Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 1:15 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Trotz reflects, deflects after 500th victory

NASHVILLE – Earlier this season, Barry Trotz coached his 1,000th game behind the bench – all with the Predators.
On Friday, he earned his 500th win with a 4-1 victory at Detroit. Talking about the feat Saturday morning, Trotz preferred to point credit in a different direction, saying he hadn’t thought about it much.
“Last night the players were coming off [the ice] and going, ‘Hey, congratulations,’” he said. “And David Legwand [a member of the Predators since their inaugural season] hands me a puck and I say, ‘What the [heck] is this for?’
“I was oblivious to it, so from that standpoint, after the game, really to me, it was good for the franchise and I thought it was real, real great for me that [general manager David Poile] was able to get 500 with two franchises -- which is the only guy in the history of this game, which is over a hundred years old -- to do that. I’m more proud of that for David than anything.”
Poile also guided Washington 500 wins from 1982 to 1997. The Predators are the fastest to win 500 of any expansion team after 1990, needing 1,062 games.
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 1:08 PM

By John Manasso - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Trotz coy on goaltender choice for Predators

NASHVILLE – Coming off a huge win on the road Friday in Detroit that helped the Predators vault past the Red Wings into fourth place in the Western Conference, it was hard to tell if Nashville coach Barry Trotz was going to go for broke and start goalie Pekka Rinne again Saturday against Central Division rival Chicago.
Trotz said that backup Anders Lindback, who has only played in 14 games, would probably start a game or two in Nashville’s four remaining contests, but he would not say which goalie was going to start Saturday.
All Central Division teams have four games remaining entering Saturday and Nashville leads fifth-place Detroit by one point and the fourth-place Blackhawks by three. It’s possible that Trotz could start Rinne again Saturday and then rest him for one or two of the non-divisional games which don’t have as many playoff implications. One of those teams (Minnesota) is eliminated and another (Colorado) could be by the time Nashville plays the Avs in the season finale.
“We’re going to play sort of game-by-game,” Trotz said of the goalie decisions.
Rinne earned his 42nd win of the season Friday in the 4-1 win against Detroit by making 31 saves, including a sprawling, highlight-reel glove stop on Henrik Zetterberg from point-blank range in the second period. Without revealing anything, Rinne sounded as if he could play if called upon.

Lindback spent plenty of time on the ice during the morning skate; only the players who did not play on Friday participated in it. Rinne also said winning the first end of a back-to-back can be energizing.
“Yeah, for sure I think it’s a help,” he said. “We were talking about that after the game last night. Even though you feel, obviously, sometimes a little tired, but when you win, it gets easier and you feel like you have more energy. That kind of gives a boost for the whole team. Beating Detroit gives confidence to the whole team, so that’s a good thing.”
Rinne was asked if he would rate the win as one of his best performances of the season.
“I don’t know, for sure against a good team like that play a solid game at this point in the season,” he said. “It was a good game. It’s hard for me to rate it. … For sure, good to have a good game like that at the later stage of the season like it is.”
Trotz also said the lineup will not change much from now until the playoffs. Forwards Brandon Yip, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith and Brian McGrattan were all scratches last night, as were defensemen Jack Hillen and Ryan Ellis with Roman Josi returning to the lineup after missing nine games because of injury.
“We’re not going to try to tinker with it too much,” Trotz said.
Here is the Predators' projected lineup:
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Alex Radulov
Gabriel Bourque - Nick Spaling - Patric Hornqvist
Matt Halischuk - Paul Gaustad - Jordin Tootoo
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Hal Gill - Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein
Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 1:00 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Brown set for NHL debut with Lightning

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning open their final homestand of the season when they play host to the Winnipeg Jets at Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday night.

With just two home games remaining and after two consecutive losses, it might appear like the Lightning are just playing out the string, but that assumption would be incorrect. Lightning coach Guy Boucher promises a full effort from his team.

“We play great at home and have respected our fans with our work ethic,” Boucher said.  “Our fans have given back to us by filling the stands every game. It’s important that we recognize that, but I want us to recognize that with a 60-minute effort. We’re playing a tough team and I don’t know if we’ll win or lose but there is one thing we can control and that is our work ethic.”

That effort has been absent in Tampa Bay’s previous two games -- losses to Boston and New Jersey. In both games, the Lightning started well but lackluster second periods changed the momentum of the contest completely.

“We get a great focus to start games and we’re short-staffed so I think the players come on the ice and they don’t want to get their butts kicked and it shows,” Boucher said.  “But I feel like when the first period is over they have a sense of relief. We don’t want that. The relief is when the game is over, the full 60 minutes.”

The Lightning will debut their newest acquisition Saturday night -- forward J.T. Brown, who signed March 28 as a college free agent from Minnesota-Duluth. The 21-year old was the MVP of the 2011 Frozen Four as he led the Bulldogs to the NCAA title.

Brown is the son of former Vikings running back Ted Brown, but unlike his father, the younger Brown’s sport was hockey rather than football.

“I played football until I was in ninth grade and then I had to make a choice to go one way or the other,” Brown said. “I like football but I have a passion for hockey.”

Brown had plenty of suitors once he announced his intention to leave school after his sophomore season, but said he chose to sign with Tampa Bay (a two-year deal) because he felt the Lightning would give him an opportunity to play right away.

He’s getting that, for sure.

“He’s going to play the remaining five games,” Boucher said. “We’ll give him some ice time with some quality players and give him the time to show us some of the stuff that our scouts have seen in him.

“He’s eager. He’s a young guy who is going to play in the NHL. Those were nerve-racking days, yesterday and today, signing his contract and all that. It’s a dream week but also a tough week to manage for him. We know that and the players he will play with are aware of that, too and they are ready to help him.”

They can start by helping him relax before the game.

“This is an exciting moment in my life,” Brown said. “Your first NHL game only happens once so I’ll try to make the best of it tonight. I usually take a pre-game nap but we’ll have to see if I can get one in today or not.”

Winnnipeg arrives for the second game in a back-to-back series, having kept its meager playoff hopes alive Friday night with a 4-3 overtime win in Carolina.

Saturday’s matchup is the fifth of six meetings between the Jets and the Lightning this season. The Jets have won three of the first four.


Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Antti Miettinen
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Kyle Wellwood - Tim StapletonNik Antropov
Ben Maxwell- Jim Slater - Spencer Machacek

Zach Bogosian - Ron Hainsey
Dustin Byfuglien - Tobias Enstrom
Mark Stuart - Grant Clitsome

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason


Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Vincent Lecavalier - J.T. Brown
Tim Wallace - Tom Pyatt - Brett Connolly
JT Wyman - Trevor Smith - Brandon Segal

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Brian Lee
Brendan Mikkelson - Mike Commodore

Sebastien Caron
Dwayne Roloson
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 12:47 PM

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

Bryzgalov out, Timonen in for Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- Sergei Bobrovsky will make his second straight start for the Flyers on Saturday when they face the Ottawa Senators (1 p.m., NHLN-US, CBC).

Ilya Bryzgalov practiced Friday, but the team will give him another day off to recover from the chip fracture in his right foot that occurred Monday night prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Flyers play again Sunday, in Pittsburgh (1 p.m. ET, NBC), and there's a chance Bryzgalov could return for that one. After that, the Flyers next play Tuesday.

In four career starts against the Senators, Bobrovsky is 3-1-0 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. Jason Bacashihua again will serve as the backup.

While Bryzgalov is out, All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen will return to the lineup after sitting out a game Thursday with an upper-body injury.

Here is the lineup the Flyers likely will use against the Senators:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read - Eric Wellwood - Jakub Voracek
Zac Rinaldo - Sean Couturier - Maxime Talbot

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Kimmo Timonen - Matt Carle
Pavel Kubina - Marc-Andre Bourdon

Sergei Bobrovsky
Jason Bacashihua

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 12:43 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Devils' Ponikarovsky faces old teammates for first time

Alexei Ponikarovsky will play his first game against Carolina since the Hurricanes dealt him to the Devils on Jan. 20. Ponikarovsky was in his first season with Carolina, but struggled to make an impact as the team fell to 15th in the Eastern Conference. After registering 15 points in 49 games in Carolina, he has accounted for 16 in just 29 games in New Jersey.

"We're playing pretty good as a team," Ponikarovsky said. "When you're in a playoff spot, it's a little different than when you're out of the playoffs. The atmosphere and everything else is a little different, for sure. Our focus is to win some games and get some points on the board."

The Devils will call on Martin Brodeur in net, while Carolina will counter with Brian Boucher.

Here is the projected lineup for the Devils and Hurricanes:


Patrik Elias - Dainus Zubrus – Petr Sykora
Ilya Kovalchuk - Zach PariseAdam Henrique
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Travis Zajac - David Clarkson
Jacob Josefson - Ryan CarterSteve Bernier
Anton VolchenkovPeter Harrold
Marek ZidlickyBryce Salvador
Andy GreeneMark Fayne
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
Jiri TlustyEric StaalChad LaRose
Jeff SkinnerJussi JokinenTuomo Ruutu
Drayson BowmanBrandon SutterPatrick Dwyer
Derek JoslinTim BrentAnthony Stewart
Tim GleasonBryan Allen
Jay HarrisonJustin Faulk
Joni PitkanenJamie McBain
Brian Boucher
Cam Ward
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 11:58 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Mullet of the Week: Brian Rolston

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 11:56 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Mathup: Predators at Blackhawks

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 11:55 AM

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

Senators back to work after long layoff

PHILADELPHIA -- For the Ottawa Senators' first game since Monday, coach Paul MacLean said he plans on using the same lineup that took the ice March 26 in Winnipeg.

MacLean said he wasn't sure how his team would react coming off a long layoff, telling reporters, "The biggest concern is we come out flat."

He said that the way he feels his team handled the long week had him feeling cautiously optimistic.

"Nothing is ever easy, but the way we've handled the week looks good," MacLean said. "We'll know (Saturday) at 1:08 when the face off hits."

Here's the lineup they'll like put on the ice here at Wells Fargo Center:

Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Kaspars Daugavins - Zack Smith - Erik Condra
Rob Klinkhammer - Jim O'Brien - Chris Neil

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Alex Auld

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 11:30 AM

By Craig Button -  Special to / - On the Playoff Button blog

Updated playoff projections: March 31st

NHL Network's Craig Button has been tracking playoff positioning -- using a variety of statistical categories -- for several years now. His formula, while not a true probability exercise, has proven to be very effective at predicting the cutoff number to secure a Stanley Cup Playoffs berth.

In its simplest terms, Button's formula uses a team's current winning percentage, factoring in games remaining, to arrive at the number of wins -- and points -- each team will finish the season with. From that exercise, the formula can extrapolate the magic number for qualification and which teams currently in the race will reach that number. This equation will also determine tiebreakers should they become necessary.

Still not convinced? Check out the full explanation of Button's formula

Wins to
earn 8th
7th 77 88 5 93 2
8th 78 86 4 90 3

9th 78 86 4 90 3
Wins to
earn 8th
6th 78 95 4 99
7th 78 89 4 93 3
8th 78 89 4 93 3

9th 78 88 4 92 3
The skinny: The Los Angeles Kings move to third from eighth in the Western Conference on Friday night with a win over Edmonton. The Stars fell to seventh from third with a loss to the Canucks and the Coyotes without playing dropped a spot to eighth.

There will be more jockeying on Saturday in the West, and the minimum projected playoff point total remains at 94. San Jose is out of a playoff spot but the Sharks have full control over their playoff aspirations. They have four games remaining -- two with Dallas and two with Los Angeles. It says here that three regulation wins in those four games will see them in the postseason.

The same can be said for the Dallas Stars who can put three points between them and ninth-pace San Jose with a regulation win Saturday. Regardless, two points will go to the victor and inch them closer to the playoffs. Los Angeles visits Minnesota and a win gets the Kings to 92 points and needing one win in their reaming three games to 'hit' the magic number. With a visit from the Oilers on Tuesday, the Kings could be in a position to punch their ticket to the postseason.

The Coyotes entertain the Ducks and after beating the Sharks on Thursday, and they need a win to keep their trek towards the playoffs on the rails. A loss and then they are looking at needing five points in their remaining three games to reach 94 and that includes a game against the dominant Blues in St. Louis. They will get a little help because of the schedule with the Kings, Stars and Sharks playing against one another but there is nothing better than helping yourself.

The East has now become a heated race for the seventh and eighth spots. Ottawa, Buffalo and Washington are battling it out and it looks to be 90 points to qualify, but I'm beginning to think that 90 may not be enough. Finishing third in this race will get you a seat in front of your TV to watch the playoffs.

Ottawa has five games remaining and visit the streaking Flyers on Saturday. It is no easy task for the Senators but a win gets them to 90 with four games remaining. The Sabres visit the Leafs, who have not won a game at home since Feb. 6th. Buffalo doesn't have an advantage with the non-shootout wins tiebreaker, so that is why I think Buffalo may need 91 points to make the cut. The Sabres could finish with 90 points and be tied with either Ottawa or Washington, but that won't be enough.

The Caps entertain the Canadiens and when you are playing the Conference's weakest team at home, anything less than a win is a blow to your playoff hopes. Washington holds the tiebreaker, but getting a sole point takes away that advantage to a certain extent. You don't want to be losing any advantages at this time of the year. There is a scenario where after the games Saturday, there could be a three-way log jam in the standings with the Sens, Caps and Sabres all at 88 points with seven days left in the regular season.

For the teams chasing down a playoff spot, nothing else matters but winning today because a loss potentially means 'no tomorrow.'
Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
Posted On Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 10:27 AM

By Ben Raby - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Backstrom returns to help Caps' playoff push

ARLINGTON, Va. – Nicklas Backstrom confirmed after a morning skate Saturday for the Washington Capitals that he will play against the Montreal Canadiens.

Backstrom has not played since Jan. 3 when he took an elbow to the head from then-Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque, but the Caps No. 1 center was medically cleared this week to return to the lineup after passing a baseline neuropsychological test.

“I'm really excited,” Backstrom said. “It's going to be fun to play again. It's a big game for us and we need all those points. I'm excited to be back in such an important game.

“It feels like I'm ready. I've been practicing hard and stuff and I've been battling with a couple of guys on the team and I've been taking a couple hits. It feels like I'm ready, so I'm excited to be back.”

On Saturday morning the 24-year-old Swede took line rushes alongside Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson on the Caps’ No.1 unit.

“He’s been missed in all areas,” Johansson said. “He’s such an all-around player, he plays penalty kill, power play, and he plays at the end of games whether we’re up or down, so that was all missed and it’s good to have him back.” 

The Capitals have won 18 of 40 games without Backstrom in the lineup and he remains fifth on the team in scoring with 42 points (13 goals and 29 assists) in 38 games.

The team is hopeful that Backstrom’s return can spark a power play that has gone 15-for-102 (14.7 percent) during his 40-game absence.

“He’s a natural on the half-board, he sees the ice well,” said coach Dale Hunter. “You see him working today; he’s got one of those gifts where he doesn’t have to look at the guy to pass it -- he just knows where he is.”

In the 38 games prior to his injury, Backstrom had a point on 72 percent of Washington’s power play goals (three goals, 15 assists on 25 power play goals).

With four games to play in the regular season, this contest Saturday against Montreal marks just the second time that Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green will have all played in the same game since Hunter was hired Nov. 28.

“He’s one of the best at seeing the ice and seeing plays before they even happen and getting pucks in guys hands so that they can score,” Green said. “When I say that I honestly mean that he’s one of the best and so in that aspect he’s going to help out our team big time. We’re very thankful that he’s back before the end of the regular season.”

Washington is in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 86 points, two points behind the seventh place Ottawa Senators and four points behind the Southeast Division leading Florida Panthers.

“It's been frustrating,” Backstrom said of having to watch his team battle for a playoff position. “I think you're more nervous sitting up top in the press box than playing. It's been really tough, but the good thing is I'm back now and I'm just looking forward to it.”

Here is Washington’s projected lineup for Saturday night against the Canadiens:


Alex OvechkinNicklas BackstromMarcus Johansson
Jason ChimeraMathieu PerreaultAlexander Semin
Keith AucoinBrooks LaichTroy Brouwer
Matt HendricksJay BeagleMike Knuble

Karl AlznerDennis Wideman
Roman HamrlikMike Green
Dmitry OrlovJohn Carlson

Michal Neuvirth
Braden Holtby

Since the Canadiens beat the Capitals in Game 7 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Washington has gone 6-0-1 against Montreal with four shutouts from four different goalies.
The Caps have won all three meetings this season, outscoring Montreal 10-1. Neuvirth is 3-1-0 against Montreal with a shutout, a 1.82 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage.

Forward Joel Ward will miss his fifth straight game after taking a Daniel Briere shot off his foot last Thursday in Philadelphia … Former Canadiens forward Jeff Halpern will sit as a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game and for the ninth time in the last 12 games overall. 

Bourque served a five-game suspension for his elbow against Backstrom, and he has since been traded to the Canadiens. Asked about playing against Bourque in his first game back, Backstrom downplayed the irony.

“You know what? I don't really care about that," Backstrom said. "It happened, and I'm not going to waste any energy on it."

The Canadiens did not have a morning skate Saturday, but backup Peter Budaj is expected to be in net for Montreal.

Full Story ›|Email & Share Options ›|Print ›
First | Prev | 1061 | 1062 | 1063 | 1064 | 1065 | 1066 | 1067-1072 | Next | Last
Quote of the Day

For six months, it's a really good accomplishment. But as soon as April [11, the end of the regular season] comes around, no one thinks about the regular season anymore. For six months, it's a real battle to get into the playoffs in the NHL these days. There are a lot of good teams, and it takes consistency over a long time.

— Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on clinching a playoff berth after a win against the Islanders on Saturday
AMP No Bull Moment of the Week