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Posted On Saturday, 11.19.2011 / 12:41 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Top prospect Markstrom back with Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — Goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom will be back up with the Florida Panthers on Saturday night  while the team gives veteran Scott Clemmensen at least a couple of days off.

Coach Kevin Dineen said the move isn’t related to the knee surgery Clemmensen underwent before the start of the regular season. Dineen instead used the term “soreness.”

Markstrom will join the Panthers sometime in the afternoon after playing in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Friday night. Markstrom, who will back up Jose Theodore against the Pittsburgh Penguins, stopped 28 of
32 shots in San Antonio’s 5-4 overtime victory.

Clemmensen was held out of the Panthers’ morning skate Saturday and a local amateur goalie filled in.

“It’s just a chance for us to keep making sure that I’ve got guys feeling 100 percent,” Dineen said. “If it was later in the season, our decision-making would be different than it is. I was going to go back with Theo tonight and felt that the extra day or two off the ice would benefit [Clemmensen] more than having him out there practicing today and backing up tonight.”

Clemmensen made his only start of the season Tuesday at Dallas when he stopped 25 shots in a 6-0 victory. Dineen said Clemmensen’s absence is “short term,” but didn’t dismiss the possibility of Markstrom getting a start.

After the game Saturday against Penguins, the Panthers have three more home games during the next week — Monday against New Jersey, Wednesday against the New York Rangers and Friday against Tampa Bay.

“I’ve been pretty vague about my goaltenders,” Dineen said. “I like keeping my options open. We’ll see where we’re at on Monday and we’ll just play it from there.”

The Panthers likely will be without forwards Marcel Goc (upper body) and Matt Bradley (upper body) against the Penguins.

To help up front, the Panthers on Friday recalled Michal Repik from San Antonio. He was the third forward called up in the past week, joining Evgenii Dadonov and Tim Kennedy.
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Posted On Saturday, 11.19.2011 / 12:22 PM

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

Projected lineup for Bruins, Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Here is what the lineups should look like when the scorching-hot Bruins and Islanders take the ice tonight at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum:

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

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

Tim Thomas was the first goalie off the ice this morning, which means he'll likely get the start. Tuukka Rask would be the backup.

Boychuk is a game-time decision after missing Thursday's 2-1 shootout win against Columbus with flu-like symptoms. He skated this morning and appears ready to go. … Jordan Caron and Steven Kampfer are the likely healthy scratches for the Bruins, who have won seven in a row.

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Michael Grabner
Brian Rolston - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Blake Comeau - Marty Reasoner - Nino Niederreiter
Matt Martin - Josh Bailey - Jay Pandolfo

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina

Rick DiPietro gets the start for the Islanders in goal. He will be backed up by Anders Nilsson, who was recalled by AHL Bridgeport due to injuries to both Evgeni Nabokov (groin) and Al Montoya (hamstring). The Isles placed Nabokov -- who could miss up to a month -- on injured reserve this morning.

Nilsson, a third-round draft choice (No. 62) in 2009, is 5-2-0 with a 2.86 goals-against average in 7 AHL appearances this season, his first in North America.

Kyle Okposo, who has just 3 assists in 14 games, will be a healthy scratch for a third straight game. Mark Eaton is back in the lineup and will replace Mike Mottau, who is also a healthy scratch.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Posted On Saturday, 11.19.2011 / 11:35 AM

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

DiPietro excited for opportunity

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders began the 2011-12 season with three healthy goaltenders. Now, they're down to one.

And it's the one nobody would have guessed.

Rick DiPietro, who has spent a large chunk of the past four years in the infirmary, will be the Isles' starting goaltender Saturday night when the Isles host the Boston Bruins at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The 30-year-old relieved Evgeni Nabokov early in Thursday night's 4-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens after the latter suffered a groin injury that could sideline him up to a month.

Then, on Friday, the Isles announced that Al Montoya -- who has been sharp in the six appearances he's made this season -- is day-to-day with a strained hamstring. New York was forced to promote Anders Nilsson from AHL Bridgeport on Saturday morning to back up DiPietro, who now has been presented with a golden opportunity to regain his spot as the Isles' No. 1 goaltender.

"It's a good opportunity to get in there and get an extended chance to play some games," said DiPietro, who is 2-1-2 with a 2.86 goals-against average and .900 save percentage in five appearances this season. "At the end of the day, it's all about winning and that's our main focus."

DiPietro, the No. 1 pick at the 2000 NHL Draft, made 26 appearances last season -- the most in three years due to various knee, hip and head injuries. Now healthy and eager to seize the moment, DiPietro -- who has 10 years left on his contract -- admits he will put added pressure on himself to reclaim his position as the Isles' franchise goaltender.

"I always end up putting a little added pressure on myself than I probably should," he said. "But really, the focus is winning. That's what I want to do and that's what this hockey club wants to do. We're in the middle of November here and it's time for us to turn this around and get things going in the right direction."

Montoya was rewarded for a strong training camp by starting the Isles' first three games of the season. With Nabokov also in the mix, DiPietro didn't receive his first start until Oct. 29. Suddenly, injuries to both Nabokov and Montoya have DiPietro back in the spotlight. Islanders coach Jack Capuano is hopeful DiPietro will make the most of this chance.

"It's a good opportunity for him," Capuano said. "If you know Rick at all like we know him, he's a competitive kid and he wants that challenge. There's no better place than against the Stanley Cup champions tonight, so it'll be a good test for him."

"I feel good," DiPietro said. "I had a good summer. I'm looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Posted On Saturday, 11.19.2011 / 1:39 AM

By Eric Lipschutz - Staff Writer / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Giguere forcing his way into Avs' lineup

Is Jean-Sebastien Giguere finding the fountain of youth in Colorado?

The thirty four year-old goalie made 24 saves Friday night to blank the Stars 3-0.  Giguere's impressive performance against Dallas was his second straight solid start in net for the Avalanche.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Goalie - COL
RECORD: 4-2-0
GAA: 1.68 | SVP: 0.934
With his recent hot play, Giguere seems destined to wrestle plenty of playing time away from starting goalie Semyon Varlamov.  The Avs paid a steep price to acquire Varlamov in the offseason and are committed to making the twenty-three year old their franchise goalie for the long term.  All seemed to be going according to plan as Varlamov came out of the gates looking incredibly sharp while leading his young team to a surprisingly fast start.  Things quickly cooled for Colorado and Varlamov however.  Varlamov has not posted a win since October 30th and has lost his last six starts, erasing any remembrance of his hot start.  Varlamov now has an ugly 3.30 GAA and .890 save percentage for the season.

Meanwhile, Giguere has taken advantage of his latest opportunity to play while the struggling Varlamov sits.  In his start prior to shuting out the Stars, Gigure stopped 17 of the 18 shots he faced in a tough 1-0 loss to Minnesota.  Make no mistake, Varlamov is clearly the goalie of the future in Colorodo.  However, the youthful Avs have played above expectations to this point and as long as they stay in contention in the Western Conference, coach Joe Sacco is likely to stick with the goalie that gives his team the best chance to win.  At least for the time being, it seems like that guy is Giguere.

Giguere is currently owned in just 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues.  If you are a Varlamov owner or are in need of some help in goal, you might want to consider taking a flyer on Giguere as it appears the savvy veteran still has something left in the tank.
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 10:59 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Life as a Scout

Edwards offers final assessment of Dumba

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards was taking plenty of notes in the upper deck of ENMAX Centre as the Red Deer Rebels and Lethbridge Hurricanes did battle in a regular season game here on Friday.

Edwards sat alone in the corner of the building -- away from the crowd.

His primary focus was Red Deer defenseman Mathew Dumba, who is rated No. 3 among on Central Scouting's preliminary list of Western Hockey League skaters. Not until the third period did Dumba really take his game to another gear.

Dumba dished out three assists in the third period of a 4-3 shootout loss and performed extraordinarily well following two average periods. Edwards came away very impressed with the 5-foot-11, 171-pound Calgary native in the games he witnessed this week, including Wednesday's contest when Dumba played for Team WHL against Team Russia in the Subway Super Series.

"Dumba was average through two periods against Lethbridge but really came on strong in the third when Red Deer came back, even though he did a lot of traveling in the last week," Edwards said. "He made good outlet passes and those passes were hitting the tape."

Dumba missed at an opportunity to win the game for the Rebels in the shootout, but his attempt was turned aside by Lethbridge goalie Damien Ketlo.

"He made one heck of a play at the point to deny a player late in the second period," Edwards said. "The thing I'm picking up [Friday] is the fact he'll take a hit to make a play. He's not just bailing when another player is bearing down on him and that means a lot in my eyes."

Edwards was also charting the progress of Lethbridge left wing Juraj Bezuch, who is also on the 2012 draft radar for some scouts.

"He worked hard and has been involved in the play," Edwards admitted. "He's a high-energy type guy. He's not big enough (5-10, 165) to really knock anybody around, but he was noticeable at time."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 10:44 PM

By Eric Lipschutz - Staff Writer / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: With Nabokov sidelined grab DiPietro

The New York Islanders have ruled Evgeni Nabokov out indefinitely with a groin injury after having an MRI on Friday. According to reports, Nabokov could be sidelined for aslong as a month. Rick DiPietro will likely get the nod in net for the Isles in their next game against Boston on Saturday.

Rick DiPietro appears to be in line for an increased work load in net for the Isles with Evgeni Nabokov sidelined indefinitely. (Photo: Mike Stobe/NHLI)
DiPietro stepped in admirably for the injured Nabokov on Thursday night, stopping 24 of 27 shots against the Montreal Canadiens for his second win of the season.  With Nabokov expected to miss a stretch of games, DiPietro should have the opportunity to seize the No.1 job on the Island. 
Nabokov owners, or any fantasy GM in need of help in goal, should scoop up DiPietro, who is owned in just six percent of Yahoo! leagues.  DiPietro posseses plenty of talent, but an injury plagued career has prohibited him from reaching his potential. However, DiPietro is still just 30-years old and should be as motivated as ever to live up to lofty expectations and his hefty contract.  

Don't forget about Al Montoya, too, as there is always the potential DiPietro will falter or once again get bitten by the injury bug. But for now, DiPietro appears to be the goalie in line to benefit the most from Nabokov's absence. As previously noted, no Islander goalie can be considered a very strong fantasy option at this point.  However, the goalie pool is always shallow, and though DiPietro is a risky play, he could give fantasy owners some solid production, at least for the short term.
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 10:31 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

DAL @ COL - 7:21 of the Second Period

At 7:21 of the second period in the Dallas/Colorado game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck never crossed the goal line.  No Goal Colorado.

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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 10:03 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Life as a Scout

Edwards learned from the best

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- Long before NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards became a respected scout, he was learning from the best of them.

It's the same road every scout takes, actually.

"Mike Sands worked with us at Central Scouting and I did a lot of traveling with him," Edwards said. "Then, he went on to Calgary and I actually took his job scouting when he left, but he was a guy who really helped me out a lot."

Sands previously served as an amateur scout for the Flames and with Central Scouting.

But the list doesn't end there. Edwards also received assistance from Frank Bonello (Central Scouting director, 1992-2005), Paul Goulet, Gerry Blair and several others.

"Frank Bonello gave me the opportunity to start scouting so I did a lot of traveling with him as well," Edwards said. "The thing is, you learn how to travel and live the life as a scout with veterans who have done it. I was fortunate enough where I learned how to that before I started scouting. I've been around all the guys, and listened to them for a lot of years while driving in the car with them."

Edwards then recalled Hockey Hall of Famer Jim Gregory. After 1979, Gregory became Central Scouting's director and, in 1986, the Executive Director of Hockey Operations. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2007 and is the current chairman of the Hall of Fame committee.

"I remember doing all that video work and I used to have to go with Jimmy Gregory to a lot to Detroit, Ottawa and Buffalo hockey games," Edwards said. "We had to make certain the video replay system was running properly. We had some bugs in the beginning, so I spent a lot of time with Jimmy over the years. During that time, I was able to go into the coaches' office and I remember going in and listening to Jimmy and Scotty Bowman talk. You learn about the game just by listening to these guys and it made a big impression on me."

Most importantly, however, Edwards remembers how gracious, understanding and personable Gregory always happened to be.

"There are so many good people in the game and especially Jim Gregory," Edwards said. "When you see the way he treats people; he's a guy in the Hall of Fame … to treat people as well as he does, that's the way you've got to be in this game if you're going to survive. There are some guys who come in and don't last very long, and it's simply because they lack the good people skills."

Then, there was the bond Edwards created with the late E.J. McGuire, who passed away last April following a five-month battle with cancer.

"E.J. taught me a lot about what it takes to be a pro hockey player and that came from his coaching days," Edwards said. "You listen to him talk about a player and he'd say this player does this very well and I could use him as a checker or whatever. You'd listen to the way the game is played from a guy who just finished coaching; it was very helpful."

The relationship between Edwards and McGuire wasn't just a one-way street, either. McGuire benefitted from Edwards' familiarity of Canadian geography. Something has learned this week during the 'Life of a Scout' series -- Edwards doesn't use a GPS system or even a map at any time!

"E.J. didn't know where Moose Jaw was in relation to Swift Current or Medicine Hat," Edwards said. "So from my end of it, I may have helped him out with travel through the junior loops."

Bottom line here is, scouts help scouts. The respect is always mutual.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 8:57 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Life as a Scout

Edwards provides best & unheralded scouted player

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- During pregame warmups for the Hurricanes and Red Deer Rebels at the ENMAX Centre on Friday, I was able to ask NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards a few off the cuff questions.

First, I was curious to know what player happened to be the finest slam dunk candidate to make it big that he had scouted in his 12 years in the business.

"Sidney Crosby," Edwards said.

Crosby, of course, was drafted by the Penguins out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League first overall in 2005 after earning consecutive Canadian Hockey League player of the year awards with the Rimouski Oceanic in 2003-04 and 2004-05.

"Crosby dominated right out of junior; there weren't any questions asked on the day of our final scouting meeting," Edwards said. "Crosby was one and then we began the debate with No. 2."

While Crosby might have been a definitive star in the making, Edwards had to think a few minutes when I inquired about the player he scouted who wasn't considered a slam dunk candidate in his draft year but certainly turned out to be that type of performer.

"I'd have to say Mike Richards," Edwards said. "I had Richards rated, at the time, between No. 27 and No. 32 in the OHL on the final list."

Richards, who is now playing in Los Angeles, was drafted No. 24 overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003. He had 133 goals and 349 points in 453 games for the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League.

"During his draft year, the new rules were beginning to kick in," Edwards explained. "He was considered a smaller (5-foot-11) player at that time and general managers were frowning on those types of players. But he made the world junior teams and has had a great NHL career. There was the stigma at that time that smaller players wouldn't make it, but Mike had that hockey sense, that playing ability that was rare in a player."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 8:27 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Life as a Scout

Arrival in Lethbridge; set for some junior hockey

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- So the crew and NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards crossed the border and into the province of Alberta early this afternoon and, in the process, gained an hour.

Great! The day is even longer now … peachy.

In case you need it, you need to take just two highways to reach Lethbridge from Moose Jaw, Sask. That would be Highway 1 and Highway 3. It takes approximately six hours and 6 cups of coffee. Got it?

On the ride over, it was a steady minus-14 degrees Celsius and we saw a fox, cattle, horses, deer and buffalo. My window in the back seat was covered with frost buildup. In other words, I could have used an ice scraper on the inside of our Nissan Altima.

We've arrived at the ENMAX Centre and are awaiting the contest between the Red Deer Rebels and the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Edwards will be watching Red Deer defenseman and top 2012 draft prospect Mathew Dumba closely and I hope to get some additional analysis later on.

Stay tuned …

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Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday