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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 2:16 PM

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

Stop in Winnipeg marks end to Rangers' opening trip

WINNIPEG -- The New York Rangers' long and winding road finally comes to an end tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Rangers will wrap up a season-opening seven-game road trip, a franchise record, after dropping a 2-0 decision to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. They currently own a 2-1-0 record on their four-game tour of Western Canada and are 2-2-2 overall. Extensive renovations to Madison Square Garden forced the Rangers on the road, but they will debut on home ice on Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

After a curt post-game interview session with reporters in Edmonton, Rangers coach John Tortorella did not wish to rehash the loss after the Rangers' morning skate at MTS Centre.

"I'm not going to dissect it," Tortorella said.

But the Rangers will need to rectify their power play as quickly as possible. After going 0-for-16 on the man-advantage to begin the season, they finally notched a power-play goal at Calgary on Oct. 20. But the NHL's 30th-ranked power play again struggled on Saturday, going scoreless in five opportunities against the Oilers.

"I would think New York is probably not real happy if you listen to them," Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said. "They're not happy with the results, and they've been on the road a while. We're going to have to play well. We're going to have to keep plowing ahead, because we're walking into seven straight road games."

Tonight's game is the final home contest for the Jets until a Nov. 10 date with the Florida Panthers. The Jets will embark on a seven-game swing that will stretch out over 13 nights, beginning with a visit to play the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

Martin Biron will make his first start of the season tonight and end Henrik Lundqvist's streak of 37 consecutive regular-season and playoff starts dating back to Feb. 11. Biron spelled Lundqvist on Saturday at Edmonton after the starter left the game with an equipment issue.

"Now it's about putting that work in practice into games," Biron said. "It has been a while. It's fun, it's exciting. It's about getting back into the rhythm."

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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 2:14 PM

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

Projected lineups for Rangers, Jets

WINNIPEG -- Here are the projected lineups for the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets, who meet tonight at the MTS Centre:


Derek Stepan - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Artem Anisimov - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
Wojtek Wolski - Mike Rupp - Kris Newbury

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Tim Erixon - Michael Del Zotto
Jeff Woywitka - Steve Eminger

Martin Biron will start and be backed up by Henrik Lundqvist.

The Rangers will regain the services of Wolski, who missed five games after sustaining a groin injury in their season-opener against the Los Angeles Kings. Center Erik Christensen will not dress for the Rangers. Defenseman Brendan Bell will exit the Blueshirts' defense corps in favor of Woywitka. Defensemen Michael Sauer (shoulder) and Marc Staal (concussion) both remain sidelined.


Andrew Ladd - Bryan LittleBlake Wheeler
Alexander Burmistrov - Nik Antropov - Evander Kane
Tanner Glass - Ben Maxwell - Chris Thorburn
Kenndal McArdle - Tim Stapleton - Kyle Wellwood

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Johnny Oduya - Randy Jones

Chris Mason will see his second consecutive game in net for the Jets after relieving starter Ondrej Pavelec early in Saturday's 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Mason entered the game and stopped 18 of 19 Carolina shots in relief.

"I've got two good goalies," coach Claude Noel said of starting Mason. "It's comforting."

Winnipeg is expected to be without center Jim Slater, who took a heavy hit during the third period of Saturday's game. McArdle will make his season debut for the Jets after suffering a preseason injury on Sept. 24. Defenseman Ron Hainsey remains on injured reserve and will miss his fourth consecutive game tonight.
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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 2:09 PM

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

Jagr firing blanks

PHILADELPHIA -- Jaromir Jagr has been around a long time, so he's gone through scoring slumps before. The fact that he's gone seven games without a goal to start the season might be the longest he's ever had to start an NHL season, but it's a far cry from his longest drought, a 16-game stretch from Nov. 17 to Dec. 18, 1990, his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

How did he snap out of it?

"It hit me in my leg," Jagr said. "That's how I scored. Our defenseman hit me in my leg, that's what happened."

Jagr said he doesn't feel like he's pressing to get goals, but said he knows there's more he could be doing to put the puck in the net.

"I don't think I'm pressing," he said. "Of course it would be nice to score some goals to help the team win, especially now when we've lost two straight games.

"I have high expectations for myself. Of course I would like to score three goals every game to help the team win, but that's not going to happen. It's tough. That's why I'm here. I'm not going to give up. I'm going to fight to the end and hopefully everything will turn around."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 12:35 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flyers, Maple Leafs

Here are the projected lines for the Flyers and Maple Leafs for tonight's game in Philadelphia. The Flyers had all but two players on the ice today -- captain Chris Pronger and forward Danny Briere are healthy, but opted not to skate. They didn't have full line rushes, but it's expected they'll use the same lines from Saturday's loss to the St. Louis, which were the same for Sunday's practice.

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

Chris Pronger - Matt Carle
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Andrej Meszaros - Matt Walker

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

Forward Andreas Nodl and defenseman Andreas Lilja will be healthy scratches.

Joffrey Lupul - Matthew Lombardi - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Nikolai Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski
Nazem Kadri - David Steckel - Matt Frattin
Jay Rosehill - Philippe Dupuis - Mike Brown

Mike Komisarek - John-Michael Liles
Dion Phaneuf - Carl Gunnarsson
Luke Schenn - Jake Gardiner

Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal, with Ben Scrivens called up from AHL Toronto to be the backup. Regular goalie James Reimer is out with a neck injury.

Defenseman Cody Franson and forward Colton Orr will be the healthy scratches. Forward Tyler Bozak, who took a puck off his foot last Thursday in Boston and didn't play Saturday against Montreal, will be a game-time decision tonight, according to coach Ron Wilson.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

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

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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 12:14 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Canadiens, Panthers

MONTREAL -- The Canadiens appear ready to welcome back Jaroslav Spacek, who has missed five games with a suspected rib injury. They are also incorporating newly-acquired center Petteri Nokelainen into the lineup on the fourth line, while Sunday call-up Michael Blunden plays beside him.

The Panthers are also incorporating a new player into the lineup as Marco Strum -- acquired Saturday in the trade that sent David Booth to Vancouver -- had his first skate with his new teammates. However, the other piece of that trade, Mikael Samuelsson, did not skate. Samuelsson is still in Vancouver, recovering from a groin injury, and it's not known when he will join his new team. Mike Santorelli will make his season debut Monday after recovering from a shoulder injury.

Here are the lines from Monday morning's skate:

Michael Cammalleri - Tomas PlekanecBrian Gionta
Travis Moen - Lars EllerAndrei Kostitsyn
Max Pacioretty - David DesharnaisErik Cole
Mathieu Darche - Petteri NokelainenMichael Blunden

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Hal Gill - Raphael Diaz
Jaroslav Spacek - Yannick Weber

Peter Budaj makes his Montreal debut as the starting goalie, with Carey Price backing him up.

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Scottie Upshall - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky
Marco Sturm - Mike Santorelli - Matt Bradley
Tim Kennedy - Shawn Matthias - Matt Bradley

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Jacob Markstrom left the ice first, suggesting he will start in favor of Jose Theodore, though coach Kevin Dineen termed it a game-time decision.
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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 10:54 AM

By Pat LaFontaine -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Making of a Royal

Looking back and looking ahead

The Long Island Royals Under-16 Midget National team entered the weekend ranked No. 2 in the country with a 19-1 record. The club recently earned the championship of the East Coast College Cup in Connecticut, outscoring its opponents 23-4. The Royals defeated the Junior Bobcats in the tournament final, 3-2. The team has been led on the score sheet by Daniel LaFontaine (6 goals, 17 points), Joey Fallon (9 goals, 16 points), Justin Bailey (8 goals, 14 points), Nicholas Hutchison (4 goals, 13 points) and Michael Marnell (6 goals, 10 points). The defense and goalies Matt Atwell and Peter Fosso have been solid.
Head coach Pat LaFontaine assessed his team's performance last week and is looking forward to the next big tournament later this month in New Hampshire -- the Beantown Fall Classic.

Prior to the East Coast College Cup (on the campuses of Wesleyan University and Quinnipiac University), the big thing we stressed to the kids was consistency and preparation. We wanted to make sure the kids were preparing themselves each game. We didn't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but consistency is such a key to success. Teaching these kids how to get the puck deep, blocking shots, positioning and moving the puck are little details that need to be done on a consistent basis -- it all adds up. The mental preparation is so important in getting yourself prepared every game and every shift, so we express that a lot and kind of go over strategies and details on what we think will work best against certain teams. Overall, I would think consistency is the biggest word.
Both our goalies had a strong tournament. We scored 24 goals and gave up only three in the five games. The kids found a way to win that last game and it was really exciting for them and for the fans knowing the hard work paid off. I really believe that four-month summer program we endured under Chris Reichart really helped improve the stamina and endurance.
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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 10:52 AM

NHL.com - Making of a Royal

LaFontaine's son provides analysis

Daniel LaFontaine, son of Long Island Royals Under-16 Midget National team head coach and five-time NHL All-Star Pat LaFontaine, currently leads the team in scoring with 17 points. The younger LaFontaine, a junior in high school, provided his analysis in this week's player blog for NHL.com.

So far the season has been great; we've been playing good against good competition, so that's good. We were really happy with the results of the College Cup. We beat a good team from Connecticut in the final, and we all had a lot of fun playing the games.
Right now, we only have three centers and four sets of wings, but my linemates are Justin Bailey and Dylan Holze. Bailey can put the puck in the net so I try to give him a lot of good passes. He always seems to find a way to score; all three of us work well together.
Practices for us usually start out just skating around before getting into some 1-on-0's and just breakouts against the goalies. Then we'll get together for a group practice, with breakouts, 3-on-2's, power-play and penalty-kill stuff.
I talk to my dad a lot about easy stuff like what to do in the corners, but I talk to (coach Steve) Webb more about the mental part of the game. He gives me good talks and lessons. You have to keep striving for your dream for when you get older … and it starts now with nutrition and the physical work. Coach Webb started up the Y Tool for all of us, so I'm always setting my performance goals and I talk to him about attitude and work ethic, so it's good.
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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 10:00 AM

NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Five greatest teams ever

Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for NHL.com throughout the 2011-2012 season.

Some great teams have played in the history of the NHL, but in the 118 years people have been battling for the Stanley Cup, these, to me, are the five greatest teams to have ever lifted it.

5. 1970 Boston Bruins

Bobby Orr led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup on 1970, scoring one of the most iconic goals in NHL history along the way. (Photo: Getty Images)
This team is on the list because Bobby Orr had to be on this list. It had the best power play I had ever seen with Orr and Phil Esposito. It was fun to watch. They scored a ton of goals, they were in a ton of fights, they had a bunch of free-spirited guys and they loved to play. You could tell just by watching. When they won the Cup in 1970 I think a lot of people thought we might have another dynasty in the making -- a team that would win five or six Stanley Cups.

I put them at five because they underachieved, but if you look at the team that beat them twice and stopped that dynasty it was the Montreal Canadiens. This was a real fun team to watch. It was Bobby Orr in his prime, it was Espo in his prime, Derek Sanderson in his prime, Johnny Bucyk in his prime -- it had everything. It was an awesome team to watch. You never missed an opportunity to watch the Boston Bruins in 1970.

4. 1982 New York Islanders

I always said about the Islanders that if you walked into the rink in the second period, you couldn't tell if they were winning or losing. That was how they played. They were just a machine. They had no weaknesses, they could score with Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies, they were great defensively, great in net, and just very deep. They were tough because they had to come up during the Flyers Broad Street Bullies era, but they could also beat you with skill. They were so consistent. They never went into a slump, they never had any breakdowns.

They were just a great, great team.

3. 1987 Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers had five Cups in seven years. Can you imagine that 1987 team? Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Coffey, Lowe, McSorley. It was just phenomenal how talented that team was. The '87 team won it in seven games against Philadelphia, which was just a great series, but this team changed the way the game was played. It was wide open then, it was end to end, it was fast and no one did it better than the Edmonton Oilers. It was a phenomenal group they had together for those seven or eight years when they were the dominant team by far in the NHL.

I picked the '87 team because the early teams that won the Cup were a little bit younger and by 1987 they had matured. They were winners. They expected to win and everyone was scared of them. It may be the most talented group ever assembled on one team. If that team stayed together and Pocklington didn't sell Gretzky, how many Cups could that team have won? In 1993, I had Kurri, Gretzky and McSorley in Los Angeles and they were still great players.

2. 1978 Montreal Canadiens

The 1978 Montreal Canadiens dominated the NHL, with Ken Dryden keeping the crease clear for his Habs' teammates. (Photo: Getty Images)
They had four straight Cups, and this group of guys was losing maybe seven or eight games a year in a 72-game season. It was such a dominant group of players: Lafleur, Cournoyer, Lapointe, Savard, Robinson, Kenny Dryden -- what a team. Just an awesome, awesome group of talented players. Looking over this, there are so many great Montreal teams, but this 1978 team was just an unbelievable group of players with an unbelievable coach in Scotty Bowman.

1. 1958 Montreal Canadiens

If you win five Cups in a row, you've got to be great. I picked the '58 team, coached by Toe Blake, because it's in the middle of the five straight Cups so you have the maturity, all the guys have been together for a long time. They would have been stronger than the team that won the first won in 1956. Maurice Richard, Doug Harvey, probably the best forward and defenseman in the game, and Jacques Plante in net, probably the best goalie in the game.

To win five Cups in a row, to have that hunger and be that amazing is just a phenomenal feat by that organization.
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Posted On Sunday, 10.23.2011 / 8:19 PM

NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: 5 greatest defensemen

Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for NHL.com throughout the 2011-2012 season.

Scorers get the glory, but defensemen are often the backbone of a team -- and some of the greatest players in the League's history have been on the blue line. Here are my five greatest defensemen of all time:

5. Paul Coffey

Maybe, if you look at the list, maybe he's not a great defensive defenseman, but his numbers are staggering. He's got 396 goals, 1,531 points and he was a plus-294 in his career. He won four Stanley Cups and played in the Final seven times. He was great on the power play. He was arguably one of the greatest skaters that ever played our game. I've looked at other guys like Denis Potvin, Larry Robinson, Brad Park, or Brian Leetch, but I just couldn't overlook Paul Coffey's offensive numbers and the fact that he won all those Stanley Cups.

Paul Coffey racked up four Stanley Cups to go with his 396 goals and 1,531 points over a 21-year NHL career. (Photo: Getty Images)
In Edmonton, Gretzky and all those forwards needed a defenseman like Coffey. He opened up so much room for them. For that free-wheeling offense Edmonton had, they needed that defenseman that joined the rush and was dangerous, and Coffey was the perfect defenseman for that style of play. In Pittsburgh he went to an offensive team, and the same when he went to Detroit. It's no use putting a thoroughbred with fallow horses, so he was always with wide open offensive teams. That's one of the reasons his numbers are great, but those types of teams fit his style. The coaches on those teams were smart enough to realize what they had and they didn't try to change him. They let him go and he was dangerous. On 5-on-5 he was dangerous, shorthanded, on the power play -- he was scary. With him Edmonton's power play was even scarier. Yeah, Gretzky was on it, Messier was on it, Kurri was on it, but Coffey was usually the guy bringing the puck up the ice on the power play.

4. Nicklas Lidstrom

He might move up on this list the more he plays. He just reached 1,500 games, he's got 255 goals, 1,112 points, four Stanley Cups, he was great on the international stage at the Worlds and the Olympics, and he was a high plus-player. He always plays against the opponent's top forward and he always shuts the guy down. He's got great playoff numbers. Just a phenomenal player. He's never hurt, he's very durable, he's just so good at everything. He doesn't have a weakness.

The funny part is, apart from Bobby Orr, all the guys on this list played a long time. But Nicky, playing in this era with as many games as Detroit played -- don't forget, Detroit usually played at least 20 playoff games every year, too -- his offseason was very short. Still, the guy could do anything. He killed penalties, he could play the power play, he could play a speed game, he could play a grind and checking game. He just didn't have a weakness. You could say Coffey had a weakness -- he wasn't a great defensive defenseman. Lidstrom isn't as good as Coffey offensively, but he's still a great offensive defenseman and he's one of the greatest defensive defensemen we've ever seen.

3. Ray Bourque

The guy is phenomenal. He's got 410 goals, 1,579 points, 1,612 games, and he finally got a Stanley Cup. He's a lot like Lidstrom. He always goes on the ice against the other team's best player, he's a great defensive defenseman, and he played in that small rink in Boston, too. That didn't help a guy like Bourque. If Bourque could have gotten on a bigger ice surface he would have been a lot harder to check. I think that little rink in Boston effected him. Just like Lidstrom the guy did not have a weakness. Bourque was great offensively, great defensively, he was a great passer with the puck, he had a great shot from the point, he ran a great power play. So, so perfectly balanced offensively and defensively. Just a great, great hockey player.

As for the way he went out, the last game of his career he got to carry the Cup around. That's how stories and movies are finished. Ray Bourque was able to do that, and since it was his only Cup it meant even more to him. He knew how hard it was to win a Cup. All those years with the Bruins he couldn't do it, so knowing it was his last game, can you imagine what a moment that was for Ray Bourque? The only negative thing was that he couldn't do it in Boston.

2. Doug Harvey

Doug Harvey made 11 consecutive All-Star teams and won six Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo: Getty Images)
I'm a big believer in guys that changed the game and Doug Harvey changed the game. Before Doug defensemen never joined the rush, they never scored goals. Their job was strictly to get the puck to the forwards and not even cross the blue line at the far end. Doug created a little offense. He had 88 goals for the Montreal Canadiens, a number of Stanley Cups. He was Bobby Orr before there was Bobby Orr. He changed the game. The really great players changed the game, and Doug changed the game in the 50's and 60's.

Guys that know Harvey, if you talk to those guys and you ask them who was the glue of those great Canadiens teams, they all say, "Doug Harvey". Jean Beliveau was unbelievable and Maurice Richard too, but they say the real glue of that team was Doug Harvey. He was an unbelievable passer of the puck, too. One second it was on his tape and the next second it was on Beliveau's tape. It's a shame young guys don't know Doug Harvey. He played before TV was big, but this guy was just a pleasure to watch.

1. Bobby Orr

He created the offensive defenseman. There wouldn't be a Ray Bourque, there wouldn't be a Paul Coffey if there wasn't a Bobby Orr. He took what Harvey did and magnified it a million times. Not only joining the rush but leading the rush, not only joining the scoring race but leading the scoring race. He had shocking plus/minus numbers. One season he was plus-124. The Boston power play was scary with him on it. He did stuff that no one ever did. He revolutionized the way hockey was played. Anyone who changed the game like Orr is the best. There's no doubt in my mind that he was the greatest defenseman that ever played.

The only argument you could get into is "is he the greatest player that ever played? Is it Gretzky or Orr?" They both changed the game. The only knock on Bobby Orr is he only played 657 games due to injuries. Can you imagine the numbers he would have if he played as many games as Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey? In 657 games he had 915 points. He had over a point per game as a defenseman. The numbers would be shockingly similar to Gretzky's if he played the same king of time as Coffey or Bourque. Gretzky had more assists than anyone else had points. Orr's numbers would have been like that. If he played a normal career of 15 years his numbers would have been out of this world.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 9:32 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

STL @ PHI - 13:14 of the 3rd Period

At 13:14 of the third period in the Blues/Flyers game, video review conclusively determined that Philadelphia defenseman Matt Carle's shot had completely crossed the goal line. Good goal for Philadelphia.

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Quote of the Day

I feel that responsibility, I've felt it for the last two years. We core guys get a lot of minutes, we get a lot of opportunity out there. Our teammates, the organization and fans look to us to be the guys to put the puck in the net and to create momentum out there.

— Jordan Eberle on taking his game and the Edmonton Oilers to the next level