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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 12:45 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Could Jackets be looking into Nash trade?



Could the Columbus Blue Jackets be investigating a trade of captain Rick Nash?

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the team has made it clear to certain NHL clubs that Nash would be available for the right price.

"We're open to all options to try to improve the team," Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson told the newspaper this morning. "As far as rumors go, we're just not going to comment."

The rumor Howson mentioned is one from French-language TV station RDS, which reported Monday that the Jackets had put Nash on the trading block.

Citing a source, Dispatch writer Aaron Portzline wrote that Nash -- who has a no-movement clause -- has not requested a trade.

"The last couple of weeks there have been so many rumors," Nash told the newspaper following the team's morning skate. "And when a team loses, more rumors keep on surfacing. That's what it seems to be right now, is just rumors.

"I'm a Blue Jacket right now. I've played my whole career here and it's a special place to me. So as of right now I'm a Blue Jacket."

However, Portzline reports that following recent organizational meetings, which included, among others, owner John P. McConnell, president Mike Priest, Howson, senior advisor Craig Patrick and interim coach Todd Richards, that the possibility of trading Nash needed to be explored.

Last month, Nash told the Dispatch he had no desire to leave Columbus.

"I love Columbus. I love being here. I love being a Blue Jacket," he said. "The city of Columbus deserves a winner and deserves a good product on the ice. If it comes to that -- like you said, all speculation -- but if they don't want me here, they want to move me? I’m not going to do something where it's going to hurt the franchise just because I have that in my contract."

Howson, speaking with NHL.com Saturday in Philadelphia, said he wouldn't be commenting on any trade rumors leading into the deadline, but said he's determined the path the team wants to take.

"I'm not going to disclose what we're going to do, but we certainly have a plan in place," Howson told NHL.com. "We're working on it, we're talking to teams. We'll see … it's not just a pre-deadline plan. It's a plan leading up to the draft and leading into next season. We'll see what happens before the 27th and we expect to be active."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 12:45 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Trotz defends Quenneville

NASHVILLE -- The last time the Predators saw Chicago, the Blackhawks were riding high.

Nashville put an end to all of that. With consecutive wins against their Central Division rival Jan. 21 and Jan. 24 (Nashville actually had another game in between but Chicago did not), the Predators sent the Blackhawks into what was become their current eight-game winless streak.

During that span, Chicago has plummeted from having the most points in the League to sixth in the Western Conference and fourth in the division. Nashville can pad its lead on Chicago to seven points with a regulation victory today.

All of that has put some heat on Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who guided the team to the Stanley Cup in 2010. However, at least one member of the coaching fraternity has Quenneville's back.

"Joel's an outstanding coach," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "I'll say this: When you win, us coaches get too much credit, and when you lose, we get too much blame, and it's somewhere in between. He's got a wealth of knowledge. He's won Stanley Cups, he's been to the finals, he's done all that. … I don't know what criticism they're giving him, but he's one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League. They're just going through a dry patch."

Trotz also said he understands what the Blackhawks are going through.

"When things aren't going your way, everything's hard," Trotz said. "And you have to almost to accept that it's going to be hard and get enthused about the battle and the hardship you're going through. We've had our struggles in the past, but you become a stronger team through the battles …

"But it's not easy coming out of it. You've got to really want it."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 12:40 PM

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

Fedotenko skates, game-time decision for Rangers

BOSTON -- Ruslan Fedotenko skated with the Rangers on Tuesday morning for the first time since a hit by Tampa Bay's Dominic Moore last Thursday that knocked him out of the game.

Fedotenko missed the following two games, but he skated on his own Monday before taking part in practice in preparation for Tuesday night's clash with the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

"I feel better right now," said Fedotenko, whose left eye area was bruised as a result of Moore driving Fedotenko's stick into his face, a play that earned Moore a $2,500 fine. "I don't want to describe (the specifics of the injury). It's between me and the medical staff. I don't want to say too much. I'm sure you understand that."

Fedotenko tried riding a bike the day after the hit, but was unable to do so. He was smiling and not holding back during Tuesday's practice, but coach John Tortorella said he was unsure if Fedotenko would be back in the lineup against the Bruins.

Fedotenko said he would be a game-time decision and is day-to-day.

As for the hit, Fedotenko talked about it for the first time since it happened.

"I was angry at that point," Fedotenko said. "I felt like the puck was not near me at all, so I didn't really expect that hit. I think that's why it happened. We're trying to take these kind of plays away from the game, so we don't have any type of concussions and hurt each other. I don't know what to say. It's too bad. I'm sure he was not intending to hit me hard, but I think he was going after me because I hit him right before that."

Fedotenko was asked about the League's decision to fine but not suspend Moore because it was Fedotenko's stick that did the damage, not Moore's shoulder.

"On the one shot, you see the shoulder didn't hit me in the face, but I feel like intent was there," Fedotenko said. "The puck was not near me. They make the decisions and we'll go with that."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 12:24 PM

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

AHL recalls eager to get into Bruins' lineup

BOSTON -- With an 11-day, six-game road trip looming after they host the New York Rangers tonight at TD Garden, the Bruins have stocked their roster with a couple spare parts for use in case of emergency.

Defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk and forward Joshua Hennessy were recalled from the Providence (AHL) farm club Monday and both took part in the morning skate today. Both project to be healthy scratches against the Rangers.

For Hennessy, who was born in Brockton, Mass., joining his hometown team is a dream come true. The former second-round pick of San Jose is also overjoyed to be back in the NHL after skating in just 20 games over a three-season span and then playing last year in Switzerland.

Now he's 27 and feels better prepared to handle playing at the sport's highest level if he gets into the lineup.

"I'm a little older than the last time I was up. ... I'd say there's a lot less nerves this time," said Hennessy, whose only NHL experience came with Ottawa. "Should I get the opportunity to play, it's just move my feet, use my skating and puck-handling ability, I guess, and work hard, be responsible defensively -- leave an impression in absolutely any way possible."

Bodnarchuk also hasn't played in the NHL since the 2009-10 season, when he skated in four games for the Bruins. Boston used a fifth-round pick on Bodnarchuk in 2006, but other prospects have passed him on the depth chart the last couple seasons. Boston's desire to get regular seventh defenseman Steven Kampfer some consistent playing time in the AHL opened up this opportunity for Bodnarchuk, who has played better this season than last with the P-Bruins.

"This year I'm really, really happy with how the year's going. I think as a fourth-year pro, I'm still a young guy, but I have almost four years under my belt and I think the biggest thing for me has been my consistency," Bodnarchuk said. "Personally, game in and game out, I haven't had a bad game and I think that's a big thing for me. I came out of juniors an offensive guy and I sort of bought into the role as a defensive, shutdown PK guy. The consistency of my game in this year is what's really helped me come on and turn some more heads."


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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 11:40 AM

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

Julien doesn't want Bruins concerned with standings

BOSTON -- The last time the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins met, they were neck and neck in the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Rangers left the TD Garden that afternoon with a win and sole possession of first place. Now they return to the scene of that dramatic overtime victory with a comfortable seven-point lead. Bruins coach Claude Julien, however, doesn't want his team worrying about the standings as much as what his players have to do on the ice tonight.

"I don't think we're necessarily looking at this game like we need to catch up with these guys more than we need to play well, and play well to give us a chance to win the game," Julien said after his team's optional morning skate. "It's as simple as that. Right now, our issues are a lot different than worrying about how far ahead they are or how much we need to catch up. We just have to go out there and play. And if we play well and do the job that we know we can, well hopefully we'll come up with a win and the rest will take care of itself."

The Bruins will leave for a six-game, 11-day road trip after facing the Rangers. So they've recalled defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk and forward Joshua Hennessy to provide depth while away from home. But for tonight, the lineup figures to feature the same players that beat Nashville on Saturday:

Milan Lucic - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot - David Krejci - Jordan Caron
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 9:41 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Howson won't comment on Nash rumors

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson declined to comment on a report by French-language TV station RDS that Jackets captain Rick Nash has been placed on the trading block.

Dispatch writer Aaron Portzline, citing his sources, said Nash is not being shopped, nor is the club intent on moving him. However, he adds, the Jackets have reached a point where every player on the roster could be available for the right price and that includes Nash.

Nash has a no-movement clause in his contract, and told the newspaper late last month that he has no desire to leave Columbus.

"I love Columbus. I love being here. I love being a Blue Jacket," Nash said. "The city of Columbus deserves a winner and deserves a good product on the ice. If it comes to that -- like you said, all speculation -- but if they don't want me here, they want to move me? I’m not going to do something where it's going to hurt the franchise just because I have that in my contract."

Howson, speaking with NHL.com Saturday in Philadelphia, said he wouldn't be commenting on any trade rumors leading into the deadline, but said he's determined the path the team wants to take.

"I'm not going to disclose what we're going to do, but we certainly have a plan in place," Howson told NHL.com. "We're working on it, we're talking to teams. We'll see … it's not just a pre-deadline plan. It's a plan leading up to the draft and leading into next season. We'll see what happens before the 27th and we expect to be active."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 02.13.2012 / 10:08 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Morris scratched with groin injury

VANCOUVER -- Phoenix defenseman Derek Morris was a surprise late scratch for Monday night's game at Rogers Arena with a groin injury.

Spotted talking on his cell phone outside the arena just 35 minutes before the game, Morris had a good chuckle when asked if it had anything to do with the impending trade NHL deadline. The 33-year-old took the morning skate and was expected to play.

"Just old, bumps and bruises," Morris told NHL.com before confirming the groin injury.

Morris, under contract another two seasons with a $2.75-million salary cap hit, has one goal, nine points and minus-10 rating 48 games.

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Posted On Monday, 02.13.2012 / 9:19 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

SJ @ WSH - 19:59 of the Second Period



At 19:59  of the second period in the Sharks/Capitals game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Dmitry Orlov's shot crossed the goal line with 0.9 seconds left in the period. Good Goal Washington.
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Posted On Monday, 02.13.2012 / 5:42 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ballard still out, still being evaluated

VANCOUVER -- The Canucks aren't sure why yet. All they know Keith Ballard is out indefinitely.

The veteran defenseman missed the final two games of Vancouver's four-game road trip after a hit led to headaches -- and the possibility of a concussion -- and still wasn't back on the ice as the team prepared to host the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night.

Coach Alain Vigneault said Ballard was still being evaluated.

"We're not sure if it's neck-related or concussion-related, so docs are checking into the neck and if that's causing the headaches that he has now and then, or if it's as simple as it being a concussion," Vigneault said. "He's out until we figure out exactly what we got."

The line between head and neck injuries -- and relationship between the two -- has been blurred of late, with news Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby was suffering from a soft tissue injury in the neck, which could have masked themselves as the post-concussion symptoms first believed to have sidelined him.

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Posted On Monday, 02.13.2012 / 5:28 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Higgins skating, eager to return to Canucks' lineup

VANCOUVER -- Chris Higgins rejoined the Canucks for Monday's morning skate -- at least what's left of him.

Higgins has lost more than 10 pounds in his ongoing fight with staph infections, which caused him to twice miss games in December and left him unable to play the last five games because a poor reaction to medication made it hard to keep any food down.

The good news for Higgins, who also missed games while with Florida last season with a staph infection, is the latest absence was more about treating the infections than another return of them. That has him feeling somewhat confident the worst is past.

Higgins, who skated on his own three times before joining teammates, won't play against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night, but could return as early as Wednesday against the visiting Colorado Avalanche.

"It was just something that could have happened due to the medication I was taking for the back-to-back staph infections," Higgins said. "It was one of the reactions that was possible from taking medication for such a long time."

Higgins, who was among the Canucks' best forwards early this season, missed two games in early December when his foot swelled up after a three-point night for him and an eight-point outing for the second line. He returned for eight games before missing another three when the infection returned, but struggled with his energy levels after that, failing to score in 11 games in January while battling the draining effects of medication.

Higgins talked about finally getting back to normal before being a surprise late scratch in the last game of a recent home stand, and then missing all four games on the road.

"I'm just glad it's behind me, and looking forward to feeling normal again, like I did before the staph infections in December, and even the month of January was pretty tough for me physically. Hopefully my energy and weight comes back quickly," he said.

Higgins has already regained most of the lost weight -- a relatively enjoyable rehab.

"Going up in weight is more fun that trying to shed it," he said. "I'm enjoying desert after meals and don't have to worry too much about how many calories I'm taking in."

Now he's only focused on shedding his reputation the last two months.

"I don't want to be known as the sick guy, that's kind of sticking with me," said Higgins, who has 10 goals and 26 points in 45 games. "I want to shed that image."

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