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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 2:14 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Jets look to rebound, plus a look at their lines

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets began a long home stretch on Tuesday night looking to set a tone for December’s home-heavy slate.

But a sloppy 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators at the MTS Centre that began a run of 13 of 15 games on home ice left coach Claude Noel exasperated. The Jets blew a third-period lead to the Senators and reverted to many of the same bad habits that had plagued them earlier this season.

Still, Noel chose not to dwell on the loss and put the Jets through only a light workout on Wednesday morning.

“For us, I think that we move past [Tuesday’s loss],” Noel said. “We’ve got to play with some good energy tonight.”

The Jets still saw some fall-out from the loss on Wednesday when the club recalled 20-year-old left wing Carl Klingberg from St. John’s of the American League. Klingberg, a 2009 second-round pick, ranked second on the IceCaps with 9-7-16 numbers. Klingberg is expected to dress for tonight’s game.

The Jets remain without the services of defensemen Tobias Enstrom, Brett Festerling, Ron Hainsey, Randy Jones and Derek Meech, who are all on injured reserve. Center Nik Antropov and Eric Fehr are both banged up and will be game-time decisions.

Here are tonight's projected lines and pairings for the Jets.

Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Alexander Burmistrov - Eric Fehr
Carl Klingberg - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Mark Stuart - Dustin Byfuglien
Johnny Oduya - Zach Bogosian
Arturs Kulda - Mark Flood

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets, with Chris Mason backing up.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 2:04 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Capitals happy for Boudreau's new employment

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Bruce Boudreau didn't spend much time without an NHL head coaching job, and several of his former players are thankful for that.

The Washington Capitals woke up Thursday morning preparing to face the rival Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center, but they also found out about Boudreau's new gig in Anaheim just three days after he lost his job coaching them.

"I saw it on the ticker on SportsCenter this morning, and you know what? Good for him -- I'm glad he got a new job so quickly, and to a team that with his system will do a great job," defenseman Jeff Schultz, one of four guys on the Capitals who played for Boudreau both in Washington and for Hershey in the American Hockey League.

Boudreau was the fastest coach in NHL history to 200 wins after helping transform the Capitals into one of the League's dominant franchises in the regular season. Postseason success eluded the Capitals, and the team dropped 10 of 15 games after a 7-0-0 start this season, leading to Boudreau's dismissal.

The Ducks are in a similar situation to the one Boudreau walked into four years ago in Washington. Anaheim is in 14th place in the Western Conference despite having a roster laden with several elite talents.

"It is good for him," forward Brooks Laich said. "He did a lot around here and we knew he'd land on his feet. I think he's going into a good situation. They have a good team and he'll be excellent for them."

The Capitals were a young, unproven team when Boudreau arrived and molded them into contenders. Anaheim is not a young team, and the core of this team has already won a Stanley Cup.

That said, the Ducks have not played well this season with Randy Carlyle as coach, and  it is possible Boudreau's more offensive-minded philosophy could energize them.

"Yeah, he's a great guy and a great coach," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. "I don't think it is going to be a problem for him and for that team to connect [with] each other."
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 2:01 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Turris could make season debut for Coyotes tonight

WINNIPEG -- Sub-freezing temperatures awaited the Phoenix Coyotes when they arrived in Winnipeg late Wednesday night.

Whether the reception from the boisterous 15,004 fans that fill the MTS Centre every night will provide the Coyotes an equally cold reception remains to be seen.

The Coyotes arrived in their ancestral home in possession of a two-game winning streak and will play a Winnipeg Jets club that they beat 4-1 in their home-opener, back on Oct. 15.

After netting just one goal in his first nine games, Radim Vrbata has exploded offensively for the Coyotes, scoring 11 goals in his past 14 games. Tuesday in Chicago, Vrbata had a goal and an assist, his sixth multi-point game this season.

The Coyotes have excelled away from home this season en route to producing the Western Conference’s second-best road mark (7-3-1). They've allowed only 19 goals in their past 10 road games.

"The basic premise is that we all have to play together or we are not going to win," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "Our players have bought into that. I've liked that we've played a real good team game the past few games."

Tippett indicated that there is a possibility that center Kyle Turris could make his season debut tonight.

Here are Phoenix's projected lines and pairings for tonight:

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Lauri Korpikoski
Raffi Torres - Kyle Chipchura/Kyle Turris - Patrick O'Sullivan

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Adrian Aucoin
Rostislav Klesla - David Schlemko

Mike Smith will start in net for Phoenix, with Jason LaBarbera the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 1:52 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Potenital lineups for Blue Jackets, Flames

With Mark Giordano out with an injury, the Flames will have to tinker with their blue line to make up for his absence. The Blue Jackets, who are playing .500 hockey in their last 10 games, will continue to ride Curtis Sanford between the pipes.

Here is what each team's lineups will likely be tonight.


Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenJarome Iginla
Alex TanguayRoman HorakRene Bourque
Blake ComeauMikael BacklundLee Stempniak
Tom Kostopolous – Matt StajanTim Jackman

Scott Hannan – T.J. Brodie
Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
Derek SmithCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson

Vinny ProspalJeff CarterRick Nash
R.J. UmbergerMark LetestuRyan Johansen
Antoine VermetteSamuel PahlssonDerek Dorsett
Derick BrassardDerek MacKenzieJared Boll

Marc MethotJames Wisniewski
Fedor TyutinNikita Nikitin
John MooreGrant Clitsome

Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 1:50 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Flames taking group approach to replacing Giordano

The Calgary Flames hope a returning veteran and a pair of rookies will ease the absence of workhorse Mark Giordano.
Cory Sarich will draw into the lineup in place of the injured Giordano, who suffered a hamstring injury in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory against the Nashville Predators.

“You don’t replace a guy like that but what you do is, the workload has to be spread around,” coach Brent Sutter said. “A guy like Cory has to come into the lineup and give us some quality minutes.”

Sarich, who has been a healthy scratch for the last four games and nine of the last 11, is hoping to burn some pent-up energy on the Blue Jackets.

“Take out some frustration on the opponent, that’s usually a good idea, a good way to get into the game,” Sarich said. “I’m just looking forward to helping, contributing. It’s hard to do that from the sidelines. Tonight’s my chance. It’s no fun sitting and watching, so when you have a chance to get out there and give’r, you try to make the most of it.”

The club will also lean on rookies T.J. Brodie and Derek Smith to help carry the load in the absence of Giordano, who has averaged 22:10 of ice time this season.

“Those guys have done a tremendous job when Gio was here and even the other night they filled in extremely well and logged a lot of minutes for us,” defenseman Chris Butler said, sporting eight stitches to his cheek after taking a puck to the face against the Predators. “They’re playing great hockey for us.”

Smith, who played a season-high 22:33 against Nashville, is ready to soak up the minutes after Tuesday’s experience.

“The minutes went up a lot,” Smith said. “Me and T.J. weren’t used to playing those minutes. It worked out well for us and hopefully the increased role will help us tonight too.”

Injuries have ravaged the Flames blue line this season.

Giordano joins Anton Babchuk (hand) on the injured reserve, while Brett Carson is close to returning from an offseason back injury. Carson has been assigned to the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL on a conditioning stint.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 1:26 PM

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

Penguins won't hide Despres in rookie's NHL debut

WASHINGTON -- Head injuries to defensemen Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek have opened the door for Penguins 2009 first-round pick Simon Despres to make his NHL debut Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) against the Capitals here at Verizon Center.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma confirmed that Despres, the 30th pick of the 2009 Entry Draft who was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Thursday, will be in the lineup against the Caps. Despres will start the game paired with fellow rookie Robert Bortuzzo, but Bylsma doesn't plan to hide him.

"He is slated to play on the second (power-play) unit and sometimes that is not a whole ton of time on the power play, but he is slated to be out there on the power play," Bylsma said. "He has played 10 or 11 games in exhibition and he's played minutes. I know he's more than capable of playing in a lot of different situations, playing a lot of defense, being able to go back for pucks and make plays. He's had two months of being a professional and developing, and I'm fully confident he can be in a lot of different situations tonight."

Despres, 20, has 3 goals and 4 assists along with a plus-3 rating in 22 games as a rookie this season for the AHL Penguins. All three of his goals were game-winners and his 7 points are tied for the team lead among defensemen.

"A little nervous, but very excited," Despres told Thursday morning when asked about his emotions. "It is what I have dreamed all my life. I'm just going to try to do my best to help the team."

Despres said he is familiar with the Penguins-Capitals rivalry because he's been watching it on TV since he was a kid. He said it will be special to play against Ovechkin.

Bylsma sounded as if he's ready to give the kid that chance, even though Brooks Orpik and Deryk Engelland will draw most of the even-strength ice time against Ovechkin.

"This is an opportunity with this game and the next game for Simon to show what he can do, and I think it's going to be more than just playing 10 minutes of hockey," Bylsma said. "He can be in a lot of different situations."

Orpik said he would be happy to give advice to Despres and Bortuzzo about playing against Ovechkin, but he doesn't want to fill their heads with minutia.

"I don't think you ever want to bombard them with stuff like that because then they go into the game thinking too much," he said. "You want them to just go out there and just concentrate on playing, let their instincts and natural ability take over. But with a guy like Ovechkin, I'm sure they have watched him on TV and seen enough of him. There are little things you can tell them about stick position, but you just want them to have a clear mind going into their first game."

That shouldn't be a problem for Despres.

"I will just try to take it one day at a time, play hockey, have some fun and enjoy it," he said. "That's all I can do really."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 1:05 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Potential lineup for Capitals

WASHINGTON -- Here is the projected lineup for the Washington Capitals for their contest Thursday night at Verizon Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m., NHLN-US). Check here for the lineup the Penguins likely will go with tonight.

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer
Cody Eakin - Marcus Johansson - Alexander Semin
Jason Chimera - Brooks Laich - Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks - Jeff Halpern - Mike Knuble

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
John Erskine/Jeff Schultz - Dennis Wideman
Dmitry Orlov - Roman Hamrlik

Tomas Vokoun will start in goal, with Michal Neuvirth the backup. Vokoun stopped 39 of 41 shots against Pittsburgh in a 3-2 overtime victory earlier this season.

Mathieu Perreault is slated to be the healthy scratch for the second time in as many games for new coach Dale Hunter. These are also the same lines Hunter deployed in his first contest Tuesday.

Schultz was a healthy scratch Tuesday, but all seven healthy defensemen left the ice Thursday morning before the "scratches skate." Schultz said he didn't know if he was playing or not.

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

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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 1:00 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Potential lines for Rangers, Hurricanes

The Rangers are giving backup goaltender Martin Biron his fifth start of the season in place of starter Henrik Lundqvist. Here are the other lineup spots for the Rangers and Hurricanes for tonight's game.

Derek Stepan - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Artem Anisimov - Marian Gaborik
Carl Hagelin - Brian Boyle - John Mitchell
Sean Avery - Brandon Dubinsky - Brandon Prust
Dan Girardi - Ryan McDonagh
Michael Del Zotto -Michael Sauer
Jeff Woywitka - Steve Eminger

Martin Biron
Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Jiri Tlusty - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Anthony Stewart - Tim Brent - Andreas Nodl

Bryan Allen - Tim Gleason
Joni Pitkanen - Justin Faulk
Tomas Kaberle - Derek Joslin
Cam Ward
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 12:59 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

MacLean rejoins Muller as assistant coach in Carolina

Just three days after taking over the Carolina Hurricanes, Kirk Muller has added a longtime former teammate to his coaching staff.

John MacLean, who earned his first head-coaching job one season ago in New Jersey, was fired after the Devils got off to a disastrous 9-22-2 start. Joining the Carolina staff marks his first return to an NHL job.

"I didn't think it would happen this quick, but I'm excited about it," MacLean said after Thursday's morning skate. "As soon as the opportunity arose, my passion came right back for the game to get back into it. I'm very excited to be part of it."

MacLean and Muller broke into the NHL together in 1984-85 with the New Jersey Devils, MacLean as a 19-year-old, Muller as an 18-year-old. They played together for seven seasons. They reunited toward the end of their careers, skating on the Dallas Stars' fourth line from 2000-2002. That unit, along with Mike Keane, was known as "The Grumpy Old Men."

"Johnny's going to run the PK and have a defined role," said Muller. "He's going to be behind the bench with me. He's going to grab forwards individually. We've got some young guys who can benefit from board work and little details in the game that are going to be really important."

The two men enjoyed similar production and longevity during their playing days. Muller registered 959 points in 1,349 regular season games, while MacLean put up 842 points in 1,194 games.

Even their apprenticeships as NHL coaches were similar. Muller spent five years in Montreal as an assistant before landing his first head-coaching job with Carolina, while MacLean spent six years in a support role in New Jersey. Through all of it, they have stayed in close contact.

"As far as being friends," said MacLean, "sometimes it helps that you can be brutally honest with situations and just know that it's for the good."

That will start with his evaluation of Carolina's penalty kill.

"Not major changes," he said, speaking of the NHL's 26th-rated unit. "There's maybe a little different thought to it, understanding (positioning) and stick position. We'll just try to baby step it through. The personnel is fine. The one thing this team does have is speed, and that's helpful in killing penalties. We have some guys that could be high-end penalty killers."

MacLean emphasized several times the nature of his new position — a support role for Muller. He's move beyond his first experience as a bench boss, and he's ready to help in Carolina.

"You're wounded, hurt, whatever," MacLean said. "You understand that it's part of the game and you get through it. You lick your wounds and get on it."
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 12:50 PM

By Steve Hunt - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Senators, Stars

Here are how the lineups could look tonight when the Dallas Stars host the Ottawa Senators at the American Airlines Center:


Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Nikita Filatov
Milan Michalek - Nick Foligno - Daniel Alfredsson
Kaspars Daugavins - Zack Smith - Erik Condra
Zenon Konopka - Jesse Winchester - Bobby Butler

Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Brian Lee - Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips - David Rundblad

Craig Anderson
Alex Auld

Loui Eriksson - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Mike Ribeiro - Tomas Vincour
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Krys Barch - Tom Wandell - Toby Petersen

Stephane Robidas - Sheldon Souray
Nicklas Grossman - Adam Pardy
Mark Fistric - Philip Larsen

Andrew Raycroft
Richard Bachman

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— Islanders captain John Tavares after a 4-1 win against the Penguins tied the teams atop the Metropolitan Division standings
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