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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 4:03 PM

By Neil Acharya - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Gagner brings hot stick home to face Leafs

TORONTO -- Call him Sam the Record Man.

On Thursday, Edmonton center Sam Gagner tied a club record with eight points in an 8-4 win against the Chicago Blackhawks, and he followed that by factoring in on his team's first three goals Saturday's 5-4 shootout win against the Red Wings. Gagner's outburst set a new club record with points on 11 straight Oilers goals.

On Monday, he was named the NHL's First Star of the Week as he prepared to play against his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night

Gagner said he's hungry to continue to make a large-scale impact.

"When you get an opportunity, you want to be the guy that steps up and takes it," said Gagner. "Over the last few games, I have gotten the opportunity to play with Taylor (Hall) and Jordan (Eberle), both great players. I enjoy playing with skilled players, especially of their caliber. I think it brings out the best in me. When you play with guys that skilled, you kind of have to have the mindset that you want to be the guy."

Tonight, Gagner will be playing in front of friends and his family who reside in nearby Oakville, Ont., and include his father, former NHL player Dave Gagner. The senior Gagner was an assistant coach under Dale Hunter with the OHL's London Knights, and has had a massive impact on his son's career.

"He's a guy I owe everything too," said Sam. "We talk so much about the game, and the ups and downs of what it brings. Obviously it took him a few years to become a regular NHLer that put up really good numbers. I try to listen to him as much as I can about what it takes to get through those slumps."

Gagner was in his own slump prior to his record-setting scoring outburst, with no goals and four assists in the 11 prior games.

"I think the advice he has given me, if I didn't have it, I don't know where it would be," said Gagner.

Talk of his scoring has at least changed the discussion from the trade rumors that had surrounded the 22-year-old, now in his fifth NHL season.

"It's tough to deal with that, I've never really dealt with it before," he said. "I think as long as I can continue ... where I am not worrying about the outside factors I can't really control and just worrying about my game and relishing the opportunity that I get every night, than hopefully things can continue to work out and I can continue to grow as a player."
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 4:02 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flames, Ducks

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Anaheim Ducks host the Calgary Flames at the Honda Center:

Alex Tanguay - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Michael Cammalleri - Krys Kolanos - Blair Jones
Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Niklas Hagman - Rod Pelley - George Parros

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Lubomir Visnovsky - Luca Sbisa
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Iiro Tarkki
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 3:40 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Red Wings, Coyotes

Here's how the lineups project for tonight's game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings at Arena:


Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Danny Cleary
Cory Emmerton - Justin Abdelkader - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Joey MacDonald
Ty Conklin

The Red Wings will have MacDonald make his first NHL start in goal this season tonight against the Coyotes. With starter Jimmy Howard out with a broken right index finger and Conklin struggling in the first period in Edmonton on Saturday, MacDonald came on for the final two periods and overtime to stop 22 of 23 shots and give his team a chance to steal a point in the 5-4 loss to the Oilers.

Stuart missed the morning skate with a touch of the flu but is expected to go. Mike Commodore would be the replacement if Stuart is a scratch.

Cleary, an ex-Coyote, cut his morning skate short due to a sore left knee, but will likely take part in his 800th NHL game tonight. If Cleary sits, Jan Mursak would get the start.


Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - Shane Doan
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Mikkel Boedker
Taylor Pyatt - Kyle Chipchura - Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Rostislav Klesla
Derek Morris - Michal Rozsival

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

The Coyotes are looking for a second big win in three days after Saturday’s 5-3 win over San Jose. Each of Phoenix’s top six forwards had two-point games and Smith bounced back from a back loss to Anaheim with 32 saves. With Morris back in the lineup, the Coyotes are missing only defenseman David Schlemko, who is out for the season following foot surgery.
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 2:37 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Caps, Stars most likely to ascend into playoffs

With roughly 30 games left in the season for each team, playoff races are about to heat up pretty quickly -- and for several teams their place in the postseason is far from safe. Some teams will have to worry more about dropping out than others, and to me the difference between the standings now and the standings in April will be pretty slight -- but there will be a difference.

In the East, I think the only team that's going to drop out of playoff position is Ottawa. I think the Senators will get knocked out and the Washington Capitals will take their spot. Ottawa looks like it's in a free fall right now and it's come back to Earth. Other teams are starting to catch them and I think with Alex Ovechkin back in the lineup -- and when Nicklas Backstrom gets healthy -- the Capitals are only going to get better. Ottawa had its moment in the sun with that great stretch before the All-Star Game, but I don't think they've got the horses to finish the race.

Another team that may have to watch out for Washington is Florida, which is barely ahead of the Caps in the Southeast Division. Florida lost a tough game Saturday against Tampa Bay, which hurts them and they're going to be a team fighting right to the end. If you look at Washington and Florida you'd have to say Washington is the better lineup, but Florida, even when things have gotten tough this season, has managed to get back in first place. I think the Southeast is something we're definitely going to be watching and it'll be a heck of a race right to the end. Right now the difference is just one point, so I wouldn't be surprised if they flip flop by the end of the year.

That said, I do think Florida will make it even if they don't win the division. They're a better team than Ottawa. Their special teams are a little bit better and I think Ottawa has hit its top watermark. I really see the Sens struggling until the end of the year. Also, you see teams like Winnipeg that are six points out and you think it's nothing with so much time left in the season, but in the era of the three-point game it's not easy to climb past teams. For example, Tampa Bay is playing great right now and they've barely picked up ground on the eighth spot.

The other difference for Florida will be that the Panthers used to have a lot of guys who have lost their entire career. Now you've got guys that have won -- guys like Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann. They will take the lead and they will teach the other guys to expect to make plays -- not to expect to fail, but to expect to succeed. Those guys will make a difference in the dressing room and they'll have the puck on their sticks at key times.

The West is very similar to the East, in my opinion. The only difference I see is I don't think Minnesota makes the playoffs. I think they're struggling right now and have a lot of issues. They just don't score enough, they have a lot of injury problems and I just don't think they'll be able to hold on. The team I would pick to get in is Dallas. Dallas has games in hand on the nearest competitors and while it's going to be a battle, I suspect they'll be the only team to make the jump.

I think LA's fine -- I like the way they're playing now. Obviously, Detroit, Vancouver, San Jose, Nashville, St. Louis and Chicago are better than anyone else in the West, so I think those teams are all safe barring something drastic. That leaves Minnesota as the weak link and I just think if you look at Dallas defensively, the goaltending and the fact that Jamie Benn is back and has made a big difference already, I just think it adds up to the Stars taking Minnesota's spot.

I do think there will be some movement up top in the West, however. I think the team that will wind up with the best record in the conference is Vancouver, because they don't have to play as many good teams as anyone in the Central. The Central teams will beat each other up and the Northwest is not nearly as strong, so it will be hard for a team in the Central to win first. Vancouver will get a tough matchup maybe once out of every three games, whereas in the Central the only break you get is Columbus. I do think Detroit will hold onto the division title. They're the best team and they walked into Vancouver and looked pretty good last week. The other teams in the division are solid, but I don't think anyone is playing as well as Detroit right now. Still, the Central is a gauntlet. I suspect that will give Vancouver the opening to slip into the top spot come playoff time.
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 2:08 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Could Moen be going back to Sharks?

According to a report in the Toronto Star, a return to the San Jose Sharks could be in the future for Montreal Canadiens forward Travis Moen.

The newspaper reports the Sharks are the frontrunner to acquire Moen, who was acquired by the Sharks from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline in 2009. Moen had three goals and two assists in 19 regular-season games and was scoreless in six playoff games with the Sharks.

Other teams likely are interested in Moen, but before he goes anywhere, it's likely he has to prove he's healthy. An upper-body injury has kept the forward out of the lineup since Jan. 21, and while he has resumed light skating, the Star is reporting Canadiens coach Randy Cunneyworth as saying Moen will be out at least another week.

Prior to getting hurt, Moen was having his best offensive season, with his 9 goals and 16 points in 48 games, close to career-bests.

Moen can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 1:02 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Ruff suffers broken ribs; Renney hit by puck

Players sustaining injuries during practices and morning skates is nothing new in the NHL, but on Monday it was a pair of coaches in the line of fire.

Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff broke three ribs when he collided with defenseman Jordan Leopold during practice.

According to the Sabres website, Leopold lost an edge while coming up on Ruff's blindside and ended up taking him out. Ruff remained down on the ice for several minutes before skating off the ice for treatment.

Ruff didn't address the media Monday, but the Sabres released the following statement:

"Buffalo Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff suffered three broken ribs following a collision with Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold during the team's practice this morning at First Niagara Center. He is expected to be back tomorrow to resume his coaching responsibilities."
The Sabres are off until Wednesday, when they host the Boston Bruins.

Leopold did speak to reporters about the accident.

"I lost my breath. I was looking back and right when it happened and I kind of yelled, 'Are you all right? Are you all right?' And right away, 'No,' so that wasn't a good thing," he said. "I know Lindy's a tough guy, he's played a lot of games in the NHL and played through a lot of injuries. Your body ends up hurting more and more, I think, every day the older you get. That was one of those unexpected ones. Those ones are dangerous."

Meanwhile, according to the Edmonton Oilers' official Twitter feed, "Tom Renney is doing fine & receiving stitches after taking a puck to the head earlier in practice, according to Ralph Krueger."

Krueger is the Oilers' associate coach, but from the sound of things Renney will be perfectly fine to resume his head coaching duties Wednesday night when Edmonton is in Detroit.
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 9:00 AM

By Steve Webb -  Special to / - Making of a Royal

Webb discusses his role as assistant coach with L.I.

Technology helps Webb spread message

Steve Webb has used technology to help the kids that he coaches improve. Find out all about his Y Athlete website and what it does to help kids chase their hockey dreams.
Steve Webb was the recipient of the Bob Nystrom Award in 2002 for the Islander that best exemplified hard work, leadership, and dedication on and off the ice. He currently serves as assistant coach to Pat LaFontaine for the Under-16 Long Island Royals Midget National Team.
My experiences in coaching go back to when I took over the Junior Islanders for Bobby Nystrom -- a program he had started 15 years earlier. It allowed kids from Long Island an opportunity to go to the Quebec Peewee Tournament every year and get that experience. Nystrom would run fundraisers to help these kids go on that trip. I'd help out and travel and two years after taking over, Pat (LaFontaine's) son was coming through the system. That was the first time I really started working with this select group of kids -- they were about 12-years-old.

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Posted On Sunday, 02.05.2012 / 11:35 AM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Laviolette recognizes need to beat Rangers

NEW YORK -- The Philadelphia Flyers have enjoyed mostly success this season. They are 30-15-6 with 66 points, just three fewer than the East-leading Rangers, their opponent Sunday afternoon.

The Flyers, however, have yet to figure out the Rangers. They've lost all three meetings this season when just one regulation win would be the difference between the Flyers sitting in fourth place or atop the conference.

"We haven't had any success against the Rangers," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. "It's a big game for us. If we're going to win our division, we've got a couple games coming up that are going to have to go in the (win) column."

The Flyers dropped the first meeting to the Rangers at MSG, 2-0, on Nov. 26. The deck was slightly stacked against the Flyers that night, as they were playing their third game in four nights and were without forwards James van Riemsdyk and Jaromir Jagr and defenseman Chris Pronger, who still battling a "virus" at the time and wasn't yet lost for the season with a concussion.

In the second meeting Dec. 23, the Flyers fell behind 3-0 before losing 4-2 at MSG. At the Winter Classic on Jan. 2, the Flyers held a 2-1 lead entering the third period, but the Rangers scored three straight goals to take the victory at Citizens Bank Park.

Despite the negative outcomes, Laviolette saw positives in the last two losses.

"I actually liked the way we played against them the last two games," Laviolette said. "The Winter Classic, we lost about five minutes to start the third period. Other than that, I liked our game. The last time we played in here I liked our game -- just didn't like the scoreboard."

The Flyers are coming into Sunday's contest off one of the stranger games any team has played this season.

The Devils came into Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon and scored the game's first six goals, three of which came on the power play with another coming while shorthanded. The score was 6-0 entering the third period, but the Flyers scored four times to make the finish more interesting before losing 6-4.

The Flyers outshot the Devils 24-1 in the third period. That's the portion of the game Laviolette would like to bottle and use against the Rangers.

"I like to see us pick up where we left off in the third period," Laviolette said. "It was really difficult to get a read on that game. I think 4 goals were specialty teams. Five-on-five, it was tough to find out where we're at. So I'm not sure. We came out and played a strong third period, which is what we wanted to do, so hopefully we can continue that."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Sunday, 02.05.2012 / 11:33 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - At the Rink blog

Henrique returns to Devils lineup

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils rookie center Adam Henrique will return to the lineup Sunday afternoon for the first time since the All-Star break. Henrique has missed the last three games, all Devil wins, with a sore groin.

Devils coach Pete DeBoer said prior to the Devils game against Pittsburgh that he still isn't sure on what line he'll use Henrique. He's played the bulk of his even-strength shifts between Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise.

The Devils had to activate Henrique off injured reserve, and to do that they sent Peter Harrold back to Albany of the AHL.

"We're shooting around some line combinations now," DeBoer said roughly two hours before gametime. "We'll see how he feels after he gets through warmups before we commit to any combinations and how much he'll play, but it's big having him back. He's been a point a game guy practically the entire year. He plays all situations -- PK, PP, regular shift. He's defensively reliable and he can make other players better. We missed him. It's nice to have him back."

Henrique played in the final three games before the All-Star break, but he was held without a point. He missed the two previous games, Jan. 14 at Winnipeg and Jan. 17 at home against the Jets with a groin injury.

Martin Brodeur will start in net for New Jersey after watching Johan Hedberg make 37 saves in a 6-4 win over the Flyers on Saturday.

Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will play opposite Brodeur. Fleury was brilliant in a 2-1 win at Boston on Saturday. He made 28 saves, including eight in the third period.

The Penguins had to endure a physical battle against the Bruins to pick up the one-goal victory while the Devils jumped out to a 6-0 lead over the Flyers. They essentially put it on cruise control in the third period, which allowed Philadelphia to mount a comeback in the third period.

Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said it's essential that the physicality the Penguins had to use Saturday carries over into the start of Sunday's game.

"Clearly they were two different types of games (Saturday)," Bylsma said. "Did they (the Devils) take their foot off the gas? With back to back games, did they look to conserve a little? Maybe they did. That certainly wasn't the case for our game. Our game got turned up as it went along, the physicality in the game was certainly there from our team, and that's where we have to be right off the hop (Sunday).

"Can we get a team that maybe has to restart after shutting it down for the last half of the game? I don't know if there is much carryover, but I'd like to prove that. I'd like to come right out and prove that there is carryover."

DeBoer doesn't necessarily care how the Devils won Saturday; he just knows it was their third win in a row, and second in as many games against teams that are ahead of them in the standings. The Devils also beat the Rangers in a shootout on Tuesday.

They can make it three straight against the three teams ahead of them in the Atlantic Division standings on Sunday.

"You guys were talking a week ago that we hadn't beaten the best teams in the League and this week I think we've made a statement and have," DeBoer said. "They haven't been textbook wins, but we've found a way to win. Good teams make you look bad in different stretches, and that is what has happened in a couple of them, but full marks to our group for playing shorthanded and finding a way to win games. This is another tough one. It's four in six and a half days here, and we've got to find some energy."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 02.05.2012 / 11:07 AM

By Dave Lozo - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Eminger still waiting for return

NEW YORK -- Despite being medically cleared to play, Rangers defenseman Steve Eminger will not make his return against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon.

"I just wanted to give Emmy another few days," coach John Tortorella said. "It gives him a chance to have a few more days here until he starts getting into the quickness of the game."

Eminger has been out with a separated shoulder since Dec. 17. His next chance to get back into the lineup will be Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils.

When Eminger does play, he will likely replace rookie defenseman Stu Bickel. The 25-year-old was called up right after Eminger suffered his injury in Phoenix and has acquitted himself well in his first taste of the NHL. But Bickel hasn't played more than 7 minutes in any of the Rangers' last seven games.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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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