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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 1:43 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Rangers' Dubinsky questionable vs. Senators

New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky will be a game-time decision for tonight's meeting with the Ottawa Senators.
 
Dubinsky took a hard hit during Tuesday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes and did not participate in Thursday morning's practice. He had X-rays on his right shoulder, but they came back negative.
 
"It's going to be sore, obviously," Dubinsky told reporters at the team's practice facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. "It's just a matter of how well I can deal with that and take it from there."
 
If Dubinsky can't go, Wojtek Wolski will play his first game since having sports-hernia surgery in early November. He's been a healthy scratch the past couple of weeks as coach John Tortorella hasn't wanted to mess with the lineup as the Rangers have won five straight and 10 of 11.
 
Wolski has played just six games this season and has 2 assists.
 
His first game back could be a memorable one. On Oct. 29, Wolski delivered a shot to the head of Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson that caused a concussion. Alfredsson missed five games after the hit.
 
The two teams met again Nov. 9, but both Alfredsson and Wolski were out of the lineup. Alfredsson said Thursday after practice that he wasn't aware of the fact that Wolski could return, but the Senators likely haven't forgotten about that hit.
 
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 1:31 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Tale of two power plays as Lightning, Canes meet

TAMPA -- Two teams vying to avoid last place in the Southeast Division meet Thursday when the Carolina Hurricanes visit the Tampa Bay Times Forum to face the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The clubs are just three points apart in the standings, with the advantage going to Tampa Bay, and Lightning coach Guy Boucher expects a close battle.

“They are a hard-working team; they grind it out,” Boucher said. “We’re not a high-end team and they’re not a high-end team. We’re two teams that are fighting to get whatever we can, and that makes for tight games. I expect that to be the story tonight.”

A tight game often turns on the play of special teams and in that aspect, this matchup is a tale of two power plays. The Lightning are mired in a 2-for-33 power play slump and in their last game, Tuesday night against Vancouver, struggled to even get across the Canucks’ blueline with the man advantage.

“It’s not like we don’t have a really good group of players on the power play,” Marc-Andre Bergeron said. “We’ve got real skilled guys out there.”

The problem, then?

“If I knew, I don’t think I’d tell,” Bergeron said. “I’d keep it to myself and share it with the guys. One thing for sure, you can’t win in this League without a good power play.”

True enough, and Tampa Bay has gone 1-3-1 in its last five games; their last win came against the Hurricanes on New Year’s Eve.

For Guy Boucher, the problem hasn’t been the skill of the players he sends out with the extra man, but more a matter of finding the right man to run the power play.

“Time on the power play is the last thing you want to give a guy that doesn’t have confidence,” Boucher said. “I’ve seen this my entire life as a coach and as a player. Power plays are the most stressful things for any defenseman because he’s the quarterback back there. Anything that goes wrong, he feels that he’s the one responsible for it. You need a lot of poise and a lot of confidence. Top power play guys have cockiness about themselves; you need that. There’s a swagger and an extreme confidence that goes with it. When you give that spot to the wrong guy at the wrong time, it’s a catastrophe and you can actually ruin a player’s season like that.”

Boucher’s search for the power play quarterback has led him down some blind alleys.

“I saw it happen with Matt Gilroy,” Boucher said. “I knew it was a mistake but I still made it – he had been playing well and I put him on the power play and his game went down.”

Carolina, meanwhile, seems to have found the secret. In its last six games, the power play is clicking along at a better than 40 percent success rate (7 of 17).

“It goes to execution and poise,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. “The guys are committed to simplifying it and getting shots when they are available. We’ve gotten traffic in front of the net. It’s just a matter of composure and staying with the plan.”
One break for Tampa Bay is that Jeff Skinner will not play. Although he has been cleared for contact, Skinner will sit out and will miss his 15th game with a concussion.

HURRICANES

Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Andreas Nodl - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinnen - Jerome Samson
Brett Sutter - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

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

Cam Ward
Justin Peters

LIGHTNING

Tom Pyatt - Vincent Lecavalier - Steve Downie
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Brett Connolly
Ryan Malone - Dominic Moore - Teddy Purcell
Dana Tyrell - Nate Thompson  
Eric Brewer - Pavel Kubina

Marc-Andre Bergeron - Matt Gilroy
Brett Clark - Bruno Gervais
Brendan Mikkelson

Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Roloson

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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 1:22 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Cammalleri clarifies Wednesday comments on Habs

BOSTON -- The day after Michael Cammalleri made some disparaging remarks about his team's attitude, the Montreal forward went into damage-control mode today after his team's morning skate at the TD Garden in preparation for tonight's game with the Boston Bruins.

After the Habs practiced Wednesday, Cammalleri told NHL.com and a reporter from Montreal newspaper La Presse that he was unhappy with his ice time before making a comparison between teams with a "winning mentality" and those with a "losing mentality," suggesting the Canadiens were currently a part of the latter group.

In the Garden dressing room, he expressed confusion over why a statement like that would cause a controversy.

"Yesterday was a little bit crazy. I'm obviously not happy," said Cammalleri. "It's an emotional game, we're sitting in 12th spot, so it's not fun to lose and you want to win. So you always want to do more. That's all. I made some comments after my interview yesterday that I thought were pretty PC comments with regards to the competitive advantage a winning team has and their mentality, and the lack thereof of a losing team. I didn't think it was ground-breaking news.

"We're in 12th spot, we're not in a winning position right now. So it was some pretty impressive journalism to make all that out of that. But that's what it was for me. This group in here knows that we've got to be better. It's no secret, like I said, [we're in] 12th spot."

Cammalleri, who has only produced nine goals and 22 points for the 16-19-7 Canadiens, would not confirm whether he addressed the comments with his teammates, head coach Randy Cunneyworth or general manager Pierre Gauthier. But several players said that Cammalleri did clarify what he said with them.

Cammalleri also responded to those translating his statements about the team's attitude, and additional ones about his diminished ice time, as a message saying he wanted out of Montreal.
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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 1:12 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Karlsson plans to play against Rangers

NEW YORK -- Erik Karlsson confirmed Thursday what everyone believed would be the case -- he's back in the lineup for the Ottawa Senators after missing the team's previous game with an upper-body injury.

"I feel a lot better today," Karlsson said. "It's definitely going as plan and I expect to be ready tonight."

Karlsson suffered his injury during pre-game warmups in the Sens' previous game against the Penguins on Tuesday. He was replaced by Matt Carkner, who will be a healthy scratch against the Rangers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

The NHL's leading scorer among defensemen said he doesn't expect his injury to be a nagging one, but he couldn't promise it wouldn't crop up again.

Coach Paul MacLean is just happy to get Karlsson back against the NHL's top team.

"Obviously he's a very important player for us," MacLean said. "He generates a lot of offense for us. He's arguably our best player. Anytime you get one of them back, it's good for your team."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo


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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 12:39 PM

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

Barry Melrose's midseason awards

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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 12:28 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Julien hopes Horton keeps burying opportunities

BOSTON -- As they attempt to close out their four-game, Canadian-opponent homestand tonight at the TD Garden with a win over Montreal, the Bruins are hoping winger Nathan Horton is finally out of the woods in terms of a scoring slump.

In his last four games, Horton has posted 5-1-6 totals, including two goals in Tuesday night's win over Winnipeg. Previously, Horton had scored just once over a seven-game span. His 14 goals now tie him with Milan Lucic for third on the team, and he's well on pace to at least match last season's total of 26 goals.

Bruins coach Claude Julien has witnessed a resurgence in Horton's game.

"I'd have to say it's picked up. I mean, in the last week or so you've seen him, again, I always say when he's emotionally involved in a game, he brings a lot," Julien said after an optional morning skate at TD Garden. "He can be a physical player, he can be a strong player, he's in the right spots, he buries his opportunities, and to me, he started doing that. I'm seeing a guy turning a corner, and I hope he keeps building on what he's done in the last week because it makes a big difference to our hockey club."

The Bruins' lineup isn't expected to change tonight from Tuesday, although Julien now has an extra option among forwards with the recall of Jordan Caron from the Bruins' Providence (AHL) farm club.

Here are tonight's projected lineups:

CANADIENS
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Andrei Kostitsyn - Lars Eller - Travis Moen
Michael Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Mike Blunden
Mathieu Darche - Petteri Nokelainen - Yannick Weber

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Hal Gill
Tomas Kaberle - Raphael Diaz

Carey Price
Peter Budaj

BRUINS
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Benoit Pouliot - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Chris Kelly - Zach Hamill - Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 12:27 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Islanders hope to put dent in Flyers' dominance

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders look to reverse their fortunes against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight as the teams meet at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Since the end of the 2006-07 season, the Isles are 1-17-5 against their Atlantic Division foes. They went 0-5-1 against the Flyers last season and lost their only meeting thus far this time around, a 4-3 overtime decision Nov. 23 thanks to game-tying and game-winning goals by Danny Briere.

"Sometimes there are just teams you match up against, I guess, and then you build confidence," Briere said when asked why the Flyers have had so much success against the Islanders. "There's other teams where we seem to be struggling against, for some reason. But the Islanders are one of those teams where we come in and we always have a lot of confidence -- even when we fall behind. I hope it keeps going because being in our division, we have to play them quite a bit."

"Sometimes you just match up a little bit better against other teams," Islanders captain Mark Streit said. "You can ask Detroit why they've lost four or five in a row (against us). Sometimes it's tough to explain, but it's a division rivalry and they have a good team. We need points, so you can't really pay attention to the stats." 

Here are the expected lines tonight for each club:
 
FLYERS
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Maxime Talbot - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Harry Zolnierczyk - Sean Couturier - Matt Read
 
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Marc-Andre Bourdon - Matt Carle
Andreas Lilja - Andrej Meszaros
 
Sergei Bobrovsky gets the start in goal. In six starts (seven games) against the Islanders, he is 6-0-0 with a 1.84 goals-against average. Ilya Bryzgalov will be the backup.
 
ISLANDERS
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Brian Rolston - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Josh Bailey - Matt Martin
Tim Wallace - Jay Pandolfo - Nino Niederreiter
 
Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina
 
Evgeni Nabokov gets his 10th straight start for the Islanders tonight as he goes for his 300th career victory. Kevin Poulin will serve as the backup.
 
Rick DiPietro (lower body), Al Montoya (concussion), Mike Mottau (concussion) and Marty Reasoner (hand) are out for New York. Dylan Reese will be a healthy scratch.
 
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 11:52 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Stefan Matteau opts for QMJHL instead of UND

Stefan Matteau, who currently leads the Under-18 National Team Development Program in scoring, has decided to play for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League next season instead of suiting up for the University of North Dakota.

Matteau's father, a 13-year NHL veteran, was hired as an assistant coach for Blainville-Boisbriand prior to the start of the 2011-12 campaign. The Quebec team acquired Stefan's rights on Jan. 7 via a trade. While he signed his letter of intent in November, it didn't keep him from exploring other options, particularly when it included having an opportunity to play for his father.

Matteau, who models his game after Eric and Jordan Staal, used his Twitter account on Tuesday morning to announce his decision.

"My decision is final," he wrote.

Matteau, who turns 18 on Feb. 23, was one of four players from the U.S. U18 Team to be ranked by NHL Central Scouting among the top 30 skaters eligible for the 2012 Draft in Pittsburgh in June.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 10:26 AM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Facing Rangers just another test for Senators

NEW YORK -- The Ottawa Senators could look at Thursday night's game against the New York Rangers, who lead the NHL in points with 58 points, as a chance to see how they match up with the best team in the League.

Instead, the streaking Senators are looking at the bigger picture.

The Senators are coming off a 5-1 win in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. It marked the start of a stretch of nine of 10 away from Scotiabank Place. That rough road swing includes stops in Toronto, San Jose and Boston.

"This trip is a measuring stick for us," Ottawa's Jason Spezza said. "This is a real tough trip, and we're just trying to be real short-sighted with how we approach it, because it can be a real daunting task if you look at the big picture. It's definitely a big game for us, but we're kind of using the whole trip as the test."

Ottawa is 8-1-2 in its last 11 games, which happen to coincide with the arrival of Kyle Turris in a trade with the Phoenix Coyotes. He has 1 goal and 7 assists in that stretch.

The plan against the Rangers is a familiar one -- disrupt the vision of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who is a strong candidate for the Vezina Trophy through the first half of the season.

"We know they're going to come out hard," Spezza said. "Torts has them playing a real fast-paced game. We try to play a similar style. Just be patient. We'll get chances and Hank will make saves, but you have to stick with it and try to get a lot of traffic around him -- be relentless around the net. Really bear down on your good opportunities. He's such a good goaltender that he's not going to give you too many free ones."

Senators coach Paul MacLean admits the Rangers will be a challenge for his team, which is one of the few to win in Madison Square Garden as a visitor this season -- the Rangers are 12-3-2 on home ice and suffered a 5-4 shootout loss to Ottawa in their home opener in late October.

"They're the best team in the League," MacLean said. "Their goalie's played real well. Their team play has been good. It's going to be a real test for us. Like every night, it's a test of our consistency to see if we can come back and do it again. "

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

 

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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 12:10 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Kovy lighting the lamp for Devils

Whether he's on your fantasy team or not, it's likely that you've run into the dominant play of New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk.

That's because he's done nothing but dazzle of late.

Kovalchuk is riding a four-game point and goal scoring streak.

What's more, he has collected two points in each of his past four outings. In that same span, the Russian star has thrown at least six shots toward the cage.

In short: he's been brilliant.

But his stellar play has been there for much of the season. Through 38 games, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound winger has 17 goals to go along with 21 assists and ranks eighth in the NHL with 159 shots.

With players like Zach Parise and youngster Adam Henrique around to complement his dynamic play--not to mention other more than capable players like Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora--Kovalchuk could see his game elevate to even a higher level for most of the second half of the season.

As the Devils continue their climb up the Eastern Conference standings, keep an eye out for No.-17 and his impact in your fantasy leagues.
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Quote of the Day

I had one really not-good game. I came back to the hotel and he [his father] was on Skype. My mother called first and said, 'Your father wants to talk to you.' So he moved my mother away, and he yelled at me for like 30 seconds. I understood him, and then he said, 'I'm done.' And he was gone. The next game I got my first shutout.

— Anton Khudobin recalls a fond memory, explains why he was so sharp in the Hurricanes' 3-0 win against the Capitals on Friday
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