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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 12:33 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Injury forces Jagr out of lineup

A 39-year-old who hasn't played in the NHL since 2007-08 shouldn't be a point-per-game player, right?

Jaromir Jagr
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 17
SOG: 44 | +/-: 7
Wrong. Philadelphia Flyers right wing Jaromir Jagr has surprised many with his consistent play through 18 games, in which he's amassed 17 points, a plus-7 rating, 10 PIMs and 44 shots.

Given his unlikey production, Jagr has evolved into a fantasy hockey gem for many owners or, worst case, a more-than-capable complimentary piece for many rosters. The Cinderella story took an unfortunate turn Thurdsday night, as the future Hall-of-Famer suffered a lower-body injury early in the game against the Phoenix Coyotes.

The good news is that the injury is not believed to be serious, at least according to Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. However, Jagr has dealt with lower-body injuries in the past and they tend to be nagging. Moreoever, Jagr is 39 years old.

Fantasy owners need not panic and should remain patient while the injury becomes more clear. Sooner rather than later the early exit from the game could be but an afterthought. 
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 12:13 AM

By Eric Lipschutz -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Potential fallout from Nabokov injury

New York Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was forced to leave Thursday night's game against the Montreal Canadiens in the first period with a groin injury.  Nabokov did not return and will be revaluated on Friday.  Rick DiPietro replaced Nabokov and played well, making 24 saves on 27 shots for his second win of the season.

It had appeared that Nabokov had established himself as the primary starter in what has been a crowded Islander net all season long.  Nabokov, DiPietro and Al Montoya are all currently up with the club.  Despite his starting status, Nabokov's numbers have not been very impressive.  Thanks in part to a weak Isles offense, Nabokov had only recorded one win in his seven starts leading  into Thursday night's tilt.   In those starts Nabokov has posted a mediocre 2.89 GAA and .910 save percentage 

Groin injuries can be tricky, especially for goalies.  If Nabokov is forced to miss an extended amount of action, DiPietro and Montoya would see increased time in net.  As of late, DiPietro has primarily filled the role of Nabokov's backup so logic would dictate he would get the first opportunity to claim the starting gig for however long Nabokov is sidelined.  Obviously, DiPietro has had his own difficulties staying on the ice while battling a variety of injuries throughout his career, making him anything but a reliable replacement.

Meanwhile, Montoya is a journeyman who did a nice job for the Islanders last season after coming over from Phoenix in a February trade.  In fact, Montoya served as the Islanders opening night goalie this season and stated the first three games of the year for the Isles.  If given the opportunity, Montoya has proved that in spurts he can be a serviceable goalie. 

It is still way too soon to know the extent of Nabokov's injury so his owners should keep a close eye on any news coming out of the Islanders camp on Friday.  In deeper leagues with limited goalie options, it might be wise to be proactive and go out and grab DiPietro for insurance, especially if you have the roster flexibility to do so. 

Be sure to keep Montoya in the back of your mind as well since there is potential for him to see time in net as the situation develops.  Unfortunately, no matter which goalie emerges as the No. 1, it is unlikely that they will be able to offer fantasy GMs the production they are looking for.  Any of the three Islanders goalies should be used with caution going forward.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 9:54 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Defenseman Pulock impressing scout Edwards

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards was looking forward to catching a glimpse of 2013 draft eligible prospect Ryan Pulock on Thursday in the final game of the Subway Super Series.

Despite the fact Pulock just turned 17 on Oct. 6, he certainly gave Edwards plenty to think about. In addition to earning a regular shift alongside Colorado Avalanche draftee Duncan Siemens, Pulock also deposited a goal 16:54 into the second period off a slapshot from the point.

"He's shown very good mobility and he handled the puck well a couple of times," Edwards said. "He certainly fits right in … he was a good replacement. Sometimes, you have a tendency to cut a guy a little more slack if he's younger but he's essentially the same age as everyone out here."

Pulock was replacing Moose Jaw defenseman Morgan Rielly, who is out until April (torn ACL).

"But Pulock has proven himself just fine out here against the fast Russians."

Pulock (6-foot-1, 201 pounds) is in his second year with the Brandon Wheat Kings. As a 16-year-old rookie in 2010-11, Pulock led all Brandon defenders with 8 goals and 42 points. He has 8 goals and 26 points through 22 games this season.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 9:08 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

A phenomenon he will never forget

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- There was some pretty severe weather in Moose Jaw on Thursday. In fact, it kept NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards from continuing onward into Swift Current following the final game of the Subway Super Series at the brand new Mosaic Place.

Still, according to Edwards, it was no where near the coldest he's ever felt in this part of Western Canada.

"I remember when it was minus-54 degrees Celsius [on a trip to Moose Jaw] and guys were going out at the end of the second period to start up their cars," he said. "I remember saying to one of the local guys, 'Aren't you worried about getting your car stolen?' He told me 'Well there's no one really going to hang around and wait to steal a car in this weather.'

"After the game, we put the heaters and defrosters on and started driving back to Regina. I had to physically scrape the inside of the window with the scraper even with the heaters on. We were coming along here [Edwards pointed to the road in front of him while driving] and we could actually see the lights of Regina in a distance. When it's that cold, it's obviously clear and we could see the lights. I've never seen anything like it before or since; it almost looked like it was a glass wall of ice just shooting straight up into the air. I know it had to do with how cold it was and the moisture in the air was just freezing … I don't know the exact phenomenon, but it was neat and something I'll never forget."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 8:50 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Edwards explains 'hockey sense' in a top prospect

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- Earlier today, I asked Edwards about the importance of 'hockey sense' and what it all means as he views a potential draft candidate.

The term 'hockey sense' is a common phrase in the area of scouting.

"Making good plays with and without the puck," Edwards explained. "It's not trying to pass or force the puck up the middle when there's nothing there. Now, guys will make mistakes. It's going to happen at some time. If you consistently see a guy who is consistently doing something that is wrong, that kind of sends the red flags."

At different points in Wednesday's game in Regina, Edwards was impressed with the hockey sense exhibited by 2012 prospects Mathew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels and Colton Sissons of the Kelowna Rockets.

"It's knowing who to pick up in your own end and, when the other team has possession, knowing where to be and how to get yourself into the offensive zone … not standing still waiting for the pass."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 8:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Scout Edwards adjusts on the fly

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- While we safely reached our destination in Moose Jaw -- some 50 miles west of Regina -- the blizzard we encountered has forced NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards to rethink his agenda.

Videographer Steve Hoffner tapes segment with Edwards
Instead of leaving for Swift Current following Thursday's final game of the 2011 Subway Super Series at Mosaic Place, Edwards had to change his hotel arrangements and instead will stay at a Comfort Inn in Moose Jaw. Of course, we'll be joining him.

Once we rolled in Moose Jaw, Edwards stopped his car to show me and videographer Steve Hoffner one of the area's top picture spots -- the big moose on the outskirts of town. Quite a moose.

We then passed the old arena where the Moose Jaw Warriors played their games. Outsiders refer to it at the Moose Jaw Civic Centre but the locals -- and Edwards -- know it as the 'crushed can' for its low roof line in the center of the building.

"If you're sitting on one side of the rink, you can't see across to the other side because the roof is so low," Edwards said. The plan, right now, is to make the six-hour drive west from Moose Jaw to Lethbridge on Friday morning at some point. We'll stop in Swift Current for some lunch.

Throughout the 45-minute drive from Regina to Moose Jaw, Edwards successfully navigated his way through a blizzard to reach his ultimate destination. Unfortunately, Edwards won't have an opportunity to chart the playing habits of 2012 top prospect and local boy Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors. He will, however, get another glimpse of Russian goalie Andrey Makarov of the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League. According to NHL Central Scouting, Makarov, who played well in a 5-2 defeat to Team WHL on Wednesday at Brandt Centre in Regina, is the top-rated goalie in the Western Hockey League.

Edwards will also get an opportunity to see potential 2013 prospect Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 6:34 PM

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

Rask gets the call for Bruins

BOSTON -- Tuukka Rask will get the start in goal when the Bruins host Columbus tonight at TD Garden.

Rask backed up Tim Thomas during the Bruins' prior two games. During Boston's six-game winning streak, Rask has earned two victories.

Rask brings a a 2-3-0 record, 2.62 goals-against average and .908 save percentage into the matchup with Curtis Sanford and Columbus, which is last in the overall stadings at 3-13-1.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 5:52 PM

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

'Glue guys' invaluable resource to youngsters

You know that dependable pair of jeans you own? They're versatile, they feel nice, they fit just right. You can wear them anywhere and they never do you wrong.

The NHL's version of those jeans are a team's glue guys -- Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff in Edmonton; Matt Cullen in Minnesota; Ray Whitney in Phoenix; Sheldon Souray in Dallas; Mike Knuble in Washington; Andrew Brunette in Chicago; and even a superstar like Jaromir Jagr in Philadelphia can fall into that category at this stage of his career.

What exactly is a glue guy? You hear that term a lot from hockey players. Glue guys are the players who aren't necessarily superstars, but are the veterans who can keep a team together by doing the little things that go unnoticed. All of these guys I mentioned aren't just glue guys, but they are producing on the ice as well. There isn't a more valuable guy you can have on your team than a glue guy who can still get it done on the ice.

Sometimes teams are in a rush to get rid of the glue guy, that old, reliable, perfect pair of jeans that have never done you wrong. But before you throw out those jeans and buy a new pair of G-Stars because those are the cool, new, expensive jeans everyone is wearing these days, just remember what happened with the Bruins and Mark Recchi last season and what he meant to that team.

Whether it's finding a restaurant on the road or handling ticket requests from family members, or things on the ice like getting advice on opposing goaltenders or defensemen or how to handle things like a scoring slump, these guys are super important.

There's nothing that prepares you for playing in the League like being in the League, and that's why these guys mean so much to all the young players who are getting to the NHL quicker than ever. The best thing you can have if you're someone just breaking in are guys like this to lean on. A player who is in the middle of a long career is a great resource for a young kid just getting his feet wet.

I would say this to a lot of the GMs and coaches: beware. I know you're itching to show off your shiny new toys -- your brand new pair of G-Stars -- but you still want to make sure you complement these guys with good pros. If nothing else, they are great resources to learn from. If you look at the Cup winners, you have a lot of glue guys that are a part of their team.

Yet some GMs want to throw a ton of money at young guys who are still just RFAs to avoid offer sheets and get them tons of minutes right away. Now you force feed them minutes and they struggle and you're surprised?

These glue guys are a hockey encyclopedia. It's all about the details. Some kids may not want to get a massage after a game or practice. You think Teemu Selanne is doing that now? If Selanne's hip flexors are tight, he's going to take the time to do stretches, then get up on the massage table. It's all about having a maintenance plan, and it's never too early in your career to start that. It's all these little things that help you practice, recover, rehab. They are tools you need to be a long-standing pro.

People think development stops when you reach the pros. Guys that are smart, they get it. Guys like Joe Pavelski spend the offseason working on their skating. It's not about going back to your hometown during the summer and shinnying it up with your friends and laughing. Evgeni Malkin said this year he vowed to be a better pro and spent his summer working his tail off, and he's won a Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup!

I played for a lot of teams, so I got to learn from a lot of different players about what it takes to be a pro. Guys like Rod Brind'Amour, Ron Francis, Kirk Muller, Brian Skrudland and Mark Messier.

When it comes to reaching a point in your career when it's time to start dispensing advice and being an example, everybody is a little different. Some guys are more natural and come out and tell you to focus on this or stop doing that. Some guys are more vocal, but a lot of guys want to see that guys are hungry. They want to see young players come to them and show they have a desire to get better. Just because you tore it up in Lethbridge and Kitchener, that doesn't mean it translates to the NHL. It might not translate to your role or the team you're on. Even if it does, a lot of these guys have knowledge.

Some young guys are receptive and some don’t want to listen. They look at veterans like they don't care, like they have everything figured out. My advice is listen to the people that have done it already. They can help you.

Even if it isn't a veteran player, there are assistant coaches on teams that can give advice on playing today's game too. You don't want to talk to Teppo Numminen in Buffalo? You don’t want to ask Charlie Huddy in Winnipeg about what it was like to play with Paul Coffey? The Devils have Scott Stevens and Adam Oates. That's endless amount of knowledge!

All smart players who have long careers will give credit to the players that helped them along the way. Young guys today should notice that and be smart. There's knowledge to be passed down, and it's right there in the locker next to you.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 4:45 PM

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

Bryzgalov expects emotional night

Ilya Bryzgalov tried to play it off, calling tonight's matchup with the Phoenix Coyotes "game No. 18." No one was buying that, however.

The Philadelphia Flyers goaltender will face his former team for the first time tonight and admitted it would be an emotional game.

"It's special; it's my former team," he told reporters Wednesday. "I have lots of friends and can't forget the time I played there. The good years, (there were) lots of friends, lots of good people work in this organization, and it is going to be a very special game."

Bryzgalov spent most of the last four seasons with the Coyotes, who claimed him on waivers from the Anaheim Ducks early in the 2007-08 season. He left Phoenix this June, when his rights were traded to the Flyers prior to him becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Bryzgalov left the Coyotes as the club's all-time leader in games played (257), wins (130) and shutouts (21), and he guided the Coyotes to back-to-back playoff appearances the previous two seasons. His 42 wins in 2009-10 are a franchise single-season record, as are his eight shutouts from the same season.

After a hot start and a rocky middle, Bryzgalov is trending up again, with a 3-0-1 record in four November games, with a 1.98 goals-against average and .935 save percentage. And after allowing four goals on 10 shots Oct. 27 against Winnipeg, he's allowed nine goals in his last five games.

Bryzgalov is committed to the Flyers now -- he signed a nine-year deal with Philadelphia in the offseason -- but won't forget the time he had in Phoenix.

"I really appreciate everything they did for me," he said. "I wish them the best. I'm really glad they are doing well without me because they deserve it. They work extremely hard. They have beautiful people in that organization. Management and coaches and a good group of guys. I have lots of friends out there."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 4:42 PM

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

Barry's sixth 'Mullet of the Week' winner is ...

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Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential