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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 2:30 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Crosby happy with Shanahan's consistency

PITTSBURGH -- Penguins star Sidney Crosby, still idled by a concussion, is pleased with the consistency of new NHL Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan's disciplinary rulings.
 
Crosby, out since sustaining a concussion in early January, and the Penguins are lobbying for the elimination of dangerous hits to the head. With the season less than a month old, Crosby believes Shanahan's rulings are helping make the game safer, yet are preserving most of the fan-pleasing hitting.
 
"I think it's been good," Crosby said. "He's looked at each situation individually. I think everything has been pretty well thought out, and the same message has been continued throughout and been consistent. And that's important. We still see some pretty big hits out there."
 
The Penguins didn't protest when star defenseman Kris Letang drew a two-game suspension for driving Jets forward Alex Burmistrov into the boards Monday in Winnipeg -- even though it further depleted an injury-weakened lineup. Letang will serve the second game of that suspension tonight when the Penguins play Montreal.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 2:26 PM

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

Ovechkin feeling just fine

Alex Ovechkin didn't practice yesterday, but he's feeling just fine, and will be in his usual spot on the Caps' top line tonight.

Yesterday, however, he was ordered to stay off the ice by coach Bruce Boudreau.

"He's got some bumps and bruises right now," Boudreau told reporters. "It was more of a maintenance day with two more games this week. Just told him to take it off and get some stretching done."

Ovechkin said the day off was a welcome one for him.

"It's hockey," he said following today's morning skate. "You always have bruises, maybe pain somewhere. It's nice when the team gives you a day off."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 2:20 PM

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

Caps happy with success in tight games

One of the more interesting aspects of the Capitals' perfect start to the season is that of their five wins to open the season, four of them have been one-goal affairs, including two that were decided in overtime and another in a shootout.

"We're delighted we've won five games," Capitals General Manager George McPhee told NHL.com. "We could probably play better but you take the points where you can get them. What we might be the most happy with is how we're comfortable playing with one-goal leads. Not sure that was the case a few years ago. That's been a good sign."

Caps captain Alex Ovechkin agreed with his GM.

"It just shows character," he said. "I think sometimes a couple years ago, even a year ago, when we'd get the lead we'd start to get a little nervous about our leading and what we're going to do. Right now we play with confidence."

Part of that is credited to the new additions this season -- forwards Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Jeff Halpern, defenseman Roman Hamrlik and goalie Tomas Vokoun.

McPhee said he isn't sure how much help the new players have given, but he's sure it's helped.

"Sometimes there's a process for players to learn how to play in the right positions and learn how to check and be better defensively and know how to manage things that way," said McPhee. "When you bring some guys that can play that way, by watching it the light comes on and they understand better.

"It's so early (so) I don't know what kind of influence they've had, but we sure like having them here."

Caps forward Mike Knuble said the biggest thing he's seen from the new players has been an increase in the depth of talent, which has led to more players getting bigger bites of ice time in important situations.

"The biggest thing where they've helped is the depth," he said. "I think if you watch our ice times and the players, you can see that Bruce (Boudreau, coach) is really spreading out key moments, giving different key moments in a game to different players. Where he had to really load up guys and use 2-3 guys, now he's got four, five, six guys he can use in situations. As a player you've got to be ready. Might not be you every night … so now you have to be ready, sometimes he goes with you, sometimes he goes with someone else."

He might be playing fewer minutes now, but the 39-year-old knows less time now means more energy later in the season.

"You're not taxing your top players," he said. "You're not taxing your first centers, your first wingers, 22 minutes a game in October. They're bringing that back and he's rolling lines more. … I think it's a good thing for our team, because it cuts down wear and tear on guys first and foremost."

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

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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 2:03 PM

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

Ovechkin, Bryzgalov not exactly strangers



Russian NHL players may be a tight-knit group, but they don't exactly know everything there is to know about each other.

For example, when asked what he knew about Capitals superstar and fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin, Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov told reporters, "He's Russian. He wears No. 8. He signed a contract with Gillette."

Commercial endorsements aside, Bryzgalov said he hasn't studied much of Ovechkin's tendencies.

"I never had much experience to play against him," Bryzgalov said. "Only, I guess, two games (when Bryzgalov was with Phoenix)."

In their first meeting, Jan. 23, 2010, Ovechkin had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 Capitals win against the Coyotes. In last season's lone encounter, Feb. 14, 2011, Ovechkin was held to six shots on goal, while Bryzgalov turned aside 29 of 31 shots in a 3-2 Coyotes win.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 1:36 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Santorelli could make season debut for Panthers

Florida Panthers center Mike Santorelli might make his season debut Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres.

Santorelli, who has been sidelined by a shoulder injury, took part in the Panthers' morning skate and coach Kevin Dineen said a decision on his status would be made after pre-game warmups.

Santorelli skated Thursday morning on a line with Ryan Carter and Matt Bradley. Shawn Matthias, who played on that line in Florida's first five games, missed the morning skate -- Dineen said Matthias was sick.

Sean Bergenheim, who missed Tuesday’s game at Washington with a lower-body injury, took part in the morning skate, although he left the ice early.

The Panthers announced they have recalled left wing Tim Kennedy and center Bracken Kearns from San Antonio of the AHL, a sign Matthias and Bergenheim might miss Thursday's game.

The Sabres, meanwhile, will be shuffling lines on Thursday night.

Tyler Ennis, who has yet to record a point this season, has been replaced on the line with Brad Boyes and Ville Leino by Cody McCormick. Ennis will join the line of Derek Roy and Drew Stafford. Nathan Gerbe, who had skated with Roy and Stafford, now will join Paul Gaustad and Patrick Kaleta.

The only line that will remain unchanged is that of Thomas Vanek, Luke Adam and Jason Pominville.

SABRES

Thomas Vanek - Luke Adam - Jason Pominville
Tyler Ennis - Derek Roy - Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe - Paul Gaustad - Patrick Kaleta
Cody McCormick - Ville Leino - Brad Boyes

Robyn Regehr - Tyler Myers
Jordan Leopold - Christian Ehrhoff
Andrej Sekera - Marc-Andre Gragnani

Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal with Jhonas Enroth serving as backup.

PANTHERS
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
David Booth - Tomas Kopecky - Scottie Upshall
Ryan Carter - Marcel Goc - Jack Skille
Tim Kennedy - Bracken Kearns - Matt Bradley

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

Jose Theodore is expected to start in goal with Jacob Markstrom serving as backup.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 1:33 PM

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

Schenn to make Flyers debut tonight



Tonight won't be Brayden Schenn's first NHL game -- he played one game in 2009-10 and eight last season with the Los Angeles Kings -- it will be his first with the Philadelphia Flyers.

The much ballyhooed prospect, acquired in the blockbuster deal that sent former Flyers captain Mike Richards to L.A., started the season with the AHL Adirondack Phantoms. After 4 goals and 4 assists in eight games, the Flyers saw all they needed and recalled the 20-year-old forward yesterday.

Coach Peter Laviolette wouldn't say where -- or even if -- Schenn would play tonight, but there wasn't much reason to call up the franchise's top prospect to have him sit in the press box. Here's a look at how the Flyers' lines could shape up tonight with Schenn in the lineup.

Schenn said when he does hit the ice tonight, he'll play the kind of game that earned him the reputation for being the best prospect outside the NHL, and the Calder Trophy favorite of many NHL experts.

"I'm not going to try to do too much," he said. "Just keep it simple, play my game. You're looking to make good first impressions. I'm not up there to be flashy … I've got to keep it simple."

Expectations have been high for Schenn since the trade was announced June 23. However, he knows he's not going out there to make people forget Richards.

"There is a little added pressure, but for me it's not going to happen right off the bat," he said. "It's not going to happen on the first night. I have to take it game by game, slowly. I'm not going to change my game or try to be something I'm not just because me and Simmer (Wayne Simmonds) got traded for Mike Richards. … There's a little more pressure, but I'm not looking at it that way."

Danny Briere said he didn't think he'd have to say anything to Schenn today.

"He didn't seem nervous at all," Briere told NHL.com. "It's not like he hasn't played any games yet."

Briere also said he doesn't think Schenn will wilt under the pressure of lofty expectations.

"I think for him what's important is to try not to think about that," said Briere. "You've got to kind of block it off. There's a reason why people are staying that about him. And that's what you have to keep in mind. There's a reason why he was drafted so high, why everybody wants him, why he was traded for such a good player. That's all he has to think about, all he has to focus on. I think the fact that he played a few games and got his confidence really high with the Phantoms, I think that goes a long way, too."

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

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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 1:11 PM

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

Welcome, roommate!

Danny Briere appears to have added boarding house supervisor to his day job as top center for the Flyers.

Last year, Claude Giroux lived with Briere and his three sons; this year, Giroux has moved out, with rookie Sean Couturier taking his place in the Briere guest room.

"It's exciting for me and it's exciting for my boys," Briere told NHL.com. "He's closer in age to my kids than he is with me."

The oldest of the 34-year-old Briere's three sons is 13; that's just five years younger than the 18-year-old Couturier. Briere's other sons are 12 and 10.

The Flyers' first-round pick in June, Couturier said moving in with a veteran teammate is a good way to adjust to life in the NHL away from the rink.

"At my age … it would probably be hard for me living on my own for the first time," Couturier told NHL.com. "For sure, the adaptation would be easier being around him and being around a family."

Briere said he remembers what it was like as a young player in the NHL, and is happy to do what he can.

"I remember when I was 18, 19, 20 years old, you start to think about living by yourself, it's a little early," he said. "We don't want him to worry about all kinds of things off the ice. We want him to keep his focus on the ice and worry about that rather than setting up his bills or worry about his condo or an apartment that he has to take care of. If this can relieve him of a little bit of pressure outside of hockey, then it's all good."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 1:09 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Canadiens, Penguins

Here's what the lineups could look like when the Montreal Canadiens meet the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight in Pittsburgh.
 
Canadiens coach Jacques Martin didn't reveal his lines after the morning skate and has been juggling them regularly. But with LW Mike Cammalleri unexpectedly set to return despite having a cut on his leg, he seems certain to go onto the top line centered by Tomas Plekanec. Cammalleri had been expected to miss a few more games.
 
Cammalleri, who sat out three games, had 3 goals and 1 assist in three games against Pittsburgh last season. In 2010, he had 7 goals as the Canadiens upset the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
 
The Penguins will be without C Evgeni Malkin (right knee) for a fourth consecutive game, and F Tyler Kennedy (concussion) will miss his third in a row. D Brooks Orpik (sports hernia) will play for the first time this season despite getting minimal practice time during training camp and missing all of the preseason and the Penguins' first eight games.
 
Penguins F James Neal, who has 6 goals in eight games, did not take part in the morning skate, but coach Dan Bylsma expects him to play. Bylsma said Neal was given the morning off.
 
CANADIENS
Mike Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Erik Cole
Mathieu Darche - Scott Gomez - Brian Gionta
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Andrei Kostitsyn
Travis Moen - Andreas Engqvist - Lars Eller
 
Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Hal Gill - Raphael Diaz
Alexei Emelin - Yannick Weber
 
Carey Price starts in goal.
 
PENGUINS
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Joe Vitale - Arron Asham
Steve Sullivan - Richard Park - James Neal
Steve MacIntyre - Mark Letestu - Craig Adams
 
Zbynek Michalek - Paul Martin
Deryk Engelland - Brooks Orpik
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy
 
Marc-Andre Fleury returns in goal after backup Brent Johnson made 24 saves in a 4-2 victory at Minnesota on Tuesday.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 1:02 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lightning turn to Garon for start as Roloson struggles

TAMPA BAY -- Mathieu Garon will be in the goal for Tampa Bay when the Lightning host the New York Islanders tonight.

Garon will get the call in lieu of Dwayne Roloson after Roloson stopped only 32 of 39 shots during a 7-2 defeat at the hands of the Florida Panthers on Monday night.

"Physically, the challenge is there," Roloson said, reflecting on his current 5.09 goals-against average. "Mentally, the challenge is there. It's the execution that has been missing."

And if Roloson's recent performance was not enough to prompt Lightning coach Guy Boucher to call for the backup, there is this: Garon is 3-0-1 lifetime against the Islanders with a 1.61 goals-against average and a shutout.

But Garon isn't counting on past success as any indication of future results.

"I've done well against the Islanders, but honestly I haven't faced them too often," Garon pointed out. "Every day is different and every game is new."

The Islanders arrive for their first road test of the season, with four days off since they defeated the New York Rangers on Saturday.

"I'm not concerned about the long layoff," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We've worked on keeping our focus and the break gave the team time to heal and condition. I'm happy with the three days of practice that we have had."

Tonight's expected lineups:

LIGHTNING
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Steve Downie
Ryan Malone - Vincent Lecavalier - Teddy Purcell
Tom Pyatt - Dominic Moore - Brett Connolly
Blair Jones - Nate Thompson - Adam Hall

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

And as mentioned, Garon gets the start with Roloson backing up.

ISLANDERS

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Blake Comeau - Josh Bailey - Brian Rolston
Trevor Gillies - Marty Reasoner - Matt Martin

Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Mark Eaton - Mike Mottau

Al Montoya is expected to get the start in goal with Evgeni Nabokov serving as his backup.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 12:51 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kampfer ready for his shot to join Bruins' lineup

BOSTON -- The Bruins' back line should have a different look tonight against Toronto, as rookie Matt Bartkowski has been assigned to Providence (AHL) and Steven Kampfer has been cleared for contact.

Kampfer suffered a knee injury during the preseason and started skating on his own last week. This week he joined his teammates for practices and morning skates, including this morning's in preparation for the Leafs game.

With Adam McQuaid still out with a neck injury, Kampfer is the sixth defenseman. If he plays, it will be his season debut and his first NHL game since last March 31, which coincidentally was also against Toronto.

"It's been a while but I'm excited for it. I'm ready to go, I feel good. I'm just going to go out there, try and play my game, play simple and help this team get two points," said Kampfer, who last season as a first-year pro skated in 38 games and posted 5 goals, 10 points and a plus-9 rating.

Kampfer suffered a similar knee injury last April while on a conditioning assignment with Providence. He worked his way back into game shape in time for the Stanley Cup Final but was a healthy scratch for that entire series.

With his offensive abilities from the back end, Kampfer might be able to help the Bruins' slumping offense.

"If anything, he moves the puck well. And when he's confident, he's a guy who skates well, can carry the puck up the ice, so he's certainly got some experience behind him," coach Claude Julien said. "Watching him practice the last few days with us, he seems to be moving the puck well and seems to be ready to go here. So he's going to get his shot."

Kampfer hasn't just prepared by practicing on the ice. He has also gotten himself ready by doing some off-ice work.

"That was something I went through with some of our doctors was visualizing some game action here," he said. "So hopefully it picks up without a beat and that's the thing that'll help me out a lot is, you know, you go out there and you act like you're playing the game, you play the game through somebody else and try and figure out what they're doing and how you can try to make a better situation out of it."



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Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season