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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 12:05 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Ballpark presents unique challenge for piping

PHILADELPHIA -- If you're at Citizens Bank Park for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 2 and you happen to be walking in Ashburn Alley you may find yourself standing directly under the piping that runs to the rink.

Due to the layout of the ballpark, the only way to get the piping that pumps glycol (the fluid that is used to freeze the rink) from the refrigeration truck parked outside the stadium to the rink on the field is to send it up and down on scaffolding. Part of that scaffolding is constructed above the concourse area in Ashburn Alley beyond the right-field fence.

Workers are expected to begin running the piping Monday.

The piping will start at the refrigeration truck on Hartranft Street and will be run up through a 4x4 window that leads into an indoor play area. It will run through the entire play area and out a smaller window into the concourse area.

However, that's where it will get raised to fly on the 28-foot height to go above the actual field. It will then run down a scaffolding ramp, underneath the temporary bleachers that have been erected in center field, and finally down onto the field.

The piping will run on armored decking that is already laid down in between center field and right field, and finally will get attached to junction boxes that are themselves attached to the sub-floor of the rink. The glycol circulates and freezes the water that will eventually be sprayed onto the floor to create the playing surface for the Flyers and Rangers.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl



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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 11:57 AM

By Steve Webb and Pat LaFontaine -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Making of a Royal

Breaking down plays in the film room


In this week's 'Making of a Royal' blog, head coach Pat LaFontaine and assistant coach Steve Webb discuss the importance of film study and review. Film breakdown sessions play a critical role on teaching today's young players. LaFontaine and Webb spend several hours breaking down plays from recent NHL games and recent Long Island Royal contests.

Steve Webb on film study:

There are a couple things I love taking out of film study.

A lot of athletes are visual learners but we just sit there and talk to them, wave our hands around and paint the picture as we're telling it. We [as coaches] understand what we see, but for the younger athletes, they don't understand all the little tendencies that happen on the ice with body language or the way guys turn, where the stick is. It's always nice when you can go out and have the best players in the world as an example for your athletes to observe. We go out there and collect all the highlights on NHL.com and all the goals scored. We want to look at the positive side of the goals scored and also what happened on the other side of things.
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 10:50 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Refrigeration truck kept on ice in bid for parking spot

PHILADELPHIA -- The NHL's famous refrigeration truck had to wait this morning before driver Jim Fraser could finally put it in park on Hartranft Street beyond right field at Citizens Bank Park.

Why? Well, a gray Ford Escape with New Jersey license plates was parked in the spot reserved for the truck.



Nobody is quite sure who the Ford Escape belonged to or why it was parked illegally in that spot, but people around the ballpark were saying it had been there since early in the morning. Even better is that when the police ran the license plates, the car came up as unregistered.

Some of the workers here for the Winter Classic buildout were joking that they should just get fork lifts to haul the Escape out of the spot, but NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig, always thinking on his feet, said that could be a problem, especially if the fork lifts ripped up the bottom of the SUV.
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 8:00 AM

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

It's time to build a hockey rink

PHILADELPHIA -- With the arrival of the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic truck ice truck this morning, Citizens Bank Park makes the full-time shift from baseball stadium to outdoor hockey oasis.

NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig and his crew are on-hand for the arrival of the custom-built 53-foot truck, which contains everything needed to create the rink that will play host to the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers on Jan. 2, 2012.

The long days and nights actually started Nov. 21, when the first pieces of armor decking were laid down to protect the field, and temporary seating already has been erected in center field (follow the progress here). Next comes the installation of everything needed to build a hockey rink in a baseball stadium.

In other words, the fun starts now.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 12:00 AM

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

Giving the gifts

The holidays are right around the corner with both Hanukkah and Christmas coming this week. In the spirit of the season, I'm putting on my Santa costume on and telling different teams and players in the NHL that have been nice this year what they can expect to find under their trees on Sunday morning.

Toronto Maple Leafs:
I dug in my archives and I found the parade route that the Leafs used in 1967 when they won their last title. Everyone in Toronto thinks the Leafs are going to win the Stanley Cup this year, so I want to do my part and make sure they're ready to march down Young Street like they did in '67. The people in Toronto have been long suffering, and it's not right that the last parade in Toronto was for a baseball team. I think that's got to change, so I'm going to do all I can for the people of Toronto and help out the Leafs and their fans with the actual parade route, so they'll be ready if it ever happens.

Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks:
I'm going to give these teams three free sessions with self-help guru Tony Robbins, because right now they are both screwed up mentally. Neither team has any confidence and both lose games when they have the lead going into the third period. So these teams just need mental makeovers. I know Tony and I know in three sessions, he'll be able to change both of those teams. Books will be given out and available at each session signed outside the door.

Nashville Predators:
Carrie Underwood is going to write a new song for the Predators and it's going to be called "Love and Pekka Rinne will keep us playing into May." Mike Fisher will be the tall, dark handsome guy in the video who says nothing and just smiles the whole time.

Philadelphia Flyers: I'm going to bring back Ed Van Impe to make a comeback in place of Chris Pronger. He's going to supply that nasty defenseman that slashes everything that moves around the front of the net. With Pronger out for the rest of the year, I had to do something for the Flyers because we saw last year in the playoffs that it's not the same defense without Pronger. Without Pronger I put the Flyers down in that second tier of teams. I'd put the Bruins, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Vancouver in that upper tier. The Flyers are now in that level beneath them with teams like the Rangers. The Pronger injury is catastrophic.

Evgeni Malkin: I'm going to continue to give Malkin superpowers until Sidney Crosby comes back. Malkin's been just great every game since Sidney's been gone. He had a hat trick Saturday night, Wednesday night he was fantastic in a losing effort. He's just playing awesome hockey right now. Pittsburgh is certainly a playoff team, but to be a Stanley Cup team, Malkin's going to have to be the guy that leads them. Arguably Pittsburgh's got its two best players out right now in Crosby and Kris Letang, but they're still scoring in bunches every night, and to keep doing it Malkin will have to keep playing at a high level.

Boston Bruins: I'm giving these guys nothing. I gave them the Stanley Cup last year and I also gave them Tyler Seguin, so I think that's enough to hold them over for another Christmas.

St. Louis Blues: I'm giving the Blues the exact same thing. I already gave them Ken Hitchcock and Brian Elliott, which has completely turned the team around. They have been overserved already. Right now, Brian is the most confident he's ever been and he's played well for stretches before with Ottawa. With a guy with his history, you're certainly taking a sigh of relief after each good game, but St. Louis is playing a good style of hockey right now and Elliott and Hitchcock are big reasons why.

Teemu Selanne and the Winnipeg fans: These two got their Christmas present this weekend when I gave them Teemu's emotional return to Winnipeg Saturday night. It was a magical night, the city came out and responded, a lot of great memories were rekindled and Teemu was cheered every time he touched the puck. The Winnipeg fans certainly loved the win, but I think they would almost have loved to see Teemu score a hat trick in a win for Anaheim just as much. It was a great night for Winnipeg, a great night for Teemu and a great night for the NHL.

New Jersey Devils: I'm going to give this team a return to their previous glory for Ilya Kovalchuk and Marty Brodeur. I think Kovalchuk is starting to come out of it, but for New Jersey to make the playoffs, these two guys will have to be the players of old, so that's the Christmas present I'm going to give the fans and players in New Jersey. If you really sit back and look at the play of Marty and Johan Hedberg, Hedberg should be playing more. You want to play Marty, but when he struggles you feel bad when you pull him. As a coach you don't want to put him in that situation, but hopefully with Santa's help, Marty will regain his greatness for the last 50 games of the season.

Detroit Red Wings: I'm going to give them access to the Fountain of Youth for one more year. They had that six-game losing streak at the beginning of the year, and boy did it wake them up. They look like the old Detroit Red Wings. Jimmy Howard has been good all year long -- probably their most consistent player -- but not Datsyuk's back, Zetterberg is flying, Franzen is scoring and Lidstrom and Kronwall and Stuart are giving them good play and the team looks great.

Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders: I know it's been a tough year for them, but I'm going to give them a great Christmas present: a lottery pick. Those will be the three teams that have the best opportunity to get a lottery pick come next June. I think the Islanders are a team that isn't ready to compete for a playoff spot just yet, Columbus is just in too big of a hole and Carolina is just a mess right now, particularly with Skinner and Pitkanen out. But if you're looking for a silver lining, these three teams are all going to get very good players next June -- and in the case of New York and Columbus, it might be the piece that finally pushes them into the top eight consistently.

New York Rangers: I'm going to give them the return of Marc Staal. I really like the Rangers. I think they're really close to being a really good team. Richards is becoming a bigger factor every game, Girardi is one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL, they play with some grit and some character and they've always had the goaltender. If you put Staal back in that lineup, I think this will be a team that can do some damage come playoff time.

All in all though, this has been a great season so far for the NHL and only people like Jacques Martin or Randy Carlyle have gotten any coal. Bruce Boudreau got an exception. With a glance into Santa's crystal ball, the gifts I'm giving this holiday season will make sure the rest of the season is even better than what we've had so far.

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Posted On Sunday, 12.18.2011 / 5:52 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Morin set to play against Flames

CHICAGO – Rather than easing Jeremy Morin into the lineup, the Chicago Blackhawks are putting the talented rookie forward in right away against the Calgary Flames on Sunday night at the United Center.

The 20-year old Morin was called up on Sunday morning from Rockford of the American Hockey League, where he'd played 22 games and scored 5 goals while tallying 10 assists – including one goal and eight helpers in his last nine games.

Morin is also coming off a three-game AHL suspension for an elbowing incident on Dec. 11 against Milwaukee – which is likely the reason he wasn't called up sooner following an upper-body injury to Hawks forward Daniel Carcillo on Wednesday in Minnesota.

"Organizationally, he's a player that we see having a good future with us and it gives him a chance to get back in the lineup," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday afternoon. "He's played well down in the minors this year. He's got some upside offensively. He's got some strength in the puck area, good instincts, good shot and I think defensively he's fine, too. We're looking forward to seeing him play."

Morin made his debut with Chicago last season by playing nine games with the Hawks and scoring two goals while adding one assist. However, Morin sustained a shoulder injury playing for the United States at the 2011 World Junior Championships and he went back to Rockford after helping Team USA win a bronze medal.

Not long after his return, Morin got a concussion on Jan. 15 and missed the rest of the season (41 games) plus sitting out all exhibition games and scrimmages during this year's training camp. The concussion happened after a hard hit caused him to hit his head on the ice. Quenneville said the time spent in the minors this season was necessary for Morin just to get back into the rhythm of a hockey season.

"I think you need time on ice and quality time on ice," Quenneville said. "(The AHL) is a good league and coming off the extended injury there, I think he's earning an opportunity based on how well he's played."

Quenneville wouldn't reveal where in the Hawks lineup Morin will fit in against the Flames, but the most likely spots would be one of the wings on the third line in place of either left wing Bryan Bickell or right wing Michael Frolik.

Morin might also slide into the left wing spot on the fourth line in place of 6-foot-8 defenseman John Scott, who's used on the left wing of that line from time to time.  Morin is just excited to get back into an NHL game, regardless of where he's placed.

"You don't know when you're going to get called up, but obviously I'm excited about the opportunity and I'm looking forward to it," said Morin, who was the key return piece in a blockbuster deal with the former Atlanta Thrashers the summer after Chicago won the 2010 Stanley Cup. "I was just excited to kind of be back in the swing of things (in Rockford) and be playing again every night and every weekend, getting back into it. I was most excited about that. I knew I had to prove I could play again before I got the chance (to rejoin the Hawks)."

As for the long period sitting out with the concussion, Morin said it was a tough ordeal and a learning experience.

"I'd never gone through something like that before," he said. "Going through it, you don't really know how much it takes coming back and the timing and everything that it takes. You don't know when it's going to come back. I didn't struggle in the beginning, but it was a little tougher than I thought coming back. I was just excited to finally be back (in Rockford)."

Now the excitement shifts to having another opportunity to show he can play in the NHL.

"Anytime you come up here you just want to play your hardest and prove that you can play at this level," said Morin, who helped the U.S. win the gold medal at the 2010 World Junior Championships. "That's what I'm going to try and do and just play my game. I've definitely been trying to pick up my play in the last couple weeks. I'm moving in the right direction and happy with my game right now."

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Posted On Sunday, 12.18.2011 / 3:21 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Chicago's stars carrying Hawks during hot streak

CHICAGO – The scary thing is that Patrick Kane is right about the Chicago Blackhawks, who head into a game on Sunday night against the Calgary Flames just one point back of the NHL's top team, the Minnesota Wild.

Kane thinks that despite a recent hot stretch, which has the Hawks sitting 6-0-1 in December and 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, things could actually be going better overall. There are still a few lapses from time to time, so they do have things to work on despite a torrid offensive stretch by star leaders like captain Jonathan Toews and second-line wingers Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.

"I think everyone was real excited about our team coming into the year and kind of had that feel like (it was) a couple of years ago … the same kind of buildup," said Kane, who has eight goals and 23 assists with a plus-10 rating. "The best part about it is that we probably feel like we haven't even played our best yet. Things can always get better and we know we can get better, too. There's still a lot of season left."

How much better can it get for the likes of Toews, Sharp and Hossa though?

Sharp, who has 17 goals and 17 assists, has a career long eight-game point streak going (7G, 5A) – which is the NHL's longest active streak and tied for the longest in the League this season. He also notched his 10th multi-point game in Friday's win against the visiting Anaheim Ducks, which ranks tied for first on the team with Hossa's 10 and seventh in the League.

He's also among the League leaders in plus/minus rating (+15) and became the first Blackhawks player to ever score back-to-back game-winning goals in overtime.

Hossa, meanwhile, has a four-game point streak going and has tallied five goals and five assists in his last six games. He has scored 14 goals and added 20 assists in 31 games – including his 400th career goal on Dec. 8 against the New York Islanders – and leads Western Conference forwards in plus/minus rating (+17).

Toews hasn't been as hot lately, but went on a 13-game tear from Nov. 10 to Dec. 5 that saw him score 12 goals and tally 11 assists, while continuing to lead the league in faceoff win percentage. Kane has also been kind of cold over the past four games (one assist), but he's capable of breaking out at any time.

"Those three guys are playing great and it's nice to have that balance for sure," Kane said of Toews, Sharp and Hossa. "Sharpie and Hossa have been playing awesome the past couple games, but Toews was on fire there for a while. Hopefully it's my turn soon."
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Posted On Sunday, 12.18.2011 / 2:30 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Blackhawks penalty kill much improved

CHICAGO – They are still ranked a lowly 27th in the League killing penalties, but the Chicago Blackhawks know two things that make that number much more tolerable.

First off, they've killed off 19 straight power plays over a span of the last six games heading into Sunday night's home game against the Calgary Flames – winning five of those contests and losing one in a shootout. Secondly, they wouldn't be ranked so low had it not been for a pair of blowout losses to the Vancouver Canucks at home and Edmonton Oilers on the road.

In those two games combined, the Hawks allowed nine goals in 13 attempts – including five on six chances against the Canucks and four on seven against the Oilers. Otherwise, Chicago's penalty kill has been pretty solid – and downright hot of late. It also helps to be one of the NHL's least penalized teams.

"We're not taking a lot of penalties, first of all, and at key times we're making big kills," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said after Saturday's practice. "We've got the good rotation with the forward groups and the (defensemen) are more aware of those plays around the net. (We're getting) big saves at big times, clears (and) pressuring. There's been more of an emphasis on not letting teams set up and get organized and keeping the heat on."

There has been more cohesion as a group lately, but it's also about a stepped-up effort when down a man or more.

"I think it's a matter of pride more than anything," forward Patrick Sharp said. "The numbers don't reflect the unit as a whole and there's always room for improvement. You see now, every time we try to kill off a penalty, the defensemen and forwards … everybody is working together and we're doing our best to pull it off."
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Posted On Sunday, 12.18.2011 / 2:15 PM

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

Potential Lineups for Blue Jackets-Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Neither the St. Louis Blues nor Columbus Blue Jackets skated Sunday morning in preparation for today's 7 p.m. (EST) game at Scottrade Center.

Both teams played Saturday night. The Blues (18-9-4) fell 2-1 in a shootout at Nashville, a place in which coach Ken Hitchcock hasn't won since a 2-1 win on Feb. 13, 2001 while coach of the Dallas Stars. He's now 0-10-6-1 in his last 17 games coaching at Bridgestone Arena. He's since been with Philadelphia, Columbus and now St. Louis and hasn't had any success in that building.

The Jackets (9-19-4) just wrapped up a discouraging five-game homestand with a 1-3-1 mark after a 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay.

It'll be the second meeting of the season between the Central Division rivals, with the Blues winning 2-1 on Nov. 27 at Nationwide Arena on a David Backes third-period power play goal. It snapped a 1-1 tie.

The game marks the return of Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin to St. Louis for the first time since the Nov. 11 trade that sent Nikitin to Columbus for fellow defenseman Kris Russell.

The Blues could miss Jason Arnott (flu) for a second consecutive game after the veteran center missed Saturday's game.

- - -

No major changes are expected by either team in their respective lineups tonight. The Blues will likely go with Saturday's lineup if Arnott is not ready to go:

Alex Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

David Perron - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart

Matt D'Agostini - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner

Chris Porter - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

Halak is expected to get the start again after stopping 19 shots in the shootout loss Saturday night. If Arnott returns, Grachev is expected to be a healthy scratch, along with defenseman Ian Cole. If Arnott sits, Evgeny Grachev will slide onto the team's fourth line with Nichol and Reaves; Porter would be elevated to third line with D'Agostini and Langenbrunner. Players on injured reserve for the Blues include winger Andy McDonald (concussion), winger B.J. Crombeen (shoulder), center Vladimir Sobotka (ankle) and defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle).

- - -

The Jackets, who are 1-13-2 when allowing the first goal in a game and have only won 12 of their last 54 games dating back to last season (only seven of them in regulation), are expected to go with the lineup they used Saturday:

Vinny Prospal - Jeff Carter - Rick Nash

Antoine Vermette - Derick Brassard - Mark Letestu

R.J. Umberger - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett

Jared Boll - Derek MacKenzie - Ryan Johansen

Marc Methot - James Wisniewski

Fedor Tyutin - Nikita Nikitin

John Moore - Grant Clitsome

Curtis Sanford

Steve Mason

Sanford, a former Blue, is expected to get the start; Steve Mason stopped 25 shots in the loss to the Lightning Saturday.

The Jackets are expected to scratch defenseman Aaron Johnson and left winger Dane Byers. Left winger Kristian Huselius is out indefinitely with a groin injury and defenseman Radek Martinek is out with a concussion.
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Posted On Sunday, 12.18.2011 / 1:40 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Potential Lineups for Flames-Blackhawks

Here's a look at how the lineups might look tonight for the Hawks and Flames:

FLAMES

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay - Brendan Morrison - Rene Bourque
Blake Comeau - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Scott Hannan - Derek Smith
Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
T.J. Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

BLACKHAWKS

Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Marcus Kruger - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Michael Frolik
John Scott - Jamal Mayers - Andrew Brunette

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sean O'Donnell - Steve Montador

Ray Emery
Corey Crawford
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Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday