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Posted On Sunday, 12.11.2011 / 1:45 PM

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

Potential lineups for San Jose-Chicago

CHICAGO -- The play of second-year starting goalie Corey Crawford has been a concern lately for Chicago. Crawford is expected to be on the bench for the second straight game Sunday while Ray Emery gets the start. Crawford is 12-7-2, but has a 3.00 goals-against average and .893 save percentage, which are both considerably worse than what he posted last season after taking over for Marty Turco.

This will also be the second meeting between two of the Western Conference's top teams. The Sharks took the first one 1-0 on Nov. 23 in San Jose -- a game the Blackhawks felt was stolen by Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, who started every playoff game in Chicago's 2010 Stanley Cup championship run.

Niemi started on Friday night in St. Louis and it's unclear whether McLellan will start him against Chicago Sunday. Here's a look at what the lineups might look like on Sunday night for the Hawks and Sharks:

SHARKS

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

Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Dan Boyle
Jason Demers-Brent Burns
Colin White-Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Niemi started on Saturday night and took the hard-luck 1-0 loss, so Greiss might get the call. Niemi backstopped the Hawks to the 2010 Stanley Cup, though, so odds are he will be in net at the United Center. Forward Andrew Murray was a healthy scratch on Saturday night in St. Louis and could re-enter the lineup on either the third or fourth line. Defensemen Douglas Murray (hand/wrist) and Jim Vandermeer (upper body) are both questionable after missing the game against the Blues.


BLACKHAWKS

Viktor Stalberg-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Ben Smith-Dave Bolland-Michael Frolik
Daniel Carcillo-Jamal Mayers-Andrew Brunette

Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Steve Montador Sami Lepisto

Ray Emery
Corey Crawford

Lepisto started on Thursday against the New York Islanders but was a healthy scratch for eight straight games before that. Veteran Sean O'Donnell could draw back into the lineup on Sunday with Montador or Hawks coach Joel Quenneville may opt to start 6-foot-8 defenseman John Scott, who hasn't played since Nov. 26 against the Los Angeles Kings.
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Posted On Sunday, 12.11.2011 / 1:34 PM

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

Penalty kill looking crucial for Hawks, Shark Sunday

CHICAGO -- The United Center wasn't real busy on Sunday morning.

The host Chicago Blackhawks opted not to skate and the visiting San Jose Sharks only had a handful of players slated to go through drills before Sunday night's game (7 p.m. ET, NHL Network-CA, CSN-CA, WGN) -- after dropping a hard-hitting 1-0 game in St. Louis Saturday night.

The Sharks, who were without defensemen Douglas Murray and Jim Vandermeer because of injuries, continued to struggle on the power play, going 0-for-6 with the man advantage. The Sharks have just one power-play goal in their last 26 attempts.

San Jose actually drew two early power plays against the Blues, but weren't able to convert. Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who made some adjustments to the power play in the Blues game, said he will address some issues on the man-advantage in a quick team meeting on Sunday.

"We can be as fancy as we want, but if the puck never goes anywhere near the net, you get nothing out of it," Sharks coach Todd McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News' David Pollak. "Like any power play, when it's not going well, we'll talk about simplifying. We'll talk about shooting the puck. We'll talk about crashing the net and getting it back."

San Jose (15-10-1) also has one of the lowest-ranked penalty kill percentages in the League at 74.4 percent (17 goals allowed in 95 attempts) -- and that number is up thanks to killing off four of five Blues' power plays at Scottrade Center Saturday.

Chicago's penalty kill isn't much better. It's ranked 27th just one spot ahead of San Jose. The Hawks' power play, however, is ninth in the NHL and clicking at 19.4 percent (21 of 108).
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Posted On Sunday, 12.11.2011 / 2:16 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Elliott emerging as dominant goaltender



While he was not viewed as a fantasy difference-maker coming into the season, Brian Elliott has become the hottest commodity on the goaltending market.

Elliott (12-2-0, 1.45, .947, 4 SO) tied Jonathan Quick for the League lead in shutouts on Saturday as the St. Louis Blues beat the San Jose Sharks 1-0 on Saturday night. With just two losses on the season, Elliott is proving to be much more than a temporary addition to a fantasy lineup. His ownership in Yahoo! leagues has escalated from 55 to 75 percent over the last three weeks, as Elliott has proved to be the most complete goaltender in the League this season.

Leading the League in both goals-against-average and save percentage, this 26-year-old has allowed more than two goals only once in 15 outings. Coach Ken Hitchcock -- who is 11-2-3 since taking over for Davis Payne in St. Louis -- has given each of his goaltenders eight starts apiece under the new regime. While both Elliott (7-1-0) and Jaroslav Halak (4-1-3) have risen to the occasion in that span, Elliott's body of work this season is the most impressive in the League by far.

While it's not likely that St. Louis will continue its unconscious stretch, Elliott is taking steps toward earning the No. 1 goaltending role with the Blues. Hitchcock will likely continue to utilize both of his options while both are playing well, but Elliott's value should not be underestimated. He has simply separated himself from the "add/drop" discussion, and will likely be fixated in fantasy lineups around the world over the next several days -- if he hasn't been already.
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Posted On Sunday, 12.11.2011 / 2:11 AM

By Deborah Francisco -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Iginla picking up steam for Flames



When Jarome Iginla heats up, there’s no stopping the 6-foot-1, 210-pound right wing. Calgary's captain has scored at least 30 goals in each of his last 10 seasons and the recent roll he’s been on could help him make it 11.

In 29 games this season, Iginla has 11 goals and 10 assists, but a majority of those 21 points have been earned since the start of December. So far this month, Iginla has notched four goals and nine points in just five games. Prior to this streak, Iginla seemed to be struggling to score consistently just notching a point here and there save for a three-point game on Nov. 3. The good news for fantasy owners, though, is that history is in Iginla’s favor.

Iginla scored a point in every game in last December except for one. That’s a point in 13 out of 14 games. Not too shabby for a 34-year-old playing on one of the oldest teams in the NHL.

With two goals against the Oilers on Saturday night, Iginla finishes the fantasy week with two goals, five assists, a plus- 4 rating, two PIMs, 2 power-play goals, 1 game winning goal and an impressive 18 shots. Iginla is an elite player who is stepping up his game yet again.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 8:28 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

ANA @ NSH - 4:41 of the First Period



At 4:41 of the first period in the Ducks/Predators game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Nashville forward Colin Wilson kicked the puck with his right skate into the net.  According to rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net." In addition, video replay reviewed to see if Colin Wilson touched the puck with his stick on the way into the net and replay was inconclusive as to whether he did.  On-ice call stands, No Goal Nashville.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 5:41 PM

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

Adjusting the game plan

PHILADELPHIA -- The last time the Flyers and Lightning met, Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette employed a stall tactic against Tampa Bay's 1-3-1 forecheck. When Tampa stuck to its system and didn't aggressively forecheck, the Flyers' defensemen sat back in their zone and waited, nearly motionless, until referees blew the play dead.


The Flyers' plan drew considerable reaction from around the hockey community, but in discussing how he would handle the Lightning's 1-3-1 on Friday, he made a joke, saying, "Typically we don’t like to announce our game plan for the opponent to the newspaper, but we might sit there for four or five minutes at a time. We might."


Speaking before tonight's game, however, Laviolette was a bit more serious, and wasn't ready to commit to any plan for countering the Lightning.

"I guess I've got to see how the game goes," he said. "It seems on the tape that they were sending the first man a little bit more, pressing a little bit more. … I'm not sure how the game will play out."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 5:30 PM

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

Flyers play hot hand

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, in assessing the play of his goaltenders following Thursday's win against the Penguins, said it was important to him that Ilya Bryzgalov play back-to-back games Wednesday and Thursday -- especially Thursday against the Pens, with first place in the conference at stake -- but that backup Sergei Bobrovsky would get games down the line.

That made tonight's game against the Lightning seemingly a good opportunity to give Bobrovsky his first action since Nov. 26. Instead, Laviolette has opted to start Bryzgalov for a fifth straight game. Bryzgalov has won four in a row, allowing just 11 goals in that span.

"He's rested, he's ready -- he's playing," said Laviolette. "It's a chance to get Bryz back in the nets. We brought him here for that reason. He's been winning games and we're going to put him back in there. Doesn't have anything to do with Tampa. I think it's different than what I said that last time, because we were playing the Penguins, they were the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference and we wanted to put Bryz in there. Tonight is just a game."

Here's how the rest of the lineup for the Flyers -- and the Lightning -- could look tonight.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 4:04 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bachman gets first NHL start for Dallas

LOS ANGELES – Richard Bachman will make his first NHL start Saturday night when the Dallas Stars play the Los Angeles Kings.

Bachman has made two appearances at the NHL level, including a relief appearance Thursday against San Jose, and stopped all 15 shots he’s faced in 30 minutes of action.

Andrew Raycroft has struggled with five goals allowed in each of his past two starts. The Stars are in the middle of a cross-country road trip, and it makes sense to give the nod to Bachman.

“We wanted to get him in on a game here on this trip,” Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We thought with a day’s rest, we’ll give him an honest look. We told him last night that he was going to go.”

Gulutzan coached Bachman with the team’s AHL affiliate Texas Stars, where Bachman was the No. 1 goaltender.

Listed at 5-foot-10, 172 pounds, Bachman is a basic standup goalie. Gulutzan doesn’t expect there to much adjustment with teammates.

“We’ve let him get comfortable with us, and guys know him,” Gulutzan said. “You look at some of the young guys around the league that have gotten an opportunity and done well. We know what we have in the American Hockey League, and this is kind of the natural progression for him.”

This will be the second straight game that the Kings have faced a goalie making his first NHL start. Minnesota’s Matt Hackett made 42 saves Thursday.

Bernier to start:
Jonathan Bernier is expected to make his sixth start this season for L.A. Bernier took the loss in a Dec. 3 game against Montreal despite only two goals allowed.
Jonathan Quick is 2-0-1 with a 1.98 goals-against average in two meetings against the Stars this season but the Kings might want to rest him with a four-game road trip coming up after Saturday.

Lehtonen update: Kari Lehtonen started skating Saturday for the first time, Gulutzan said, and will likely return after Christmas at the earliest.

Lehtonen has been out since Nov. 26 with a groin injury. Adam Burish (hand) won’t be joining the team on the trip but will be “very close when he gets back,” Gulutzan said.

Mitchell returns: Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell is expected to return to the lineup from a groin injury.

Brad Richardson is expected to come back into the lineup after he was scratched the previous eight games.

Ethan Moreau, a former captain with the Edmonton Oilers, was waived Friday in order to make room for the other moves. Moreau cleared waivers Saturday.

Mike Richards is eligible to come off injured reserve but he only started skating Friday and there is no timetable for his return from a possible concussion, although the team isn’t using that terminology.

L.A. is 0-3 since Richards suffered a head injury against Florida on Dec.3.

Nicholls honored: Former King Bernie Nicholls will be honored in a ceremony before the game.

The Kings will wear their throwback purple-and-gold uniforms. Nicholls scored a franchise-record 70 goals playing with Wayne Gretzky in 1988-89.

STARS

Loui Eriksson - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Brenden Morrow - Mike Ribeiro - Steve Ott
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Jake Dowell - Tom Wandell - Tomas Vincour

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Nicklas Grossman - Trevor Daley
Alex Goligoski - Philip Larsen

Richard Bachman
Andrew Raycroft

KINGS

Dustin Penner - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Simon Gagne - Andrei Loktionov - Justin Williams
Brad Richardson - Jarret Stoll - Trent Hunter
Kyle Clifford-Colin Fraser-Kevin Westgarth

Drew Doughty-Rob Scuderi
Jack Johnson-Slava Voynov
Willie Mitchell-Matt Greene

Jonathan Bernier
Jonathan Quick

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Posted On Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 3:51 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Oilers hope to end slide against rival Flames

The Edmonton Oilers are well aware of the success the Calgary Flames have had recently in the Battle of Alberta.

The Flames have won both games this season and haven’t dropped a contest to the Oilers since the opening night of the 2009-10 season.

Oilers coach Tom Renney hopes to remedy that tonight in Calgary.

“It seems every time we play these guys, with all due respect to the Flames, we have a tendency to beat ourselves,” Renney said. “If we eliminate that part of the process, I think we’ve got a shot of beating them tonight.”

The Oilers may do that with a more physical approach.

Darcy Hordichuk could draw back into the lineup for tonight’s Battle of Alberta in the place of finesse forward Magnus Paajarvi.

“I am going to make a game time decision on that,” Oilers coach Tom Renney said. “[Paajarvi] skated but he’ll also take the warm-up here and I’ll make a game-time decision on what I want to do there.”

The Oilers are coming off a 4-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche last night. Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulan earned the win and could be in line for back-to-back starts 24 hours apart.

“Let’s wait on that one,” Renney said on his goaltending situation.

OILERS

Sam GagnerRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle
Ryan SmythShawn HorcoffAles Hemsky
Ben EagerEric BelangerRyan Jones
Darcy HordichukAnton Lander – Lenart Petrell

Ladislav SmidTom Gilbert
Ryan WhitneyJeff Petry
Theo PeckhamColten Teubert

Nikolai Khabibulan
Devan Dybnyk
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Posted On Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 3:21 PM

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

Likely lineups for Flyers, Lightning

PHILADELPHIA -- Here is what the lineups could look like when the Flyers and Lightning hit the ice tonight (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) here at the Wells Fargo Center.

With wins in four straight, it's likely the Flyers' lineup remains the same as it did in Thursday's win against Pittsburgh. Tampa Bay didn't skate today, but Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune posted on his Twitter feed that he expected the lineup to remain the same as it did in Thursday's win against the Rangers, with one exception -- Nate Thompson replacing rookie forward Brett Connolly, who was loaned to Team Canada for the 2012 World Junior Championship.

FLYERS
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Matt Read - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
James van Riemsdyk - Maxime Talbot - Jakub Voracek
Zac Rinaldo - Sean Couturier - Harry Zolnierczyk

The defense pairings likely will be mixed around most of the night, with the foursome of Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Andrej Meszaros seeing the bulk of the minutes, with rookies Kevin Marshall and Marc-Andre Bourdon being spotted in.

After back-to-back starts against Buffalo and Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Thursday, this could be a chance for coach Peter Laviolette to get Sergei Bobrovsky a game.

LIGHTNING
Ryan Malone - Steven Stamkos - Steve Downie
Tom Pyatt - Vincent Lecavalier - Teddy Purcell
Nate Thompson - Dominic Moore - Ryan Shannon
Dana Tyrell - Blair Jones - Adam Hall

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy
Bruno Gervais - Marc-Andre Bergeron

Mathieu Garon likely will start in goal, with Dwayne Roloson backing him up.

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

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday