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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 7:51 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CHI @ FLA - 4:04 of the First Period

At 4:04 of the first period in the Blackhawks/Panthers game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck went off Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews and into the net. It was not batted or kicked. Good goal Chicago.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 7:28 PM

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

Panthers get Bergenheim back in lineup

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers will get 2011 playoff sensation Sean Bergenheim back in the lineup when they face the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night at the BankAtlantic Center.

Bergenheim, who signed as a free agent with Florida after scoring 9 goals in 16 playoff games for Tampa Bay last spring, missed the last seven games because of a lower-body injury.

Bergenheim has 1 goal in four games, but was part of Florida's penalty-killing unit.

"He can eat up a lot of minutes and he's a big body," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "He's very responsible and he's one of those players that coaches certainly trust. Where he left off at the end of last season being a dominant player in the playoffs for Tampa Bay, he's picked that up here and he has been missed in our lineup. So we're looking forward to getting him back."

Dineen was non-commital at the morning skate about who would start in goal, but opted to use rookie Jacob Markstron. Veteran Jose Theodore played the last two games -- a 3-2 victory at Buffalo and a 4-3 shootout loss at home to Winnipeg -- after Markstrom had made two starts.

Corey Crawford will be in net for Chicago, which will be missing defenseman Duncan Keith, who is nursing a hand injury. Veteran Sean O'Donnell is expected to take Keith's place in the lineup.

Coach Joel Quenneville said it was too early to determine whether Keith would be back in action Friday night when the Hawks play at Tampa Bay.

Forward Daniel Carcillo will be back in the lineup against Florida after serving a two-game suspension for a hit on Carolina defenseman Joni Pitkanen.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 7:15 PM

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

Flyers' van Riemsdyk, Devils' Andy Greene to sit

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers will be without forward James van Riemsdyk tonight. He was a late scratch after taking warmups.

Van Riemsdyk appeared to injure his knee Wednesday night on a hit into the boards by Sabres defenseman Robyn Regehr. Van Riemsdyk told reporters in Buffalo that he felt fine, but apparently things changed since then.

Van Riemsdyk's absence means Jody Shelley will play.

Devils defenseman Andy Greene also will sit out tonight. According to Tom Gulitti of The (Bergen) Record, Greene doesn't have any serious injury, just some bumps and bruises that could use a night off on the back end of back-to-back games. Mark Fraser will play in his absence.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 5:38 PM

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

Voracek feeling fine after head-butt incident

PHILADELPHIA -- A night after being head butted by Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said he felt fine, and didn't even know exactly what happened until he saw the replay this morning.

Today it was announced Kaleta was suspended four games for the incident.

"I didn't even know he hit me with his head," Voracek said. "I felt something hit and when I saw it on the replay this morning, I found out he head butted me."
 
At 4:58 of the first period, with a group of players battling along the boards -- among them Voracek and Kaleta -- the Sabres forward drove his head into Voracek's face.

"I was battling for the puck and I felt something hit me," Voracek said. "He made a few steps back and hit me with his head. The way the League looks at those things right now, it was possible he gets suspended."

Voracek refused to say if he thought it was intentional or not.

"It's hard to say," Voracek said. "He's got to know if he did it on purpose or not. I can't go into his head."

Voracek also was asked about Saturday's visit by the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team that traded him to Philadelphia in June.

"It's going to be very exciting," he said. "But we have a big game tonight and I have to re-focus on tonight. Tomorrow we'll worry about Saturday."

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

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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 5:15 PM

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

Battle of the backups in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- The New Jersey Devils confirmed Johan Hedberg would start in net, and Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette confirmed a few minutes ago that Sergei Bobrovsky would start in goal for the Flyers.

With both teams having played their No. 1 goalies last night, there's no real surprise with these decisions.

In 20 (19 starts) against the Flyers, Hedberg has a career record of 7-10-1 with a 3.03 goals-against average and .899 save percentage. Last season, he went 3-3-0 against Philadelphia, including a 26-save effort in a 3-1 Devils win Jan. 11, his last start in Philadelphia.

Bobrovsky started just once against the Devils, stopping 23 of 26 shots Dec. 4, 2010, in a 5-3 victory in Philadelphia.

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









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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 4:54 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Coyotes, Predators

Here's how the lineups could look Thursday night when the Phoenix Coyotes host the Nashville Predators at Jobing.com Arena:

COYOTES
Lauri Korpikoski - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Mikkel Boedker
Raffi Torres - Andy Miele - Patrick O'Sullivan

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Rostislav Klesla - David Schlemko
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin

Jason LaBarbera
Mike Smith

PREDATORS
Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Martin Erat
Jordin Tootoo - Jerred Smithson - Craig Smith
Matt Halischuk - Blake Geoffrion - Niclas Bergfors

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein
Jack Hillen - Jonathon Blum

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 4:50 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Coyotes turn to LaBarbera, could miss Hanzal

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The line of Ray Whitney, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata and the goaltending of Mike Smith have been the major players in a three-game winning streak and a 4-0-1 run that the Phoenix Coyotes take into tonight's game with the Nashville at Jobing.com Arena.
 
But both ingredients could be missing against the Predators -- one scripted, the other unexpected.
 
Smith will get the night off after his 3-1 victory over the Avalanche in Colorado on Wednesday. Smith was in goal for the entire 4-0-1 run and allowed only 12 goals in the five games, improving his record to 5-2-1 for the season. Jason LaBarbera, who beat the Predators 5-2 in Nashville on Oct. 13, will get his third start of the season as the Coyotes face their first back-to-back situation of the season.
 
And while the Whitney-Hanzal-Vrbata line has produced 7 goals and 17 points in the last three games -- including 2 goals by Vrbata, 2 assists by Whitney and 1 helper by Hanzal against the Avalanche -- the trio might be broken up tonight due to injury. Hanzal appeared to suffer an injury late in Wednesday's game. The Coyotes had an optional skate Thursday, but Kyle Chipchura was summoned from AHL Portland and coach Dave Tippett said he would be in the lineup against the Predators, fueling speculation that Hanzal could be a scratch tonight.
 
Meanwhile, the Predators will get some regulars back in the lineup and have a happy goalie between the pipes.
 
Forwards Mike Fisher (upper-body injury) and Sergei Kostitsyn (lower-body injury) took part in the morning skate and are expected to return to the lineup against Phoenix for this opening game of a four-game Western road trip.

Goalie Pekka Rinne was given quite a 29th birthday present Thursday, signing a seven-year extension for $49 million, the richest contract in Predators history. Renne, who would have been a restricted free agent at the end of the season, is 5-4-2 so far this year with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. He will start tonight against the Coyotes.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 4:48 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: Going to the net is goal scorer's mantra

Let's talk about plays down around the net. If you want to score goals in this League, that's where you need to be. On Tuesday, I think all but three goals were scored from within 10 feet of the net.

Let me start by saying this -- Dino Ciccarelli, Dave Andreychuk, Brendan Shanahan -- I played with them all, and they all can beat a goalie from 30 feet out. But what's most impressive is most of their goals came from within five feet of the net. Tips, rebounds, maybe a nice shot from in tight. When you look at the amount of goals those guys have scored, a lot more can be said for how they scored. It's a great lesson for all hockey players, whether you're a player in the League, you're retired, you're a kid coming up through the ranks or just someone playing in a league for fun -- if you're willing to go to the net, you're going to get your share of goals.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 4:02 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Best Team to Watch

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POSTED ON Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 4:01 PM

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

Melrose Matchup: Penguins at Sharks

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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory