux, his return to the Twin Cities is more personal. His wife is from the area, so he has tried on a couple of occasions to return to Minnesota, but it hasn't worked out. Now 30 years old, Veilleux has spent all but one game with Albany in the AHL this season after playing overseas last year and looks at the move back to the Wild as a chance to get his career back on track.

"Couldn't be happier," Veilleux said. "When I got the call yesterday, it was just a great feeling."

Veilleux scored a career-high 13 goals in 2008-09 with the Wild, his final season in Minnesota, but his role here now isn't to score goals in bunches… although as one of the lowest scoring teams in the NHL, the Wild would take it.

"He is full of energy," Yeo said. "His speed is going to be a factor. I'm really anxious to get his energy and his life into our lineup."
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Posted On Sunday, 02.26.2012 / 11:26 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Larsson returning to Devils lineup

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Pete DeBoer said Sunday morning that rookie defenseman Adam Larsson will return to the lineup against Tampa Bay after missing 10 games with a back injury suffered Feb. 2 against Montreal.

Larsson was hit hard by Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban with 5:58 remaining in New Jersey's 5-3 win over Montreal on Feb. 2. He remained down on the ice for several minutes and needed assistance to get into the dressing room. The Devils said after the game he suffered a bruised lower back.

New Jersey has not seemed to miss Larsson much as it has gone 7-2-1 in his absence.

"We're going to monitor his limits, probably to limit him to 5-on-5 rather than add in special teams, but he feels great and it's a good first step," DeBoer said, according to Tom Gulitti of The Record. "There's no right time to do this (if) you look at our schedule and the teams we've got coming up. He feels good, so le's take the first step and get him back in a game."

DeBoer also said Martin Brodeur will start his sixth straight game. Brodeur faced only 16 shots in a 2-1 loss to Vancouver on Friday night. He had won his previous four starts.

Marek Zidlicky will make his Devils debut against the Lightning and he will be paired with Anton Volchenkov. Zidlicky was acquired from the Wild on Friday in exchange for Kurtis Foster, Nick Palmieri, a second-round draft pick in 2012 and a conditional draft pick in 2013.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 02.26.2012 / 11:21 AM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected Lineups: Canucks at Stars

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for today’s game between the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

CANUCKS
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
Mason Raymond - Cody Hodgson - David Booth
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Alex Burrows
Manny Malhotra - Max Lapierre - Byron Bitz

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alex Edler - Andrew Alberts
Aaron Rome - Sami Salo

Roberto Luongo (starter)
Cory Schneider

Scratches:  Alexander Sulzer, Chris Tanev, Dale Weise.

Injuries: Keith Ballard (neck).

Notes:  Vancouver has won both games on their current road trip, ending Detroit’s NHL-record home winning streak at 23 games on Thursday and then winning at New Jersey on Friday in the second game of a back-to-back. The Canucks now lead the league with 86 points and are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. Vancouver also has the NHL’s top road record at 22-10-2. Sunday will mark the first meeting of the season between the Canucks and Stars and Vancouver swept all four meetings last year and has won six straight overall.

STARS
Lou Eriksson - Mike Ribeiro - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Tom Wandell - Tomas Vincour
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Toby Petersen - Ryan Garbutt - Adam Burish

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley - Mark Fistric
Alex Goligoski - Philip Larsen

Kari Lehtonen (starter)
Richard Bachman

Scratches: Matt Fraser, Adam Pardy.

Injuries: Jamie Benn (knee), Jake Dowell (finger), Brenden Morrow (upper body).

Notes:  Dallas is currently on a three-game winning streak, having won on the road at Montreal, at Chicago and at home on Friday against Minnesota by a combined score of 10-2. The Stars lost all four meetings with Vancouver last season and overall, Dallas has dropped six straight against the reigning Western Conference  champion Canucks.  C Mike Ribeiro is currently on a six-game point streak.  Dallas will be without All-Star center Jamie Benn for a sixth straight game but rookie defenseman Philip Larsen is probable even after taking a puck to the head in the third period of Friday’s win over the Wild.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.26.2012 / 11:08 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Report: Bishop could be heading to Ottawa

With Craig Anderson sidelined due to a fluke hand injury, the Ottawa Senators are reportedly trolling for a new goalie and it could be Ben Bishop of the St. Louis Blues, according to a tweet from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.

Garrioch tweeted Sunday morning that League sources had told him the Senators were close to a deal with the Blues to land Bishop and it possibly could be completed Sunday.

Anderson is out indefinitely after suffering a right hand injury. Alex Auld stopped 33 of 37 shots in a 5-3 loss to Boston on Saturday, the Senators first game since Anderson's injury. Robin Lehner was recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to serve as Auld's backup while the Senators search for help in net.

Bishop, a third-round pick in 2005, is third on the Blues' depth chart behind Jaroslav Halak and All-Star Brian Elliott. He lost the backup job to Elliott in October and hasn't had any opportunity to claim it since due to Elliott's dynamite play all season.

Instead, Bishop, who is scheduled to be a restricted free agent following the season, has spent the entire season with the Peoria Rivermen in the American Hockey League and has posted a 24-14-4 record with a 2.26 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in 38 appearances.

The 6-foot-7, 215-pound goalie played six games with the Blues in 2008-09 and seven last season. He is 4-5-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .896 save percentage in his brief NHL career.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 6:17 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Neuvirth gets the nod against Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Michal Neuvirth will get the start for the Washington Capitals tonight versus the Toronto Maple Leafs after backstopping his club to a 4-1 victory Friday in Montreal.

"He was solid, he didn't give up many rebounds," Caps coach Dale Hunter said. "We didn't have a lot of work for him last night, so it wasn't like a real hard game for him.  With this team here, with the speed they got and the scoring they got, he's going to have to be really ready in the first period."

Neuvirth relieved Tomas Vokoun in a 7-1 road loss to the Maple Leafs on Nov. 19.  He allowed 3 goals on 11 shots after entering play in the second period.

Defenseman Mike Green echoed Hunter's sentiments.

"I thought he was outstanding. He made the big saves when he needed to," Green said. "I am sure it's not easy for him because he is in and out of the lineup. He handles himself very well and we need more out of him down the stretch.  We need to win some games and it's going to start with our goaltending."

Green, who has averaged over 20 minutes of ice time in the past three games, says he is getting close to hitting his stride since returning from abdominal injury on Feb. 18.

"It's taken these last couple of games to get my feel again with being out so long," Green said. "I'm finally starting to come into my own again and feel the way I used to.

Green has not faced the Leafs in the two games the clubs have played this season.

Hunter, an Ontario native, will coach his first NHL game in Toronto.

"It's always nice to come to Toronto," Hunter said. "It's near my hometown and I grew up watching the Leafs."
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 6:12 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Wings may make a move, just not a big splash

DETROIT -- As Monday's trade deadline approaches, more sports talk on local radio stations is being dedicated to the Detroit Red Wings.

Callers and show hosts will probably be a little disappointed, however, when they learn the Red Wings aren't even kicking the tires on a major deal such as the kind that would bring Columbus Blue Jackets power forward Rick Nash to the Motor City.

The price would probably be way too high in return for the Stanley-Cup minded Red Wings to get a deal like that done -- not to mention the fact Columbus would likely be gun shy of trading Nash within the Central Division. The Wings are also looking at their situation in a different light than many fans – who’ve noticed Detroit’s scoring woes the past five games and think trading for a top goal-scorer is the
answer.

"That's not what we're looking for," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said on Saturday. "We're looking for depth people."

Detroit general manager Ken Holland has already pulled off one depth-related maneuver this week when he reeled in former Red Wings prospect and draft pick Kyle Quincey from the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche in a three-team deal.

Quincey, who's 26, is a restricted free agent and is an insurance policy of sorts in case veteran defenseman Brad Stuart opts to leave when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this coming July. Quincey scored a goal in his first game back with the Wings on Thursday while shifting with Jonathan Ericsson on the third pairing. He has 6 goals and 18 assists in 55 games overall this season.

Quincey gives the Wings eight defensemen with NHL experience heading into the stretch run of the regular season, which is exactly the kind of quality depth Holland sees as ideal for a team hoping to make a long playoff run.

Detroit is also set in goal, where starter Jimmy Howard continues to shine and 32-year old backup Joey MacDonald played great filling in while Howard was injured for eight games. The Wings also have veteran Ty Conklin working on his game down in Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. The only area left to address, possibly, is up front -- where Detroit likely won't get veteran depth forward Patrick Eaves [concussion] back this season.

"[Quincey] has a chance to be a real impact guy [on D] because he gives us depth and he's a good player," Babcock said. "That's, to me, what we're looking for. We're looking for depth because there's injuries. We got kids in the minors, but they're kids. So, if we can add a veteran type player who knows how to win and knows how to play, then maybe that happens. If not, then all hands on deck and let's go."

One name that has surfaced among those who cover the Red Wings is Montreal forward Travis Moen, who is currently out with an upper-body injury. If Montreal makes him available, the Red Wings are thought to have legitimate interest.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 5:54 PM

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

Lineups for Rangers-Sabres, no room for Wolski

NEW YORK -- There was just no room at the wing for Wojtek Wolski.

That's what Rangers coach John Tortorella said Saturday evening before his team faced the Buffalo Sabres. Wolski was dealt to the Florida Panthers earlier in the day for a third-round pick in the 2012 draft and a prospect.

“This year, through his injuries, and then (Carl) Hagelin comes up and plays, (John) Mitchell comes up and plays, we just run out of spots,” Tortorella told a room full of reporters at Madison Square Garden.

“He’s a good guy, I wish him the best. It’s best for him. Our lineup evolved and there just weren’t any spots.”

Wolski underwent sports hernia surgery in November and played just three games upon his return. The 26-year-old has been out of the lineup since Jan. 15 and spent time playing for the AHL's Connecticut Whale in an effort to stay sharp.

The Rangers will employ the same lineup as they did Friday night in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Islanders, but Henrik Lundqvist will be in net. Look for the Sabres to ice the same group as they did in their 2-1 shootout win against the Bruins on Friday, but there's no definitive word on which goaltender Lindy Ruff will start.

RANGERS

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

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Marc Staal - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

SABRES

Thomas Vanek - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Tyler Ennis - Ville Leino - Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe - Paul Gaustad - Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis - Zack Kassian - Corey Tropp

Jordan Leopold - Tyler Myers
Robyn Regher - Jordan Leopold
Christian Ehrhoff - Mike Weber

Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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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