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Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 1:43 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lidstrom demanding more

When the captain says something is wrong, you fix it.

That's the tact Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has taken with 41-year old captain and top defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who made it known after last season that he didn't really like having his ice time reduced.

Lidstrom still led the Wings in ice time last year, with an average of 23:28 per game, but he didn't play much on the penalty kill and Babcock also tried to back off his usually heavy workload through the regular season.

However, Lidstrom wasn't a big fan of sitting more.

"Last year we backed him off a little bit and he told me in the spring he didn't like it, so we just fixed it," Babcock said following the Red Wings' morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. "He says he plays better when he's playing. Last year, we didn't penalty kill him near as much. This year we are. We've got a little different rotation, so this year we are. He's been excellent."

He's also leading the Wings in ice time yet again through the first four games, logging an average of 24:01 per game thus far. That could change a little because of the schedule. Only playing four games to this point has allowed the players to get plenty of rest, but also will require some taxing back-to-back games ahead.

"When you play night in and night out and you travel like we do in the West here, especially with the three-hour time change, that might be different as time goes on," Babcock said of Lidstrom leading in ice time. "Right now it hasn't been an issue."

Lidstrom concurred.

"I still take a lot of pride in playing a lot of minutes and playing against the top lines and still being on specialty teams as well," said Lidstrom, who will play in his 1,500th NHL game Saturday against the Washington Capitals. "That's something we talked about in the offseason, to get the minutes up a little bit more. (Babcock) asked if I was ready for it and could still do it, and I said, 'Oh yeah. I'm more than willing to play more minutes.' When you're used to it, I think it's harder to play less and stay in a good rhythm."
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Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 1:05 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Devils expect to see extra motivation from Sharks

NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Havlat will make his Sharks debut tonight and he'll play on the second line with Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe. San Jose coach Todd McLellan has talked about how Couture and Clowe have to be better than they have been through four games, and hopes Havlat's presence will give them a jolt.

"Hopefully this is a catalyst to get them going," McLellan said.

McLellan said he will try to manage Havlat's minutes depending on how the forward feels, but he expects the speedy right wing to be flying tonight.

"Usually when guys come back, their first game is a good one and you have to watch them in Games 2 and 3 after that," McLellan said. "We hope we get that from him tonight."

Devils coach Peter DeBoer expects Havlat to be dangerous.

"He's another talented weapon they're adding to the arsenal," DeBoer said. "It doesn't change the game plan, but he's another guy you have to deal with. It spreads their offense over two lines and makes it a difficult matchup."

DeBoer also expects the Sharks to play with desperation because they're 1-3-0 and need to start their six-game road trip on a positive note.

"Obviously they're one of the best teams in the League and they're not where they want to be, which tells you there is going to be some desperation in their game," DeBoer said. "That makes them very dangerous. We have to be prepared for that."

The Sharks will have extra incentive tonight because Joe Thornton is playing in his 1,000th NHL game, and defenseman Colin White is returning to New Jersey as a visitor for the first time in his long career.

"White and Thornton shouldn't be the motivators for our team; it should be getting a win and playing properly for 60 minutes," McLellan said. "We've played well in a lot of the games, but not for a full 60. We've made some errors that have cost us, and we've talked about that -- how it's been on our tape, on their tape and into the net. We have to clean that up."

The Sharks are averaging over 40 shots per game, but they've scored only 10 goals.

"I'd like to see us get more determined around the opposition's net," McLellan said. "With the amount of opportunities we've created, not many have come on second and third chances."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 12:32 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blue Jackets, Red Wings

Here's what the projected lineups could look like for Friday night's game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena:

BLUE JACKETS
RJ Umberger - Derick Brassard - Rick Nash
Vinny Prospal - Antoine Vermette - Alexandre Giroux
Maksim Mayorov - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett
Cody Bass - Derek MacKenzie - Ryan Johansen

Fedor Tyutin - Radek Martinek
Grant Clitsome - Marc Methot
Kris Russell - Aaron Johnson

Steve Mason is expected to be the starting goalie with Allen York, an emergency recall from AHL Springfield, backing him up.

RED WINGS
Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Danny Cleary
Jiri Hudler - Valtteri Filppula - Johan Franzen
Justin Abdelkader - Darren Helm - Todd Bertuzzi
Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard is expected to be the starting goalie with Ty Conklin backing him up.




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Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 11:43 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

More minutes OK for Kovalchuk

NEWARK, N.J. -- It's only a four-game snapshot, but Ilya Kovalchuk is looking good and feeling good despite logging ice time befitting a No. 1 defenseman, not a first- or second-line left wing.

Kovalchuk enters Friday's game against San Jose fourth in the NHL in ice time per game at 27:01.

Last season, he was 45th in the NHL -- although first among forwards -- at 22:33 per game.

"The season just started, so it's too early to say anything, but it works," Kovalchuk, who has 4 points through four games, told NHL.com. "The team played well and the coach decided to play me a lot of minutes. I was ready for it and I like to play a lot."

Devils coach Peter DeBoer said Thursday that the minutes Kovalchuk are playing are more a result of a favorable early-season schedule. New Jersey played its first four games over an eight-day span, and hasn't played since last Saturday.

Also pumping up Kovalchuk's minutes is the fact that the Devils have averaged over four power plays per game this season, and he rarely, if ever, comes off the ice when the team has the man-advantage. Kovalchuk also is playing some on the penalty kill.

"Obviously he's not going to play that much as the season goes on, but we've had a favorable schedule early here that we can give out some bigger minutes to some guys because of the way it's set up," DeBoer said. "It's not going to continue at that amount, but he's gotten my confidence that he's a big-minute guy. He has that type of engine and he's that type of skater that you can play him and it's not going to have an adverse effect on him the next day."

Kovalchuk agreed, saying his body feels fine after he plays a lot of minutes, especially when it comes during a Devils win.

"It's the worst when the team didn't play well and you played a lot of minutes," Kovalchuk said. "If nothing comes of it, that's when you get tired. But I'm used to playing a lot and it never bothers me. I want to play a lot and I feel much better when I play a lot of minutes."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 10:34 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Likely lineup for Devils, Sharks

NEWARK, N.J. -- Here are the likely lineups for the Devils and Sharks based on this morning's practices. Tonight's game also will be Sharks captain Joe Thornton's 1,000th NHL game.

DEVILS
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Ilya Kovalchuk - Jacob Josefson - Nick Palmieri
Mattias Tedenby - Petr Sykora - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Rod Pelley - Brad Mills
 
Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
 
Johan Hedberg will start in net. Keith Kinkaid will be his backup.
 
Martin Brodeur (bruised shoulder) remains out of the lineup. Cam Janssen, who took rushes with the fourth line, likely will be a healthy scratch.

SHARKS
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
Ben Ferriero - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Murray - Jamie McGinn

Douglas Murray - Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brent Burns
Colin White - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi will start in goal, with Thomas Greiss the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
 
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 10:07 AM

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

Barry's second 'Mullet of the Week' winner is ...

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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 10:40 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NSH@VAN - 13:05 of the 1st period

At 13:05 of the 1st period in the Predators/Canucks game video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck was kicked into the net by Vancouver forward Marco Sturm.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 10:36 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CHI @ COL - 15:27 of the 2nd Period

At 15:27 of the 2nd period in the Blackhawks/Avalanche game video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck was deflected off the body of Ryan O'Byrne into the net. 
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 9:13 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

MTL @ PIT - 5:20 of the 3rd Period

At 5:20 of the 3rd period in the Penguins/Canadiens game video review could not overrule the referees call on the ice that Arron Asham directed the puck into the net with his stick below the crossbar. Good Goal for Pittsburgh.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 6:13 PM

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

Students get surprise delivery from Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- Hundreds of college and high school students who waited in line for up to seven hours for discount tickets to the Canadiens-Penguins game on a blustery, chilly day got a surprise: free hot drinks and pizza, courtesy of the Penguins.

Even better was who delivered the goodies: general manager Ray Shero, coach Dan Bylsma and five players.

On a late October day that had a wintry feel to it, Shero and Bylsma handed out cups of hot chocolate at mid-afternoon as the students waited patiently outside Consol Energy Center. A couple of hours later, players Jordan Staal, Pascal Dupuis, James Neal, Arron Asham and Deryk Engelland played pizza man and doled out slices of hot pizza.

A hockey game and dinner, all for $25. Not a bad deal.

While the Penguins have 9,000 fans on their season ticket waiting list, they set aside several hundred tickets for each game at sold-out Consol for the Student Rush program. The number of student tickets available was bumped up to 500 for the Canadiens, one of five such games this season in which the extra seats will be sold.

The Penguins make the pizza giveaway an annual event, but do not publicize in advance which game will be selected.

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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp