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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 4:35 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Kostitsyn out; Predators skates no longer optional

Top-six Nashville forward Sergei Kostitsyn wasn’t on the ice Thursday morning, but for a change it wasn’t because the Predators’ game-day skate was optional.

Kostitsyn will sit out in Vancouver on Thursday night with what coach Barry Trotz labeled an upper-body injury suffered during a 1-0 loss in Calgary on Tuesday. The rest of the Predators skated, something they hadn’t always been forced to do lately.

“Our skates aren’t optional anymore,” Trotz said. “I changed it because our games started becoming optional so we won’t have optional skates until we get this corrected.”

“This” is a 1-4-1 stretch that includes the shutout loss to the Flames and just three goals in their last three games. Losing Kostitsyn might hurt if he was playing like the guy tied for team lead in scoring last season, but he only has three goals on the season and none in the last 11 games, a stretch in which he only had points (three assists) in one game.

Trotz said “a plethora” of wingers will replace him on the second line, but atop the list for the first shot is rookie Craig Smith, who leads the team with seven goals and 17 points, and has shown signs of chemistry with center Mike Fiscer. Kyle Wilson, called up from the AHL after Blake Geoffrion was hurt in Edmonton on Monday, will make his season debut centering the fourth line, but Trotz isn’t expecting him to help a sputtering offense. He does expect his forwards to spend more time in front of the opposing net.

That’s especially true against a goalie as hot as Canucks starter Cory Schneider.

“He’s seeing the puck right now, everything seems to be in slow motion for him,” said Trotz, who did give his team Wednesday off before wrapping up their second five-game road trip already this season in Vancouver. “You have to get to the net and take his eyes away. A goaltender is less of a goaltender if he can’t see the puck.”

According to Trotz, too many goalies are seeing it too easily against his team.

“We were just too light on the puck, staying on the perimeter too much. We’re going to gave to get to the interior tonight,” continued Trotz, citing Patrick Hornqvist as the one of the few that does it enough. “We need more guys to do that, we’ve got some guys that don’t want to go there. … We have to be a bit more determined to get pucks to the net. We don’t have that shot first mentality, we got a pass-first mentality, a turnover mentality and we just gotta put pucks into that blue paint and go get them.”

Here are the lines Trotz will likely use at Rogers Arena tonight.
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Martin Erat - Mike FisherCraig Smith
Jordin TootooJerred Smithson - Nick Spaling
Matt HalischukKyle Wilson - Brian McGrattan

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Jack Hillen - Kevin Klein
Jonathan Blum - Roman Josi

Pekka Rinne will start in goal, and is hoping for better luck after being victimized by terrible bounces during a 5-1 loss in Vancouver in late October, while Anders Lindback will back up.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 4:30 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Barry's Mullet of the Week: Sidney Crosby

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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 4:09 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Report: Ducks' Ryan off the trade market

Any hockey fan trying to dream up a trade that would bring Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan to their favorite team is going to have to find something else to spend their time on.

According to Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet, Ducks General Manager Bob Murray met with Ryan today and told him he's off the trade market.

Ryan had told the Orange County (Calif.) Register earlier in the week that he "wouldn't be surprised" if he were traded.

The 24-year-old forward is a three-time 30-goal scorer who would be a wonderful addition to any team, and the New York Post reported the New York Rangers were among the many teams that inquired about Ryan's availability.

However, if Kypreos' report is true, those teams will have to find a different player to target to fill their needs.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:52 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose provides suit jacket advice for Dale Hunter

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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:19 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place: Coaching Carousel

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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:08 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Sanford earns eighth straight start

CALGARY -- The message from Columbus Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel is simple – keep playing well, keep playing.

Goaltender Curtis Sanford has earned his eighth consecutive start tonight, against the Calgary Flames, after stopping 30 of 33 shots against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.

"Right now, he's earned the opportunity to continue to be back in the net," Arniel said. "He's been very good for us. He's given us a chance to win. We're just taking this a game at a time, and if he continues to play the way he is, he's going to get another look."

Sanford has been impressive in eight games this season for Columbus, posting a 3-2-2 record with a 1.61 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.

Sanford said he isn't sure where this run of success has come from.

"I really don't know," Sanford said. "I'm just really enjoying being here. That's the big thing. I'm really enjoying coming to the rink every day. I'm not putting as much pressure on myself to be great, I'm just taking it day by day and breaking the season down that way. It's just really fun to come to the rink."

The 32-year-old has played in just 116 NHL games over the course of his 13-year professional career, but has found inspiration in the likes of Tim Thomas, who emerged as an All-Star-caliber goaltender in his 30's.

"Absolutely, he's a perfect example," Sanford said. "Him and Dwayne Roloson are perfect examples for a guy like me just to never give up and keep improving, wait for an opportunity, and when you get it, just be ready for it. So far things have gone well. It's still early in the season, it's only eight games, but I hope to keep building on it."

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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:07 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Raymond making return after scary injury in Cup Final

Cory Schneider is back in goal for a seventh straight start Thursday against the Nashville Predators, but the team in front of him has changed with the return of Mason Raymond up front and Aaron Rome back in for an injured Sami Salo on defense.

Salo tweaked his groin kicking a puck out of his skates during Tuesday’s 4-1 win against Columbus and was listed as day-to-day by coach Alain Vigneault, who doesn’t think the injury is serious.

Salo’s spot alongside Alexander Edler on the second pairing will be taken by Rome, who hurt his hand blocking a shot four games ago but was ready to return for the last one. With Vancouver winning a season-high five straight, however, he couldn’t get back into the lineup.

“It’s been a mixture of both,” Rome said after a heavily optional game-day skate Thursday morning. “My hand is feeling well but the coach has to make a decision and the guys are playing well and you don’t want to change anything.”

That includes the goaltending, with Roberto Luongo on the bench for a fifth consecutive game as the backup because Schneider has stopped 164 of 168 shots during a win streak that started with Luongo hurt. But it does not extend to the forward group, where Mason Raymond will play his first game since breaking his back in Game 6 of the Cup Final.

Raymond, a top-6 forward with 40 goals over the last two seasons, comes back on a third line with rookie Cody Hodgson at center and fellow speedster Jannik Hansen on the other side. As for what to expect from Raymond, even coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t sure.

“I know physically he feels good,” Vigneault said. “It will be interesting to see mentally how he handles a game. Practicing and playing are two different elements.”

Raymond said he can only control how hard he works, but may feel better after a hit.

“I’ve had some good practice and I’ve had some good bumps but that (first hit) will be a little bit of a benchmark to see how I really feel,” Raymond said of his first game since June 13. “I may feel a little more at ease once I get that first bump.”
Canucks expected lineups:
Malhotra drops down to the fourth line to make room for Raymond, with Aaron Volpatti coming out of the lineup as a healthy scratch
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin – Alex Burrows
David Booth - Ryan KeslerChris Higgins
Mason Raymond- Cody Hodgson -– Jannik Hansen
Manny Malhotra - Maxim Lapierre - Dale Weise
Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alex Edler – Aaron Rome
Andrew Alberts - Keith Ballard
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 2:28 PM

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

Pronger recovering from knee, 'virus'

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said surgery on his knee Tuesday went well, but that's about all the good news he had in speaking with reporters Thursday.

The Flyers estimated their captain could be out a month recovering from the procedure to clean up loose bodies in his left knee, but Pronger said he really has no idea how long he'll be out.

"I haven't started my rehab," he said. "As I progress I'll know more. Gauging off when I had my other knee done a couple years ago, a month sounds about right. It may be three weeks, may be six weeks. We gave a ballpark number because we don't know."

Pronger said the knee had been bothering him since he returned from his eye injury Nov. 9.

"It's been gradually getting worst since I came back from the eye injury," he said. "When I stopped skating, as I stared to work out, it started to bother me. I do my daily workouts and try to do legs every other day. It got to the point where I couldn't do my leg workout, so I knew something was wrong. We got the MRI, got on it quickly and got it fixed."

If it's four weeks, Pronger could be back by Dec. 27, and would miss 12 games. Any longer and his participation in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic would be in jeopardy.

"If it was the playoffs and the Stanley Cup Final, I could play," he said. "It was to the point where I wouldn't have played very well. We always say we can play, but at what level and what detriment are you playing? This stage of the season … it was prudent to get it done now so that if I'm able to return in four weeks, then I'm able to get three weeks in before the All-Star break and put the hammer down after that for the playoff push and stretch drive."

More troubling than the knee, however, is the reason Pronger missed four games prior to having surgery.

The team said he had a virus, but Pronger said neither he nor the doctors he's met with have any idea what's been affecting him.

"We said it was a virus but I didn't know what it was," he said. "I've never felt like that before -- headaches, nausea, all the rest of that. I had a concussion test, did the baseline test and passed that. I've just never felt like this where you get light-headed, you have headaches, you're nauseous. It's been a bit of a mystery what exactly is going on. Did some blood work, and we're trying to get to the bottom of what's going on."

Pronger said he's feeling a bit better, but still isn't 100 percent.

"We're still trying to ascertain what's going on," he said. "I've never felt like this before. I don't really know what's going on."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 2:14 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Jets look to rebound, plus a look at their lines

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets began a long home stretch on Tuesday night looking to set a tone for December’s home-heavy slate.

But a sloppy 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators at the MTS Centre that began a run of 13 of 15 games on home ice left coach Claude Noel exasperated. The Jets blew a third-period lead to the Senators and reverted to many of the same bad habits that had plagued them earlier this season.

Still, Noel chose not to dwell on the loss and put the Jets through only a light workout on Wednesday morning.

“For us, I think that we move past [Tuesday’s loss],” Noel said. “We’ve got to play with some good energy tonight.”

The Jets still saw some fall-out from the loss on Wednesday when the club recalled 20-year-old left wing Carl Klingberg from St. John’s of the American League. Klingberg, a 2009 second-round pick, ranked second on the IceCaps with 9-7-16 numbers. Klingberg is expected to dress for tonight’s game.

The Jets remain without the services of defensemen Tobias Enstrom, Brett Festerling, Ron Hainsey, Randy Jones and Derek Meech, who are all on injured reserve. Center Nik Antropov and Eric Fehr are both banged up and will be game-time decisions.

Here are tonight's projected lines and pairings for the Jets.

Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Alexander Burmistrov - Eric Fehr
Carl Klingberg - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Mark Stuart - Dustin Byfuglien
Johnny Oduya - Zach Bogosian
Arturs Kulda - Mark Flood

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason backing up.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 2:04 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Capitals happy for Boudreau's new employment

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Bruce Boudreau didn't spend much time without an NHL head coaching job, and several of his former players are thankful for that.

The Washington Capitals woke up Thursday morning preparing to face the rival Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center, but they also found out about Boudreau's new gig in Anaheim just three days after he lost his job coaching them.

"I saw it on the ticker on SportsCenter this morning, and you know what? Good for him -- I'm glad he got a new job so quickly, and to a team that with his system will do a great job," defenseman Jeff Schultz, one of four guys on the Capitals who played for Boudreau both in Washington and for Hershey in the American Hockey League.

Boudreau was the fastest coach in NHL history to 200 wins after helping transform the Capitals into one of the League's dominant franchises in the regular season. Postseason success eluded the Capitals, and the team dropped 10 of 15 games after a 7-0-0 start this season, leading to Boudreau's dismissal.

The Ducks are in a similar situation to the one Boudreau walked into four years ago in Washington. Anaheim is in 14th place in the Western Conference despite having a roster laden with several elite talents.

"It is good for him," forward Brooks Laich said. "He did a lot around here and we knew he'd land on his feet. I think he's going into a good situation. They have a good team and he'll be excellent for them."

The Capitals were a young, unproven team when Boudreau arrived and molded them into contenders. Anaheim is not a young team, and the core of this team has already won a Stanley Cup.

That said, the Ducks have not played well this season with Randy Carlyle as coach, and  it is possible Boudreau's more offensive-minded philosophy could energize them.

"Yeah, he's a great guy and a great coach," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. "I don't think it is going to be a problem for him and for that team to connect [with] each other."
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