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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:42 PM

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

Fraser excited to finally make Los Angeles debut

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Colin Fraser has been a Los Angeles King since June, but he has yet to slip a game jersey over his pads.

"Unless you count the three pictures I took in a practice just to include me in the program," said Fraser, "no, I haven't put it on yet."

That long wait will end Thursday night when the Kings insert Fraser and Trent Hunter into their lineup against the Vancouver Canucks.

Fraser is expected to play at fourth line center while Hunter will get a turn at third line wing following Scott Parse's placement on the injured list with a lower-body injury.

Fraser was officially activated Thursday to end a months-long saga that began when he played his last game March 29, for Edmonton, and suffered a broken foot that forced him to miss the final two weeks of the season.

He was traded to L.A., along with a seventh-round draft pick in 2012, in exchange for Ryan Smyth in June before it was learned that he needed surgery in July to repair the foot.

The Kings filed a grievance with the NHL that claimed the Oilers misled them on the severity of the injury. The grievance will be heard later this month.

Meanwhile, Fraser has been practicing with the team for weeks.

"It's been a long time since I played last," said Fraser, a member of Chicago's 2010 Stanley Cup team.

"I've been champing at the bit for a little bit here. With getting in shape, learning the systems … hopefully I'll be ready to go. To get a chance is very exciting.

"I think I'll just be antsy a little bit. I think getting that first shift out of the way just to get the excitement to come down a little bit."

Kings coach Terry Murray wasn't concerned about integrating two new players. He saw Fraser play when both were in Philadelphia's organization.

"A player has to get started at some time," Murray said. "You could wait and just practice and get to another game, I suppose. But it happens to be Vancouver, who he would have played against many times coming from Chicago … I don't think with his kind of a game I'm overly concerned with the high-end skill level. I'm looking at a very intense player that's going to play a great game, go to the net and get on the forecheck.

"I know he's been a bit of a caged animal here looking forward to getting the opportunity."
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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:38 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Potential lineups for Avalanche, Islanders

Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

ISLANDERS
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Michael Grabner
Brian Rolston - Frans Nielsen - P.A. Parenteau
Blake Comeau - Marty Reasoner - Kyle Okposo
Matt Martin - Josh Bailey - Jay Pandolfo

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina

Al Montoya will start in goal, with Rick DiPietro the backup.

AVALANCHE
Joakim Lindstrom - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Kevin Porter - Matt Duchene - David Jones
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - T.J. Galiardi - Chuck Kobasew

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson
Shane O'Brien - Kyle Quincey
Ryan Wilson - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere will start in goal, with Semyon Varlamov the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
     
 

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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:38 PM

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

Search for scoring leads Hunter to crack Kings' lineup

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Trent Hunter was a good story for the Kings when he parlayed a pro tryout contract into a late free agent signing in training camp until coach Terry Murray scratched him in six of the first nine games.

But L.A. has struggled mightily to get offense outside of the top line, and Hunter was a two-time 20-goal scorer for the New York Islanders.

"Quite simply, we're looking to get some scoring going here," Murray said.

Hunter has only played five games this season, but feels better equipped for more action. He'll play with Jarret Stoll and Kyle Clifford on the third line.

"The more you spend around the guys, the more comfortable you get for sure," Hunter said. "That would be the biggest thing for myself. I'm just going to focus on my game and just play within yourself."

The insertion of Hunter and Colin Fraser comes at the expense of grinder Brad Richardson, who is expected to be scratched for the first time this season.

"Brad right now is not finding the back of the net," Murray said. "He's bringing everything else that we want. He's intense. He's enthusiastic. He recovers pucks. He's giving us good penalty kills … it's just the need for some offense right now."
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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:36 PM

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

Projected lineups for Canucks, Kings

Here are what the lineups could look like when the Vancouver Canucks face the Los Angeles Kings tonight at Staples Center:

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Andrew Ebbett
David Booth - Maxim Lapierre - Cody Hodgson
Andrew Ebbett - Manny Malhotra - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Sami Salo
Alex Edler - Kevin Bieksa
Keith Ballard - Aaron Rome

Roberto Luongo
Cory Schneider

KINGS

Simon Gagne - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford - Jarret Stoll - Trent Hunter
Trevor Lewis - Colin Fraser - Ethan Moreau

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

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:32 PM

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

Bertuzzi sidelined by dizziness, sinus infection

DETROIT -- Todd Bertuzzi will likely miss the next two games this weekend for the Detroit Red Wings with lingering dizziness and a sinus infection that have kept him out of two games and away from Joe Louis Arena for almost a week.

Bertuzzi was back in the building for Thursday's practice, but only lasted for about half of it before coming off the ice early. He said the problem started after getting hit in the face with a stick on Oct. 29 at Minnesota.

He played the next two games, both Red Wings' losses against the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames, before leaving the lineup because of the illness.

"It just kept getting worse and worse and I felt light-headed and dizzy and just didn't feel like myself," said Bertuzzi, who has 1 goal and 2 assists in 11 games. "Then I got a sinus infection and went and got my ears checked and had a little swelling in there. Now, (I'm) just on some pills trying to get the swelling down."

Detroit plays host to the Western Conference's top two teams -- the red-hot Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars -- in a rare home back-to-back occurrence on the schedule. Asked if he might be able to play in either game, Bertuzzi pretty much ruled it out.

"No, not the way I felt today … no," he said. "I don't know. (It's) day by day. In three or four days, hopefully the medication should kick in and (I'll) hopefully get my balance and stuff back."

At least his sense of humor is still intact. Asked if he'd lost any weight during his bout with the sinus infection, Bertuzzi hunched his shoulders.

"I don't know … if I say, 'Yeah,' then it looks bad on my wife for not cooking right," he said, smiling.

Taking Bertuzzi's place on the roster the past two games has been 26-year old Fabian Brunnstrom, who's played right wing on the fourth line while Tomas Holmstrom moved back into the top six forward to replace Bertuzzi.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:24 PM

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

Potential lineups for Blue Jackets, Blackhawks

Here's what the lineups could look like when the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks face off tonight at Nationwide Arena.

It will be the first game for the Blue Jackets since their 9-2 loss in Philadelphia last Saturday. The Jackets have used the time since then to completely overhaul their lines and systems, and tonight is their first chance to test them out.

The Blackhawks also come in to tonight's game a desperate team, having gone winless in three straight, thanks in part to a power play that has scored just one goal in the last eight games and currently ranks 30th in the League at 8.8 percent.

BLUE JACKETS
R.J. Umberger - Antoine Vermette - Rick Nash
Vinny Prospal - Derick Brassard - Mark Letestu
Derek Dorsett - Samuel Pahlsson - Cody Bass
Matt Calvert - Derek MacKenzie - Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin - James Wisniewski
Marc Methot - Grant Clitsome
John Moore - Kris Russell

Steve Mason will start in goal, with rookie Allen York backing him up.

Rookie Ryan Johansen will be a healthy scratch.

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

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

Corey Crawford will start in goal, with Ray Emery the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

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


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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 2:50 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place: The evolution of goaltending

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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 2:32 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Panthers, Jets

WINNIPEG -- The Florida Panthers wrap up a two-game Canadian road trip tonight with a stop in Winnipeg.

The Panthers took a 5-1 decision on Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs  behind 38 saves from Jose Theodore. Florida’s 7-4-3 start is the franchise’s best since a 9-1-4 beginning to the 1996-97 season.

The Jets, winless in three games, return home for the first time since Oct. 24 after a 3-2-2 seven-game road trip.

Here are the projected lineups:

PANTHERS
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Jack Skille - Mike Santorelli - Tomas Kopecky
Marco Sturm - Marcel Goc - Sean Bergenheim
Scottie Upshall - Shawn Matthias - Matt Bradley

Ed Jovanovski - Keaton Ellerby
Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Jose Theodore will start for the Panthers, with Scott Clemmensen backing up.

JETS
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Alexander Burmistrov - Nik Antropov - Evander Kane
Kenndal McArdle - Tim Stapleton - Chris Thorburn
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Kyle Wellwood

Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Johnny Oduya - Dustin Byfuglien
Brett Festerling - Mark Flood

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Peter Mannino backing up.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 2:18 PM

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

Cole's season debut met with rave reviews

ST. LOUIS -- When Ken Hitchcock stepped behind the Blues' bench for the first time Tuesday night, not much changed as far as the lineup was concerned.

However, one change turned into a very bright spot, where recently recalled defenseman Ian Cole stepped in.

Cole, who played 26 games and recorded 1 goal and 3 assists in his first stop of NHL duty last season, played in his first game this season after being called up from the American Hockey League's Peoria Rivermen.

It may have arguably been his best game as a pro.

"Really good," Hitchcock said of Cole's game. "I don't even know anything about him and he just looked like an NHL player yesterday.

"He was strong, he won a lot of 1-on-1s, very competitive. ... I liked the part that he was comfortable moving the puck in the middle of the ice instead, rather than just banging it off the boards getting it out. He made plays in the middle of the ice and really got us out of trouble."

Cole didn't register a point in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Chicago but played solid with partner Roman Polak. Cole played 18 minutes, 59 seconds, and blocked two shots in the game, but as Hitchcock said, made smart decisions.

"I really liked it," Cole said of his game. "I thought as a whole it was good, but as far as dissecting it, there were definitely things I could have done better."

Such as?

"I can think of four or five things I wish I could have done differently," Cole said. "As soon as they happened, I was like, 'Why did I do that?'

"I'm probably my hardest critic."

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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 2:16 PM

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

Hitchcock still a stickler for teaching

ST. LOUIS -- It's non-game days that makes Ken Hitchcock a load to deal with from a player's perspective, simply because he's a stickler for teaching on practice days.

Hitchcock, who said he likes to practice in smaller rinks, was going full bore Wednesday. Thursday was an optional gameday skate for the players.

"Days like (Wednesday), I'm a bear," he said. "Between the video and the teaching and the preparation for practice, I'm really selfish. The day of the game, I find it very peaceful and relaxing. Competition is what it is, but I find that practice days for me are, 'Get out of my way. It's my time.'"

Hitchcock said the style of game he likes his players to play is hard, not only mentally but physically as well.

"The whole game is about back-pressure, tempo and (a) 200-foot (game)," Hitchcock said. "It's not easy playing that way."

He believes the Blues are physically there but mentally, it will take some getting used to.

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Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff