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Posted On Tuesday, 11.01.2011 / 12:24 PM

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

Potential lineups for Lightning, Hurricanes

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here's what the lineups could look like for the Hurricanes and Lightning when they meet tonight in Carolina.

There's one lineup change for Tampa Bay, as Mattias Ritola takes the place of Tom Pyatt, centering the fourth line.


LIGHTNING
Ryan Malone - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Brett Connolly - Vincent Lecavalier - Martin St. Louis
Ryan Shannon - Dominic Moore - Steve Downie
Nate Thompson - Mattias Ritola - Adam Hall

Pavel Kubina - Brett Clark
Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Marc-Andre Bergeron - Matt Gilroy

Dwayne Roloson will start in goal, with Mathieu Garon the backup.

HURRICANES
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Chad LaRose
Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen - Tuomo Ruutu
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Zach Boychuk - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison - Joni Pitkanen
Tomas Kaberle - Jamie McBain

Cam Ward will start in goal, with Brian Boucher the backup.

For on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.01.2011 / 10:17 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Girgensons talks future plans ... in Vermont

If there was any question of the future plans for 2012 top draft eligible prospect Zemgus Girgensons, the 6-foot-1 Latvian did his best to answer them this week.

In an interview with hockey blogger Ryan S. Clark of 'Slightly Chilled', Girgensons of the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the United States Hockey League said he doesn't see himself playing in the Canadian Hockey League.

Girgensons, committed to the University of Vermont for the fall of 2012, was also drafted 45th overall by the Kelowna Rockets during the CHL Import Draft and was taken in the second round of the KHL Junior Draft by CSKA Moscow.

"You know, first of all I don't see my future in the CHL," Girgensons told Clark. "I talked with other CHL teams that were interested in me. I thought about the (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) and the Quebec Remparts (where fellow blue chip prospect Mikhail Grigorenko stars), but Kelowna drafted me and didn't say anything to me about it. After that, I felt they disrespected me a little bit. They pushed it a little bit onto my adviser and I don't think he really liked it."

Girgensons finished third overall on Dubuque with 49 points, including 21 goals, in 51 games last season and was selected to the mid-season Western Conference All-Stars. Through nine games this season, Girgensons has 6 goals, including 3 game-winners, 13 points and a plus-2 rating.

Adding coal to the fire was a blog that Clark pointed to which specializes in news out of the Western Hockey League. The outlet, 'DubNation', quoted Rockets owner and general manager Bruce Hamilton when asked about Girgensons.

"His agents think (Dubuque) is where he should be playing and he's very loyal to that program but I know as soon as he's drafted, the NHL team is not going to want him in Dubuque and they're not going to want him going to the University of Vermont, either," Hamilton told DubNation. "We'll have a real good opportunity to have him here for sure next year, and potentially after Christmas this year. When the Latvian team plays in the world juniors, we'll be very aggressive again there."

Girgensons represented Latvia at the 2010 World Under-18 Championships, notching two assists in six games.

Dubuque coach Jim Montgomery, a collegiate standout at the University of Maine, responded this way:

"First of all, I was wondering how he could be tampering with a player that plays with another junior team in the middle of the season. I was also wondering about his ethics and why would you want to try and approach someone trying to win a gold medal for his nation," Montgomery told 'Slightly Chilled'. "Being a Canadian, he should know how important it is to win a gold medal. If junior hockey is coming to this type of level where you're going to bother someone while they’re trying to win a gold medal for his country speaks volumes about the integrity of some of the people in junior hockey. I know for a fact that (Girgensons) hasn't spoken to an adviser and (Girgensons' adviser) hasn'’t spoken to the kid either. He's defending his draft pick and that's why he's putting a positive spin on it as possible. Really, he's making himself look like he's unethical."

Girgensons was also perturbed by Hamilton's comments, according to 'Slightly Chilled.'

"I don't think it was a great move by them," Girgensons said. "If they had said 'We support his decision to go to Vermont', that would have been fine but they said I should not go there. They disrespected my thoughts and I felt like they didn't even trust me."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 10:08 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

WIN @ FLA - 19:11 of the Third Period

At 19:10 of the third period in the Jets/Panthers game, video review confirmed the referees call on the ice that Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane hit the puck with his stick below the crossbar into the net. Referee Tom Kowal conferred with the other three officials on the ice before going to video review, which is normal practice when there is a question of a goal being scored by a high stick, the officials concluded that Kane's stick was below the crossbar when he hit the puck. Video Review confirmed this call. Good Goal Winnipeg.

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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 5:22 PM

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

Tortorella looking forward to possible Avery return

NEW YORK -- Sean Avery could be back with the Rangers in time for Thursday's home game against the Anaheim Ducks, and coach John Tortorella can't wait to have him.

The Rangers put Avery on re-entry waivers Monday at noon, less than a month after he was banished to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL before the season. Avery will stay on waivers for 24 hours, giving every team in the League a chance to claim him. If he goes unclaimed, he'll replace the injured Michael Rupp, whose long-term health is in question due to a nagging knee injury, on the Rangers' fourth line.

"Rupper has a lot to do with this. We're concerned about that," Tortorella said. "This is the right decision. It's the right hockey decision now and it was the right hockey decision when we sent Sean down. That's where it's at."

Rupp met with doctors Monday at about 3 p.m., according to Tortorella, who had not received word of Rupp's prognosis when he spoke with the media at about 5 p.m.

Avery won't be available for Monday night's game vs. the Sharks, but it's likely he'll be on the minds of fans at Madison Square Garden.

In the home opener against the Maple Leafs, a banner hung at the Garden asking the Rangers to bring back Avery. In that game and in the next one against the Senators, chants of "We Want Avery" rang out at different points.

But the fan favorite fell out of favor with the Rangers. Avery's propensity for taking penalties began to outweigh his ability to draw them and create offense. Now that he's back, Tortorella wants Avery to once again attempt to toe the line.

"Sean's biggest strength are his legs. He's a terrific skater," Tortorella said. "A big part of his game is his forechecking and his play underneath the hashmarks. We want him to play to his strengths and also work on the other parts of the game away from the puck."

In two games with the Whale, Avery had 1 goal and 7 penalty minutes. He missed time to start the season due to a shoulder injury.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 4:55 PM

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

Trotz gives Hawks thumbs-up for offseason additions

CHICAGO -- Consider Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz a fan of the moves the Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks pulled off last summer.

While keeping their "core group" of young stars intact, the Blackhawks added a handful of quality veterans through free agency and trade -- almost all on one-year contracts -- and Trotz said the difference is noticeable in how the new-look Hawks play.

His team will get an up-close look at Chicago on Monday night when the Preds face off against the Hawks at the United Center.

"I love the changes they made," Trotz said after Nashville's Monday morning skate. "I love the character they brought in. They brought in some grit and fire in some of their role players. I think they filled-in very nicely. Two teams in the summer filled-in the best in terms of free agency and that (was) the Blackhawks and (San Jose Sharks). Those two teams fit a lot of the right pieces."

One of those pieces Chicago added is 38-year old top-six forward Andrew Brunette, who played for Trotz both in the minors and for one season in Nashville (1998-99). Trotz was asked about Brunette on Monday and had glowing remarks.

"One of my all-time favorite guys," he said. "As he says, he's the best guy that can't skate in the League. For a guy who 'couldn’t skate' in the National Hockey League, he's had a (long) career and he's fantastic in the room. He's a rink rat, even as he's getting into his late 30s. He loves the game. He will be a good coach someday, guaranteed. He's just too passionate about the game."
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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 4:50 PM

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

Bolland shows knack for scoring 'shorties'

CHICAGO -- He's known for playing stellar defense, which is why Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland is a key figure of the team's top-ranked penalty-killing unit coming into Monday night's game against the Nashville Predators.

His offensive skills often get overshadowed, but he's found at least one way to really showcase both sides of his game -- scoring shorthanded goals. Bolland's 5 goals tie him with Marian Hossa for the team lead, and two have come while playing with just four skaters on the ice.

His latest shorty came against the Columbus Blue Jackets this past weekend, when he darted up ice to set up a breakaway after a great shot block and pass by Michael Frolik from inside the Chicago blue line.

Bolland broke in on goalie Allen York and slid a backhand shot just inside the left post while being hooked to the ice. It happened late in the first period and gave Chicago momentum back after the Blue Jackets had tied the game 1-1 earlier in the period.

The Hawks now have three shorthanded goals in the first 10 games of the season -- the other was scored by Hossa -- and it's helping make up for a power play that's potted just four goals in 38 opportunities coming into Monday night's game against the Nashville Predators.

"Those are huge lifts for you," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of shorthanded goals. "A lot of nights, if you score shorthanded or you kill a 5-on-3, you're going to come out on the winning side of it. When you are able to cash in, it's a huge bonus. It deflates the other team."

As for Bolland's penchant for putting the puck in the net a man down?

"He anticipates really well and he's got some quickness," Quenneville said. "He's got some deceptiveness and he's out there a lot of the time on the PK … so, sometimes you can counter punch 'em."

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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 4:45 PM

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

Hawks' locker room abuzz talking Halloween

CHICAGO -- Halloween was one of most popular topics of conversation on Monday in the Chicago Blackhawks' locker room and star forward Patrick Sharp revealed his most popular, albeit embarrassing, costumes.

"My wife wanted to go as a bumble bee, so I was forced to go as a flower," said Sharp, who has also dressed as Hawks coach Joel Quenneville before. "It wasn't my favorite, but it got a good laugh."

In case you're wondering, it was a pretty detailed get-up.

"I had the green tights and the yellow sunflower hat on," Sharp said. "It was pretty embarrassing. I think there's a picture floating around out there somewhere, but I'll do my best to get it off the internet."

As for his favorite candy to get while trick-or-treating as a kid?

"I'm a big chocolate guy," Sharp said. "Anything chocolate is great. Any of the healthy stuff that the neighborhood people would give us, we'd just throw it right back toward their window or on their front step."

Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz was also asked about Halloween and whether he thinks any kids from Tennessee might dress up as him on Monday night.

"I don't think so," Trotz said. "But if they dress up a little mafia-looking, like Edward G. Robinson or something like that … for the younger people they won't know who that is, but if you go back to the old gangster movies, I think that would probably be me."


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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 3:47 PM

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

Flyers limiting Bryzgalov's media access

Few players are more entertaining for the media to cover than Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, but that fun is going to be curtailed a bit.

The Flyers today announced a new policy limiting the goaltender's media availability. As of now, Bryzgalov will speak on off-days, but not on days before a game or the day of a game. He will, however, talk after all games.

Flyers goalie coach Jeff Reese had told reporters Friday that he felt Bryzgalov's recent struggles -- prior to Saturday's win against the Hurricanes, he had lost four straight, allowing at least four goals in each game -- were due in part to distractions that included his daily interactions with the media.

The new policy went into effect today, so while Bryzgalov did not speak to reporters today -- the original version of the policy said Bryzgalov would talk only after games he played in and at no other time -- the next time Bryzgalov will meet with the media will be Wednesday night, if he plays in Buffalo.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 3:06 PM

NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Matchup: Sharks at Rangers

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Posted On Monday, 10.31.2011 / 2:22 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Devils activate Brodeur from IR

The New Jersey Devils have activated goaltender Martin Brodeur off injured reserve, and have assigned goalie Keith Kinkaid to AHL Lowell.

Brodeur has been out since injuring his shoulder in the first period of a game Oct. 13 against the Los Angeles Kings.

He could be in the net Wednesday, when the Devils host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In Brodeur's absence, backup Johan Hedberg has gone 3-3-1, but has lost two straight.


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Quote of the Day

I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh