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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:48 PM

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

Projected lineups for Kings, Predators

Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Nashville Predators and Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center:

KINGS
Simon Gagne - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Dustin Brown
Scott Parse - Jarret Stoll - Ethan Moreau
Kyle Clifford - Brad Richardson - Trevor Lewis

Drew Doughty - Willie Mitchell
Rob Scuderi - Jack Johnson
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene

Goalie: Jonathan Bernier

PREDATORS
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Jerred Smithson - Craig Smith - Jordin Tootoo
Niclas Bergfors - Blake Geoffrion - Brian McGrattan

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Francis Bouillon - Jonathon Blum
Jack Hillen - Teemu Laakso

Goalie: Anders Lindback

Kostitsyn (lower body) and Kevin Klein (ankle) practiced and are game time decisions, coach Barry Trotz said.

Kostitsyn has practiced for at least two days and appears to be further along after he suffered the injury last week against Tampa Bay.

Blum played with Bouillon in Klein’s absence on the second defensive pairing and Trotz indicated he liked that pairing if he had to go to it again.

Blum grew up in south Orange County and will have another homecoming in Southern California. He said he has about 40 ticket requests from friends and family.

"People want to come and say hi," Blum said. "It's great."


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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:29 PM

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

Ian Cole recalled, will make season debut for Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Defenseman Ian Cole, recalled from Peoria on Monday, will make his season debut tonight for the St. Louis Blues against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blues are carrying nine defensemen on their roster, including Kent Huskins (bruised ankle), but want to give Cole, a 2007 first-round draft pick (No. 18), another look after a strong stretch of games with the Rivermen.

"I started in the same pattern as the team, kind of slow," Cole said, referring to the Rivermen. "Everyone just wasn't clicking. After those first couple weekends, everyone started figuring out and playing well. The past couple weeks, I've been playing well."

Cole, who played in 26 games and tallied 1 goal and 3 assists last season, will play with Roman Polak tonight. He was among the last cuts during the preseason.

"Of course you're disappointed but at the same time, I didn't see it as something that was debilitating," Cole said.

"There's a real trust within the organization for Ian," new Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They want to see what he can do. He's had a very good AHL campaign so far this year. He's played very well, he's been really solid. He's a left shot, which can really help the group here and I think we're excited to give him a go here and see what it looks like.

"You want to reward him. He's been knocking on the door for a couple years now, and you want to reward a guy when he's been playing well down there. They wanted to give him the extra time, a ton of ice time down there. Now it's time to see if he can play."

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:26 PM

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

New coach, but no major changes yet for St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues have had two practices, a full one Monday and Tuesday's morning skate, with new coach ken Hitchcock and haven't noticed too much of a change -- at the outset, at least.

The 59-year-old Hitchcock, who said Monday he doesn't want to change too much until he gets a better grasp of his players, will do some in-game tweaking if necessary.

"Not so much from a systems standpoint," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "He's really kind of hammering in his fundamentals and what he likes to see in his team and the game they play.

"I think he's coaching that within our systems we have now and how we're playing. He's going to make some tweaks, but we're not going to be seeing a completely different team here tonight."

Said Hitchcock, who will go with the same lineup tonight aside from Ian Cole going in for Taylor Chorney on defense, "For me, the game is the easy part. The 24-48 hours for me, it's changed. It's not changed on the ice. That's the simple part for me."

Cole said Hitchcock won't take long to implement his style.

"I feel he's just observing right now, and in the next couple days, he's going to start ramping it up pretty good ... get back to being the man, the myth, the legend that you hear about," Cole said.

One part of the team's game Hitchcock definitely plans on changing is the dump and chase style.

"I don't like the chip and check game and I think we're doing that a little too much here," he said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:24 PM

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

Humor from Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS -- One thing Ken Hitchcock has acquired with his days in the NHL is a sense of humor.

When he came in for his gathering with the media after Tuesday's pregame skate, he offered up the following:

"I got good advice today in the lobby: Be sure you sign Pujols," Hitchcock said, referencing St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols, a free agent-to-be, and getting a good laugh from the media throng. "That lady informed me of that at 6:05 (this morning). ... I better get it done."

Somehow, Hitchcock said he somehow found himself at the Peabody Opera House next to Scottrade Center -- "It's a nice place ... pretty dark though."

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:20 PM

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

Hawks' Sharp endorses new Blues coach

ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp is among those that endorses Ken Hitchcock's move to St. Louis. Sharp, who played for Hitchcock with the Philadelphia Flyers, said the Blues are getting a good man, someone who helped elevate his game.

"He transformed my game a little bit. I think him along with John Stevens, the coach in the minors at the time, really taught me to play the right way," Sharp said. "He's probably mentioned that over there ... playing the right way. I learned that from him and I was thankful I got to play under him for two years.

"He'll have St. Louis playing great. I know that. It's not a good thing he's coaching in out division, but we need to play better and beat these guys. ... He has a proven record of building teams and building winners. ... They're going to get used to having team meetings and they're going to get used to the details and the finer points of the game. Those are all things Hitch is the best at."

Hitchcock said Sharp was one of those players that adjusted to his style.

"Patrick and I, we're pretty close," Hitchcock said. "I think the tight ship is skill level is not relevant. Everybody has to be a worker. That's kind of what I'm very determined at. I don't do a lot of yelling and screaming and embarrassing people. I'm relentless in that. To me, like any good coach in any sport is to have everyone play on the same page when the other team has the puck."

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:16 PM

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

Zetterberg says winning early is crucial

DETROIT -- Despite ending a six-game winless streak last weekend, the Detroit Red Wings are well aware that it was just one win and they need to keep winning to make up the ground they lost in the Western Conference standings.

The way things are in the West -- and the way they were last season -- every standings point matters, but especially those early in the season, when teams usually are at their peak from a health standpoint.

"It's so tight on both sides, and when you're looking back at the end of the year, it's a win here and a win there and that's a playoff (season)," Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "That could determine whether you're going to make it or not. You have to get a good start."

That's why he understood the rationale behind the St. Louis Blues firing Davis Payne on Sunday and hiring highly-regarded veteran coach Ken Hitchcock to replace him.

"If you don't have a good start, it's real tough to get something going," Zetterberg said. "All of a sudden you have 55 or 60 games left and you know you're done. Teams don't want that to happen, so (sometimes) you have to make a tough decision early."
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:15 PM

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

Hitch has high praise for Patrick Kane

ST. LOUIS -- New Blues coach Ken Hitchcock paid the ultimate compliment to Hawks star Patrick Kane, who has been playing center for Chicago after previously playing exclusively on the wing.

"That's the worst nightmare for all of us," Hitchcock said, referring to coaches around the NHL. "That's not good because a player that's that strong and that competitive and that patient with the puck, we've all kind of dreaded that day when he was going to move into the middle of the ice. It's not fun. When you come with a 1-2 punch like that, it's not a lot of fun."

When hearing those comments, Kane responded, "It's fun to hear that, especially from a coach like that who's so well-respected like that and who has so many wins under his belt.

"I feel like I can a little more consistent. I can probably do some better things all around, but I guess it comes with the territory of learning the position. So far, I think it's been a pretty good thing for the team. It gives us an option, if now, maybe down the road a little bit."

Hitchcock said Kane's transformation will be fine and the rest of the league will just have to deal with it.

"We were hoping it didn't come. It's there," Hitchcock said. "You've got to deal with it, but there were a lot of 'Oh, no's,' because the game isn't played in the middle of the ice much anymore, but he's got enough trust and confidence in his own ability. He knows how to play in there. It's a nervous defending time when you have a player with that type of skill level and patience with the puck that can make plays with people. It's a little bit scary.

"Joel (Quenneville, Blackhawks coach) could have made it a lot easier if he would have put Kane and (Jonathan) Toews together. That kind of screws up our plan. We'll have to adjust."

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:12 PM

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

Brunnstrom moves out, hopes to move up

DETROIT -- Fabian Brunnstrom no longer is staying with the Zetterbergs, so at least he's moved out on his own in the Motor City.

Now, the task is to move up in the Red Wings' hierarchy of forward lines. The 26-year old Swedish forward has played just two games since making the team out of training camp on a tryout offer -- but his last time out was much better than his first.

After not playing at all in Detroit's first five games, Brunnstrom made his debut in a 7-1 loss in Washington Capitals. Soon after, he was sent to the Red Wings' affiliate in the American Hockey League, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

After playing a game -- and notching a goal -- with the Griffins, Brunnstrom was recalled this past weekend to replace Todd Bertuzzi (illness) in the lineup. He played on the fourth line, but chipped in an assist in a 5-0 win against the Anaheim Ducks. He also buzzed around the net a lot.

Brunnstrom now will get another game at right wing on the fourth line tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. If he continues to play well, you might see his name start to creep up higher in the forward lines – since Detroit coach Mike Babcock has said before that Brunnstrom has the talent to be a top-six forward.

For now, he's content with playing on the fourth line and providing energy.

"It's a great team with a lot of good players, so when I get a chance, I have to take that chance and try to do something good," Brunnstrom said. "You have to take every day one day at a time and just do the best you can. It's professional hockey. You can't take a break and just have to keep pushing every day."

That includes driving to the net and doing some of the dirty work that he wasn't always used to handling back in Sweden.

"Those are the things I've been trying to do a little bit more since I came over here," Brunnstrom said. "It's hard to score goals, but if you go to the net you give yourself a better chance."

Babcock, pleased to hear him say that, hopes that becomes as contagious in the Wings' locker room as whatever flu bug appears to be going around.

"Let's hope he spreads the word," Babcock said.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:10 PM

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

Projected lineups for Blues, Blackhawks

Here are the projected lineups as Ken Hitchcock gets set to coach his first game for the St. Louis Blues, tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Scottrade Center:

BLUES
Vladimir Sobotka - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Matt D'Agostini - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart
Alex Steen - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
Evgeny Grachev - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak will make his third straight start, with Brian Elliott as the backup.

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

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Nick Leddy
Steve Montador - John Scott

Corey Crawford gets the start; Ray Emery is the backup.

Chicago, coming off a 6-2 loss at home against Vancouver on Sunday, has tweaked its lineup and knows the Blues will come hard playing their first game with a new coach.

"When you look at a team and they make a coaching change, you want to make sure you are ready against that team because they're going to show they want to play for the new coach," Hossa said. "They want to bring out all the emotions, all the energy. They'll be ready. We're going to have to play smart against this team. It's never easy to play in this building.

Said coach Joel Quenneville, "We expect them to be excited. On our side of it, we want a response to our game from Sunday night. There's a lot of motovation on both sides. We expect both sides to be hungry and ready to play. It should make for a good game."

The Hawks' lineup against the Blues includes the return of Keith, who missed the last four games with a hand injury.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 3:06 PM

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

Oh captain … no captain?

DETROIT -- One of the first things that stands out about the Colorado Avalanche roster is the lack of a "C" next to any of the names.

Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny both have an "A" next to their names, as alternate captains, but there's no "C," and might not be a captain for some time.

"It's still a process that will play itself out here at some point," Avs coach Joe Sacco said. "When? I don't know, but it's a process that's playing itself out. We have a number of good leaders in this dressing room and that's why we're doing that right now. It will play itself out when it's the right time."

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Quote of the Day

I think Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year. I think we started seeing that at the end of the year, and he could be a replacement for Jarome as a possibility.

— Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien on forward Loui Eriksson's potential