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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 1:34 PM

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

Bruins face old foes now united as Blue Jackets

BOSTON -- Defenseman James Wisniewski and forward Jeff Carter were key components of the first two teams the Boston Bruins vanquished last season en route to the Stanley Cup championship.

Now they're back at TD Garden as teammates trying to get the Columbus Blue Jackets out of 30th overall in the NHL.

Wisniewski was a key defenseman for Montreal, which lost a seven-game series to the Bruins. The Bruins then swept Carter's Philadelphia squad out of the second round.

"Obviously losing Game 7 in overtime, and they went on to win the Stanley Cup," Wisniewski said about what he remembers from last spring. "They worked hard, we worked hard and they came out on top."

Carter has some mixed memories from his visits to Boston with the Flyers because last season's disappointment was preceded by the miraculous 2010 comeback from 3-0 down in the second round.

"A little of both, probably," Carter said about his Garden memories. "We always had some pretty good games against these guys in this building, a lot of playoff games and regular season games and what not, so it's nice to come back."

While all playoff series are physical showdowns, Wisniewski got into it with many members of the Bruins, both during the playoffs and the heated regular-season series between the longtime archrivals.

"Obviously it's just the heat of the battle. That's what you've got to try to do to win games," he said. "Anything goes out there, so things like that happen and you just kind of forget about it. And when the battle comes back, you answer the bell."

Wisniewski and Carter are hoping their team answers the bell soon before it's too late. Columbus has lost four of its last five games.

"It's obviously been a tough stretch for us, not the way we wanted to start off the year," Carter said. "But the last bunch of games here, we've been doing some good things, getting to find our identity and maybe not coming out with the wins that we want, but taking steps in the right direction."


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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 1:32 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Penguins' goal is to keep on scoring

TAMPA, Fla -- Don't look for the Pittsburgh Penguins (11-4-3) to try any controversial stall tactics when they meet the 1-3-1 defense of the Tampa Bay Lightning (8-7-2) tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum. It's just not their style.

"We won't be doing that tonight," Penguins forward James Neal said. "You can't score just standing with the puck back behind the blue line."

And scoring is something that has been coming easily to the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins of late.

In their previous game, Tuesday night at home against the Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh ripped four goals in the third period to pull out a 6-3 come-from-behind win, and they've pumped 32 or more shots on goal in seven straight games.

That production has certainly gotten the attention of Lightning coach Guy Boucher, who will coach in his 100th regular season game tonight.

"What is there to watch out for against Pittsburgh?" Boucher said. "My answer is everything. How's that? They are just well built. Sidney Crosby isn't there and their lines are still scary. Their defensemen are extremely smart and difficult to forecheck. If you forecheck too hard, the puck is gone and their forwards are gone and you've forechecked for nothing. But if you never forecheck, you never get the puck in their zone. It's really difficult. I think they have the best defensive core in the NHL."

There will be a few interesting streaks on the line tonight. Among them, Neal is riding a season-high seven-game points streak and Marc-Andre Fleury takes the crease tonight with a personal eight-game unbeaten streak.

The Lightning will be putting a five-game home win streak on the line, their longest at the St. Pete Times Forum since October 2007.

One other streak to keep an eye on: Thursday night begins the sixth annual two-game Dads Trip. The Penguins have swept the fathers' trip each of the past two seasons.

One thing for certain, the dads and everyone else in attendance will likely see an up-tempo game.

"We're a fast-paced team," Jordan Staal said. "And we don't want to slow the game down at all."
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 1:26 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Penguins, Lightning

Here are the projected lineups for when the Pittsburgh Penguins face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum:

PENGUINS
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Richard Park - Tyler Kennedy
Craig Adams - Joe Vitale - Arron Asham

Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Deryk Engelland
Matt Niskanen - Alexandre Picard

Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson

LIGHTNING
Martin St. Louis - Vincent Lecavalier - Brett Connolly
Steve Downie - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Adam Hall - Dominic Moore - Ryan Shannon
Tom Pyatt - Nate Thompson - Blair Jones

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Pavel Kubina - Marc-Andre Bergeron
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy

Dwayne Roloson
Mathieu Garon
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 12:48 PM

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

Sanford gets first start of season for Jackets

BOSTON -- For the first time since he suffered a groin injury in practice Oct. 17, Curtis Sanford will see game action for the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

Sanford has played just one game so far this season -- a relief appearance Oct. 8 at Minnesota. He missed 11 games with the injury before he backed up Steve Mason in the Jackets' loss to the Wild Tuesday.

"We get a chance here for Curtis to finally get a game in," coach Scott Arniel said after his team's morning skate. "No bigger stage, obviously, against Boston. He's excited. He was pretty frustrated because he got hurt the day before his last start and we kept him away from too much work [Wednesday] so he'd be ready today. But if he can give us a spark, that's what we need."

The switch to Sanford in goal won't be the only change for the Jackets, who should have Derick Brassard back in the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for two straight games.

"He's a proud guy and he doesn't want to sit out games and I think that his game had slipped a bit. But Derick … he's a skilled guy that can make plays," Arniel said. "A team that's looking for offense, we can use him. If he plays hard and competes hard, that will go a long way toward him having success."

Here's a look at Columbus' projected lineup:

R.J. Umberger - Jeff Carter - Rick Nash
Vinny Prospal - Mark Letestu - Ryan Johansen
Antoine Vermette - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett
Derek MacKenzie - Derick Brassard - Jared Boll

Marc Methot - James Wisniewski
Fedor Tyutin - Nikita Nikitin
John Moore - Grant Clitsome

Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 11:48 AM

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

Bruins get Ference back, Paille possible as well

BOSTON -- The Bruins will try to extend their current winning streak to seven games when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the TD Garden tonight.

They might have a different-looking lineup than they had when they beat New Jersey Tuesday night.

Defenseman Johnny Boychuk missed the morning skate with flu-like symptoms and is questionable for tonight, according to coach Claude Julien. Regardless of Boychuk's status, Andrew Ference is set to return from a two-game absence with a lower-body injury. Ference practiced for the first time since his injury Wednesday.

Up front, forward Daniel Paille is also a possibility to return. He has missed three games since suffering a broken nose Nov. 7 vs. the New York Islanders. Here's the Bruins' projected lineup factoring in returns by Paille and Ference:

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Jordan Caron / 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 was the first goaltender off the ice for the Bruins, who all left the ice in a single-file line as has been their new tradition.



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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 11:46 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Reports: Marc Staal cleared for light exercise

New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal has been given the green light to start lightly exercising, according to two published reports.

Staal has yet to play this season due to post-concussion symptoms that stem from a hit he received from brother Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes last season. The Rangers' alternate captain and No. 1 defenseman has spent the past four weeks resting at his home in New York and hasn't participated in a practice this season.

The Rangers are not offering any timetable for Staal's return.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 10:14 AM

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

Flyers lose defenseman for 6 weeks

In his short time in the NHL, Philadelphia Flyers rookie Erik Gustafsson made a solid impact, averaging 18:28 per game with a plus-6 rating in five games. His ice time went up each game, topping out at 23:00 Nov. 5 against Columbus.

Gustafsson hasn't played since, however, due to a wrist injury, and the Flyers announced this morning that he won't play at all for another six weeks following surgery to repair the injury.

"Erik underwent wrist surgery this morning at Methodist Hospital (in Philadelphia)," said Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren. "The surgery was performed by Dr. Randy Culp. We expect Erik to be out of action for six weeks."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 9:56 AM

By Jacob Trouba -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Jacob Trouba draft blog

Trouba talks Four Nations triumph

Jacob Trouba is a defenseman for the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program of the United States Hockey League. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound native of Rochester, Mich., recently helped the U.S. Under-18 Team earn the Four Nations tournament title in Switzerland. He was also ranked the No. 1 skater within the United States Hockey League by NHL Central Scouting on its preliminary release of draft eligible players. Trouba, who participated in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp fueled by G Series in August, has offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

What’s up hockey world? I’m only a month into the season and there have already been some ups and downs.

This young season has been eventful to say the least. We are 10-6-1 at this point and 2-5 against NCAA teams. In my mind, one of the greatest advantages of playing at the US NTDP is playing older competition. We are always up against a challenge. In my first year we played USHL teams as a group of 16 year olds. We were playing guys up to 20 years old. It was hard to go into a corner with a guy that has 4 years of maturity on you. Now in my second year we feel that we can play with every USHL team, so we put NCAA teams on our schedule. That is playing against a 25 year old grown man. We know we need to bring our best game against every D-1 team. If we don’t we will get embarrassed every time. The problem our team has found out early this year is the D-3 teams are just as hungry to beat us. There is no room for a preparation let down or we will come out slow and be down 3 goals before we know it. We learned that early this year in a 6-4 loss to Adrian College.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 2:51 AM

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

Recapping Regina


REGINA, Sask. -- The opening day of the 'Life of a Scout' is history and it's time to bid a fond farewell to the capital city of Saskatchewan.

The game on Wednesday at the Brandt Centre was tremendous as the Western Hockey League stars scored a 5-2 victory over Team Russia in Game 5 of the Subway Super Series. If Team WHL can manage a victory in the sixth and final game of the Series on Thursday in Moose Jaw, then then Canadians will reclaim the title they lost last year.

     Colton Sissons, Kelowna Rockets
Of the 2012 draft eligible prospects, center Colton Sissons of the Kelowna Rockets had one assist. Matt Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels finished a minus-2 but proved to be a physical force with several big hits. For the most part, Dumba was paired with Saskatoon Blades Duncan Siemens.

Sissons actually assisted on the team's final goal.

NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards thought Sissons played exceptionally well in the final period. Team WHL actually scored twice in the third to put the finishing touches on the triumph, which now has the CHL stars holding a 3-2 series lead.

"Sissons did a nice job on the assist; he waited for the off-partner, protecting the puck and using his size," Edwards said. "In the corners, he protected the puck well and was the type of player who was pretty effective all night."

Team WHL coach Don Hay liked what he saw in both Dumba and Sissons.

"I thought they both played well," Hay said. "Matt had a big hit in the first and that led to some energy for us. We were down 1-0 at the time and we kind of took off after that. So any time you have a physical play from your D-man, it's really important.

"As for Sissons, he played the wing and played center, killed penalties and did a lot of good things."

While Edwards would be the first to tell you he isn't a goalie expert, he was impressed with Russian starter Andrey Makarov, who has posted a 13-5-0 record with a 2.44 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in 18 appearances this season with the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League. Makarov made 37 saves, included 17 of 18 stops in the second, on Wednesday.

So the gang is set to leave Regina on Thursday afternoon and, according to Edwards, the drive to Moose Jaw should take about 45 minutes. En route to the Mosaic Place, which has replaced the old 'crushed can' in Moose Jaw, we hope to make a stop at The Tunnels of Moose Jaw where it is alleged former gangster Al Capone spent most of his life.

"Overall, I feel it was a pretty successful night," Edwards said. "We saw a well-played hockey game and those draft eligible guys (Dumba, Sissons and Makarov) really did a nice job."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 2:01 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Hawks big four stars in win

Pick a star … any star.  If you are a fantasy owner of one of the Blackhawks' big guns, chances are you had a big fantasy night.

Marian Hossa led the way by assisting on three of Chicago's five goals in its victory against Vancouver. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp all scored for the Hawks. Kane and Toews -- both of whom fantasy guru Matt Cubeta tabbed in the top 10 of his most recent Center Stage rankings -- also added assists for good measure. Kane's goal, which was assisted by Hossa, came on the man advantage serving as an extra bonus to leagues that reward power-play points.

It looks like good times are ahead for the Blackhawks, who own the League's best record. And, after easily dispensing the talented Canucks on Wednesday night, the Hawks appear to be firing on all cylinders. If you are fortunate enough to own any of the Blackhawks' big four, sit back and enjoy the ride. 
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Quote of the Day

You don't see many. The [Drew] Doughtys, the [P.K.] Subbans, those are guys that create offense from the back and then on top of that ability, the size that he has. In the West you play against some pretty big players, and being able to clear the crease and contain the [Ryan] Getzlafs and the [Corey] Perrys and [Anze] Kopitars and players like that, we're excited about him going back there.

— Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Brent Burns returning back to defense