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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 2:14 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blues, Red Wings

Here's how the lineups project for tonight's game between the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings at Scottrade Center:

Alex Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Matt D'Agostini - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
Evgeny Grachev - Scott Nichol - Chris Porter

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott gets the start in goal; Jaroslav Halak is the backup.

The Blues are without winger Andy McDonald (concussion), winger David Perron (post-concussion syndrome), defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle) and winger B.J. Crombeen (shoulder). Defenseman Ian Cole and winger Ryan Reaves are healthy scratches.

Danny Cleary - Pavel Datsyuk - Tomas Holmstrom
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Johan Franzen
Jiri Hudler - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller - Cory Emmerton - Patrick Eaves

Nicklas Lidstrom - Jonathan Ericsson
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jakub Kindl - Mike Commodore

Jimmy Howard gets the nod in goal; Ty Conklin, who played for the Blues the last two seasons, will be the backup in his return to St. Louis.

The Red Wings are without injured defenseman Ian White (cheekbone), Todd Bertuzzi (sinus infection) and Jan Mursak (ankle). Healthy scratches include winger Fabian Brunnstrom. Defenseman Brendan Smith, recalled from Grand Rapids after White's injury, will serve the last of a five-game suspension tonight after receiving the suspension in the preseason for a hit to the head on Chicago's Ben Smith.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 1:55 PM

By Steve Hunt - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Productivity from blue line huge for Panthers

DALLAS -- As the Florida Panthers get set to face the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center, one of the big storylines for Kevin Dineen's club in tonight's matchup could be how much production the Panthers get from the blue line.

That's because through its first 17 games, Florida has gotten 48 points from its defensemen. Brian Campbell leads the way with 16 points and currently leads the team with 15 assists, but Dmitry Kulikov has also done his part with his 12 helpers, second on the club.

"Yeah, that's something that we pride ourselves on. The League is a very hard-working, defensive league. It's hard to score goals," Dineen said. "We have to have more than one layer to have success. And certainly our D has been very productive not just on the score sheet but keeping us in the offensive zone. They've done a good job."

Panthers winger Kris Versteeg, who currently leads the team with 8 goals, has definitely noticed a huge positive difference with the likes of Campbell and Kulikov contributing on both ends of the ice.

"They make a lot of great plays on power plays and on 5-on-5 they make it easy on everyone coming up the ice. They can make a difficult pass at times and they can make a simple pass at times, too," Versteeg said. "They've been big for us. We're going to need their success going forward for us to be successful."

And it never hurts getting such solid production from the back end, especially from the perspective that it takes some pressure off the offensive guys to produce more.

"It definitely helps," Versteeg said. "Our defense is a big part of this team. Whether it's from the offensive and defensive perspective, we've got a really solid D core."

Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan is well aware of the considerable impact that Campbell, Kulikov and the rest of the Florida rearguard could have on tonight's contest and expects his Stars to be ready to handle such a challenge.

"Those guys just give them such a dynamic," Gulutzan said. "They can move up on the play. They're not afraid to involve themselves on the rush. They can improvise pretty well and make plays. They can ramp up the pace a little bit and can go."

But the Stars coach offered a simple solution when asked how they can help minimize the damage Florida can do from the blue line tonight.

"We're going to have to be making sure we play a little bit of a grinding game, a little harder on those guys so they're not up on the play all the time," Gulutzan said. "We're going to have to be wary of those guys. I know how they play. They're going to play hard."

Florida heads into tonight's game after a 3-2 home loss to the Flyers on Sunday. And considering the Panthers are 6-3-0 on the road this year, tying them with several other clubs for most road victories in the league, getting away from home is never a bad thing.

Dineen even offered a lighthearted take on why his team has been so much better on the road than at home so far this year.

"I think undercoaching [has been the difference]," Dineen said. "You get home and you start matching lines. You get on the road, we roll them and that seems to help. That's something that we talked about at the beginning of the year that we wanted to have a solid road record. We've met a few tests but tonight will be a great one for us."
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 1:35 PM

By Steve Hunt - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Stars look to right ship at home vs. Panthers

DALLAS -- After ending last week's road trip with back-to-back losses, the Dallas Stars return to the ice tonight looking to return to the win column against the Florida Panthers at the American Airlines Center, a building they are 6-1-0 in so far this season.

However, the Stars (11-5-0), who continue to lead the Pacific Division with 22 points, will be without gritty center Steve Ott, who continues to be bothered by a hip pointer and will miss a sixth consecutive game.

Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan had termed Ott a game-time decision after practice on Monday, but after the morning skate, it was clear he wouldn't play.

"Otter's not going tonight. He'll be ready for Friday," Gulutzan said. "He's pleading his case to go tonight but it's better for us long-term than to rush him back when he's about 85 percent."

In his absence, Adam Burish will continue to skate on the Stars' second line alongside captain Brenden Morrow and center Mike Ribeiro, a role he has held since Ott last played Oct. 29 against the Devils.

The Stars have won two straight at home this season and have fallen only once in their own arena, a 5-3 loss to the Kings back on Oct. 27. And given they come off consecutive road losses to the Red Wings and Penguins, it's definitely good to be back on their home ice.

"That road trip started off real good and then, the last two games didn't go our way. It's always good to get back here and get settled," Gulutzan said. "It was good that we had the Sunday off when we came back. I think we had a good day off and a good practice yesterday and we're ready to go here tonight."

Florida comes into this one off a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday night and the Panthers are just 2-2-3 at home so far this season. But on the road, it's a different story, as Kevin Dineen's club is 6-3-0, tying them for most road wins in the League.

Dallas defenseman Nicklas Grossman sees a much improved Florida team and expects a real battle tonight in the Lone Star State.

"I think like every game, it's going to be a tough game. They're looking real good this year, especially with the new additions they made on the back there and the recent trade they had," Grossman said. "They have a good team, no question about it. They've got lots of speed, lots of skill guys. We've got to expect a hungry team coming in, so we've got to be ready."

Tonight's game will be the first for Stars third-line winger Radek Dvorak since coming over from Florida in the offseason. The veteran forward did say it might be a bit weird to face one of his former clubs, but added his focus is where it needs to be.

"It's just another game for us. Obviously, I spent a lot of time in Florida but the most important thing is we have to be sure we go about our game tonight no matter who we play," Dvorak said. "We just need a couple of points tonight and we have to do our best to achieve that."
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 1:31 PM

By Alan Robinson - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Hejduk debuts as Avalanche captain

PITTSBURGH -- The Colorado Avalanche's jerseys had a slightly different look for their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. One of them now features a 'C' on the front.
Milan Hejduk officially made his debut as Colorado's captain today after coach Joe Sacco waited until nearly one-quarter of the way through the season to make his choice.
"He's won a Stanley Cup, he knows how to win and what it takes," Sacco said. "I didn't have a certain date in mind; it was just when we felt it was the right time."
As it turned out, that time was the start of a two-game road trip, to Pittsburgh and Minnesota.
Sacco may have required some time to reveal his selection, but to him, it was an obvious one. Hejduk, who has 364 goals and 769 points in 927 NHL games -- all with the Avs -- was chosen 10 years after helping Colorado last win the Stanley Cup.
"He's a leader by example," Sacco said. "He's not going to be the most vocal guy, he's not going to be yelling and screaming -- that's not his identity as a person. But he does lead by example on and off the ice by the way he conducts himself, the way he handles himself, his preparation for both practices and games."
Sacco added, "He's been an Avalanche now for his 13th year. He's what we want our younger players to be."
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 1:27 PM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Potential lineups for Wild, Jackets

Here is what the lineups could look like when the Wild and Blue Jackets meet tonight at Nationwide Arena in Columbus

Rick Nash - Jeff Carter - R.J. Umberger
Vinny Prospal - Mark Letestu - Ryan Johansen
Antoine VermetteSamuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett
Matt Calvert - Derek MacKenzie - Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin- Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot - James Wisniewski
John Moore - Grant Clitsome

Steve Mason will start in net, with Curtis Sanford backing him up.

Dany Heatley - Mikko Koivu - Devin Setoguchi
Cal Clutterbuck - Matt Cullen - Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Darroll Powe - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Colton Gillies - Warren Peters - Brad Staubitz

Nick Schultz - Nate Prosser
Clayton Stoner - Marek Zidlicky
Justin Falk - Jared Spurgeon

Niklas Backstrom will start in net, with Josh Harding the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 1:12 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Goalie contact a big issue in wake of Lucic collision

BOSTON -- The Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller collision from Saturday night's Boston Bruins-Buffalo Sabres game has become a hot-button issue around the League.

There was no shortage of talk about it in both dressing rooms this morning at the TD Garden after the Bruins and New Jersey Devils completed their morning skates. Lucic had a hearing with the NHL on Monday but received no supplemental discipline. During the Bruins' win, he was assessed a two-minute minor for charging.

Boston coach Claude Julien was asked about a possible alteration to the rule about contact with the goaltender or the possibility of limiting a goaltender's ability to move out of his crease.

"There's a difference between a hit and a collision. And that's always going to be a gray area in everybody's minds," Julien said. "Some people are going to call certain things a hit, some people are going call it a collision. I mean, as far as I'm concerned as a coach, I'll abide by any rule they want to put in there. If they say you can't touch him at all, then it's you can't touch him at all. If they keep the rule the way it is, then let's keep the rule the way it is.

"I know for a fact that if Milan had intended on hitting him, he would've never got up. We all know how hard he hits. So that speaks for itself."

New Jersey netminder Johan Hedberg will be tasked with facing the Bruins tonight. He doesn't think goaltenders have a right to expect special treatment.

"That's what I don't think is right. You have to respect the game in the game, too," he said. "You can't expect the rules to protect you at times. That goes for everybody, including us as goaltenders. Who knows, the guy might be coming in full-blast, he looks away, he doesn't see that you're out there and you've got to make sure that you're ready for it. I think it's part of the game."

Hedberg and Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask both recalled instances where they were in a position like Miller was and got hit. Rask said he understands that sometimes these incidents with contact are unavoidable.

"Everybody knows it. That was just an accident," he said. "Everybody knows that you don't try to take a goalie's head off or anything. Things happen in the game. It's just part of the game and sometimes accidents happen."

As for Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff's comment that by the League not suspending Milan Lucic it's declaring "fair game" on goaltenders, the Bruins didn't want to engage in much of a war of words.

"No comment on that. They can say whatever they want," Rask said.

Added Julien: "That's just talk. We're certainly not going to get into that. People get frustrated, people talk and you don't hold those kind of things against people like that. They're entitled to their opinion. And you just move along here. We can't react to everything that's being said out there. Everybody has their own opinion, and we're just happy it was dealt with the way it was and we're ready to move on."

The Bruins and Sabres next meet Nov. 23 in Buffalo.

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 1:07 PM

By Alan Robinson - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Potential lineups for Pens, Avs

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Tyler Kennedy (concussion) and Steve Sullivan (lower-body injury) took part in the morning skate and will be game-time decisions tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN2) against Colorado, but it appears as if both will play.
Kennedy has been out with a concussion since Oct. 15, while Sullivan sustained an undisclosed injury during a 5-3 loss at Carolina on Saturday.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, as usual, took part in the morning skate but will not play after being ruled out Monday. The earliest he could play would be Thursday at Tampa Bay. Crosby hasn’t played since Jan. 5 against the Lightning.
Avalanche forward Brandon Yip (broken right arm) took part in the morning skate and got in some extra work afterward, but coach Joe Sacco said he won’t play in the first meeting between the teams since Pittsburgh's 3-2 overtime win Feb. 16, 2011, at the Pepsi Center. Kennedy scored the game-winning goal on a power play with 50 seconds remaining.
Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis left the morning skate after about 10 minutes with a cut on his face that required stitches, but will be in the lineup.
The expected lineups at Consol Energy Center:
Joakim Lindstrom - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
TJ Galiardi - Matt Duchene - David Jones
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - Kevin Porter/Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew
Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Ryan Wilson - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Semyon Varlamov, 2-0 in his career with a 2.00 goals-against average against Pittsburgh during the regular season, is expected to be in goal, with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as his backup.
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Richard Park - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Deryk Engelland
Matt Niskanen - Alexandre Picard
Marc-Andre Fleury (9-2-1) will be back in goal after backup Brent Johnson played against Carolina. Fleury enters tonight's games second in the League in wins (nine), sixth in goals-against average (1.87) and ninth in save percentage (.932).

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 12:58 PM

By Steve Hunt - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Potential lineups for Panthers, Stars

Here are what the lineups could look like when the Stars and Panthers play tonight in Dallas:

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Evgeny Dadonov - Mike Santorelli - Tomas Kopecky
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Marco Sturm
Tim Kennedy - Shawn Matthias - Matt Bradley

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

Scott Clemmensen will make his season debut in goal tonight, with Jose Theodore the backup.

Loui Eriksson - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Brenden Morrow - Mike Ribeiro - Adam Burish
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Krystofer Barch - Jake Dowell - Toby Petersen

Stephane Robidas - Sheldon Souray
Trevor Daley - Nicklas Grossman
Adam Pardy - Mark Fistric

Kari Lehtonen will start in goal, with Andrew Raycroft the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 12:40 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - At the Rink blog

Tortorella delighted with Gaborik’s play

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Rangers coach John Tortorella has had his ups and downs with high-scoring forward Marian Gaborik during their two-plus seasons together. As the Rangers head into tonight's visit to the Nassau Coliseum, they're definitely on the ups.

Not only is Gaborik leading the Rangers with 9 goals and 15 points, he has, in Tortorella's eyes, been the Rangers' most consistent player through the first six weeks of the season -- a stretch that includes New York's current six-game winning streak.

Scoring never has been a problem for Gaborik, a two-time 42-goal scorer – including 2009-10, his first season with the Rangers. It's been the other areas of the game that Tortorella says have seen the most improvement.

"Where I think he's made tremendous improvement is his play away from the puck -- the back pressure, being in the right position when he doesn't have the puck," Tortorella said after the morning skate at the Coliseum. "I think he's finding out that when we play better team defense, we have the puck more."

Gaborik took a lot of heat from Tortorella last season, when he slumped from 42 goals to 22. Now, he's on pace to surpass his career high in goals this season -- and his plus-8 rating is second on the team and tops among forwards.

"He's a proud man. He's a good man, and he did not like how it worked out last year," Tortorella said. "You could sense that he was going to have a really good year. He's certainly off to a very good start."

Tortorella said most of the coaching he and his staff do is team-oriented, rather than working with individual players, and gave Gaborik the credit for his improved play.

"It comes down to the player's willingness to do it and realizing it does work, as far as playing good defense to help out your offense," he said of Gaborik's improvement without the puck.

"He's a smart guy. Ever since I met him, and that was three years ago, he's asked questions. You can tell that he's engaged. I think there's a motivation there with Gabby, where he wants to help his team get to the next level. He knows he has the ability; it's just a matter of consistently doing it."
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 12:40 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Bruins happy Lucic will be available vs. Devils

BOSTON -- Now that Bruins forward Milan Lucic has escaped supplemental discipline from the NHL after his collision with Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller on Saturday night, the Bruins should field the same lineup against New Jersey tonight that they had in the win over the Sabres.

"I guess from our end of it, we were convinced it wasn't deliberate. We were hoping that that's the decision that was going to be taken, and it was," coach Claude Julien said.

Lucic had a phone hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Monday afternoon. Lucic, who addressed the matter with the media after Monday's practice, was not available to speak after the Bruins' morning skate.

Daniel Paille, out with a broken nose, skated with the Bruins again today. He is now able to breathe through his nostrils and said he's getting close to being 100 percent. He could be ready for game action by the end of the week.

Defenseman Andrew Ference, who is out with a lower-body injury, skated on his own before the team and is day-to-day.

Tim Thomas should get the start in goal. Here's the rest of the Bruins' projected lineup:

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

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Steven Kampfer - Adam McQuaid

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