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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 1:21 PM

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

Projected lineups for Islanders, Stars

Here’s a look at the projected lineups for the New York Islanders and the Dallas Stars for their contest Saturday night at American Airlines Center:

ISLANDERS

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - P.A. Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
David Ullstrom - Josh Bailey - Brian Rolston
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Nino Niederreiter

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Dylan Reese - Travis Hamonic
Milan Jurcina - Mike Mottau

Al Montoya (starter)
Rick DiPietro

STARS

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

Stephane Robidas - Sheldon Souray
Nicklas Grossman - Adam Pardy
Mark Fistric - Philip Larsen

Andrew Raycroft (starter)
Richard Bachman

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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 1:12 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Crosby still searching for peak form

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, who was held off the scoresheet Thursday against Washington for the second time in six games this season, is still finding his comfort level following his long absence with post-concussion symptoms.

"Some things are right where they need to be, other things aren't as consistent," the Penguins captain said. "Some things aren't near where they need to be. It's doing it over the course of the season."

After scoring twice in his first game back, Crosby hasn't found the net in the Penguins past five games.

"Finishing is one thing that takes a lot of focus,” he said. “You've got a split second to put a shot where you want to and you've got guys on you. It takes time getting into those areas and comfortable. That's something I want to improve on. I know it's going to take some time getting back into things."

The Penguins will turn to backup goaltender Brent Johnson tonight against Carolina. He will be looking for his second win of the season (1-3-2).

Carolina coach Kirk Muller did not confirm a starter in goal.

Here’s a look at the projected lineups for both teams in their matchup Saturday night at RBC Center:

PITTSBURGH

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
James Neal - Evgeni Malkin - Steve Sullivan
Matt CookeJordan StaalTyler Kennedy
Craig AdamsRichard ParkArron Asham

Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Matt Niskanen - Deryk Engelland
Robert Bortuzzo - Simon Despres

Brent Johnson
Marc-Andre Fleury

CAROLINA

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

Bryan Allen - Tomas Kaberle
Tim Gleason - Justin Faulk
Joni Pitkanen - Derek Joslin

Cam Ward
Brian Boucher
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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 1:00 PM

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

Leafs hope to solve struggles against Bruins

BOSTON – The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to try for the fourth time to solve the Boston Bruins, and a victory would mean no worse than a share of first place at TD Garden tonight.
   
Toronto will have James Reimer in net for the first time since he began suffering concussion-like symptoms Oct. 22. The Maple Leafs will also have some extra-interested spectators among the Garden faithful, as this is Toronto’s “dads’ trip.”
   
“It’s good for the dads, but I want our players to appreciate that they do have a dad who can watch them and all of the support,” said Toronto head coach Ron Wilson after his team’s morning skate. “You don’t get to this level without the support of your parents. And that’s the one big, strong thing in hockey, whether it’s Canada or the United States, it’s the involvement of the parents to get them to this level, because it’s certainly a financial burden, and a time burden as well. You’ve got all those 5 o’clock [in the morning] practices, and you’ve got to get to the rink and your parents are completely dedicated to your love of hockey because they have the same thing, and they share their passion with their sons.”
   
Here is the Leafs’ projected lineup:

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Tim Connolly - Matt Frattin
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Joe Colborne - Dave Steckel - Philippe Dupuis

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

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson
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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 12:52 PM

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

Bruins still rolling but seek improvements

BOSTON – His team’s win Wednesday night in Toronto ran its point streak to 13 games, but that didn’t prevent Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien from seeking out areas his club can improve.
   
After all, the Bruins got into a bit of a run-and-gun game with the Maple Leafs for stretches of their 6-3 victory.
   
“I think we didn’t play as well, as far as closing the ice, which is part of our game,” said Julien today after his team’s morning skate in preparation for its rematch with the Leafs tonight at TD Garden. “It’s not about being better defensively, it’s about closing the gap quicker. To me there’s a difference there – playing them a little tighter. Certain teams are good skating teams, and the more room you give them the better they are. I just felt we gave them a little bit too much room in that game in Toronto and got away from our game a little bit. But that’s just something you need to adjust.”
   
Some of Julien’s charges also saw the error of their ways despite the positive end result.
   
“I felt like there was a lot of lulls,” forward Milan Lucic said. “Even though we did win 6-3, I felt like there was some lulls in our game that we need to touch up on because if we keep making some of the mistakes that we did last game, it will definitely wind up in the back of the net more so than it did last game.”
   
Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice and should get the start tonight. Here is the rest of the Bruins’ projected lineup:

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

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

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask
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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 2:16 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Kane blossoms at new position

It's fun being the center of attention. Even more fun when you're doing it at right wing.

Chicago Blackhawks playmaker Patrick Kane spent all of 2011-12 playing the center position until Friday night, when he joined teammate Jonathan Toews on the right side of the ice - the side of the ice he's been accustomed to playing since breaking into the League in 2007-08.

The result: a solid two-assist, two-shot outing in what was a winning effort in the shootout for the Blackhawks over the New York Islanders.

For the most part, fantasy owners should've been pleased with Kane's production this year. After all, he ranks third in the NHL in assists, 10th in points and is a top-20 shot producer. Those are more than respectable numbers for any fantasy contributor. But Kane has never finished a season with less than 70 points and 21 goals.

Leading up to Friday's til, though, Kane went six games without registering a goal. Dig deeper and you'll notice he has scored just seven goals in 26 games this year.

Project jumpstart is underway. So despite the goal-scoring dry spell,which has now reached eight games, Kane appeared to be more than comfortable playing alongside captain Toews.

If the two can develop some chemistry, Kane could see a huge jump in production, which would only mean good things for your fantasy squads moving forward.

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Posted On Friday, 12.02.2011 / 11:37 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

STL @ COL - 4:43 of Overtime

At 4:43 of overtime  in Colorado, video review was used to determine if the puck crossed the goal line of the St. Louis net. Video review determined that the puck never completely crossed the goal line. No goal Colorado.

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Posted On Friday, 12.02.2011 / 11:22 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

PHI @ ANA - 6:31 of the 2nd

At 6:31 of the second period in the Philadelphia/Anaheim game, video review was used to determine if the puck entered the Philadelphia net in a legal fashion. Video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck deflected off of Anaheim forward Andrew Gordon. Call on the ice stands, good goal Anaheim.
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Posted On Friday, 12.02.2011 / 10:02 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

STL @ COL - 0:36 of the 2nd

At 0:36 of second period in the Blues/Avalanche game, video review upheld the call on the ice that St. Louis Blues forward TJ Oshie kicked the puck with a distinct kicking motion. No goal St. Louis.

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Posted On Friday, 12.02.2011 / 4:16 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Quenneville says 'D' is Hawks' biggest issue

CHICAGO -- After dropping four of their last six games, the trade speculation surrounding the Blackhawks has ramped up.

Coach Joel Quenneville was asked on Friday if he thinks the Hawks, as currently comprised, could make a serious run in the playoffs next spring. He sort of talked around it, but sounded like it could if things improved from a defensive perspective.

Chicago has scored 80 goals, which is the fourth-highest in the League before Friday's games, but the Hawks have also allowed 78 goals -- which is fifth-highest.

"I like our team," Quenneville said. "I like our team in a lot of ways. There's a lot of depth. There's a lot of options as far as guys can (who) play different positions with different guys. The offense is there. The area we can shore up is our attention to detail defensively. It's not just our defense. It's our mentality starting in the offensive zone. Finding that consistency now is something we'll be looking for."
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Posted On Friday, 12.02.2011 / 4:16 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kruger gets opportunity centering Hawks' second line

CHICAGO -- Marcus Kruger got cut on the last day of training camp for the Chicago Blackhawks and started the year in Rockford of the American Hockey League.

Now, the 21-year old Swedish rookie is being asked to play the middle on the Hawks' second line Friday night against the visiting New York Islanders -- between star forwards Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.

That's how quickly the 6-foot, 181-pound Kruger has shot up the organizational depth chart after making his debut late last season because of injuries to Sharp and center Dave Bolland.

"That was hard to get sent down, but I just tried to work hard and I got a chance to get back here," Kruger said after Friday's morning skate. "I wanted to prove that I could play here, so that's where my mindset was -- to work hard and get back right away."

The fact he did it so quickly is a testament to his mental fortitude, but also to adapting his style of play to the NHL rinks, which are smaller than in the Swedish Elite League, where Kruger played last season prior to his arrival in Chicago.

"I try to be in front of the net," he said. "More stuff happens around the net (in the NHL), so if you're there on every shift you're probably going to score more goals."

Kruger has scored just 2 goals to go with 5 assists in 24 games, but he's creating more scoring chances with his speed and skill -- which is probably a big reason he's getting this look on the second line that had previously been centered by star forward Patrick Kane.

On Thursday, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville moved Kane back to his more familiar role of right wing on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg, which meant a golden opportunity for somebody else. Kruger was the guy, and he's understandably excited to play with Sharp and Hossa.

"Those are two great players, but I just need to play my game," he said. "Every game you get a chance, no matter what -- whether you're playing fourth line for five minutes or you're playing on the second line. I can't change what I'm doing just because I know those are good guys I have around me. I just need to play my game."

And if that doesn't work, Sharp said to make sure he finds No. 10 with the puck.

"That goes without question," Sharp said, laughing. "If he has a choice between Hossa and Sharp, he'd better go to the backhand and find Sharp."
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Quote of the Day

He's able to play now, we just want to see other guys. We know what he can do.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on not rushing Steven Stamkos onto the ice