Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 4:35 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

McLellan back on ice with Sharks

While San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan was conducting his first practice in five days on Friday, there's no guarantee he'll be behind the bench when his team hosts the St. Louis Blues on Saturday at HP Pavilion.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said McLellan was conducting practice as part of the post-concussion protocol. The medical team then would provide further tests, and only then will his availability be determined.

McLellan has missed the past two games. He was hit by a stick in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild, and has been suffering from concussion-like symptoms. In his absence, assistant coach Jay Woodcroft has been running the bench.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 4:07 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Lundqvist back in net for Rangers

TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Rangers arrived here with a nine-point lead in the Eastern Conference standings following their win Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes. They enter Friday's game with three consecutive wins and the second-best road record (20-8-4) in the NHL.

The Rangers start Henrik Lundqvist to start in net Friday after Martin Biron started Thursday's game. Lundqvist leads the League in save percentage (.940) and shutouts (eight).

"We don't have a top-10 scorer or a team that can strike fast," Rangers center Brad Richards said. "So we rely on our goaltender. Lundqvist has been the best in the NHL this season."

Richards, a key member of the Lightning's Stanley-Cup winning 2004 club who also has played for the Dallas Stars, said he's noticed a different playing for an Original Six team.

"We see (Rangers) fans everywhere we play," Richards said. "There are more rivalries involved."

Richards has been riding the subway to home games since he did so Feb. 9, and then scored the overtime goal in a 4-3 win against the Lightning.

"It's 14 minutes from my apartment to (Madison Square) Garden," Richards said. "One stop."

Unlike the Lightning, the Rangers are assured a spot in the post-season, but don't ask any of them to look ahead. That's against the rules as long as John Tortorella is in charge.

"We're not allowed to talk about the playoffs," Richards said. "We keep it in the present."

We had the Lightning lineup earlier; here is what the Rangers' likely will put on the ice tonight:

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Ruslan Fedotenko
Brandon Dubinsky - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
John Scott - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Marc Staal - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal, with Martin Biron the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 3:22 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Irving to make rare start for Flames

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Leland Irving is expected to make only his third appearance of 2012 and the sixth of his career Friday against the Ducks after Miikka Kiprusoff backstopped Calgary on Thursday.

Irving grabbed the backup spot ahead of Henrik Karlsson with a 1-3-3 record and 3.26 goals-against average, compared to 0-4-1 with a 3.45 GAA for Karlsson.

While Irving never has faced the Ducks, former Flame Niklas Hagman is familiar with him.

"He's a little bit of a smaller goalie, but he played really good," Hagman said of Irving.

Here is the rest of what the Flames' lineup, and the Ducks' lineup, likely will look like when the teams meet tonight at Honda Center:

Alex Tanguay - Mike Cammalleri - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Blake Comeau
Lance Bouma - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

Derek Smith - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Leland Irving will play his sixth NHL game tonight, starting in place of Miikka Kiprusoff, who will serve as the backup.

Niklas Hagman - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Bobby Ryan - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake - Andrew Cogliano - Devante Smith-Pelly
Matt Beleskey - Rod Pelley - Nick Bonino

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Lubomir Visnovsky - Luca Sbisa
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller will start in net, with Jeff Deslauriers the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 3:17 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Hiller ready for growing workload

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jonas Hiller is wading into new waters, and the Anaheim Ducks need his steady navigation more than ever.

Hiller is expected to make a franchise-record 24th consecutive start Friday when the Anaheim Ducks host the Calgary Flames. It's the heaviest workload in Hiller's young career; he'll match a career-high with his 59th game played tonight.

Hiller never played more than 44 games for his Swiss team, Davos, and never has had to carry the load in this short of a stretch.

"Back home in Europe, you normally play all the games -- but that's just, like, 40-something games," Hiller said. "I haven't played that many games in such a short period of time in quite a while. But at the same time, I'm feeling good. Why not?"

Hiller's durability is needed after coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday that backup Dan Ellis likely will miss another 4-6 weeks with a torn groin muscle.

Ellis was scheduled to see a doctor Friday and the team could announce that he is done for the season. Jeff Deslauriers is Hiller's backup, but Anaheim plans on riding Hiller to the end in a quest at a playoff berth.

Hiller is expected to play again Saturday, when the Ducks play at Los Angeles.

"We give him the time off and he plays the games because we're worried about that sort of thing -- him getting overly tired," Boudreau said. "The only time I saw him look with any sense of fatigue was maybe the Colorado game (on Monday). He's been sharp and he's been strong and I ask him every day how he's feeling to make sure that we're doing the right things for him, because he knows -- unless something negative happens -- that he probably starts most of the games, if not all of them, from here on in."

Hiller seems up to the task and has re-kindled the form that made him one of the top goalies in the League before vertigo symptoms effectively ended his season last February.

If anything, that bizarre ailment has made Hiller more in tune with his body.

"I definitely got a better understanding of how to take care of it and listen to my body about when something's aching," Hiller said.  "I just think, 'Well, just work through it.' I just have to take care of it. Normally, with massage or treatment, you can get rid of stuff before it gets serious. Bruce has given me the opportunity to take my rest, to take my options on certain days or certain practices, which definitely helps to stay sharp mentally, which is as almost as tough as being ready physically."

Ellis, who ably filled in for Hiller during Anaheim's second-half run last season, has been out since December. A team spokesman said he has not suffered a setback, although Ellis reportedly was skating on his own during the team's recent road trip.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 3:10 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Wings' youngsters ready for increased role

DETROIT -- The third defense pairing for the Detroit Red Wings will be one to keep an eye on Friday at Joe Louis Arena -- it'll be 25-year old Jakub Kindl and 23-year old rookie Brendan Smith.

It will be Kindl's 100th NHL game and Smith's first regular-season home game, so both will have milestones of sorts to use for motivation.

"It's a dream (come) true," said Kindl, who has 1 goal and 11 assists in 48 games this season. "Who'd have thought I could play even 100 games in the NHL? It's nice and hopefully I can put up a few more."

He's getting the chance to string a few together again after falling out of favor with Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and GM Ken Holland for not holding onto the puck long enough and not looking eager to take on physical contact in order to make plays.

After Holland for 26-year old Kyle Quincey -- a former Red Wings defense prospect before leaving in 2008 as a waiver claim -- it looked like neither Smith nor Kindl would get significant minutes again this season.

Then a rash of injuries to Detroit's blue line a week ago changed those plans. Jonathan Ericsson broke his wrist, Nicklas Lidstrom suffered an ankle injury and Quincey injured his groin. That opened the door for Kindl to return to the lineup and Smith to earn a call-up from AHL Grand Rapids.

Quincey will return to the lineup Friday, but Babcock will keep his young pair together for a second straight game.

"It's crazy," Kindl said. "You never know when you're going to be out there, but some things you can't control. You just have to always be ready and do everything you can. Whenever you have the chance, you've just got to be ready."

Smith said he's felt ready to play in the NHL for a while, and he'll get the chance now to see if he's right.

"I think we went from eight 'D' to four 'D' in, like, 23 hours," said Smith. "It's an opportunity for (me), and I'm pretty excited about it. I'm just going to try to not waste this opportunity and get out there and play my best. These are the things I've been told to try to manage."

He's gotten a good amount of practice at it, too, just by monitoring the defense situation in Detroit while playing in Grand Rapids.

"The biggest thing is to not let all of the news get to your head," Smith said. "When you get the call, play well. When you're down (in the AHL), play well. When you're a professional player, it's just about playing well and being consistent. It doesn't matter if you're up or down. These are the things I've got to do."

He also had to play it as cool as possible when Holland picked up Quincey and not let it send an unintended message about his play or development path.

"Obviously, for myself, I was a little shocked," Smith said. "I was like, 'Wow.' But I called my dad and my agent, and they're just like, 'Hey, it's all the master plan. You know that you're a good player. Don't let that stuff get into your head.' Because if it does get into your head, then you're not playing your best, you're playing to what you think is going on. You're distracted. You never want to be like that."

It helped hearing comments from Holland and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock about how well he was developing and likely would have a role in the NHL next season. He also was told that Holland declined a couple of trade offers that had his name in them.

"A few people have told me there were a few offers, and (Holland and Babcock) told me I'm the future (plans), and I'll be around for a while ... which is awesome to hear," Smith said. "For Kenny to tell me I'm the future of the Red Wings, it's pretty cool. I'm just going to try to play my best and try to live up to that."

Kindl knows the feeling well, as Detroit's first round pick (No. 19) in the 2005 Entry Draft. He's been trying to find a regular spot in the top-six defense corps for the last couple of seasons and continues to come across speed bumps.

One thing he's learned along the way: Don't try to do too much to get noticed, just do what's necessary each game. He'll probably share that wisdom with Smith prior to Friday's game, which the rookie anticipates bringing a healthy dose of nerves beforehand.

"We're young guys," Kindl said. "We've just got to keep it simple. Smitty is a good player. He can skate and carry the puck. We've just got to talk to each other and help each other out and play simple."
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:41 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Flyers' van Riemsdyk to miss 4-6 weeks

Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren announced Friday that forward James van Riemsdyk will undergo surgery Tuesday to repair a broken bone in his left foot.

The surgery, which includes the insertion of a plate, will sideline van Riemsdyk for 4-6 weeks.

Van Riemsdyk left Thursday's victory against the New York Islanders midway through the first period after blocking a shot from the point by defenseman Milan Jurcina. Van Riemsdyk would skate one more shift, his fifth of the game, before exiting for good.

The 22-year-old van Riemsdyk has missed 20 games this season, including 15 due to a concussion, which sidelined him from Jan. 14 to Feb. 16. He has 11 goals, 24 points and 24 penalty minutes in 43 games this season.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:39 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - At the Rink blog

Emery back where his NHL career began

As soon as he finished off his sterling relief appearance Wednesday in Chicago, Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery had to know what was coming:

A start in Ottawa. A media blitz at the pregame skate at Scotiabank Place. Questions of how he'll be received by fans in Canada's capital city.

It's all coming true.

Emery will start Friday (7 p.m. ET, TSN) against his old team in his old barn, where he played in the Stanley Cup Final nearly five full years ago. However, Emery, who made 23 saves in a 5-4 come-from-behind relief win against the Maple Leafs on Wednesday, told that he's not necessarily thinking about the past or what happened when he was in Ottawa four years ago.

"It's very special," Emery said Friday morning. "It's the team I was drafted by and we had a good year going to the Cup Final (in 2007), but you have to put that in the back of your head and focus on the game. Especially at this time of the year; it's a huge game for us."

Emery was drafted by the Senators in the fourth round (No. 99) in 2001. He used to room with Jason Spezza when they played with AHL Binghamton, and six years after he was drafted he was the goalie that led Ottawa to the Stanley Cup Final.

Emery won 33 games in the regular season in 2006-07, and won another 13 in the playoffs. He was the "it" guy in a city that has a love affair with its hockey team.

But then it all went south.

Emery had a series of off-ice incidents that caused headaches for GM Bryan Murray and then-coach John Paddock. Murray tried to trade Emery in 2008, but couldn't find any takers and ended up buying Emery out of his contract following the 2007-08 season.

After spending a year playing in Russia, Emery returned to the NHL for the 2009-10 season with the Philadelphia Flyers. However, he suffered a debilitating hip injury that season that nearly cost him his playing career. He made it back with Anaheim last season, and after a strong playoff run, he earned a one-year contract in training camp with the Blackhawks this season.

Corey Crawford's inconsistencies have opened the door for Emery to take over as the Blackhawks' No. 1 goalie, which leads his story back to Ottawa, where it all began.

Emery enters Friday's game with a 12-8-2 record and 2.72 goals-against average. The win he earned Wednesday was his first since Jan. 20, but if he can string together some good starts, odds are he can wrestle the No. 1 job away from Crawford in time for the Hawks to make a run to secure their playoff berth.

"The competitiveness is there and it's good to see him do well," Spezza said of Emery, according to the Ottawa Sun.

Emery isn't sure how he'll be greeted by the fans at Scotiabank Place.

"Getting booed on the road is like getting cheered at home," he told reporters. "We'll see how it goes."

Chris Neil told the Ottawa Sun he expects the fans will greet the former Emery warmly.

"He was a big part of the year we went to the Final, so I think fans will have good memories of him and obviously there'll be a warm welcome for him," Neil said. "He's turned his life and his career around. He's been able to battle back through (his hip injury), and it's a feel-good story."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:32 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Anderson trying to stay in shape while finger heals

Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson on Thursday spoke to the media for the first time since badly cutting his finger while preparing a meal last week.

The cut required surgery to repair a severed tendon in the pinkie finger on Anderson's right hand. The right-handed Anderson said he's still unable to hold a stick.

"I really don't care to talk about the details of it all," Anderson said at Scotiabank Place on Thursday. "(It was a) freak accident. Happened in the kitchen. Leave it at that. Something you learn from. Unfortunately, it was a costly mistake."

In Anderson's absence, Robin Lehner, 20, will make his third straight start in goal when the Senators host the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday (7 p.m. ET, TSN).

"All I can do right now is make sure I stay in shape," said Anderson. "I'm able to go out there and skate with my gear on, so that's the main thing right now -- just keeping my legs (in shape) and keeping everything strong so that when I do have a chance to come back, I'm physically ready to go.

"The pain factors into it, and we don't want to reinjure it. So there's a lot of things to take into consideration, but holding a stick is one of the main things that enables me to do my job."

Anderson said he knew right away that he had a big problem.

"I knew it was severe when it happened," he said. "I knew it wasn't the end of the world. I knew I had an issue, I knew I needed to take care of it. My main concern was just to get the help I needed right away, get the right people involved right away to make sure the road to recovery happened as soon as possible."

Anderson, who is tied for fifth in the League with 29 wins, is uncertain how long he will remain sidelined.

"Hard to say. Timeline is wide open right now," he said. "All I can do is make sure I stay in shape. Go out there and skate with my gear on, keep my legs, keep everything strong so that when I am ready to come back, I am physically strong.

"Right now, it's still the opening stages of everything. One hundred-percent recovery is obviously not going to happen in the short-term. To be able to play is the main thing right now, and there is no timeline on that right now. There's improvement every day."
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:27 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Purcell turning in top-line performance

TAMPA, Fla. -- Playing on the first-line with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell is riding a career-best seven-game point-scoring streak. In four games last week, Purcell had 3 goals and 7 assists.

"Purcell has been terrific for the last 20 games, so I'm sure he wants to keep it going," said Lightning coach Guy Boucher. "He's reached the level of play we were hoping we would get from him at the beginning of the year, because of how he ended last year in the playoffs. For some reason he didn't start so well and it took until Christmas to see the best of him. I don't want it to end."

Purcell was a surprise standout for the Lightning in the playoffs last season with 17 points in 18 games. His 17 goals in 62 games this season match the career-best total he had in 82 games last season.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:24 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Latest Lightning challenge -- East-best Rangers

TAMPA, Fla. -- Six points out of a playoff spot with 19 games remaining, the Tampa Bay Lightning have battled a variety of plagues as they try to stay in the race.

There have been injuries to mainstays like Vincent Lecavalier, Victor Hedman and Marc-Andre Bergeron; trades with took three popular players out of the locker room; and most recently a flu bug which forced the team to use six AHL call-ups for Tuesday's game against Montreal. However, through all that, the Lightning have won five of their last seven games, including four straight at home.

Their next challenge arrives Friday as the New York Rangers visit the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the fourth and final meeting this season (7:30 p.m., NHLN-US).

While the Rangers provide one type of challenge, it appears another one seems to have moved on.

"I think everyone is healthy," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said regarding the flu virus. "I'm afraid to say for certain because there is still half-a-day left until we play."

Keith Aulie, acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline, will make his Lightning debut Friday. He was one of three blueliners -- along with Mike Commodore and Brian Lee -- the team acquired Monday. Commodore and Lee made their debuts with the team in Tuesday's win against Montreal.

"I thought Commodore and Lee played great last game," Boucher said. "Lee had a few solid body checks; Commodore, too. That was really welcome. We have been a smaller, skill-type of defensive team concerning our defensive corps, and it was good to see size and aggressiveness. They are welcome on our team; they are really good additions."

Here's what the rest of the Lightning lineup could look like tonight:

Teddy Purcell - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
Ryan Malone - Adam Hall - Tim Wallace
Tom Pyatt - Nate Thompson - JT Wyman
Brandon Segal - Brett Connolly

Eric Brewer - Brett Clark
Mike Commodore - Brian Lee
Bruno Gervais - Brendan Mikkelson
Keith Aulie

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

For six months, it's a really good accomplishment. But as soon as April [11, the end of the regular season] comes around, no one thinks about the regular season anymore. For six months, it's a real battle to get into the playoffs in the NHL these days. There are a lot of good teams, and it takes consistency over a long time.

— Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on clinching a playoff berth after a win against the Islanders on Saturday
AMP No Bull Moment of the Week