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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 8:57 PM

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

Edwards provides best & unheralded scouted player

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- During pregame warmups for the Hurricanes and Red Deer Rebels at the ENMAX Centre on Friday, I was able to ask NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards a few off the cuff questions.

First, I was curious to know what player happened to be the finest slam dunk candidate to make it big that he had scouted in his 12 years in the business.

"Sidney Crosby," Edwards said.

Crosby, of course, was drafted by the Penguins out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League first overall in 2005 after earning consecutive Canadian Hockey League player of the year awards with the Rimouski Oceanic in 2003-04 and 2004-05.

"Crosby dominated right out of junior; there weren't any questions asked on the day of our final scouting meeting," Edwards said. "Crosby was one and then we began the debate with No. 2."

While Crosby might have been a definitive star in the making, Edwards had to think a few minutes when I inquired about the player he scouted who wasn't considered a slam dunk candidate in his draft year but certainly turned out to be that type of performer.

"I'd have to say Mike Richards," Edwards said. "I had Richards rated, at the time, between No. 27 and No. 32 in the OHL on the final list."

Richards, who is now playing in Los Angeles, was drafted No. 24 overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003. He had 133 goals and 349 points in 453 games for the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League.

"During his draft year, the new rules were beginning to kick in," Edwards explained. "He was considered a smaller (5-foot-11) player at that time and general managers were frowning on those types of players. But he made the world junior teams and has had a great NHL career. There was the stigma at that time that smaller players wouldn't make it, but Mike had that hockey sense, that playing ability that was rare in a player."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 8:27 PM

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

Arrival in Lethbridge; set for some junior hockey

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- So the NHL.com crew and NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards crossed the border and into the province of Alberta early this afternoon and, in the process, gained an hour.

Great! The day is even longer now … peachy.

In case you need it, you need to take just two highways to reach Lethbridge from Moose Jaw, Sask. That would be Highway 1 and Highway 3. It takes approximately six hours and 6 cups of coffee. Got it?

On the ride over, it was a steady minus-14 degrees Celsius and we saw a fox, cattle, horses, deer and buffalo. My window in the back seat was covered with frost buildup. In other words, I could have used an ice scraper on the inside of our Nissan Altima.

We've arrived at the ENMAX Centre and are awaiting the contest between the Red Deer Rebels and the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Edwards will be watching Red Deer defenseman and top 2012 draft prospect Mathew Dumba closely and I hope to get some additional analysis later on.

Stay tuned …

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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 5:12 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Struggling Avalanche shake up lines

DENVER -- It's shake-up time for the Colorado Avalanche. Coach Joe Saco has changed all four line combinations for tonight's game against the Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center, which kicks off a season-long eight-game homestand.

The Avalanche have lost three games in a row to fall two games under .500 (8-10-1), have gone 1-6-1 in the past eight games and have lost six of eight home games this season.

"It's important that we start to establish our strong home record now, and it starts tonight," Sacco said after this morning's optional skate. "It's important that we make up some ground here. But it has to start tonight; we can't look ahead."

Among the Avalanche changes: rookie left wing Gabriel Landeskog will move from center on Ryan O'Reilly’s line to a unit with center Matt Duchene and right wing Milan Hejduk; David Jones will skate at left wing with O'Reilly and right wing Daniel Winnik; and center Paul Stastny will skate with left wing Kevin Porter and right wing Brandon Yip.

Yip was activated from injured reserve and made his season debut Thursday in the Avalanche's 1-0 loss in Minnesota after recovering from a broken right forearm he suffered in training camp. Left wing Peter Mueller, who has missed 16 games to recover from the effects of a concussion that caused him to miss all last season, was placed on IR to make room for Yip.

Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who stopped 17 shots Thursday, will start back-to-back games for the first time this season.

"(Changes) happen when you go through a little bit of a tough stretch here. You shake things up," Sacco said. "Sometimes it brings excitement to players to play with somebody different. We'll see how it goes."

The Stars have also been in a slump, losing three games in a row while being outscored 14-3 after winning four games in succession.

Dallas will welcome left wing Steve Ott back into the lineup. Ott, who missed six games with a hip injury, will skate on a line with center Jamie Benn and right wing Michael Ryder. To make room for Ott, the Stars placed right wing Adam Burish (hand) on the injured list.

Loui Eriksson will move to right wing on a line with left wing Brenden Morrow and center Mike Ribeiro.

Kari Lehtonen will start in goal. He faced 30 shots on Tuesday in the Stars' 6-0 loss to Florida.
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 3:30 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Blues' Colaiacovo ruled day-to-day

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- St. Louis Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo is listed as day-to-day after suffering a mild strain of his left hamstring in the first period of Thursday's 4-1 win against the Florida Panthers.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Friday that Colaiacovo will not make the trip to Minnesota for Saturday's game against the Wild and will be evaluated when the team returns. Ian Cole will return to the lineup Saturday.

"We'll further evaluate it the next couple days," Hitchcock said. "... This is mild so that's good news there. It could have been a lot worse there, too. Got a break there."
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 3:06 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Stars activate Ott, place Burish on injured reserve

DENVER -- Dallas Stars winger Steve Ott, who has missed six games because of a hip injury, went through another full practice on Thursday and is set to return for Friday's game at Colorado.

In advance of that move, the Stars activated Ott from the injured-reserve list. Winger Adam Burish (hand) went on the list.

Ott will come back in a different spot than anticipated.

Coach Glen Gulutzan had planned on plugging Ott into Burish's spot on a line with Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro. Gulutzan changed his thinking and will use Ott with Jamie Benn and Michael Ryder. Loui Eriksson moves to the Ribeiro-Morrow line.

Gulutzan made the return Eriksson on the right side, where he has been effective in recent seasons. The move allows allows Ott to play on the left side, his natural spot.

"It's easier to have them in their positions, and it gives us some balance," Gulutzan said.

Kari Lehtonen will start at Colorado, with backup Andrew Raycroft in line for Saturday's home game against San Jose.

Defenseman Philip Larsen is also likely to play on Saturday. Larsen, brought back from the American Hockey League this week when defenseman Alex Goligoski went on the injured-reserve list, appeared in the first three games of the regular season, averaging 13:31 of playing time.
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 2:52 PM

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

Nabokov out with groin injury



The New York Islanders announced Friday that goaltender Evgeni Nabokov will be out indefinitely due to a groin injury.

Nabokov was injured at 7:55 of the first period Thursday's game against the Montreal Canadiens when he slid to make a pad stop on a Yannick Weber shot. Nabokov remained down after making the save, and then was helped to the dressing room by the team's medical staff.

In eight games, Nabokov is 1-5-0 with a 2.83 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Rick DiPietro replaced Nabokov on Thursday, and he'll now share time with Al Montoya in Nabokov's absence.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 2:48 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Smith replaces ailing Frolik in Blackhawks' lineup

CALGARY -- Ben Smith will draw into the Chicago Blackhawks lineup tonight against the Calgary Flames as Michael Frolik announced he was a no-go after suffering an upper-body injury against the Vancouver Canucks.

Frolik suffered the injury after sliding awkwardly into the boards in the third period of Tuesday's 5-1 win.
Despite taking the morning skate, Frolik ruled himself out of tonight's contest.

"It's not really great," Frolik said. "I'll probably not be in tonight. We'll see tomorrow. Every day is progress. It's sore and I can't be strong tonight so we'll see."

Ben Smith will be inserted into the game in the place of Frolik. He was recalled yesterday from Rockford of the American Hockey League.

"Benny, I think he's useful in a lot of ways," coach Joel Quenville said. "He can play all three positions. He can play, whether it's a checking role or an offensive role. He's going to be useful for us. Looks like we're happy to have him back."

Chicago will also be without the services of defenseman Brent Seabrook for a second consecutive contest. Seabrook is out with a lower-body injury and isn't expected back in the next few games.

"Seebs is, we'll say, doubtful for tomorrow, out for tonight," Quenville confirmed.
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 1:48 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sarich returns, Morrison possible for Flames

CALGARY -- After being a healthy scratch for five consecutive games, Calgary Flames defenseman Cory Sarich will draw back into the lineup tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The experienced Sarich, who last played Nov. 4 against the Buffalo Sabres, is expected to draw in for first-year defenseman Derek Smith.

"Cory will get himself back in the lineup but he's no different from anyone else," coach Brent Sutter said. "They have to perform, they have to play up to expectations."

Those expectations include improving on the team's 7-9-1 record.

Rene Bourque, who has missed the Flames' last two practices as maintenance, confirmed he will also be in the lineup.

"I feel good, just a little bruised-up," Bourque said after the morning skate. "I'll be ready tonight."

Calgary could get an unexpected boost from another returning veteran.

Center Brendan Morrison, who has also missed the last five games due to inadequate rehabilitation of his ACL knee surgery, is being monitored on a daily basis by the team.

"We think he's getting really close and so does he," Sutter said. "It's basically kind of a game-to-game situation right now. It's 50/50."

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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 1:45 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flames, Blackhawks

Here is what the lineups could look like when the Blackhawks and Flames take the ice tonight in Calgary:

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - Mikael Backlund - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Rene Bourque
Paul Byron - Roman Horak - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris ButlerJay Bouwmeester
Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
TJ BrodieCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff will be in goal against the Blackhawks, with Henrik Karlsson as his backup.

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

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

Corey Crawford is expected to start against the Flames with Ray Emery the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 1:30 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Extra work on knee to sideline Pens' Jeffrey

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Penguins forward Dustin Jeffrey will be out 10-15 days as he continues to rehabilitate a knee injury.

Jeffrey had surgery to repair torn ligaments in the knee in March and missed training camp and the first eight games of the season because of the injury. Coach Dan Bylsma said Jeffrey still needs to further strengthen his knee.

The 23-year-old Jeffrey does not have a point in six games this season. He was recalled from a conditioning assignment with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL on Tuesday.

"There's no aggravation or setback, just strength and the wear and tear and then loading it up with games," Bylsma said. "There just needs to be more rehabbing done to the knee to withstand and to be at the level he needs to skate at."
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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp