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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 2:16 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Wild get defensemen Falk, Zanon back

The Minnesota Wild will welcome a pair of defensemen back into the lineup tonight as they hope to end a four-game winless skid in Calgary.

Justin Falk will return to the lineup after missing 11 games with an upper-body injury, while Greg Zanon will draw back in on the blue line after being a healthy scratch for two of the last three games.

"Obviously, anytime you're out of the lineup for any reason, when you get your chance to get back in you give it your best to stay in the lineup,” Zanon said. "With the situation we have, losing a few in a row, it's important we get back to playing our game."

Much like the Flames, Minnesota is also winless in their last four contests but still sit second in the Western Conference behind the Chicago Blackhawks.

Winning or losing, Zanon just wants to play.

"You just want to get back in the lineup no matter what," he said. "If I can get back in and do something to help the team win, we're going to do whatever we can and turn it around tonight."

Zanon will play in front of Josh Harding, making his first appearance since Dec. 6.

Harding will play in place of Niklas Backstrom, who started in last night's 4-0 loss against the Vancouver Canucks. Harding is 1-4-1 lifetime against Calgary with a 2.64 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 2:12 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Little out for Jets against Islanders

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets needed a rest after a 5-3 win Saturday against a very physical Anaheim Ducks team.

The Jets (15-13-4) took Sunday off and skated Monday in preparation for a game tonight against the New York Islanders, another opponent capable of delivering a physical game. The Jets, who play three home games in four nights this holiday week, have won of nine of their past 11 games at the MTS Centre and continue their December run of 12 of 14 games at home.

While the Jets have been able to spend all but one day at home during the past 23 days, coach Claude Noel’s club continues to endure injury problems.

The Jets have regained Tobias Enstrom and Ron Hainsey on their blue line during the past week – plus forwards Nikolai Antropov and Alexander Burmistrov – but they face another major hit to their lineup.

Center Bryan Little, whose offensive resurgence keyed Winnipeg’s success during the past month, will miss his first game of the season tonight with a lower-body injury after being hit by a shot Saturday night. Little’s absence forced center Jim Slater to take a career-high 30 draws against the Ducks.

Antti Miettinen, acquired via waivers last week, will make his Jets debut on Winnipeg’s third line as Noel must continue to juggle his line-up because of injuries. The addition of Miettinen resulted in the Jets returning left wing Jason Jaffray to the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League.

Ondrej Pavelec will return to the Winnipeg net after Chris Mason gave him a night off Saturday night.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

Evander KaneAlexander BurmistrovBlake Wheeler
Andrew LaddNik AntropovKyle Wellwood
Tanner GlassJim SlaterAntti Miettinen
Chris ThorburnTim StapletonEric Fehr

Mark StuartZach Bogosian
Ron HainseyJohnny Oduya
Dustin ByfuglienTobias Enstrom

Chris Mason
Ondrej Pavelec
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:57 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Coyotes could get blue line boost in South Florida

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Phoenix Coyotes will have one of their defensemen back Tuesday night and they could have a new one in the lineup as well.

Coach Dave Tippett said after the morning skate that Rostislav Klesla would return after missing the last seven games because of a lower-body injury.

But Tippett said he hadn’t decided whether to play David Rundblad, who was acquired Saturday in the trade that sent Kyle Turris to Ottawa.

“He’s up for selection,” Tippett said. “He’s not ruled out yet, but he’s not ruled in, either.”

Rundblad, who did not play in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers, had one goal and three assists in 24 games with Ottawa.

Here’s the projected lineup for the Coyotes:

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Raffi Torres - Boyd Gordon - Kyle Chipchura
Taylor Pyatt - Cal O'Reilly - Lauri Korpikoski

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

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

Injuries continue to force the Florida Panthers to shuffle their lineup.

Forward Bill Thomas was signed to a two-way contract Tuesday and should be in the lineup against Phoenix. Thomas had three goals and four assists in 24 games for the Panthers last season, but has played in San Antonio all season.

He will replace Sean Bergenheim, who is out with a groin injury. He was injured Sunday in a 3-2 overtime victory against Carolina after scoring his third goal in two games. Coach Kevin Dineen said he didn’t have a timetable for how long Bergenheim would be out of action. Bergenheim missed seven games earlier this season with another lower-body injury.

In another move, Tim Kennedy will skate up front after being recalled from San Antonio of the AHL for the third time this season. Kennedy will replace Greg Rallo, who was sent back down after making his NHL debut at the age of 30 on Sunday.

“We’re not looking to flip bodies right now and keep on moving guys in and out of the lineup,” Dineen said. “We want to find the right players and I know Tim Kennedy is the right guy for the job. He’s been here for the majority of the year and from everything that I understand Bill Thomas has put in a good stretch of hockey and deserves an opportunity to come back and play some games in a Panthers uniform.”

Here’s the projected lineup for the Panthers:

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Marco Sturm - Tomas Kopecky - Bill Thomas
Shawn Matthias - Mike Santorelli - Mikael Samuelsson
Krystofer Barch - Tim Kennedy - Matt Bradley

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:46 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Flames shake up roster after injury, suspension

In the wake of an ankle injury to Matt Stajan and the two-game suspension of Rene Bourque, the Calgary Flames have shaken up their lineup for tonight's game against the Minnesota Wild.

Captain Jarome Iginla wasn't willing to use it as an excuse for his team coming off a winless four-game road trip.

"Every team deals with that," Iginla said. "Most teams you play, they usually have somebody, too, and the Wild look like they have people out. There's no time for excuses. Our job as guys in the lineup is to go out and do our best to win a game."

Coach Brent Sutter has reunited Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Mikael Backlund for tonight's game, a line that found success together late last season.

"I always enjoy playing with Tangs and Backs," Iginla said. "End of last year we had some success, so we'll try to draw on that, go over things that worked for you before. It helps having that familiarity."

In Bourque's absence, the Flames have recalled Paul Byron from the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL. Roman Horak, a healthy scratch in Sunday's loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, will also draw back into the lineup.

The call-up marks Byron's second stint with the Flames this season. In six games with Calgary in November, Byron had 2 goals.

"I'm real excited to be here and hope I can keep the same pace I was at when I was sent down and provide a bit of energy," he said.

Projected lineups for tonight's game:


Alex Tanguay - Mikael Backlund - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Lee Stempniak
Blake Comeau - Roman Horak - Paul Byron
Tom Kostopoulos - Brendan Morrison - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Derek Smith - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

Pierre-Marc Bouchard - Matt Cullen - Dany Heatley
Cal Clutterbuck - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Darroll Powe - Warren Peters - Jarod Palmer
Jed Ortmeyer - Brad Staubitz

Nick Schultz - Justin Falk
Marek Zidlicky - Clayton Stoner
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Greg Zanon

Josh Harding
Nicklas Backstrom

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:44 PM

By Alan Robinson - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Inclement weather cancels Pens' outdoor practice

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins won't be venturing into the great outdoors for the second time this year after all.
With the one-year anniversary of their 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic game against the Washington Capitals approaching, the Penguins planned to practice outdoors Wednesday at the temporary rink they constructed on Pittsburgh's South Side.
However, a steady rain Tuesday is expected to be followed by more rain Wednesday, with temperatures in the mid 50s. The combination of wet weather and spring-like temperatures caused coach Dan Bylsma to shift the practice back to Consol Energy Center.
Known as Penguins Pond, the rink will be open daily for skating through Jan. 8, but the team has not said if it might reschedule the outdoor practice.
The rink was installed in part because of the popularity of the open-to-the-public outdoor rink that was built next to Heinz Field last winter in advance of the Jan. 1 Winter Classic. That rink was greeted more enthusiastically than even the Penguins anticipated, because it allowed thousands of fans to share in the experience of the outdoor game.
The boards and glass at Penguins Pond are from the Civic Arena, the Penguins' home from 1967-2010. That arena is being demolished to make way for commercial development.
The rink is located, fittingly enough, at the intersection of 26th Street and Sidney Street.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Canada defeats Finland, 3-1, in WJC exhibition

So what did we learn from Canada's 3-1 exhibition victory over Finland on Monday?

For starters, no Canadian player wore the 'C', although forwards Devante Smith-Pelly and Jaden Schwartz and defenseman Brandon Gormley all wore the 'A'.

  Team Canada goalie Mark Visentin
Team Canada received goals from Boone Jenner (Columbus Blue Jackets) of the Oshawa Generals, Mark Stone (Ottawa Senators) of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Brendan Gallagher (Montreal Canadiens) of the Vancouver Giants while goalie Mark Visentin (Phoenix Coyotes) of the Niagara IceDogs earned the victory behind 22 saves. The Canadians will next play Switzerland in a pre-tournament matchup on Thursday.

Teemu Pulkkinen (Detroit Red Wings) of Jokerit scored the lone goal for Finland.

Canada coach Don Hay had just 11 forwards to work with since wings Jonathan Huberdeau (foot) and Quinton Howden (concussion symptoms) were sidelined by injuries. As a result, Jenner and Michael Bournival (Colorado Avalanche) of the Shawinigan Cataractes played both center and on the wing during the game.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:30 PM

By Alan Robinson - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

No concussion, Seabrook in Blackhawks' lineup

PITTSBURGH -- Exactly the news the Chicago Blackhawks wanted to hear: Defenseman Brent Seabrook doesn't have a concussion and will be in the lineup Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The sighs of relief probably could be heard all the way back to the United Center.
The Blackhawks (21-8-4) received a major scare Sunday when the Flames' Rene Bourque drove Seabrook in the boards head-first during the first period of Chicago's 4-2 victory. Seabrook appeared to be unconscious for a few moments, but he insisted on Tuesday that he was aware throughout of what was occurring.
"I remember the whole thing," Seabrook said. "I got hit and I heard Bourque say right away he was sorry. I couldn't get up, so I put my head down and everybody seemed to think I was knocked out. I'm good to go."
Coach Joel Quenneville said Seabrook checked out fine and will not be held out of game action, saying it was "an easy call" -- even though Seabrook has had multiple concussions in the past.
Seabrook did not return to the Calgary game because the doctor checking him for concussion-like symptoms could not tell from the game video whether he was unconscious.
"Obviously, it feels good that all it was a scare," Seabrook said. "I felt good yesterday, felt good the day before, I feel fine."
Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo (upper-body injury) did not make the trip to Pittsburgh, but Quenneville is optimistic he will be ready to play Wednesday at home against Montreal -- the team's final game before Christmas.
Forward Patrick Kane likes going against teams such as the Penguins that the Blackhawks see only occasionally.
"It's always fun to play Eastern Conference teams, usually they (play) up and down, fast, and we like playing in that kind of game," Kane said.
The teams possess some of the NHL's top star power, except that the biggest headliner -- Sidney Crosby -- will miss a fifth consecutive game with concussion-like symptoms. Crosby has played only two games against Chicago during his career.
"I've been here five years and I've never played him in the NHL, only in the Olympics," Kane said. "We haven't seen him, but hopefully he's doing better."
Here is the Blackhawks' projected lineup for their only matchup against the Penguins (18-11-4) this season. Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup in 2009, while Chicago won it the following season.
Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Marcus Kruger - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Michael Frolik
John Scott - Jamal Mayers - Andrew Brunette
Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sean O'Donnell - Steve Montador
Ray Emery (9-1-2) will make his seventh consecutive start in net -- he has won his last five -- but Quenneville said Corey Crawford (12-7-2) is expected to start Wednesday.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:27 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Leafs' Armstrong sidelined by concussion

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Colby Armstrong is out indefinitely with a concussion, one he suffered Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks but didn't make the team aware of until Monday.

"It took us all by complete shock because we had no idea that he had his bell rung the other night," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said Monday night after a 3-2 shootout loss to Los Angeles. "He kind of kept that from us."

Armstrong had planned to play in Monday's game, but he told the team's training staff that afternoon he was feeling nauseous.

Wilson explained how the concussion happened to reporters.

"In the game the other night, (Armstrong) hit Ryan Kesler and actually he cracked his toe, but that wasn't an issue," Wilson said. "He didn't tell the trainers or the doctors (Sunday) that he had his bell rung. (Monday afternoon) he was nauseated, blurry vision, so he's got a concussion and we didn't know that until later in the afternoon.

"He's going to be out however long he needs to be out now."

Armstrong has only played in nine games this season due to an ankle sprain. He has one assist.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:04 PM

By Alan Robinson - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Staal, others could be back for Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins held an optional morning practice – coach Dan Bylsma called it a “get what you need skate” – before they matched up against the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night at Consol Energy Center.
This was the fourth time this season that the Penguins did not hold a full team skate on a game day that followed an off day, but the players met to review video and the scouting report.
The Penguins often are held up as the standard by which opposing clubs measure themselves – several coaches have mentioned that during visits to Pittsburgh – but this time they will be looking up, at least in the overall standings.
Chicago goes into the game with an NHL-leading 46 points, while the Penguins – winners of only two of their last six – have dropped into fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 40 points.
“They’ve got a lot of skill up front, world-class skill,” forward Craig Adams said of the Blackhawks, who have won five straight and seven of eight, collecting points in all eight. “They’ve got a couple of the best defensemen in the League back there and they’ve been getting good goaltending lately (from Ray Emery). Their power play is very good. Offensively, they present problems for sure.”
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was at Consol, but was not one of the 16 players who skated. The Penguins have not updated his status since he last practiced Dec. 7; he remains out and day-to-day with concussion-like symptoms. Crosby will miss his 26th game this season and his 67th over the last two seasons.
The players skating were goalies Marc-Andre Fleury, who will start, and Brent Johnson; forwards Tyler Kennedy, Jason Williams, Steve MacIntyre, Jordan Staal, Eric Tangradi, Craig Adams and Joe Vitale; and defensemen Deryk Engelland, Brooks Orpik, Alexandre Picard, Ben Lovejoy, Matt Niskanen, Simon Despres and Zbynek Michalek.
The Penguins are expected to welcome back Staal, who has been held out of three of their last four games with a lower-body injury. Among the players who are game-time decisions are defensemen Zbynek Michalek (concussion) and Ben Lovejoy, who has been out with a broken wrist since Nov. 3 but is lobbying to play. Defenseman Paul Martin (lower-body injury) is not expected to play and could be out for a while.
“Today was a really good day. Everything felt really good. I should be in tonight if coach wants it,” Stall said before pausing for a smile. “We’ll see if I get in.”
Here’s how the Penguins might line up in their only meeting against Chicago this season, but the lineup could change depending on how many of the injured players return:
Chris KunitzEvgeni MalkinJames Neal
Matt CookeJordan StaalTyler Kennedy
Steve SullivanJoe VitaleArron Asham
Jason WilliamsEric TangradiCraig Adams
Brooks OrpikMatt Niskanen
Zbynek MichalekDeryk Engelland
Simon DespresBen Lovejoy
Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 12:48 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - At the Rink blog

Bickel set to make NHL debut for Rangers

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Rangers' defense corps is battered with Steve Eminger (separated shoulder) joining Mike Sauer (concussion) and Marc Staal (post-concussion symptoms) on injured reserve. Jeff Woywitka is also going to be a game-time decision due to an injured left ankle.

However, Stu Bickel isn't complaining because the latest injury to Eminger means he'll be making his NHL debut Tuesday night against New Jersey.

Bickel, 25, was recalled on an emergency basis after Eminger suffered his injury in Phoenix over the weekend. Bickel was with the Rangers throughout training camp andwas among the final cuts, but he impressed coach John Tortorella during camp, and the scouting reports on him from the coaches with the Connecticut Whale of the AHL have all been positive.

"You have to go about it the same as any other game and play the same way," Bickel said of making his NHL debut. "I pride myself on defense, playing a defense-first game and a physical game. I don't think I'll have too much trouble fitting into the systems here."

Tortorella said Bickel understands the concepts of the Rangers' system both because he learned it during training camp and because they play the same way in Connecticut. However, there is still the issue of nerves that he'll inevitably feel before his first NHL game.

"That position is the toughest position and we're certainly going to try to help him just to calm himself down to make simple plays until he gets his feet wet," Tortorella said. "There are some little things (with the system) that we went over with him (Monday) and we will (Tuesday) morning that comes into play quite a bit with how we play defense. But we don't want to fill his mind with a bunch of thoughts. We want him to go play, and we'll help him along the way."

Tim Erixon was also recalled on an emergency basis, but he'll have to wait until closer to game time to find out if he'll get in the lineup because it's all related to how Woywitka's left foot feels. Woywitka said he felt good during the morning skate, but now he has to go to the trainers room and get some ice on it and walk around to see if the pain returns.

He said he had no strength to skate Monday, but he could move around pretty well Tuesday morning.

"We'll see what it's like before the game and then we'll decide," Woywitka said. "Today I felt more movement in it. Now we'll rest it and see what the prognosis is. I'm happy with the way it has come along."

With Woywitka's status up in the air, the Rangers defense pairings for Tuesday night are not set. However, Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal and here is what their forward lines should look like with Sean Avery and Erik Christensen as the scratches:

Brandon Dubinsky - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Ruslan Fedotenko - Mike Rupp - Brandon Prust
Carl Hagelin - Brian Boyle - John Mitchell

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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