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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 9:35 AM

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

Melrose Matchup: Flyers at Rangers

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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:45 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: B's second-liners paying dividends



While Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron may operate on the second line of the defending champion Boston Bruins, there's nothing secondary about their production as of late.

Marchand (15 G, 14 A, plus-25, 58 PIM, 3 PPP, 78 SOG) and Bergeron (7 G, 21 A, plus-21, 12 PIM, 7 PPP, 86 SOG) were a two-man wrecking crew on Friday night, combining for eight points and a plus-7 rating in the Bruins' 8-0 rout of the
Patrice Bergeron
Center - BOS
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 28
SOG: 86 | +/-: 21
Southeast division-leading Florida Panthers. Marchand notched a shorthanded goal and ultimately his first career hat trick, while Bergeron tallied two points on the power-play and three overall to keep the Bruins rolling into the holiday break.

With Boston sporting a 20-2-1 mark in its last 23 games, the team's secondary unit continues to make an impact in a number of different areas on a regular basis. Both Marchand and Bergeron are among the League's top-10 in plus-minus and rank second and third, respectively, on the team in points. On Wednesday, Bergeron (3:00 PP ice time per game) and Marchand (2:36) even produced on special teams.

Marchand (owned in 76 percent of leagues) and Bergeron (67 percent), despite their place in the League's deepest lineup, are proving to be premier all-around options with the Bruins surging over the last two months.
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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:27 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Carter finally breaks out for Jackets


Despite another late lead gone to waste for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jeff Carter delivered the club's most promising individual effort of the season.

Carter notched a first period hat trick in Tuesday's 6-5 road loss to the Nashville Predators.  With a streak of three-straight 30-plus goal, 60-plus point campaigns on the line, the 26-year-old forward has finally reassured panicking fantasy owners by scoring seven goals in his last seven games.

Jeff Carter
Center - CBJ
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 16
SOG: 78 | +/-: -9
While Carter is playing for a team that is currently last in the League standings, he picked up steam as a power-play threat against the Predators. Carter has averaged 3:54 of power-play ice time this season, and finally broke through with a pair of goals on the man advantage on Thursday.

Operating on Columbus' top line with Rick Nash and Vinny Prospal, Carter has seen his team's struggles take a toll on his fantasy showing through 23 games this season. His minus-9 rating is evidence of that.  But despite missing time due to injury this season, Carter is beginning to show chemistry with Nash, who assisted on two of his three goals on Thursday.

Carter (owned in 94 percent of Yahoo! leagues) appears to be turning the corner after a slow start in Columbus, so the time has finally come for his fantasy owners to ride the wave of success.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 8:50 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

FLA @ OTT - 6:37 of the Second Period

At 6:37 of the second period in the Panthers/Senators game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Florida forward Kris Versteeg's shot deflected off Michael Repik's skate and into the net in a legal fashion. According to rule 49.2 "A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal."  Good Goal Florida.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 5:25 PM

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

Biron spells Lundqvist as Rangers face Isles

NEW YORK -- John Tortorella was short and sweet at his pre-game meeting with reporters Thursday, confirming only that Martin Biron would start in net for the Rangers and Jeff Woywitka's foot would keep him out of the lineup.

It will be Biron's eight start of the season, putting him on pace to be the busiest backup goaltender the Rangers have had since Henrik Lundqvist took over the full-time duties in 2006-07. The 34-year-old Biron is 6-1-0 with a 1.82 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

The Rangers will use the same lineup from their 4-1 win in New Jersey on Tuesday. It should look something like this:

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Brian Boyle - John Mitchell
Brandon Prust - Michael Rupp - Ruslan Fedotenko

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel
Tim Erixon - Anton Stralman

Martin Biron
Henrik Lundqvist

In the Islanders' 3-2 shootout win in Winnipeg on Tuesday, goaltender Al Montoya and forward David Ullstrom were lost due to concussions. Micheal Haley was recalled from the AHL to take Ullstrom's spot, while Evgeni Nabokov will make the start.

The Islanders lines will likely look this way:

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Matt Martin - Josh Bailey - Tim Wallace
Micheal Haley - Marty Reasoner - Nino Niederreiter

Mark Streit - Milan Jurcina
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Mike Mottau

Evgeni Nabokov
Anders Nilsson

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 5:08 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Not a bad seat in the house

PHILADELPHIA -- This will be the third time the Winter Classic is held at a baseball stadium, but with Citizens Bank Park, there are more than a few differences between this park and Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, starting with the obvious.

"This stadium is 90 years newer than that one (Fenway)," Renzulli said. "Most of it is winterized. There was not much we had to do as far as the stadium is concerned … all the bathrooms are winterized."

Renzulli also said Citizens Bank Park reminds him more of a football stadium than it does the previous baseball parks the NHL has used.

"This place, to me, this is more of a football stadium because it's so vertical," he said. "The sight lines are great. For hockey the higher you go up the better, the better seat it is, and this is a very tall stadium. As I walk around, now that the rink is up, and I look down, there are phenomenal seats here."

Renzulli added that with the temporary seating added in center field, as well as a few other places around the ballpark, capacity will be about 47,000 for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

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







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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 4:46 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Ice build to start Friday

PHILADELPHIA -- Weather permitting, NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig told reporters this afternoon that he hopes to start spraying water on the hockey rink here at Citizens Bank Park sometime after 3 p.m. tomorrow.

"Right now I know for a fact I won't be starting anything until 3 p.m. tomorrow," Craig said. "I know I can't work on this floor before 3. Anything after 3, and probably until 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, that's when we'll do it."

Craig said he hopes to have the ice truck start pumping the glycol coolant into the aluminum ice trays sometime around 7 or 8 p.m. tonight, which eventually will bring the floor of the rink to the right temperature to start making ice.

"Probably within the next 3-4 hours we're going to start filing up the main header pipes and the truck is ready to fire up and hopefully sometime tonight we'll get the floor back down to temperature we require and do a good test run tonight," Craig said. "And we'll take a look at seeing if we can make ice tomorrow."

Eventually, Craig said he'll make two inches of ice for the Flyers and Rangers to skate on. At 10,000 gallons of water per inch of ice, that takes a lot of work and a lot of time to freeze. That's the reason the flood starts eight days before the first official on-ice event -- the media skate on Dec. 30.

"Can we do it in three days? Yes, we can do it in three days," Craig said. "Do I want to do it in six? I want to do it in six."

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


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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 4:38 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Banged-up Coyotes try to continue success in Denver

DENVER -- The Phoenix Coyotes didn't skate this morning after playing Wednesday night at home, where they lost 2-1 in overtime to Boston. Like their opponents tonight, the Colorado Avalanche, the Coyotes have lost a number of players to injuries, including goalie Mike Smith (groin) and center Martin Hanzal (head).

The Coyotes are in 11th place in the West with 40 points, one point behind eighth-place Dallas. The Avalanche are in 12th place with 39 points.

The Coyotes have won the last three meetings with the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center by the combined score of 11-3. Phoenix defeated Colorado 4-1 on Nov. 2.

Jason LaBarbera has started four consecutive games in goal for the Coyotes, and he made 27 saves against the Bruins on Wednesday. He's gone 2-5 against Colorado in eight previous appearances with a shutout, a 3.23 goals-against average and .893 save percentage.

With Smith out, the Coyotes recalled Curtis McElhinney on Monday from the Portland Pirates in the American Hockey League. McElhinney owns a 2-1 career record against the Avalanche with one shutout, a 2.67 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

A four-year NHL veteran, McElhinney played four years at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. He played for Calgary, Anaheim and Ottawa before signing with Phoenix as a free agent on July 4. McElhinney went 9-11 with Portland this season with a 2.95 average and .910 save percentage.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 3:46 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sutter gets game-day experience with Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It was a different game-day experience on multiple levels for Darryl Sutter on Thursday morning.

Besides being with a new team, Sutter wasn't quite used to having the morning skate at one venue and then playing a home game at another.

"I'm almost feeling today like we're on the road again," Sutter said.

Sutter otherwise was ready for his debut as coach of the Los Angeles Kings, who play the rival Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center.

Among Sutter's points of emphasis is improving the Kings' 8-9-1 record at home, and he expects energy at the puck drop in front of an expected sellout crowd.

"I think we're ready to go," Sutter said. "If you look at our season, we've struggled at home, right? We need to get out of the gate and get all our lines and all our defensemen playing well at the start. That's what I want to see."

Players almost view this first game as an audition for Sutter, and they obviously want to make a good impression.

"Everyone wants to kind of show him the kind of things they can do and maybe where they want to be in the lineup," defenseman Drew Doughty said.

"I think we'll have a lot of energy tonight. It's going to be a lot of fun playing behind a new coach and to finally be at home against the Ducks, it will be a lot more intense game than usual."

Sutter wasn't worried about them possibly being too amped up.

"I think we've been through that," he said. "You've got to harness it a little bit. I think, at the same time, if we can go with that group of lines that we've been using, I think we have enough veteran presence on each line that we can handle it."

Richards returns: Mike Richards was activated off injured reserve and will return to the lineup for the first time since he suffered a head injury on Dec. 1.

"I'm excited to play again," Richards said. "It's frustrating, I think, sitting in the dressing room and not being able to do anything to help. I'm looking forward to playing tonight."

Sutter has pointed to the absence of Richards for a large portion of the Kings' offensive struggles.

Despite missing eight games, Richards is their leading goal-scorer with 11. Two of those have come shorthanded.
The Kings are 2-6-0 without Richards and 13-8-4 with him.

Said Doughty, "We miss him at both ends of the ice."

Los Angeles does not have to send someone down to make room for Richards because the holiday roster freeze allows 24 players on the roster.

New lineup:
Sutter changed the lines significantly by putting Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis in top-six forward roles.

Richardson is with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown on the top line while Lewis is with Richards and Simon Gagne on the second line.

With many of their top players failing to produce, Sutter is looking for consistency with the veterans and contributions from younger ones.

"I know the veterans," Sutter said. "I know they're going to come around … the younger players have struggled to score, too. You give them the opportunity. Why not? That's what your background is. Put them together, maybe it rubs off one way or the other. I think if you look at our schedule, it's pretty busy. You're not going to rely on just one or two lines. We're going to have to count on everybody."

Sutter-Boudreau connection:
Sutter played with Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau on the AHL's New Brunswick Hawks (which also had Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson) in 1978-79 and in Chicago during Boudreau's brief stint with the Blackhawks. Sutter also played with Ducks general manager Bob Murray in Chicago.

"I got to believe they'll play their best game of the year," Boudreau told the Orange County Register. "When they get a new coach, especially one with the reputation of being a tough taskmaster and an intimidator like Darryl is, they'll put their best foot forward."
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 3:44 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Kings, Ducks

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Here are the potential lineups for when the Los Angeles Kings host the Anaheim Ducks tonight at Staples Center in Darryl Sutter's debut behind the LA bench:

KINGS

Brad Richardson - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Simon Gagne - Mike Richards - Trevor Lewis
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Kevin Westgarth

Drew Doughty - Rob Scuderi
Jack Johnson - Matt Greene
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

DUCKS
Niklas Hagman - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Bobby Ryan - Teemu Selanne
Matt Beleskey - Nick Bonino - Kyle Palmieri
Andrew Gordon - Rod Pelley - George Parros

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Toni Lydman - Lubomir Visnovsky
Luca Sbisa - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Dan Ellis


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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic