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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks, Maple Leafs

Here's the projected rosters for San Jose and Toronto as they face off Thursday night at Air Canada Centre:

SHARKS

Patrick Marleau- Joe Thornton- Joe Pavelski
Tommy Wingels- Logan Couture- Ryane Clowe
Jamie McGinn- Torrey Mitchell - Benn Ferriero
Brad Winchester- Michal Handzus - Andrew Desjardins

Colin White- Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic- Brent Burns
Jason Demers- Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

MAPLE LEAFS

Joffrey Lupul- Tyler Bozak- Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur- Mikhail Grabovski- Nikolai Kulemin
Matthew Lombardi- Tim Connolly - Joey Crabb
Darryl Boyce- David Steckel- Mike Brown

Carl Gunnarsson- Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner- Luke Schenn

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson
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Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 12:11 PM

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

Ovechkin skates briefly before Caps practice

Alex Ovechkin skated for about 15 minutes ahead of practice Thursday morning for the Washington Capitals, according to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post.

Ovechkin did not play Wednesday night in a critical 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. He left the previous game, a 5-0 loss to Carolina, but later returned and the absence was deemed an equipment issue. Before the game Wednesday in Ottawa, Ovechkin told reporters he was not feeling well, but coach Dale Hunter said he had a lower-body injury.

The Capitals lost the three games of a four-game road trip and remain in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. Despite their struggles, they are just two points out of eighth place in the East and two behind the Florida Panthers for the top spot in the Southeast Division.

Carrera noted that Ovechkin twice tried to skate at full speed, but quickly pulled up and spent of the time on the ice skating at half-speed. The Capitals play Montreal at Verizon Center on Friday before a trip Saturday to Toronto. They are also still without top center Nicklas Backstrom, who has not skated in weeks because of a concussion.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 9:28 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

BOS @ STL - 7:34 of the Second Period

At 7:34 of the second period in the Bruins/Blues game, video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that Johnny Boychuk's shot never crossed the goal line. No goal Boston.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 5:30 PM

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

Ovechkin out for Caps tonight

The Washington Capitals' attempt to jump back into the top eight into the Eastern Conference Wednesday will take place without their captain and leading scorer, Alex Ovechkin.

The Washington Capitals announced Ovechkin will miss tonight's game against the Ottawa Senators due to a lower-body injury.

Ovechkin was on the ice for about eight minutes during the team's morning skate, with coach Dale Hunter revealing the injury after the full team practice.

Ovechkin likely suffered the injury during Monday's 5-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, which saw Ovechkin play just 15:43, including just five shifts in the third period. The team announced after the game that Ovechkin played so little -- it was the second-lowest ice time he's had this season -- due to an equipment issue.

However, Ovechkin was seen by reporters limping after the game, and he sat out Tuesday's practice.

The Capitals had recalled forward Keith Aucoin from AHL Hershey earlier Wednesday.

The Caps, who have won just three of their last 10 games, enter Wednesday's game 10th in the Eastern Conference, two points behind eighth-place Toronto, which hosts San Jose tonight. A win and regulation losses by Leafs and the ninth-place Winnipeg Jets, who host the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, would move the Caps into eighth place.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 4:49 PM

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

Duchene cites Saints QB as help in his recovery

DENVER -- The Avalanche hope to get a boost tonight from Matt Duchene, who will play his second game since missing 20 with a knee injury. The game against the Kings will be his first home game since getting hurt in a Dec. 29 game against Phoenix at Pepsi Center.

"Right now my only focus is to help my teammates around me, to help my team make the playoffs as best I can," said Duchene, who will play left wing on a line with center Paul Stastny and right wing Milan Hejduk. "No one can do it alone, so I'm not going to try and be some sort of hero; that's not the right approach at all."

While rehabilitating his knee, Duchene began to read Drew Brees' "Coming Back Stronger," which chronicles the New Orleans Saints quarterback's comeback from a potentially career-ending shoulder injury with San Diego in 2005 that led to his arrival in New Orleans and eventual Super Bowl championship in 2010.

"I used it to help me heal my body and my mind, as well," Duchene said. "I think the mind healing was even more beneficial. I feel really refreshed physically and mentally, and I have a new outlook on things. I read it on game days before I come to the rink. He (Brees) is an amazing person and I think there are a lot of scenarios that are similar in terms of how we look at things in life and our sport. He's a guy based on faith and so am I. He works real hard and does things the right way, so it's good to know his story."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 4:47 PM

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

Downie to debut on line with O'Reilly, Landeskog

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche expect to be a more difficult team to play against now that Steve Downie has joined the lineup. The hard-nosed right wing will make his Avalanche debut tonight (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2) against the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center.

Acquired on Tuesday from Tampa Bay in exchange for defenseman Kyle Quincey, who then was sent to Detroit for a 2012 first-round draft pick and a prospect, Downie will skate on a line with left wing Gabriel Landeskog and center Ryan O'Reilly.

"I want to give him a shot there," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said this morning. "He's a right-handed shot and he certainly played with some pretty good players in Tampa Bay, so I think he'll be a nice fit for O'Reilly and Landeskog with the grit that he can add on that line and with the ability to make some plays."

Downie, 24, had 12 goals, 16 assists and 121 penalty minutes in 55 games with the Lightning. He arrived in Denver around midnight, checked into his hotel an hour later and didn't get much sleep before heading to the arena for the morning skate.

"It's been crazy," he said. "It was disappointing taking off on a plane (from Tampa), but it was even more exciting landing. The drive in (from the airport), it was late last night, but it was exciting. I'm real excited to be here. I had trouble sleeping, but I'll have a good nap today and get ready to go.

"I'm excited to get things going. I'm going to bring grit and play the body as much as I can. I can chip in in the offensive part of the game, too."

Downie said the trade didn't come as a complete surprise, even though the Lightning is only five points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Avalanche are four points behind the eighth-place Kings in the West. The Kings, who are 1-3-2 in their past six games, didn't skate this morning after squandering 3-0 and 4-2 leads Tuesday in a 5-4 shootout loss to Phoenix.

"I knew they were doing stuff over there, trying to get draft picks in the building," Downie said of the Lightning. "So you know about (a possible trade), but you don't. It was tough leaving there. I was there for a long time, but it's real exciting to be here and to see all these guys. They're fast and they have a lot of skill. They have some really skilled guys and it's going to be fun to watch them and to play with them."

Downie said the chance to skate with Landeskog and O'Reilly is a "good opportunity," add added, "Two great players. I'm going to complement them as much as I can, give them the puck and go to the net."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 3:41 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Report: Caps' shopping Roman Hamrlik?

Washington Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik will be a healthy scratch Wednesday night in a critical contest against the Ottawa Senators, but his long-term future with the club could also be in doubt.

Renaud P. Lavoie of RDS reported Wednesday that the Capitals have shopped Hamrlik for a potential trade. Hamrlik's agent, Petr Svoboda told Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times that neither he nor his client have asked for a trade, but Lavoie reports Hamrlik "very much would like to play elsewhere."

Hamrlik has two goals and 10 points for the Capitals this season. He is a plus-11 in 37 games with Dale Hunter as the coach, but he's also been on the ice for more goals against than for at even strength this season.

"You want him to be a defensive defenseman," Hunter told reporters. "He's giving up too many chances, so he's out of the lineup."

He signed a two-year, $7 million contract in the offseason. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the Blues have been scouting Washington games with regularity of late, and Hamrlik could be a veteran defenseman they'd be interested in.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 3:22 PM

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

Projected lineups for Kings, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

KINGS
Jordan Nolan - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford - Andrei Loktionov - Trevor Lewis
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Brad Richardson

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Jack Johnson
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier 

INJURIES: LW Simon Gagne (concussion) and LW Scott Parse (hip) are out.

AVALANCHE
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downie
Daniel Winnik - Jay McClement - David Jones
Cody McLeod - Mark Olver - Chuck Kobasew

Ryan Wilson - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Shane O'Brien - Stefan Elliott

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

INJURIES: LW TJ Galiardi (shoulder) and RW Peter Mueller (torso) are out.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 2:44 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bruins continue to search for missing offense

ST. LOUIS -- In an effort to spark their suddenly anemic offense, the Boston Bruins (35-20-2), who have been shut out in four of the last nine games, will continue to go with a line they used in a 2-0 loss Sunday at Minnesota that features Chris Kelly in the middle and David Krejci, a natural centerman, on the wing with Milan Lucic.

"I thought our line had some good chances," Kelly said. "David's a smart player. We can figure the right wing, center thing out pretty easily. I don't see that being a problem. Hopefully we can go out there and generate some chances."

Bruins coach Claude Julien said it's a case of finding the right pieces.

"It's a situation that we don't have much of a choice right now," Julien said. "We're trying to find combinations here that will give us some offense. This is what we're trying right now. We hope that they adapt well enough that they'll be able to bring something to the game tonight. That's where we are. It's the reality of having to deal with injuries and having to move players around."

The Bruins, who are 0-2 on their current six-game trip, have dropped seven of 11 games and are still second in the Eastern Conference but have the Ottawa Senators right on their tails, only two points back with 70.

Their 2-0 loss to the Wild Sunday generated 48 shots but Niklas Backstrom was nothing short of a brick wall in net.

"We got close to 50 shots, some quality scoring chances," Kelly said. "I don't think we gave up a ton of chances. Give them credit, they capitalized on the chances they had. Hopefully we can continue to build on, especially that third period, I thought we played well in Minny."

Julien is still searching for more effort.

"The effort ... I think the will is there," he said. "Is the effort directed in the right area? Maybe not. I think a lot of it has to do with being probably a little more positive. What we've tried to do here in the last couple days is stay positive and fight our way through it."

Fighting through it won't come easy against a Blues team that is 26-3-4 on home ice.

"They don't give up much," Julien said of the Blues. "They're a hard team to play against. They're feeling good about themselves right now so I think that's a challenge within itself. ... They're very hard to play against and they like to do a lot of the things we like to do."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 2:38 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Blues to honor Tkachuk's induction into U.S. Hall

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues will honor Keith Tkachuk and his recent induction to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame with a pre-game ceremony tonight when the Blues host the Boston Bruins at Scottrade Center.

Tkachuk, a Boston native, was a four-time United States Olympian and silver medalist at the 2002 Winter Games. Among American-born players in NHL history, the five-time All-Star ranks second in goals (538) and fifth in points (1,065).

A number of the current Blues, including B.J. Crombeen, remember what it was like learning to be a pro under the watchful eye of a player likely destined for the NHL Hall of Fame as well.

"It was a great honor to even be able to play with a guy like that," Crombeen said of Tkachuk, who played in 542 games with the Blues, recording 208 goals and 219 assists. "You look at the history he's had, everywhere he's went, he's been successful.

"It was pretty neat for me as a young guy to come in and have a guy like that to look up at and see how he plays the game and how he gets ready every day. It's exciting for all the people here in St. Louis. It's neat that he gets honored in a way like he is tonight."

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Vladimir Sobotka, who was acquired by the Blues from the Bruins in 2010 for the rights to Boston native and defenseman David Warsofsky, will face his former teammates for the second time since the trade.

Sobotka, who has 3 goals and 17 points in 50 games this season, scored in his first game against the Bruins a season ago, a 2-1 Blues shootout win at TD Garden.

"He's a good fit for us, just like he was in Boston," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Sobotka. "He was a versatile guy in Boston, moved him up and down the lineup. ... He's one of those guys that's an underrated player, kind of a glue guy for the hockey club. He fits the way we play. You're trying to build a work ethic, you're trying to build a kind of an edge to your game. He's a tough little guy. That's exactly what we need.

"I think where he helps us is that when we get in trouble injury-wise or we get down roster-wise, he's a guy that can step up in the short-term and play up in the lineup, just like he is right now."

Sobotka will move up and play on the Blues' top line tonight with David Backes and T.J. Oshie.

"It's a good fit for us because he takes a lot of the left side faceoffs for David," Hitchcock said. "That helps, so they start with the puck more. He's a smart player. He knows how to manage the game properly. He's good on the forechecks. To me, he's a lot like (Chris) Kelly is or (Rich) Peverley is for Boston. He's able to move up and down the lineup and be productive. We'd like him to hit the net more. He's wearing out the glass in some of the buildings, but if we can get him hitting the net a little more, he'll be alright."

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The Blues (36-16-7) will go back with Carlo Colaiacovo tonight after the defenseman missed the previous three games, including one with a right wrist injury.

Kent Huskins, who returned to play three games following a fractured bone in his left ankle, will sit out.

"One thing we didn't read was missing so many games for Husky because he was good, and then he hit the wall," Hitchcock said. "This is a way to regroup and get the energy back going getting ready for this weekend."
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Quote of the Day

He scores 50 goals, they go in, they go in, and they go in. And I think, 'Why can't I do that?'

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on teammate Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 50th goal of the season Tuesday in a 4-2 win vs. the Hurricanes