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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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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:54 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Semin expected to return to Capitals' lineup

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Washington Capitals' 4-3 win on Monday night over the Phoenix Coyotes ended a four-game winless streak and halted some of the angst surrounding the team as well.

Home ice has been friendly to the 11-7-1 Capitals, who are now 7-1-1 at the Verizon Center entering tonight's game with the Winnipeg Jets. Tonight's game is the second home date in a stretch that will see the Capitals play six of seven games in Washington. The New York Rangers will visit on Friday night.

The win on Monday was coach Bruce Boudreau's 200th career victory, making him the 66th NHL coach to reach the milestone.

In collecting the 200th win, Boudreau caused something of a stir in Washington when he made Alexander Semin a healthy scratch for Monday's game. Semin is expected to draw back into the Washington lineup against the Jets and scored Washington's lone goal in a 4-1 loss at Winnipeg last Thursday.

Dmitry Orlov debuted for the Capitals alongside Karl Alzner against Phoenix in place of the sidelined John Erskine and registered 11:56 of ice time.

Here is the projected lineup for Washington tonight:

CAPITALS
Troy Brouwer - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera - Brooks Laich - Alexander Semin
Cody Eakin - Marcus Johansson - Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks - Mathieu Perreault - Jeff Halpern

Roman Hamrlik - Dennis Wideman
Jeff Schultz - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Karl Alzner

Tomas Vokoun will start for the Capitals, with Michal Neuvirth serving as back-up.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:54 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Jets set for first game in Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Winnipeg Jets make their season debut in the American capital tonight for a Thanksgiving Eve date with the Washington Capitals.

The 8-9-3 Jets arrived in Washington on Tuesday a hot team after sweeping a three-game homestand against the Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers last week. The Jets took a 4-1 decision from the Capitals last Thursday night at the MTS Centre to up their record against Southeast Division opponents to 4-2-0 this season.

Tonight's game is the start of a three-game East Coast tour that will continue Friday night against the Carolina Hurricanes before a Saturday meeting with the Boston Bruins.

Among the Jets' hot scoring hands are captain Andrew Ladd, Kyle Wellwood, Bryan Little and Evander Kane, who all hold three-game scoring streaks. Little posted a two-goal game last Saturday in a win over Philadelphia, and Kane notched two goals in the win over the Capitals last week.

But coach Claude Noel expects to see a much better Washington team than the club he saw last week.

"I don't think we saw their complete 'A' game,” Noel said. "You've got to be careful. You can't play these guys lightly."

The Jets will welcome back the services of veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey, who missed 16 games since suffering an upper-body injury on Oct. 17. Hainsey's return one game after Eric Fehr's return to action is another piece of good medical news for the Jets, who have lost 96 man-games to injury this season already.

Hainsey should offer the Jets some further defensive backbone, but he will have a difficult opponent to match up against in his return from injury.

"If you give them space and a little bit of time," Hainsey said of the Capitals, "these guys can pick you apart."

Hainsey's return should also help reduce the workload of Zach Bogosian, who logged a season-high 31 minutes of ice time against Philadelphia. Hainsey can play in all situations.

"It gives a little bit more comfort," Noel said of Hainsey returning.

Ondrej Pavelec is expected to make his career-high 13th consecutive start in net for the Jets after delivering a 32-save effort last week against Washington.

Here is the projected lineup for Winnipeg tonight:

JETS

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

Mark Stuart - Dustin Byfuglien
Johnny Oduya - Zach Bogosian
Ron Hainsey - Mark Flood

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason backing up.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:45 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Canadiens' Cole returns to Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Montreal forward Erik Cole makes his first visit to Carolina after signing a four-year contract with the Canadiens at the start of free agency last July. Always one of Carolina's most popular players, Cole is familiar with returning to Raleigh in another NHL uniform. He was traded to Edmonton before the 2008-09 season, only to be brought back at the trade deadline later that season.

"No matter what the circumstances are, even with being traded to Edmonton, you commit to it and commit to your teammates," Cole said on Wednesday morning. "It's part of the job. There are some things in this business you can't control no matter who you are playing for. You just come to work every day and play hard."

Montreal coach Jacques Martin said Hal Gill will return to the lineup after missing time with a virus. Martin did not reveal which defenseman will come out of the lineup.

Here are how the lineups are projected to look for tonight's game at the RBC Center:

CANADIENS

Michael Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Travis Moen - Scott Gomez - Lars Eller
Mathieu Darche - Petteri Nokelainen - Aaron Palushaj
 
Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Yannick Weber - Hal Gill
Raphael Diaz - Alexei Emelin / Frederic St.Denis
 
Carey Price

HURRICANES
Jeff SkinnerEric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Jiri Tlusty - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Anthony Stewart - Tim Brent - Brett Sutter
 
Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Justin Faulk - Jay Harrison
Jamie McBain - Tomas Kaberle
 
Cam Ward
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:40 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry gives his thanks

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:15 PM

By Jeremy Roenick -  NHL Network Contributor /NHL.com - World According to JR

Sid's amazing return and who needs to step up

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick will be penning a weekly blog for NHL.com this season. Look for new entries from, "World According to JR," every Wednesday. Roenick will offer sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League.

There are a lot of guys making a lot of money in the NHL. One of them once again started to earn every penny of his salary on Monday night, but there are others that I believe just aren't pulling their weight. It's all below in this week's blog entry:

What's clicking?

We absolutely have to talk about Sidney Crosby and the much, much, much anticipated return of No. 87 to the Penguins lineup.

It was well worth the wait.

Nobody knew what we were going to get from him, and I think everybody was astounded by the level of play that Sidney showed against the Islanders.

If there was any question, any doubt who the best player in the world was before, I don't think there should be now after Sidney Crosby dominated from start to finish in his first game back in more than 10 months. To be out for more than 10 months and stay dedicated to his conditioning and dedicated to his recovery, and to come back with that confidence and in that good of shape is a remarkable feat.

I loved the way the Pittsburgh fans embraced him. The emotion and the adrenaline in that building was as good as I've ever seen it in Pittsburgh, and that's a team that has won multiple Stanley Cups. That building was electric as any time I have ever seen it in Pittsburgh, and that shows me how much the fans love hockey in that city. 
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 12:08 PM

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

Wings tell Smith not to pack bags just yet

DETROIT -- Brendan Smith was excited as he talked about his recent debut as an NHL defenseman, which happened during the Detroit Red Wings' recent four-game road trip to the West coast.

Smith, 22, was so pumped up that he didn't even seem to mind getting sent back to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League following Detroit's practice on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. He hurriedly packed his hockey bag for the short drive to the West part of Michigan and talked about how thrilling it was to make his debut in front of his parents and older brother Rory -- all of whom caught a cross-country flight the morning of his first game, against the San Jose Sharks.

It's just that, unbeknownst to him, Smith's demotion to Grand Rapids wasn't a sure thing in the mind of Red Wings coach Mike Babcock -- who noticed Smith's bag all packed up in the locker room and yelled over to him to unpack it.

Babcock said Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart is dealing with an undisclosed injury and will be a game-time decision after warm-ups, which means Smith might be back in the lineup on Wednesday night despite the return of defenseman Ian White, whose broken cheekbaone prompted Smith's promotion in the first place.

"I'm very pleased with my first three games and there's a lot of things I've learned," Smith said. "A lot of the things the coaches have told me are about how to make the quick play. The biggest thing is that in Grand Rapids I can kind of get away with carrying the puck a little bit more, just because of my skill level and stuff, but it's a lot harder to do it in the NHL. I'm going to have to make that earlier pass and not get into bad habits in Grand Rapids."

Smith also had to sit out five NHL games at the start of this season because of a hit in the preseason on Chicago Blackhawks rookie Ben Smith. Brendan Smith said he wasn't trying to make a malicious hit or target Ben Smith's head, but his shoulder did clip the Blackhawks forward's head and sent him to the ice.

The next day, Brendan Smith sent a text to Ben Smith to explain what happened -- which Ben Smith received and texted back that it was just a hockey play. Since then, both have now played with their respective teams.

Brendan Smith said, if anything, he's learned that he needs to make sure he gets full body contact shoulder-to-shoulder on any future plays like that one, in which Ben Smith toe-dragged the puck to the middle of the ice as Brendan Smith came at him across the ice.

He's also ready to put that play completely behind him and concentrate on the future -- which for the short-term probably includes at least one more game with the Wings, who sent down forward Fabian Brunnstrom on Tuesday to make room to keep Smith.
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Quote of the Day

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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