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Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 1:52 PM

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

Rangers' Sauer out with concussion

The New York Rangers have excelled this season despite the absence of top defenseman Marc Staal since training camp due to problems stemming from a concussion suffered last season. That blue line will be put to the test yet again, at least for one game.

Michael Sauer, a fixture on the Rangers' second defense pairing for the past two seasons, will not play against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday after absorbing a massive hit from Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf on Monday. Rangers coach John Tortorella said Wednesday that Sauer is considered day-to-day with a concussion.

Sauer was caught with his head down by Phaneuf late in third period. The problem was exacerbated as Sauer, who lost his helmet because of the collision, hit the back of his head against the boards as he fell to the ice.

The Rangers will use Steve Eminger along with Michael Del Zotto as their No. 2 defense pairing, with Anton Stralman and Jeff Woywitka filling out the back end.

“It’s tough,” Del Zotto told Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record. “We’re missing Marc and he’s such a key component to the team because he plays in all situations. It’s a hole in our back end and nobody’s going to replace him. Now Sauer’s gone, too. It’s an opportunity for guys to step up.”

The 24-year-old Sauer enjoyed a terrific rookie campaign in 2010-11, with 3 goals, 12 assists and a plus-20 rating in 76 games. He has been steady again this season, with a goal, 2 assists and a plus-9 in 19 games.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 1:08 PM

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

Flames lose goalie Karlsson for 6-8 weeks

The Calgary Flames will be without backup goaltender Henrik Karlsson for 6-8 weeks due to a high-grade tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

Karlsson suffered the injury during Sunday's game against Vancouver when teammate Tom Kostopoulos fell into him. Karlsson went down clutching his knee and was removed from the game.

Karlsson has played just six games Miikka Kiprusoff's backup, going 0-4-1 with a 3.48 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.

The Flames have recalled goalie Leland Irving from AHL Abbotsford to serve as Kiprusoff's backup.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 12:51 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Senators, Capitals

KANATA, Ont. -- Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place.

SENATORS
Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Bobby Butler
Milan Michalek - Nick Foligno - Daniel Alfredsson
Kaspars Daugavins - Zack Smith - Erik Condra
Zenon Konopka - Jesse Winchester - Chris Neil

Jared Cowen - Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips - Sergei Gonchar
David Rundblad - Brian Lee

Craig Anderson will be getting the start in goal, with Alex Auld serving as backup.

Filip Kuba has been placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury sustained Nov. 29 against Winnipeg and will be out 3-4 weeks. Matt Carkner, who has yet to play a regular-season game after requiring knee surgery in the preseason, will join the Senators in New Jersey on Thursday, but will not play. His earliest expected return will be against Vancouver on Saturday.

CAPITALS
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Alexander Semin
Troy Brouwer - Marcus Johansson - Jeff Halpern
Jason Chimera - Brooks Laich - Joel Ward
Cody Eakin - Mathieu Perreault - Mike Knuble

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
John Erskine - Dennis Wideman
Jeff Schultz - Dmitry Orlov

Tomas Vokoun is expected to get the start in goal, with Michal Neuvirth backing him up.

Washington coach Dale Hunter said Semin (shoulder) and defenseman Roman Hamrlik (lower-body injury) are "game-time decisions."  Both skated with the team this morning, with Semin spending a second straight day on the top line.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 9:45 AM

By Jeremy Roenick -  NHL Network Contributor /NHL.com - World According to JR

Roenick: Nugent-Hopkins clicking, Ovechkin missing

NHL Network analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick will be penning a weekly blog for NHL.com this season. Look for new entries from "World According to JR," every Wednesday. Roenick will offer sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League.

A rising rookie and a falling superstar highlight my blog this week. Read on to find out what's on my mind:

What's clicking?

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Center - EDM
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 29
SOG: 55 | +/-: 4
With the instant impact of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, it just amazes me that the Edmonton Oilers even considered sending this kid back to junior instead of keeping him for the season. At 18 years old and being the No. 1 draft pick, and then to come in and make such an instant impact while making things look so easy is totally amazing to me.

This kid has impressed me with his maturity, with his sense of the game, with how knowledgeable he is, the way he reads the game. For a rookie to have 29 points in 27 games, with 12 goals and 17 assists -- I don't know if we've seen a rookie this good in a long time. 
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 2:24 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Hansen heating up for Canucks

Daniel Sedin stole headlines with a hat trick on Tuesday night, but Jannik Hansen wasn't far behind.

Hansen (27 games, 9 goals, 5 assists, minus-1, 0 PPP, 14 PIM, 42 SOG) continued to fly under the radar as a complementary offensive weapon for Vancouver, scoring a pair of goals in the Vancouver Canucks' 6-0 rout of the Colorado Avalanche. The Danish-born right wing has operated alongside Cody Hodgson on Vancouver's third line, and is picking up steam as of late -- with four goals in his last three games. Considering Hansen opened the season with only a goal and three assists in his first 14 games, his recent performance has made it clear that he does possess sleeper fantasy value.

If his heightened goal-scoring production continues, it will only be a matter of time before the 25-year-old becomes a trending commodity in the fantasy world. Despite the fact that he does not see much time on the power play these days, Hansen has already equaled his goal-scoring production from last season -- an indication that he may be primed for the first 20-plus goal season of his career. If his production soars, he could potentially challenge newly-acquired David Booth for time at wing on Vancouver's secondary line.

For a player owned in only two percent of Yahoo! leagues, Hansen is worth the risk at this point, especially considering he diversified his game as a distributor last season (82 games, 9 goals, 20 assists, plus-13 rating, 113 SOG). If Hansen stays healthy, there is a great chance he will take the next step in his development and thrive in an even bigger way in a back-seat role for the Canucks. 

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 9:21 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CAR @ CGY - 1:51 of the First Period

At 1:51 of the first period in the Hurricanes/Flames game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that in the goalmouth scramble in front of the Hurricanes net, Cam Ward stopped the puck with his leg and it never crossed the goal line. No Goal Calgary.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 8:54 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

PHX @ NSH - 19:49 of the First Period

At 19:49 of the first period in the Coyotes/Predators game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Nashville defenseman Jack Hillen's shot deflected off Phoenix goaltender Jason Labarbera and then deflected off Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle and into the net. Good Goal Nashville.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 8:24 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NJ @ TOR - 11:29 of the Second Period

At 11:29 of the second period in the Devils/Maple Leafs game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck went off Martin Brodeur and then deflected off Phil Kessel's right skate and into the net. According to rule 49.2 "a puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal." Good Goal Toronto.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 6:44 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Injuries force Sharks to shake up defense

SAN JOSE -- After his team's defensive meltdown in Saturday night's 5-3 loss to Florida, Sharks coach Todd McLellan considered shaking up his blue line. Now he has no choice.

Defenseman Douglas Murray will miss Tuesday night's game against the Minnesota Wild with an upper-body injury, McLellan said after the Sharks' optional morning skate at HP Pavilion. Murray missed the previous two practices and had his right hand heavily wrapped.

Murray is typically in the top pairing with Dan Boyle. His absence will force McLellan to make multiple changes.

"They'll be all over the map," McLellan said of his defensive corps. "We'll start a certain way, and until we find something we like we'll move them around. We practiced (Monday) with some pairs that we'll likely start with. Then we'll move from there."

Based on Monday's practice, the Sharks will likely begin the game with Marc-Edouard Vlasic paired with Boyle, Brent Burns with Jim Vandermeer and Jason Demers with Colin White. Justin Braun, who was recalled Tuesday from Worcester, is another option. McLellan said he might dress seven defensemen against Minnesota.

"Everybody's pretty comfortable playing with everybody," Demers said. "With Cranky out, it throws a little bit of a wrinkle into things. Guys are just going to have to step up and take that role because those are big shoes to fill for sure."

If Braun is in the lineup, McLellan said he wants to "see him play his game" against Minnesota.

"What is that? He's a very good retrieval guy," McLellan said. "He goes back and gets the puck and initiates breakouts. He's got a tremendous shot and can get it through to the net. So we want to see him use that. He's a big man. He can be physical when he has to be. We sent him down after the L.A. game (Nov. 28) just to get some games under his belt. We weren't going to use him in the Montreal game (Dec. 1). So it would be another week of him watching. He was able to get three games in, which is going to polish him up a little."

With or without Murray, the Sharks know they can't afford another turnover-filled effort against Minnesota, which enters Tuesday night's game with an NHL-best 37 points. The Wild have won 14 of their past 18 games and four straight road games. In its past three road wins, Minnesota overcame two-goal deficits. The Wild have 11 wins this season after giving up the first goal.

"No, it's not the plan," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of falling behind early. "We'd like to try getting the first goal a little more frequently. But certainly the plan is to stay with it. Regardless of whether we score or they score, we have to continue to go out and play our game shift after shift.

"We preach it all the time. It doesn't matter what the score is. It doesn't matter if we're up 3-1 or they're up 3-1 or what period we're in or how the momentum of the game has shifted. We want to go out and play our game, and we have to. Because we still haven't built it yet. I think we have a good understanding of what our game is, but as far as a group, we're still trying to create our identity. We're still trying to really forge our foundation as a team."

The Sharks and Wild will meet at HP Pavilion for the second and final time this season. San Jose beat the Wild 3-1 on Nov. 10, the Sharks' eighth win in a 10-game stretch. This time, the Sharks have lost three of their past four games, including Saturday's night's defensive debacle. Florida scored three times in the second period, taking advantage of turnovers by Boyle, Burns and White. Instead of getting their scheduled day off Sunday, the Sharks held a rugged practice.

"They're going to be hungry," Wild forward and ex-Shark Dany Heatley said. "Lost a few so they're going to be ready to go tonight, and we're going pretty good right now. So it should be a good one."

The Wild will have Josh Harding in net again, Yeo said. He came off the bench in Friday night's 4-2 win against New Jersey when Niklas Backstrom suffered a minor groin injury. Harding started Sunday's 5-3 win at Anaheim. Although Backstrom took part in Tuesday morning's skate, Yeo said that Matt Hackett would likely back up up Harding again.

Yeo said he always "looks for a reason" why his team's opponent will be at its best, but he didn't have to search hard this time.

"Certainly we're expecting a team to come out very well prepared, very hungry, very determined," Yeo said. "And on top of that, this is just a really good team that we're playing. So we're going to have to be sharp."

Wild winger Casey Wellman certainly won't lack motivation against the Sharks. He grew up in the Bay Area and played for the San Jose Junior Sharks, occasionally taking part in youth games during intermission at Sharks games.

This will be Wellman's first NHL game at the Shark Tank and will mark the first time his parents – Jodi and Brand Wellman, a former San Francisco Giants infielder – will see him play professionally. He expects to have around 20 family members at the game.

"I'm really excited about it," said Wellman.

Wellman is one of only four active NHL players born in California and one of 27 in League history.

"People always ask me where I'm from," Wellman said. "I tell them I'm from California. They don't believe I'm a hockey player. It's great to be a part of this. I used to play at the intermission here when I was a mite. It's good to play the real thing."

Wellman will see at least one familiar face on the Sharks. He played hockey with Braun at UMass Amherst and stayed with him at his mother's house in Minnesota last summer, sleeping in a room in the basement.

"It was two rooms. The back one was his," Wellman said. "I just had a little futon in the little room before his. He actually just bought a place, so next summer we'll be moving into that thing. I've already picked out a room."

When the Sharks and Wild met earlier this season, it marked the first game between the two teams since they made three trades with each other during the offseason, including two huge deals. The Sharks sent Devin Setoguchi to Minnesota as part of a package for Burns. They traded Heatley to the Wild for Martin Havlat.

After an emotional reunion game, it's been business as usual for the ex-Sharks and ex-Wild.

"Now it's out of the way," Setoguchi said of his first game at the Shark Tank since being traded. "It's just another road game. It's always fun coming back. Hopefully this time we can get a couple points out of here."

Here are the possible lineups for Tuesday night's game between the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild at HP Pavilion:

SHARKS

Patrick MarleauJoe ThorntonJoe Pavelski

Ryane CloweLogan CoutureMartin Havlat

Jamie McGinnMichal HandzusTorrey Mitchell

Brad WinchesterAndrew DesjardinsAndrew Murray

Dan BoyleMarc-Edouard Vlasic

Brent BurnsJim Vandermeer

Jason DemersColin White

Antti Niemi

WILD

Devin SetoguchiMikko KoivuDany Heatley

Pierre-Marc BouchardMatt CullenCasey Wellman

Nick JohnsonKyle BrodziakCal Clutterbuck

Darroll PoweCody AlmondBrad Staubitz

Nick SchultzMike Lundin

Greg ZanonClayton Stoner

Jared SpurgeonMarco Scandella

Josh Harding
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 5:20 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Avalanche without Stastny against Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Paul Stastny made the trip to Vancouver, but the Avalanche's top-line center won't play against the Canucks on Tuesday night because of a torso injury.

Injured after scoring in Sunday's win over Detroit, Stastny skated before the Avalanche kicked off a three-game western Canadian trip, but is listed as day to day.

Without Stastny, top-line winger Matt Duchene slides over from the left wing to his natural center spot, with David Jones on one side and TJ Galiardi on the other. They were understandably hesitant to break up a second line anchored by Ryan O'Reilly, who has 4 goals and 7 points during the Avalanche's current three-game win streak.

Colorado will dress seven defensemen and just 11 forwards for a second-straight game, with wingers Kevin Porter and Brandon Yip getting a revolving center on the fourth line.

Chuck Kobasew returns after missing one game with a minor injury.

Here's how the lineup projects tonight:

David Jones - Matt Duchene - TJ Galiardi
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnik - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew
Kevin Porter - Brandon Yip

Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Ryan Wilson - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Stefan Elliott

Semyon Varlamov, who is 4-2 with a .939 save percentage in his last six starts, is back in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.

Johnson's return Sunday coincided with the first off night for Elliott, but those first signs of struggles will not keep the rookie from playing in his hometown -- and against the Canucks team he grew up cheering -- for the first time Tuesday. That said, the 20-year-old Elliott, who had 2 goals and 3 points in his first four games, only played 8:57 against the Red Wings and was held pointless for a second straight game.
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Quote of the Day

Right now I'm just happy to be back and get through this season and make sure I do my job. I've never had an issue with having to prove myself again and I'll try to do it again. We'll see where it takes me.

— Defenseman Torey Krug on signing with the Boston Bruins
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