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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 8:28 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NSH @ CBJ - 12:42 of the first period

At 12:42 of the first period, a shot by the Blue Jackets' Jeff Carter hit the back cross bar (in the net) and quickly came back out of the net without being observed by the on-ice officials.  The play continued for several seconds before a whistle stopped play.  A video review was initiated at the stoppage to determine if Carter's shot had crossed the goal line.  Video review determined conclusively that a good goal had been scored. Per League rules, the clock was reset to the time of the goal being scored. 

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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 5:44 PM

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

Talbot ready for 'bizarre' game

PHILADELPHIA -- Maxime Talbot said when he left Pittsburgh for Philadelphia this summer, he circled a few days on his calendar. One of them was tonight, the first time Talbot will face the team he spent his first six NHL seasons with.

With the Penguins' roster pretty much in place from last season when Talbot was there, he still knows "pretty much everyone," he told NHL.com. "Lot of these guys I've been playing six years with."

One of those former teammates he's closest with is Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, a relationship that goes back to the 2004-05 season, when they were teammates with the Penguins' AHL team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

"'Flower' (Fleury) is going to be pretty fun to shoot on," Talbot said. "Hopefully I get one past him."

Talbot said it won't be the easiest night for him, starting with when he takes the ice tonight for pre-game warm-ups.

"I think warm-ups are going to be a little bizarre, but at the same time, it's a challenge," he said. "It's exciting and it's something new."

It's also Talbot's first chance to experience the Keystone Clash from the other side of the rivalry.

"I don't know if there's words that can explain (the rivalry)," Talbot said. "It's going to be exciting for me personally. But this rivalry this year, you look at the game tonight, it's one point difference, so the team that wins tonight will be first in the East. It's a pretty big game. It's nice to see these two teams battle. … These two teams have a lot of respect for each other. It's going to be fun."

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


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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 5:03 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

8 Goalies a Weekes: Best of November

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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 4:24 PM

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

Mursak working way closer to return for Wings

DETROIT -- The pain is gone and now it's just a matter of getting his ankle back to full strength for Detroit Red Wings rookie forward Jan Mursak.

It looked like Mursak was headed for a roster spot with the Wings out of training camp when he charged the net hard in a preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks and wound up flying into the boards behind the net feet first.

He was going fast when it appeared he was pushed slightly by Hawks defense prospect Dylan Olsen, and the impact with the boards fractured his ankle. He was originally thought to be out until Christmas week, but appears to be making good progress in his recovery -- even partially participating in Detroit's morning skate on Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.

"I skated a little bit on my own and a little bit at the beginning (of the team skate), too, and I felt pretty good," said Mursak, who made his NHL debut last season but only played 19 games with the Wings. "I think soon I'll start practicing full-time with the team and hopefully I'll be back playing soon, too."

Mursak said if he starts practicing full-time soon, he will probably travel with the Wings on next week's two-game road trip to play the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators -- just to keep skating with the team and working with the team's athletic trainers.

As for a timetable for a possible return, Mursak has a general timeframe in mind.

"I would say two weeks," he said. "I'm in pretty good shape. I've been working hard in the gym and today, when I was on the ice, I was surprised how good it went. Hopefully the ankle gets stronger and I'll be back playing soon."

At this point, the wait is what hurts most. Mursak is a speedy forward who could be a big help on the forecheck like Detroit's third-line center Darren Helm, and before the injury he was eager to see what he could do at the NHL level for a full season.

"I'm really anxious," Mursak said. "It's been awhile and I've been waiting for a time to start playing again. I just can't wait to go on the ice and play some games and get back in that hockey rhythm."
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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 4:16 PM

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

Clutterbuck injury opens spot for Taffe

LOS ANGELES -- Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck will miss tonight's game against the Los Angeles Kings with a leg injury.

"Unless something drastic changes, we're not expecting him to go," coach Mike Yeo said.

The Wild recalled left wing Jeff Taffe, who was in transit to Los Angeles and did not make it to the morning skate.

Asked if Taffe would play on the first line with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley, Yeo said, "There's a good chance."

"The idea of him going out there and playing with Mikko and Heater, guys that have played together all year, I know those guys will help him."

Taffe, a University of Minnesota product, will make his Wild debut. He has played 175 NHL games but has mostly been a career minor league player.

Yeo did not coach Taffe in Houston of the AHL, but coached him while as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I think he should be real excited to play this game and real motivated to play this game," Yeo said. "It's a chance to play for the club where he grew up."
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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 4:10 PM

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

Projected lineups for Wild, Kings

Here are the projected lineups tonight for the game at Staples Center between the Los Angeles Kings and the Minnesota Wild:

WILD
Jeff Taffe - Mikko Koivu - Dany Heatley
Casey Wellman - Matt Cullen - Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Darroll Powe - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Colton Gillies - Cody Almond - Brad Staubitz

Nick Schultz - Mike Lundin
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Clayton Stoner - Greg Zanon

Matt Hackett

Minnesota placed forward Devin Setoguchi on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

"I don't think this is something that's going to be real serious, but we don't expect him in the next week," coach Mike Yeo said.

KINGS
Simon Gagne - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Brown - Jarret Stoll - Trent Hunter
Dustin Penner - Andrei Loktionov - Ethan Moreau
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Kevin Westgarth

Drew Doughty - Rob Scuderi
Jack Johnson - Slava Voynov
Matt Greene - Alec Martinez

Jonathan Quick

Los Angeles activated Martinez off the injured reserve list and placed Willie Mitchell on IR.

Martinez has missed the past 10 games with an upper-body injury suffered on Nov. 12, coincidentally against Minnesota.

Mitchell has a groin injury suffered early in the game against Florida on Dec. 1.


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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 3:48 PM

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

Hackett gets first NHL start for Wild

LOS ANGELES -- Matt Hackett will get the call again for the Minnesota Wild.

The rookie will start against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night in the follow-up to his NHL debut on Tuesday in which he relieved Josh Harding just over a minute into the game and shut out the San Jose Sharks in what became a 2-1 Minnesota victory.

Minnesota does not have its starting goalies speak to the media on game days, but coach Mike Yeo said Hackett "was all smiles" when told he would start again.

"It will be real good for Hacks to get another chance," Yeo said. "He played great last game, so let's throw him back in there."

It was thought that Niklas Backstrom might return but Backstrom will back up tonight and continue to rest his groin.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Backstrom said. "It's nice to be back and I'm getting better everyday."

Harding did not skate Thursday, but Yeo said he's better after he suffered a sort of whiplash from teammate Nick Schultz on Tuesday.

"Yesterday he felt great and he worked out," Yeo said. "We'll meet with him here this afternoon and figure out if he's going to be back with us tomorrow."
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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 3:36 PM

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

Coyotes thriving in net without Bryzgalov

DETROIT – After the Phoenix Coyotes dealt star goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to the Philadelphia Flyers last summer, the focus quickly turned to who would fill the gap left behind.

The answer, by and large, has been Mike Smith – who signed with Phoenix as a free agent last summer. In his sixth NHL season, Smith is playing solid in net for Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, whom he also played for with the Dallas Stars – the franchise that drafted him in the fifth round (161st overall) of the 2001 Entry Draft.

Heading into a Thursday night game against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, Smith is 13-6-3 in 22 appearances and has a 2.26 goals-against average to go with a .931 save percentage. He’s been a perfect fit for Tippett’s more defense-oriented system.

“He’s been phenomenal … both him and (backup Jason LaBarbera),” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said after Thursday’s morning skate. “We knew that (Bryzgalov) was very important and valuable to us as a team and we needed to get good goaltending to be successful. Our system is conducive to having a good goalie playing well and I think goalies enjoy playing in that system, but they still have to stop the puck.”

In Smith’s case, he’s also adept at playing the puck when out of the crease – which adds another dynamic to what Phoenix does.

“It’s certainly an element that helps,” Tippett said. “We have some situations that we look for him to make a good play and it’s just part of the gameplan now. If you have a goaltender who doesn’t handle the puck well, those things aren’t in there. There’s times when it does help, for sure.”

As for the Stars trading Smith to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tippett said it was more of a preventative move than anything to do with his skill level.

“We didn’t trade him because we didn’t like him,” Tippett said. “We didn’t think we were going to be able to keep him. We had Turco. I thought for sure he was going to be a good No.1 goaltender in this League.”

It didn’t work out that way with the Lightning, so Smith became a free agent last summer. Tippett jumped at the chance to re-connect with him after the Bryzgalov trade.

“When (Smith) was available this summer, I thought he’d be a good fit for our team personality-wise,” Tippett said. “I (also) thought he was a good player and I thought (Coyotes goaltending coach) Sean Burke would be good for him. All three turned out well.”
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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 3:34 PM

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

Sturm makes return to TD Garden to face Bruins

BOSTON -- For the first time since he was traded to Los Angeles last December, Marco Sturm returned to the TD Garden today.

The Panthers winger has played for four teams (including Florida) since he was dealt out of Boston in a salary-cap crunch. In more than 300 regular-season games with the Bruins, Sturm scored 106 goals, including the famous game-winning goal in the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park.

Maybe his biggest goal as a Bruin came in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against Montreal in 2008. The Bruins were in the playoffs for the first time since the lockout and Sturm's goal capped a wild victory that allowed the eighth-seeded Bruins to push top-seeded Montreal to a seventh game.

"It's fun and it's a little bit weird too," said Sturm about his return to Boston after the morning skate in preparation for tonight's game against the Bruins. "It's been a fun time here. I had a lot of good years here, I really liked it here, and now I'm on the other side."

Sturm admits that at first last spring, he wasn't all that interested in what the Bruins were doing. As they moved closer to their Stanley Cup championship, however, Boston earned Sturm's rooting interest.

"After they kept winning and winning, I knew they had a pretty good chance," he said. "I don't know, the happiness took over because I knew this group of guys and they deserve it."

While Sturm wasn't around for Boston's capturing of the ultimate goal, he was a key component in the change of culture for the Bruins. Winger Shawn Thornton lauded Sturm's ability to life everyone's spirits today, and coach Claude Julien was grateful for what Sturm brought his clubs on and off the ice.

"Well, Marco was one of those guys that, his last few years he had some pretty bad injuries and going back to those days, I know that he ... really wanted to feel part of the team and he was doing things from the outside, getting guys ready, bringing in some stuff before playoffs and kind of giving them little things that would kind of make us or solidify what we were as a team," Julien said. "As a player … at that time, we didn't have a ton of speed up front and he certainly brought that and that's what we liked about Marco was his speed and he could come off of the wing and then take that shot."



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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 3:28 PM

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

Ekman-Larsson draws comparions to "idol" Lidstrom

DETROIT – Mike Babcock isn’t one to liberally offer extraordinary compliments about young players.

So, when the Detroit Red Wings coach used the term “Nick Lidstrom-like thinker” Thursday morning to describe 20-year old Phoenix defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, it raised a few eyebrows among the media contingent talking to Babcock.

The Swedish-born Ekman-Larsson, leads Coyotes defensemen in goals scored with five and has nine points in 27 games coming into the game Thursday against Lidstrom’s Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Like Lidstrom, he’s a good skater and moves the puck well – but he’s also showing some of the same ability to think a little like his boyhood idol in terms of positioning.

“He’s a heady player,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “He makes some hard plays look simple and that’s the greatest thing about Lidstrom. He makes the game look easy. (Ekman-Larsson) is a young player that obviously has some growth (left), but he makes good plays and decision-making seems simple for him. That’s probably what (Babcock) is referring to.”

Ekman-Larsson also emulates Lidstrom a little bit off the ice, by downplaying his own abilities and talking more about team goals than individual. He does, however, admit that he’s picked up a few things in his own game just by watching Lidstrom closely over the years.

“He was my idol when I grew up, so I mean he’s a really good player and I always watched him when I was a kid,” Ekman-Larsson said after Phoenix’s skate Thursday. “I just tried to learn something about what Nick does.”

He’s still watching, too – whenever he’s not playing against the Red Wings.

“He’s still the best (defenseman) in the League, so I can still (learn),” Ekman-Larsson said. “I tried to play like him when I was younger … but I can’t lose focus watching him out there. I just have to play my game.”

Ekman-Larson made his NHL debut last season and scored one goal to go with 10 assists in 48 games for Phoenix. This season, he’s already more than quadrupled his goal output and is starting to show the same kind of ability as Lidstrom to usually put himself in the right spot and play the best angles.

He learned it from watching the best.

“He’s a good thinker and he reads the ice awesome,” Ekman-Larsson said of Lidstrom, Detroit’s captain. “I like how he handles the puck and makes good plays.”

Tippett likes what’s he’s now seeing out his own Swedish blueliner.

“He’s got poise with the puck to go with it,” the Coyotes coach said. “He’ll grow into being a very good defenseman in this League for a long time.”
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