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Posted On Friday, 11.11.2011 / 11:30 AM

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

Kovalchuk to miss home-and-home vs. Capitals

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Pete DeBoer confirmed that forward Ilya Kovalchuk will not play in either of the home-and-home games against the Washington Capitals this weekend due to a pulled leg muscle. The Devils host Washington tonight at Prudential Center and play the Capitals at Verizon Center on Saturday.

Kovalchuk has missed the last two games with a pulled leg muscle, an injury he suffered in Philadelphia last week.

"He did skate this morning, but we're in November and … we don't want to turn this into something that lingers," DeBoer said. "Lingering is probably the best way to describe it."

Vladimir Zharkov, who was recalled from Albany late Thursday, will play on the fourth line alongside Brad Mills and Cam Janssen. Rod Pelley will be the healthy scratch among the forwards.

"Early in the season we've made a habit of shuffling our fourth line around, our lines around in general," DeBoer said. "Hopefully (Zharkov brings) some energy and a different look. He's a little bit of a different player than Pelley. He plays a different game and can complement Mills and Janssen hopefully."

Martin Brodeur, who missed several games earlier in the season with a shoulder injury, is expected to get his third straight start in goal. He's won the last two, giving up just 4 goals in the process.

"I'm getting there," Brodeur told "The more you play the more you feel comfortable. It helps to get in somewhat of a rhythm. I didn't have one earlier due to the lack of playing. It felt for a while like the season never started for me, so this is the start of my season now."

Here are the Devils lines and defense pairings from the skate:

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Nick Palmieri
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Mattias Tedenby - Ryan Carter - David Clarkson
Vladimir Zharkov - Brad Mills - Cam Janssen

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 8:55 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Coyotes play without Langkow; Canadiens minus Cammalleri

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Coyotes get one center back tonight, but another will be missing.
Martin Hanzal, who has missed the past two games with a lower body injury, will be back in the lineup tonight as the Coyotes wrap up a three-game homestand against Montreal. Hanzal, who had three goals and seven points in the five games prior to his injury, will fill the middle between wingers Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata -- a trio that produced seven goals and 17 points in three games before Hanzal went down.
But as Hanzal returns, the Coyotes will be missing center Daymond Langkow, who has been away from the team since Tuesday because of a death in the family. Boyd Gordon, who had a goal and an assist Saturday against Edmonton, skated between wingers Lauri Korpikoski and Shane Doan at Thursday's skate.
Montreal will play without left wing Mike Cammalleri, who suffered a knee-on-knee collision in Tuesday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 6:21 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Winnipeg loses Maxwell on waivers

WINNIPEG - The NHL's waiver wire claimed its second Winnipeg Jet this season.

The Anaheim Ducks claimed Jets center Ben Maxwell off waivers on Thursday morning. Maxwell joins forward Brett MacLean, whom the Phoenix Coyotes reclaimed on waivers from the Jets on Oct. 29. Maxwell's addition will provide the Ducks with further depth down the middle, particularly with Nick Bonino sidelined with a knee injury.

The 23-year-old Maxwell's stay in Winnipeg was brief -- he logged four games with the Jets after returning from a season-opening injury. Maxwell went scoreless with the Jets after playing 12 games with the Atlanta Thrashers following a Feb. 24 trade from the Montreal Canadiens.

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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 4:42 PM

By Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Islanders, Avs looking to end slides

DENVER -- Two teams experiencing prolonged slumps, the New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche, face off tonight at the Pepsi Center.

The Islanders have gone 1-5-2 since beginning the season with three wins in their first four games, while the Avalanche are in a 1-5-1 slide after winning six of the first eight games.

Both teams will start a goalie -- Al Montoya for New York and Jean-Sebastien Giguere for Colorado -- that played well in relief in the previous game. Montoya stopped 22 of 24 shots after replacing Evgeni Nabokov on Monday in the Islanders' 6-2 loss in Boston, while Giguere turned aside 12 of 13 shots after taking over for Semyon Varlamov on Tuesday in the Avalanche's 5-2 loss in Detroit.

Giguere, who signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract as a free agent July 1, will be making his first home appearance as a member of the Avalanche. He has a 2-1-0 record with a 1.98 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

"I'm very excited," Giguere said after this morning's skate. "I think it's a great building to play in. it should be easier, I guess, to play at home although (it hasn't been). I'm looking forward to playing in front of our home fans. I feel good, rested. If there's any positive to being a backup, at least you should be rested when you get to play, and you should be excited. I feel like a little kid."

The Avalanche have scored just seven goals while losing five of six home games this season. Three of the goals came Oct. 30 in a 3-2 win against Los Angeles.

"This is a must-win for us," said Giguere, who stopped 31 of 34 shots in his previous start, a 4-2 loss in Calgary on Oct. 26. "We have to stop the bleeding right now. We can't let this go on any longer. We need to establish ourselves at home."

The Avalanche, who have gone 0-3-1 in the past four games overall, held a players-only meeting after practice Wednesday.

"We've done enough talking; now it's time to see some action," Giguere said. "We have no chance in hell in this League to make the playoffs if you don't (win at home). We had a good team meeting yesterday afternoon -- players only -- and we made sure that everybody's desperate level needs to go up a bit. Hopefully we will see that tonight."

Avalanche fans won't see left wing Peter Mueller, who had hoped to play after taking part in Wednesday's practice and in this morning's skate. Mueller, who missed all of last season to recover from a concussion, will sit out his 12th consecutive game with what the team lists as a head injury.

"He's still listed as day to day," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "We thought there might be a chance that he might play, but after the morning skate … he's not ready yet. He's still improving."

Montoya will make his first start since Oct. 20, when he stopped 26 of 30 shots in a 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay. He owns a 2-2-0 record with a 2.12 GAA and .928 save percentage.

The Islanders, who still are carrying three goalies, will use Rick DiPietro as the backup tonight.

The game also will feature a matchup between the Islanders' John Tavares and the Avalanche's Matt Duchene, the first and third picks, respectively, in the 2009 Entry Draft.

Tavares has 2 goals in the three previous meetings, all New York wins, while Duchene has none. Tavares leads the Islanders in scoring this season with 8 goals and 5 assists in 12 games. Duchene is tops among Avalanche scorers with 5 goals and 7 assists in 15 games.

The Islanders have beaten the Avalanche five times in a row and are 7-0-2 against Colorado since a 1-0 regulation loss in Denver on Nov. 16, 2001.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 4:00 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Backstrom back in net for Minnesota

SAN JOSE -- Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom, coming off a 41-save, 3-0 shutout against Calgary, will make his second straight start Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks, coach Mike Yeo said after his team's morning skate.

Backup goaltender Josh Harding had won four straight games, allowing a combined three goals, before Backstrom returned to the lineup against Calgary.

"It's not a problem," Yeo said of having to choose between two red-hot goalies. "It's two goalies playing well. It's not a problem.

"Certainly it's up to us to manage that and manage both guys and make sure that their heads are in the right place, but both are character guys, both are team-first guys and both have been doing everything they can to help the team win. So to me it sounds more like a blessing than a problem."

Backstrom is 4-3-2 with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. Harding is 4-0-1 with a 1.18 GAA and a .965 save percentage.

Forward Cal Clutterbuck will return to the lineup after missing the Calgary game with an upper-body injury.

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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:58 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks, Wild

Here's how the lineups could look Thursday night when the Sharks host the Wild at HP Pavilion:


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

Dan Boyle - Douglas Murray
Brent Burns - Colin White
Justin Braun - Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Guillaume Latendresse - Mikko Koivu - Dany Heatley
Devin Setoguchi - Matt Cullen - Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Cal Clutterbuck - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Colton Gillies - Darroll Powe - Brad Staubitz

Nick Schultz - Marek Zidlicky
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Justin Falk - Nate Prosser

Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding
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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:50 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

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

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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:42 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Fraser excited to finally make Los Angeles debut

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Colin Fraser has been a Los Angeles King since June, but he has yet to slip a game jersey over his pads.

"Unless you count the three pictures I took in a practice just to include me in the program," said Fraser, "no, I haven't put it on yet."

That long wait will end Thursday night when the Kings insert Fraser and Trent Hunter into their lineup against the Vancouver Canucks.

Fraser is expected to play at fourth line center while Hunter will get a turn at third line wing following Scott Parse's placement on the injured list with a lower-body injury.

Fraser was officially activated Thursday to end a months-long saga that began when he played his last game March 29, for Edmonton, and suffered a broken foot that forced him to miss the final two weeks of the season.

He was traded to L.A., along with a seventh-round draft pick in 2012, in exchange for Ryan Smyth in June before it was learned that he needed surgery in July to repair the foot.

The Kings filed a grievance with the NHL that claimed the Oilers misled them on the severity of the injury. The grievance will be heard later this month.

Meanwhile, Fraser has been practicing with the team for weeks.

"It's been a long time since I played last," said Fraser, a member of Chicago's 2010 Stanley Cup team.

"I've been champing at the bit for a little bit here. With getting in shape, learning the systems … hopefully I'll be ready to go. To get a chance is very exciting.

"I think I'll just be antsy a little bit. I think getting that first shift out of the way just to get the excitement to come down a little bit."

Kings coach Terry Murray wasn't concerned about integrating two new players. He saw Fraser play when both were in Philadelphia's organization.

"A player has to get started at some time," Murray said. "You could wait and just practice and get to another game, I suppose. But it happens to be Vancouver, who he would have played against many times coming from Chicago … I don't think with his kind of a game I'm overly concerned with the high-end skill level. I'm looking at a very intense player that's going to play a great game, go to the net and get on the forecheck.

"I know he's been a bit of a caged animal here looking forward to getting the opportunity."
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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:38 PM

By Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Potential lineups for Avalanche, Islanders

Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Michael Grabner
Brian Rolston - Frans Nielsen - P.A. Parenteau
Blake Comeau - Marty Reasoner - Kyle Okposo
Matt Martin - Josh Bailey - Jay Pandolfo

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina

Al Montoya will start in goal, with Rick DiPietro the backup.

Joakim Lindstrom - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Kevin Porter - Matt Duchene - David Jones
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - T.J. Galiardi - Chuck Kobasew

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson
Shane O'Brien - Kyle Quincey
Ryan Wilson - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere will start in goal, with Semyon Varlamov the backup.

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

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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:38 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Search for scoring leads Hunter to crack Kings' lineup

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Trent Hunter was a good story for the Kings when he parlayed a pro tryout contract into a late free agent signing in training camp until coach Terry Murray scratched him in six of the first nine games.

But L.A. has struggled mightily to get offense outside of the top line, and Hunter was a two-time 20-goal scorer for the New York Islanders.

"Quite simply, we're looking to get some scoring going here," Murray said.

Hunter has only played five games this season, but feels better equipped for more action. He'll play with Jarret Stoll and Kyle Clifford on the third line.

"The more you spend around the guys, the more comfortable you get for sure," Hunter said. "That would be the biggest thing for myself. I'm just going to focus on my game and just play within yourself."

The insertion of Hunter and Colin Fraser comes at the expense of grinder Brad Richardson, who is expected to be scratched for the first time this season.

"Brad right now is not finding the back of the net," Murray said. "He's bringing everything else that we want. He's intense. He's enthusiastic. He recovers pucks. He's giving us good penalty kills … it's just the need for some offense right now."
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