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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 2:04 PM

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

Leafs, Kings find themselves in need of a win

TORONTO -- Tonight's matchup at the Air Canada Centre features two struggling teams in desperate need of a win. The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost four of their last five games, while the Los Angeles Kings have lost six of their last eight contests.
 
Kings interim head coach John Stevens will try to even his record after losing two of three games since taking over the reins after Terry Murray's dismissal. Darryl Sutter is expected to be officially introduced as the new head coach on Tuesday. 
 
James Reimer and Jonathan Quick will start between the pipes, both looking to rebound from poor performances. Reimer gave up five goals on 29 shots in Toronto’s 5-4 loss to Buffalo Friday night, while Quick got the early hook after surrendering three goals on eight shots in Los Angeles’ 8-2 loss Saturday night in Detroit.
 
Tim Connolly will center Toronto's top line for the first time in over a month, joining Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel. Tyler Bozak drops down to the third line.
 
For the Kings, defenseman Willie Mitchell returns to the lineup after missing six of the last seven games with a groin injury.
 
Here are tonight’s projected lineups:

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

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Jack Johnson - Willie Mitchell
Matt Greene - Davis Drewiske

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
 
Scratches: D Slava Voynov, D Alec Martinez, RW Trent Hunter
 
Center Mike Richards, recovering from the effects of a concussion suffered Dec. 1, skated with the team again today but has not yet been approved for contact.
 
MAPLE LEAFS
Joffrey Lupul - Tim Connolly - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Matt Frattin - Tyler Bozak - Colby Armstrong
Jay Rosehill - Philippe Dupuis - Joey Crabb

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson
 
Scratches: D Keith Aulie and RW Colton Orr

Center David Steckel is still out with bronchitis.
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 1:46 PM

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

Projected lineups for Ducks, Stars

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Anaheim Ducks visit the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center:

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

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

Jonas Hiller
Dan Ellis

Scratch: Nate Guenin

Injuries: Jason Blake (forearm), Saku Koivu (groin).

STARS

Loui Eriksson - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Brenden Morrow - Mike Ribeiro - Steve Ott
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Jake Dowell - Tom Wandell - Toby Petersen

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Nicklas Grossman - Trevor Daley
Alex Goligoski - Mark Fistric

Richard Bachman
Andrew Raycroft

Scratch: Adam Pardy

Injuries: Adam Burish (broken hand), Philip Larsen (quad contusion), Kari Lehtonen (groin), Tomas Vincour (MCL).

Notes: Tonight will mark the fifth straight start for Richard Bachman in goal for Dallas. He is 3-1-0 with a 2.08 goals-against average and one shutout. The Stars begin a run of seven of their next nine at home with Monday's game against the Ducks.
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 1:18 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Hamill's success pushing Campbell to return

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins have won four in a row and Zach Hamill has proven he can be a serviceable fourth-line center at the NHL level.

Those are just a couple of reasons Gregory Campbell wants back into the lineup even if his fractured left foot is still in pain. Campbell, who has missed three games since taking a shot off his foot in Columbus on Dec. 10, practiced without limitation Sunday and then took part in an optional skate at the TD Garden today.

His availability will be a game-time decision tonight when the Bruins host Montreal.

"It felt actually better than yesterday. So we'll see how it goes," Campbell said.

Campbell admitted that he didn't remove his skate after he blocked the shot that injured him. He played the rest of the night with the fracture in his foot. Now he says it actually feels better when he's skating than it does when he's walking, especially when wearing shoes, because of the pressure that gets put on the injury.

If he faces the Habs, Campbell will take some precautions.

"I had the trainers punch [my skate] out a bit just so it relieves a little bit of the pressure," he said. "That's kind of the main thing. At the beginning I couldn't even put my foot in the skate. And if I play, I'm sure I'll put a hard, protecting pad or shield over it just in case I block another shot there."

Campbell played in 80 games last season, so his Bruins career hasn't included many nights on the sideline. He wants to keep it that way.

"It's not fun," he said about sitting out. "But I think the silver lining is that our team is playing extremely well. So it's fun to watch us win. It's not fun to not be a part of it. I want to be involved in the success of the team, but injuries are part of the game."


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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 1:10 PM

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

Rangers lose Eminger to separated shoulder

The hits just keep on coming for the blue line of the New York Rangers.

Already without Marc Staal and Michael Sauer, the team announced Monday that Steve Eminger would be out 8-10 weeks with a separated right shoulder suffered during the Rangers' 3-2 win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.

The Rangers have since recalled defensemen Stu Bickel and Tim Erixon from the AHL's Connecticut Whale. Bickel will take Eminger's spot, while Erixon was recalled on an emergency basis in case Jeff Woywitka (foot) can't play Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils.

Staal hasn't played a game this season due to concussion symptoms, but there is some positive news to report about the team's No. 1 defenseman. He has been skating with the club for the past week and said Monday if things continue to go well, he could be cleared for contact soon.

The news is less encouraging for Sauer, who suffered a concussion against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 5. Rangers coach John Tortorella said Monda that Sauer "won't be with us for a bit."

The injuries haven't prevented the Rangers from getting off to a great start. They are 18-8-4 with 40 points, only three fewer than the East-leading Philadelphia Flyers. The two will meet in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto -- the Rangers' three best and healthiest defensemen this season -- have been a big reason along with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers allowing just 2.13 goals per game, fourth-best in the League.
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 12:48 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bruins lineup 'uncertain' for game against Canadiens

BOSTON -- There are plenty of questions about tonight's lineup for the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens before tonight's game at the TD Garden.

"Our lineup is one that's probably the most uncertain so far this year," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team's optional morning skate.

Gregory Campbell, who has missed the last three games with a fracture in his foot, practiced Sunday and this morning. He could return to the lineup. Meanwhile, the Bruins are awaiting word on Milan Lucic's status after the forward had a phone hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan about his hit on Zac Rinaldo in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Rich Peverley only took one shift in the third period Saturday and didn't practice Sunday. The Bruins could opt to rest the veteran forward as well.

The Canadiens held a full skate, including forward Travis Moen but minus P.K. Subban. Moen should be back in the lineup tonight after missing two games with a lower-body injury, while Subban's availability is in doubt.

"We're evaluating him. He's a little under the weather there, so we'll let him get his rest and make a game-time decision tonight," coach Randy Cunneyworth said about Subban.

Carey Price was the first goaltender off after the skate for Montreal, so he should start in net. An educated guess would be that Tim Thomas will start for Boston because Tuukka Rask skated while Thomas took the option to not go on the ice.

Here's a look at the projected lines and D pairs for both teams:

BRUINS
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell/Zach Hamill - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

CANADIENS

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

P.K. Subban - Josh Gorges
Hal Gill - Chris Campoli
Tomas Kaberle - Alexei Emelin

 

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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 12:05 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Ballpark presents unique challenge for piping

PHILADELPHIA -- If you're at Citizens Bank Park for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 2 and you happen to be walking in Ashburn Alley you may find yourself standing directly under the piping that runs to the rink.

Due to the layout of the ballpark, the only way to get the piping that pumps glycol (the fluid that is used to freeze the rink) from the refrigeration truck parked outside the stadium to the rink on the field is to send it up and down on scaffolding. Part of that scaffolding is constructed above the concourse area in Ashburn Alley beyond the right-field fence.

Workers are expected to begin running the piping Monday.

The piping will start at the refrigeration truck on Hartranft Street and will be run up through a 4x4 window that leads into an indoor play area. It will run through the entire play area and out a smaller window into the concourse area.

However, that's where it will get raised to fly on the 28-foot height to go above the actual field. It will then run down a scaffolding ramp, underneath the temporary bleachers that have been erected in center field, and finally down onto the field.

The piping will run on armored decking that is already laid down in between center field and right field, and finally will get attached to junction boxes that are themselves attached to the sub-floor of the rink. The glycol circulates and freezes the water that will eventually be sprayed onto the floor to create the playing surface for the Flyers and Rangers.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl



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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 11:57 AM

By Steve Webb and Pat LaFontaine -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Making of a Royal

Breaking down plays in the film room


In this week's 'Making of a Royal' blog, head coach Pat LaFontaine and assistant coach Steve Webb discuss the importance of film study and review. Film breakdown sessions play a critical role on teaching today's young players. LaFontaine and Webb spend several hours breaking down plays from recent NHL games and recent Long Island Royal contests.

Steve Webb on film study:

There are a couple things I love taking out of film study.

A lot of athletes are visual learners but we just sit there and talk to them, wave our hands around and paint the picture as we're telling it. We [as coaches] understand what we see, but for the younger athletes, they don't understand all the little tendencies that happen on the ice with body language or the way guys turn, where the stick is. It's always nice when you can go out and have the best players in the world as an example for your athletes to observe. We go out there and collect all the highlights on NHL.com and all the goals scored. We want to look at the positive side of the goals scored and also what happened on the other side of things.
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 10:50 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Refrigeration truck kept on ice in bid for parking spot

PHILADELPHIA -- The NHL's famous refrigeration truck had to wait this morning before driver Jim Fraser could finally put it in park on Hartranft Street beyond right field at Citizens Bank Park.

Why? Well, a gray Ford Escape with New Jersey license plates was parked in the spot reserved for the truck.



Nobody is quite sure who the Ford Escape belonged to or why it was parked illegally in that spot, but people around the ballpark were saying it had been there since early in the morning. Even better is that when the police ran the license plates, the car came up as unregistered.

Some of the workers here for the Winter Classic buildout were joking that they should just get fork lifts to haul the Escape out of the spot, but NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig, always thinking on his feet, said that could be a problem, especially if the fork lifts ripped up the bottom of the SUV.
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 8:00 AM

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

It's time to build a hockey rink

PHILADELPHIA -- With the arrival of the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic truck ice truck this morning, Citizens Bank Park makes the full-time shift from baseball stadium to outdoor hockey oasis.

NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig and his crew are on-hand for the arrival of the custom-built 53-foot truck, which contains everything needed to create the rink that will play host to the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers on Jan. 2, 2012.

The long days and nights actually started Nov. 21, when the first pieces of armor decking were laid down to protect the field, and temporary seating already has been erected in center field (follow the progress here). Next comes the installation of everything needed to build a hockey rink in a baseball stadium.

In other words, the fun starts now.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 12:00 AM

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

Giving the gifts

The holidays are right around the corner with both Hanukkah and Christmas coming this week. In the spirit of the season, I'm putting on my Santa costume on and telling different teams and players in the NHL that have been nice this year what they can expect to find under their trees on Sunday morning.

Toronto Maple Leafs:
I dug in my archives and I found the parade route that the Leafs used in 1967 when they won their last title. Everyone in Toronto thinks the Leafs are going to win the Stanley Cup this year, so I want to do my part and make sure they're ready to march down Young Street like they did in '67. The people in Toronto have been long suffering, and it's not right that the last parade in Toronto was for a baseball team. I think that's got to change, so I'm going to do all I can for the people of Toronto and help out the Leafs and their fans with the actual parade route, so they'll be ready if it ever happens.

Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks:
I'm going to give these teams three free sessions with self-help guru Tony Robbins, because right now they are both screwed up mentally. Neither team has any confidence and both lose games when they have the lead going into the third period. So these teams just need mental makeovers. I know Tony and I know in three sessions, he'll be able to change both of those teams. Books will be given out and available at each session signed outside the door.

Nashville Predators:
Carrie Underwood is going to write a new song for the Predators and it's going to be called "Love and Pekka Rinne will keep us playing into May." Mike Fisher will be the tall, dark handsome guy in the video who says nothing and just smiles the whole time.

Philadelphia Flyers: I'm going to bring back Ed Van Impe to make a comeback in place of Chris Pronger. He's going to supply that nasty defenseman that slashes everything that moves around the front of the net. With Pronger out for the rest of the year, I had to do something for the Flyers because we saw last year in the playoffs that it's not the same defense without Pronger. Without Pronger I put the Flyers down in that second tier of teams. I'd put the Bruins, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Vancouver in that upper tier. The Flyers are now in that level beneath them with teams like the Rangers. The Pronger injury is catastrophic.

Evgeni Malkin: I'm going to continue to give Malkin superpowers until Sidney Crosby comes back. Malkin's been just great every game since Sidney's been gone. He had a hat trick Saturday night, Wednesday night he was fantastic in a losing effort. He's just playing awesome hockey right now. Pittsburgh is certainly a playoff team, but to be a Stanley Cup team, Malkin's going to have to be the guy that leads them. Arguably Pittsburgh's got its two best players out right now in Crosby and Kris Letang, but they're still scoring in bunches every night, and to keep doing it Malkin will have to keep playing at a high level.

Boston Bruins: I'm giving these guys nothing. I gave them the Stanley Cup last year and I also gave them Tyler Seguin, so I think that's enough to hold them over for another Christmas.

St. Louis Blues: I'm giving the Blues the exact same thing. I already gave them Ken Hitchcock and Brian Elliott, which has completely turned the team around. They have been overserved already. Right now, Brian is the most confident he's ever been and he's played well for stretches before with Ottawa. With a guy with his history, you're certainly taking a sigh of relief after each good game, but St. Louis is playing a good style of hockey right now and Elliott and Hitchcock are big reasons why.

Teemu Selanne and the Winnipeg fans: These two got their Christmas present this weekend when I gave them Teemu's emotional return to Winnipeg Saturday night. It was a magical night, the city came out and responded, a lot of great memories were rekindled and Teemu was cheered every time he touched the puck. The Winnipeg fans certainly loved the win, but I think they would almost have loved to see Teemu score a hat trick in a win for Anaheim just as much. It was a great night for Winnipeg, a great night for Teemu and a great night for the NHL.

New Jersey Devils: I'm going to give this team a return to their previous glory for Ilya Kovalchuk and Marty Brodeur. I think Kovalchuk is starting to come out of it, but for New Jersey to make the playoffs, these two guys will have to be the players of old, so that's the Christmas present I'm going to give the fans and players in New Jersey. If you really sit back and look at the play of Marty and Johan Hedberg, Hedberg should be playing more. You want to play Marty, but when he struggles you feel bad when you pull him. As a coach you don't want to put him in that situation, but hopefully with Santa's help, Marty will regain his greatness for the last 50 games of the season.

Detroit Red Wings: I'm going to give them access to the Fountain of Youth for one more year. They had that six-game losing streak at the beginning of the year, and boy did it wake them up. They look like the old Detroit Red Wings. Jimmy Howard has been good all year long -- probably their most consistent player -- but not Datsyuk's back, Zetterberg is flying, Franzen is scoring and Lidstrom and Kronwall and Stuart are giving them good play and the team looks great.

Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders: I know it's been a tough year for them, but I'm going to give them a great Christmas present: a lottery pick. Those will be the three teams that have the best opportunity to get a lottery pick come next June. I think the Islanders are a team that isn't ready to compete for a playoff spot just yet, Columbus is just in too big of a hole and Carolina is just a mess right now, particularly with Skinner and Pitkanen out. But if you're looking for a silver lining, these three teams are all going to get very good players next June -- and in the case of New York and Columbus, it might be the piece that finally pushes them into the top eight consistently.

New York Rangers: I'm going to give them the return of Marc Staal. I really like the Rangers. I think they're really close to being a really good team. Richards is becoming a bigger factor every game, Girardi is one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL, they play with some grit and some character and they've always had the goaltender. If you put Staal back in that lineup, I think this will be a team that can do some damage come playoff time.

All in all though, this has been a great season so far for the NHL and only people like Jacques Martin or Randy Carlyle have gotten any coal. Bruce Boudreau got an exception. With a glance into Santa's crystal ball, the gifts I'm giving this holiday season will make sure the rest of the season is even better than what we've had so far.

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Quote of the Day

Philadelphia is where I started my NHL career and this is where I want to be so I am really happy. This definitely gives me a lot of confidence by the Flyers showing that they have confidence in me. I know they want to see me get better as a player and this is the place to do it.

— Zac Rinaldo to the Flyers website on signing a two-year contract extension with Philadelphia