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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 8:34 PM

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

Preparations prior to puck drop


REGINA, Sask. -- In the hour leading up to the contest between Team WHL and the Russians at Brandt Centre, NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards sat down beside scouts from the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars and began reflecting on the upcoming contest and the players.
 
Calgary amateur scout Blair Reid even discussed one player not in action for Russia on Wednesday but earning plenty of accolades in the Ontario Hockey League of late -- Sarnia's Nail Yakupov.
 
"He showed up on the game sheet when he played against the OHL stars in Ottawa and me and Blair were just talking about his overall game, how he really showed off his puck-handling ability," Edwards said. "He can get open."
 
Edwards set the lineups for the game and was glad that Russian goalie Andrey Makarov would be in action as it enables him to catch a viewing of another 2012 draft eligible prospect in addition to Western Hockey League blue chippers Matt Dumba of Red Deer and Colton Sissons of Kelowna.
 
Edwards also informed me that representatives from all 30 NHL teams were present for the game, including Al Murray of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tony McDonald of the Carolina Hurricanes. McDonald, of course, struck gold at the 2010 Draft with the selection of Jeff Skinner in the first round.
 
"You could see some GMs in the crowd as well at some point as Steve Yzerman was in Ottawa; probably to see Yakupov," Edwards admitted.
 
Edwards just watched closely when the players took their pregame warmups. "You just watch how the players skate and, sometimes, you can pick up other things, but you won't really know until the actual game begins," he said.


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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 5:26 PM

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

Schneider gets another shot at Blackhawks

Vancouver's Cory Schneider knows how tough the Blackhawks can be on a goalie.

As the Western Conference's top team in both points (25) and goals (60), Chicago is clearly capable of scoring in bunches and sending a goalie to the showers early. But Schneider knows firsthand they can also knock you off your feet -- literally.

The Canucks' second-year backup was left prone on the ice clutching his cramping quadriceps the last time he faced Chicago, forced to depart in the third period of a surprise Game 6 start in the first round of the playoffs as a result. So as Schneider prepares to play the archrival Blackhawks for the first time in the regular season on Wednesday, he is well-hydrated and ready to be busy.

"They have some of the best high-end skill in the world," said Schneider, who gets the start with No. 1 Roberto Luongo "day-to-day" after suffering an undisclosed "upper-body injury" Sunday. "All their guys are goal scorers but also great play makers, so as soon as you play shot they make a pass for a back-door tap in."

Which can really take a toll on a goaltender forced to try and stay patiently on his skates, ready to react by dropping for a shot, or with a late lateral push. By the time Schneider got through two periods of it in the playoffs, he could already feel muscles "grabbing," and after the second intermission knew he had a problem.

"It was my quads," he said. "When you go sit between periods for 15 minutes, as soon as I got out there for the third I knew something might be up and sure enough, as soon as you sort lock your muscles out like a split, that's when it seizes."

Schneider, who experienced similar problems in the AHL playoffs three years earlier, said he consulted experts both inside and outside the Canucks organization over the summer to try and come up with the right mix of minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes to keep him hydrated before, during and after each game.

"So far, so good," said Schneider, clutching a bottle of pink liquid.

As for playing the hated Hawks, Schneider said no extra stimulants are needed.

"It's definitely in the air when we play these guys, just the hate from some of the past experiences, and I've been around enough to know we don't like them," he said. "It's been a lot of fun to watch this rivalry the last year and getting into a regular season game will be fun, hopefully I can draw on some of the experience I gained last year in the playoffs and see if I can slow these guys down."

And stay standing up himself.

Other than Schneider, the Canucks will stick with the line combinations and defensive pairings that have scored seven goals in four periods since being put together for the third period of a failed comeback in Anaheim on Friday night:

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
David Booth - Ryan Kesler - Alexandre Burrows
Cody Hodgson - Maxim Lapierre - Chris Higgins
Aaron Volpatti - Manny Malhotra - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Keith Ballard - Aaron Rome

Vancouver called up third-stringer Eddie Lack from Chicago of the American Hockey League on Wednesday morning to back Schneider up. Lack didn't arrive in time for the game-day skate, though, leaving assistant equipment manager Jamie Hendricks to stop pucks for a third-straight day. But with coach Alain Vigneault indicating Lack would be sent back Thursday, it appears Luongo may be back by the next game, Sunday night against visiting Ottawa.

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 5:02 PM

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

The 'Big Man' has arrived

REGINA, Sask. - The 'Big Man' has reached Regina!
 
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards arrived in the Saskatchewan city on Wednesday afternoon, looking as if he was ... ready for a nap.
 
"Hey, I was in the war room in Toronto [Tuesday] night charting the Devils-Bruins game, got to bed late and got on a flight to Regina at 8 a.m. [Wednesday] morning," Edwards told NHL.com. "I'll be raring to go tonight though."
 
              NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards
Hey, did I mention it is minus-7.6 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill here in sunny Regina? I'm not joking. The sun is literally blinding me as I'm sitting here writing in my hotel room, yet, you can churn ice cream if you opened my window.
 
"The sun?" asked Edwards. "The sun means nothing here, so don't talk to me about the sun. It's going to get dark rather quickly too."
 
Edwards is not in the same hotel as me and videographer Steven Hoffner, but we will get together at 6 p.m. ET for the drive over to Brandt Centre. Unfortunately, Eddie informed me that the day he leaves for Western Canada also happened to be the day his stove at home broke down.
 
"Isn't that just typical," he said. "On the day I leave, the stove breaks and now my wife has to deal with that."
 
So it begins folks; the life of scout is never predictable or forgiving.
 
But, besides that, it's all systems go from this point forward. Let the pigeons loose! The gray Nissan Altima is going to be put to the test over the next 72 hours. Following the fifth game of the Subway Super Series on Wednesday at the Brandt Centre in Regina, it's 45 minutes West to Moose Jaw for Game 6 of the Series at Mosaic Place.
 
Then it's a 2-hour drive West to Swift Current before making a 4-hour trek to Lethbridge. Can you dig it?
 
"We'll get to the arena tonight and I'll pick up the lineups in the scout's room and then watch pre-game warmups," Edwards said. "No doubt the theme of this trip is life on the road as it's never-ending."
 
He then looked at me and said: "You sure you want to do this?"
 
Did you ever find yourself teetering on the hind legs of a four-legged chair, struggling to regain your balance. Well, that's the feeling I got after Eddie raised that question. But, hey, I need to experience this. This is what hockey is all about, right? I've been to NHL games and have seen the stars; now it's time to get dirty in the corners with the men who find them.
 
Throughout tonight's game, I will be sitting alongside Edwards, asking questions about his scouting routine. I'll blog as often as possible to provide you with all the insight. If you have any questions of NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards, please email me at any point during my trip at mmorreale@nhl.com with those inquiries. I'll post your question and Eddie's response at some point over the next four days.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 4:42 PM

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

Hawks 'likely' to get Bolland back against Canucks

Chicago forward Dave Bolland appears set to return from a foot injury on Wednesday, with coach Joel Quenneville saying the center is "likely to play" in Vancouver.

Given the opponent, it's hardly surprising.

Bolland has played a leading role in a rivalry with the Canucks that has become one of the NHL's best and most bitter over the last three seasons. The opportunity to return to his rightful place under the skin of identical twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin may have simply been too tempting for the skilled agitator to pass up.

"It's always a temptation when we are playing these guys," said Bolland, who missed the previous three games after blocking a shot against St. Louis on Nov. 8. "If it's just taping a boot to my skate or taping anything that would help you feel better, it's always great playing these guys with the kind of rivalry and the hype and everything that goes into games against Vancouver."

Chicago, which is tied with Pittsburgh atop the NHL standings with 25 points, won't have top-pair defenseman Brent Seabrook for what will be the 33rd meeting between these teams the last three-plus seasons, including three straight playoffs. Seabrook, who suffered a "lower-body injury" Sunday after crashing feet-first into the boards, is on the road trip, but didn't skate the last two days.

Bolland has, but was laboring Monday and on the fourth line during the morning skate Tuesday. That could change if it means going up against the Sedins, because he has been like Kryptonite for the winners of the last two Art Ross Trophies.

Bolland missed the first three games of last spring's first-round playoff meeting and the Sedins combined for 9 points while the Canucks took a 3-0 series lead. But with Bolland back, the twins managed just 3 points and were a combined minus-13 in the final four games, while Bolland had 6 points and was plus-6 on his own.

Sure, the twins combined for 7 points during a 6-2 romp in Chicago on Nov. 6, but as the Blackhawks quickly point out, that game was decided on special teams, with the Sedins doing most of their damage on a man advantage unit that went 5-for-6 (they also set up Jannik Hansen for a tap in on the lone even-strength marker).

"They are tough to contain, they are dangerous in so many ways," Quenneville said, adding he had confidence Markus Kruger could do the job if he stays in Bolland's spot on the third line. "And I don't think you ever feel like you got it nailed out there against those guys but (Bolland has) done a nice job."

Whether Bolland plays against the Sedins, there will be no shortage of animosity between two teams that have grown to openly dislike each other.

Patrick Kane said most of the Blackhawks went their separate ways after the Canucks knocked them out in overtime of Game 7 last season, but got back in touch when the Canucks played -- and lost -- Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins almost two months later.

"It seems a lot of us were texting each other back and forth during Game 7 and a lot of us were pretty happy Vancouver didn't win," Kane said with a smile.

"We'll try to keep them out of that position again this year."

Tonight's projected lineup:

Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Daniel Carcillo - Patrick Kane - Patrick Sharp
Bryan Bickell - Marcus Kruger - Michael Frolik
Andrew Brunette - Dave Bolland - Jamal Mayers

Duncan Keith - Steve Montador
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Nick Leddy
Sami Lepisto - John Scott

Corey Crawford will start in net and Ray Emery will back him up.

Don't be surprised if Bolland and Kruger flip-flop against the Sedins.

The odd man out is Rostislav Olesz, who Quenneville confirmed has been put on waivers after playing just six of the first 18 games, despite earning $3.4-million this season on a contract with two more years and $8.25-million left on it after this one. Quenneville didn't want to say what might happen to Olesz, who was acquired from Florida in exchange for defenseman Brian Campbell, until the waiver period has passed.

"His opportunity was limited but sometimes you earn opportunity as you go along," he said. "He hasn't produced at the rate -- and I'm not necessarily talking about production but his overall game -- maybe we were looking for."

On defense, Montador moves up to play with Keith, while Lepisto gets his first action in five games alongside  Scott on the third pairing. As for Seabrook, Quennevilel said he is "progressing really well but out tonight."
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 4:28 PM

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

Devils' Zubrus to play 1,000th NHL game tonight

Dainius Zubrus will play in his 1,000th NHL regular season game tonight when the Devils face the Sabres. The 33-year-old will be the  267th player in League history to accomplish the feat.

"Right now, as I'm playing, I don't look at it as something that’s that big a deal," Zubrus told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record last week. "You always play in the big picture to win a (Stanley) Cup and I've never done it. But there are things that come with it. I don’t know, when I’m done maybe I’ll look back and I’ll say something different. It's a lot of games, but, for now, it’s nothing that big.

"It might mean more to the people around me -- my parents and my son kind of every now and then mentions it. He's up to speed on those things. For me, I don't know."

Zubrus has divided the games fairly evenly with four teams. He played in 200 games with the Flyers, 139 with the Canadiens, 331 with Capitals and 19 with the Sabres. Zubrus has appeared in 310 games with the Devils entering tonight.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 3:57 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Injuries force Loktionov, Voynov into Kings' lineup

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Injuries have forced the Los Angeles Kings to make two tweaks to their lineup for Wednesday night.

Coach Terry Murray doesn't expect there to be much adjustment with the insertion of winger Andrei Loktionov on the second line and defenseman Slava Voynov.

Loktionov, the team's top forward prospect, didn't make the team out of training camp but he played 19 games with the big club last season. Voynov had a terrific camp and was up with the team earlier this season.

"They're going to give us some intense play," Murray said. "There's a point here now, being their third year of pro hockey, they're more understanding of what it is to playing the team game and just come out and play the right way also and get into a situation where you feel you have to do a whole lot to impress.

"It's an opportunity for them to show us they're ready to play in the NHL. If they take that attitude, it suits them best."

Murray switched up the defense pairings and reunited Drew Doughty with Jack Johnson. The two play together on the power play but only played together for a handful of games last season.

"We're somewhat familiar with each other from the power play, but five-on-five is going to be different," Doughty said. 

"I know we're both excited … I don't think there's a better defense pairing, really, in the League that can move the puck like both of us. It's going to be lot of fun."

Doughty also said he's past the shoulder injury that forced him to miss games earlier this season. Doughty helps get the Kings' dormant offense going, and he has 2 goals and 3 assists in his past five games.

"I feel good out there," he said. "(The injury) is not in the back of mind, for the most part. I feel healthy and ready to go."
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 3:56 PM

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

Myers returns tonight; lineups for Devils, Sabres

Tyler Myers, a healthy scratch in the Sabres' 3-2 shootout win against the Canadiens on Monday, will get back into the lineup against the Devils.

The 2010 Calder Trophy winner has struggled this year, posting just 4 assists and a minus-3 rating in 16 games. He'll replace Marc-Andre Gragnani, while Mike Weber will remain in the lineup.

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the New Jerey Devils at First Niagara Center:

DEVILS
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Nick Palmieri - Ryan Carter - David Clarkson
Vladimir Zharkov - Brad Mills - Cam Janssen

Adam Larsson - Andy Greene
Mark Fayne - Henrik Tallinder
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

SABRES
Thomas Vanek - Luke Adam - Jason Pominville
Ville Leino - Derek Roy - Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe - Paul Gaustad - Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis - Cody McCormick - Brad Boyes

Jordan Leopold - Robyn Regehr
Christian Ehrhoff - Tyler Myers
Mike Weber - Andrej Sekera

Jhonas Enroth
Drew MacIntyre
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 3:52 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ducks' Hagman waiting on work visa

Niklas Hagman is trying to get an appointment with a consulate in Canada to obtain a work visa to begin playing for the Anaheim Ducks.

Anaheim claimed Hagman, a three-time 20-goal scorer, off re-entry waivers from the Calgary Flames.

Hagman was glad to be in another situation after, he said, his role was diminished in Calgary.

"It was tough because you were watching the games and you feel like you're in good shape and you feel like you've been playing well but still you're sidelined because of so many bodies," Hagman said when he met local reporters Tuesday.

"I was just relieved to get into a new environment and get a chance to play and, that way, show that I can play and should be in this League."

Hagman gives Anaheim four Finnish players, including Olympic teammates Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. Coach Randy Carlyle said he wouldn't put Hagman with Selanne and Koivu, but instead on the third line.

"We think he's a fit for our group with his work ethic and his commitment to playing the game in those dirty areas, getting inside, getting in on the forecheck," Carlyle said. "That's really what our expectations are.

"We hope, and we're gambling to some degree, that this is going to be the right place at the right time for Nik to come in."

The move is in response to Anaheim's 30th-ranked offense, and Carlyle acknowledged that they have a lot of youth on their bottom six forward unit.

"Probably desperation looking for the third line," Carlyle said. "We're putting a lot of pressure on young kids."

------------

George Parros is wearing a visor as he recovers from laser surgery to repair a torn retina.

The noted enforcer hasn't committed to it, though. He will be out for about another two weeks and is wearing it on a trial basis.

"It's just precautionary for now," Parros said. "I haven't decided whether I'm going to wear it during game play or not."

"It's interesting to play the puck on a backhand for me with the visor line there. But I have a couple of weeks to get used to it."

Parros was struck by the puck in practice on Nov. 5, the second time he was hit in a few days.

Teammate Andrew Gordon was the culprit, and Parros joked that Gordon doesn't owe him.

"It's not his fault at all," he said. "He did buy me dinner on the road, so I took it and thanked him for it."
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 3:48 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Ducks, Kings

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Los Angeles Kings host the Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center:

DUCKS
Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Matt Beleskey - Maxime Macenauer - Andrew Gordon
Jean-Francois Jacques - Brandon McMillan - Devante Smith-Pelly

Cam Fowler - Francois Beauchemin
Toni Lydman - Kurtis Foster
Luca Sbisa - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Dan Ellis

The Ducks recalled Jacques and he will likely make his regular-season debut for the team. Jacques was up with the club early this season, but had to serve a five-game suspension for leaving the bench to fight against Vancouver in the preseason.

KINGS
Simon Gagne - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Andrei Loktionov - Mike Richards - Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford - Jarret Stoll - Brad Richardson
Ethan Moreau - Colin Fraser - Trevor Lewis

Jack Johnson - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Rob Scuderi - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 2:25 PM

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

Roenick: OK with Lucic hit, thumbs down to 1-3-1

NHL 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.

There are two controversial issues in the National Hockey League this week and the general managers touched on both at their meeting in Toronto on Tuesday. Now it's my turn, so here are my thoughts on goalie protection and the 1-3-1:

What's clicking?

Milan Lucic
Left Wing - BOS
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 14
SOG: 33 | +/-: 6
Let's start with one of the more controversial issues in the NHL today, the Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller.

I don't mind the fact that Lucic didn't get a suspension. I'm a true believer in old-fashioned hockey and I do believe goalies should be protected, but they are protected in their blue paint, which is the no-touch zone. Yes, there is a rule that you can't run goaltenders, and yes, you have to protect goaltenders because there are only 60 in the League, but the goalies should also have to protect themselves.
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