Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 11:05 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Live Blog: at CHL Top Prospects Game

Dalton Thrower comes to aid of Saskatoon teammate

KELOWNA, B.C. -- The old adage 'blood is thicker than water' was certainly put to the test, to an extent, on Wednesday during the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game here at Prospera Place.

Saskatoon's Lukas Sutter (L) and Dalton Thrower
Not that Saskatoon Blades teammates Lukas Sutter and Dalton Thrower are related, but you kind of get the feeling this friendship is not only built on trust and reliability, but watching the other's back in a time of need.

So was the case on Wednesday when, with 3:22 remaining in the second period, Thrower came to the aid of his best friend following a tremendous hit that sent Sutter head over skates in his own zone. Plymouth Whalers forward Thomas Wilson was the one to raise the ire of Thrower, who wasted little time when given a brief window of opportunity to set the record straight despite being four inches shorter and 18 pounds lighter than the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Wilson.

"I was still on the bench when it happened, but the (defenseman) changed right after the hit and I saw Wilson was still on the ice," Thrower said. "He's a great player and a physical presence out there. I didn't know a lot about him but you see he's a big guy and I saw him hitting guys out there. I felt it wasn't a clean hit and did something about it."

Wilson appeared to get the upper hand initially, but Thrower, who partners with Colorado Avalanche prospect Duncan Siemens in Saskatoon, had a good finish.

"I thought I did OK [in the fight]," Thrower told "He had a couple inches and pounds on me, but I wasn't too scared."

Said Sutter: "That's what best friends are for. It was a good hit and he caught me at the end of a shift, and Dalton was the first guy to have my back … I wouldn't expect anything different from him."

Sutter, the son of former Philadelphia Flyers forward Rich Sutter, said he gave Thrower a hug and said thank you after the period.

"I gave him pat on back," he said.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 10:52 AM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Salvador in lineup for Devils

Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador will play Thursday against Montreal despite being the only active player who did not participate in Thursday's morning skate. The Devils said Salvador was "resting," but he also sat out practice Wednesday, when coach Pete DeBoer admitted he had a "minor injury."

DeBoer confirmed to reporters in Newark, N.J., that Salvador is sore, and did not rule out going with seven defensemen just in case. If DeBoer uses seven defensemen, Matt Taormina will get the nod. He's the only other healthy defenseman the Devils have in Newark right now.

Brad Mills would be the forward who comes out if Taormina is going to play.

Martin Brodeur will make his seventh straight start and Patrik Elias, who joined Salvador on the sidelines during Wednesday's practice, was the second player on the ice for the morning skate Thursday and he will play.

Rookie center Adam Henrique will miss his second straight game and fourth in the last seven games with a groin injury. Henrique skated Thursday morning (not with the team), and could potentially practice with the Devils on Friday.

Travis Zajac (sore Achilles) and Henrik Tallinder (blood clot) are on injured reserve.

Here are New Jersey's expected lines for Thursday's game. The defense pairs we're using are the same as what the Devils had for Tuesday's game. If Taormina dresses, Mills will come out of the lineup.

Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Zach Parise - Dainius Zubrus - Ilya Kovalchuk
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Ryan Carter - Steve Bernier
Eric Boulton - Jacob Josefson - Brad Mills

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Kurtis Foster

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 4:13 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Live Blog: at CHL Top Prospects Game

All eyes on Murray

KELOWNA, B.C. -- Playing with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds this season, Matthew Murray has been splitting time in net with Jack Campbell, the Dallas Stars' 2010 first-round pick who arrived in a trade earlier this season.

Campbell has played the majority of the games since arriving in November, leaving Murray -- ranked second among North American goaltenders in NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings for the 2012 NHL Draft -- stuck in the backup role and leaving him few opportunities to impress the scouts in his draft season.

Wednesday night, however, he was the center of attention at the 2012 Top Prospects Game, stopping 17 of 18 shots in playing the second half of the game.

"Coming off the bench is not an easy thing to do," said Team Cherry assistant coach Ryan Huska. "And as soon as he got put in he had a tough scoring chance against and he made a good save. He gave his team the feeling he'd be there for them. He held us in when we were giving up some pretty good chances at the end of the game."

For his effort, Murray took home his team's Jim Gregory Award for being named Team Cherry's player of the game.

"For me this was a really cool experience," said Murray. "This is the first time I've done anything like this."

It also gave him a chance to be watched by scouts from 30 NHL teams.

"It's nice," said Murray. "There's a lot of eyes on you at this game. I feel like I played pretty well. It's definitely good for me going forward."

That includes returning to platoon with Campbell, who he's credited for being a positive influence since arriving in Sault Ste. Marie. In 29 games, Murray is 11-15-1 with a 4.15 goals-against average and .872 save percentage on the last-place team in the OHL's West Division.

"Jack being a first round pick … he's taught me so much since he's come in from the trade," said Murray. "I want to thank him a lot for what he's done for me and for our organization. He's been nothing but a positive influence on me and the rest of the team."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 3:54 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Live Blog: at CHL Top Prospects Game

Quinn's faith restored by Top Prospects

KELOWNA, B.C. -- Pat Quinn always seems to have a lot of fun when he's around junior-age hockey players.

It happened again Wednesday as he coached Team Orr to a 2-1 victory against Mark Recchi-coached Team Cherry at the 2012 Top Prospects Game.

"My hope in our young people has been reinforced again," said Quinn.

While he's had a ton of success coaching in the NHL, he's been just as good with younger players. In 2008 he guided Canada to a gold medal at the World Under-18 Championship, and a year later he led Canada to the gold at the 2009 World Junior Championship.

And from what he's seen with today's young players, he feels confident this current group could have as much success as those teams he coached.

"Our coaches at the young levels are doing a terrific job," said Quinn. "These programs of excellence are making us all aware we can help these young boys get better and better skills all the time. You saw the skills out here tonight. That first period was fast, the puck was moving, the players were moving. There was contact in the game -- not dirty contact, just good physical play. It was a treat to watch. I'm convinced, like I was then, we can take our boys, develop them in the (Canadian Hockey League) and the centers of excellence and we can play anybody in the world and we can match them with skill, and I'd like to think we can play a better team game. Tonight reinforce all that for me."

Besides their playing ability, Quinn found a great affection for them off the ice, as well.

"The young men are terrific kids," he said. "We're only 2. 5 days around them, but I can see our parents do good work, too. These are nice, humble kids. At least that's what they showed us. I believe that's true. It was a lot of fun for me. I hope I get the chance to do something like this again."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 3:25 AM

By Matt Dumba -  Special to / - Matt Dumba draft blog

Dumba enjoyed full Top Prospects Game experience

Matt Dumba is a defenseman for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. The 5-foot-11.75, 183-pound defenseman was named WHL Rookie of the Year after scoring 15 goals and adding 11 assists in 62 games. He also had a tournament-high 12 points -- all assists -- to help Canada Pacific win the bronze medal at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. This summer, he played for Canada at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament and also took part in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August. Dumba has offered to maintain a monthly blog for that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

KELOWNA, B.C. -- It was a fun final day for me here in Kelowna.

It started in the morning with the pre-game skate, which was a lot of fun. Get the power play down pat -- just a good pre-game skate. Then we had pictures and stuff like that, went back to the hotel for a little bit of media. Got a good nap in before the game and got prepared.

One of the real highlights was getting to work with our coaches, Mark Recchi and Ryan Huska. Both those guys are so experienced, lots of knowledge. You can really learn from those guys. It was great to have them behind the bench.

Recchi actually showed off his three Stanley Cup rings. It was pretty amazing to see his first one, and then last year, the difference in the rings. He's wearing that one and it's weighting down his hand, it was so big. It was pretty cool to see.

When the game started, I wanted to make sure I had a good first shift, really wanted to get the legs moving. I had a pretty strong first shift, and just kept it solid and tried to improve my game from there.

The first period was really tight. I just wanted to have a good, solid period and not many mistakes and move the puck clean and get out. Go out there and work hard and battle and compete.

In the third period I got a chance for a big hit. I'm not sure I got. He was just coming down the boards and the puck was rolling on him, which made him look down at the puck. He was going wide and I got an opportunity to step up on him.

Bussieres came in and we bumped together and we both looked at each other. He told me we're going, so I dropped them.

Fighting wasn't something I was completely thinking about all game or wanted to do in a game like tonight but I knew if I was going to make a big hit, there could be a possibility a guy could jump in. But it was fun.

Overall it was a great experience, with great people. Off the ice it's really easy to get along and talk to the guys. We all have the same common goal and it's to get to the NHL. There's a lot of talk. It's fun being around the boys and it was a really fun game, as well.

For sure, I'll remember this one for a long time.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 3:07 AM

By Ryan Murray -  Special to / - Ryan Murray draft blog

Everett's Ryan Murray recaps Top Prospects week

Defenseman Ryan Murray is captain of the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League. The 6-foot, 182-pound native of Saskatchewan was recently named captain for Team Cherry at the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Kelowna, B.C. He took second place in 'Hardest Shot' at the Top Prospects Skills Competition with a blast of 94.3 mph. He recently won a bronze medal playing for Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship. Despite the busy schedule, Murray continues to provide a monthly blog for that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Well, it's all over in Kelowna.

Our team [Team Cherry] lost, 2-1. It was a good game and everyone was working really hard; it was pretty intense out there and I thought all the guys played really great. There were a lot of nervous skaters in the first period but, after that, everyone kind of settled in.

In the end, it's unfortunate [I took a penalty that led to their winning goal]. I didn't think that would be a [slashing] penalty to tell you the truth, but I can't blame it on the refs. It's too bad it ended that way.

There were chances out there and I thought goalie Matt Murray played extremely well for us. He made a couple of huge saves to keep us in it and so did the other goalies. I guess it's a little bit weird playing with guys you never played with before because you have to get use to them in a very short amount of time. But I thought we had our chances but the goalies were coming up big out there.

It was great that a guy like [Mark] Recchi could come to an event like this and you can really learn from a guy like that who has done so much in his career and it's great that he's already starting to give back to the game after his career. It's great he can come out here and coach and the same goes for [Ryan Huska]. He helped out here in his home city so it was good.

So now that the Top Prospects Game is over, I have to keep playing hard. We're in a playoff stretch here and that's the thing I'm most focused on now, is trying to help [the Everett Silvertips] make the playoffs and if I can do that then everything else will fall into place.

Thanks for reading about my experiences at the Top Prospects Game this week everyone. Check back next month for a new update.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 2:42 AM

By Pete Jensen - Staff Writer / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Samuelsson returning to form

If your fantasy squad is in the thick of a playoff push and in need of a spark on the wing, Mikael Samuelsson is knocking on your door.

Mikael Samuelsson
Right Wing - FLA
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 13
SOG: 51 | +/-: 1
The Swedish-born forward reeled off two goals on Wednesday as the Florida Panthers held off the Washington Capitals to move into first place in the Southeast Division. With three goals and an assist in his last five games, Samuelsson is finally healthy and producing for a team that appears to be in the postseason hunt with just over two months to go in the regular season.

During a time when injuries are decimating fantasy teams around the world, this 35-year-old is skating on the second line for the Panthers and making a sizable impact after an injury-plagued first half of his own. With Kris Versteeg out with flu-like symptoms on Wednesday, Samuelsson (5 goals, 8 assists, plus-1, 10 PIM, 5 PPP, 51 SOG) notched a power-play goal and will be a sure-fire contributor moving forward as the Panthers continue to play meaningful hockey.

Samuelsson was in the midst of a six-game goalless drought from Jan. 9 to Jan. 21, but has responded nicely and has compiled four goals and six assists overall in 16 games since being traded to Florida. With Samuelsson owned in only seven percent of Yahoo! leagues, he is certainly worth taking a chance on. His 30-goal, 53-point season in 2009-10 is evidence that he has the capability of producing points at a high level.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 11:56 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Live Blog: at CHL Top Prospects Game

2 periods down, Orr leads 1-0

KELOWNA, B.C. -- There was a bit of everything in the second period, including the game's only goal.

Team Orr's Griffin Reinhart picked up a puck in the left circle and fired a wrister that found a tiny gap between the goal post and Brandon Whitney's blocker at 2:46 of the period.

The other highlight of the period was the game's first fight. Team Cherry's Thomas Wilson decked Orr's Lukas Sutter with a big hit not long after Sutter left the penalty box. Sutter's teammate Dalton Thrower -- perfect name for this occasion -- jumped to his friend and teammate's defense and engaged Wilson in a spirited fight. At 6-foot-3.5 and 203 pounds, Wilson had the size advantage on the 5-11.5, 189-pound Thrower, but it was a long, even battle.

Not only are Sutter and Thrower teammates here, they're also teammates and close friends on the Saskatoon Blades.

Also notable in the period were a pair of penalty kills by Team Orr. Not only did they shut down Team Cherry's man-advantage opportunities, they barely allowed them any scoring chances.

We'll be back with more after the game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 10:59 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Live Blog: at CHL Top Prospects Game

Scoreless after one period

KELOWNA, B.C. -- Most of the top players for the 2012 NHL Draft are defensemen, so it shouldn't be a surprise that a defensive battle has broken out here at the 2012 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

Team Cherry leads Team Orr in shots, 10-9, but neither team created much in the way of offensive chances, thanks to tight checking by both teams.

While there hasn't been much offense, there's been more than a few nice, hard hits. Team Cherry forward Thomas Wilson and Team Orr defenseman Gianluca Curcuruto took turns throwing big hits on each other early in the first, and Team Orr's Lukas Sutter did a nice job agitating a few players on Team Cherry.

The only penalty of the period came with 13 seconds left, as Team Orr captain Colten Sissons -- also captain of the host Kelowna Rockets -- was sent off for tripping, so the second period will start with Team Cherry on a power play for 1:47.

We'll be back with more following the second period.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 10:21 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

WSH @ FLA - of the Third Period

At 9:52 of the third period in the Capitals/Panthers game, video review determined that the puck deflected off Stephen Weiss shoulder and into the net in a legal fashion. According to rule 78.4 "if an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed." Good Goal Florida.

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Quote of the Day

He scores 50 goals, they go in, they go in, and they go in. And I think, 'Why can't I do that?'

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on teammate Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 50th goal of the season Tuesday in a 4-2 win vs. the Hurricanes