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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 6:16 PM

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

Rangers add Stralman to blue line

NEW YORK -- The Rangers officially announced the signing of defenseman Anton Stralman on Saturday to a one-year, $900,000 contract. It was originally reported just minutes before the Rangers played the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, but the terms of the agreement weren't hammered out until now.

The Rangers had been playing with just six defensemen on the roster, so the signing of Stralman provides some much-needed depth. The 25-year-old has played 212 games over parts of four seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets. He was in camp with the New Jersey Devils on a try-out basis, but he was unable to make the team.

Full Transcript: Tortorella

New York -- When John Tortorella was asked about new defenseman Anton Stralman, he responded with the following:
"What does Stralman bring to the club?"
"Your new defenseman."
"No idea."
"Do you have any idea when he'll be available?"
"No idea."
"Any other news on Rupp?"
"Is he on IR?"
"I have no idea."
"How about Wolski's MRI from yesterday?"
"I have no idea."
"Let's try this one: Do you know what line Sean is going to start on?"
"No idea."
"What's your mom's birthday?"
"I have no idea."
Coach John Tortorella didn't offer any insight into what he expects from Stralman, saying "no idea" when asked what he'll bring to the team and when he'll be available.

Stralman spoke to the media after the Rangers' 5-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night about his plans for joining the team.

"I'm really excited," Stralman said. "Obviously, coming in here and getting to know the guys first, then get into the practices again and the game routines. It's been a while so it's going to take a little time here to get back into game shape, but I'm going to work hard to do it.

"I had a rough camp with the Devils so I've been practicing hard. It's different practicing with a Division 1 team (in Sweden) than the NHL, but I'm going to get back pretty quick on that."

The right-handed Stralman has the ability to provide offense from the blue line. In 73 games with the Blue Jackets two seasons ago -- the most he's played in one NHL season -- he had 6 goals and 28 assists, with 4 of the goals coming on the power play.

Stralman returned to his native Sweden after the Devils decided not to sign him, but he's back in New York.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 5:37 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Back to the grind for Rinne

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Two days ago, Nashville's Pekka Rinne recorded what Predators coach Barry Trotz called a goalie's hat trick. He signed a seven-year, $49 million contract, celebrated his 29th birthday and shut out the Phoenix Coyotes 3-0.

It was a day Rinne said he'll never forget, but now he's back to the regular NHL grind, and he'll be back on the ice Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks.

"I think now it's back to normal, back to our routines," Rinne said Saturday morning, outside of the Predators' dressing room at HP Pavilion, as some of his teammates went through an optional skate. "But yeah, the other day was an amazing day. A lot of things happened for me in one day. It was a special day."

Rinne was in goal on Nov. 25 when the Sharks beat the Preds 3-1 in Nashville. He faced 35 shots and gave up two goals, one to Joe Pavelski and one to Logan Couture.

"They are a really good team," Rinne said. "It's going to be a good challenge for us. Last time we played a good game, actually. It was a good matchup. We usually play pretty good games against these guys. It's a good challenge for us. They have a lot of firepower up front. Same thing on the blue line, skilled guys. With these guys you always have to be focused and ready and alert. All the lines, they can score. It's going to be a fun game."

Rinne has had three shutouts in his past six games, giving him 23 for his career.

"To me, obviously it feels great always to get a shutout," Rinne said. "But to me, those are also kind of team accomplishments. Like last game against Phoenix, there were a couple times when I was out of position and our 'D' blocked a shot and saved a sure goal for me that otherwise would have been in the back of my net. Those things, a lot of time you need everybody. It's not only me. It's nice, though."

Trotz said the way Rinne handled the excitement and pressure Thursday that came with signing his mega-deal showed "the maturity" of his goaltender.

"Last year when (Rinne) was nominated for the Vezina , we all said to ourselves, 'Now our little secret's out,'" Trotz said. "We've known how good he is, and coaches, especially in the Western Conference, know how good he is. I think it's just a little bit of the rest of the hockey world didn't know how good he is."

Nashville defenseman Kevin Klein, who took a puck off an ankle Thursday night against Phoenix, was not on the ice during Saturday morning's optional skate. Trotz said it will be a game-time decision whether Klein plays against the Sharks.

Forward Sergei Kostitsyn skated Saturday morning but will also be a game-time decision, Trotz said. He returned Thursday against Phoenix after missing two games with a lower-body injury.
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 4:33 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks, Predators

Here’s how the lineups could look Saturday night when the Sharks host the Predators at HP Pavilion.


Joe PavelskiJoe ThorntonLogan Couture
Ryane ClowePatrick MarleauTorrey Mitchell
Jamie McGinnMichal HandzusMartin Havlat
Brad WinchesterAndrew DesjardinsAndrew Murray

Dan BoyleDouglas Murray
Brent BurnsMarc-Edouard Vlasic
Justin BraunColin White

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss


Colin WilsonMike FisherPatric Hornqvist
Sergei KostitsynDavid LegwandPatric Hornqvist
Jordin TootooCraig SmithJerred Smithson
Niclas BergforsBlake GeoffrionMatt Halischuk

Ryan SuterShea Weber
Francis BouillonKevin Klein
Jonathon BlumJack Hillen

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 4:28 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Picard set for season debut with Pittsburgh

LOS ANGELES – The back end of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ defense will have a different look when it plays the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

Alexandre Picard will fill in for Ben Lovejoy after Lovejoy suffered a broken wrist. Paul Martin will be a game-time decision with newly recalled Robert Bortuzzo available as insurance.

Picard will make his season debut. He had a groin injury late in camp that prevented him from competing for a spot.

“It’s awesome,” Picard said. “It’s what I’ve been working toward since the summer. Here I am now and I just want to make the most of it.”

With the possibility of new personnel, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said there will be a slight adjustment but not drastic.

“I think we’ll go (over) a few little things,” Fleury said. “But I think we’ll keep it simple and let them do what they do. They’re good players, so I’m not worried about having them in front of me.”

Staal a game time decision: Jordan Staal will be a game time decision, coach Dan Bylsma said. He has skated for the past two days after he’s missed two games with a lower-body injury.

“I’m not sure if coach wants me in or not,” Staal said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Kings struggling offensively: The additions of Mike Richards and Simon Gagne were supposed to improve the Los Angeles Kings’ five-on-five scoring, a sore spot last season.

But through 13 games the Kings are 26th in five-on-five offense after a 3-0 loss to Edmonton on Thursday in which the team managed a season-low 19 shots on goal.

Outside of inserting Kevin Westgarth into tonight's lineup, coach Terry Murray strayed away from lineup changes and players said staying the course is wise.

“As long as we stick with the system, we’ve got some good players here that are going to make plays and we’re going to get some goals,” Richards said. “But just stick with the system, believe in it, trust in it, and eventually it’s going to come.”

Penner disappointing: Los Angeles Kings left wing Dustin Penner can take his share of the blame for the lack of the team’s offense. He has only one point this season and has been demoted to the third line.

Coach Terry Murray said he put Penner there with the idea of having three scoring lines, but he also concurred that Penner might not get enough offensive opportunities playing third-line minutes.

“I’m going to take a look at it,” Murray said. “Is it a concern a little bit? I really believe Penner is a guy that needs to get the puck at the right place at the right time, and players like Kopi (Anze Kopitar) and (Mike) Richards are certainly guys that can give it to him in the right situations.”

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:


Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chris Kunitz - Mark Letestu - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Joe Vitale - Arron Asham
Dustin Jeffrey - Richard Park - Craig Adams

Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Brooks Orpik - Deryk Engelland
Matt Niskanen - Alexandre Picard

Marc-Andre Fleury


Simon Gagne - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Scott ParseMike Richards - Dustin Brown
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Ethan Moreau
Kevin Westgarth - Kyle Clifford - Brad Richardson

Drew Doughty - Willie Mitchell
Jack Johnson - Rob Scuderi
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 4:21 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sharks could stick with new-look lines

SAN JOSE – Shortly after falling behind by two goals in the first period Thursday night against Pittsburgh, Sharks coach Todd McLellan began juggling his lines, and those changes helped spark a 4-3 shootout win.

McLellan liked what he saw from his new-look lines against Pittsburgh, and he said “there’s a good chance” he’ll open with them Saturday night against Nashville.

During the morning skate, regular second-line center Logan Couture worked with the first line at right wing, along with center Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Regular first-line left wing Patrick Marleau centered the second line with Ryane Clowe and Torrey Mitchell, who moved up from the third line. Mitchell swapped places with Martin Havlat, who skated on the third line with center Michal Handzus and left wing Jamie McGinn.

“We’re 11 games into the season. You can get a little bit stale,” McLellan said of the changes. “And we weren’t getting a lot from our third and fourth lines, anyhow. Our other two lines for the most part carried the team on the road trip, but they started to sputter at the end, too. Maybe a fresh look -- it’s time.”

With these changes, McLellan spread the offensive firepower more evenly throughout his top three lines. By moving Marleau to the second line, he believes he created a matchup problem for Nashville, which features one of the league’s top defensive pairs in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.

“They’ll try to match up against one of our big centermen, I’m assuming [Thornton], so that will allow another big body in [Marleau] to play against other pairs. When you put [Marleau] and [Clowe] together, they’re two big men. If they’re playing well, they’re a load to handle down low.”

Havlat said he skated on the same line at times with Handzus five years ago for the Blackhawks.

“He’s very smart with the puck, with the positioning,” Havlat said. “He’s a very good passer and play-maker. He can give you the puck pretty quick. He’s great at both ends, offensively and defensively.”

Couture said the moves make sense after the way the Sharks bounced back against Pittsburgh.

“We obviously knew we didn’t play well in the first period the other night,” Clowe said. “He changes things up and it seemed to turn us around a little bit. We played better after that. I think that’s the seasoning behind it. … Whoever I get to play with I’m glad to. I’ve gone from two good players to two good players. Hopefully I can get something going tonight.”

First-line wing Joe Pavelski is still battling a flu bug, but he was on the ice for Saturday morning’s skate and said he will play against Nashville. Pavelski, who did not practice on Friday, said he felt “better” Saturday.
“It’s something you have to deal with.”

Pavelski said he was dealing with the flu “a little bit” Thursday night against Pittsburgh but didn’t use it as an excuse for going without a point and posting a minus-2.

“I’ve got to be better than I was then,” he said. “First period was not good by any means. We need better starts there. It was good to see guys battle back, not totally waste the whole night.”
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 4:09 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Crosby returns to Pittsburgh, will practice Monday

LOS ANGELES – Sidney Crosby returned to Pittsburgh for a doctor’s appointment and will resume practice Monday, Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said after his team’s morning skate Saturday.

Bylsma said there remains no target date for Crosby’s return even though he was cleared to practice last month.

“There’s no time table,” Bylsma said. “There’s no date. There’s no point in the future we’re talking about yet. It’s just a scheduled appointment and progression down the road for Sidney.”

Crosby was expected to continue to practice with the team as it concludes its road trip at Los Angeles, but it was learned Saturday morning that he flew back East.

“We have a team building event next week – he didn’t want to miss that,” Bylsma said. “We were able to see the doctor and get that taken care of and he’ll be returning to practice on Monday.”

Crosby has not played since January because of a concussion after he took hits in consecutive games.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 4:02 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Coyotes search for more offense against hot Oilers

GLENDALE, Ariz. – After being shut out for the second time in seven home games on Thursday night, the Phoenix Coyotes will be looking for an infusion of offense Saturday when they take on one of the NHL’s hottest teams in the Edmonton Oilers.
It won't hurt to have their No. 1 goalie in the lineup either. Mike Smith is 4-0-1 and has allowed only 12 goals, and he will be back between the pipes after sitting out Thursday because the team was playing on back-to-back nights. Jason LaBarbera played well, but couldn't do everything in a 2-0 loss to Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators. The Coyotes are now just 3-3-1 at home this season, where they have played seven of their first 12 games and are in the midst of another four-contest homestand.
The Edmonton Oilers are on a six-game winning streak and Nikolai Khabibulin, a Scottsdale resident and the Coyotes goalie for the first four years the team was in Phoenix, is coming off a shutout winThursday in Los Angeles. He will sit out tonight, however, as Edmonton goes with Devan Dubnyk.
The Coyotes had their three-game winning streak smothered by Rinne and the Predators and there will be at least one shake-up to the forwards when Cal O’Reilly, obtained from Nashville a week ago but battling a groin injury, will make his Phoenix debut. To make room for O’Reilly on the active roster, the Coyotes shipped center Andy Miele – who was scoreless but showed promise in a five-game stint with the team – back to Portland of the American Hockey League.
Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said center Martin Hanzal, who missed the loss to the Predators with a lowe- body injury suffered late in Wednesday’s win at Colorado, will be a game-time decision. But the Coyotes have five days off before they play again after tonight and the team could give the valuable Hanzal the full five days to recover.
Kyle Chipchura, who was brought up from Portland on Thursday and played against Nashville, would be the fourth center for Phoenix tonight.
Edmonton, a team picked by many to be among the worst in the League, is tied for second in the Western Conference with an 8-2-2 record and leads the League in goals against with 18 in their first 12 games. Khabibulin has been a big part of that, but the Oilers also lead the League in blocked shots and Ladislav Smid leads all individuals with 45.
Here are the projected lineups for both teams:


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Jones
Magnus Paajarvi - Eric Belanger - Sam Gagner
Ben Eager - Anton Lander - Lennart Petrell

Ladislav Smid - Tom Gilbert
Corey Potter - Jeff Petry
Theo Peckham - Colten Teubert

Devan Dubnyk
Nikolai Khabibulin

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

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Rostislav Klesla - David Schlemko
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 3:45 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sharks come right back with Niemi

SAN JOSE – Antti Niemi will be back in goal Saturday night for the Sharks against Nashville, two days after giving up two goals in the first two minutes and four seconds against Pittsburgh and getting pulled for backup Thomas Greiss.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said the decision to start Niemi was an “easy” one for him to make, even though Greiss gave up just one goal and stopped 29 of 30 shots in a 4-3 shootout win.

“He’s going to be our goaltender when it counts,” McLellan said Saturday of Niemi after the Sharks’ morning skate at HP Pavilion. “He hasn’t had a lot of time throughout training camp and he needs to play some games. So it’s pretty simple. With that being said, Thomas played extremely well. We all appreciate his effort and he’ll get many more opportunities to play this year, but tonight it’s about [Niemi] getting his game back.”

Niemi, who faced just six shots Thursday, said he’s ready to put the game behind him.

“I think just get right back at it. Hopefully get some saves today early on. For my part, I want to get past that game as fast as possible,” Niemi said.

McLellan said he expects Niemi to bounce back and have a solid game.

“The other night I think there was a real focus on us pulling [Niemi], but if we could have pulled 18 other guys and replaced them, we would have done that, too,” McLellan said. “It just happens to be that position where a goaltender gets yanked and he doesn’t go back in. we expect him to be sharp along with the other 18 guys that are dressed.”

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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 3:29 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Thomas unveils mask for cancer awareness

Tim Thomas has joined the legions of moustaches in November.
Actually Thomas has long had a somewhat famous soup strainer of his own. But now his goaltending mask does too, as the Boston Bruins' star unveiled a new moustache-themed lid prior to Saturday's game in Toronto, and plans to raffle it off for charity later.
The campaign, which launched Saturday through a partnership with InGoal Magazine and The Tim Thomas Foundation, is designed to raise money and to benefit cancer awareness. Raffle tickets will be sold throughout the month, and one lucky winner will be chosen Dec. 16 to take three friends to a Bruins game, meet Thomas and go home with his game-worn Moustache Mask.
As Thomas points out, the mission of his foundation is to "support the underdog" whether the underdog position was developed due to lack of opportunity, lack of education, illness or a disaster.

"I would like to help remove some of the barriers to open opportunities for full, rewarding successful lives,” Thomas said. “The barrier may be a lack of a hot meal, lack of specialized training, a disease or a tragic event. My goals include the support of disease research and awareness, disaster relief efforts for people in our communities, food banks similar to the ones I worked at when I was a kid, or educational programs that provide future opportunities. Our November fundraiser is to benefit Prostate Cancer and we hope to help eliminate barriers associated with the cancer disease. This cause is close to my heart and we are offering a raffle for an incredible prize."
This mask features an image of Lord Horatio Kitchener made famous on a recruiting poster in England during World War I, as well as a new, moustachioed take on the "Beware the Bear" logo that Thomas usually features on the backplate of his everyday mask, altered now to "Beware of the Stache."

For more information, please visit http://ingoalmag.com/masks/moustache-mask/
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Posted On Saturday, 11.05.2011 / 2:55 PM

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

Who's in for the Blue Jackets?

PHILADELPHIA -- We had our guesses on the Flyers' lineup earlier, so now we'll take a look at the Blue Jackets.

The big change will be Cam Atkinson getting back into the lineup. The forward was recalled from AHL Syracuse this morning, and likely will play on a line with Derek MacKenzie and R.J. Umberger.

The defense pairs were jumbled this morning as James Wisniewski is battling a flu bug and was sent back to the hotel not long after arriving at the rink. Coach Scott Arniel said he's hopeful Wisniewski can play tonight, but won't know until game time.

Here's what the Jackets' lineup could look like tonight against the Flyers:

Rick Nash - Vinny Prospal - Derick Brassard
Matt Calvert - Antoine Vermette - Ryan Johansen
R.J. Umberger - Derek MacKenzie - Cam Atkinson
Alexandre Giroux - Samuel Pahlsson - Cody Bass

James Wisniewski - Fedor Tyutin
Marc Methot - John Moore
Aaron Johnson - Kris Russell

Steve Mason will start in goal, with Allen York backing him up.

Derek Dorsett could get in the lineup in place of Giroux. Dorsett didn't practice Friday due to being "banged up" according to Arniel.

If Wisniewski can't play, then Grant Clitsome, a healthy scratch Thursday against the Maple Leafs, will play.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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