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Posted On Sunday, 01.22.2012 / 12:48 PM

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

Off-ice issues leave Flyers, Bruins lineups in question

PHILADELPHIA -- It's a quiet afternoon here at the Wells Fargo Center. Because of the early start to today's game, plus the fact that both teams played yesterday, there was little happening prior to puck drop.

How the team's rosters could look today also is in question. The Bruins could be without defenseman Andrew Ference, who was facing a disciplinary hearing early Sunday for his hit yesterday on the Rangers' Ryan McDonagh.

Meanwhile, the Flyers will be without two of their top-six forwards due to injuries suffered in yesterday's game in New Jersey. Jaromir Jagr played just four shifts totaling 3:16 before being forced out with a lower-body injury, while forward Danny Briere is out indefinitely after being diagnosed with a concussion following the game.

Also, the team could be without fourth-line forward Zac Rinaldo, who left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury.

The Flyers called up forwards Tom Sestito and Ben Holmstrom from AHL Adirondack to fill out the roster.

Briere is the sixth Flyer to miss time with a concussion, and the third to currently miss time, joining defenseman Chris Pronger and forward James van Riemsdyk.

Jagr's loss marks the third time this season he'll miss time with a lower-body injury, which Jagr has said is a groin issue. Yesterday, rookie Brayden Schenn moved into Jagr's top-line spot, alongside Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. Whether he stays there remains to be seen.

Also up in the air is the starting goalie for either team. Philadelphia's Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 30 of 31 shots yesterday against New Jersey, and has started games on back-to-back days four times this season. However, he also was in goal the last time these teams met, allowing five goals on 20 shots in a 6-0 loss in Boston on Dec. 17. Lifetime against the Bruins, Bryzgalov is 5-2-1 with a 2.41 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in eight games. Backup Sergei Bobrovsky is 0-1-0 with a 1.96 GAA and .938 save percentage in two games against Boston.

Tuukka Rask stopped 30 of 33 shots in yesterday's 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers, meaning it's likely Tim Thomas starts today against the Flyers. In 16 games against the Flyers, Thomas is 11-3-2 with a 2.04 GAA, .939 save percentage and two shutouts. He stopped all 31 shots Philadelphia threw at him in that Dec. 17 game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 9:30 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

TB @ PHX - 10:49 of the Second Period

At 10:49 of the second period in the Lightning/Coyotes game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Ray Whitney's shot was stopped by Dwayne Roloson before it crossed the goal line. No Goal Phoenix.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 9:14 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CHI @ NSH - 3:51 of the Second Period

At 3:51 of the second period in the Blackhawks/Predators game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Sergei Kostitsyn directed the puck into the net with a high stick.  According to Rule 60.5 "An apparent goal scored by an attacking player who strikes the puck with his stick carried above the height of the crossbar of the goal frame shall not be allowed. The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick." No goal Nashville.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 8:02 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

FLA @ WPG - 19:44 of the First Period

At 19:44 of the first period in the Panthers/Jets game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck deflected off Mike Santorelli and into the net in a legal fashion. According to rule 78.4 "If an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body , in any manner, the goal shall be allowed." Good Goal Florida.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 7:20 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Improved defense carrying Hawks to top

NASHVILLE -- Keeping the puck out of the net isn't exactly the Chicago Blackhawks' forte, but the Hawks have excelled defensively during the recent hot streak that has seen them race to the top of the NHL standings.

The 'Hawks entered Saturday ranked 15th in the NHL in goals-against-per-game at 2.77 but first overall in the standings. They are 5-0-2 entering Saturday's match at Central Division rival Nashville and had allowed just 16 goals during that span (2.29 per game).

When Patrick Sharp, the team's second-leading goal-scorer with 20, hurt his wrist on Jan. 10 -- he's expected to be out at least another two weeks -- coach Joel Quenneville's message to the team was to win with defense.

The 'Hawks have done that.

"I think it's team awareness," Quenneville said on Saturday evening. "Whether it's doing good things with the puck, not necessarily looking for a better play, we're trapping guys on the rush in the offensive zone, how we're checking in our end, putting the puck in safe areas, chipping pucks, getting pucks deep, a little bit more of a purpose in the game, as opposed to trying make plays all the time or thinking we're going to outscore the opponent. That's always an ongoing challenge."

Qunneville also said the 'Hawks would not have any lineup changes, but that Corey Crawford would start in goal after Ray Emery played in Friday's 3-1 home win against Florida.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 3:04 PM

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

Ex-Blues forward Boyes returns to St. Louis

Former Blues forward Brad Boyes returns to Scottrade Center for the first time since he was dealt to the Sabres near the trade deadline last season -- Feb. 27 to be exact.
 
The Blues, who were out of the playoff hunt, dealt Boyes to the Sabres for a 2011 second-round draft pick, which the Blues used to draft Moose Jaw defenseman Joel Edmundson with the 46th pick.

Boyes went on to tally five goals and 14 points in 21 games with Buffalo a season ago and helped the Sabres reach the playoffs, but like many of his teammates, Boyes has struggled to find an offensive stride this season.

He has just three goals in 34 games this season -- one in his last 25 and a grand total of nine in 62 games, including the playoffs.

"It's been tough and frustrating for me," Boyes said. "But we've got another game, keep working at it, keep getting chances and putting those chances in. I've gone through stretches, but this is something that's obviously a little different.

"As for us as a team, it's been tough. It's something we're trying to figure out. We've been struggling scoring goals. That's one of the biggest things. We've just got to find some more ways to get some chemistry and get the power play going. Those are things we're really looking at. We've got the guys in the room to do it. We played really well early in the season. We're in one of those grooves in the wrong way."

Boyes spent Friday might with some of his ex-teammates with the Blues.

"I was able to grab dinner with some of the guys, so it was nice," said Boyes, who had 106 goals and 232 points in four seasons with the Blues. "I was with them for a long time and we became really close. It was good to see them again. It felt like old times again. They're doing well, which is great to see."
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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 2:59 PM

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

Stingy Blues know how struggling Sabres feel

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues enter tonight's matchup with the Buffalo Sabres as stingy as can be.

They're the only team in the Western Conference to not have allowed 100 goals on the season (94) and are one of three teams (the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins are the others) to be in such selective company.

A big reason for that is not only do the Blues (28-12-6) have four shutouts in six games, but they have a string of 10 consecutive games in which they haven't allowed a third-period goal.

They're chasing a record of 13 straight set by the 1928-29 Montreal Canadiens, which is quite a feat in itself.

A big key to the success is the shutdown goaltending of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. They're No. 1 in the NHL with a goals-against average of 1.91 and have a combined save percentage of .926. But for the Blues, this has been a collective effort, from the forwards backchecking to the defensemen limiting second and third opportunities and then to the goaltending making timely saves.

It all adds up to game where scoring chances are limited against this bunch right now, something coach Ken Hitchcock wants.

"Hitch stresses team defense," winger Jamie Langenbrunner said. "We've bought into that pretty darn well. You obviously have to have goalies making some big saves. You're going to make mistakes out there and they're going to have to come up big. They've done that. Our D has played solid and our forwards have come back and working for them."

Hitchcock agrees.

"One of the things that really helps is that our forwards work for our defensemen," he said. "It allows our defensemen to have a very good gap, it allows our defensemen to trust our forwards and that's why we're successful. We have four lines that really work for the defense and the goalie."

The Blues certainly realize the run they're on and would like for it to continue.

"We do bear down in the third and kind of say to ourselves, 'let's take care of the defensive side of it first,' " defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "Our M.O. is we want to be a third-period team. It's been great to kind of lock down in the third period and know that our goalies are gonna save the pucks and we're going to limit those second and third opportunities."

The St. Louis Blues (28-12-6), who entertain the Buffalo Sabres (19-23-5) in the teams' only meeting of the season, know what Buffalo is going through and don't wish it on anyone.
It's become a mental mindset for the Sabres, who have lost a franchise-record 11 straight regulation road games and are 1-6-1 on their last eight games. This is after the team that started 8-3 away from home.

"When I watch them play, the feeling is they go great and then there's the 'oh no,' and when the 'oh no' comes in, it's the hardest thing in coaching to put the brakes on," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "... They've got the 'oh no's' going. They get a bad play and it seems like every bad play ends up in your net."

Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers agreed.

"We're having good moments throughout games," Myers said. “It's just a matter of 10 or 15 minutes where we have those mental mistakes. If we really focus on going into a game trying to eliminate those, it'll definitely help us."

"I'm feeling for Lindy," Hitchcock said of Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "We've all been through that stuff. We were through that in Columbus. We took the big step, made the playoffs, we're thinking things are really going to go and then we get the 'oh no' games going. We're on the wrong side of every darn road game. You get a bad feeling amongst your team. You feel for the guy.

"... Winning is a feeling. When you're on the wrong side of the feeling, it looks like you can never get over it, and when you're on the right side, it looks like you're never going to lose again."

Buffalo's last road win was a 3-2 victory at Nashville on Dec. 3. Going against the team with the best home record in the Blues, who are 20-3-3, could certainly boost the morale of a group fighting it.

"It's perfect for us," Myers said. "They're on a big roll right now. It would be a great team to end this streak we have going right now. We're going to have to bring our best to beat them. Obviously things are going pretty bad for us right now. Everyone in the room believes we can work out of it. It's just a matter of getting back to working hard and playing within our system. I think after this morning, we have a good mindset coming into tonight."

Ruff, believes the Blues will come at his team with full force early in the game.

"I imagine they're licking their chops, they should be," Ruff said of the Blues. "Any time you see a team at the end of a road trip that has struggled, I'm sure they're gonna really want to come after us with all five guys."

The Blues, who are 7-0-1 in the month of January and 12-0-2 in their last 14 home games, are aware of what they face and don't want to be the team that breaks the Sabres' losing skid.
"We definitely don't want it to be us that kick-starts their comeback if they get it going," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "If you look at Buffalo, they were pegged to be one of the best teams in the East. I still think they have a very solid team.

"Teams get into ruts in the middle of the season. It happens, but we can't come into it thinking it's just another game that we can walk through and start looking at Monday (at Detroit) and forget about this one. If anything, they're going to come out hitting and play physical."

Here are the projected lineups for the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues from Scottrade Center:

SABRES

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

Andrej Sekera - Tyler Myers
Joe Finley - Jordan Leopold
Mike Weber - Marc-Andre Gragnani

Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth

Defenseman TJ Brennan has the flu and will not play. Center Paul Gaustad (upper-body) is also out after being injured Wednesday in Chicago. Wings Tyler Ennis (ankle) and Colin Stuart (lower-body), and defensemen Christian Ehrhoff (upper-body) and Brayden McNabb (upper-body) are on injured reserve. Defenseman Robyn Regehr (upper-body) has missed the last three games.

BLUES

David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Matt D'Agostini - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott
Halak is 10-0-3 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in his last 13 starts. He is coming off back-to-back 1-0 shutout victories and carries a 148:25 shutout streak into the game.
The Blues will be without wing Alex Steen (concussion symptoms), who is day-to-day. On injured reserve include forward Andy McDonald (concussion) and defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle). Defenseman Ian Cole and wing Chris Porter are healthy scratches.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 2:43 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lupul honored to be named Chara's assistant for ASG

Joffrey Lupul has been having a stand out season, and Saturday he found out he was named as an assistant captain to Zdeno Chara at the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa.

The 28-year-old sits near the top of League scoring and has set a career high in assists in the process.

“It’s an honor and to even have my name thought of was pretty cool,” said Lupul after the morning skate on Saturday.  “They told me to just try and have fun with it and I will try to make it as fun as possible for the fans.”

At the 2011 All-Star game in Raleigh, Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel was selected last.  With Lupul in a position of influence, it seems that things won’t shake down as they did a year ago.

“Chara can be an intimidating guy, I think we’ll take his guy first,” joked Lupul. “Obviously I want to try and take Phil and Dion (Phaneuf), if we can work that.”

Lupul has always been known to have a tremendous upside – he was drafted seventh overall in 2002 – but was long plagued by injury trouble.  The fact that he is finally 100 percent healthy is an obvious reason for his success this season.

“Definitely I was a step behind last year,” Lupul said. “It was good to get those games in at the end of last year and then having a full off season to just train and feel confident about my body, that was big for me.”

Toronto plays a Montreal squad that is coming off a tough 5-4 shootout loss in Pittsburgh on Friday night and when the final whistle sounds, will have played their third game in four nights. 

“You want to definitely try and jump on the team early,” Lupul said. “They’re going to be tired a little bit but being tired doesn’t mean you can’t play a solid team game.  After a loss last night, we expect them to come out and play well but we should have a little more jump.”

It will be the third meeting of the rivals and the Leafs have won twice, but the two squads have not faced off in nearly three months.  That span of time has been tumultuous for Les Blue, Blanc et Rouge.

They have fired their coach and traded a cornerstone player.  With all the distractions and adversity Montreal has faced, Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is still weary of the threat they pose.

“The biggest thing for them is they just haven’t gotten results this year,” Phaneuf said. “They’ve got talent in their lineup; they’ve got a lot of speed.  We know they are going to come out and expect a big game here. It’s Saturday night and it’s Toronto-Montreal in Toronto, they’re fun games to be a part of.”

Here’s the projected lineup for the Maple Leafs:

Matthew Lombardi - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Joffrey Lupul - Tim Connolly - Nazem Kadri
Joey Crabb - David Steckel - Mike Brown

Dion Phaneuf - Luke Schenn
Carl Gunnarsson - Mike Komisarek
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson

Jonas Gustavsson

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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 2:22 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Long day of hockey in Minnesota for Rau family, CC fans

ST. PAUL -- They could very well have a Colorado College class reunion tonight here in the Twin Cities.

It's "Hockey Day Minnesota" here in the North Star State, a day where, you guessed it, it's nothing but hockey. High school games are on the local Fox Sports North affiliate all day long. The schedule coincides with all levels too. FSN has two high school games on during the morning and early afternoon, the University of Minnesota at 5 p.m. and a late faceoff for the Wild and Stars at 8 p.m.

In preparation for the contest tonight, the Wild called up four players from Houston of the American Hockey League on Friday, trying anything at this point to snap out of its month-long funk. Expect Chad Rau, a Colorado College alum, to make his National Hockey League debut tonight. Also called up was defenseman Nate Prosser, another former Tiger.

For Dallas, forward Toby Peterson is expected to be in the lineup and perhaps goaltender Richard Bachman -- both CC alums themselves.

The Golden Gophers opponent across town at Mariucci Arena is … Colorado College. Needless to say, there should be plenty of CC black and gold in both arenas this evening.

Along with Rau, the Wild also called up bruising forward Matt Kassian and veteran Jed Ortmeyer, while reassigning forwards Casey Wellman and David McIntyre. The goal, according to coach Mike Yeo, was to simply get a different look. The Wild have won just twice since Dec. 13 and have lost 15 of their last 17 games.

"We're going to try whatever it takes right now," Yeo said. "These guys should have a positive mind-frame coming into the game, they're going going to be excited to play, which we need right now.

"It's amazing how much of the game is played between the ears."

Without saying so, Yeo has clearly started sending messages to his veterans, especially on the blueline, where Marek Zidlicky and Mike Lundin will both be healthy scratches in favor of a younger, more inexperienced player like Prosser.

"We've worked D-Zone coverage the last couple of weeks like crazy," Yeo said. "Then we get into a game and it's like 'What the heck is going on right now?' Guys know we're making mistakes and they keep happening."

For Rau, making his NHL debut on 'Hockey Day' makes it extra special. His younger brother Kyle is a freshman at the University of Minnesota, meaning plenty of his family will shuttle from one arena to the other between the games, which are about a 15-minute drive from one another.

"It's going to be a long day of hockey," Rau said. "It should work out perfect."

Rau was called up last month when the Wild were in Vancouver, but was a healthy scratch. He was sent back to Houston shortly after. Tonight, he will center Kassian and Ortmeyer on Minnesota's fourth line.

"I'm pretty excited," Rau said. "Especially playing here, it's really special."

Dallas did not skate this morning as the Stars got into the Twin Cities late after playing Tampa Bay at home Friday night. The Lightning won 2-1.

Reports after the game indicated Stars coach Glen Gulutzan was quite unhappy with the effort against Tampa and let his team know about it afterwards.

“The most frustrating part was really the first 30 minutes of getting outworked. That’s always the most frustrating part,” Gulutzan said, according to ESPNDallas.com. “I’ve got no problem if you go in a shootout or you play hard and you just don’t get results. When you only play 30 minutes, some team comes into your building on a Friday night and outplays you for 30 minutes, I have a real big problem with that.”

The Stars, like Minnesota, are battling injury problems. Mike Ribiero and Jamie Benn are both out tonight, although Benn may return as soon as Tuesday.

“You have to work 60 minutes. We have to work 60 minutes every night with everyone in our lineup if we want to play in the playoffs," Gulutzan said. "You have to make them aware that they are not good enough – with or without Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro in the lineup – to not be a hardworking team. That’s the message. They are just not good enough.”

The two teams are separated by just a single point in the Western Conference standings, so expect both teams to put forth a blue collar effort tonight at Xcel Energy Center.

Here are the projected lineups:

WILD

Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Devin Setoguchi - Matt Cullen - Cal Clutterbuck
Darroll Powe - Warren Peters - Carson McMillan
Matt Kassian - Chad Rau - Jed Ortmeyer

Nick Schultz - Greg Zanon
Justin Falk - Nate Prosser
Clayton Stoner - Jared Spurgeon

Josh Harding
Niklas Backstrom
 

STARS

Brenden Morrow - Tom Wandell - Loui Eriksson
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Adam Burish - Radek Dvorak
Toby Peterson - Jake Dowell - Tomas Vincour
 
Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Nicklas Grossman - Trevor Daley
Philip Larsen - Alex Goligoski
 
Richard Bachman
Kari Lehtonen
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Posted On Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 2:18 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Wings hope to keep home streak alive against wounded Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets are riddled with injuries to key players and basically playing with a patchwork lineup, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous in the mind of Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.

The Wings have also won a franchise record 15 straight games at Joe Louis Arena, so a Saturday night visit from the Blue Jackets looks every bit like one of those “trap games” on the schedule – when teams that are heavily favored get trapped into thinking it’s going to be an easy win.

Babcock isn’t looking at it in quite the same way, however.

“I worry about every game,” he said after Detroit’s optional skate on Saturday morning. “On game day I worry about the game we're playing and that would be consistent today. Obviously, we have to find a way to win. We have done that the last couple of games. We haven't been great in our last couple, so we can be much better and we expect to be much better at home.”

They have been, too.

The Wings have lost just xxx time on home ice this season, where at times they’ve looked like an entirely different team than when they wear the road whites. The good news for the Wings is that their last two wins both came on the road to even their road record at 13-13-0 after lagging below the .500 mark for most of the season – and now they get a struggling, injury-strapped opponent at Joe Louis Arena.

It might not seem like a big game from the sheer matchup, but the way the top three teams in the Central Division have played leapfrog in the division and Western Conference standings of late, they’re all big games from here on out.

“Overall, playing fast is what we have to do to be successful,” Babcock said. “We haven't been as efficient as we'd like to be (recently), but we've found a way to grind out points and as you know in the NHL that’s hard to do.”

Here’s a look at the projected lineups for the Blue Jackets and Red Wings on Saturday night:

BLUE JACKETS

Vinny Prospal - Antoine Vermette - Rick Nash
Ryan Johansen - Derek Brassard - Tomas Kubalik
Ryan Russell - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies-Derek MacKenzie-Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin - Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot - John Moore
Grant Clitsome - Aaron Johnson

Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason

Columbus received some good news on the health front on Friday to go with its spate of bad, as forward R.J. Umberger (concussion) passed his baseline test to get back on the ice, according a report from the Columbus Dispatch. He will not play against the Red Wings and neither with recently-signed defenseman Brett Lebda – a former Red Wing who was brought in to help fill the void after Radek Martinek’s season was officially ended because of a concussion he got on Oct. 19 when hit by Detroit’s Brad Stuart.

RED WINGS

Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Danny Cleary
Cory Emmerton - Justin Abdelkader - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Mike Commodore

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin

 Rookie forward Jan Mursak and Jakub Kindl will be healthy scratches for Detroit, which means defenseman Mike Commodore will get a chance to start against his former team – which buried him in the minors for most of last season before signing with the Wings as a free agent. Commodore had been battling a foot injury that happened while blocking a shot, but is healthy enough to play now.
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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic