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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 4:50 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Coyotes turn to LaBarbera, could miss Hanzal

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The line of Ray Whitney, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata and the goaltending of Mike Smith have been the major players in a three-game winning streak and a 4-0-1 run that the Phoenix Coyotes take into tonight's game with the Nashville at Jobing.com Arena.
 
But both ingredients could be missing against the Predators -- one scripted, the other unexpected.
 
Smith will get the night off after his 3-1 victory over the Avalanche in Colorado on Wednesday. Smith was in goal for the entire 4-0-1 run and allowed only 12 goals in the five games, improving his record to 5-2-1 for the season. Jason LaBarbera, who beat the Predators 5-2 in Nashville on Oct. 13, will get his third start of the season as the Coyotes face their first back-to-back situation of the season.
 
And while the Whitney-Hanzal-Vrbata line has produced 7 goals and 17 points in the last three games -- including 2 goals by Vrbata, 2 assists by Whitney and 1 helper by Hanzal against the Avalanche -- the trio might be broken up tonight due to injury. Hanzal appeared to suffer an injury late in Wednesday's game. The Coyotes had an optional skate Thursday, but Kyle Chipchura was summoned from AHL Portland and coach Dave Tippett said he would be in the lineup against the Predators, fueling speculation that Hanzal could be a scratch tonight.
 
Meanwhile, the Predators will get some regulars back in the lineup and have a happy goalie between the pipes.
 
Forwards Mike Fisher (upper-body injury) and Sergei Kostitsyn (lower-body injury) took part in the morning skate and are expected to return to the lineup against Phoenix for this opening game of a four-game Western road trip.

Goalie Pekka Rinne was given quite a 29th birthday present Thursday, signing a seven-year extension for $49 million, the richest contract in Predators history. Renne, who would have been a restricted free agent at the end of the season, is 5-4-2 so far this year with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. He will start tonight against the Coyotes.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 4:48 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: Going to the net is goal scorer's mantra

Let's talk about plays down around the net. If you want to score goals in this League, that's where you need to be. On Tuesday, I think all but three goals were scored from within 10 feet of the net.

Let me start by saying this -- Dino Ciccarelli, Dave Andreychuk, Brendan Shanahan -- I played with them all, and they all can beat a goalie from 30 feet out. But what's most impressive is most of their goals came from within five feet of the net. Tips, rebounds, maybe a nice shot from in tight. When you look at the amount of goals those guys have scored, a lot more can be said for how they scored. It's a great lesson for all hockey players, whether you're a player in the League, you're retired, you're a kid coming up through the ranks or just someone playing in a league for fun -- if you're willing to go to the net, you're going to get your share of goals.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 4:02 PM

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

Melrose Minute: Best Team to Watch

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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 4:01 PM

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

Melrose Matchup: Penguins at Sharks

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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 3:59 PM

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

Yakupov named OHL Player of the Month

Sarnia Sting right wing Nail Yakupov, who many consider will be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 Draft at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on June 22, was named the Ontario Hockey League's player of the month for October.

Yakupov led the league in scoring with 29 points in 13 games for Sarnia, including 11 goals and a league-leading 18 assists in October.

"Yakupov is a dynamic exciting player … he's one of the few players that you can say this guy is worth the price of admission," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr told NHL.com. "He can put on that type of a show, he's that skilled."

Yakupov, who began skating when he was 3-years-old in Nizhnekamsk, Russia, had a point in 12 of his 13 games in the month. He produced nine multi-point games and finished with the second highest plus-minus rating in the League (plus-13).

In the upcoming six-game 2011 Subway Super Series, featuring the top junior-aged players of the Canadian Hockey League against those from the Russian National Junior Team, Yakupov will represent his country against Team OHL on Nov. 10 in Ottawa.

"When you watch him, I don't think there's one singular player that you would say, 'Wow, that's a guy he could be just like,'" said NHL Network analyst Craig Button. "But his ability to maneuver out of traffic and out of the corners from tight areas reminds you a Pavel Datsyuk. When you watch him explode in his skating, he reminds you of Pavel Bure."

Yakupov was one of 36 top 2012 prospects on the ice for the NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in Etobicoke, Ont., in August. Yakupov (6-foot, 190 pounds), selected second by the Sting during the 2010 CHL import draft, had the fourth-highest total in the OHL and most by a first-year player when he struck for 101 points in 2010-11. He won the OHL's Rookie of the Year award and his point total, which included 49 goals, shattered Steven Stamkos' team record for a rookie (92 points in 2006-07).

Yakupov claimed OHL and CHL Player of the Week honors for the week ending Oct. 16 when he matched a career-high with 4 assists on Oct. 14 in a 7-2 win over the Saginaw Spirit. During a stretch of three straight games from Oct. 22-29, he scored 7 points in three games. Yakupov was also named the game's first star in a 7-2 win over the Sudbury Wolves after notching 2 goals and 2 assists on Oct. 1.

Yakupov, 18, currently leads the OHL in scoring with 34 points in 16 games with 12 goals and a league-high 22 assists. He's looking to become the first Russian-born player since Alex Ovechkin in 2004 to go first overall.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 3:50 PM

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

Briere could draw back in for Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers center Danny Briere has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, and as of this morning, his status for tonight's game against the New Jersey Devils remained in doubt.

Well, the doubt might have just left town, along with center Ben Holmstrom.

The Flyers announced Holmstrom, a center called up from AHL Adirondack to play last night in Buffalo due to injuries to Briere and fellow center Matt Read, has been returned to the AHL. With Read not scheduled to return from his upper-body injury until Saturday at the earliest, that opens a spot for Briere to return to the lineup.

Nothing is set until coach Peter Laviolette writes out his lineup -- and the Flyers are carrying an extra forward in Harry Zolnierczyk -- but the guess is it's Briere who goes back in. How the rest of the lineup looks outside the Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr - Scott Hartnell line, however is anyone's guess.

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






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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 3:44 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Oilers, Kings

Here are the projected lineups for the Edmonton Oilers and the Los Angeles Kings for their matchup Thursday night at Staples Center. The Oilers have won five straight to surge to the top of the Northwest Division, while the Kings could be level with the Stars on points at the top of the Pacific Division with a victory.

EDMONTON

Taylor HallRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle
Ryan SmithShawn HorcoffRyan Jones
Magnus PaajarviEric BelangerSam Gagner
Ben EagerAnton LanderLennart Petrell

Ladislav SmidTom Gilbert
Jeff PetryTheo Peckham
Colten TeubertCorey Potter

Devan Dubnyk

LOS ANGELES

Simon GagneAnze KopitarJustin Williams
Scott ParseMike RichardsDustin Brown
Dustin PennerJarret StollBrad Richardson
Kyle CliffordTrevor LewisEthan Moreau

Willie MitchellDrew Doughty
Rob ScuderiJack Johnson
Alec MartinezMatt Greene

Jonathan Quick
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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 2:33 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Canucks, Wild

Here are the projected lineups for the Vancouver Canucks and the Minnesota Wild for their contest Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center:

VANCOUVER

Daniel SedinHenrik SedinAlexandre Burrows
David BoothRyan KeslerCody Hodgson
Chris HigginsManny MalhotraJannik Hansen
Aaron VolpattiMaxim LapierreDale Weise
 
Dan HamhuisKevin Bieksa
Alexander EdlerSami Salo
Keith BallardAlexander Sulzer

Cory Schneider

MINNESOTA

Guillaume LatendresseMikko KoivuDany Heatley
Pierre-Marc BouchardMatt CullenDevin Setoguchi
Cal ClutterbuckKyle BrodziakNick Johnson
Colton GilliesDarroll PoweBrad Staubitz

Nick SchultzMarek Zidlicky
Marco ScandellaJared Spurgeon
Justin FalkNate Prosser

Josh Harding
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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 1:51 PM

By Ryan Murray -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Ryan Murray draft blog

Injured Murray determined to make CAN WJC roster

Ryan Murray is a defenseman for the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League. The 6-foot, 182-pound native of Saskatchewan was named Everett's Rookie of the Year in 2009-10 after producing 22 assists and 27 points in 62 games. He became the youngest captain in franchise history during the 2010-11 season while leading the team with a plus-18 rating and all defensemen on the club with 46 points. Despite suffering an ankle injury Oct. 19, which will force him out of the lineup for the next five weeks, Murray still took the time to maintain his monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Hello everyone. Well, I had a bit of a setback in the first period of a home game against Brandon on October 19. An injury occurred when I went into the corner for a puck and got hit awkwardly. When I put my foot down to balance myself, my skate caught a rut and my body kind of buckled over my foot.

I'm feeling pretty good right now. The injury is definitely disappointing, but it's part of the game and now I just have to focus on doing my rehab and get back into the lineup as soon as possible.

The doctors have told me I'll be out for somewhere around five weeks. That would put me back into the lineup sometime later in November or in early December.

I did not travel with the team on our two-week long road trip through Alberta. While the team was off on the trip, I was able to go home to White City, Sask., and visit with friends and family. Road trips are always great for bonding with the team, so it would've been great to go with the guys. At the same time though, it was also really nice to spend some time with my family after two months away.

I will be missing the Subway Super Series against the Russians, which is too bad since I would have been playing near my hometown in Regina. It would have been a great experience to play alongside the top players in the league against Team Russia, but I think the best thing to do is let my ankle recover and not risk further injury to it by trying to come back too soon.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 1:14 PM

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

Flames re-tool lineup looking to break through

DETROIT -- It looks like the Detroit Red Wings aren't the only team hoping that a reshuffled lineup pays off on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.

While Detroit is splitting up star forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and giving defenseman Mike Commodore his first regular-season action as a Red Wing, the Calgary Flames are also re-tooling their look.

Calgary, which is currently sitting 14th in the Western Conference standings just two spots behind Detroit, is mixing up the forward lines and defense pairs for this games against the Wings -- who are winless in five straight games.

"We'll have a different look in three lines tonight, to start with anyway," Flames coach Brent Sutter said after Thursday's morning skate. "We want to do certain things with certain guys to help them get going. That's all part of it as coaches to get guys through their early struggles. We're going to shuffle some lines up tonight and see if that can help."

Most notably, the Flames appeared to have Olli Jokinen at center on the top line with Curtis Glencross at left wing and Jarome Iginla staying put at his usual right wing spot. Iginla and Jokinen played on a line together a couple of years ago with success, but Sutter said things have changed since then.

"Olli's a different player than he was two years ago when Jarome and him played together," Sutter said. "Olli's role has changed. He's playing a different brand of hockey for us. He's being rewarded for changing his game and the way he's playing. He’s playing well and enjoying that role. Jarome will have to adjust somewhat to his new linemates and the way they play."

Iginla said he's up to the task.

"They're playing really well," he said of his potential new linemates. "They're quick players. They're fast. I'll work to get my feet going and keep up with them."

The Flames' second line will now likely feature Alex Tanguay (2 goals, 7 assists) and Lee Stempniak (1 goal, 3 assists) on the wings between center Brendan Morrison -- who hasn't scored a point in six games and has a minus-1 rating.

Defensively, expect Anton Bachuk to get back into the lineup on the second pairing with Scott Hannan and Mark Giordano to move to the third pair with Cory Sarich.

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Quote of the Day

You don't see many. The [Drew] Doughtys, the [P.K.] Subbans, those are guys that create offense from the back and then on top of that ability, the size that he has. In the West you play against some pretty big players, and being able to clear the crease and contain the [Ryan] Getzlafs and the [Corey] Perrys and [Anze] Kopitars and players like that, we're excited about him going back there.

— Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Brent Burns returning back to defense