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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 3:14 PM

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

Suspended Bourque relieved Seabrook is OK

Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque will have more time than he anticipated to think about his hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.

Bourque was handed down a two-game suspension by Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's disciplinarian, for his hit from behind on Seabrook at 15:25 of the first period of Calgary's 4-2 loss in Chicago on Sunday.

He received a major penalty and a game misconduct on the play.

"I thought I'd get a fine or a game, but two a little harsh, maybe," Bourque said a day after the ruling.

The Flames forward is more relieved that Seabrook, a former teammate, escaped without serious injury.

"The important thing for me is that Seebs is all right and he knows I didn't mean to hurt him," said Bourque, who will forfeit $36,036.04 to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. "I played with the guy for four years, so I felt pretty bad. I went and talked to him during the third period to make sure he was alright and say sorry and he accepted my apology."

Both Bourque and Flames general manager Jay Feaster had hoped the league would show leniency given the circumstances surrounding the hit.

"Honestly, I thought the ref was a big part of it, especially right before I hit him," Bourque said. "He does get tangled up and he does turn towards the boards. I thought that would have a bigger role in the decision and unfortunately it didn't."

"While we respectfully disagree with the League's interpretation of the hit, we nonetheless recognize that Brendan Shanahan has issued his ruling and both the Flames and Rene Bourque will abide by his decision," Feaster said in a statement.

The suspension, coupled with an injury to center Matt Stajan, has forced coach Brent Sutter to juggle his lines.

"It is what it is," Sutter said. "We live by the League's ruling. We can't do anything about it and we'll accept it."

Ultimately, Bourque will have to stomach Shanahan’s suspension.

"It's tough for them to make decisions," he said. "Shanny made it clear he wasn't happy with it and he thought it was a dangerous hit. I tried not to argue with him, just explain my process and my thoughts about it, and obviously we didn't come to an agreement there."

Calgary will be without Bourque for Tuesday's contest against the Minnesota Wild and Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings. He is eligible to return Friday when Calgary travels to Vancouver to take on the Canucks in the first of a seven-game road trip for the Flames.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 2:36 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Doan hoping for family reunion against Ellerby, Cats

SUNRISE, Fla. — Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan is hoping for a little family reunion Tuesday night, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll get his wish.

Doan’s cousin is Florida Panthers defenseman Keaton Ellerby, but Ellerby has been a healthy scratch for nine of the last 11 games. The only two times Ellerby played during that span came when 2010 first-round pick Erik Gudbranson was sidelined with a charley horse.

Doan’s mother, Bernice, is the sister of Ellerby’s father, Calvin. Doan said the two families are close — Calvin Ellerby was the pastor who married Shane Doan and his wife Andrea.

The 10th pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Ellerby is a smooth skater with good potential but he has found himself as the seventh defenseman on the Panthers this year.

The Coyotes’ flight from Phoenix landed too late Monday night for Doan and Ellerby to get together, although they did speak by phone.

“I’m a huge fan of his,” Doan said. “I think he’s a great player and a really good kid. I wish him all the best. He’s an unbelievable skater and he’ll play in the league for a long time when he really gets his opportunity.

“Hopefully, I get the chance to play against him tonight and get the chance to run into him a couple of times.”
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 2:25 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Islanders look to keep up recent road success

WINNIPEG -- The New York Islanders continue their three-game road swing tonight in Winnipeg.

The Islanders (10-14-6) have struggled away from home and have the fewest road points in the Eastern Conference. But a 2-1 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild ended a four-game winless streak, and all four of the Islanders' road wins this season have come over their previous six games away from home. The Islanders have scored first in each of those past six road games.

The Islanders welcomed back injured defenseman Andy MacDonald against Minnesota, but still have a long list of injured players. Veteran forwards Jay Pandolfo (foot) and Brian Rolston (concussion) are out, as are defensemen Mark Eaton (knee) and Steve Staios (concussion) and goaltender Rick DiPietro (groin).

"We know the situation we're in," coach Jack Capuano said. "It's going to take 60 minutes, shift-by-shift."

Travis Hamonic, a native of nearby St. Malo, Man. expects to have nearly 100 family members and friends in attendance to see his Winnipeg debut.

Al Montoya is expected to start for the Islanders after holding the Wild to one goal in Saturday’s win.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Islanders.

ISLANDERS

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
David Ullstrom - Josh Bailey - Tim Wallace
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Nino Niederreiter
 
Mark Streit - Milan Jurcina
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Dylan Reese - Mike Mottau

Al Montoya
Evgeni Nabokov
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 2:23 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Good pals Tippett, Dineen to meet as NHL coaches

SUNRISE, Fla. — When Dave Tippett was asked to provide a good Kevin Dineen story Tuesday, he just laughed. And then he added, “All the dirt on Kev you couldn’t print.”

Tippett and Dineen shared a lot of good memories as teammates on the Canadian Olympic team and then with the Hartford Whalers.

Tuesday night they’ll be facing each other as NHL head coaches for the first time when Tippett’s Phoenix Coyotes face Dineen’s Florida Panthers.

“To watch how his career has evolved — he’s moved into the upper echelon of coaching in games played and in wins — is not surprising at all because he was always one step ahead of the game,” Dineen said. “A very well tought-of player and a very well-rounded player – he was always maybe looked at as a defensive guy, but he scored some huge goals for us back in the day in the Whaler green.”

Tippett, in his third season with the Coyotes, ranks second in coaching victories since the start of the 2002-03 season behind only Detroit’s Mike Babcock.

Dineen, meanwhile, is off to a great start in his first season behind the bench with the Panthers.

“He’s done a very good job,” said Tippett, who was in Dineen’s wedding. “I don’t say that just because he’s a good friend of mine. You see how hard their team competes, you see that they have some structure – they’re finding ways to win close games. Those are all the earmarks of a guy that’s doing a good job as coach. They’ve got a lot of new faces, they’ve got a lot of people that he had to bond very quickly and it looks like things are going well for him.”

Tippett said Dineen should merit Hall of Fame consideration for his work as a player. And he said Dineen’s teams play just like their coach.

“You knew, even his teams in the minors, they were going to compete hard, they were going to be teams that were well prepared,” Tippett said. “Kevin was a guy that never left anything in the dressing room. When he went on the ice, it was to play hard and you can see his team, that’s the way they compete.”

For Dineen, facing a good friend is nothing new. He went through the same thing on Nov. 3 when the Panthers played host to the Chicago Blackhawks and Coach Joel Quenneville, who happened to be his best man.

Dineen can only hope for a better result this time — the Panthers lost to Chicago, 3-2, in a shootout.

For Tippett, he’s hoping his team can rebound from a tough 3-2 loss to the Rangers on Saturday when Brad Richards scored with one-tenth of a second left in regulation.

“That story is getting a little old there; it seems like every coach in this League was in my wedding,” Dineen said. “I’ve got lots of brothers that are out there and I’ve got a lot of great friends that have been extremely fortunate to make a living in this game.

“It’s nice when they’re in the other conference. We play them once this year. I was certainly disappointed to see how (Tippett’s) last game ended. I think that makes for a much tougher game for us when you have a team that’s going to be as grumpy as they are coming in to play tonight. We’ll have our hands full with that team.”
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 2:16 PM

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

Wild get defensemen Falk, Zanon back

The Minnesota Wild will welcome a pair of defensemen back into the lineup tonight as they hope to end a four-game winless skid in Calgary.

Justin Falk will return to the lineup after missing 11 games with an upper-body injury, while Greg Zanon will draw back in on the blue line after being a healthy scratch for two of the last three games.

"Obviously, anytime you're out of the lineup for any reason, when you get your chance to get back in you give it your best to stay in the lineup,” Zanon said. "With the situation we have, losing a few in a row, it's important we get back to playing our game."

Much like the Flames, Minnesota is also winless in their last four contests but still sit second in the Western Conference behind the Chicago Blackhawks.

Winning or losing, Zanon just wants to play.

"You just want to get back in the lineup no matter what," he said. "If I can get back in and do something to help the team win, we're going to do whatever we can and turn it around tonight."

Zanon will play in front of Josh Harding, making his first appearance since Dec. 6.

Harding will play in place of Niklas Backstrom, who started in last night's 4-0 loss against the Vancouver Canucks. Harding is 1-4-1 lifetime against Calgary with a 2.64 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 2:12 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Little out for Jets against Islanders

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets needed a rest after a 5-3 win Saturday against a very physical Anaheim Ducks team.

The Jets (15-13-4) took Sunday off and skated Monday in preparation for a game tonight against the New York Islanders, another opponent capable of delivering a physical game. The Jets, who play three home games in four nights this holiday week, have won of nine of their past 11 games at the MTS Centre and continue their December run of 12 of 14 games at home.

While the Jets have been able to spend all but one day at home during the past 23 days, coach Claude Noel’s club continues to endure injury problems.

The Jets have regained Tobias Enstrom and Ron Hainsey on their blue line during the past week – plus forwards Nikolai Antropov and Alexander Burmistrov – but they face another major hit to their lineup.

Center Bryan Little, whose offensive resurgence keyed Winnipeg’s success during the past month, will miss his first game of the season tonight with a lower-body injury after being hit by a shot Saturday night. Little’s absence forced center Jim Slater to take a career-high 30 draws against the Ducks.

Antti Miettinen, acquired via waivers last week, will make his Jets debut on Winnipeg’s third line as Noel must continue to juggle his line-up because of injuries. The addition of Miettinen resulted in the Jets returning left wing Jason Jaffray to the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League.

Ondrej Pavelec will return to the Winnipeg net after Chris Mason gave him a night off Saturday night.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

Evander KaneAlexander BurmistrovBlake Wheeler
Andrew LaddNik AntropovKyle Wellwood
Tanner GlassJim SlaterAntti Miettinen
Chris ThorburnTim StapletonEric Fehr

Mark StuartZach Bogosian
Ron HainseyJohnny Oduya
Dustin ByfuglienTobias Enstrom

Chris Mason
Ondrej Pavelec
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:57 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Coyotes could get blue line boost in South Florida

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Phoenix Coyotes will have one of their defensemen back Tuesday night and they could have a new one in the lineup as well.

Coach Dave Tippett said after the morning skate that Rostislav Klesla would return after missing the last seven games because of a lower-body injury.

But Tippett said he hadn’t decided whether to play David Rundblad, who was acquired Saturday in the trade that sent Kyle Turris to Ottawa.

“He’s up for selection,” Tippett said. “He’s not ruled out yet, but he’s not ruled in, either.”

Rundblad, who did not play in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers, had one goal and three assists in 24 games with Ottawa.

Here’s the projected lineup for the Coyotes:

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Raffi Torres - Boyd Gordon - Kyle Chipchura
Taylor Pyatt - Cal O'Reilly - Lauri Korpikoski

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Derek Morris
Adrian Aucoin - Keith Yandle
David Schlemko - Rostislav Klesla
David Rundblad

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

Injuries continue to force the Florida Panthers to shuffle their lineup.

Forward Bill Thomas was signed to a two-way contract Tuesday and should be in the lineup against Phoenix. Thomas had three goals and four assists in 24 games for the Panthers last season, but has played in San Antonio all season.

He will replace Sean Bergenheim, who is out with a groin injury. He was injured Sunday in a 3-2 overtime victory against Carolina after scoring his third goal in two games. Coach Kevin Dineen said he didn’t have a timetable for how long Bergenheim would be out of action. Bergenheim missed seven games earlier this season with another lower-body injury.

In another move, Tim Kennedy will skate up front after being recalled from San Antonio of the AHL for the third time this season. Kennedy will replace Greg Rallo, who was sent back down after making his NHL debut at the age of 30 on Sunday.

“We’re not looking to flip bodies right now and keep on moving guys in and out of the lineup,” Dineen said. “We want to find the right players and I know Tim Kennedy is the right guy for the job. He’s been here for the majority of the year and from everything that I understand Bill Thomas has put in a good stretch of hockey and deserves an opportunity to come back and play some games in a Panthers uniform.”

Here’s the projected lineup for the Panthers:

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Marco Sturm - Tomas Kopecky - Bill Thomas
Shawn Matthias - Mike Santorelli - Mikael Samuelsson
Krystofer Barch - Tim Kennedy - Matt Bradley

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:46 PM

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

Flames shake up roster after injury, suspension

In the wake of an ankle injury to Matt Stajan and the two-game suspension of Rene Bourque, the Calgary Flames have shaken up their lineup for tonight's game against the Minnesota Wild.

Captain Jarome Iginla wasn't willing to use it as an excuse for his team coming off a winless four-game road trip.

"Every team deals with that," Iginla said. "Most teams you play, they usually have somebody, too, and the Wild look like they have people out. There's no time for excuses. Our job as guys in the lineup is to go out and do our best to win a game."

Coach Brent Sutter has reunited Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Mikael Backlund for tonight's game, a line that found success together late last season.

"I always enjoy playing with Tangs and Backs," Iginla said. "End of last year we had some success, so we'll try to draw on that, go over things that worked for you before. It helps having that familiarity."

In Bourque's absence, the Flames have recalled Paul Byron from the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL. Roman Horak, a healthy scratch in Sunday's loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, will also draw back into the lineup.

The call-up marks Byron's second stint with the Flames this season. In six games with Calgary in November, Byron had 2 goals.

"I'm real excited to be here and hope I can keep the same pace I was at when I was sent down and provide a bit of energy," he said.

Projected lineups for tonight's game:

FLAMES

Alex Tanguay - Mikael Backlund - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Lee Stempniak
Blake Comeau - Roman Horak - Paul Byron
Tom Kostopoulos - Brendan Morrison - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Derek Smith - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

WILD
Pierre-Marc Bouchard - Matt Cullen - Dany Heatley
Cal Clutterbuck - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Darroll Powe - Warren Peters - Jarod Palmer
Jed Ortmeyer - Brad Staubitz

Nick Schultz - Justin Falk
Marek Zidlicky - Clayton Stoner
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Greg Zanon

Josh Harding
Nicklas Backstrom

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:44 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Inclement weather cancels Pens' outdoor practice

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins won't be venturing into the great outdoors for the second time this year after all.
 
With the one-year anniversary of their 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic game against the Washington Capitals approaching, the Penguins planned to practice outdoors Wednesday at the temporary rink they constructed on Pittsburgh's South Side.
 
However, a steady rain Tuesday is expected to be followed by more rain Wednesday, with temperatures in the mid 50s. The combination of wet weather and spring-like temperatures caused coach Dan Bylsma to shift the practice back to Consol Energy Center.
 
Known as Penguins Pond, the rink will be open daily for skating through Jan. 8, but the team has not said if it might reschedule the outdoor practice.
 
The rink was installed in part because of the popularity of the open-to-the-public outdoor rink that was built next to Heinz Field last winter in advance of the Jan. 1 Winter Classic. That rink was greeted more enthusiastically than even the Penguins anticipated, because it allowed thousands of fans to share in the experience of the outdoor game.
 
The boards and glass at Penguins Pond are from the Civic Arena, the Penguins' home from 1967-2010. That arena is being demolished to make way for commercial development.
 
The rink is located, fittingly enough, at the intersection of 26th Street and Sidney Street.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 1:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Canada defeats Finland, 3-1, in WJC exhibition

So what did we learn from Canada's 3-1 exhibition victory over Finland on Monday?

For starters, no Canadian player wore the 'C', although forwards Devante Smith-Pelly and Jaden Schwartz and defenseman Brandon Gormley all wore the 'A'.

  Team Canada goalie Mark Visentin
Team Canada received goals from Boone Jenner (Columbus Blue Jackets) of the Oshawa Generals, Mark Stone (Ottawa Senators) of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Brendan Gallagher (Montreal Canadiens) of the Vancouver Giants while goalie Mark Visentin (Phoenix Coyotes) of the Niagara IceDogs earned the victory behind 22 saves. The Canadians will next play Switzerland in a pre-tournament matchup on Thursday.

Teemu Pulkkinen (Detroit Red Wings) of Jokerit scored the lone goal for Finland.

Canada coach Don Hay had just 11 forwards to work with since wings Jonathan Huberdeau (foot) and Quinton Howden (concussion symptoms) were sidelined by injuries. As a result, Jenner and Michael Bournival (Colorado Avalanche) of the Shawinigan Cataractes played both center and on the wing during the game.
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