SHARE
Share with your friends
x
Share with your Friends


Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 1:22 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Penguins still motivated to gain home ice

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins talked it about for weeks -- if they could sweep their final three games against the Rangers, they just might overhaul New York for first place in the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division.
 
Coach Dan Bylsma didn't discourage such talk, believing it might be a motivator for the stretch drive.
 
As it turns out, the Penguins could sweep those three games but still not overtake the Rangers, who secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs by finishing off a season sweep of the Atlantic Division rival Flyers with a 5-3 victory Tuesday.
 
The Rangers go into the next-to-the-last game of the season for both teams with 109 points, and the most the Penguins could end with is 108 if they beat New York on Thursday night and Philadelphia on Saturday. Both games are at Consol Energy Center.
 
It's not that the Penguins lack motivation. They can secure fourth place in the Eastern Conference and home ice advantage for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by beating the Rangers. If they can do that -- or if the Flyers lose in regulation to Buffalo -- then their Saturday home game against the Flyers would be relatively meaningless.
 
That's a scenario the Penguins would welcome, if only to give goalie Marc-Andre Fleury another much-needed day off; he is expected to play in his 66th game of the season Thursday. Three injured players -- forwards James Neal and Steve Sullivan (lower-body injuries) and defenseman Matt Niskanen (upper-body injury) -- also would get another day off. None of the three will play against the Rangers.
 
"It's not everything, but it's nice, though," captain Sidney Crosby said of home ice. "It's something that if you have the opportunity to get, you want to get it, I think it's something that's on our mind the last couple of games, making sure we do that. We love playing here and it gives us a lot of energy."
 
Still, the Penguins are aware they owned the home-ice edge against Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals last season and against Montreal in Game 7 of the semifinals the season before, and they lost both games.
 
To Crosby, that's why it is important for the Penguins to be concentrating on sharpening their game, paying attention to detail and managing the puck well -- and that means cutting down on neutral zone turnovers -- over the next two games.
 
"We've got to make sure we've got our game and it's where it needs to be," Crosby said. "We dropped a couple of games there to the Islanders and we weren't happy with our play. I think it's just a matter of making sure we're on the right track."
 
Those home-and-home losses to the Islanders last week blunted the momentum the Penguins generated by going 14-1-1 over the previous 16 games, and cost them any chance of overtaking the Rangers. Pittsburgh won the last two matchups, 2-0 at Consol on Feb. 21 and 5-2 at Madison Square Garden on March 15.
 
New York isn't entirely without motivation against the Penguins -- the Rangers still can win the Presidents' Trophy for regular season superiority -- so Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma doesn't expect to see a relaxed opponent.
 
"They've certainly locked their position, the top of the conference. They've locked home ice through the
first, second and third round if they advance that far," Bylsma said. "It would seem like they don't have a lot to play for, but you never know what the case will be. We're anticipating the first-place team in here. This is a team we've been trying to catch and win the last three games against them. Our last one is [Thursday]."
 
While the Penguins could finish with the second-most points in the conference, they can finish no higher than fourth because division winners automatically claim the top three spots in the playoffs.
 
The Penguins' likely lineup:
 
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Richard Park
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Eric Tangradi - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Arron Asham - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams
 
Brooks Orpik - Zbynek Michalek
Brian Strait - Paul Martin
Simon Despres - Deryk Engelland
 
Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson
 
Fleury (41-17-4) would be playing in his 66th game, one off his career high set twice previously. Johnson played and won two of Pittsburgh's previous three games.
Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 12:52 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Cuma set to make NHL debut on Wild blue line

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota defenseman Tyler Cuma will make his National Hockey League debut tonight when the Wild host Chicago at Xcel Energy Center.

Cuma, a first-round pick in 2008, will be the 46th different player to suit up for the Wild this season. He will be the 15th rookie and the ninth to make his NHL debut -- all League highs.

A series of injuries, however, has derailed his track to the NHL, including a knee injury in 2009, after he nearly made the Wild roster out of his first training camp.

Cuma has played in 68 games this season with Houston of the American Hockey League, chipping in offensively with nine assists.

Here is Minnesota's projected lineup:

Dany Heatley - Mikko Koivu - Devin Setoguchi
Cal Clutterbuck - Kyle Brodziak - Darroll Powe
Jason Zucker - Erik Christensen - Nick Johnson
Jed Ortmeyer - Warren Peters - Stephane Veilleux

Tom Gilbert - Nate Prosser
Marco Scandella - Justin Falk
Kurtis Foster - Tyler Cuma

Josh Harding
Niklas Backstrom

Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 12:48 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Neal, Sullivan, Niskanen all sidelined for Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will be playing somewhat shorthanded against the New York Rangers on Thursday night, as forwards James Neal and Steve Sullivan and defenseman Matt Niskanen sit out with injuries.
 
All three might also miss the regular-season ending game Saturday against the Flyers, but coach Dan Bylsma said they are expected to be ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs that begin next week.
 
Neal and Sullivan have lower-body injuries and Niskanen has an upper-body injury, all of which occurred during the Penguins' 5-3 victory at Boston on Tuesday night. Niskanen was injured during a collision with Daniel Paille in the first period and did not return. Sullivan played the entire game, but was seen limping afterward.
 
It is uncertain when Neal was hurt.
 
With Neal missing, Richard Park -- who has not dressed for 10 of the last 13 games -- was on a line with Chris Kunitz and NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin during the morning skate. Eric Tangradi and Pascal Dupuis were the wings on the Sidney Crosby line.
 
Joe Vitale took part in the morning skate despite being struck in the jaw by a Zdeno Chara shot Tuesday.
 
"All of us and everyone in the building (TD Garden) saw the puck rise off his stick, it was only a wrist shot, but it was (Zdeno) Chara," Bylsma said. "He got it up and around the head area, so there was concern. It left a mark, but he's doing well and everything seems to be good with him."
 
Vitale is expected to center the fourth line, which also includes Arron Asham and Craig Adams.
 
The Penguins can secure fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, and home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs, as early as Thursday if they defeat the Rangers or the Flyers lose to Buffalo in regulation.
 
 
 
 
Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 12:46 PM

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

Lupul skates, laments season-ending shoulder injury

TORONTO -- Ahead of their last home game of the season, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul was on the ice Thursday morning. He skated for the first time since succumbing to a shoulder injury on March 6. He will not be in the lineup against Tampa and will also miss the final game of the season in Montreal.

"Hopefully another week or so of rehab and working on some things and I'll be ready 100 percent," said the 28-year-old Lupul, who was arguably Toronto's most valuable player this season before the injury. He had a career-high 67 points in 66 games.

Lupul, who has faced his fair share of set backs throughout his career, feels the timing of the injury could not have been worse.

"It was extra tough because we we're still in the midst of a playoff chase," he said. "We had been struggling right before I went out, and then to watch what happened over the next couple of weeks was pretty difficult. ... Everything went wrong, we didn't get the job done as a team."

Fellow Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski, who is recovering from a leg laceration suffered this past Saturday, also hit the ice but is not expected to play Thursday evening.

Tampa did not hold a skate after playing last night in Montreal, falling to the Canadiens, 5-2.

Here are the Maple Leafs' projected lines:

Matt Frattin - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Matthew Lombardi - Joey Crabb
Tim Connolly - David Steckel - Mike Brown
Jay Rosehill - Carter Ashton - Colby Armstrong

Dion Phaneuf - Mike Komisarek
John Michael-Liles - Luke Schenn
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson

Ben Scrivens
Jonas Gustavsson
Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 12:30 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Senators, Bruins

KANATA, Ont. -- Here are the projected lineups for the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators on Thursday night at Scotiabank Place:

SENATORS
Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Colin Greening
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Zack Smith - Jim O'Brien - Chris Neil
Rob Klinkhammer - Jesse Winchester - Erik Condra

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar

Ben Bishop
Craig Anderson

Alex Auld, Zenon Konopka, Bobby Butler, Matt Gilroy and Kaspars Daugavins are the healthy scratches. Kuba and Karlsson did not participate in the morning skate, but coach Paul MacLean insisted that both would play.

BRUINS
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Tyler Seguin
Brad Marchand - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Benoit Pouliot - Brian Rolston - Jordan Caron
Lane MacDermid - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Dennis Seidenberg - Andrew Ference
Greg Zanon - Joe Corvo
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Anton Khudobin
Marty Turco

Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara did not travel with the team -- all three are resting in preparation for the playoffs. MacDermid was recalled from Providence on Wednesday and will start on the fourth line. The Bruins said defenseman Johnny Boychuk is day-to-day after sustaining a knee strain against Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Goalie Tuukka Rask (lower body) is anticipated to be back in time for the postseason. Mike Mottau is a healthy scratch.

Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 12:24 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Rinne likely to return to Predators net against Stars

NASHVILLE -- After not dressing for the Predators' game on Tuesday because of an illness, No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne practiced Wednesday and participated in the team’s morning skate for its regular season home finale on Thursday against Dallas.
 
Coach Barry Trotz said that "he's probably in, yeah," in reference to a question as to whether Rinne would start on Thursday. Rinne said on Wednesday that he had an IV to help him rehydrate.
 
Here's tonight's projected lineup for the Predators:
 
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Alexander Radulov
Gabriel Bourque - Nick Spaling - Patric Hornqvist
Matt Halischuk - Paul Gaustad - Jordin Tootoo
 
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Hal Gill - Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein
 
Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
 
Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 11:46 AM

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

Sabres stick with same lineup vs. Flyers

PHILADELPHIA -- The Buffalo Sabres had an optional skate Thursday morning here at Wells Fargo Center. Most of the healthy players were on the ice, with the notable exception of forwards Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy, and goaltender Ryan Miller.

Jhonas Enroth was the only goaltender on the ice.

It's the Sabres' first visit to Philadelphia since Feb. 16, when they suffered one of their worst losses of the season, a 7-2 defeat that saw the Flyers score the game's final seven goals.

However, since then the Sabres are 15-4-4, which has put them right in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A win against the Flyers and a Capitals regulation loss to the Panthers would boost the Sabres into the eighth spot.

Here is the lineup the Sabres likely will put out against the Flyers when the teams meet Thursday in a crucial game for Buffalo. It's the same lineup the team used in Tuesday's 6-5 overtime win against the Maple Leafs.

Marcus Foligno - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford
Ville Leino - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Corey Tropp - Cody Hodgson - Thomas Vanek
Nathan Gerbe - Cody McCormick - Patrick Kaleta

Robyn Regehr - Jordan Leopold
Brayden McNabb - Alexander Sulzer
Andrej Sekera - Mike Weber

Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth

Forward Brad Boyes and defenseman TJ Brennan will be the scratches, along with injured defensemen Christian Ehrhoff (knee) and Tyler Myers (foot). Forward Matt Ellis has been cleared to play following a knee injury that's kept him out since March 10, but will not dress Thursday.

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

Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 11:42 AM

By Kurt Dusterberg -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Canadiens, Hurricanes

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Montreal Canadiens pay a visit to PNC Arena to face the Carolina Hurricanes:

CANADIENS

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Rene Bourque - Tomas Plekanec - Louis Leblanc
Blake Geoffrion - Lars Eller - Mike Blunden
Aaron Palushaj - Gabriel Dumont - Brad Staubitz
 
P.K. Subban - Josh Gorges
Frédéric St-Denis - Andrei Markov
Chris Campoli - Alexei Emelin
 
Peter Budaj
Robert Mayer

Montreal did not skate Thursday morning, coming off a 5-2 home win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday night.

HURRICANES

Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Chad LaRose
Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen - Tuomo Ruutu
Derek Joslin - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart
 
Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Joni Pitkanen - Jamie McBain
Jaroslav Spacek
 
Cam Ward
Brian Boucher

Carolina forward Andreas Nodl skated with the team Thursday morning, but Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said he is unlikely to dress. He has missed seven games recovering from a concussion. Instead, Spacek will join the lineup as the seventh defenseman.
Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 8:51 AM

By Craig Button -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - On the Playoff Button blog

Updated playoff projections: April 5th

NHL Network's Craig Button has been tracking playoff positioning -- using a variety of statistical categories -- for several years now. His formula, while not a true probability exercise, has proven to be very effective at predicting the cutoff number to secure a Stanley Cup Playoffs berth.

In its simplest terms, Button's formula uses a team's current winning percentage, factoring in games remaining, to arrive at the number of wins -- and points -- each team will finish the season with. From that exercise, the formula can extrapolate the magic number for qualification and which teams currently in the race will reach that number. This equation will also determine tiebreakers should they become necessary.

Still not convinced? Check out the full explanation of Button's formula

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Current
Position
NHL
Team
Games
Played
Current
Points
Games
Remaining
Projected
Points
Wins to
earn 8th
7th 80 92 2 94
8th 80 88 2 90 2

9th 80 88 2 90 2
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE
Current
Position
NHL
Team
Games
Played
Current
Points
Games
Remaining
Projected
Points
Wins to
earn 8th
6th 80 98 2 100
7th 80 93 2 95 1
8th 80 92 2 94 2

9th 80 89 2 91 3
The skinny: At the Trade Deadline, the projections for the No. 8 spots in the Eastern and Western Conference was 89 points and 91 points, respectively. The total points required for Stanley Cup is going to be at least 92 in the West and could be as high as 92 in the East. Time for a little recap of what the projection was on Feb. 27 and what has transpired entering action Thursday.

Eastern Conference (Feb. 27)

Standings Points Projected wins Actual record since Feb. 27
3. Florida 70 10 8-5-6
9. Washington 67 11 9-6-3
12. Buffalo 62 14 12-4-2
Western Conference (Feb. 27)

Standings Points Projected wins Actual record since Feb. 27
3. Phoenix 73 10 8-6-4
7. San Jose 71 11 9-7-3
8. Dallas 70 11 9-7-1
9. Los Angeles 68 12 12-5-1
10. Colorado 68 12 9-6-2
Florida has benefitted from gaining a single point in six games, an equivalent of three wins. So, as the Panthers prepare to play Washington on Thursday, they need a single point to qualify.

Washington has earned close to the original projection, but with a higher actual point total now necessary it will need at least one more win to qualify. If the Caps beat the Panthers Thursday night, they will still be alive for Southyeastern Division title and the No. 3 seed in the West when the season concludes with all 30 teams playing Saturday.

On Feb. 27, Buffalo needed to go on a tear and it did; but it still may not be enough. The Sabres must win in Philadelphia to keep their playoff hopes vibrant and need a Panthers win against the Caps to gain control of their own playoff destiny entering the final game of the season. If the Capitals win out, Buffalo can not pass them.

In the West, the Kings were true to projection and reeled off the necessary wins to put them in the driver's seat and on the brink of playoff qualification. Now, the Kings just need one of four points in its home and home against San Jose to close the season.

Dallas and Colorado will be rooting hard for the Kings to beat the Sharks in theses two games because both the Stars and Avs must help themselves and get help to qualify for the postseason. Dallas and Colorado have both fallen short of the needed wins and equalling the projection looks to leave one or both short of the playoffs.

Phoenix, meanwhile, has met the wins total, or points equivalent. One more point guarantees the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive year for the Coyotes.

The math tells a very accurate story, but ultimately it falls to the teams to win their games. Win and the points add up. Lose and you are looking at all kinds of combinations and permutations to get you to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Posted On Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 2:43 PM

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

Sabres lose Myers for last two games

The Buffalo Sabres' road to the Stanley Cup Playoffs just got a bit harder with the news that top defenseman Tyler Myers will be out for the team's final two games with what coach Lindy Ruff called a "bad foot."

"He won't be on the trip," Ruff told reporters Wednesday. "Tyler's out. It'll be a period of time. What time frame that is? It's more than just this week."

Myers already has missed two games with the injury, and Buffalo already is without blueliner Christian Ehrhoff with a knee injury, leaving the Sabres shorthanded defensively at the most critical time of the season.

The other blueliners have been forced to play expanded roles, part of which could be the reason the Sabres have allowed 14 goals in three games without Myers and Ehrhoff.

They'll need to tighten up defensively Thursday against the Flyers, a team that beat them 7-2 the last time they played, on Feb. 16. The Sabres need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

“We went through that game [Tuesday's 6-5 overtime win against the Maple Leafs], we went through the first period, went through the chances, and emphasized the importance of staying inside some of the mistakes we made," said Ruff. "Some of it was lack of communication. Some of it was the coverage. But we do have to tighten up, there's no secret. That's on myself and my staff to make sure that we tighten up those areas so it's not a game where you give 16 or 17 [chances]. We've got to get it back to the norm, which is somewhere around 10 or 11, in that area. And not give up the high quality.

"We worked hard on that [Wednesday] morning, went through that with the players. We understand that we know how to play, and we know how to play in our own end. It should be an easier fix. Some of it is adapting to the players we have in. Some of it is just system related."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
First | Prev | 1141 | 1142 | 1143 | 1144 | 1145 | 1146 | 1147-1152 | Next | Last
Quote of the Day

I'm a hockey player and that's what I love to do. That is what I am here for. Everything else is just a side note.

— Oilers forward Connor McDavid on moving beyond the anticipation of his long-awaited arrival in the NHL
TONIGHT ON NHL NETWORK