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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 2:06 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Coyotes realize 'crunch time' has arrived

ST. LOUIS -- The Phoenix Coyotes currently sit in 11th place in the Western Conference and unlike their opponent tonight, the St. Louis Blues, have ground to make up.

Phoenix will split its 12-game schedule for the month of January, with six games at home and six on the road, but those road games will be front-loaded. The team is currently in a stretch of games where eight of 10 are away from Jobing.com Arena.

"January's where everybody realizes this is crunch time," veteran defenseman Derek Morris said. "You've got to crank it up a notch. Games are going to get quicker, they're going to get more important. ... You don't want to get behind and start chasing. Where we're at, we've got to find a way to win games now so when crunch times rolls around, you don't want to have to scrape out the last couple points because they're harder to get."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 2:04 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blues, Coyotes

ST. LOUIS -- The probable lineups for tonight's game between the Blues and Coyotes from Scottrade Center:

BLUES
David Perron - David Backes - Chris Stewart
Matt D'Agostini - Patrik Berglund - T.J. Oshie
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
Chris Porter - Scott Nichol - B.J. Crombeen

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Cade Fairchild - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Halak is 6-2-2 with a 2.08 GAA at the Scottrade Center after making 33 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to Nashville on Friday.

The Blues will scratch winger Evgeny Grachev tonight. On injured reserve are forward Andy McDonald (concussion), winger Alex Steen (concussion-related symptoms), winger Ryan Reaves (hip), and defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle). Defenseman Ian Cole will begin his three-game suspension tonight. He will also miss games Thursday against Edmonton and Saturday against Colorado.

COYOTES

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

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Rostislav Klesla - David Schlemko

Jason LaBarbera
Mike Smith

Top goalie Mike Smith (groin) has been skating since Sunday and was activated off injured reserve prior to tonight's game. Curtis McElhinney was reassigned to AHL Portland.

The Coyotes will be without forward Raffi Torres, who was suspended two games without pay Monday for charging Wild defenseman Nate Prosser on Saturday. Also missing because of injuries are center Martin Hanzal (upper body), forward Boyd Gordon (lower body). Defenseman David Rundblad, acquired from Ottawa in the Kyle Turris trade and a former first-round pick of the Blues, will be a healthy scratch.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 1:26 PM

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

Benn brothers set to play first NHL game together

DALLAS -- Jamie Benn is currently in his third NHL season, so facing the Detroit Red Wings tonight will be nothing new for the 22-year-old Dallas winger. But tonight's game will mark the NHL debut of older brother Jordie, a 24-year-old defenseman who was recalled from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League on Sunday.

In 31 games in the AHL, Jordie Benn had 7 goals and 15 points. He will be half of the Stars' third defensive pairing, skating alongside Mark Fistric.

Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan knows the elder Benn well after having coached him in the AHL last season.

"We're in the business of winning hockey games, so we want the best player from down there and he was that guy. He's going to get a well-deserved opportunity," Gulutzan said.

Benn has only been up with the Stars for a few days, but he's already earning rave reviews for his solid play.

"We were partners in one of the exhibition games. I thought that we were a pretty solid pair," Fistric said. "He keeps it simple but he has that skill part of his game as well. I think that's what makes him valuable. Obviously, he's progressed nicely and that's why he’s here."

Both Benn parents will be in attendance for tonight's contest, one of several trips they usually make from their native British Columbia to see Jamie play. But it's clear tonight’s game will be extra special for all parties involved.

"I think it's going to be really special. It's something I was definitely hoping would happen in the summer," Jamie Benn said. "When he signed his contract, I knew there might be a chance. Tonight's going to be special for me, him and our family."

Jamie added: "They [our parents] wouldn't miss this for the world. They just flew in last night. When my brother told my mom and dad, they got pretty emotional. It's pretty special -- having two kids make the NHL, let alone play on the same team and be in the same game together."

About the only member of their immediate family who won't make the trip is the Benns' sister, who will instead be catching this one on TV.

Even though he is 24 and nearly a full two years older than Jamie, the elder Benn admits there will be some nerves.

"For sure, it's a dream come true. I'll try not to think about it and just go play hockey," Jordie Benn.

But the man who will be skating alongside the Stars rookie blueliner feels he has the mental makeup to handle tonight's debut with few if any hiccups.

“I think he's a pretty mature guy," Fistric said. "Your first shift is the most nerve-racking one and after that, you settle down and it's another hockey game. It's an exciting time, playing your first ever NHL game. I know I still remember mine, and I don't think there’s a guy that doesn't remember his. It's a great time and it's awesome for the family, especially when you have two brothers playing in the NHL. I wish that could have happened for me. It's an exciting time for him and I think he's going to be great."

The Benns will be the sixth set of brothers to skate for the Stars franchise. The last pair to do so was Derian and Kevin Hatcher in 1996.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 12:56 PM

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

Stars, Wings look to ride momentum into 2012

DALLAS -- Two longtime rivals meet on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center looking to ride momentum from  impressive victories on New Year's Eve. Detroit blanked the resurgent St. Louis Blues, 3-0, to end 2011 on a very high note while Dallas, which had lost 4-1 to Columbus on Thursday, the Blue Jackets' first regulation road win of the season, rebounded nicely to hand defending Stanley Cup champion Boston a 4-2 defeat in front of a packed house in Big D.

Here are tonight's projected lineups:
       
RED WINGS
Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Dan Cleary - Justin Abdelkader - Drew Miller
Gustav Nyquist - Cory Emmerton - Joakim Andersson

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Mike Commodore

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin

Scratches: Jakub Kindl

Injuries: Chris Conner (hand), Patrick Eaves (jaw), Darren Helm (groin), Tomas Holmstrom (groin)

Notes: White is currently third in the NHL in plus/minus, sporting a rating of plus-24. Detroit has an impressive goal differential of plus-39. The 84 goals allowed by the Red Wings is third-fewest in the league, behind only Boston (68 goals) and the New York Rangers (79 goals). Howard currently leads all NHL goaltenders with 23 wins.

STARS
Loui Eriksson - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Brenden Morrow - Mike Ribeiro - Steve Ott
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Toby Petersen - Tom Wandell - Adam Burish

Alex Goligoski - Adam Pardy
Nicklas Grossman - Trevor Daley
Mark Fistric - Jordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen (starter)
Richard Bachman

Scratches: Brenden Dillon, Jake Dowell

Injuries: Philip Larsen (head), Stephane Robidas (foot), Sheldon Souray (ankle), Tomas Vincour (MCL)

Notes: Defenseman Jordie Benn, older brother of Stars forward Jamie Benn, figures to make his NHL debut against the Red Wings. These clubs have already met once this season in Detroit and it was the Wings who prevailed 5-2 in the final contest of a four-game road swing. Tonight's game is the final contest in a three-game homestand. Dallas is 1-1-0 in their first two at home.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 10:05 AM

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

Projected lineups for Islanders, Hurricanes

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the New York Islanders visit the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center:

ISLANDERS
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Brian Rolston - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Matt Martin - Josh Bailey - Michael Grabner
Tim Wallace - Marty Reasoner - Nino Neiderreiter

Steve Staios - Mark Streit
Andrew McDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina

Evgeni Nabokov
Anders Nilsson

HURRICANES
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Zac Dalpe
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinen - Tuomo Ruutu
Drayson Bowman - Brandon Sutter - Chad LaRose
Andreas Nodl - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

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

Cam Ward
Justin Peters
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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 11:04 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

COL @ LA - 3:36 of the First Period

At 3:36 of the first period in the Avalanche/Kings game, the referees on the ice ruled that Jack Johnson's shot was deflected by Justin Williams stick, which was above the cross bar and into the net. Video replay reviewed the play but was inconclusive, therefore the referee's call on the ice stands. No goal Los Angeles.

According to Rule 60.5 "An apparent goal scored by an attacking player who strikes the puck with his stick carried above the height of the crossbar of the goal frame shall not be allowed. The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick."

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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 10:42 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Czechs, Russians tied 1-1 after two

CALGARY -- The Czech Republic Junior National Team is giving Russia -- the defending World Junior Championship gold medalist -- all they can handle through two periods of quarterfinal-round action at Scotiabank Saddledome.
 
After being outshot, 16-5, during a scoreless first period, the Czechs earned the territorial advantage for much of the second when each team connected for a goal. The clubs enter the second intermission in a 1-1 tie. The winner will face Team Canada in the WJC semifinal round slated for Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.
 
Russia, which was outshot, 15-9, in the second, pulled even on its third shot of the period when Danil Apalkov ripped one from the left circle that zipped over Petr Mrazek's right pad at the 12:47 mark.
 
The Czechs had taken a 1-0 lead 7:16 into the second when Tomas Hertl sent a nifty backhand pass across the crease to Jakub Culek, who stuffed his attempt home past goalie Andrei Vailevski.
 
Petr Straka barely missed giving the underdogs a two-goal lead midway through the period when his quick wrist shot from the right hash was denied by Vasilevski. The Russian goalie would then stop Daniel Krejci less than a minute later on another left pad save off a backhander from in close.
 
Mrazek would atone for allowing his 12th goal in five games by stoning Apalkov on the doorstep with 3:18 remaining in the second and then Yaroslav Kosov off a 2-on-1 with an incredible left-pad denial at the post a little over a minute later.
 
Mrazek turned aside 16 shots and survived a pair of breakaway attempts by captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov in the opening period. Mrazek, property of the Detroit Red Wings, has yielded 12 goals on 157 shots in the tournament. He entered Monday's game sporting an impressive 2.75 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
 
Kuznetsov broke free with 8:40 remaining in the first but Mrazek got a blocker on the shot. The Russian captain and lone returnee from last year's gold medal-winning team was sent in alone less than two minutes later only to have his backhand attempt from in tight skid across the crease with the goalie spread eagle in the paint.
 
The Russians were given the only power-play of the period at the 5:30 mark when Jiri Riha was whistled for slashing, but the Czechs survived unscathed. Russia's Nail Yakupov, who could be selected No. 1 overall in the 2012 Draft, had a good opportunity turned away by Mrazek with less than 15 seconds remaining in the period.
 
Returning to the lineup for Russia following a one-game absence was Mikhail Grigorenko.
 
Grigorenko suffered an ankle injury on Thursday when he collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija in the early stages of the second period of an eventual 14-0 victory. The 2012 Draft- eligible forward entered the game having scored 2 goals and 4 points in three games for his country.

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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 10:39 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

SJ @ VAN - 20:00 of 3rd Period

In the Sharks/Canucks game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Torrey Mitchell's shot went into the net after time had expired in the third period. No Goal San Jose. 
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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 9:48 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Mrazek helps keep game scoreless

CALGARY -- Czech Republic goalie Petr Mrazek was up to his old tricks in the first period of his team's quarterfinal-round match in the 2012 World Junior Championship against the favored Russian National Junior on Monday at Scotiabank Saddledome.
 
Mrazek turned aside 16 shots and survived a pair of breakaway attempts by captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov to help his team escape with a 0-0 deadlock after 20 minutes. The winner of the contest will meet Team Canada in the tournament semifinals scheduled Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.
 
Mrazek, property of the Detroit Red Wings, has yielded just 11 goals on 148 shots in the tournament. He enters Monday's game sporting an impressive 2.75 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
 
Kuznetsov broke free with 8:40 remaining in the first but was denied by Mrazek's blocker before being sent in alone less than two minutes later only to have his backhand attempt from in tight skid across the crease with the goalie spread eagle in the paint.
 
The Russians were given the only power-play of the period at the 5:30 mark when Jiri Riha was whistled for slashing, but the Czechs survived unscathed. Russia's Nail Yakupov, who could be selected No. 1 overall in the 2012 Draft, had a good opportunity turned away by Mrazek with less than 15 seconds remaining in the period.

Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevski made five saves in the first.
 
Returning to the lineup for Russia following a one-game absence was Mikhail Grigorenko, who suffered an ankle injury on Thursday when he collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija in the early stages of the second period of an eventual 14-0 victory. The 2012 Draft-eligible forward entered the game having scored 2 goals and 4 points in three games for his country.


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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 9:00 PM

By Danny Briere -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Briere's 2012 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic blog

I thought I had best of Lundqvist on penalty shot


Philadelphia Flyers forward Danny Briere  blogged about his Winter Classic experience exclusively for NHL.com, from his first turns on the ice at Citizens Bank Park and the family skate, to the his thoughts the morning of the game, to a wrap-up of the entire Classic experience, which ended with a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

This game was going to overtime.

That's all I had in my mind as I stood at center ice and waited to take the penalty shot in the last minute today.

Coming in on Lundqvist, I had beaten him once on the blocker side, once on the glove side. He had stopped me a couple times before as well in shootouts, but I was still convinced I was going to score. I tried to surprise him with a quick little shot, unfortunately he was quicker than me. I've got to give him credit for that.

I thought the whole day was really cool. Coming out of the tunnel, seeing the whole place in mostly orange; that was a great experience. This was almost like the preparation, the whole thing going into it, was like a playoff atmosphere.

The second period we played really good. We really took control of the game. We were really good on the forecheck, controlling the end zone, winning all our battles.

And when Brayden Schenn scored, everybody was so happy for him. He's played some good hockey lately, had lots of chances. It was just a matter of time for him to get his first goal. What a special moment for him, to be able to say he scored his first goal in a Winter Classic. We were all thrilled for him. We were hoping we could give him a win as well so he could probably appreciate it and celebrate it even more.

Up 2-0, we thought we were in control.

Unfortunately we gave up a bad goal near the end of the second and that gave them some life. Going back into the room, we still felt like we were in control. We played the way we wanted to. It was just a matter of keeping the same pressure on them in their zone. Then they came out and they scored two quick goals. And then you're playing hockey from behind, trying to catch up. We got some chances but Lundqvist made some key saves.

With that chance in the last minute, I thought I had the chance then. I was so close to his pad I had to shovel it in. And as the puck was going across the line, their defenseman jumped from behind and swiped it with his hand. And the penalty shot was called.

After I missed the penalty shot, you have to try to forget about. I didn't have the time to feel sorry about myself or to let bad thoughts creep into my head. All I was thinking was there's 20 seconds left, let's try to find a way to crash the net and find a loose puck.

We created a couple chances, too. We had our chances after that. In the end, it was a game like that. Everything was really tight, there wasn't much out there. They came out on top. It's frustrating. I take the blame for this one, but at the same time, I'm also hoping that it makes us better for when we have big games again.

Right now we're probably just thinking about this a little more for the rest of the night. But tomorrow, going back to the rink it's going to be back to reality, I guess. Try to get back on track.

Overall, it was a great experience. I don't regret it; just disappointed about the outcome. You can't dwell on it too long. You've got to move on and get ready for the next game. Chicago is also a tough team, probably first in the West. It's not going to get any easier for us. 
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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic