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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 1:47 PM

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

Carter skates with Jackets, could return soon

The Columbus Blue Jackets could be back to the team they were expecting to have when the season began.

Center Jeff Carter, who has missed the last nine games with a broken bone in his right foot suffered Oct. 15, skated for about 20 minutes with the team today according to the Columbus Dispatch and said his foot felt OK. Carter added the plan now is for him to skate a full practice with the team tomorrow, with a chance he could play in the Jackets' next game, Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I'm usually pretty quick to get back to speed," Carter said. "I have to get a decent practice in before I know how it feels. I'll probably know more (Tuesday)."

Carter and defenseman James Wisniewski were the club's major offseason acquisitions, but due to suspension -- Wisniewski sat out the first eight games of the season -- and injury, the pair has yet to be on the ice at the same time since the preseason.

The Blue Jackets also could have forward Jared Boll back in the lineup Thursday. Boll hasn't played since breaking his thumb in a fight in the Jackets' final preseason game.

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

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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 1:25 PM

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

Kovalchuk doubtful for Tuesday

Nothing has been made official, but it's looking highly unlikely the New Jersey Devils will have forward Ilya Kovalchuk in the lineup for tomorrow's game against the Carolina Hurricanes (7:30 p.m. Versus, TSN2).

Kovalchuk, who hasn't played since leaving late in the third period of last Thursday's 4-3 shootout win in Philadelphia due a pulled leg muscle, sat out today's practice at Prudential Center in Newark.

Coach Peter DeBoer wasn't ready to completely rule Kovalchuk out for tomorrow, but told reporters it would take "a miraculous recovery" for him to play.

Kovalchuk said he worked out off the ice today and told reporters he's hopeful his injury heals enough for him to get into the lineup.

"I worked out a little bit, so it'd definitely better than a couple of days ago," he told reporters. "We'll see tomorrow."

If Kovalchuk can't go, it's likely his top-line spot alongside left wing Zach Parise and center Adam Henrique will be filled by David Clarkson, who played there in Saturday's 3-2 overtime win against the Jets.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 1:11 PM

By Pat LaFontaine -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Making of a Royal

Improving Royals benefit from power skating

In this week's 'Making of a Royal' blog, coach Pat LaFontaine discusses the team's recent second-place finish at the Beantown Fall Classic in New Hampshire and the tremendous work done by power-skating instructor Jacki Munzel. The Long Island Royals National Team defeated Little Caesars (Mich.), the Junior Bobcats (Conn.) and the Valley Junior Warriors (Mass.), before suffering a 2-0 loss to the nation's No. 1-ranked Under-16 team, the Chicago Mission. The final day of the tournament was cancelled due to inclement weather along the East Coast.
 

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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 1:00 PM

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

Pouliot draws back into Boston's lineup

BOSTON -- Rich Peverley's injury should open up a lineup spot tonight for winger Benoit Pouliot, who has been out the last three games the Bruins played.

Peverley has been declared out with an undisclosed injury by coach Claude Julien for the Bruins' game against the New York Islanders at the TD Garden.

Pouliot, who projects to skate on a line with Jordan Caron and Chris Kelly, missed the Oct. 29 game in Montreal with an illness and has been a healthy scratch the last two games. He's still looking for his first point of the season and is minus-3 in eight games. Famously he's stated numerous times the adjustment to Boston's system has been a slow process.

"I think we've talked about it a lot," said Pouliot after the Bruins' morning skate. "It's just the little things. It's not much, but it's something that can affect your game or the whole team's game. So I can't really mess that up and just try to focus on one thing. We'll be all right."

Peverley's absence could open up even more time for Pouliot's projected linemate Caron. In addition to some more 5-on-5 time, Caron might have to add penalty-killing to his list of responsibilities.

The rookie forward has kept Pouliot out of the Boston lineup with his assertive play, including serving as a net-front presence during Boston's pivotal victory over Ottawa last week. While he has yet to show up on the score sheet this season, Caron has establishing his presence with physicality.

Playing with Kelly and Peverley has helped Caron gain confidence.

"I think they're both very good players and very patient with the puck. So I'm just trying to make room for them and skate and go to the net hard and doing the dirty stuff in the corners and stuff like that," he said. "They're smart players. And I'm just trying to do my job. That's what I did in junior, that's why they brought me here. And I'm not going to change my style, I'm just going to play the same way I always did."

Without Peverley, the test for Caron will be to take a larger role while continuing to do what’s made him successful. And for Pouliot tonight will be all about making it difficult for the Bruins to take him out of the lineup again once the forward corps is completely healthy.



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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 12:40 PM

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

Islanders turn back to Nabokov in net

BOSTON -- New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano plans tonight to stick with what earned his team a long-awaited two points Saturday night, except when it comes to his goaltending.

Capuano revealed that Evgeni Nabokov will start tonight and be backed up by Al Montoya. Rick DiPietro started the Isles' three previous games, including the slump-busting 5-3 win over Washington Saturday. The Isles had been 0-4-2 in their prior six games.

While Nabokov missed the last three games with a lower-body injury, Montoya has been healthy but inactive since Oct. 20. Of the six games over that span, Montoya didn't even dress for two.

Capuano said he's not worried about rust on Montoya.

"No, like I said earlier, I just concentrate day to day and Nabby will go tonight," the coach said. "Just like our team, whether it's the D or the forwards, it's a day-to-day process with our lineup."

The Islanders juggled their lines to start the Caps game, and it paid off with a rally from 2-0 down. While the lineup in front of the goaltender will stay the same, the Isles are hoping that translates into a similar performance and in turn a victory.

"It was big. It was against a pretty good hockey team that's playing really well," star forward John Tavares said about the Washington victory. "So it was definitely big for us. But we've got to learn how to bring that every night and have that consistency in being able to win victories likes that. And we haven't played too well on the road (0-2-1), so this is a good test for us tonight. It's time to move on and focus on what we have to do to be successful tonight and throughout the rest of the year. But it was definitely a good feeling though to get the confidence up and see the results."

Here is the Islanders' projected lineup:

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

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

Healthy scratch: Mike Mottau

Evgeni Nabokov in goal, Al Montoya to back up.


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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 12:08 PM

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

Peverley will miss Bruins' game with Islanders

BOSTON -- The Bruins are riding their first winning streak of the season into tonight's home date with the New York Islanders at the TD Garden.

But their lineup will look a little different against the Isles than it did in victories over Ottawa and Toronto.

Forward Rich Peverley, who played Saturday night in the rout of the Leafs despite missing practice the two days prior, will miss the Isles game, according to coach Claude Julien. Peverley also missed practice Sunday.

"It's a minor, undisclosed injury and he needs a few more days. … But it's not getting better. So we're allowing him to take a few more days," Julien said.

Tuukka Rask is scheduled to make the start in goal. He's winless through his first three starts with a respectable goals-against average of 2.71 and a save percentage of .906. His last start was Oct. 29 in Montreal, a stretch of two games.

"It's unfortunate that his record doesn't indicate the way he's played," Julien said about Rask. "But for the most part, we've failed in front of him. Everybody knows that that's seen the games, that we haven't given him much help and we haven't played that well in front of him either. So he's got an opportunity tonight to win his first game, and it's up to all of us, him included, to be solid and the rest of the team to continue to play the way we have lately."

Here is the Bruins' projected lineup:

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

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

Healthy scratch: Steven Kampfer

Tuukka Rask in goal, Tim Thomas the backup.

 


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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 11:04 AM

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

Top USHL prospect Schmaltz part of six-player trade

A blockbuster trade was finalized in the United States Hockey League on Monday when the Sioux City Musketeers dealt highly touted defensive prospect Jordan Schmaltz to the Green Bay Gamblers as part of a six-player deal.

Schmaltz, committed to the University of North Dakota next fall, is regarded by many to be a first-round choice for the upcoming 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. Schmaltz finished his rookie season in the USHL last year as the highest scoring defenseman in the league with 44 points, including 13 goals, in 53 games.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Schmaltz has 3 goals and 6 points in nine games this season.

"He's got a good shot from the top of the point," NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee told NHL.com. "The thing is, I don't think he'll be drafted as a defensive guy -- he'll be drafted for his high-end offense."

In fact, many believe Schmaltz offers the type of offensive skills that made Kitchener Rangers defenseman Ryan Murphy (Carolina Hurricanes) so attractive last June.

Schmaltz of Verona, Wis., is currently in Langley, B.C., with Team USA for the 2011 World Junior A Challenge. Schmaltz is actually one of two returnees on the team, which captured a third straight World Junior A Challenge title in 2010. Team USA opens the tournament on Nov. 7 against Sweden.

Schmaltz was dealt to Green Bay in exchange for forward David Goodwin, defensemen Andy Ryan and Dan Molenaar and affiliate list player forward Jacob Montgomery. The Gamblers also acquired forward Peter Maric as compensation for an earlier trade involving forward Nikita Sirotkin.

Schmaltz, a member of the 2011 All-USHL First team and All-Rookie team, was also a member of the United States team that captured the gold medal in the 2010 World U-17 Hockey Challenge.  

"The trade was made with mixed emotions," Green Bay coach Derek Lalonde told the team's website. "David, Andy and Dan our great people and were valuable players to our team. But at the same time you rarely have an opportunity to acquire a player the caliber of Jordan Schmaltz. He is a projected a first round NHL draft pick and will be a tremendous addition to our team."

Additionally, the Gamblers added Jordan's younger brother, forward Nick Schmaltz. Nick Schmaltz, a member of the Chicago Mission Under-16 Team, is one of the top players among the 1996 birth years.

According to the Gamblers website, Jordan Schmaltz is expected to make his Green Bay debut on Nov. 18 against the U.S. U-18 National Team Development Program.  The team is currently 8-3 in the Eastern Conference.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 11:00 PM

NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Best NHL arenas

Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for NHL.com throughout the 2011-2012 season.

I've got two lists for everyone this week. The first is the five greatest hockey buildings in the history of the NHL.

No. 5 -- St. Louis Arena, or the Checkerdome

Most people do not think this would be on a list of the best buildings, but it was a unique building. It sat close to 20,000 people and when I was there it was full. I saw great crowds, loud crowds. They were right on top of you. It was really an unbelievable building.

I loved playing there. If you couldn't get jazzed about playing in St. Louis, oh boy, you had problems. Purina owned it at the time, so it looked like a checkerboard on the roof of the building. It was a real unique building.

No. 4 -- Madison Square Garden

Any building that has the rink on the fifth floor has to be fantastic. New York is the greatest city in the world. MSG is as mentioned as the greatest sports building in the world. I don't have it as the best in the NHL, but that first time you play at MSG and you walk up that ramp when you get to the building and you start to think of all the great things that have happened in this building. All the great fights, all the great hockey games, all the great basketball games, the college basketball, the track and field events – it is pretty phenomenal. 
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 3:45 PM

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

Duchene stays on wing after breakout game

DENVER – Matt Duchene, who is coming off a career-high four-point performance Friday, will remain at left wing Sunday night when the Colorado Avalanche takes on the Calgary Flames at the Pepsi Center.
   
Avalanche coach Joe Sacco sees no reason to move Duchene back to center following his three-goal, one-assist effort in a wild 7-6 overtime loss in Dallas. Duchene, who had two goals and four assists in the previous 12 games, will stay on the left side with center Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk.
   
“I thought they had a good night offensively, especially Matty,” Sacco said after this morning’s skate. “So we’ll keep it together and see how it works tonight. Matty was skating the way that he can. Once he started moving his feet, the work ethic was there. It’s certainly a step in the right direction for him.”
   
Duchene, 20, has made a habit of getting off to slow starts, but he’s taken over the team scoring lead with five goals and as many assists. Ryan O’Reilly, also 20, has two goals and eight assists.
   
Duchene played with a variety of wings while centering the second line for the first 12 games after starting the season between Peter Mueller and Hejduk. Mueller will miss his 11th consecutive game tonight with a head injury after he sat out all last year to recover from a concussion, but he’s beginning to feel better and skated this morning for the second day in a row.
   
“I thought I was playing better even before (Friday),” Duchene said. “I think it gives you confidence. I felt I was right on the verge of that for a long time and it was fun to finally have the floodgates open a little bit. It was nice. It’s too bad we lost, but there were some positives to take away offensively for our whole team.”
   
The six goals Friday matched the total number of goals the Avalanche has scored in five home games, four of them losses, and it doesn’t get any easier tonight.
   
The Flames have beaten the Avalanche six times in a row while scoring 28 goals, and the most recent meeting was a 4-2 victory in Calgary on Oct. 26.
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 2:56 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flames, Avalanche

Here are the projected lineups for the game Sunday night between the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center:

CALGARY

Curtis GlencrossOlli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Alex TanguayBrendan Morrison - Lee Stempniak
Rene BourqueRoman Horak - David Moss
Tom KostopoulosMatt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Cory Sarich
Scott HannanAnton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to start in goal with Henrik Karlsson serving as the backup.

COLORADO

Matt DuchenePaul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Gabriel LandeskogRyan O'ReillyDaniel Winnik
Joakim LindstromTJ GaliardiChuck Kobasew
Cody McLeodJay McClementKevin Porter

Jan HejdaErik Johnson
Shane O'BrienKyle Quincey
Ryan WilsonRyan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere serving as the backup.
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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp