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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 1:24 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry Melrose Mullet of the Week goes to...

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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 1:09 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Potential lineups for Stars, Kings

Here's what the lineups could look like when the Stars and Kings take the ice tonight in Dallas:

STARS
Steve Ott - Jamie Benn - Loui Eriksson
Brenden Morrow - Mike Ribeiro - Michael Ryder
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Toby Petersen - Jake Dowell - Adam Burish

Alex Goligoski - Adam Pardy
Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley - Nicklas Grossman

Kari Lehtonen will start in net, backed up by Andrew Raycroft.

KINGS
Simon Gagne - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Dustin Brown
Ethan Moreau - Jarret Stoll - Brad Richardson
Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Scott Parse

Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Rob Scuderi - Jack Johnson
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick will be back in goal, with Jonathan Bernier serving as the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 1:01 PM

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

Pouliot looks forward to facing Canadiens

BOSTON – Forward Benoit Pouliot’s only three-point game of the 2010-11 season while he was with Montreal was against his former team, the Minnesota Wild.

So maybe Thursday night against the Canadiens will be the game Pouliot breaks out as a member of the Boston Bruins.

“I think everyone would agree with that,” said Pouliot when asked about the having extra motivation against a former team after the Bruins’ morning skate at TD Garden. “You face your old team, you obviously want to prove ‘Hey, you didn’t want to keep me, I’ll show you.’ But … it pumps you up even more, I think. Obviously it’s going to be my first game against Montreal, we have plenty of them all year long, so I see this as just a little boost at the same time. Just play the same way I’ve been playing and rack up the points.”

Unfortunately for Pouliot and the Bruins, the way he’s been playing hasn’t led to racking up points. He has yet to hit the score sheet in any form through eight games in black and gold. Assuming he’s in the lineup Thursday night, he’ll skate next to center David Krejci and right winger Nathan Horton.

Despite the lack of production, Pouliot, the No. 4 pick by Minnesota in 2005, says that Boston has been a better fit for him than Montreal.

“It’s just a matter of knowing what you do right or wrong, not hiding it – let the guy know and he’ll work on it,” said Pouliot while obviously comparing Bruins head coach Claude Julien to Montreal coach Jacques Martin. “And it’s something that Claude’s been good to me so far. He’s been talking to me. The assistant coaches talk to me all the time, video and stuff. For me personally, I just have to show up and work hard, be consistent every night. And I think in practice and in games, so far things have been going well. Maybe not the points, but everything else for me was to work hard, so it’s good so far. We’ve just got to start winning games and things will be OK.”



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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 1:00 PM

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

Potential lineups for Flyers, Jets

PHILADELPHIA -- Coming off last night's 5-1 loss in Montreal, the Philadelphia Flyers opted not to skate today, so there's no real guarantee on what their lineup could look like heading into tonight's game against the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets, meanwhile, will play the first game of their season-long seven-game road trip tonight, and had every player on the ice this morning.

Here is what the Flyers might look like, and what the Jets will look like tonight:

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

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Andrej Meszaros - Andreas Lilja
Matt Carle - Matt Walker

Coach Peter Laviolette was non-committal on his goaltender for tonight, but the guess is Sergei Bobrovsky gets the start, considering Ilya Bryzgalov played last night, in addition to the fact that he's given up at least four goals in three straight games.

The other change in the lineup could be Jody Shelley drawing in on the fourth line in place of Nodl.

JETS
Alexander Burmistrov - Nik Antropov - Evander Kane
Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Kyle Wellwood
Kenndal McArdle - Tim Stapleton - Blake Wheeler
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

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

Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal, with Chris Mason serving as the backup.

Ben Maxwell will be a healthy scratch, as Slater returns to the lineup after missing Monday's game with an upper-body injury suffered Oct. 22 against Carolina.

Eric Fehr also skated with the team; check back in a bit for more on him and his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.

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

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

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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 1:00 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Stars relishing another shot at Kings

DALLAS -- When the Dallas Stars (7-2-0, 14 points) and Los Angeles Kings (5-2-1, 11 points) met on Saturday night at the Staples Center, it was the Kings who came away with a 1-0 victory thanks to a goal by Jack Johnson with just under five minutes remaining.

Even though the Stars came up on the short end of the stick that night in Los Angeles, first-year coach Glen Gulutzan and his players agree that was one of their best games on the young season.

In fact, that defeat was the lone blemish on a four-game road trip that saw the Stars finish at 3-1 with wins over the Blue Jackets, Ducks and Coyotes.

Considering how close the last meeting was with the Kings, there isn’t much Gulutzan would change heading into tonight's rematch at the American Airlines Center.

"No, not really," Gulutzan said. "They got a few faceoff plays. They ran on us and we have to be a little bit more aware of those and how we're going to defend those. They're so stingy. They've got good goaltending. They're a well-balanced group. They're structured. I think we just want to get into that same type of game that we were in Saturday night and hope for a different result."

In the last meeting between these two clubs, Dallas actually outshot the Kings, something they've done in only three of their first nine games this year and both teams were just 0-for-1 on the power play.

But it was Johnson's goal at 15:02 of the final frame that was the deciding blow in a close win for the home team. And while the Stars players are pleased with their effort just five days ago on the road, they also want another shot at Los Angeles, this time on their home ice.

"Yeah, I think it's a big test for us," Dallas defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "The last game we played on Saturday against these guys, we played well, maybe our best game of the year and we didn't get the win. To come right back and get a chance is a good test for our hockey club, a good test for our character. LA's the best team we've seen so far and we have to be at our best to have a chance against them."

Stars center Mike Ribeiro, who is currently second on the team with 7 points, agrees their last game against the Kings was one of their better efforts of the year. It's a performance he'd like to see replicated tonight in the Lone Star State.

"Yeah, we played good out there, a pretty intense game, probably our best game of the year," Ribeiro said. "We went at them but couldn't score. I think it was a really intense, physical and really good game to be part of. We'll come back and battle the same way."

Heading into tonight's contest, Dallas is a perfect 4-0-0 to start the season at home and the Stars are one of three NHL clubs that have yet to lose in their own building. The last time Dallas started the year 4-0-0 at home was in 1998-99, when it won the Stanley Cup.
   
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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 12:50 PM

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

Upcoming lull in schedule should help get Sid ready

PITTSBURGH -- Finally, the Pittsburgh Penguins will catch a break next week.
 
A schedule break, and a long-awaited one at that. One that might accelerate star Sidney Crosby's return to the lineup.
 
The Penguins are beginning their season by playing 13 games in 24 days, a hectic pace that concludes with games Thursday against the Islanders and Saturday at Toronto. By contrast, they play only 12 games in 31 days in January, partly because of the All-Star break.
 
So many games in so few days this month -- only once have the Penguins had even a two-day break between games -- hasn't allowed for much practice time. Or time that is needed for Crosby to be introduced to more contact, which he needs before he can be cleared for game action.
 
Crosby, who is healing from a concussion, has taken part mostly in game-day skates, during which contact is minimal at best.
 
Next week, though, the Penguins will enjoy a four-day break before they play at San Jose next Thursday and Los Angeles on Nov. 5. After that, they have five days off before a Nov. 11 home game against Dallas.
 
Those days, coach Dan Bylsma said, will permit more detail work during practices than the Penguins can experience while playing so often.
 
"I think you'll see some days for the whole team to rest, but that time will also allow us to have some type of practices that are different than even what we go through (on a normal practice day)," Bylsma said. "That'll be balanced with some rest days as well. But I think our team -- not just Sidney -- knows we need some work and some work days."
 
Bylsma said the Penguins, despite their strong start, need some "work-day practices where we're getting pace and tempo and some battle into our game in different areas. Those are areas that we all know we need. Not just guys who are returning from injuries, or Sidney."
 
Crosby was cleared Oct. 13 for contact during practice, but has yet to experience anything other than bumping or shoving -- and nothing approximating what occurs during a game.
 
Crosby didn't get much time on the ice during Thursday but took full advantage of it, flying down the ice with excellent acceleration while shooting with precision and authority. At times he was a white-and-purple blur, reflecting the specially-designed jerseys the Penguins wore during the morning skate and will don again for the pre-game warm-ups. The jerseys will be auctioned on NHL.com starting Nov. 1 as part of the NHL's Hockey Fights Cancer initiative.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 12:45 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Senators, Panthers

Here are the projected lines for Thursday night's game between the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place:

SENATORS

Milan MichalekJason SpezzaColin Greening
Nick FolignoStephane Da CostaDaniel Alfredsson
Kaspars DaugavinsZack SmithChris Neil
Erik CondraZenon KonopkaJesse Winchester

Jared CowenSergei Gonchar
Chris PhillipsDavid Rundblad
Filip KubaErik Karlsson

Craig Anderson gets the start, with Alex Auld serving as backup.

Peter Regin will be out 6-8 weeks with an injury to his left shoulder. He was hurt during the Oct. 20 game against Winnipeg after receiving a hit from Nik Antropov, and chosen rehab over surgery (Regin had the same shoulder repaired last season).

Bobby Butler has been cleared to play, but will be listed as a healthy scratch, along with Brian Lee.

PANTHERS


Shawn MatthiasTim KennedyMatt Bradley
Scottie UpshallMarcel GocTomas Kopecky
Tomas FleischmannStephen WeissKris Versteeg
Jack SkilleMike SantorelliMarco Sturm

Brian CampbellJason Garrison
Dmitry KulikovMike Weaver
Ed JovanovskiErik Gudbranson

Jacob Markstrom will get the start, with Jose Theodore backing him up.

Near the end of Thursday's practice, and in front of his teammates, Florida coach Kevin Dineen informed Gudbranson, the No. 3 pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, that he would be remaining with the big club. Gudbranson is set to play his ninth NHL game tonight, and once he plays his 10th the first year of his entry-level contract will kick in.

The announcement was met with cheers and hugs from the rest of the Panthers. According to George Richards of the Miami Herald, Erik's father, Wayne, was spotted choking up in the stands at the happy news.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 12:38 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Penguins, Islanders

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby took his customary skate this morning during the Penguins' practice session, working with Steve MacIntyre and Mark Letstu.
 
Crosby won't make his season debut tonight against the New York Islanders, but he was certainly in a jovial mood and having fun with his teammates. He also worked the point on the power-play alongside Paul Martin with forwards Mark Letstu, Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke down low.
 
With the luxury of the final line change, expect Penguins coach Dan Bylsma to have two-way center Jordan Staal on the ice whenever Islanders center John Tavares, who leads his team with 6 goals and 10 points, takes his shift.
 
"Tavares did things in our last game that were very dangerous and very good in the offensive zone, cutting the seams and pulling up on rushes and looking for late defensemen," Bylsma said. "His line was dangerous in the game and could have got them on the board. In the third period, he also had several chances. Tonight, playing home gives us a chance to maybe get a little closer matchup on him than we could have on the road.
 
"In a perfect world, you'll see Jordan Staal out on him a lot either with his wings (Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis) or maybe with (Craig Adams and Dustin Jeffrey)."
 
The Penguins players wore special purple jerseys at the morning skate and will again don the attire during pre-game warmups on Thursday while the organization supports the NHL's annual Hockey Fights Cancer initiative. Each player will sign his jersey following the warm-up, and those jerseys will then be auctioned off at NHL.com beginning on Nov. 1.
 
Bylsma said the lineups would be a gametime decision, but here's what rolled during the morning practice session.
 
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Richard Park - Arron Asham
Dustin Jeffrey - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams
 
Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Brooks Orpik - Deryk Engelland
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy
 
Marc-Andre Fleury, who posted a 33-save, 3-0 victory over the Islanders in Uniondale, N.Y., on Tuesday, again gets the nod between the pipes and Brent Johnson will back him up.
 
Meanwhile, Islanders defenseman Milan Jurcina will make his season debut in place of Mike Mottau.
 
"Mike has played extremely well for us, as have all our D," Isles coach Jack Capuano said. "We just want to get Juice (Jurcina) back in."
 
This should be the Islanders' lineup:
 
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Brian Rolston - Josh Bailey - Blake Comeau
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Jay Pandolfo
 
Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina
 
Evgeni Nabokov will start in net. Rick DiPietro will serve as the backup.
 
In addition to the game, there's also plenty of fervor and excitement building up over the big League announcement that will be made at 3 p.m. ET here at Consol Energy Center. Stay tuned to NHL.com for complete details ...

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

 

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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 12:35 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Gudbranson likely staying with the Panthers


Florida Panthers announced Thursday that rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson will stay with the team beyond his ninth game, which is Thursday night in Ottawa.

That is significant because once a player plays in his 10th game, the clock begins ticking on his entry-level deal. So, by keeping Gudbranson around, Florida will burn the first year of the rookie's three-year deal.

If he was not kept up, he would have had to have been returned to his junior team, the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League

“He’s played well enough, and it’s a positive that he stays here,’’ Florida GM Dale Tallon told the Miami herald on Weddnesday. “We’ll decide on Friday. But there’s a good chance — we’re leaning toward keeping him. What’s best for his future, for him totally is what’s important. Is it best for him to stay here? At this time, I would probably say it is. He’s been fine. I think he has a presence out there. … It will probably be better for him once we make this decision.’’

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Posted On Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 12:34 PM

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

Pacioretty faces Bruins for first time since injury

BOSTON -- After beating Philadelphia, 5-1, last night in Montreal, the Canadiens did not hold a morning skate in preparation for their evening matchup with the Boston Bruins tonight at TD Garden.

Health permitting, this will be the first time Montreal forward Max Pacioretty and Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara have been on the ice together since the incident last March, when Chara hit Pacioretty into the stanchion between the benches at the Bell Centre. Pacioretty suffered a fractured vertebrae and concussion, but has recovered and now leads the Canadiens with 9 points (4 goals). He scored twice against the Flyers.

After practice Wednesday, Chara responded to a question about being on the ice with Pacioretty by just saying "I'm looking forward to playing the game."

Pacioretty's early-season success means the Bruins will have to keep an eye on him for the right reasons.

"I can tell you honestly, the one thing we're happy about -- and that would be for anybody else -- is that he's healthy," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "As a player in the League, you don't want to see somebody end his career on an unfortunate accident. But what you want to see is a player come back and be healthy. As far as that's concerned, he's healthy, we've turned the page and now it's time to move on."

Bruins forward Benoit Pouliot was on the other side last season when the Chara hit on Pacioretty occurred. He doesn't expect anything extracurricular to unfold tonight.

"I'm sure Z, it's not something he wanted to do, obviously. It was a vulnerable position for 'Patch' and he got hurt. It's unfortunate that that happened, but I think it's in the past and we didn't really talk about it," Pouliot said. "I don't think it's something that … maybe the fans and them are anticipating something, but we're just playing our game. Big Z is Big Z; he's been awesome. So I don't think it's going to be a big deal."

Here are the lines and D pairs that finished the victory over the Flyers last night and are expected to face the Bruins:

Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta
Michael Cammalleri - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Travis Moen - Lars Eller - Andrei Kostitsyn
Mathieu Darche - Petteri Nokelainen - Mike Blunden

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

Carey Price is expected to start in goal.


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