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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 9:30 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

MTL @ NYI - 17:19 of the Third Period

At 17:19 of the third period in the Canadiens/Islanders game, video review was inconclusive in determining whether Matt Moulson deflected the puck into the net with his stick below the crossbar. Referees call on the ice stands.  According to rule 60.5 "The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick. If the puck makes contact with the stick below the level of the crossbar and enters the goal, this goal shall be allowed." Good Goal New York.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 9:21 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

STL @ NJ - 14:10 of the Third Period

At 14:10 of the third period in the Blues/Devils game, video review was inconclusive about whether Patrik Berglund tipped Roman Polak's shot with his stick above the cross bar. Referees call on the ice stands. Good Goal St Louis
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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 8:49 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Cujo: Leafs need a superstar

LAS VEGAS -- Ex-Toronto goalie Curtis Joseph is intrigued by the direction the Maple Leafs are taking this season, but he said he still believes they lack the superstar power that will put them among the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.

"It used to be that in order to be an elite team you needed superstars. Now in order to make the playoffs you have to have superstars, and you want one at every position if possible," Joseph told NHL.com Thursday from Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Camp. "I think the Leafs have lacked superstars since Mats (Sundin) has been gone."

Joseph said a guy like Columbus captain Rick Nash is exactly the type of player the Leafs need. He used Nash as an example because of the recent trade rumors involving his name and the Maple Leafs.

"If they could do that, whatever they package up to get him, that would be huge for them because Nash is a superstar," Joseph said. "It's just like batting orders, you want your third, fourth and fifth guys to protect each other. (Phil) Kessel and (Joffrey) Lupul need a little protection."

Joseph, though, did have high praise for Phil Kessel, saying he has superstar qualities.

"That guy has got unbelievable skill and he's just starting to realize that he's in that tax bracket so to speak," Joseph said. "But, to be a superstar you have to think like a superstar, carry the weight, carry the team. Now he's got to get 40 goals and get others to hit 30."

But, even without the so-called superstar power, Joseph senses his old team is in a good spot and should only get better. He likes what he is seeing from goalies James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson.

"I think Reimer is going to be a good No. 1. The Monster, it seems like he likes that No. 2 role and he's flourishing with it," Joseph said. "They may have something with 1 and 1A, which is OK. If you can have a 1 and 1A and they both play well, that's great. If you have a B and a 2B, that's not good. So, it looks good, but they have to push each other."

The key, though, is making the playoffs this season. Joseph has been in the market long enough to know patience is wearing thin among the fans.

"The fans are really hungry," he said. "If you're a playoff contender then you're a Cup contender, so they need to be that. It looks like they can be this year. I think they're getting that chemistry and winning breeds chemistry, but I think they're still missing a superstar or two."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 8:25 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

TBL @ NYR - 8:09 of the Second Period

At 8:09 of the second period in the Lightning/Rangers game, the situation room initiated a review to determine if John Mitchell's shot during a scrum in front of the Lightning net crossed the goal line. Video replay upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck never crossed the goal line. No Goal New York.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 8:01 PM

By Derek Mori -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Mori: Back in the Final at Gretzky Fantasy Camp

Derek Mori has been attending Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Camp since 2006, when his wife sprung the trip on him as a 40th birthday gift. He is here for a seventh straight year and has agreed to blog his experiences for NHL.com.

Derek, who lives in Oakville, Ont., with his wife, Anita, and twin boys, says he's certainly not an ex-pro, but he's not a beginner either. He's been on the team that has won the Gretzky Fantasy Camp Cup four out of the six years he's been here, and he intends to do it again.

Read on to learn more about Derek's experience and what No. 99's camp is all about:


LAS VEGAS --
Two games down, two wins in the book, and a clear path to the Gretzky Cup Final. I've won the title here at this camp four out of the six years I've been here, and it's nice to know I'm going to have a shot for a fifth title this year.

Eddie Mio, the goalie on my team and one of our two ex-pros, absolutely stood on his head today. He was the first star in both games.

Marty McSorley, the other ex-pro on my team, is great to play with because he knows a lot of the technical stuff dealing with systems, where you're supposed to be, what responsibilities each player has. Although he's a fighter, he's got some great hockey awareness.

While on the bench Marty is a serious guy, but very much a team guy. He is telling guys all the time what to do and reminding them of their assignments. Even though you know, he'll remind you that, 'Hey, that guy there, that's your guy.' Marty is playing 'D' and after he comes off he'll tell people things that they could be doing or should be doing.

That's great because when you're playing men's pickup hockey, people don't say that stuff. Guys don't want to do that because it gets other guys angry. But, this is coming from a pro. These guys are trained elite athletes and it's engrained in them that when the puck goes here, they have to stand there and do this. They're trained like that and it's good to hear about it from them.

As for me, I did pretty well. Not only did we win both games, I got a goal in the first game. Wayne actually set me up on a 2-on-1 and then he rode his stick like Tiger Williams after I scored. The guys all got a good laugh out of that.

Wayne is just as excited as everyone else. He doesn't want to score, but he has fun setting guys up. He still has the hands and the vision.

The pace overall was a lot faster. In fact, every year it's getting faster. Maybe it's because I'm getting older and slower and the other guys coming here are younger and faster, but the pace was quick today and I was sucking some wind.

Twenty years ago it would be no problem, but now I'm just exhausted.

Our first game was against a team that included Jeremy Roenick, Brian Leetch and Grant Fuhr. We beat them 8-4, but I was talking to Fuhr and he told me that he had some work done on his knees recently. He said, 'I'm not going down, I don't care.'

The second game was tight and we barely squeaked it out. Guy Carbonneau and Denis Savard played for the other team and Curtis Joseph went in net for the second half of the game.

I hadn't met Carbonneau until breakfast this morning. He was sitting by himself and I was like, "Hey, come on over here and sit with us." Hey, he's a rookie here, gotta help him out. We were chit-chatting about hockey, and that's really what this is all about.

It's all hockey all the time here, and there is more to be played Friday.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 7:18 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Leetch praises McDonagh, Rangers consistency

LAS VEGAS -- Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch is impressed with all of the Rangers young defenseman, and he even went as far as saying that he sees some of himself when he watches Michael Del Zotto read the play and work hard to get up the ice.

However, the guy Leetch is most impressed with is Ryan McDonagh, the second-year blue-liner that the Rangers acquired from Montreal in the deal that sent Scott Gomez north of the border.

"I love him, yeah," Leetch told NHL.com Thursday from the Bellagio. "I look at him as one of the best skaters that I've seen. Del Zotto and (Marc) Staal and (Dan) Girardi, they're all very good skaters, but you can tell when they're skating full speed. They're working to get there and working to get into position, but with McDonagh's pivots and those just a couple of strides -- just a tremendous, tremendous skater."

Leetch wasn't done talking about McDonagh's skating.

"The way he can move side to side, and the power in those strides, stands out to me," he said later in the interview. "It looks different than I've seen."

The Rangers are also looking different than Leetch has seen in quite a while. He credited the team's ability to win despite not always playing its best as a reason why it is first in the Eastern Conference with 71 points heading into Thursday.

"I haven't seen them play where everybody is firing on all cylinders, and yet they continue to get points," Leetch said. "They're very consistent in their work ethic. They continue to stick with it and stick with it and find ways to get points. They're able to flatline their effort at a very high mark, but they may not have reached their highest yet. I haven't seen them play a complete game with things going right for everyone, but they just keep riding and rolling along."

A big reason for that is Henrik Lundqvist, who Leetch called "the most important guy to come into that organization since Mark Messier."

"People say he's playing better than he ever has," Leetch said. "I think he's played like this from his first year after the lockout right on through.

"What I was worried about is having a great goaltender like Lundqvist burn through his prime years without being able to build around him," he added. "I was nervous that they were not going to stick with the youth, patchwork around them, and maybe hit it for one year. But, they've stuck with those guys. That's the way to do it, and I think that breeds a lot of that team mentality, when those young players are coming up together and they have those same experiences off the ice together. That works well in their favor."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 5:14 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Gretzky has some sleeper teams to watch out for

LAS VEGAS -- Wayne Gretzky has his eye on Vancouver, Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis, but he doesn't think anybody that is focusing on the playoff race should skip past Nashville.

The Predators are Gretzky's sleeper team in the Western Conference.

"I like how they're playing," Gretzky told NHL.com Thursday from the Bellagio. "I think their goalie is playing as good as anybody in hockey right now. Hopefully the organization can keep that group together and I think they can give it a legitimate run."

As for his sleeper team in the Eastern Conference, Gretzky, who finished his career in New York, decided to cross the river for his pick.

"I like the way Marty Brodeur has bounced back," he said. "I think he's playing as well as he ever did lately. I like their team. I think New Jersey could be a tough opponent for whoever gets them in the playoffs."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 4:08 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flames prospects excited for AHL clash in Calgary

CALGARY -- Skating on the ice at Scotiabank Saddledome is nothing new for Paul Byron.

Doing so in an Abbotsford Heat jersey is.

Returning to the Stampede City as a member of the Flames’ AHL affiliate, Byron will skate alongside his Heat teammates against the Oklahoma City Barons in a home game – of sorts – in Calgary. It will be the lone game Abbotsford plays in the Flames’ rink this season.

“It feels good to be back,” said Byron. “I’ve played a few games here.”

Eighteen, to be exact, and Byron isn’t the only Abbotsford skater able to make that claim. He is one of nine Heat players to be recalled by Calgary at some point this season and see time in the NHL with the Flames. Four currently remain with the parent club.
 
Opportunities within the Calgary organization have never been made more readily available than this year. Often criticized in the past for the lack of promotion the club has done within the organization, the argument certainly no longer holds merit.

And it’s made for a more motivated player pool for the Flames to draw from.

“It helps everyone on the team,” Byron said. “Everyone is motivated. Everyone knows they could be the guy to get called up. We’ve had a ton of guys come up and down this year. We’ve got (four) guys that started the year with our team up there now. It’s a great motivator in the room.”

Heat coach Troy Ward has had the unenviable task of trying to play without some of his best players largely in part to frequent callups by the Flames. He’s not the least bit offended, though. In fact, he’s pleased by it.

“Here’s what you’re proud of for me, the management team in Calgary made a statement to these guys, if you do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll get rewarded,” Ward said. “I’ve been in a lot of organizations – that’s not always the case. The organization has stuck behind its word.”

No truer are Ward’s words than in the likes of TJ Brodie, who has become a mainstay on the Flames blueline. Brodie, averaging 16:53 in ice time, has 11 points in 40 games and has likely left Abbotsford in the rear view permanently.

Another example is Krys Kolanos, who missed 22 months of hockey while battling injury. On a minor-league deal to start the season with Abottsford, Kolanos was signed and promptly promoted last week by the Flames after recording 40 points in 34 games with the Heat this season.

“We’ve had some young guys like a Brodie that started with us that probably will never come back,” Ward said. “At the same time we’ve had Kolanos, who hadn’t played in (22) months, earn himself a contract. They’ve had both ends of the extreme. The management team up above with Jay and company has managed it that way and it’s a rewarding system.”

Don’t think the players in Abbotsford haven’t noticed the reward, either.
 
“Anyone can get a call at any given time,” said Ryan Howse, the Flames third pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. “It’s encouraging for everyone. You’ve got guys coming up and staying up for a while. Just to see the movement this year is something special and says a lot about our team and even our coaching staff. Everyone has done a good job preparing our guys.”

For Akim Aliu, the thought is extra enticing. Bouncing around in the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets organizations after being drafted in 2007, Aliu is thrilled at what he sees with the Flames after being acquired by the club 10 days ago.

“This is one of the best places in the league to be right now as a young guy,” Aliu said. “There’s been a lot of opportunity with guys coming up, and not just for a short period of time. Guys have stuck around for a bit.”

For players like Aliu, Howse and Ben Walter who haven’t got the call yet, the game in Calgary is much like an introduction on what to expect. Sharing the same facility as the Flames and getting the opportunity to play in front of the ‘C of Red’ has Heat hopefuls thrilled.

“Everyone is pretty excited,” Walter said. “It’s a great opportunity for all of us. This is our parent team and we get to play in their building in front of their fans.”

Howse certainly agrees with his teammate.

“It’s going to be really exciting,” Howse said. “The environment and dressing over here and using the weight room and playing in front of (Flames) fans, you’re going to have that energy. There’s going to be a lot of excitement.”

And excitement is building around the opportunity to one day achieve the dream of reaching the NHL – as a member of the Calgary Flames.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 3:42 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Staal close, but Pens lose Kennedy for 4-6 weeks

PITTSBURGH -- Just when the Pittsburgh Penguins are getting one of their key players back from an extended layoff, they must deal with yet another injury to a frontline forward.
 
With center Jordan Staal expected back as early as Saturday following a five-week layoff with a left knee injury, forward Tyler Kennedy is going on the shelf for the second time this season. Kennedy has a high ankle sprain that is expected to sideline him for 4-to-6 weeks, coach Dan Bylsma said Thursday.
 
"After a week we'll have a better idea of what the time frame looks like exactly, as it calms down and as he rehabs," Bylsma said following an off-day practice at Consol Energy Center.
 
Kennedy was hurt late in a 5-2 loss at New Jersey on Sunday and was held out of a 3-2 shootout loss to Montreal on Tuesday. He has 6 goals and 22 points in 42 games following his breakout 2010-11 season in which he had 21 goals and 45 points in 80 games.
 
Kennedy also had a concussion that kept him out for 11 games from Oct. 15-Nov. 11.
 
Another injury? It's a familiar scenario for a high-profile team that still has no idea when superstar center Sidney Crosby will play again as he mends from a second lengthy layoff with concussion-like symptoms.
 
Fourteen Penguins players have missed at least seven games each with injuries, including their top three centers (Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Staal) and their top four defensemen (Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek).
 
The injuries, especially Crosby's, appear to be exacting a toll on a team that spent much of the first two-plus months of the season in the overall Eastern Conference lead.
 
They recently ran off an eight-game winning streak, but the Penguins (30-19-5) have dropped into sixth place in the conference standings while going 14-12-1 since Crosby last played on Dec. 5. They began the season 10-3-3. Crosby has missed all but eight of the Penguins' 54 games as he deals with a concussion-like symptoms that also kept him out of their final 41 games and the playoffs last season.
 
Crosby skated Thursday before practice with injured teammate Arron Asham (concussion), but his return is not imminent. He practiced one day in Montreal earlier this week, but has not yet been cleared for full-contact practice.
 
With the Penguins about to play their next three and six of their next eight at home, where they are 15-7-2, they are eager to welcome back Staal. A proven shutdown defender who is frequently matched against an opponent's top line, Staal scored a goal in three consecutive games just before he was hurt last month.
 
Staal was on pace for his best career season, with 15 goals and 6 assists in 34 games, before spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during a knee-to-knee hit with former teammate Mike Rupp of the Rangers on Jan. 6.
 
The Penguins received yet another scare when Staal required stitches after being struck in the face by an errant stick during practice Thursday, but Bylsma said, "He'll be fine."
 
Last season, Staal was ready to return after missing the first month of the season with a lacerated foot only to break a hand during practice, forcing him to miss another two months.
 
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Posted On Thursday, 02.09.2012 / 3:25 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kings' Sutter expects different look from Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — Kings coach Darryl Sutter began watching tape of the Dec. 1 game between Los Angeles and the Florida Panthers to get ready for the rematch Thursday at the BankAtlantic Center, but it didn’t take him long to realize it was useless.

“When I started doing it,” Sutter said Thursday morning in the midst of a six-game road trip, “I said, you know what, this is not going to serve much.”

The logo will be the same, but it’s a much different Florida team that the Kings will face this time. Eight players who will be in the lineup for the Panthers on Thursday night didn’t play in that 2-1 Kings victory in December, a list headed by leading scorer Kris Versteeg.

Versteeg was out after taking an elbow in the face two nights earlier in Carolina, and it was one of only two games he has missed all season.

But he’ll be there Thursday night playing between linemates Tomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss, and it’s a trio that has earned the respect of Sutter.

“The big thing with these guys and I know them good enough, their big line is the best line we’ve played on the trip,” Sutter said. “When you break it down, center-left-right, it’s the best line we’ve played. From an individual standpoint we’ve probably played guys you think are more top players than they are, but this is the first time we’ve played a line that when they’re spread out ... they’re a 50-goal line already. In this league, that’s pretty significant. And when you’ve got (Brian) Campbell at almost 40 points and you’ve got Jason (Garrison) with 13 goals, you’ve got your hands full. That’s how I look at it.”

Along with Versteeg, the other Panthers players who will suit up Thursday night after not playing in the Dec. 1 game are forwards Mikael Samuelsson, Marcel Goc, Krys Barch, Matt Bradley and John Madden, along with defensemen Keaton Ellerby and Tyson Strachan.

Four of the eight players who played on Dec. 1 but won’t be playing Thursday night are injured and the other four are in the minors.

Even though he wants a different outcome, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen gladly would take a similar effort from his team than what he got against the Kings two months ago.

Florida outshot Los Angeles 42-26 in that game, but lost on goals by Jack Johnson and Dustin Brown and strong goaltending by Jonathan Quick.

“I thought that was one of our strongest games,” Dineen said. “We played a very well-rounded game and we ended up with no points. Sometimes you walk out of those losses and you go, that was a hard-fought game and it doesn’t end up in your favor. That’s the kind of hockey we’re looking to get back to.”
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Quote of the Day

The fans love it, and it looked like they were having fun. It was great to see this city [Columbus]. They had been waiting a couple years for this game. They did it right.

— Lightning captain Steven Stamkos after the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday