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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 1:48 PM

By Alan Robinson - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Streaking Senators have passed Pens in standings

PITTSBURGH -- There will be a desperate team on the ice when the Ottawa Senators take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday night. And it won't be the streaking Senators.
The Penguins, on top of the Eastern Conference standings only a month ago, have tumbled to eighth place while losing their last four, six of 10 and seven of 12. The Senators, by contrast, are 5-0-1 in their last six and 8-1-2 in their last 11, vaulting them into fifth place in the conference.
After rallying from two goals down to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-4 on Sunday, the Senators (22-15-6) should have plenty of momentum heading into their second trip to Pittsburgh this season. They'll need it, as they play 10 of their next 11 on the road, a stretch that includes only one home game before their arena plays host to the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 29.
"We've got to worry about what we can control, and that's how we prepare for our game," goaltender Craig Anderson said Tuesday. "Make them adjust to how we're playing, and obviously we're playing very good hockey right now and finding ways to win. We've got to continue with the same mentality we've been going on the last few games, and try to continue with that success."
That's what the Penguins (21-15-4) don't want to do -- continue with the same mentality they've had the last few games. Defenseman Brooks Orpik, upset with what he felt were unnecessary penalties, said there must be more accountability on the ice. Coach Dan Bylsma wants to avoid letdowns that he believes are occurring far too frequently.
The Penguins should get a boost from the surprise return of right wing James Neal, who was expected to be out weeks with what was initially diagnosed as a broken foot that occurred Saturday against the Devils. An MRI exam revealed he has only a badly bruised foot.
"We've got to get back on track and it starts tonight," Neal said. "I'm just happy I'm OK to play."
Forward Eric Tangradi, called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) for the third time this season, slides onto a line with Pascal Dupuis and Tyler Kennedy as Pittsburgh tries to avoid its first five-game losing streak since Dec. 27, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010.
Ottawa will have one lineup change, with defenseman Brian Lee replacing Matt Carkner as Chris Phillips' partner. Lee, who adds a speed element, sat out the last two games. Carkner had played five straight.
"We want to make sure we keep Brian Lee playing as well," coach Paul MacLean said. "The two are going to have to rotate depending on how we play."
Here are the likely lineups for the third of four games between the teams this season; they split the first two. Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist in both games for Pittsburgh.
Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek
Erik Condra - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Kaspars Daugavins - Zenon Konopka - Bobby Butler
Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Brian Lee
Alex Auld will be the backup goalie.
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Eric Tangradi - Pascal Dupuis - Tyler Kennedy
Steve Sullivan - Richard Park - Matt Cooke
Arron Asham - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Brooks Orpik - Matt Niskanen
Ben Lovejoy - Deryk Engelland
Brent Johnson, 8-2-1 with a 2.31 goals-against average against the Senators, will make his first start since he allowed five goals on 10 shots during the second period of a 6-4 loss in Ottawa on Dec. 16. Marc-Andre Fleury, who started the previous eight games, will go Wednesday night in Washington as the Penguins play back-to-back games for the second time in a week. They lost at home by identical 3-1 scores to the Rangers on Friday and the Devils on Saturday.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 1:40 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

No 'Mo' as Flames set to battle Devils

CALGARY -- The infirmary is still full for the Calgary Flames.

With seven players still on the injured reserve list and forward Brendan Morrison not quite ready for a return, Calgary will roll with the same lineup from Saturday's 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.

"Status quo," Calgary coach Brent Sutter said.

Morrison originally thought he'd be ready to go for tonight's matchup against the New Jersey Devils, who drafted him in 1993 and with whom he broke into the League.

"I thought tonight might be a good chance, it's not quite there," Morrison said. "No, I won't play tonight, no. Maybe Thursday, we'll see."

Morrison is out with what the team is describing as an upper-body injury.

"It's progressing but it's not at the point where I can really battle yet, so there's no point in playing if you can't even engage guys," said a disappointed Morrison.

Frustration is mounting in the veteran of 921 career NHL games. Morrison has missed over a dozen of Calgary's 43 games this season between this injury and the lingering effects of knee surgery last year.

"Watching games? I'm sick of it, yeah, it's brutal," Morrison said. "You think it's such a small thing, but it just kind of lingers. You have to deal with it. What do you do? When you're watching you kind of feel helpless."

Tonight's projected lineup:

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Paul Byron - Blair Jones - Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich
Clay Wilson - Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Wild's Cullen set to skate in 1,000th game

ST. PAUL -- When Moorhead, Minn., native Matt Cullen decided to sign with his hometown Wild two summers ago, he knew playing for Minnesota could perhaps be the final chapter of a solid National Hockey League career.

Tonight, that career reaches quite a milestone as the veteran center, who has also skated for five other teams, will play in his 1,000th career NHL game when the Wild host the Sharks.

"It's a fun time to look back," Cullen said. "It's been a long ride, been a lot of fun and I'm pretty lucky to be where I am. It's exciting."

Cullen has been asked a few times in recent days about some of his favorite games. He said one stands out clearly in his mind.

"Oh yeah, Game 7 for sure, Stanley Cup Finals," Cullen said, referring to the Carolina Hurricanes' run to the Cup in 2006. "That's the ultimate for a player, and to win that at home, that's definitely the best memory."

Cullen also remembers his first shift in the League in 1997-98, when the Anaheim Ducks were still the Mighty Ducks.

"It's funny how fast it goes, but I've enjoyed it," Cullen said. "I love the game. It's been good to me. It's been more than I ever could have asked for."

Over his first 999 career games, Cullen has scored 191 goals and added 332 assists. With three shots on goal tonight, Cullen will also record his 2,000th NHL shot.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 1:26 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Marchand says he got the message

BOSTON -- If Brad Marchand's five-game suspension for his clip on Vancouver's Sami Salo accomplishes anything positive, the Boston Bruins winger hopes it sets a precedent for similar plays by other players in the future.

"I expect if there's any more hits like this that they'll be penalized the same way. Otherwise, it will be a double standard," Marchand said after his team's morning skate at the TD Garden in preparation for a night game with Winnipeg. "But until we see more hits like this, we can't say that. So hopefully when hits like this arise from now on, they'll be penalized the same way."

Marchand, whose suspension will start tonight, used a similar check Canucks forward Mason Raymond executed on him last June in the Stanley Cup Final as part of his argument against discipline. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, in comments made Monday, also cited other hits, including ones by other Canucks, that were similar in nature to Marchand's hit on Salo.

Marchand, it was revealed in a statement released by the Bruins after the announcement of the suspension, also had sought out clarification about hip checks as way to protect oneself at the beginning of this season. Now Marchand has even more clarification in the matter.

"I'm a small guy, I play low to the ice and that's a way that I've protected myself in the past, and I just felt that it was better to be safe than sorry. And I brought it up to him," Marchand said in regards to NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. "And when I walked away from the conversation, he told me that when protecting myself, that's OK in that situation. So when that situation arose, I felt that I was protecting myself and I was allowed to do it, and that's why I did it.

"Well, I guess it's clear that I'm not allowed to do that and guys around the League aren't allowed to do that," Marchand continued. "They tried to make that clear and I'm going to do something else next time."

Marchand has carved out a career in the NHL both with his goal-scoring prowess and his ability to play on the edge in terms of physicality and trash talk. Last season he earned a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Columbus' RJ Umberger, and this season he was fined for slew-footing Pittsburgh's Matt Niskanen.

In the past, Bruins coach Claude Julien has felt the need to chat with Marchand in order to rein in the rambunctious forward. But this time, Julien doesn't think there's need for such a talk.

"I think Brad heard enough -- [saw] enough. He said he's going to try and adjust his game," Julien said. "Give him credit, he's a young kid that keeps trying to improve his game and get better in that area. It's not like he's denying anything, he tries to get better and we helped him along that way, and I think that’s what I appreciate about Brad. He's not hiding behind the fact and saying, 'I don't do anything wrong.' He knows the referees will watch him closely and he knows he has to get better in that area. Not only does he get under teams' skin, but also the referees, and he knows that stuff. At the same time, we know that his playing on the edge makes him a good player. We got to work with him, not against him and got to help him make sure his game is fine-tuned to the point where those things happen less and less."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 1:12 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Burns returns to Minnesota as Sharks face Wild

ST. PAUL -- Tonight's game between San Jose and Minnesota is definitely a tale of two teams heading in opposite directions. The Sharks have won eight of their last 10 games and have captured at least one point in 12 of 14 games since the Wild won 2-1 Dec. 6 at HP Pavilion.

Minnesota has continued to struggle and has yet to win a game in 2012. Exactly one month ago, the Wild defeated Phoenix 4-1 to capture their seventh consecutive win. At the time, Minnesota was the best team in the National Hockey League.

What a difference a month makes.

The Wild have won just once since then, and have tumbled to the precipice of the Western Conference playoff race, just one point ahead of both Colorado and Dallas for the eighth and final postseason spot. Their record over that stretch is a brutal 1-8-3.

"We've watched their game, and I'm not sure their record is indicative of their play," Sharks coach Todd McClellan said. "They're doing some good things as a team, and they still have their identity they are playing towards. The difference is maybe a post that goes against them that used to go in.

"I think we'll have our hands full, especially in the first 10 or 15 minutes of this game."

Tonight's game also marks the return of popular former Wild defenseman Brent Burns to Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota's first round pick in 2003 Entry Draft, Burns spent the first seven seasons of his NHL career with the Wild before being traded to San Jose last offseason for Devin Setoguchi, a prospect and a draft pick.

Burns scored 46 points for the Wild last season, and though he's quite a bit off that pace (he has just 13 points in 38 games), he's offered the Sharks a steady offensive threat from the blue line and a plus-10 rating.

"I'm excited and nervous to come back," said Burns, who still owns a home in the area. "The first one is always going to be tough. Driving through the city, seeing places I used to eat. Staying at the hotel was a little weird. But it's been fun."

Burns, who was a fan favorite and a staple in the community, should receive a warm welcome when introduced this evening.

"It was tough to see him leave," said Wild defenseman Nick Schultz, one of Burns' best friends. "He was a great player for this team and a big part away from the rink too."

Many in Minnesota expected Marco Scandella to be his eventual replacement with the Wild, and after he made the team out of training camp, Scandella was extremely solid over the season's first couple of months. But his play of late has been indicative of the team's, and on Monday, the Wild sent Scandella back to AHL Houston, where he spent a large chunk of last season. A minus-10, Scandella has just six points in 30 games this season.

The move should free up playing time for the veterans among Minnesota's defensive corps. Greg Zanon and Mike Lundin have been healthy scratches several times over the last week, and coach Mike Yeo has said the numbers game back there has put some undue pressure on all his defensemen.

"Just because he's down doesn't mean we can't bring him right back up," Schultz said. "Guys have to go out and perform and do their job."

Goaltender Josh Harding will earn the start tonight for Minnesota. He started the game a month ago in California and allowed a goal before being knocked from the game just over a minute in after taking a stick to the head.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 1:10 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Concussion symptoms land Wild's Bouchard on IR

ST. PAUL -- The most surprising news out of the Minnesota Wild's morning skate came from general manager Chuck Fletcher, who announced forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard has been placed on injured reserve because of lingering concussion-like symptoms.

Bouchard, who missed Minnesota's game in Calgary on Saturday and sat out practice Monday, was believed to have a groin injury. Fletcher said his groin was a problem, too, but since he took a check from behind from Zach Bogosian in Winnipeg last month, Fletcher said Bouchard has "felt a little pressure from time to time."

Bouchard initially missed a couple of games right after the hit with a broken nose and some facial lacerations. The concussion diagnosis for him is more alarming because of his history with that injury -- Bouchard missed 81 games in 2009-10 with the same injury.

Along with fellow second-liner Guillaume Latendresse, also out indefinitely with a concussion, the slumping Wild are now down two of their best scorers -- not the best news for a team ranked 29th in the NHL in goals scored.

"Our recipe can't change," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "More than anything else, this is our opportunity to get back to that fight. I don't think we've had that lately.

"Looking at the goals we scored [when the Wild were winning], we'd be spearing pucks into the net, guys crashing and falling into the crease. If that's what we need to do, then that's what we need to do. But let's not just say it stinks to have this guy out. Let's get that fight."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 1:08 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Wild, Sharks

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Minnesota Wild host the San Jose Sharks at Xcel Energy Center:


Devin Setoguchi - Mikko Koivu - Dany Heatley
Cal Clutterbuck - Matt Cullen - Casey Wellman
Darroll Powe - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
David McIntyre - Warren Peters - Brad Staubitz

Nick Schultz - Jared Spurgeon
Marek Zidlicky - Justin Falk
Clayton Stoner - Greg Zanon

Josh Harding
Niklas Backstrom

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryan Clowe - Logan Couture - Benn Ferriero
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Tommy Wingels

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Jason Demers - Brent Burns
Douglas Murray - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 12:58 PM

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

Projected lineups for Coyotes, Rangers

NEW YORK -- The Phoenix Coyotes are looking for a course correction as they pay a visit to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night to face the New York Rangers.

The Coyotes have lost six of eight and 10 of 15 to slip to 11th place in the Western Conference, three points back of the eighth and final playoff spot.

The Coyotes held an optional practice Tuesday morning with only scratches and injured players taking part, but here is what the lines looked like during their 5-1 victory against the Islanders on Saturday:

Ray Whitney - Kyle Chipchura - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Lauri Korpikoski - Marc-Antoine Pouliot - Taylor Pyatt
Raffi Torres - Patrick O'Sullivan - Cal O'Reilly

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
David Schlemko - Rostislav Klesla

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

Meanwhile, the Rangers held an optional practice of their own in Greenburgh on Thursday morning. Reports indicate they won't be making any lineup changes, which means it will be Henrik Lundqvist in net with Wojtek Wolski and Erik Christensen once again healthy scratches.

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Carl Hagelin - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Mike Rupp - John Mitchell - Brandon Prust

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Marc Staal - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 12:48 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Hurricanes lose LaRose to injury, projected lineups

The Hurricanes will be without forward Chad LaRose, who sustained an upper-body injury in practice. Jerome Samson has been recalled from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League.

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Danny Briere - Maxime Talbot - Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Harry Zolnierczyk - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Braydon Coburn - Kimmo Timonen
Andreas Lilja - Andrej Meszaros
Marc-Andre Bourdon - Matt Carle

Sergei Bobrovsky will start in goal with Ilya Bryzgalov serving as the backup.

Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Andreas Nodl - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinen - Jerome Samson
Brett Sutter - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

Tim Gleason - Jamie McBain
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Jaroslav Spacek - Bryan Allen

Cam Ward will start in goal with Justin Peters serving as the backup.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 12:46 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Bruins coming off loss, Marchand suspension

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets have already staged two tooth-and-nail matchup during their split season series so far in 2011-12.

The Bruins won their home game, 4-2, with an empty-netter sealing the deal, while the Jets hung on for a 2-1 victory in their building. Tonight at the TD Garden, the Jets might have to face a Bruins team with a bit more anger over both its loss to Vancouver on Saturday and the five-game suspension handed out to forward Brad Marchand.

"Well, we hope it's not a bad thing and they get mad at us," Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said after his team's morning skate. "They have a good team, they play well and they've got a lot of depth. And we've got enough to worry about with them as an opponent that we're going to have to get our emotional level up because they play hard, they're hard to play against, they don't give you much."

Noel said that forward Tim Stapleton, who missed Winnipeg's win in Buffalo on Saturday with the flu, might return tonight. But it's doubtful forward Alexander Burmistrov will play because of a lower-body injury that already cost him one game. Burmistrov said he felt better today than he did over the weekend after taking the morning skate.

With Marchand out, the Bruins should shift their lines around. Benoit Pouliot figures to move onto left wing next to Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, while Zach Hamill will get into the lineup and should center Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.

The goaltending duos for both teams left the ice at the same time with their respective squads, so we won't know the official goaltending matchup until pregame warm-ups. Here are the projected lineups:

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Benoit Pouliot - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Chris Kelly - Zach Hamill - Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Eric Fehr
Kyle Wellwood - Patrice Cormier - Antti Miettinen
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Tobias Enstrom - Zach Bogosian
Johnny Oduya - Ron Hainsey
Mark Stuart - Randy Jones

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason

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Quote of the Day

We've got a team filled with captains, that's what I think. With these first two games we got in, we're really dominating and moving the puck really fast, and it's worked out really good.

— U.S. goalie Brandon Halverson after a 6-0 win against Germany in the World Junior Championship on Sunday