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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 12:40 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Jets, Panthers

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers face off in a Southeast Division battle at the BankAtlantic Center:

JETS
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Kyle Wellwood
Evander Kane - Nik Antropov - Alexander Burmistrov
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Kenndal McArdle - Tim Stapleton - Blake Wheeler

Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Johnny Oduya - Randy Jones

Ondrej Pavelec
Peter Mannino

Jets coach Claude Noel said he's hoping D Ron Hainsey (upper body) will be cleared to practice by the end of the week and could return to the lineup before the end of Winnipeg's seven-game road trip. Noel said goalie Chris Mason (groin), who was injured in the third period of Thursday's 9-8 victory at Philadelphia, is day-to-day,

PANTHERS
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Scottie Upshall - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky
Marco Sturm - Mike Santorelli - Jack Skille
Shawn Matthias - Tim Kennedy - Matt Bradley

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson

Jose Theodore
Jacob Markstrom

Forward Sean Bergenheim (lower body) and goaltender Scott Clemmensen (knee) both took part in the morning skate, but coach Kevin Dineen said neither will be in uniform tonight and they're not likely to play against Chicago on Thursday, either.
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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 12:34 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sharks shoot for six-game road sweep

NEW YORK -- After giving many of his veterans a day off following the Sharks' 3-2 overtime win against the Islanders on Saturday, coach Todd McLellan put his team through a full morning practice Monday at Madison Square Garden. McLellan is obviously pleased his team can complete its six-game road trip without a blemish with a win against the Rangers tonight, but he wants to see a better effort than the one he saw on Long Island.

"It was a good day for everybody," McLellan said of Sunday. "We had some of the lower-minute guys skate and they got their legs again, and some of our higher-minute guys got a day to rest. We have no excuses heading into tonight's game. We should be rested and have a little more juice than we did on the Island."

Asked the difference between finishing the road trip 6-0 and 5-1, McLellan gave the obvious answer.

"Two very important points," McLellan said. "You talk to Dallas or Chicago at the end of the year last year, and every point is important. Records and streaks and all that type of stuff don't matter."

McLellan said he'll make some decisions about the lineup in the afternoon, but here's what he'll likely use against the Rangers:

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
Andrew Murray - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Jamie McGinn

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brent Burns
Douglas Murray - Dan Boyle
Colin White - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 12:01 PM

By Steve Webb -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Making of a Royal

Former Islander Webb discusses assistant coach role



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.
 
Pat asked if I would like to run a practice or step on the bench to coach the team when he's not able to do it and since I knew the kids, I was able to step in and run a practice or coach a game for him. He then asked me if I wanted to assist him a year ago and help out. He had a game plan in mind in how he wanted to run things ... knowing Pat and his principles and how he handles himself, it's just one of those things that I couldn't turn down.
 
I love the kids, they're hilarious. They always make me laugh when I showed up at the rink. It was just one of those things that made sense to help out, support and assist.
 
I've heard that Pat has labeled me the "softie" when it comes to coaching and I'd have to say that's the case. When I look down the bench just a couple of minutes into a game, he's already got his hands in the air, but I'll always try and settle him down. I'm a typical assistant coach in that regard; but it's what I enjoy doing. This is what I've always wanted ... to help out kids with their futures and make sure they get the best experience possible out of playing the sport.
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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 12:00 PM

NHL.com - Making of a Royal

'Making of A Royal' player blog: Brent D'Iorio

Junior defenseman Brent D'Iorio (Huntington, N.Y.) of the Under-16 Long Island Royals Midget National Team provided NHL.com with a special player's blog this week
 
Hi everyone! This is my third year playing the Royals and it has been a lot of fun, especially since I'm with friends who have been on team for as long as I have ... we all get along really well. This year, we're a lot better than in previous years, so it's exciting.
 
I actually played forward five years ago, but then they switched me to defense. I like defense now, but used to not like it as much. As a defender, I feel like you control the play more, you get to make more decisions no matter what anyone else does and, yeah, I get more ice time. The keys to playing good defense, in my opinion, are making good decisions, making a crisp first pass and helping the team get out of the zone whenever possible.
 
Coach Pat (LaFontaine) and Coach Steve (Webb) are different when it comes to coaching. Coach Pat helps us a lot with systems and our general play. He also helps us get motivated before the games and in between periods. Coach Webb talks to us about simple mistakes we might make and explains to us how we can get past it, move on and get focused.
 
I'm currently partnered up with Aidan Salerno and we work well together. It's good because we play differently so we complement each other. Aidan is more of a defensive-defenseman; he's big (6-foot-2, 185) and stays back. I'm always the one rushing the puck. My favorite NHL player has always been Chris Pronger, even though I'm not a big defenseman (5-10, 160), I like to rush the puck and control it whenever I can.
 
I really like the "Y Athlete" tool that Coach Webb created. It really helps you work on your game and figure out what you did wrong. It really makes you think about what you need to do; what you have to do and what you can do to improve. One of the goals I posted was making the right decisions on the ice and striving to be the best player I could be.
 
It's not that difficult to update. After every game and practice, we can just do it right on the cell phone so it doesn't really require a lot of work, but you just have to be honest.
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Posted On Sunday, 10.30.2011 / 9:32 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

STL @ EDM - 13:16 of the Second Period

At 13:16 of the second period in the Blues/Oilers game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck went off Edmonton Oiler forward Jordan Eberle's right skate and into the net but that the puck was not kicked into the net by Eberle.  According to rule 49.2 "A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal."  Good Goal Edmonton.

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Posted On Sunday, 10.30.2011 / 7:35 PM

NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Noteworthy Beginnings

It's been a wild first month of the season and the haves and have nots are starting to show their colors. Here are my best and most noteworthy performances for the month of October.

Best Team: Pittsburgh Penguins

I think what this team's done with the injuries they have -- obviously Sidney Crobsy is out, Evgeni Malkin has missed a number of games, Brooks Orpik wasn't ready to start the season, now Zbynek Michalek's hurt, Kris Letang was suspended for two games -- is just amazing. They're right there for No. 1 in the NHL. The way they're playing: Marc-Andre Fleury's been great in net, they're getting goals from everybody, everybody's contributing, Jordan Staal's off to a great start, you've got James Neal off to probably his best start as an NHL player, Steve Sullivan is rejuvenated there -- it's just a great job. I really think with what they've overcome and what they've accomplished they've been the best team in October.

If everyone continues to play the way they are when Crosby returns, you've got to think they're the best team in the NHL. Sometimes that's not the case. Sometimes when a star player comes back other guys think, 'Well I don't need to play as hard now because obviously Sid is going to play 25 minutes and I won't get the amount of ice time I did or be as important as I was'. That's what Dan Bylsma has to make sure happens. When they add Crosby to that lineup, keep everybody playing as hard as they are. Then you've got something special.

Best Forward: Phil Kessel, Toronto

He's leading the NHL in points and goals, and Toronto's one of the best teams in the NHL. He's scoring a lot of big goals for Toronto, too. It's not like he's scoring goals when the Leafs are already winning 3-0 and he scores goals 4, 5, and 6. He's scoring game-winning goals and tying goals. He's really playing well 5-on-5 -- just an excellent job. There are a lot of other great jobs done by forwards so far at the start of the year, but nobody matches up to Kessel right now.

He hasn't met expectations for his career yet, but he's still a young guy. He's still maturing. He's better 5-on-5 now. He's competing harder defensively. He's accepted the role of go-to guy. I think he's realized that he's scored 30 goals a number of times in the NHL and yet he's never won anything. Brian Burke wanted him, gave up a lot to get him, and now Kessel is rewarding Brian Burke's thinking. I think a lot of it is just that some guys mature later than others and it's taken him a few years to really "get" the NHL. Scoring goals isn't enough for him anymore. You want to be scoring goals on a good team. You want to make the playoffs. You want to have playoff success. That's what the NHL is all about.

Best Defenseman: Kris Letang, Pittsburgh

If you look at Letang's numbers he's up there with the top scoring defensemen of the NHL. He's up there with most assists in the NHL. He's a plus player. He plays against the other team's top line every night. At the start of the year Orpik wasn't playing and now Michalek's not playing and night in night out this kid is playing the power play, playing good 5-on-5, killing penalties and just doing everything for Pittsburgh. Most nights if he's not the best player on the ice he's one of the best two or three players on the ice. He's done it since Day 1, he got a two-game suspension and he's done it since he's come back. This guy is expected to do a lot in Pittsburgh and in October he's done everything they could have hoped for him to do for them.

His suspension is obviously a bit of a concern, however. He plays on the edge. There's no doubt about it. He's not a big kid, but he's very physical and if he stays on the right edge that's a bonus. That makes people keep their head up when they play against you. Another suspension would be at least four games though, because he's a repeat offender, and Pittsburgh can't afford to lose him for an extended period of time so he's got to be careful. Play on the edge but make sure you don't cross that edge.

Best Goalie: Kari Lehtonen, Dallas

This was my toughest pick. It came down to between Jonathan Quick and Kari Lehtonen, but I'm going to pick Lehtonen. I don't think he's on as good a team as Quick, he's won eight games, he's starting just about all the games, and Dallas is a big surprise. They're not supposed to be where they're at, and if you look at his numbers they're just fantastic numbers. The only place that Quick has him beat really is shutouts, and he's got Quick beat on wins.

What's the most important stat in hockey? It's wins. I think Kari Lehtonen in October has been the best goaltender in the NHL.

You worry because he has had injury problems in the past, but this is as good a stretch as he's had in a long time. He's played in 11 games, and played great. I'm sure Dallas would like to rest him a little bit because he's playing all the time and he's had injury problems. They must be monitoring him very closely. You certainly hope that he'll have an injury free season because he came into the NHL with such high expectations. At times he's looked great, but the majority of his career has been average. Last year when he went to Dallas he played great as well, almost getting them to the playoffs. His injury problems would be a worry to me, however, if I were a Dallas Stars fan.

Biggest Surprise: Dallas Stars

They lost Brad Richards, they didn't get anything back for him, they're a small market team now that can't spend money the way they used to, and here they are at the top of the Western Conference ahead of the Red Wings, the Blackhawks, the Canucks and the Kings. They're just playing great hockey. They're playing very good offense, they're getting great defense, obviously good goaltending, but nobody at the start of the year thought the Dallas Stars at the end of October would be leading the Western Conference.

They're showing that they quietly had a solid offseason. I like the guys they added. Sheldon Souray's been great. He's been running a good power play, he's a big man, he still shoots the puck a ton, he's a plus-player, he's come in and given them good minutes. I've always like Vernon Fiddler. He's a heck of a hockey player. I know he's not getting a ton of points right now, but he will. He's a very solid two-way guy. Radek Dvorak is also a good solid veteran. That is how they're building their team: on cheaper free agents and good two-way guys. Obviously guys like Brenden Morrow, Jamie Benn, Mike Ribeiro -- those guys have to score. They have to put the puck in the net for Dallas and they have been. But if you look at the reason Dallas has been winning you've got to look at timely goals and the guy in net. He's been fantastic and they've been playing great in front of him.

Biggest disappointment
Eastern Conference: Boston Bruins


They're sitting at 3-7-0, they just lost back-to-back games to Montreal, they're not scoring goals, not playing particularly good defense, not particularly playing good anything. This is the team that won the Stanley Cup and their record is 2-5-0 where they've played the majority of their games: at home. That isn't good news for the Boston faithful. This is a team that obviously hasn't jelled yelled, and the crazy thing is Tyler Seguin is off to an unbelievable start. You'd think with that kid playing like this Boston would be sitting high on the hog, but so far not so much. Lucic is starting to go now, but they need to get Horton going, and they need to get Krejci going. They take a lot of bad penalties right now, too. They're very undisciplined and that's got to stop. I didn't think they were as good as Pittsburgh or as good as Philly, but I certainly didn't think they'd be last in the East after one month.

The Stanley Cup hangover could be the culprit. It happened to Chicago last year, too. They had to play great down the stretch just to get into the playoffs. Look at Vancouver, they're off to a slow start also. It's hard with three months off. Obviously, you have other things on your mind and sometimes you forget why you won the Stanley Cup. You think, well we won it last year, we'll win it again. That's not how it works.

Western Conference: Columbus Blue Jackets

I didn't think they'd win the Cup or have a chance of winning the Cup like Boston, but they're the team that went out, made a lot of changes, spent money, got James Wisniewski, made the trade to get Jeff Carter, really sold it to your fans that they were doing what it takes to win and this was going to be the breakout year. But now they've won one game. They won that one game against Detroit and then they lost the next two. They're sitting with three points in that western conference. We never expected them to be great, but we certainly expected them to be fighting for a playoff spot. If you look at Columbus compared to Ottawa, they're a much better team than Ottawa. More mature, bigger, solid, and here's Ottawa with six wins. Columbus is sitting there with one.

They missed Wisniewski, and Carter getting hurt affected them, but look at all the injuries Pittsburgh had? They're still finding ways to win. Injuries aren't an excuse. Other teams are using injuries as a chance for someone else to play more and get off to a good start. It looks like Columbus is using them as an excuse for losing. Beating Detroit should have been a catalyst for a nice little streak, but instead they've lost two in a row again. A month into the season, there aren't a lot of positive signs in Columbus.
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Posted On Sunday, 10.30.2011 / 2:39 PM

NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Leafs, Senators

Here are the projected lines for Sunday night's game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. Both teams held optional skates after playing on Saturday. The Sens beat the Rangers 5-4 in a shootout, while the Leafs held off the Penguins 4-3.

SENATORS

Milan MichalekJason SpezzaColin Greening
Nick FolignoStephane Da CostaBobby Butler
Kaspars DaugavinsZack SmithChris Neil
Erik CondraZenon KonopkaJesse Winchester

Jared CowenSergei Gonchar
Chris PhillipsDavid Rundblad
Filip KubaErik Karlsson

After being called up from Binghamton on Saturday to replace an injured Alex Auld, Robin Lehner will be getting his first NHL start this season, with Craig Anderson serving as backup. According to coach Paul MacLean, he decided to put Lehner in due to the Sens' heavy schedule, which features 4 games in the next 6 days.

There was no update on Daniel Alfredsson after receiving a hit to the head in Saturday’s game against the Rangers. He is still being evaluated.

Nikita Filatov was called up from Binghamton late Saturday night, but will not be playing against the Leafs.

LEAFS

Joffrey Lupul – Tim Connelly – Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthurMikhail GrabovskiNikolai Kulemin
Matthew LombardiTyler BozakMatt Frattin
David Steckel – Phillippe Dupuis – Mike Brown

Carl GunnarssonDion Phaneuf
Jake GardinerLuke Schenn
John-Michael LilesMike Komisarek

Jonas Gustavsson will get the start, with Ben Scrivens be backing him up.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.29.2011 / 11:03 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CBJ @ CHI - 15:41 of the Third Period

At 15:41 of the third period in the Blue Jackets/Blackhawks game, video review upheld the call by referee Dean Morton that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Derick Brassard kicked the puck into the net with his right skate. According to rule 49.2 "a goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net". No goal Columbus.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.29.2011 / 10:59 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CBJ @ CHI - 12:57 of the third period

At 12:57 of the third period in the Blue Jackets/Blackhawks game, video review upheld referee Dean Morton's call on the ice that Chicago Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland kicked the puck into the net. According to rule 49.2 "a goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net". No goal Chicago.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.29.2011 / 9:50 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CBJ @ CHI - 8:46 of the Second Period

At 8:46 of the second period in the Blue Jackets/Blackhawks game, video review upheld referee Stephen Walkom's call on the ice that Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane hit the puck with his stick above the cross bar into the net. No goal Chicago.

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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres