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Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 11:12 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Kelowna's Colton Sissons suffers concussion

Might as well add Kelowna Rockets captain Colton Sissons to the long list of coveted 2012 draft prospects suffering from injury or illness this season.

According Dubnation Magazine, Sissons will be sidelined at least one month with a concussion.

The 6-foot-1, 189-pound forward, who is NHL Central Scouting's No. 14-ranked skater in North America, is first in goals (26) and second in points (41) for the Rockets this season. He also has a team-leading 13 power-play goals, and has produced two shorthanded goals.

Sissons was injured in the team's 3-2 loss to the Kamloops Blazers on Feb. 11 at Prospera Place in Kelowna.

There are some scouts who feel Sissons might just be the best two-way forward available in the upcoming draft.

"I definitely look up to a guy like Ryan Kesler," Sissons told at the 2012 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Feb. 1. "I like watching Mike Richards also. I like those type of guys who are reliable in their own zone and put up numbers in the offensive zone. They're always working and they're always moving their feet. Kesler and Richards are definitely guys I look up to and want to be like one day in the NHL."

Sissons said he could be put in any situation on the ice.

"I could pretty much play any position … wing or center," he said. "I'd prefer center, no doubt about that, but I've been adjusting to wing a lot in my career."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 10:31 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Report: Five possible destinations for Nash

If the Columbus Blue Jackets were to follow through on any rumored deal for team captain Rick Nash, the Columbus Dispatch lists five potential landing spots.

According to beat writer Aaron Portzline, the teams that have shown the most interest are the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.

Nash has a full no-movement clause in his contract.

Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson has refused to respond directly to any rumors, but told the Dispatch, "We're open to all options to try to improve the team."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 10:04 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Report: No deal yet for Wild's Zidlicky

Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher on Wednesday told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the club has not asked defenseman Marek Zidlicky to waive his no-trade clause for any specific trade.

The newspaper, along with TSN, reported earlier Wednesday morning that Zidlicky had waived his no-trade clause so the Wild could send him to the New Jersey Devils.

"I haven't asked Zid to waive his no-trade for any specific trade," Fletcher told the newspaper's Mike Russo. "I haven't called him and said anything's close. I can tell you for sure I'm planning on talking to other teams. We haven't traded Zid, we haven't made the decision to trade Zid at this point. I have not formally asked him to do anything because at this point I honestly don't have anything to take to him, I don't have anything for him to say yes or no to."

Fletcher said a deal with New Jersey for Zidlicky could still happen anytime between now and the Feb. 27 deadline, but he just as likely could move Zidlicky to another team, or hold onto him and move him over the summer, or wait even longer.

"Maybe he's here next trade deadline and we're having the same conversation," Fletcher said.

The 35-year-old Zidlicky reportedly has been unhappy with how he's been used by first-year coach Mike Yeo, including being a healthy scratch four straight games between Jan. 21 and Feb. 2. According to the Star Tribune, after the third benching, Jan. 31, Zidlicky told Fletcher he would waive his no-trade clause for a move to the right team.

In 39 games this season, Zidlicky has no goals, 13 assists and a minus-7 rating. He has one year and $4 million remaining on his contract.

The Devils certainly could use a player with Zidlicky's skill set. While he doesn't have any goals this season, 42 of the 60 he's scored in his eight NHL seasons have been on the power play. In the absence of Henrik Tallinder and Adam Larsson, the Devils' power play has slipped to 17th in the NHL at 17.0 percent.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 9:58 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

STL @ CBJ - 19:56 of the Third Period

At 19:56 of the third period in the Blues/Blue Jackets game, video review concluded that David Perron gloved the puck into the net. No goal St. Louis.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 9:29 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NYR @ BOS -10:01 of the Third Period

At 10:01 of the third period in the Rangers/Bruins game, video review was used to determine that Dennis Seidenberg's shot never enters the net. No goal Boston.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 7:57 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

STL @ CBJ - 19:59 of the first period

At 19:59 of the first period in the Blues/Blue Jackets game, video review was used to determine that James Wisniewski's shot crossed the goal line with one tenth of a second remaining in the period. Good goal Columbus.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 4:48 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Could Habs' Kostitsyn be available?

BROSSARD, Que. -- Losing Wednesday's game could put the Canadiens' playoff hopes to bed for good, and with the trade deadline looming Feb. 27 Montreal General Manager Pierre Gauthier may be inclined to declare himself a seller.

Among the potential assets Gauthier could move by the deadline, the names of Gill and injured forward Travis Moen have come up often because they both have Stanley Cup rings and both can be unrestricted free agents July 1.

Another possibility is Andrei Kostitsyn, who played a season-low 4:20 in Monday's 5-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. He had just one 40-second shift in the third period.

"We need more," Cunneyworth said of his decision to bench Kostitsyn. "For me, I saw a problem with turnovers. That was my main concern. It was three shifts, three turnovers that were painfully obvious. It comes down to managing the puck, and he's a veteran that should know better."

Kostitsyn, who turned 27 on Feb. 3, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. With 20 goals in three of the four previous season and decent size at 6-foot, 214 pounds, it's possible someone with his skill set could interest a playoff-bound team looking for someone to plug into their top six.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 4:43 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - At the Rink blog

Gomez, Ladouceur clash in Canadiens practice

BROSSARD, Que. -- The Montreal Canadiens' season to date has been one rife with frustration, and there was further evidence of that at practice Tuesday.

One day after blowing yet another third period lead in a 5-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, center Scott Gomez and Canadiens assistant coach Randy Ladouceur engaged in a very vocal and animated exchange over a drill that was not completed to the coach's liking.

The back and forth between the two continued for several minutes while the team was gathered along the boards to receive instructions on the next drill, and Gomez sought out Ladouceur later in practice to continue the discussion.

For a team that may have seen its dimming playoff hopes shut off for good with the loss to the Hurricanes, which left them 11th in the Eastern Conference seven points behind the eighth-place Maple Leafs, the shouting match appeared to reflect how many players on the team were feeling.

"It happens all the time. I screwed up on the drill. It just shows you how the fire's still there in all of us," Gomez said. "I screwed up on the drill and he let me know about it. It's not the first time, it's not the last time. It's a part of hockey. It happens all the time, and it just shows how crucial it is right now."

Though there clearly was some back and forth going on between the two, Gomez suggested he was doing more listening than talking.

"I wasn't going back, I was listening to him," Gomez said. "He's the coach. It was a conversation, there was no argument. It's a coach yelling at a player for messing up a drill. We're all in a position where we realize where we're at and your attitude's going to change a little bit, you're a little more on edge. I wish I could tell you there was more, but it was nothing."

It was not the first time Ladouceur has had a public discipline session with a player. Cameras caught him doing the same thing with defenseman P.K. Subban on the bench during a game in Pittsburgh on Jan. 20 after a turnover cost the Canadiens a shorthanded goal.

But this time it took place in front of the entire team, and the message sent was noticed by other players.

"It's the whole team," said veteran defenseman Hal Gill. "You're isolating it to one instance on the ice, but it's the whole team. The way things are going, everyone's got to be sharp. It's not one guy that wins games or one guy that loses games. We have to be sharper as a team."

Gomez played just 7:49 against Carolina, the lowest ice time he's had this season since he played just 2:40 Oct. 20 against Pittsburgh due to an upper-body injury.

Head coach Randy Cunneyworth said he fully supported Ladouceur's tone with Gomez, and refused to confirm Gomez would even play Wednesday at home against the Boston Bruins.

"We'll look at it; we'll look at everything at this time," Cunneyworth said when asked directly whether or not Gomez would play. "We're looking for the lineup that will play the right way and battle hard against a very good Boston Bruins team. That's all we’re looking for -- 20 guys that will do that."

The only lineup decision Cunneyworth would confirm for Wednesday's game was that Ryan White -- a hard-nosed, scrappy forward that fits perfectly into the style of game Cunneyworth is trying to sell -- will make his season debut after fully recovering from sports-hernia surgery.

White's insertion into the lineup means one forward who played Monday most likely will need to come out against Boston, and there's nothing saying it won't be Gomez or linemate Andrei Kostitsyn, who played just 4:20 Monday against the Hurricanes.

"We can't have one passenger, no matter who it is. There's a lot at stake here," Cunneyworth said. "If we don't play the right way, whether it's a top club or not, you're not going to achieve the goals you want. We have to have a great effort from everybody against a team like Boston, otherwise they'll embarrass you."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 4:41 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

McPhee negotiating tricky trade market

So this hasn't been the best of weeks for the Washington Capitals.

To recap: The No. 1 goaltender has the flu, the former No. 1 right wing is frustrated by being scratched and might want out, the No. 2 goaltender was surprised to learn two hours before a game that he was being replaced by the No. 3 goaltender, and the No. 1 defenseman and No. 1 center remain out with injuries.

Oh yeah, and the Capitals have lost three straight games and now are four points behind the Florida Panthers in the Southeast Division with four straight games coming up away from Verizon Center; they've lost 18 of 27 on the road this season.

Got all that?

The challenge for Capitals General Manager George McPhee is trying to figure out what to make of his club's current predicament, and if there is a way he can fix in the next two weeks.

One thing that is clear is that McPhee is trying to fix it, and not waiting around to see if and when injured defenseman Mike Green and center Nicklas Backstrom can or will return. CBC's Elliott Freidman wrote in his "30 Thoughts" column today that, "Apparently, no GM is burning up the phone lines more than George McPhee."

"I still think if we get our guys back and if we can add something here in the next couple of weeks we're good enough to win the Stanley Cup," McPhee said to John Feinstein of the Washington Post. "Then again, a lot of teams are looking to add something right now, too."

Added owner Ted Leonsis, on his Ted's Take blog: "Wish us speedy recovery to some of our players -- and hope we can add some jump via the trade markets during the next few weeks."

McPhee has a few potential roadblocks in the way of making a deal. One is what he already stated -- the market is full of buyers right now and not many sellers. Another is the status of Green and Backstrom. If both are back and healthy, it is great for the team but not for McPhee's ability to make a move -- Washington is already using the long-term injured reserve relief from Green and Tom Poti to stay below the salary cap.

Another issue is trying to determine what the Capitals need if Green and Backstrom are healthy. As McPhee pointed out to Feinstein, the team is 8-0-0 when everyone (sans Poti) is available.

The best way for McPhee to try and improve the team -- or at least shake up the roster and hope that sparks some improvement -- probably is to try and walk a delicate line of being a buyer and a seller as the deadline nears.

For the Capitals to add salary, McPhee is going to have to move some out (assuming Green and/or Backstrom can be ready before the end of the season). If Knuble wasn't an option to be traded before this week, he certainly might be now.

The 39-year-old right wing has three goals this season, and he's been a healthy scratch the past three games. He told reporters he hasn't gone to McPhee to request a trade, but that sounds like a plausible outcome if he doesn't start playing again soon.

"I don't know. I haven't thought that far ahead yet. I just kind of got through this weekend with three games in (five) nights -- just wanted to get through it and see what (would) happen," Knuble said to reporters. "Obviously we all saw what happened so it gets you thinking.

"If a player is not going to be used, or in the near future you don't have plans, then that player probably wouldn't want to be there. That's how we are in our League -- you want to go somewhere where you're going to play and contribute to your team and if you can't do it in one place, then you've got to go."

Knuble carries a $2 million cap hit. Another player in that price range who has not played a lot of hockey recently for the Capitals is defenseman Jeff Schultz. He's been a healthy scratch quite often since Dale Hunter became the coach, and his cap hit checks in at $2.75 million. Dealing Schultz would cut into Washington's depth on defense, but whether the team has seven NHL-caliber defensemen or nine won't matter if Washington doesn't qualify for the postseason.

A more radical move would be to deal Alexander Semin, who is on a one-year, $6.7 million contract. Semin has his warts even when he's producing at a high level, but he's been far from that this season. If McPhee could move him to a team willing to take the risk for more offense, he could then use the extra cap space to replace Semin and maybe address another need.

The final issue then becomes what future assets McPhee would be willing to trade to try and salvage the season. McPhee has proven to be a bit of a pack rat when it comes to young assets. He's yet to deal an impact prospect in a trade since this current group of players started making the playoffs consistently. The only young player with significant upside he has dealt was goaltender Semyon Varlamov -- and that was for an overwhelmingly great return and a player who easily was replaced.

Using those parameters, it is easy to take Evgeny Kuznetsov off the table, and probably rookie Dmitry Orlov, as well. Would McPhee part with Marcus Johansson in a deal for an established No. 2 center? How about goalie Braden Holtby, or forwards Cody Eakin or Stanislav Galiev? His history says no, but given how radically things have changed this season in Washington, it is plausible that he takes a different approach.

McPhee has proven to be someone who will make deals at the deadline, but this might be his trickiest two weeks to maneuver since the Capitals returned to prominence five years ago.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 3:10 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Stars want to avoid having record set at their expense

DETROIT -- The Dallas Stars have already lost once to the Detroit Red Wings during a record-tying 20-game win streak at Joe Louis Arena for the home team.

It happened on Nov. 12, when the Stars fell 5-2 to become the fourth team in a row to lose in this building since the Wings last lost here on Nov. 3 to Calgary. Heading into a rematch on Tuesday night, the Stars don't want to become the fifth team during the streak to lose multiple games at "The Joe."

"You don't want to be in the history books as the team that gave them the record at home," Stars forward Adam Burish said after Dallas' morning skate on Tuesday. "There's always motivation at this point of the season to win games and get a playoff spot, but there's a little extra tonight just to not be that team that will be all over TV losing that game to Detroit."

Teammate Steve Ott agreed.

"The love is in the air … it's Valentine's Day," Ott said. "They have a chance to do something very special over there, and we have a chance to knock them off. For us, it probably amps up the game a little more. In an 82-game regular season, it's more of a playoff-type format. You definitely don't want to be in the record books for the wrong reason, being the team associated with the streak they've had. Hopefully, we can be spoilers and put this [to] an end."

However, the Stars should be careful to guard against Detroit's impressive streak creeping too far into their heads in a negative way -- which could've happened to several teams here during the streak, especially of late.

Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said it's a trick balancing act when it comes to addressing the streak itself.

"It's probably gotten into a few teams' heads coming in here over the last week or so," he said. "The focus has to be on your own game, and that's what we tried to do this morning -- focus on what we need to do to make us successful in this game."

That includes everything from warm-ups before the game to the pre-game speech before they take the ice.

"You just have to try to keep the players focused on themselves, not the opposition," Gulutzan said.

Or as Ott put it: "Your own marbles sometimes get the best of you."

"You come in here and you look up in the rafters and you see the heritage, the presence that the organization has," Ott said. "For us, we have to take away the nostalgia and play them the same way we'd play anybody else. Hopefully, we can take that kind of attitude and get those cobwebs out of thinking how good they are at home out of our heads."
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Quote of the Day

I've been so fortunate, blessed, to play a long time with some great players and be on power plays, play in some great cities and stuff. It's been fun.

— Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla on tying Dino Ciccarelli for 46th place on the NHL's all-time list with his 1,200th career point after their win vs. the Predators on Friday