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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 2:12 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

'24/7' films rink build

PHILADELPHIA -- It's not just the players and coaches from the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers who will get their turn in the spotlight of HBO's "24/7 Flyers-Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic."

A crew from the award-winning documentary series was filming for most of the morning the work being done by the hundred or so tasked with laying the last of the ice trays, installing the boards, locking in the coolant pipes, building various stages and platforms and hanging signage around the ballpark.

Look for scenes of the rink construction here at Citizens Bank Park worked into a future episode of "24/7" -- possibly even Episode 2, which debuts tonight on HBO at 10 p.m. ET.

You can follow along all the work being done here at the ballpark at NHL.com's live webcam.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK









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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 1:49 PM

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

Injured Seth Jones will be unavailable for WJC

Defenseman Seth Jones, who was battling for a roster spot on the U.S. National Junior Team this week, sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's exhibition game against Team Russia and will be unable to participate in the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Jones apparently suffered his injury after taking a big hit along the boards while attempting to drive the net.

USA Hockey released a statement regarding Jones on Wednesday afternoon. U.S. coach Dean Blais is scheduled to name his official 22-man roster headed to Edmonton to compete in Group B of the tournament on Thursday morning.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 1:42 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flyers, Stars

Here are how the lineups could look tonight when the Dallas Stars host the Philadelphia Flyers at American Airlines Center:

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

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Andrej Meszaros - Matt Carle
Andreas Lilja - Marc-Andre Bourdon

Sergei Bobrovsky
Ilya Bryzgalov

Scratches: Erik Gustafsson, Ben Holmstrom, Jody Shelley, Matt Walker.

Injuries: Blair Betts (knee), Sean Couturier (head), Chris Pronger (concussion).

Notes: Lilja is poised to return after a 10-game absence due to a high ankle sprain. He last played on Nov. 25 against Montreal. Bobrovsky will start in goal tonight, his 13th game of the season. He last appeared between the pipes for the Flyers in mop-up duty against Boston on Saturday. Bobrovsky's last start was Dec. 15 at Montreal, a game Philadelphia won 4-3. Bobrovsky is 6-2-1 this season with a goals-against-average of 2.72.

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

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Nicklas Grossman - Trevor Daley
Alex Goligoski - Mark Fistric

Richard Bachman
Andrew Raycroft

Scratches: Adam Pardy, Toby Petersen.

Injuries: Philip Larsen (quad contusion), Kari Lehtonen (groin), Tomas Vincour (MCL).

Notes: Robidas will be a game-time decision after taking a puck to the skate during morning skate. If Robidas is unable to go, Pardy will step into the defensive rotation, likely alongside Souray, Robidas' normal D partner. Bachman (4-1-0, 2.25) will make his sixth straight start between the pipes for Dallas. Tonight's contest is the second of a three-game homestand for Dallas.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 1:38 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flyers' Giroux will be game-time decision

DALLAS -- Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux, who has missed the last four games with a concussion, will be a game-time decision for tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars.

Giroux, who is currently tied for the NHL lead in points (16-23-39), last played on Dec. 10 against Tampa Bay, contributing a pair of assists in a 5-2 win over the Lightning.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said that he didn't know whether or not the center of his top line would be available for tonight's contest at American Airlines Center.

Philadelphia did not have a morning skate with an early start time due to the game being nationally televised on Versus, but Giroux was one of five Flyers to skate after a short team meeting in their locker room.

Should he make his return tonight in the Lone Star State, one of his teammates who would be the happiest to see him back is linemate Jaromir Jagr.

"Not only he is a great player, we don't have that many centermen left," Jagr said. "We have guys playing out of position, guys that have never played centerman playing there. I think that's the worst [part of it]. If maybe we had other centermen to replace him, maybe it's not the same, but it's a lot better than if you have to move guys around to play center. That's what we've got right now, and it's kind of tough.”

Philadelphia will hit the ice tonight on a two-game winless streak, which comes on the heels of their seven-game winning streak that ended with a 6-0 home loss to Boston on Saturday night. The Flyers are currently the best road team in the league with a 12-3-2 record.

One sign that Giroux could be returning tonight is that Ben Holmstrom, who has been centering the Flyers' fourth line, was one of the five players skating after the team meeting. If Holmstrom is scratched, that would likely mean Giroux is back to center the top line, which would likely shift Danny Briere to the second line, Maxime Talbot to the third and Matt Read to center the fourth.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 11:57 AM

By Kurt Dusterberg -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected linueps for Coyotes, Hurricanes

Jason Labarbera will start in goal for Phoenix, after Mike Smith left the game Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers with a lower-body injury. Whether not Smith will dress as the backup is to be determined.

The Hurricanes have recalled center Riley Nash from the American Hockey League's Charlotte Checkers to replace Tim Brent, who suffered an injury during practice Tuesday. The game will mark Nash's NHL debut.

Jeff Skinner, who is out with a concussion, has been placed on injured reserve, retroactive to Dec. 7.

Here are the projected lineups for when these two teams meet Wednesday night at RBC Center:

HURRICANES

Drayson Bowman - Eric Staal - Chad LaRose
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinen - Tuomo Ruutu
Jiri Tlusty - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Andreas Nodl - Riley Nash - Anthony Stewart

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

Cam Ward
Justin Peters

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

Adrian Aucoin - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Keith Yandle - David Schlemko
Michal Rozsival - Derek Morris

Jason LaBarbera
Mike Smith
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 11:46 AM

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

Lineup decisions looming for Blackhawks, Canadiens

CHICAGO – The Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks both opted not to have a morning skate at United Center before facing each other Wednesday night.

That means questions about the playing status of Chicago players will have to wait until Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville meets with the media Wednesday afternoon. The first will pertain to rookie center Marcus Kruger, who was hit hard by Derek Engelland early in the first period Tuesday night in Pittsburgh and didn’t return to the ice.

Quenneville said after the 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins that Kruger was “OK,” but did not say whether he would be able to play against Montreal. Quenneville might also be asked about defenseman Brent Seabrook, who was seen skating slowly toward the Chicago bench late in the game Tuesday holding his arm. Seabrook also had to leave a game Sunday at United Center after a hit from behind by Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque drove his head into the boards.

Quenneville said that Seabrook leaving that game was mostly a precaution, as the star blueliner has had three undisclosed upper-body injuries in the past that are believed to have been concussions. Another question for Quenneville will likely be about who starts in net for the Hawks.

Ray Emery has started six straight games, including Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, but Quenneville said after the morning skate Tuesday that it was “very likely” Corey Crawford would start against the Canadiens – which would be his first start since being pulled from a Dec. 5 game against the Phoenix Coyotes.

As for Montreal, the biggest lineup questions are on the blue line. Recently-named head coach Randy Cunneyworth shuffled up his top defense pairings Monday against the Boston Bruins by putting Raphael Diaz with Josh Gorges and sliding P.K. Subban next to Hal Gill.

Subban and Gorges had been playing together since the start of the season in October, but Gill and formed a pair for most of last season. Cunneyworth also said that Peter Budaj will get the start in net instead of Carey Price.

Here’s a look at the projected lineups:

CANADIENS

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Mike Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Travis Moen
Andrei Kostitsyn - Lars Eller - Louis Leblanc
Mathieu Darche - Petteri Nokelainen - Mike Blunden

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Hal Gill - Raphael Diaz
Tomas Kaberle - Chris Campoli

Peter Budaj
Carey Price

BLACKHAWKS

Andrew Brunette - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Sharp
Viktor Stalberg - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Jeremy Morin
John Scott - Jamal Mayers - Michael Frolik

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sean O'Donnell - Steve Montador

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery

Note: If Kruger is able to play, the Blackhawks lines will likely change. Kruger left the loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins after one period, which forced Quenneville to move star forward Patrick Kane w back to center of the second line between Stalberg and Hossa. Brunette and Sharp were also moved to the top line with Toews, while rookie Jeremy Morin -- who started that game on the top line -- was bumped down to the third line with Bickell and Bolland. Imposing 6-foot-8 defenseman John Scott, who can play some wing on the fourth line when needed, could also find his name in the lineup again after standing up for Kruger by fighting -- and punishing -- Pittsburgh's Derek Engelland for the hit, which the Hawks took exception to, despite not being penalized.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 11:26 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Rink not only place where work is being done

PHILADELPHIA -- While NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig oversees the rink build, Senior Vice President of Events Don Renzulli is keeping an eye on all the other work going on in the transformation of Citizens Bank Park from baseball stadium to outdoor hockey wonderland.

"As long as the weather stays with us, we'll be in pretty good shape," Renzulli told NHL.com earlier this morning. "A lot has been done the last two days. We're on schedule as far as the things that are going on the field."

Among them are the elevated broadcast platforms where NBC and CBC will broadcast the game, as well as an entertainment stage in left field. The host chalets for NBC and CBC have been built in near the right field wall, with the roofs and windows finally installed.

Renzulli said approval from the city for the 1,500 temporary seats installed in center field should come tomorrow, and other temporary seating installed around the ballpark has been finished. Signage and other décor is starting to be hung in Ashburn Alley, the ballpark's signature outfield concourse.

"Things are going relatively smooth," said Renzulli. "Once the rink is up, the transformation is really the core. They're starting to put some banners up in the alley right now. Once that goes up, it starts to transform the whole place."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 10:09 AM

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

Russia earns 6-3 exhibition win over Team USA

Nail Yakupov, who is projected by many to be the No. 1 overall pick at the 2012 Draft, had a goal and one assist and Andrei Vasilevski made 34 saves as the Russian National Junior Team scored a 6-3 exhibition victory over Team USA on Tuesday in Red Deer, Alta., in preparation for the 2012 World Junior Championship later this month.

          Nail Yakupov, Team Russia
Russia, the defending WJC gold medalist, also received a pair of goals by Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay Lightning) and one apiece from Ignat Zemchenko and Viktor Antipin. Ivan Telegin (Winnipeg Jets) dished out three assists in the victory. Vasilevski, who plays for Tolpar Ufa in the MHL and is eligible for the 2012 Draft, made 17 of 18 saves in the second period when the U.S. held the territorial advantage. Yakupov, who plays for the Sarnia Sting, is NHL Central Scouting's top-rated player from the Ontario Hockey League.

Coach Valeri Bragin kept the top 2012 draft-eligible player from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Mikhail Grigorenko (Quebec Remparts), and Yevgeni Kuznetsov (Washington Capitals) out of the lineup as healthy scratches for the Russians, who went 2 for 4 on the power play. Team USA finished 0 for 6 with the man advantage.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 10:02 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Putting together the puzzle

The Winter Classic ice crew puts together the first set of rink boards on Wednesday morning. (Photo: NHL.com)
PHILADELPHIA -- When NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig talked yesterday about the arrival and installation of the rink boards, he called it putting together a puzzle.

Well, that puzzle was taken out of its box this morning, and the pieces are distributed all around the rink being built here in the middle of Citizens Bank Park for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

While the last of the ice trays were being laid down in one end zone, the first of the boards were being put together -- one of the corner sections.

We'll find out from Craig a little later just how much of the boards will be installed today.

It also looks like the connectors for the coolant that will keep the rink bed cold are being laid in today, along with some insulation. That means the hoses carrying the glycol coolant can't be far behind. Craig said there will need to be some testing done to make sure everything is running right, but it looks like more progress is being made.

It also looks like windows have been installed in host chalets built for NBC and CBC studio teams. I'm sure they'll like that when Jan. 2 rolls around. And there's even work being done in the press box here at the ballpark, in order to accommodate the large influx of media that will arrive to cover the game.

We'll have more in a while, after our daily briefing with Craig.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 1:58 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Time is now to act on Giroux

Reports state that Claude Giroux could return to the Philadelphia Flyers' lineup on Wednesday. For his fantasy owners, this should be enough of a cue to take action.

Claude Giroux
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 39
SOG: 81 | +/-: 7
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Giroux has made "positive strides," which is a reason in itself for fantasy owners to remove him from Injured Reserve immediately and make room on their rosters. When dealing with Giroux (concussion) who is tied for the League lead in points, despite missing his team's last four games, the reward outweighs the risk.

Even if Giroux does not end up playing Wednesday against the Dallas Stars, it's simply a more logical move to have him in your lineup. Wednesday is only a six-game night, so your team doesn't have to worry about losing production from elsewhere as you would by benching a healthy player on a 13-game night. If you elect to leave one of the game's most potent point-producers in the IR slot of your lineup, you could potentially miss out on an impactful performance.  A recent example was Taylor Hall's two-goal night upon his return from injury on Dec. 15 against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Plus, taking a casual approach and waiting another day or two could cost your team precious goals or assists during a shortened fantasy week. Since there are no NHL games scheduled for Dec. 24 and Dec. 25, any points that Giroux provides could go a long way in helping you win your matchup this week.

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Quote of the Day

You get the right whistles at the right times, you can leave him out there. He's a beast when it comes to being on the ice. I thought [Saturday] he was a big man. That first period, he did that lateral cut and it was like three bowling pins bounced off him. There's not too many guys that can do that.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on Alex Ovechkin, who enters February tied for the NHL lead in goals