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Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 2:37 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Jovanovski questionable for Predators game

SUNRISE, Fla. — Florida defenseman Ed Jovanovski is a question mark for Saturday night's game against Nashville after he sat out the morning skate and the Panthers called up Tyson Strachan from the American Hockey League.

Coach Kevin Dineen, however, didn't rule out Jonavovski playing against the Predators.

"He's got a maintenance day today," Dineen said. "We'll see how he feels as we get closer to tonight."

Strachan was recalled for the second time this season. He played 12 games after being called up on Jan. 23, scoring his first NHL goal Feb. 12 in a 4 - 1 victory against the New York Islanders.

He was sent back down to San Antonio on Feb. 24 when Jason Garrison returned to the lineup.

Jovanovski played 17:11 in Thursday's 7 - 0 loss at Winnipeg and finished the game.

"As a precaution, we felt it was important to get Tyson in town just to make sure that we can fulfill a lineup tonight depending on Jovo's feeling," Dineen said.

The Panthers definitely will be without their leading scorer, Kris Versteeg, who will miss his third consecutive game with a lower - body injury. Dineen said Versteeg also will not play Sunday against Ottawa.


Sean Bergenheim - Stephen Weiss - Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Wojtek Wolski
Tomas Kopecky - Shawn Matthias - Jack Skille
Marco Sturm - Jerred Smithson - Mike Santorelli

Jason Garrison - Mike Weaver
Brian Campbell - Erik Gudbranson
Keaton Ellerby - Tyson Strachan

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 1:02 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Bruins-Isles lineups

BOSTON – The Boston Bruins will be without defenseman Andrew Ference, while defenseman Johnny Boychuk makes his return after a two-absence with a concussion Saturday against the New York Islanders at the TD Garden.

Ference suffered a lower-body injury Thursday in the third period of an overtime win against New Jersey. He did not return to the game and missed Friday’s practice. He’s classified as day-to-day, according to coach Claude Julien.

The Islanders will similarly be missing forward Michael Grabner on Saturday. Islanders coach Jack Capuano said that Grabner’s flu-like symptoms were the main reason for the forward’s scratch.

Here are the lineups for the Bruins and Islanders:


Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Tyler Seguin

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Brian Rolston

Benoit Pouliot-Chris Kelly-Jordan Caron

Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk

Dennis Seidenberg-Joe Corvo

Greg Zanon-Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask

Tim Thomas


Matt Moulson-John Tavares-PA Parenteau

Nino Niederreiter-Casey Cizikas-Kyle Okposo

David Ullstrom-Frans Nielsen-Josh Bailey

Jay Pandolfo-Marty Reasoner-Matt Martin

Mark Streit-Steve Staios

Andrew MacDonald-Travis Hamonic

Mark Eaton-Milan Jurcina

Evgeni Nabokov

Anders Nilsson
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 12:16 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

LaRose returns to Carolina lineup

Hurricanes forward Chad LaRose returns to the Carolina lineup Saturday night after missing seven games with a lower-body injury. His return leads to a juggling of the forward lines, but a lot of the focus will be on stopping Lightning forward Steven Stamkos, who leads the NHL with 45 goals.

"We've got to stop Stamkos. He's on fire," said Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller. "Our D pairings are going to be important and our awareness of him."

After Tampa Bay's 4-3 overtime win against the Rangers on Friday night, the team arrived in Raleigh late due to weather conditions. They did not skate Saturday morning.

Here is Carolina's projected starting lineup:

Zach Boychuk - Eric Staal - Jiri Tlusty
Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Drayson Bowman - Brandon Sutter - Andreas Nodl
Anthony Stewart - Tim Brent - Derek Joslin

Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Jaroslav Spacek - Jamie McBain

Cam Ward
Brian Boucher
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 12:11 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Business as usual for Rolston against Isles

BOSTON – Brian Rolston has journeyed around the NHL enough now in his more than a decade in the League to not be overwhelmed by emotions when facing one of his former teams.

Rolston, who was acquired by Boston from the New York Islanders this past Monday, will square off with those Isles on Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden.

“When you get traded the first time I think it’s a little more nerve-wracking,” said Rolston. “But I’ve been traded a few times and switched teams a few times. I’ve got good friends, obviously, and I feel strongly about a lot of those guys, but when you get on the ice it’s the same old thing and you’re doing your job.”

After two games back with Boston, Rolston says he’s feeling comfortable. He was aided by a shift to right wing next to Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand last game against New Jersey.

“It was great. It’s a real easy game to play,” he said. “They made it easy on me and their system is easy to play.”

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said that he and the organization wished nothing but the best for Rolston and defenseman Mike Mottau, who was also dealt to the Bruins. Rolston left his mark on the Isles, according to the coach.

“He was fitting in, it’s just for us Michael Grabner was playing on that second-line left wing there and Brian probably wasn’t getting the playing time he wanted,” said Capuano. “But forgetting statistically, he brought leadership to our room and he was a good guy to have around the young players. And it was a good for us to have him here, for sure.”
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 5:04 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Souray back in Edmonton

Sheldon Souray downplayed his first game back in Edmonton since Jan. 28, 2010.

Souray's difficult tenure with the Oilers organization ended this past summer, when the club bought out his contract. He had spent all last season in the American Hockey League with the Hershey Bears after the Oilers told Souray they had no use for him in Edmonton and didn't want to take up a spot with their own AHL team.

Souray signed with the Stars in July and has had a solid comeback season, posting 6 goals, 14 assists and a plus-14 rating in 61 games.

"It's just another game, to be honest," Souray told reporters Friday in Edmonton. "I do have some family and friends here, but otherwise, it's business as usual. There's not even that many guys left that I played with ... I'm more concerned about where we're going as a team and how important this game is to us.

"Things happen. It was a little messy in people's eyes and that's just the way it was. But a lot of time has passed since then, and everyone has moved on."

Souray's former Oilers teammates had good things to say about him.

"I can only say positive things about him," former defensive partner Ladislav Smid told reporters "He was a really good teammate, a really good guy. He helped us big time. He's got good leadership skills and I sat next to him (in the locker room) for a season and he was a great guy. I was really young back then and he was helping me along the way."

Said Edmonton coach Tom Renney: "He's a big, strong man and is imposing as heck, he's intimidating and he's all those wonderful things that you want in the game. There's always a time in a player's situation where the crosshairs don't quite line up and maybe you handle it wrong, and maybe you wish you hadn't or vice versa. It doesn't matter. He's not here, but he's had a pretty good year."

Here are the likely lineups for the Stars and Oilers when they hit the ice Friday in Edmonton (9:30 p.m. ET, TSN):

Loui Eriksson - Mike Ribeiro - Michael Ryder
Jamie Benn - Steve Ott - Adam Burish
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Ryan Garbutt - Tom Wandell - Tomas Vincour

Stephane Robidas - Sheldon Souray
Mark Fistric - Trevor Daley
Alex Goligoski - Philip Larsen

Kari Lehtonen will start in net, with Richard Bachman the backup.

Taylor Hall - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
Lennart Petrell - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Ben Eager
Ryan Jones - Eric Belanger - Darcy Hordichuk

Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Ryan Whitney - Nick Schultz
Andy Sutton - Corey Potter

Nikolai Khabibulin will start in net, with Devan Dubnyk the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 4:35 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

McLellan back on ice with Sharks

While San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan was conducting his first practice in five days on Friday, there's no guarantee he'll be behind the bench when his team hosts the St. Louis Blues on Saturday at HP Pavilion.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said McLellan was conducting practice as part of the post-concussion protocol. The medical team then would provide further tests, and only then will his availability be determined.

McLellan has missed the past two games. He was hit by a stick in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild, and has been suffering from concussion-like symptoms. In his absence, assistant coach Jay Woodcroft has been running the bench.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 4:07 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Lundqvist back in net for Rangers

TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Rangers arrived here with a nine-point lead in the Eastern Conference standings following their win Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes. They enter Friday's game with three consecutive wins and the second-best road record (20-8-4) in the NHL.

The Rangers start Henrik Lundqvist to start in net Friday after Martin Biron started Thursday's game. Lundqvist leads the League in save percentage (.940) and shutouts (eight).

"We don't have a top-10 scorer or a team that can strike fast," Rangers center Brad Richards said. "So we rely on our goaltender. Lundqvist has been the best in the NHL this season."

Richards, a key member of the Lightning's Stanley-Cup winning 2004 club who also has played for the Dallas Stars, said he's noticed a different playing for an Original Six team.

"We see (Rangers) fans everywhere we play," Richards said. "There are more rivalries involved."

Richards has been riding the subway to home games since he did so Feb. 9, and then scored the overtime goal in a 4-3 win against the Lightning.

"It's 14 minutes from my apartment to (Madison Square) Garden," Richards said. "One stop."

Unlike the Lightning, the Rangers are assured a spot in the post-season, but don't ask any of them to look ahead. That's against the rules as long as John Tortorella is in charge.

"We're not allowed to talk about the playoffs," Richards said. "We keep it in the present."

We had the Lightning lineup earlier; here is what the Rangers' likely will put on the ice tonight:

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Ruslan Fedotenko
Brandon Dubinsky - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
John Scott - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Marc Staal - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal, with Martin Biron the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 3:22 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Irving to make rare start for Flames

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Leland Irving is expected to make only his third appearance of 2012 and the sixth of his career Friday against the Ducks after Miikka Kiprusoff backstopped Calgary on Thursday.

Irving grabbed the backup spot ahead of Henrik Karlsson with a 1-3-3 record and 3.26 goals-against average, compared to 0-4-1 with a 3.45 GAA for Karlsson.

While Irving never has faced the Ducks, former Flame Niklas Hagman is familiar with him.

"He's a little bit of a smaller goalie, but he played really good," Hagman said of Irving.

Here is the rest of what the Flames' lineup, and the Ducks' lineup, likely will look like when the teams meet tonight at Honda Center:

Alex Tanguay - Mike Cammalleri - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Blake Comeau
Lance Bouma - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

Derek Smith - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Leland Irving will play his sixth NHL game tonight, starting in place of Miikka Kiprusoff, who will serve as the backup.

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

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

Jonas Hiller will start in net, with Jeff Deslauriers the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 3:17 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Hiller ready for growing workload

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jonas Hiller is wading into new waters, and the Anaheim Ducks need his steady navigation more than ever.

Hiller is expected to make a franchise-record 24th consecutive start Friday when the Anaheim Ducks host the Calgary Flames. It's the heaviest workload in Hiller's young career; he'll match a career-high with his 59th game played tonight.

Hiller never played more than 44 games for his Swiss team, Davos, and never has had to carry the load in this short of a stretch.

"Back home in Europe, you normally play all the games -- but that's just, like, 40-something games," Hiller said. "I haven't played that many games in such a short period of time in quite a while. But at the same time, I'm feeling good. Why not?"

Hiller's durability is needed after coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday that backup Dan Ellis likely will miss another 4-6 weeks with a torn groin muscle.

Ellis was scheduled to see a doctor Friday and the team could announce that he is done for the season. Jeff Deslauriers is Hiller's backup, but Anaheim plans on riding Hiller to the end in a quest at a playoff berth.

Hiller is expected to play again Saturday, when the Ducks play at Los Angeles.

"We give him the time off and he plays the games because we're worried about that sort of thing -- him getting overly tired," Boudreau said. "The only time I saw him look with any sense of fatigue was maybe the Colorado game (on Monday). He's been sharp and he's been strong and I ask him every day how he's feeling to make sure that we're doing the right things for him, because he knows -- unless something negative happens -- that he probably starts most of the games, if not all of them, from here on in."

Hiller seems up to the task and has re-kindled the form that made him one of the top goalies in the League before vertigo symptoms effectively ended his season last February.

If anything, that bizarre ailment has made Hiller more in tune with his body.

"I definitely got a better understanding of how to take care of it and listen to my body about when something's aching," Hiller said.  "I just think, 'Well, just work through it.' I just have to take care of it. Normally, with massage or treatment, you can get rid of stuff before it gets serious. Bruce has given me the opportunity to take my rest, to take my options on certain days or certain practices, which definitely helps to stay sharp mentally, which is as almost as tough as being ready physically."

Ellis, who ably filled in for Hiller during Anaheim's second-half run last season, has been out since December. A team spokesman said he has not suffered a setback, although Ellis reportedly was skating on his own during the team's recent road trip.
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Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 3:10 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Wings' youngsters ready for increased role

DETROIT -- The third defense pairing for the Detroit Red Wings will be one to keep an eye on Friday at Joe Louis Arena -- it'll be 25-year old Jakub Kindl and 23-year old rookie Brendan Smith.

It will be Kindl's 100th NHL game and Smith's first regular-season home game, so both will have milestones of sorts to use for motivation.

"It's a dream (come) true," said Kindl, who has 1 goal and 11 assists in 48 games this season. "Who'd have thought I could play even 100 games in the NHL? It's nice and hopefully I can put up a few more."

He's getting the chance to string a few together again after falling out of favor with Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and GM Ken Holland for not holding onto the puck long enough and not looking eager to take on physical contact in order to make plays.

After Holland for 26-year old Kyle Quincey -- a former Red Wings defense prospect before leaving in 2008 as a waiver claim -- it looked like neither Smith nor Kindl would get significant minutes again this season.

Then a rash of injuries to Detroit's blue line a week ago changed those plans. Jonathan Ericsson broke his wrist, Nicklas Lidstrom suffered an ankle injury and Quincey injured his groin. That opened the door for Kindl to return to the lineup and Smith to earn a call-up from AHL Grand Rapids.

Quincey will return to the lineup Friday, but Babcock will keep his young pair together for a second straight game.

"It's crazy," Kindl said. "You never know when you're going to be out there, but some things you can't control. You just have to always be ready and do everything you can. Whenever you have the chance, you've just got to be ready."

Smith said he's felt ready to play in the NHL for a while, and he'll get the chance now to see if he's right.

"I think we went from eight 'D' to four 'D' in, like, 23 hours," said Smith. "It's an opportunity for (me), and I'm pretty excited about it. I'm just going to try to not waste this opportunity and get out there and play my best. These are the things I've been told to try to manage."

He's gotten a good amount of practice at it, too, just by monitoring the defense situation in Detroit while playing in Grand Rapids.

"The biggest thing is to not let all of the news get to your head," Smith said. "When you get the call, play well. When you're down (in the AHL), play well. When you're a professional player, it's just about playing well and being consistent. It doesn't matter if you're up or down. These are the things I've got to do."

He also had to play it as cool as possible when Holland picked up Quincey and not let it send an unintended message about his play or development path.

"Obviously, for myself, I was a little shocked," Smith said. "I was like, 'Wow.' But I called my dad and my agent, and they're just like, 'Hey, it's all the master plan. You know that you're a good player. Don't let that stuff get into your head.' Because if it does get into your head, then you're not playing your best, you're playing to what you think is going on. You're distracted. You never want to be like that."

It helped hearing comments from Holland and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock about how well he was developing and likely would have a role in the NHL next season. He also was told that Holland declined a couple of trade offers that had his name in them.

"A few people have told me there were a few offers, and (Holland and Babcock) told me I'm the future (plans), and I'll be around for a while ... which is awesome to hear," Smith said. "For Kenny to tell me I'm the future of the Red Wings, it's pretty cool. I'm just going to try to play my best and try to live up to that."

Kindl knows the feeling well, as Detroit's first round pick (No. 19) in the 2005 Entry Draft. He's been trying to find a regular spot in the top-six defense corps for the last couple of seasons and continues to come across speed bumps.

One thing he's learned along the way: Don't try to do too much to get noticed, just do what's necessary each game. He'll probably share that wisdom with Smith prior to Friday's game, which the rookie anticipates bringing a healthy dose of nerves beforehand.

"We're young guys," Kindl said. "We've just got to keep it simple. Smitty is a good player. He can skate and carry the puck. We've just got to talk to each other and help each other out and play simple."
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Quote of the Day

Hockey means everything to people here [Winnipeg]. They take their team's success to heart. We've had an incredible year and they've given us incredible support.

— Jets center Mathieu Perreault after losing to the Ducks in Game 3 of their playoff series on Monday