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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 1:12 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Puck to face keeps St. Louis from milestone

NEW YORK -- Martin St. Louis left the Madison Square Garden ice Thursday morning bleeding from his left eye area after a teammate backhanded a shot into his face during practice. He was taken to a nearby hospital for examination and will not play Thursday night against the Rangers in what was scheduled to be his 500th consecutive game.

"It's a difficult loss for the team, but you know what? It's an opportunity for guys to step up," Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said this morning.

The team released a statement saying St. Louis is out indefinitely with facial and nasal fractures. He will return to Tampa to undergo further medical examination by Lightning team physicians when swelling subsides in and around his left eye.

The incident happened early in practice. St. Louis was circling behind the net when teammate Dominic Moore missed the net with a backhander and caught St. Louis near the eye. The Lightning's second-leading scorer skated to the bench and was immediately helped to the locker room by a trainer.

"It's one of those plays," a remorseful Moore said afterward.

It's a devastating blow for a team that has dropped five straight games and nine of 12 overall. The Lightning are already without defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Pavel Kubina due to injuries, but the loss of St. Louis is both crippling and unexpected. He had played in 499 consecutive games.

"It just keeps on pouring," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said.

The Lightning are coming off a 5-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday. Boucher gave his team the day off Wednesday after losses on back-to-back days, but he put his players through the paces Thursday at a morning skate that was far more intense than usual.

"If you don't put in the dedication and commitment here, you're of no use to me," Boucher shouted at his players before ending the practice by telling his team, "It has to be better than this … and it will be."

The message from Boucher was emphatic, but he said it wasn't anything he doesn't say at different times during the season.

"It's because it hasn't been on the ice in front of everybody," Boucher said when a reporter asked if his demeanor had anything to do with the recent losing skid. "It's because we don't get practice time."

But Boucher admitted that the injury to St. Louis made him change his tone.

"To be honest with you, with what happened to Marty, I know what's happening," Boucher said, referring to his team sagging at the sight of one of their leaders leaving the ice with a severe injury. "It's another one, you know? And it's probably the biggest blow you can get on our team right there. I am the leader. I can't show that we're going into this battle with our heads down. It's already going to be as difficult as it can be playing a top team. If we get down on ourselves and feel sorry for ourselves, we're cooked. You have to be tough."

St. Louis has been a rock for the Lightning. He's third on a team that has trouble scoring with 9 goals. He won the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy in 2004 as the Lightning won their first Stanley Cup, and he was a finalist for the Hart Trophy last season.

Steven Stamkos understands what the loss of St. Louis means to a struggling team and why Boucher would amp up practice.

"When things aren't going well, you have to make sure guys are ready to compete and never quit," Stamkos said. "That was the message here. We need to do things better and get out of this little slide that we're in."

All the Lightning can do is move forward, but it doesn’t make the loss of St. Louis any easier to swallow.

"He's been playing extremely well," Yzerman said. "Bad things happen at the worst time."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 12:54 PM

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

Seguin back in lineup after one-game benching

BOSTON -- One game as a healthy scratch was obviously enough to convince the Boston Bruins that Tyler Seguin learned his lesson for missing a team breakfast and meeting.

Seguin was absent Tuesday morning from a team gathering in Winnipeg, and was subsequently scratched from that night's 2-1 loss to the Jets.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said Seguin is scheduled to be back in the lineup tonight, when the Bruins host the Florida Panthers at the TD Garden.

"I talked about it the other day. I already kind of moved on and I'm ready for the next game," Seguin said after the morning skate.

The second-year forward, who leads the Bruins in scoring, was forbidden from speaking further on the matter. Julien had no intention of addressing the subject more either.

"All I know -- this is old news. This is two days old and for us, we've really turned the page on that," Julien said. "It's not even an issue today, and old news is old news. We've moved on, so I don't even know that I want to go back to that. He's fine and I'm fine. He's in the lineup tonight, he's going to be playing and I think unfortunately, you guys are trying to make a bigger story out of this than it is. He's missed a game, he's paid his dues. It's a 19-year-old that is fine with us, he's a good professional, and that's it. Page turned and we move on."

Here is the probable lineup for tonight's game:

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk

Tim Thomas, who was won his last 10 starts, is scheduled to start in net, as the Bruins try to begin a new streak after their 15-game point streak was snapped by Winnipeg.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 12:44 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Recovering Zajac skates with team at practice

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils center Travis Zajac took another positive step in his road to recovery on Thursday when he skated for the first time this season in his usual red practice jersey with teammates at Prudential Center.
 
Zajac, who is recovering from Aug. 18 surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon, is at least two weeks away from making his return to the lineup. Still, teammates were sure glad to see No. 19 back on the ice, skating, stick-handling and snapping shots.
 
"We still know in the back of our minds that he still has a little while to go," Devils captain Zach Parise told NHL.com. "It'll probably be a couple more weeks until we see him in a game. But he's made good progress and has taken good steps. It looks like he's moving and skating really well out there. That's important and big for everyone to see.
 
"We'll welcome him back as soon as he can without rushing him, but we're excited to get him back. He's a big part of our team."
 
Zajac has 89 goals and 249 points in 408 career games with the Devils spanning five seasons.
 
"Everyone has kind of stressed that to me during the comeback, to not push it and be patient … you have to listen to your body and right now, I feel great on the ice," Zajac told reporters following Thursday's practice. "I've had a lot of trainers helping me here and getting me back in shape, making sure I'm ready to go. I don't suspect I'll have any doubts about coming back too soon."
 
Devils coach Peter DeBoer said ice time will be something he and his staff will monitor closely whenever Zajac does return to the lineup.
 
"We're aware with the significance of the injury and we've all been very well-versed by the doctors on the schedule and the time frame for him to come back," DeBoer said. "No one is deviating from that. I've talked with him about how, when he does come back, we're going to ease him in and I'm not going to throw him into 20 minutes a night. That's going to be my job; to make sure we don't overuse him early."
 
DeBoer admitted Zajac won't be given top-six minutes at the outset. Parise said Zajac approached him before practice on Wednesday and asked about his recovery from a knee injury that sidelined him 65 games last season.
 
"He asked me in practice, 'Was it this hard for you when you came back?' and I said, it is," Parise said. "You come back and are skating by yourself going right into practice mode when the team is 25 games in. You feel like you don't even belong on the ice; everything is so fast and that was hardest for me.
 
"Even the first 15 or 20 games, it's hard being out so long. As far as rushing back, there's no need. It's only December. There's still a lot of hockey left, so he can take that extra two weeks if needed. We can't afford for him to have a setback and then all of sudden he's gone until April."
 
In the absence of Zajac and fellow center Jacob Josefson (collarbone), Parise said rookie Adam Henrique has done a fine job. Henrique has connected for 6 goals and 18 points in 23 games.
 
"He's done a good job filling in and playing that position, playing a lot of minutes and on the penalty kill and power play," Parise said. "He's done a really good job but at the same time, Travis is on another level. He's been a great player in this League for a few years now and we'd welcome him back. But Adam has been doing really well; he's been a good surprise for us."
 
Zajac echoed those sentiments.
 
"Adam has been great and playing with confidence … the puck follows him and he's not afraid to make plays out there," he said. "He's pretty sound in all parts of the game and reliable defensively. He has poise with the puck and he definitely knows the game."
 
The Devils will be without defenseman Andy Greene on Thursday when they play host to the Ottawa Senators. Apparently, Greene re-aggravated a lower-body injury.
 
"Andy's got some bumps and bruises and we're going keep him out," DeBoer said. "It's a carry-over from other stuff and I'm not sure what we're really dealing with, whether it's the ankle or foot. We'll know more [Thursday afternoon] after an X-ray."
 
Mark Fraser will make his fourth appearance in the lineup in Greene's absence. Goalie Martin Brodeur will make his second straight start for New Jersey.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 12:40 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Devils, Senators

NEWARK, N.J. -- Here are the probable line combinations for the Devils and Senators, who play tonight at Prudential Center:
 
DEVILS
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Mattias Tedenby - Patrik Elias - Petr Sykora
Dainius Zubrus - Ryan Carter - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Tim Sestito - Nick Palmieri
 
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fanye
Mark Fraser - Anton Volchenkov
Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
 
Martin Brodeur will start, backed up by Johan Hedberg.
 
SENATORS
Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Bobby Butler
Milan Michalek - Nick Foligno - Daniel Alfredsson
Kaspars Daugavins - Zack Smith - Erik Condra
Zenon Konopka - Jesse Winchester - Chris Neil
 
Jared Cowen - Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips - Sergei Gonchar
Brian Lee - David Rundblad
 
The Senators did not practice Thursday morning after flying in from Ottawa in the morning following a loss on home ice to the Washington Capitals. The only lineup change for the Senators comes in goal as Alex Auld will make his seventh appearance of the season and first start since Nov. 20 -- a 2-1 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Craig Anderson is the backup.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 12:38 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Islanders, Blackhawks

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders are gunning for their third straight victory as they host the Chicago Blackhawks this evening at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Here are the projected lineups for the clubs:

ISLANDERS
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
David Ullstrom - Josh Bailey - Brian Rolston
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Tim Wallace

Mark Streit - Travis Hamonic
Steve Staios - Milan Jurcina
Mike Mottau - Dylan Reese

Al Montoya gets the starting nod in goal. Kevin Poulin will back him up.

Scratches for the Isles are Nino Niederreiter (concussion), Evgeni Nabokov (groin) and Rick DiPietro (groin). Andrew MacDonald (leg), Mark Eaton (MCL) and Jay Pandolfo (foot) are on injured reserve.

Grabner will return to the lineup after missing Tuesday's 5-1 win against Tampa Bay due to a groin injury. Micheal Haley will likely be a healthy scratch.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Grabner said after participating in an optional skate this morning. "I got a good skate in. It's coming along. I'm starting to feel better."

BLACKHAWKS

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

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sami Lepisto - Steve Montador

Ray Emery will start between the pipes. He is 5-0-1 with a 1.64 goals-against average in six career appearances against the Islanders. Corey Crawford will be the backup.

Defensemen Sean O'Donnell and John Scott are likely to be the healthy scratches, along with left wing Bryan Bickell.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 10:22 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CAR @ EDM - 10:33 of the First Period

At 10:33 of the first period in the Hurricanes/Oilers game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck went off Oiler forward Eric Belanger's right skate and into the net. According to rule 49.2 "A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal." Good Goal Edmonton.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 9:59 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CAR @ EDM - 8:43 of the First Period

At 8:43 of the first period in the Hurricanes/Oilers game, video review determined that Hurricanes forward Chad Larose kicked the puck into the net with his right skate.  According to rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net". No Goal Carolina.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 7:34 PM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Is trading Sid your best bet?

Fantasy owners take notice: Sidney Crosby will not join the Pittsburgh Penguins for a two-game road trip, which begins Thursday night against Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia. While the specifics are unknown, Crosby did suffer a "stinger" after colliding with teammate Chris Kunitz Monday against Boston.

His absense was described as precautionary by general manager Ray Shero, after it was made clear that the ImpACT tests Crosby took with Dr. Micky Collins--which help monitor concusssions--"showed no problems."

Even though early reports don't suggest a serious setback, Crosby's fantasy hockey impact ought to be carefully reviewed.

One can't knock his debut performance against the New York Islanders Nov. 21 where he finished with a four-point outing and followed it up with his most productive five-game stretch of his career. And, of course, nobody ought to forget his talent and production since breaking into the NHL.

The guy's an absolute stud.

But while Crosby's arguably been the best player in the League, one option for fantasy owners might be to seek a trade and get a lot back while setting aside the day-to-day worries of the superstar center's health.

Recent injuries should have Sidney Crosby owners considering the unthinkable; contemplating trading the great No. 87. (Photo: Greg Shamus/NHLI)

Think about it.

As the Penguins figure to be a contender in the Eastern Conference, it's possible that the team will treat Crosby with caution more so than they might in years past. Moreover, if you're able to land solid pieces in the trade, you'll need not worry about relying on stellar performances from "Sid."

The key, of course, will be bringing back more than complementary pieces to your team in a trade. But as you debate to keep or to trade, consider this:

Of his seven seasons in the League, four--including this season--have seen the 2005 first-overall selection play in at least 77 games. In 2007-08, Crosby missed 29 games with an ankle injury and, of course, everyone recalls his recent recovery from a concussion.

When he returned to the lineup, he did so at 100 percent health. This recent two-game absense may come and go as quick as Crosby disspelled speculation of potential rust before scoring on his first shot against the Islanders. Still, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound talent's durability ought to be considered.

The fantasy return for a Crosby trade could provide balance in many positions and categories for your squads. As crazy as the notion might appear to be, your duties as fantasy team owners is to think about it.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 1:52 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Rangers' Sauer out with concussion

The New York Rangers have excelled this season despite the absence of top defenseman Marc Staal since training camp due to problems stemming from a concussion suffered last season. That blue line will be put to the test yet again, at least for one game.

Michael Sauer, a fixture on the Rangers' second defense pairing for the past two seasons, will not play against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday after absorbing a massive hit from Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf on Monday. Rangers coach John Tortorella said Wednesday that Sauer is considered day-to-day with a concussion.

Sauer was caught with his head down by Phaneuf late in third period. The problem was exacerbated as Sauer, who lost his helmet because of the collision, hit the back of his head against the boards as he fell to the ice.

The Rangers will use Steve Eminger along with Michael Del Zotto as their No. 2 defense pairing, with Anton Stralman and Jeff Woywitka filling out the back end.

“It’s tough,” Del Zotto told Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record. “We’re missing Marc and he’s such a key component to the team because he plays in all situations. It’s a hole in our back end and nobody’s going to replace him. Now Sauer’s gone, too. It’s an opportunity for guys to step up.”

The 24-year-old Sauer enjoyed a terrific rookie campaign in 2010-11, with 3 goals, 12 assists and a plus-20 rating in 76 games. He has been steady again this season, with a goal, 2 assists and a plus-9 in 19 games.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 1:08 PM

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

Flames lose goalie Karlsson for 6-8 weeks

The Calgary Flames will be without backup goaltender Henrik Karlsson for 6-8 weeks due to a high-grade tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

Karlsson suffered the injury during Sunday's game against Vancouver when teammate Tom Kostopoulos fell into him. Karlsson went down clutching his knee and was removed from the game.

Karlsson has played just six games Miikka Kiprusoff's backup, going 0-4-1 with a 3.48 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.

The Flames have recalled goalie Leland Irving from AHL Abbotsford to serve as Kiprusoff's backup.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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