Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 1:32 PM

By Alan Robinson - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Tortorella likes off-ice chemistry Rangers are building

PITTSBURGH -- The New York Rangers' 38-14-5 record -- the best in the Eastern Conference going into Tuesday night's play -- signals to the rest of the NHL that they are a very good team on the ice.
Off the ice, coach John Tortorella said, the Rangers remain a work in progress.
The addition of Stanley Cup-winning veterans Brad Richards and Mike Rupp has greatly added to the Rangers' locker room chemistry, Tortorella said before Tuesday night's game against Atlantic Division rival Pittsburgh.
"That's one of the positives out of this year, our locker room is growing," Tortorella said.
Still, Tortorella isn't ready to call his team a finished product, not with more than one-quarter of the regular season and the playoffs remaining.
Does he like what he sees -- and, most importantly, what he hears? Most definitely. But Tortorella said there remains work to be done, even if there is every suggestion this is a tight-knit and cohesive group.
"If teams are going to be successful, the locker room needs to grow and self-sustain," Tortorella said. "I think we're still in the middle of that. I've talked to a lot of coaches after the season's over, guys that have won the Stanley Cup, and you hear about how coaches say the room takes over itself. I think that's a very important characteristic. It's not (all) about the play on the ice; how the locker room is conducted and how people handle themselves there sometimes is more important that some of the things that go on on the ice. Most successful teams have that."
Tortorella had it in 2004, when the Tampa Bay Lightning -- with Richards in the lineup -- won the Stanley Cup.
Rupp points to team leaders such as Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi as helping unite these Rangers. A season ago, the Rangers earned the conference's eighth and final playoff spot, winning 44 games; this season, the Rangers already have 38 victories with 25 games remaining.
"They sacrifice their bodies every night for the team. It goes a long way when your leaders are doing that," said Rupp, who won a Stanley Cup with the Devils. "It brings the team together. We're willing to make sacrifices to get team wins, so it's good."
The Rangers held an optional skate in advance of their second game in Pittsburgh this season. They won 3-1 on Jan. 6, their fourth consecutive victory there since Consol Energy Center opened last season.
Among those skating was former Penguins forward Ruslan Fedotenko, who has missed the last five games with a head injury.
The Rangers' projected lineup:

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Brandon Dubinsky - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
Mike Rupp - John Mitchell - Ruslan Fedotenko
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Marc Staal - Steve Eminger
Henrik Lundqvist, who is 8-1 with a 1.20 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage and three shutouts in his last nine games, is expected to be in goal, with Martin Biron as the backup.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 1:25 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Win would put Jets in division lead

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets' bid to join the upper reaches of the Eastern Conference continues tonight at the MTS Centre with a visit from the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Jets (29-26-6) have used three consecutive wins and the struggles of the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals to elbow their way into the playoff discussion.

The Flyers-Jets season series has seen Winnipeg take all three meetings this season, including a 6-4 win at the MTS Centre on Nov. 19. A win tonight in the third contest of an eight-game homestand would push the Jets ahead of the Panthers and into first place in the Southeast Division and third place in the Eastern Conference.

However, the Panthers will hold four games in hand on the Jets after tonight, and Jets coach Claude Noel is placing little stock in what leading the Southeast Division at this point in the season would mean.

Defenseman Zach Bogosian will miss his fourth straight game tonight while forward Eric Fehr will remain in the Winnipeg lineup.

"I think it has the potential to be longer," Noel said of Bogosian's status. "We're hoping for Thursday (at home against Tampa Bay). It is day-to-day."

Ondrej Pavelec will start in net for the Jets once again after backstopping the Jets to home wins against Boston and Colorado this past weekend.

Here is the projected lineup for the Jets:

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

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Johnny Oduya - Ron Hainsey
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal, with Chris Mason the backup.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 1:21 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Datsyuk to miss at least 2 weeks

Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk, currently ninth in the League in scoring, reportedly will miss the next two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee Tuesday morning.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock updated Datsyuk's status following his team's practice in Chicago in preparation for Tuesday's game against Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN), who will be without captain Jonathan Toews due to an upper-body injury.

"Everything is real good," Babcock told The Detroit News. "(Datsyuk) had a fragment in his knee, an old thing we wanted to clear up prior to playoff time."

The Red Wings will not call up anyone from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids to take Datsyuk's spot in the lineup. Datsyuk leads the team with 59 points in 59 games.

Babcock told reporters that Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm and Cory Emmerton will be the team's centers in Datsyuk's absence.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 1:12 PM

By Neil Acharya - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Likely lineups for Devils, Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Here is what the lineups could look like when the Devils and Maple Leafs take the ice tonight at Air Canada Centre:

Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Dainius Zubrus - Steve Bernier
Eric Boulton - Jacob Josefson - Nick Palmieri
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Matt Taormina - Peter Harrold
Martin Brodeur will start in goal, with Johan Hedberg the backup.
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

Jonas Gustavsson will start in goal, with James Reimer the backup.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 1:09 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Life without Lecavalier latest challenge for Lightning

TAMPA -- The loss of captain Vincent Lecavalier from the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup is just another blow the team must try to overcome in fighting to get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We've been getting slapped all year, so why change it now?" Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "It's not for the next two or three days, it's more than that. He's out indefinitely because we can’t put a date on when he’ll be back, but it certainly won't be tomorrow."

The Lightning captain sustained an upper-body injury during Tampa Bay's win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday night, and was unable to practice on Monday. Tests left no doubt as to the severity of the injury.

"There is no gray area," Lecavalier said. "Obviously when I come back is kind of a gray area, but the tests showed definitely that there are no gray areas."

For the Lightning, the timing couldn't be worse. The team wraps up a homestand Tuesday night against the Anaheim Ducks during which they made strides to close the gap to qualify for postseason play. Tampa Bay has gone 9-3-2 over the last 14-game stretch and is currently just six points out of the final playoff spot. That’s as close as the Lightning have been to a playoff spot since Dec. 31.

The Lightning have been plagued by injuries all season, at one point playing a month without nine of their regulars. But through the team's resurgence and playoff push, their big three of Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Lecavalier have been a constant presence.

Now, that's changed.

"Obviously, the biggest thing is that we're playing really well as a team right now and everyone has stepped up his game in this last month," Lecavalier said. "Obviously the beginning of the season wasn't what we wanted, but we've really pulled together, it seems, since January. That's the part of the year that you want to be part of something and there with the guys; every single game is a playoff game so you want to be part of that. Unfortunately, I won't be able to."

The Ducks are an equally hungry opponent who are on the periphery of the Western Conference playoff picture, but they have been making some strong advances of late.

"They did the same thing last year," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They're good players and they realized the situation and rallied."

Anaheim arrives at the Tampa Bay Times Forum with a 15-2-4 record in the past 21 games and has climbed to within five points of a playoff berth. The Ducks are on the tail end of an eight-game road trip, their longest of the season, during which they have managed to snag at least a point in each game. Tuesday night they will be after their first 10-game point streak since 2007. If they get it, the points will come at the expense of a Tampa Bay club that is scrambling.

"Our lines will change; our lineup is thinner so the danger, obviously, is that the other team wears you out, so we'll have to manage our top guys and the third and fourth lines so that we have energy but don't get worn out come the third period," Boucher said. "Stamkos and St. Louis are going to sleep on the ice, that's obvious, but we'll try to manage it so that they can maintain 60 minutes of solid play."

Here's how the lineups project for tonight's game:

Jason Blake - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Bobby Ryan - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Matt Beleskey - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Niklas Hagman - Rod Pelley - George Parros

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

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers


Ryan Malone - Tom Pyatt - Martin St. Louis
Steve Downie - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Shannon - Trevor Smith - JT Wyman
Nate Thompson - Adam Hall - Brett Connolly

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy
Brendan Mikkelson - Bruno Gervais

Dwayne Roloson
Mathieu Garon

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 1:01 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Blues lose Langenbrunner for up to a month

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues have placed winger Jamie Langenbrunner on injured reserve after the veteran suffered a broken left foot during Sunday's 3-1 loss in Chicago.

The 36-year-old will be out a minimum of four weeks and will be re-evaluated then.

The Cloquet, Minn., native, who signed a one-year deal with the Blues last summer, has four goals, 17 assists in 57 games this season, but along with Jason Arnott has provided a steadying, veteran presence as the Blues try to reach the playoffs for just the second time in the last seven seasons.

The Blues still are playing without forwards Alexander Steen and Matt D'Agostini, both out with concussions.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 12:55 PM

By Alan Robinson - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Orpik out as Pens look for first win vs. Rangers

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins moved into Consol Energy Center 17 months ago, but they're still looking to establish a true home-ice advantage there.
To do that, they need to prove they can beat division rivals like the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers there.
With the first-place Rangers visiting Tuesday for the second time this season, the Penguins still are looking for their first home win against New York since they played in Civic Arena. The Rangers are 1-0 at Consol this season and 4-0 since Consol opened -- the same record the Flyers have.
The Penguins are going into Tuesday's game a bit shorthanded, as Brooks Orpik, their most physical and consistent defenseman, won't play because of an upper-body injury that coach Dan Bylsma said is expected to be short-term.
Backup goalie Brent Johnson, struggling with only one win in the last two months, has an undisclosed illness and won’t suit up. Brad Thiessen, 20-14-2 with a 2.88 goals-against average at AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, was called up to take his place.
Also back in uniform is forward Eric Tangradi, who was recalled Monday from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the fourth time this season. Bylsma said the Penguins need the 6-foot-4, 221-pound Tangradi to add a physical presence, especially with Orpik out.
"Eric, when he played his last time (in mid-January), really provided a physical element, a forechecking presence, (was) good in the offensive zone," Bylsma said. "The reason why we called him back up was because we felt in our third and fourth lines, we need that presence, we need that size, we need that physicality. He's getting called up to be in that role. If he's getting four to five hits a game, he'll be a real factor."
Bylsma did not say what player would come out of the lineup so Tangradi can play. Matt Cooke didn't practice Monday, a day after being struck in the arm by a puck in Buffalo, but he participated in the morning skate Tuesday.
If the Penguins have any hope of overtaking the Rangers to win the Atlantic Division, winning Tuesday is a priority because a loss would drop them 12 points out of the division lead.
"Yeah, we still want to catch them," forward Jordan Staal said Tuesday. "I watched the last game we played in that building (a 4-1 win in New York on Jan. 19), and I felt like we had a really solid game. We are right there with them, but we definitely need to play our best to have a good chance for the win."
That game represents the Penguins' only win in three games against their long-time rival this season. There are two other matchups remaining after Tuesday -- March 15 in New York and April 5 in Pittsburgh.
"They're the best team in East by nine points, 10 ahead of us, and certainly a team where if we have any idea that we're going to catch them, we're going to need to win all three games against them, starting with the one here tonight," Bylsma said. "The consistency with which they play, the way they play their game, is the determining factor in their success. Their penalty kill is near the tops in the League; (they have) well-rounded defensive play. … They come at you in a lot of different ways."
Bylsma also called the Rangers "a dangerous, aggressive team. They've got a lot of different guys being effective and scoring for their team."  Ten Rangers currently have 20 or more points.
Without Orpik, here's what the Penguins' lineup could look like tonight:
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Steve Sullivan - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Joe Vitale - Arron Asham
Eric Tangradi - Dustin Jeffrey - Craig Adams
Kris Letang - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Paul Martin
Ben Lovejoy - Deryk Engelland
Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net for the 31st time in the Penguins' last 33 games; in three of those, he replaced an ineffective Johnson.  In 39 career games against the Rangers, he is 19-12-7 with a 2.79 GAA.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 12:35 PM

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

No Toews for Hawks tonight

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will miss Tuesday's game against the Detroit Red Wings (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) with an upper-body injury.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters in Chicago that the injury is not related to a wrist injury that sidelined Toews last month, and he is being listed as day-to-day.

Brendan Morrison will play in Toews' place.

Also out for the Hawks is defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who will be replaced in the lineup by John Scott.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 11:13 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Halifax forward Martin Frk has regained confidence

After sitting out the first 29 games of the regular season and missing the 2012 World Junior Championships with concussion-like symptoms, Halifax Mooseheads right wing Martin Frk has regained his confidence.

Frk, who has 10 goals and 17 points in 24 matches with the Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is ranked No. 25 on NHL Central Scouting's list of the top draft eligible North American skaters.

He had 22 goals and 50 points in 62 games as a QMJHL rookie last season and 4 goals and 2 assists in three pre-season games in August before his injury.

First-year Halifax coach Dominique Ducharme, who might very well have the best draft-eligible prospect for 2013 on his roster in rookie forward Nathan MacKinnon, said Frk has been symptom-free since his return to the lineup.  

"I think we should see the best of him in the playoffs," Ducharme told "That's where we're going to see him playing at 100 percent. I don't think his injury is playing any role in his head though.

"He's not tentative and not playing in a way not to get hit. He's 100 percent back from his concussion and he's showing no signs that it bothers him physically."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 11:02 AM

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

Lightning's Lecavalier out with fractured hand

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier will be out with a non-displaced fracture in his right hand, the team learned Tuesday.

Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman later updated that report with a text to the Tampa Bay Times' Damian Cristodero, saying Lecavalier is "day-to-day." But RDS reported Tuesday night that Lecavalier is expected to miss 3-5 weeks.

Tuesday's game against the visiting Anaheim Ducks will be the first one he misses this season.

Lecavalier left Monday's practice early for an MRI. Lightning coach Guy Boucher told the Tampa Bay Times that the injury "popped up" during Saturday's game against the Washington Capitals.

While not revealing the specific nature of the injury, Lecavalier told reporters Tuesday that he does not need surgery.

Lecavalier has 21 goals and 25 assists in 58 games.

The Lightning enter Tuesday's games 11th in the Eastern Conference, six points behind eighth-place Toronto.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

For six months, it's a really good accomplishment. But as soon as April [11, the end of the regular season] comes around, no one thinks about the regular season anymore. For six months, it's a real battle to get into the playoffs in the NHL these days. There are a lot of good teams, and it takes consistency over a long time.

— Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on clinching a playoff berth after a win against the Islanders on Saturday
AMP No Bull Moment of the Week