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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 5:20 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Avalanche without Stastny against Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Paul Stastny made the trip to Vancouver, but the Avalanche's top-line center won't play against the Canucks on Tuesday night because of a torso injury.

Injured after scoring in Sunday's win over Detroit, Stastny skated before the Avalanche kicked off a three-game western Canadian trip, but is listed as day to day.

Without Stastny, top-line winger Matt Duchene slides over from the left wing to his natural center spot, with David Jones on one side and TJ Galiardi on the other. They were understandably hesitant to break up a second line anchored by Ryan O'Reilly, who has 4 goals and 7 points during the Avalanche's current three-game win streak.

Colorado will dress seven defensemen and just 11 forwards for a second-straight game, with wingers Kevin Porter and Brandon Yip getting a revolving center on the fourth line.

Chuck Kobasew returns after missing one game with a minor injury.

Here's how the lineup projects tonight:

David Jones - Matt Duchene - TJ Galiardi
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnik - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew
Kevin Porter - Brandon Yip

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

Semyon Varlamov, who is 4-2 with a .939 save percentage in his last six starts, is back in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.

Johnson's return Sunday coincided with the first off night for Elliott, but those first signs of struggles will not keep the rookie from playing in his hometown -- and against the Canucks team he grew up cheering -- for the first time Tuesday. That said, the 20-year-old Elliott, who had 2 goals and 3 points in his first four games, only played 8:57 against the Red Wings and was held pointless for a second straight game.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 4:24 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Grabovski back in for Leafs

TORONTO -- Congratulations are in order for Mikhail Grabovski, whose girlfriend gave birth to the couple's child earlier today. That means Grabovski will be available for tonight's game against the New Jersey Devils.

With that in mind, here's how the new-look Leafs could line up tonight:

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Tim Connolly - Matt Frattin
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Joe Colborne - David Steckel - Philippe Dupuis
 
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
 
James Reimer will start in goal, with Jonas Gustavsson the backup.

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

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 3:48 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Red-hot Hansen gets promotion in Canucks' lineup

With Vancouver Canucks forward Chris Higgins now listed as day-to-day with a foot infection, Jannik Hansen gets a chance to continue his career-best goal pace with a move up to the second line.

Hansen has goals in consecutive games and seven overall, just two shy of his career high despite a terrible start, with only one goal in the first 14 games.

The upward movement on the right side of the forward lines continues with Dale Weise promoted into Hansen's old spot on the third line, and Victor Oreskovich called up from Chicago of the AHL to play on the fourth unit. It's a position Oreskovich lost to Aaron Volpatti with an inconsistent preseason that didn't include nearly enough physical play for his head coach's liking, prompting the Canucks to claim Weise off waivers from the New York Rangers.

"Every player has a different skill set, every player brings something different to the table," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Every player has to figure out to play in this League what he has to do. And every player has to figure out on certain teams, 'for me to play on that team, what's the role I might have to do?'"

With Volpatti now in need of shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, the 25-year-old Oreskovich gets another chance to use his 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame more effectively, and earn back a role he played for 35 games last season, including 19 in the playoffs.

"He knows what he had to do and he has to do it consistently," Vigneault said.

As for Higgins, medication reduced the swelling in his foot and he's improving, but the team isn't yet sure if he'll travel to start a five-game road trip that opens Thursday.

Here's how tonight's Canucks lineup could look:

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
David Booth - Ryan Kesler - Jannik Hansen
Mason Raymond - Cody Hodgson - Dale Weise
Manny Malhotra - Maxim Lapierre - Victor Oreskovich

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

Roberto Luongo makes his second-straight start after watching five in a row, with Cory Schneider returning to his backup role for now.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 3:40 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Boucher philosophical about realignment

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- After having a chance to digest the realignment setup agreed to at the NHL Board of Governors meeting on Monday, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher was philosophical.

"I woke up and thought, 'Let's just build a practice rink in Vermont. That's a good solution,'" he said with a smile during a Tuesday media scrum.

Under the new setup, the Lightning and Florida Panthers are grouped with Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. The demise of the Southeast Division will mean fewer trips to Carolina and Washington and plenty of time in New England, Western New York and Eastern Canada.

"It's difficult to understand why Carolina, which is an hour away, is not in our conference," he said, "We've built a rivalry with Washington and they're gone too. 

"Let's not kid ourselves -- we're going to have more travel, and we're going to have to deal with it."

But Boucher also said he realizes that trying to juggle an alignment that would make all 30 teams happy was going to be impossible.

"I'm sure the League worked extremely hard trying to do something that makes sense -- and it's difficult to make sense of 'not enough teams for here and there,' and you're stuck," he said. "I can see how difficult it must have been for them to make something that made sense, to keep the rivalries.

"You look at Boston -- they're pretty close to the other teams and could have been in the other division, but they've got rivalries with Buffalo and Montreal, the old Adams Division. Do you want to separate Pittsburgh and Philly? I think it was very difficult for them to decide what to do."

One thing Boucher said is sure to continue is that his team will be a popular destination for teams to bring their fathers along on road trips.

"We'll see that all year long," he said. "Everyone's got their 'Father's Trip' in Tampa."

 
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 3:34 PM

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

Sutters clash as father coaches against son

CALGARY -- Though it's an important two points for two franchises that have struggled this season, there's more than just a win on the line tonight when the Calgary Flames host the Carolina Hurricanes.

Family bragging rights are up for grabs.

Son Brandon, a forward for the Hurricanes, will try to get the better of father Brent, who serves as Calgary's coach, as the two Sutters square off at the Scotiabank Saddledome for the only meeting between the two this season.

"They always are," Brandon said. "Hopefully I can find a way to get them this year."

Retain might be a better word. Brandon had an assist in last season's 6-5 shootout win for the Hurricanes. The previous season, though, Brent's Flames beat Brandon's Hurricanes 4-1.

"I think last year we beat him so I'm trying to keep that train rolling," said Brandon, who has 5 goals and 10 points in 28 games this season. "It's a little nicer for the bragging rights, that's for sure."

It's more complicated than just having the right to boast for Brent, who also served as Brandon's coach with the Red Deer Rebels throughout his three-year junior career.

"It's never an easy thing, believe me," Brent said of coaching a son. "It's a lot harder on me then it is him. That's the way it is. Like I told him yesterday, I hope he has a great game, but as long as we finish one goal ahead of him it's a great day for me and a crappy one for him. It's just the way it is when you’re a coach and your son plays in the National Hockey League."

As per Sutter family rules, ice will be thicker than blood -- at least temporarily.

"It's game day," said Brent, who has guided the Flames to an 11-13-2 start this season. "Our makeup is, and our DNA is, that's the way we are. He's focused on trying to help the Carolina Hurricanes as a player and my job is to help the Calgary Flames as a coach. When the game is over, it's over."

If ever there was a household divide, mother/wife Connie provides the ultimate trump card.

"She has an easier time worrying about me than him," Brandon said.

Brent concurred.

"Guaranteed she's not cheering for her husband," he said.

Which means Brent will have to hear it twice should the Flames fall to Carolina.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 3:34 PM

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

Williams promoted back to Kings' first line

ANAHEIM -- Los Angeles Kings coach Terry Murray put his top line back together for tonight's game against the Anaheim Ducks, reuniting Simon Gagne and Anze Kopitar with Justin Williams, who had been demoted to the third line.

Murray also put Dustin Brown back at left wing.

"He's so effective coming off that left side on the attack," Murray said of Brown. "I just want to take advantage of it right now."

Penner feels good:
Kings forward Dustin Penner returned to the lineup last Saturday and scored his first goal of the season after he missed nine games with a hand injury.

Penner, whose season has been interrupted by injuries, said this is the best he's felt all season.

"It's a combination of the extra work I put in, and also I'm injury free," Penner said.

Penner's goal came on a tip in front of the net, which is exactly the type of net presence that coach Terry Murray has preached.

"That's the attitude that we need to re-establish as a team again," Murray said. "We're getting away from that the last several games. Overall, his game was real good. I just want to make sure there's no back off the gas pedal here."

Kings searching for entry point: An inability to generate shots has been an ongoing point of emphasis for the Kings, who remain among the worst-scoring teams in the NHL.

"I personally think it starts with our neutral-zone play, coming up the ice together," captain Dustin Brown said. "Sometimes we get too spread out. Whether it's a quick counter or a long counter, we've got to be able to identify that, as a group of five, and come together.

"You look at our team, we have nine or 10 guys that have scored 20 goals. So guys can score goals. But we can't score goals when we're dumping the puck and not getting it back, and the result of that is our neutral zone. As players, we have a system in place, guys need to identify a quick counter or a long counter. Those are really are two options. Right now we're getting caught in between those … it puts guys where they have to chip it in. There's no speed. There's no pressure on the puck."
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 3:30 PM

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

Beleskey getting shot on Ducks' top line

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is getting to know his team better, and one of the young pieces that has caught his attention is winger Matt Beleskey.

Boudreau put Beleskey with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in the third period of Sunday's game, and that will be the case when Anaheim hosts rival Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

The move is not surprising because Beleskey played with Getzlaf and Perry briefly a couple of seasons ago under former coach Randy Carlyle.

Boudreau said it's part of learning about his team.

"A lot of these young guys I'd like to see," Boudreau said. "I think I pretty well know what Teemu (Selanne) can do. … When you're in the East you don't hear about Matt Beleskey, and you don't hear too much about Andrew Cogliano, even though he's a Toronto boy. … You don't hear a lot about those guys. It's intriguing to see what they can and can't do, and that takes a little bit of time."

Beleskey is taking the place of Bobby Ryan, who has been dropped to the second line with Saku Koivu and Selanne. Cogliano is back at third-line center.

Anaheim recalled center Nick Bonino in an attempt at offensive depth, although Bonino arrived late and won't play Tuesday. Bonino has 20 points in 17 games with the Syracuse Crunch.

"We're looking for scoring on the third and fourth lines," Boudreau said. "I think in today's game you need four lines that can score. Bonino, from what I've gathered … he's an offensive guy and we've got to give him an opportunity."

Parros available:
Ducks winger George Parros is a game-time decision after he missed 13 games with an eye injury.

Anaheim desperately needs size on its bottom-six forward unit, and it's possible that it could ice a fourth line of Parros and Jean-Francois Jacques.

 Boudreau, who coached Parros in Washington's organization, said it's not just about toughness, though.

"I'm not getting guys to fight," Boudreau said. "I told him when I had him (that) he's got to play. He's not just going to sit on the bench and take somebody’s spot."

Kings-Ducks connections:
Boudreau has roots in the Kings' organization as coach of its AHL-affiliate Manchester from 2001 to 2005.

The following year Boudreau coached Hershey in the Calder Cup where the Bears played a Portland team that had Getzlaf, Perry and current Kings forward Dustin Penner, who were sent down by Anaheim after the Ducks were eliminated by Edmonton in the conference finals.

Penner, who won a Stanley Cup playing with Getzlaf and Perry on the so-called Points Per Game line in 2007, said it was surprising to see his former team struggle.

"I know what they're going through," Penner said. "I did it for four years in Edmonton. It's definitely surprising. To what extent, I don't know. I think they rely heavily on their top two lines. When you look at every team that comes into Staples Center, they've got three or four lines. I'm not saying they won't have it in a year or two, but right now their bottom six, I don't know if they have 100 games combined."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 3:19 PM

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

No Filppula for Wings

ST. LOUIS -- After suffering a cut on his shin due to a skate blade in Sunday's loss at Colorado, the Wings will be without winger Valtteri Filppula tonight against the Blues.


Filppula, who has 8 goals and 13 assists in 25 games this season, tried to give it a go by adjusting his skate to alleviate any pressure on the cut, but still couldn't make a go of it.

"It's as good as it can be, but I just can't push it," Filppula, who is listed as day-to-day, said after the morning skate. "I'm hoping it gets better soon. I can't say when it's going to be good enough, but probably every day, I'm going to give it a try.

"It was pretty painful. I could cruise around a little bit, but then when I had to try skating faster, I couldn't really do it."

The Wings will use Cory Emmerton tonight, and depending on coach Mike Babcock's thinking, could play him at fourth-line center or use him at wing on the third line and play Justin Abdelkader as a fourth-line center.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 3:16 PM

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

Potential lineups for Kings, Ducks

Here's how the lineups could look for tonight's game between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings at Honda Center:

KINGS

Simon Gagne - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Brown - Jarret Stoll - Trent Hunter
Dustin Penner - Andrei Loktionov - Ethan Moreau
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Kevin Westgarth

Drew Doughty - Rob Scuderi
Jack Johnson - Slava Voynov
Matt Greene - Davis Drewiske

Jonathan Quick

Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell is skating but is still out with a groin injury. Alec Martinez (upper body) has been cleared for contact.

DUCKS

Matt Beleskey - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Bobby Ryan - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Niklas Hagman - Andrew Cogliano - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jean-Francois Jacques - Maxime Macenauer - George Parros

Cam Fowler - Francois Beauchemin
Toni Lydman - Luca Sbisa
Sheldon Brookbank - Kurtis Foster

Jonas Hiller

Anaheim activated backup goalie Dan Ellis and re-assigned Jeff Deslauriers. Ellis had a groin injury.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 2:46 PM

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

Muller sticks with same lineup in search for first win

CALGARY -- Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller will continue with a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen as he searches for his first win since taking over as coach.

Muller, who is 0-3-0 since replacing Paul Maurice, will have one new face in the lineup tonight. Goaltender Mike Murphy was called up on an emergency basis from AHL Charlotte to replace Brian Boucher, who suffered a lower-body injury in practice yesterday.

It's one face Muller will be familiar with.

"He's a Kingston (Ont.) kid, so I’ve known Murph since he was a kid," Muller said, himself a Kingston native. "One of the kids I know the most is coming up. I got a break there."

Muller hasn't gotten a break since joining Carolina. The team has lost five consecutive games as Muller looks to instill a new identity in the club, one of teamwork.

"I don't care if you're minus-15, I don't care if you have 1 goal, let's look at today and see how we can be better," Muller said. "Let's just do it together. No one has to be Superman. It's strength in numbers. Let's get out of this together. Let's just come tonight and have fun and play hard and let's see where we're at. We've been doing that for three games, so we just have to keep getting them to believe in it."

We had the likely Flames lineup earlier. Here's what the Hurricanes lineup likely will look like:

Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Jiri Tlusty - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Andreas Nodl - Anthony Stewart

Bryan Allen - Derek Joslin
Tim Gleason - Justin Faulk
Joni Pitkanen - Tomas Kaberle
Jamie McBain

Cam Ward will start in goal, with Mike Murphy to serve as the backup.

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

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Quote of the Day

You get more opportunity, and at the end of the day those are the times you've got to step up and show what you're made of. Together as a team, that's how you win games. I think we stuck together. That's kind of our philosophy here. We have good leadership and good guys to lean on.

— Calgary Flames forward Sean Monahan after a win against the Nashville Predators on Friday
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