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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:38 PM

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

Projected lineups for Rangers, Panthers

Here's how the lines could look for tonight's game between the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center:

RANGERS
Brandon Dubinsky - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Sean Avery - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Brandon Prust - Erik Christensen - Andre Deveaux

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Michael Sauer
Jeff Woywitka - Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

PANTHERS
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Tomas Kopecky - Evgenii Dadonov
Marco Sturm - Mike Santorelli - Jack Skille
Shawn Matthias - Tim Kennedy - Michal Repik

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

Jose Theodore
Jacob Markstrom
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:32 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Arniel sees better battle from Blue Jackets

NEWARK, N.J. -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel points to his team's ability to battle away from the puck that has made a world of difference over the last week.
 
The coach spoke to the media following his team's brisk workout at Prudential Center on Wednesday in preparation for the New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET).
 
"Our work away from the puck has gotten so much better," Arniel said. "A majority of the game is played between the two dots, from one end of the rink to the other, and the teams that work the hardest through those areas, whether you have the puck or don't have the puck, are the ones who have success. Our play without the puck through those areas has been so much better the last four games. It has allowed us to create turnovers, eliminate odd-man rushes and eliminate second and third chances off shots coming wide."
 
The Blue Jackets enter Wednesday's game riding a season-high two game winning streak and they're just hoping to keep it going against Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who sports a 6-2-2 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and .907 save percentage in 10 career games against Columbus.
 
"During our slump, we had some practices where we went back to the basics and did a lot of drills without the puck, focusing on where we needed to be on the ice and setting ourselves up for offense," Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen told NHL.com. "He's been emphasizing that and we've been executing that on the ice. It just goes to show that if you're good without the puck, it creates a lot more offensive chances for you."
 
While the rookie Johansen hasn't scored in four games, his work ethic as the team's second-line wing hasn't gone unnoticed.
 
"It's tough for young guys to jump into this League and play against full grown men right out of junior," Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash told NHL.com. "Ryan got off to a slow start … I think it was an eye opener as to how fast it was. Lately, he's been one of our more dominant players. He's got all the tools, the size, speed and skill, and he's really come on these last couple of weeks and that's positive to see."
 
For Nash, who has 1 goal and 3 points in back-to-back victories, the season has certainly been tough. But he's optimistic that the team is beginning to turn the corner.
 
"I think there have already been two halves to our season," he said. "The first half, we couldn't squeak out wins, couldn't find ways to win. Now we're in the half where, over the last five games, we've been really good … guys have been on the same page. I really think we're turning the corner. We have a lot of healthy bodies now and that's made a difference."
 
Nash agreed that the team's play away from the puck has also led to success.
 
"When you watch video of Boston and San Jose, their work away from the puck is great," Nash said. "They always come back hard and stop in their zone; earlier in the season, we were getting away from that and trying to get a bit too offensive, but last five games we've been pretty solid."
 
Goalie Curtis Sanford will make his fourth straight start in net. In four games this season, the 32-year-old Sanford is 2-0-1 with a 1.46 GAA and .943 save percentage. In two career appearances against the Devils, he is 0-1-0 with a 3.57 GAA.
 
"Right now, I'm feeling good about my game," Sanford told NHL.com. "Guys are playing well in front of me. It's important for me to stay square and be aggressive on my shot."
 
Here are the probable lines for the Blue Jackets against the Devils:
 
Vinny Prospal - Jeff Carter - Rick Nash
RJ Umberger - Mark Letestu - Ryan Johansen
Samuel Pahlsson - Antoine Vermette - Derek Dorsett
Cody Bass - Derek MacKenzie - Jared Boll
 
Fedor Tyutin - Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot - James Wisniewski
John Moore - Grant Clitsome
 
Goalie Curtis Sanford earns the start and Allen York will serve as backup.


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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:24 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bylsma wants players to enjoy their Thanksgiving

PITTSBURGH -- To paraphrase Hall of Fame announcer Mike Lange, the turkey will be on the Pittsburgh Penguins' tables on Thanksgiving.
 
While some coaches caution their American-born players about overindulging during their holiday feast, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma's recommendation to his players will be to enjoy themselves.
 
The Penguins are playing on the days before and after the holiday -- they meet the Blues on Wednesday and the Senators on Friday -- during a stretch in which they play three games in four days and four in six days. With such a workload, Bylsma obviously feels that a few extra calories probably won't hurt.
 
The Penguins plan to practice Thursday at Consol Energy Center, but will be sent home in time to watch Bylsma's beloved Detroit Lions play their annual Thanksgiving home game, against the unbeaten Green Bay Packers.
 
"I'm going to tell them to eat. I'm going to be eating," Bylsma said. "That's what I’m doing. We'll probably have a practice in the morning, but I'm going to tell them to eat, sleep it off and watch the Lions and the Packers play."
 
In case any players already had some holiday treats at home, Bylsma didn't plan to deliver his message until after the Blues' game.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:22 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Penguins to reward 25-millionth fan

PITTSBURGH -- A Pittsburgh Penguins fan attending Wednesday night's home game against the St. Louis Blues will discover that 25 million is his or her lucky number.

The Penguins plan to honor the 25-millionth fan to attend one of their home games by giving away a road trip to a Penguins game and a Sidney Crosby autographed jersey. Bar code technology will be used to determine when the fan has entered Consol Energy Center.
 
The fan will be notified during the first period and recognized during the second period.

Counting regular season and playoff games, the Penguins have drawn 24,983,853 spectators at home since they joined the NHL in 1967. They have attracted 22,733,362 for regular season games and 2,250,491 for playoff games.

The Blues game will be the Penguins' 220th consecutive home sellout, a streak that began at the now-closed Civic Arena, formerly known as Mellon Arena, and continued when they moved into Consol at the start of the 2010-11 season.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:18 PM

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

Panthers-Rangers a family affair for Dineens

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen comes from a hockey family, and Wednesday night's game against the New York Rangers at the BankAtlantic Center will reunite him with one of his brothers.

Former NHL player and coach Bill Dineen had five sons, all of whom currently work in hockey. Three of them -- Kevin, Gord and Peter -- also played in the NHL.

Jerry Dineen, the second-youngest of the clan at 45, made it as far as the ECHL and he's now a video coach for the Rangers.

"Jer has been a guy that's been around for a long time," Kevin Dineen said after the Panthers' optional skate Wednesday morning. "He's been through I don't know how many coaches, but I don't think that goes to luck. He's a valuable part of that organization and his personality lends itself to long-term stability and (he's) very helpful within the organization. It is special to have him on the other side."

In addition to Kevin and Jerry, Peter Dineen is a scout with Columbus and Shawn Dineen, the youngest brother at 43, is a scout with Nashville.

Gord Dineen, meanwhile, is an assistant coach with the AHL's Toronto Marlies.

But Wednesday, it's Kevin and Jerry.

"He's always been the young guy there and always very endearing to the rest of us," Kevin said of Jerry, who is in his 18th season with the Rangers. "We get to spent a lot of time as families during the summer and stay in touch, and on a night like tonight we're trying to kick each other's tails, no different than we were as young guys."
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:08 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Kings, Stars

Here are the projected lineups for the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars for their matchup at American Airlines Center:

KINGS

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

Jack Johnson - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Rob Scuderi - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
 
STARS
  
Loui Eriksson - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Mike Ribeiro - Tomas Vincour
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Jake Dowell - Tom Wandell - Toby Petersen
Stephane Robidas - Sheldon Souray
Trevor Daley - Nicklas Grossman
Mark Fistric - Philip Larsen

Kari Lehtonen
Andrew Raycroft
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:06 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Stars without Morrow due to 'upper-body issue'

DALLAS -- As the Dallas Stars look to build on a 3-1 home win over Edmonton on Monday night, they will face the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night without a fixture in their lineup, captain Brenden Morrow.

The Stars' mainstay suffered an upper-body injury in the win over the Oilers and after leaving the ice for part of the game, returned to finish the contest. But he wasn't on the ice for a morning skate on Wednesday and has been ruled out for tonight's game.

"In the first period of the Edmonton game, he came off for a bit and then he came and finished the game. He's got a little upper-body issue here," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We don't think he’ll be too long but he’s not going to be available for tonight."

With Morrow out, that means Steve Ott will move to the left side of the second line, a trio centered by Mike Ribeiro and featuring rookie Tomas Vincour on the right. Vincour was recently called up from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, where he had 13 points (10-3-13) in 15 games for Dallas' top minor-league affiliate.

The Czech-born forward saw the ice in 24 games last season for the Stars, but Monday's game against Edmonton marked his first NHL action of this season. Moving to Dallas' No. 2 line represents a big opportunity for the versatile 21-year-old.

"Yeah, if I was Tomas, I'd like it. Yeah, it's a real good opportunity for him," Gulutzan said. "We're not putting heavy pressure on him. We want him to play hard, be sound defensively and use his size and frame down low to create some chances."

After skating on Dallas' fourth line two nights again against Edmonton, the talented young Czech is now looking forward to seeing some ice time alongside Ott and Ribeiro.

"Yeah, it's exciting," Vincour said. "I'm really looking forward to the game tonight and playing with those two guys. At the same time, I need to play my game. I have to do that early job for them, just work hard and did what I did in the first game."

But Vincour won't be the only rookie to see the ice tonight. Defenseman Philip Larsen, who was a teammate of his in the AHL earlier this year, figures to play a second straight game at the blue line paired alongside Mark Fistric.

The Stars will be facing a Los Angeles team that is 2-0-0 against them already this season. The Kings come off a 3-2 win at St. Louis on Tuesday night. Terry Murray's club is currently being led on the offensive end by Anze Kopitar (10-14-24) and newcomer Mike Richards (9-9-18), who has 16 points in his last 18 contests.

Richards is definitely one player the Stars will have to be aware of if they are to beat the Kings for the first time this season tonight in Dallas.

"There is one guy we did watch. We know that he was 15-for-16 on the draws last night. We've got to be good in the circle against them," Gulutzan said. "When he PKs, he'll try to score and he's smart. He's a key guy and then their big line there with [Anze] Koptar. We'll have our hands full but we're ready to go."
 
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 1:03 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Stewart back for Blues after suspension

PITTSBURGH – Chris Stewart returns from a three-game suspension for his hit from behind against the Red Wings’ Niklas Kronwall on Nov. 15 when the St. Louis Blues play Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Stewart received a five-minute major and a game misconduct on the play. Coach Ken Hitchcock said Stewart will return to playing on a line with Matt D’Agostini and Patrik Berglund.
 
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said he “respected” NHL Senior Vice President for Player Safety Brendan Shanahan’s decision to suspend Stewart because the team supports Shanahan’s efforts to enforce player safety measures.
 
The Blues are one of the few teams that have managed to limit Penguins star Sidney Crosby’s production. Crosby, who played his first game of the season Monday night against the Islanders, does not have a goal and is a minus-3 in five career games against the Blues. He does have four assists.
 
The only other teams that Crosby has not scored against are the Blackhawks, Sharks and Oilers.
 
Here’s what the Blues’ lineup could look against during their second game in as many nights. They lost 3-2 at home to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
 
Alexander SteenDavid BackesT.J. Oshie
Matt D’Agostini – Patrik BerglundChris Stewart
Vladimir SobotkaJason ArnottJamie Langenbrunner
Evgeny GrachevScott NicholRyan Reaves
 
Barret JackmanKevin Shattenkirk
Ian ColeAlex Pietrangelo
Kris RussellRoman Polak
 
Brian Elliott, off to a great start with a 7-1 record and a League-leading 1.43 goals-against average and two shutouts, will be in goal. Against Pittsburgh, Elliott is 3-1 with a 3.05 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in five career game. Elliott has stopped 161 of his last 168 shots, a .960 save percentage. In his last start, Elliott beat the Red Wings 2-1.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:58 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Iginla not ready to panic about slow start

DETROIT – Calgary Flames star captain Jarome Iginla has gone through scoring droughts before, so he’s not ready to hit the panic button just yet because he has just five goals and nine points in 19 games heading into a matchup Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.

Two seasons ago, the two-time 50-goal scorer went through a similar dry spell and still wound up with 32 goals and 37 assists – but even those numbers were very uncharacteristic of Iginla, who’d scored 50
goals just two seasons prior.

Much has been made about the pressure Iginla puts on himself to score goals for the Flames, who don’t have a wealth of star power in their top six forwards, but he’s not ready to sound the alarms just because he’s now 34 years old.

“As far as my game, yeah, it’s tough,” said Iginla, who’s scored just one goal and two points in Calgary’s last eight games. “It’s been a tough stretch, there’s no question. But I’m going to remain positive. I don’t think it’s helpful for myself, personally, in my game to feel sorry for myself or get too frustrated or get negative. I’m going to work and I’m going to go over things I think I can improve on and keep going and I believe it will change.”
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:55 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Morrison set to return for Flames

DETROIT – Brendan Morrison’s knee is good enough to get back into the active lineup, so that’s what will happen Wednesday night when he joins the Calgary Flames for a game against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

After Morrison didn’t score a goal or point in eight games to start the season, the Flames decided to put him on injured reserve Nov. 8 to do more conditioning work and put his surgically-repaired left knee through more rehab work. Morrison started the season as Calgary’s second-line center and said he felt enough to go. However, practice intensity differed from game intensity and he didn’t feel confident in the knee holding up during games. Now, he’s feeling confident it’s ready to go.

“It’s better for sure,” Morrison said Tuesday. “A little more time helps the (healing) process and just mentally trusting it more. That was the biggest issue early on was not really trusting it and not engaging anybody for fear of being beat and having to chase guys. That has improved over the past 2-1/2 weeks, so I’m excited to try it again and get back to work.”

Calgary head coach Brent Sutter said he’ll get back to work Wednesday night against the Wings – replacing Matt Stajan at center on the fourth line. Morrison said he doesn’t think his decision to start the season in the active lineup was a rushed decision.

“When I came back, I was practicing and felt good in practice,” he said. “There was no issue at all. That’s where I was at that point in time. I felt like I was ready and it was comfortable in practices, but going into the games it was evident I was still lacking a little bit. So, that’s when we made the decision to kind of take some time and work on it.”
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