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Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 5:58 PM

By Jeremy Roenick -  NHL Network Contributor / - World According to JR

Roenick: Stars soar, while Sharks, Coyotes hit skids

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick pens a weekly blog for "World According to JR" appears every Wednesday and includes Roenick's sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League.

It's all about the Western Conference playoff race this week, the good and the bad.

What's clicking?

It is probably an extremely high-blood pressure, high-intensity time if you're a player, coach, executive or fan in L.A., San Jose, Colorado, Calgary, and you can even throw Dallas in there despite the fact the Stars are first in the Pacific Division and third in the conference. They still have 77 points, which is only two more than Phoenix and three more than Los Angeles and Colorado.

But the fact that Dallas is first in the Pacific Division, third in the Western Conference and winners of three straight, seven of their last eight, just speaks to the unbelievable job Glen Gulutzan is doing down there.

It's just amazing that he's been able to do this with his captain, Brenden Morrow, being out with injury. It's very impressive what they're doing on the road. They've won five in a row away from American Airlines Center, including Tuesday's 5-2 win in Vancouver.

If anybody else is not absolutely 100 percent impressed with Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson, then you just haven't been watching enough hockey. They're carrying that team on their back and Mike Ribeiro has been a strong supporting actor.

Phoenix was in a comfortable spot after a great February, but the Coyotes have fallen off and now Los Angeles, Colorado and Calgary are winning.

Looking at the Kings, if Tuesday's 5-4 win over Nashville is an indication of how they're going to play down the stretch, then it's going to be troubling for a lot of these teams fighting for a playoff berth with them. We already know how good Jonathan Quick has been this season, but if the Kings start scoring consistently, watch out.

I give a lot of credit to Colorado for sticking in it. The Avalanche have had a nice stretch here to put themselves in position to fight for the eighth spot, but if Matt Duchene is going to be out then so is Colorado. Duchene's ankle injury could seriously damage the Avs' chances.

And then there is San Jose. If you're a Sharks player, coach, executive or fan, are you absolutely freaking out right now?

You should be, but more on that in the next section of this blog.

The fact is this race is going to come down to the wire, and I'm looking for the superstars to step up. We'll see which ones are going to earn their keep.

What's missing?

I'm a fan of San Jose. I love the market and the organization. But I'm scared to death for the Sharks.

I honestly don't know what is wrong there. I don't understand how they're struggling at home, how they're struggling to win hockey games. Why those guys, at such a crucial point in the season, are struggling to put the puck in the net.

I'm really nervous for this team. I'm nervous for Doug Wilson.

Again at the beginning of the season they were supposed to be a Stanley Cup contender, but they're struggling to hold on to the eighth spot. They have it by the games-played tiebreaker right now.

If those top two lines don't score goals, they're not going to win games. Other teams realize that they just have to shut one line down and if they do they can win. More than that, Antti Niemi has been average of late.

I talked about looking for the superstars to step up, so in San Jose I'm looking at Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. You're not going to get any consistency out of Patrick Marleau because he can't find it in him to get angry, mad, ticked off enough to help lead this team out of the doldrums.

Right now I'd be scared. I'd be mad. I'd be huffing like a raging bull right now. I'm not sure that Patrick Marleau can do that. I don't know if he has it in him to bring this team into the playoffs. I'd like to see him get angry, show some passion.

But it's not just San Jose that has me concerned. The Phoenix Coyotes were flying high, but now they're in a very precarious position with four straight losses, including two against Columbus. That's unacceptable, and I have to think that Dave Tippett is livid with this recent skid.

Even if they just won one of those games they would have themselves in a much more comfortable spot, but they're not. Neither are the Sharks.

There is going to be some high drama, high tension coming down the stretch in those markets.
Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 5:26 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Flames recall junior Baertschi on emergency basis

CALGARY -- It's been a sensational week for Calgary Flames prospect Sven Baertschi.

Two days removed from earning Western Hockey League player of the week honors after collecting 8 goals and 10 points in four games, the Flames' first-round pick was summoned to the big club on Wednesday.

With injuries piling up -- most recently to Tim Jackman in Tuesday's 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens -- the Flames summoned Baertschi, the 13th pick in 2011, on an emergency recall from the Portland Winterhawks.

"Sven had an impressive training camp with us this year and legitimately could have been part of our opening night roster," Flames general manager Jay Feaster said in a statement. "We elected to send him back to Portland prior to the start of the season because we did not project him spending the entire season in Calgary. In light of the way Sven has performed this season in the WHL, and given our current injury situation, we feel Sven is the right player to be recalled to Calgary at this time."

The Flames were able to recall Baertschi from junior based on an agreement between the NHL and CHL that states if a team is on its third emergency situation, the club can recall a player from major junior.

With a trio already recalled from the AHL's Abbotsford Heat in Greg Nemisz, Krys Kolanos and Guillaume Desbiens, Featser opted with the 19-year-old Baertschi.

"It's a honor," Baertschi told the Flames' website. "I'm really grateful."

Baertschi is expected to make his NHL debut Friday when the Flames host the Winnipeg Jets. He has 33 goals and 94 points in 47 games this season to lead the WHL in points-per-game. In 113 career games at the junior level, Baertschi has 179 points.
Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 5:10 PM

By Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Ankle injury to sideline Duchene at least one game

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene will miss at least one game with a right ankle injury that was still being evaluated Wednesday.

Duchene was injured at 5:14 of the third period in Tuesday night's 7-1 rout of Minnesota when he was tripped by Wild right wing Nick Palmieri. Duchene's ankle was X-rayed, but coach Joe Sacco said he didn't know if a fracture had been found. He said after practice Wednesday that more tests were being administered.

"All I know is it's an ankle injury right now," Sacco said. "He'll be re-evaluated today and I'll know more tonight or tomorrow morning."

Duchene and right wing Chuck Kobasew, who has missed four games with a back injury, didn't accompany the team for Thursday night's game in Nashville, a one-game trip.

"We have plenty of bodies right now and we'll just do some line shuffling," Sacco said.

Mark Olver, who has been playing left wing on a line with Duchene and right wing Peter Mueller, will shift to center on the unit. Mueller will move to the left side and Milan Hejduk will skate at right wing.

Defenseman Ryan O'Byrne, who has missed seven games with a knee injury, took part in contact drills Wednesday and will be available Thursday.

"It's tough to keep a totally healthy lineup in this game," O'Byrne said. "Dutchie is a big part of our team and hopefully he's not out for long."

It's been a difficult season for Duchene, who suffered a left knee injury in a Dec. 29 game against Phoenix and missed 20 games. He came back Feb. 22 against Winnipeg and was used as a left wing for a few games until returning to his natural center position in Sunday's 2-0 win in Minnesota.

Duchene led the Avalanche in scoring last season when he posted career highs for goals (27), assists (40) and points (67), but he has just 13 goals and 13 assists in 48 games this year. He has 1 goal and 1 assist in nine games since returning from his knee injury.

"Every team goes through injuries, whether it's the same guy getting hurt or other guys at different times," center Paul Stastny said. "We just have to find a way to deal with it."

Stastny and teammate David Jones thought Duchene might have re-injured his knee when tripped, a play that didn't result in a penalty.

"I think he just fell awkwardly," Jones said.

Stastny said a penalty could have been called, but he didn't think it was intentional.

"Sometimes it's just a string of bad luck," he said. "You just hope he's OK. It's been a frustrating year for him. It wears on you mentally, but he'll get stronger from it. We just hope he gets back as soon as possible. If he's out for a certain amount of time, we'll pick him up. When he gets back, it'll be another good addition."

Sacco has been impressed with Olver, who is fearless when it comes to skating into the corners and in traffic despite being listed at 5-feet-10 and 170 pounds.   

"He plays the game in those areas all the time," Sacco said. "He's not a big man in stature, but he plays big. He's one of those players, when he gets on the ice, the opposition takes notice because it seems like he's always a pain in the rear end. Those are some of the type of players that we need. He's been making some plays, playing with some physicality in his game. He's been real good. I've been real happy with his play so far."

Olver missed 35 games to recover from a concussion he sustained in training camp. He had 2 goals and 7 assists in 15 games with Lake Erie in the American Hockey League and has 3 goals and 2 assists in 10 games with the Avalanche since his Feb. 16 recall.

"Being my size, either you have to be skilled or you have to be gritty," Olver, 24, said. "I don't have that much skill, so hopefully I can get a little grit and help the team out as much as I can. If I have to go to those dirty areas to help the team win, I will."

Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 4:04 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst / - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: Goalies that need to step up their play

Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 4:00 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place: New Coaches in Playoff Races

Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 3:27 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Hurricanes likely to use same lineup

The Carolina Hurricanes, coming off Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win in Washington, elected not to skate Wednesday morning in Buffalo ahead of their game at First Niagara Center against the Sabres.

The Hurricanes have a League-low eight road wins, but one was Oct. 14 in Buffalo, ruining the Sabres' home-opener.

Here's the lineup the Hurricanes likely will put on the ice Wednesday:

Anthony Stewart - Eric Staal - Jiri Tlusty
Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Patrick Dwyer - Brandon Sutter - Andreas Nodl
Derek Joslin - Tim Brent - Jerome Samson

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

Cam Ward will start in goal, with Brian Boucher the backup.

If you missed it earlier, here is the lineup the Sabres likely will use.
Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 2:37 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - At the Rink blog

Jagr 'probably' won't play vs. Panthers

The Philadelphia Flyers likely won't have forward Jaromir Jagr in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers.

Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren told reporters that Jagr, who suffered a hip injury in the second period of Tuesday's game against the Detroit Red Wings, "probably" won't play Thursday.

Jagr was hurt late in the second when he said teammate Braydon Coburn checked Wings forward Valtteri Filppula into him. Jagr said he was able to avoid most of the force of the collision, but wasn't able to finish the game.

He told reporters he would try to skate Thursday morning to see how he felt, then make a decision.

Jagr has missed games four different times this season due to lower-body injuries. In 56 games, he has 17 goals and 27 assists.

Also questionable for Thursday is forward Jakub Voracek, who was knocked out of Tuesday's game following a hard hit by Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall.

Voracek was looking down for the puck in the Philadelphia end and never saw Kronwall, who hit Voracek in the face with his shoulder. Voracek said he passed a concussion exam Tuesday but needed stitches for cuts around his mouth. He might take another concussion test prior to Thursday's game.

Voracek said he has a stiff neck from falling to the ice, and said, "I feel different, but I think anyone would feel different after that hit. Sometimes you can get slightly hit to the chin and be out a few months; sometimes you can get run over like I did and you can be back the next game. We'll see.

"I don't want to say I feel too good, because every day is different. Hopefully, I can get back as soon as possible."

Voracek said he did not fault Kronwall for the hit.

"I think it was clean," he said. "I had my head down. … I saw him standing on the blue line and I was kind of naive and thought he was going to back up. It was a tough hit to take, but I think it was a clean hit from my side. It was my bad, and I think those hits should stay in the game."

If Voracek and/or Jagr can't play, the Flyers will have to call up a forward from AHL Adirondack.

The Flyers also will be without defensemen Andrej Meszaros and Kimmo Timonen for a third straight game. Both are listed by the team as out indefinitely due to lower-body injuries.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 1:05 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - At the Rink blog

Leafs lose Lupul for 3-4 weeks

The Toronto Maple Leafs' playoff push won't include top-line forward Joffrey Lupul.

The team announced Wednesday that Lupul will miss at least three weeks due to a separated shoulder. Also, forward Colby Armstrong is day-to-day with a broken nose.

Both players were injured in the second period of Tuesday's game against the Boston Bruins.

Lupul, second on the Leafs with a career-best 67 points, was hit hard in the corner by the Bruins' David Krejci and he immediately left the game.

Armstrong was injured in a fight with Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.

The Leafs have recalled forward Carton Ashton from AHL Toronto. Acquired at the trade deadline from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 2009 first-round draft pick likely will make his NHL debut Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Leafs enter the game 12th in the Eastern Conference, five points behind eighth-place Winnipeg.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 12:32 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Turco clears waivers, able to officially join Bruins

Marty Turco cleared waivers Wednesday, and the goaltender was able to officially join the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins signed Turco, who had been playing in Austria, to a one-year contract Monday but he had to pass through waivers. Had another team put in a waiver claim on Turco, he would have been ineligible to play in any games for them.

Turco joined the team Wednesday for practice at Ristuccia Arena in Boston. He will not be eligible to play in the postseason because he signed too late, but Turco is expected to help offset the loss of Tuukka Rask, who is expected to be out four-to-six weeks with an abdomen/groin injury.

The 36-year-old Turco has 273 career victories in his 10-year NHL career. The first nine were spent with Dallas before he played one year with Chicago. Turco did some work as an analyst for NHL Network before signing with FC Red Bull Salzburg in Austria earlier this season.
Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 12:00 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Groin injury sidelines Garon for 3-4 weeks

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Mathieu Garon will miss the next 3-4 weeks due to a slight groin tear suffered Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Garon left Tampa Bay's 7-3 loss just 3:54 into the game when he fully extended to make a save. Dwayne Roloson replaced Garon and allowed five goals on 30 shots.

The Lightning will call up goaltender Dustin Tokarski from Norfolk of the AHL.

Roloson is having a nightmare of a season. He is 8-13-2 with a 3.82 goals-against average and .878 save percentage. 
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Quote of the Day

I think when you build a team, you look at pairs, and I think the pair of [Voracek and Giroux] is very good, certainly one of the top pairs in the League.

— Flyers GM Ron Hextall on Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek after giving Voracek a multiyear extension Thursday