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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 12:49 PM

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

Islanders staying the same

PHILADELPHIA -- Coming off a 3-0 win against the Capitals in Washington on Tuesday, New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano said he didn't see any reason to change his lineup for tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

That means defenseman Dylan Reese stays in the lineup for a second straight game in place of veteran Steve Staios.

Capuano said he's been impressed by what he's seen of Reese since the 6-foot-1, 201-pounder was recalled from AHL Bridgeport on Jan. 6.

"In Bridgeport, he's a 26-, 27-minute guy down there, he plays in all situations," said Capuano. "When you play that many minutes in those situations, you work on a lot of things. His game has come a long way."

Here's the rest of what the Islanders' lineup will look like when they hit the ice tonight:

Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Matt Martin - Josh Bailey - Brian Rolston
Tim Wallace - Jay Pandolfo - Nino Niederreiter

Mark Streit - Milan Jurcina
Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald
Mark Eaton - Dylan Reese

Evgeni Nabokov will start in net, with Al Montoya backing him up.

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

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 12:34 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Predators claim Yip off waivers

The Nashville Predators made a pair of roster moves Thursday, claiming forward Brandon Yip off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche and activating forward Jerred Smithson off injured reserve.

Yip was scoreless in 10 games for the Avalanche this season while missing time due to arm and groin injuries. An eighth-round pick by Colorado in the 2004 Entry Draft, he has 23 goals and 41 points in 113 games over parts of three seasons with the Avs.

A 6-foot-1, 195-pound right wing, Yip recorded 45 goals and 108 points in 139 games with Boston University from 2005-09, helping the Terriers win the 2009 NCAA national championship on a team that also included current Predators forward Colin Wilson.

Smithson, who was out with a lower-body injury, has 1 goal and 4 points in 41 games this season.
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 11:58 AM

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

Recent thrashing by Bruins fresh in Devils' minds

NEWARK, N.J. -- Not enough time has passed for the Devils to forget about the 6-1 thrashing the Bruins laid on them here at Prudential Center on Jan. 4. The fact that New Jersey has won five of six since that beating means something heading into Thursday's showdown against Boston, but not enough to change the feeling that this game in front of them is a huge test and so important.

"We saw where the bar was for the best team in the League the last time we played these guys, and we didn't measure up," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "We have another opportunity two weeks later to see if we can get there. I think we can get to that level, but it's going to take a team effort to do that."

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was beaten six times on 27 shots the last time these teams met. He'll be back in net Thursday to try to exact some revenge, but it's really about what happens in front of Brodeur that will make the difference.

The Devils had no jump the last time they played the Bruins, and they were beaten to every loose puck and lost just about every physical battle. The Bruins were relentless, too. They took a 3-1 lead into the third period, and then got goals from Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Shawn Thornton before the final buzzer rang.

"You've got to be physical and you've got to work hard," Brodeur said of how the Devils can beat the Bruins. "You've got to win battles along the boards and in the faceoff circles, all the little battles all over the ice. If you can't battle with them, it's going to be tough to win the hockey game."

The Devils feel they'll be able to match that battle level Thursday. They learned the hard way what happens when they don't.

"We were doing well at the time we met them, and we kind of hit a wall there," Brodeur said. "I think we came back and did well on our side, and now we have another chance to see how we measure up. Hopefully we've learned from how we played. They played a good game against us, but we didn't feel we competed to the level that they brought to us. We'll try to change that tonight, that's for sure."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 11:54 AM

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

Devils get Henrique back in lineup against Bruins

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils rookie center Adam Henrique will return to the lineup Thursday night against the Bruins after missing the last two games with a groin injury. Henrique will be back in his customary spot between left wing Zach Parise and right wing Ilya Kovalchuk on the Devils' top line.

"It felt good this morning, so I'm excited to get back in and play," Henrique said after participating in New Jersey's optional morning skate.

Henrique suffered the injury during the Devils 2-1 overtime win at Edmonton last week. He said Wednesday after practicing for the first time that he was definitely thinking about the injury throughout the entire practice session.

However, he said Thursday morning that won't be the case against the Bruins.

"The first practice back is a little different, but I'll be ready to go tonight," Henrique said.

Mattias Tedenby will be a healthy scratch and Martin Brodeur will get the start in net against the Bruins, who beat the Devils at Prudential Center, 6-1, on Jan. 4.

Here is the Devils projected lineup, or at least the one that was written on the white board inside the team's dressing room:

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Steven Zalewski - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Brad Mills - Cam Janssen

Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Kurtis Foster

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 1:51 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman - Staff Writer / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Blake's offense gives Ducks boost

Jason Blake is no stranger to a productive NHL season.

After all, he has been part of five 20-plus goal campaigns, including a 40-goal outing in 2006-07.

Despite all the success, the past few seasons have seen a drop in production.

Jason Blake
Left Wing - ANA
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 8
SOG: 30 | +/-: 4
Nowadays, things are looking pretty, pretty, pretty...pretty good. Not only for the Ducks, who are doing nothing but torching opponents night in, night out, but for Blake, too.

In the 11 games he's appeared in this season, the 38-year-old has 4 goals and 4 assists, including a power play goal and 30 shots.

What's more, his solid play has come of late, as Blake is riding a three-game point streak, in which he's compiled six points on two multi-point nights. 

On Sunday night against a formidable Vancouver squad, the 5-foot-10 left wing had himself a pair of goals, three points and threw 10 shots toward the cage.

As the Ducks aim to build on their three-game winning streak, Blake can be a beneficiary of solid offensive production. Keep an eye on him as a  healthy option to boost your fantasy squads.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 11:14 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

FLA @ COL- 18:48 of the Second Period

At 18:48 of the second period in the Panthers / Avalanche game, video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that the goal credited to Stephen Weiss entered the net in a legal fashion. Good goal Florida.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 8:26 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Blues give goalie Elliott two-year extension

ST. LOUIS -- By locking up Brian Elliott for two more years, St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong believes he has the best -- if not one of the best -- goalie tandems in the NHL.

Elliott's resurrection continued Wednesday, when the Blues announced they signed the All-Star goaltender to a two-year contract extension worth $3.6 million.

It's quite a story for a guy who entered last summer without a job, searching for work and now getting job security in mid-season.

Brian Elliott
Goalie - STL
RECORD: 15-5-1
GAA: 1.68 | SVP: 0.937
"I wasn't really expecting it because I haven't been approached like that before ... it's always been in the off-season," Elliott said. "I was happy that they wanted me to stay. Whenever you get that, you know that they're impressed with you and your work ethic. I was happy that they did and we came to an agreement that we both felt was a good deal."

Elliott, who is 15-5-1 with a 1.68 goals-against average (second in the NHL), .937 save percentage and five shutouts, signed a one-year, two-way contract on July 1 worth $600,000. He will make $1.7 million next season and $1.9 million in 2013-14, with a $1.8 million cap hit.

With Elliott and Jaroslav Halak in the fold for at least the next two seasons, the Blues feel good about what they have on their team but also at the AHL level with Ben Bishop and Jake Allen.

"We're excited to have the tandem of Jaro and Brian together for the next two seasons," Armstrong said. "Goaltending's such a big part of our game. To know now that we have two goalies that we think are entering the prime of their careers together, to have that partnership together is very important for us.

"For Brian especially, the situation he was in last summer wondering where he was going to play and finding a good home here in St. Louis and doing his job on the ice, I think it's a great story. Now he can settle in and take his career to the next level with our group."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has a problem on his hands -- a good problem. When he has to go game by game to pick a goalie, it's nice to know there are two reliable guys to choose from.

"He's the perfect example of perseverance, but he's a great model for stay with it," Hitchcock said. "... I think the biggest thing Brian did was look in the mirror. It wasn't his work ethic, it wasn't his determination, it wasn't his conditioning. There were some things that had to change in his game. He had to just become more compact in his game and he's done that, he's done it beautifully. He's resurrected a career based on being able to look in the mirror and not feel sorry for himself, and make adjustments."

Elliott did not make the final roster until after the final preseason game on Oct. 1. He was battling with Bishop to be the backup to Halak.

But the 6-foot-3, 204-pound Elliott, who is in his fifth NHL season, has surpassed all expectations. He's allowed the fewest goals (36) and suffered the fewest losses among goalies with 20 starts or more. He's got a 9-1-1 mark at home.

"I'm not only excited for Brian, but I'm also excited about Jaro knowing he's going to have a healthy partner knowing that they can tandem up and try and keep us in the top tandem of the goaltending in the NHL for the next two plus years," Armstrong said.

With the season he's having and with impending unrestricted free agency looming this summer, the 26-year-old Elliott chose to remain in St. Louis knowing it will be a tandem and not a chance to go somewhere else and try to become a clear-cut No. 1.

"Things can go the other way, too," Elliott said. "You're basically playing the odds.

"You can say what if you get injured, or the other way, what if you lead the team to a couple playoff wins, you can be even more attractive. But I've learned from experience that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. I really like it here and I like the guys and I think it sets up well for my career. After this contract is done, I'll still be probably one of the younger goalies in the League, so it just builds on to the rest of my career."

A native of Newmarket, Ontario, Elliott is 76-58-17 in his career with the Blues, Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 5:40 PM

By Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Pepsi Center homecomings for Mueller, Fleischmann

DENVER -- It will be a homecoming of sorts for Peter Mueller and Tomas Fleischmann tonight when the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers meet at the Pepsi Center.

Mueller will play his first home game since opening night after he missed 41 consecutive games to recover from concussion-like symptoms. The 23-year-old right wing, who didn't play at all last season after suffering two concussions within a five-month period, returned to the Avalanche lineup last Thursday in Nashville and played in all three games of the road trip.

Fleischmann signed a four-year, $18 million contract with the Panthers as an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after collecting 8 goals and 13 assists in 22 games with the Avalanche last season. Acquired from Washington in a Nov. 30, 2010 trade in exchange for defenseman Scott Hannan, Fleischmann was a valuable offensive weapon but had to sit out the final 36 games after being diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs.

Fleischmann, 27, was put on medication and regained his health, and he's tied with Stephen Weiss for second in scoring on the Panthers with 15 goals and 19 assists in 44 games.

"He's a great kid and I enjoyed working with him last year," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said this morning. "He had some good production when he was with us; he had some good games when he was with us. Unfortunately, he got sidetracked by the injury there. Obviously, we went in a different direction in the offseason, but I'm glad to see that he's doing very well. I'm happy for him."

Sacco also has been pleased with the play of Mueller, who is still seeking his first point but had 11 shots on the three-game trip. He'll skate on a line with left wing TJ Galiardi and center Paul Stastny tonight.

"Good progression every game," Sacco said. "He feels more comfortable out there, and you can see that his energy level is increasing every time he steps on the ice. He's generated some scoring chances for himself and for his linemates. I think he's headed in the right direction. I know that he wants to get (a goal), and maybe feel a little better about himself. But I really like the way he's played, the way he's moving his feet. He's involved in the game physically, had three or four hits last game (Monday against Phoenix), so he's not shying away from the physical side of it.

"He's a good kid and he's gone through a long battle over the last couple of years. The guys in the room certainly are pushing for him and we're pushing for him and pulling for him and I'm hoping that he stays healthy and contributes to our team."

Mueller is excited to play before the home fans and is hopeful of returning to the form he displayed in 2009-10 when he had 9 goals and 11 assists in 15 games following his March 10, 2010 acquisition with Kevin Porter from Phoenix in exchange for Wojtek Wolski.

"I feel great. I definitely feel better than I did in the beginning of the year (when he played in the first three games)," Mueller said. "It seems like every game I've been getting more comfortable, and my ice time has been getting increased, which is nice. I'm still looking for that first (goal), but it's going to come sooner or later."

Tonight's game will be Mueller's first at the Pepsi Center since Oct. 8, when he had three shots in the Avalanche's 3-0 loss to Detroit.

"It's been quite some time," said Mueller, who is wearing a helmet with special padding and a tinted visor because bright arena lights can be difficult for concussion victims to handle. "I'm excited. It's going to be good to be in front of the home crowd and to hear the noise and just to be on the home ice. It's still a little weird waking up and knowing that you're going to play. It's a good feeling. I'm excited to be coming to the rink and being a part of the everyday situation."

Surgery for Jovo:
The Panthers announced today that defenseman Ed Jovanovski will undergo hand surgery on Thursday at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, Fla., and will be sidelined indefinitely. Jovanovski, 35, was injured in a first-period fight with Boston's Daniel Paille on Monday. Keaton Ellerby, who has 2 assists in 15 games, is expected to take Jovanovski's place against the Avalanche.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 5:30 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Kane recalls growing up as diehard Sabres fan

CHICAGO -- Somewhere in his parents' basement in Buffalo are a whole bunch of Buffalo Sabres hockey sweaters that used to belong to Patrick Kane.

Some have "Mogilny" or "Lafontaine" or "Hasek" stitched on the back, while several are No. 11 and have "Kane" across the nameplate. Those particular jerseys also have a captain's "C" in the front corner.

Needless to say, the Chicago Blackhawks' star forward was quite the Sabres fan when growing up in Buffalo. He'd attend games with his family and play "mini sticks" in the hallways outside the concession area between periods.

During the game, he'd sit near the visiting team's bench and soak in the entire scene -- from all the sticks in the rack to how each player looked as they came out from the locker room ready to play.

"I was probably five or six years old when I started and went to about 20 games a year until I was like 13 or 14 and I moved away from home," said Kane, who will face his childhood favorite team on Wednesday night at the United Center for the sixth time in his NHL career. "I probably became an even bigger Sabres fan just watching from the sidelines. I've got a lot of good memories in that rink, playing mini-sticks with my buddies in the hallway and missing periods because you're out playing mini-sticks."

In the Sabres' old arena, they'd used the heaters in the hallway as "nets" and shoot makeshift pucks at them with mini hockey sticks purchased at the concession stands. They also had another intermission tradition that involved food.

"I remember always having to get the nachos between the second and the first period and the ice cream between the second and third," Kane said on Wednesday morning. "Different things like that, that were kind of silly is what makes these games kind of special to me now … to look back on them."

He still keeps track of the Sabres and how they're doing season to season, but his days as a "fan" are over -- despite his friends and family back home still passionately following the Sabres.

"You keep track (of them), for sure," said Kane, whose favorite Sabres were Dominik Hasek, Alexander Mogilny and Pat Lafontaine -- along with the best players on opposing teams. "To say I'm rooting for them, I'd probably be lying to you. Ever since I got drafted to the Hawks, that's probably when my Sabres fan days died. Other than that, though, I still keep tabs on them. I guess that's just how it happens."

Thus, he won't feel any remorse if the Blackhawks add to Buffalo's current losing streak -- which stands at just two games in a row overall, but spans nine straight road games dating back to early November. Kane is well aware of how frustrating this season has been for the Sabres, because he hears about it a lot with the angst of friends back in Buffalo.

"There's a lot of frustration, for sure," Kane said. "You hear a lot of different things they're saying about the Sabres, but I don't know … sometimes a team doesn't have the right chemistry and sometimes you go through slumps. Who knows the real reason? I'm not really sure, to be honest with you, and right now I'm worried about tonight's game -- trying to pounce on a team that's struggling and hopefully make their wound a little worse."

Kane's been in a bit of a scoring funk recently, with just 3 goals in the past 27 games and none in the past six, but he's played well against his hometown team in the previous five meetings (2 goals and 3 assists).

"I don't get to play them much," Kane said. "I think this is the sixth time in my career, so it's a little more special. It's one of the first things you look for on the schedule, whether you're going back to Buffalo or they're coming here. It's exciting. It's a game that doesn't come around a lot and I try to take advantage of it."
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 4:41 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst / - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: My All-Star Game Starters

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Quote of the Day

The fans love it, and it looked like they were having fun. It was great to see this city [Columbus]. They had been waiting a couple years for this game. They did it right.

— Lightning captain Steven Stamkos after the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday