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Posted On Friday, 12.16.2011 / 2:07 PM

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

Parise finally feeling like himself after injury

NEWARK, N.J. -- Zach Parise is finally starting to feel like himself again. It took the Devils captain roughly 21 games this season, but his production is on the rise and his mental state is as strong as ever.

"Finally I'm starting to feel really good, which is kind of refreshing," Parise told NHL.com Friday morning. "Things are starting to come together a little bit."

Parise has points in eight of the last nine games, including four goals and eight assists for 12 points. He had his first three-point game of the season this past Monday in Tampa Bay and added another goal in Florida on Tuesday, helping the Devils sweep the road trip.

Parise had only six goals and five assists for 11 points in the first 21 games this season. He sat out all but one game over the final five and a half months of last season with a knee injury.

"The legs have always felt good, always been there, but I think it took a lot longer than I expected to just finally get back," Parise said. "Mentally was the hardest part. It got frustrating sometimes making some not so good plays out there. I don't know, all of a sudden you relax and everything starts to slow down. That's kind of what happened."

Parise also said it helps that he's back playing on the left wing. Devils coach Pete DeBoer experimented with him at center earlier in the season, but Adam Henrique has come in and contributed in a way that has allowed Parise to move over to the left side. Henrique, who has 23 points in 27 games, is the center on the top line with Ilya Kovalchuk on the right side.

Kovalchuk, by the way, has 10 points on five goals and five assists in the last nine games.

"You know what helps, too, is our line is playing really well," Parise said. "That makes a big difference right now."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 12.16.2011 / 12:40 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Mullet of the Week

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Posted On Friday, 12.16.2011 / 12:17 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flames, Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. – Here are the projected lineups for the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers for their game Friday night at BankAtlantic Center:

CALGARY FLAMES

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay - Brendan Morrison - Rene Bourque
Blake Comeau - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Scott Hannan - Derek Smith
T.J. Brodie - Brett Carson

Leland Irving
Miikka Kiprusoff

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Marco Sturm - Tomas Kopecky - Jack Skille
Sean Bergenheim - Shawn Matthias - Mikael Samuelsson
Krys Barch - Mike Santorelli - Matt Bradley

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jonanovski - Keaton Ellerby

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Friday, 12.16.2011 / 11:59 AM

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

Devils' DeBoer wants to ease Zajac back in

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Pete DeBoer said the plan Friday against the Dallas Stars at least is to try to ease center Travis Zajac back in so he has the proper time to get re-acclimated to the NHL game both with his timing and speed.

DeBoer, though, admitted easing an all-around asset like Zajac back into the mix might prove to be difficult because he is a guy with a history of playing in every situation.

"He's a tough guy not to play because he does so many things well, but especially being in a back-to-back situation we're going to really try to monitor that," DeBoer said, referring to the Devils game Saturday in Montreal. "Travis is a hard guy not to play, so we'll see what exactly easing him in means. I know it won't be 20 minutes."

DeBoer laughed when a reporter suggested 19 minutes would be about right, but it may not be so farfetched considering Zajac averaged 19:46 of ice time last season, including 2:34 on the power play and 2:05 on the penalty kill. He also averaged more than 20 minutes per game in 2009-10 and nearly 19 minutes in 2008-09.

However, Zajac hasn't played in a game since April and he's coming off a four-month rehab after undergoing surgery to repair his torn left Achilles tendon on Aug. 18. The doctors initially told Zajac he'd be out anywhere between four-to-five months, and because he never had a setback he was able to come in on the short side.

"I didn't push myself right at the beginning," Zajac said. "I slowly built up stamina and strength and stability, and it's helped me to get further along faster."

Zajac will start Friday night as the third-line center between wings David Clarkson and Mattias Tedenby.

"I think we're going to have a lot of energy," Zajac said. "[Tedenby] plays with a lot of speed, [Clarkson] is physical and he's having a great season, so he's playing with a lot of confidence right now. Hopefully those guys help me out and I can eventually get to where I need to be contributing both offensively and defensively."

Zajac will have to wait an extra hour before he finally makes his season debut as Scott Niedermayer's jersey number retirement ceremony will push the start time back to 8 p.m. He said that won't change his mindset.

"I'll be nervous, a little anxious I think," Zajac said. "I'll be ready to go as soon as I get here I'm sure. I'm definitely excited to get out there and play with these guys again."

Zajac's teammates feel the same way.

"With how well Adam (Henrique) is playing, all of a sudden we're pretty deep at center," captain Zach Parise told NHL.com. "When he (Zajac) went out and then Jake (Jacob Josefsen), everyone thought center depth was going to be a big problem for us. It's good because he plays every situation -- even strength, 5-on-3, 3-on-5, everywhere else -- so once he gets comfortable and back into game speed it'll be really important for us to have him back."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 12.16.2011 / 11:51 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Wild's Koivu out with leg injury

Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu will miss Saturday's visit by the New York Islanders due to a leg injury.

Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he hopes Koivu is back before the holiday break, which leaves his availability in question for the team's upcoming three-game road trip, which starts Monday in Vancouver and includes stops in Calgary and Edmonton.

Koivu leads the Western Conference-leading Wild with 28 points and a plus-9 rating, and tops the team's forwards with an average of 21:08 of ice time per game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 12.16.2011 / 11:04 AM

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

Devils ready The Rock for Niedermayer Night

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils have dressed up Prudential Center in a fashionable way for Scott Niedermayer Night that includes a ceremony to raise the ex-defenseman's No. 27 to the rafters.

Giant pictures of Niedermayer at various stages of his Devils career are hanging from the ceiling. His No. 27 is painted into the ice behind both of the nets. A large draping that reads '27 Niedermayer 27' is hanging from the broadcast booth at the top of the lower bowl. The same sign is stuck on the boards by the penalty boxes.

Niedermayer is expected to have between 50-60 family members and friends, including several ex-teammates, in attendance for his jersey retirement ceremony. Three of his former teammates (Martin Brodeur, Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias) still play for the Devils, though Brodeur will be the backup Friday night for Johan Hedberg.

The Devils have even handed out special media credentials for the evening.

Former Devils television play-by-play broadcaster Mike Emrick is here to serve as the master of ceremonies. Niedermayer and Devils GM Lou Lamoriello will meet the media at noon.

However, the Devils also have a game Friday against the Stars, who are looking for a sweep of the tri-state area. They beat the Rangers, 1-0, on Tuesday and won at the Islanders, 2-1, Thursday night.

Travis Zajac will make his season debut for the Devils. He underwent surgery on his left Achilles tendon on Aug. 18. Judging from the morning skate, Zajac will center the Devils third line between Mattias Tedenby and David Clarkson.

Here are the rest of the lines and defense pairings for New Jersey:

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Mattias Tedenby - Travis Zajac - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Cam Janssen

Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Bryce Salvador - Kurtis Foster
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne

It appears that Tim Sestito, Alex Urbom and Matt Taormina will be the scratches. And, again, Hedberg gets the start in net.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Friday, 12.16.2011 / 2:10 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Adequate Pronger replacement

Fantasy owners of Chris Pronger are searching for answers after news broke Thursday that the Philadelphia Flyers' defenseman will miss the rest of the season due to post-concussion syndrome.

While there's no doubt that the news comes as a road block to fantasy owners who hoped this elite blueliner would be a significant piece to their championship puzzle, Pronger's teammate, Matt Carle, has proved he can be an adequate replacement for any fantasy lineup.

Carle (4 G, 14 A, plus-8, 18 PIM, 3 PPP, 46 SOG, 14 hits) may not match the point-per-game production of Pronger this season (1 G, 11 A, 8 PPP in 13 games), but the 27-year-old blueliner could step in for the Flyers' captain and emerge as a factor on the power play. With three power-play goals already this season, there could be more on the way in that department.

His average of just over three minutes per game on the man advantage should increase, and his superb plus-minus only adds to his upside. His recent stretch of a goal and six assists in his last four games is certainly noteworthy production from a fantasy standpoint.

Philadelphia has won seven straight games to kick off the month of December, and Carle registered a season-high three-point outing (all assists) with a plus-2 rating in the Flyers' 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. Owned in only 41 percent of Yahoo! leagues, Carle will quickly become a commodity in leagues around the world.
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Posted On Friday, 12.16.2011 / 1:03 AM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

COL @ SJ - 18:19 of the Third Period

At 18:19 of the third period in the Avalanche/Sharks game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Ryane Clowe's shot did not completely cross the goal line. No Goal San Jose.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 9:25 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

PHI @ MTL - 19:44 of the Second Period

At 19:44 of the second period in the Flyers/Canadiens game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty's cross ice pass deflected off Erik Cole's pants and into the Flyers net. Good Goal Montreal.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 8:34 PM

NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Daniel Sedin sits out vs. Carolina

The Vancouver Canucks were without reigning NHL scoring champion Daniel Sedin for Thursday night's game in Carolina.

Sedin, the Canucks' leading scorer with 12 goals and 34 points, was scratched due to a stiff back. Vancouver called up forward Mark Mancari from its AHL affiliate in Chicago and inserted him into the lineup.

Mason Raymond is taking Sedin's spot on the line with Henrik Sedin and Alexandre Burrows.
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Quote of the Day

I think you always have to look internally before you look externally to see, 'Do we have these players within our organization?' And I think we do.

— Ottawa Senators assistant general manager Pierre Dorion on the Binghamton Senators (AHL affiliate)