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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 2:40 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flames, Avalanche

These are the projected lineups for Saturday night when the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche square off at Pepsi Center:

FLAMES

Alex TanguayMikael BacklundJarome Iginla
Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenRene Bourque
Paul ByronRoman HorakLee Stempniak
Tom KostopoulosDavid MossTim Jackman

Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
Scott Hannan – Mark Girodano
Derek Smith – T.J. Brodie

Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to start in goal with Henrik Karlsson as the backup.

AVALANCHE

Joakim LindstromPaul StastnyMilan Hejduk
TJ GaliardiMatt DucheneDavid Jones
Gabriel Landeskog – Ryan O’Reilly – Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeodKevin Porter/Jay McClementChuck Kobasew

Kyle Quincey – Shane O’Brien
Ryan WilsonErik Johnson
Jan Hejda – Ryan O’Byrne

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.
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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 2:31 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Blues downplay facing Tampa Bay's 1-3-1

ST. LOUIS – Philadelphia’s response to Tampa Bay’s defensive formation created plenty of reaction around the NHL, and now it's up to the St. Louis Blues to dissect the Lightning's 1-3-1.

The Blues and Lightning will play here Saturday night, and the game also marks the return of former Blues captain Eric Brewer.

According to the Blues, there's no big storylines when it comes to their matchup.

"I think you make too much of that," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They play with structures, so how do you counteract the structures? It's like any team. If you allow a team to set up in their structure, they're going to beat you. It doesn't matter if it's 1-3-1, 1-2-2, 2-1-2 ... doesn't matter, they're going to beat you. So you have to attack the structure before they set up.

"It's like any fore-checking system. It's the same thing as an offensive zone fore-check system. You've got to find a way to get by it before it sets its course. So for us, it's about not allowing them to control the tempo of the game. I think the other thing is it's easy to set up in a defensive structure when you've got the lead all the time. So for us, it's get the lead and force the other team to have to open things up a little bit more."

Blues players saw portions of the game or on highlights from Wednesday night and don't think it's that big of a deal.

"It was just a matter of Philly being stubborn," wing Matt D'Agostini said. "I think they were just trying to fluster Tampa, try to get them to come after them a little more than they obviously do. … They play with a D-man back there, so as long as we get good dumps, we can go in and hit their D and like last night, play in their end as much as we can."
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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 2:29 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ex-captain Brewer returns to St. Louis for first time

Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer will make his first trip back to St. Louis since the trade last season that sent the veteran to Tampa Bay for a third-round pick and prospect Brock Beukeboom.

Brewer spent nearly six seasons in St. Louis, but was dealt in February and helped the Lightning reach the Eastern Conference Final last season.

"It worked out pretty well," Brewer said. "It could have worked out better, but I can't complain. ... It's been good. They have a very good hockey program. It was something that wasn't tough to say no to. I've liked it."

Brewer, who was the Blues' captain, enjoyed his time in St. Louis.

"It was good," Brewer said. "I really enjoyed it here. It's comfortable here. I can walk here and know people. I was treated very well. It was nice to see some of the guys that were real good to me."

Brewer also talked about the firing of former coach Davis Payne, who he played for here.

"I'm surprised, yeah," Brewer said. "He was very good when I was there. ... He's going to do well. He's a good coach."
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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 2:27 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Russell set for St. Louis debut

Newly acquired defenseman Kris Russell was on the ice Saturday morning and will make his Blues debut tonight.

Russell, acquired from Columbus on Friday for defenseman Nikita Nikitin, will wear No. 4 tonight -- ironically Tampa Bay defenseman Eric Brewer's number  when he was the captain in St. Louis -- and will be paired with Roman Polak.

"I heard rumors that I was coming to St. Louis," Russell said. "It was a stressful night for me (Thursday) wondering what was happening."

Russell, who has two goals and an assist in 12 games with the Jackets this season, will be reunited with Ken Hitchcock, who coached Russell in Columbus.

"He's actually the only guy I know here. I don't know one guy here," Russell joked. "... You just be yourself. There are a lot of good players in this league. (Jackets) assistant coach Danny Hinote had great things to say about St. Louis. I trained with Chris Mason and he's been here. He had nothing but the best to say about the city and franchise. I'm excited. It's a getting-to-know period.

"(Hitchcock is) a guy that gave me the opportunity to play. I was really fortunate for that. I think he really helped me with my defensive side of the game. Coming out of juniors, I was strictly offense, always up ice and a little lackluster in my own end. But Hitch said you have to be a good two-way player. I feel like I've come a long way."

The Blues will sit Ian Cole, who's played well in his two games since his recall. Hitchcock said it's nothing personal.

"Whether this was Kris Russell or Billy Smith, it wouldn't have mattered," Hitchcock said. "To me, I just know what it is to be a new player. You want to make him a part of it. ... The one thing that Kris Russell brings to us is transition on that left side. I think that we have the transition on the right side. If we can help ourselves on the left side and be better, that's really going to help us.

"That's not to say Ian Cole becomes a seventh guy either. That's not it for sure. To me, it's all about winning the next hockey game and whoever gives you the best chance goes. ... I want to make Kris a part of it. Whoever's the seventh, probably will be sitting out, and to me, that depends strictly on performance."
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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 2:25 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Hitchcock shakes up Blues lineup

The Blues will make a switch with their forward lines, moving Alex Steen up to the top line and dropping Vladimir Sobotka down to the third line.

It's a move coach Ken Hitchcock says is more about execution and not a promotion/demotion.

"That's a coach's swap because I have this phobia about three lines making one line for power play and two lines making one PK pair," Hitchcock said. "It's not based on, 'Oh, this guy's going to help there.' They're both going to help either line, but it's more just continuity. It ends up for me when you're coming out of special teams, it ends up in massive confusion because you're using three lines on two sets of power play, using two and sometimes three lines on PK and then you're coming out trying to put a line together where all three guys don't even play together. This is about continuity that I want to see."

Hitchcock got Sobotka out on a line with Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner in Thursday's 3-2 shoot out loss against Toronto and liked it.

"They were really good and created the pressure," Hitchcock said.

Here is what the Blues' lineup tonight should be against the Lightning:

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

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

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

Hitchcock has an interesting take on getting Elliott in goal tonight. Elliott is 5-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.

"As Chief Taylor (Philadelphia Flyers coach Fred Shero) once said, 'After Bernie (Parent) played 60 in a row, it's his turn,'" said Hitchcock, referring to Parent's 37 consecutive starts as he got a rousing laugh from the media gathering. "It's (Elliott's) turn. ... I gotta tell you, I haven't seen Brian play this year. I want to make him part of the team.

"He's part of the team. He's played well."

The Blues are without defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle) and forwards David Perron (post-concussion syndrome), Andy McDonald (concussion) and B.J. Crombeen (shoulder). Along with Cole, winger Chris Porter is a healthy scratch.

Here’s the projected lineup for the Lightning as well:

Steve Downie - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Martin St. Louis - Vincent Lecavalier - Brett Connolly
Nate Thompson - Dominic Moore - Tom Pyatt
Ryan Shannon - Blair Jones - Adam Hall

Eric Brewer - Matt Gilroy
Marc-Andre Bergeron - Pavel Kubina
Brett Clark - Bruno Gervais

Mathieu Garon gets the start in goal; Dwayne Roloson is the backup.

The Lightning will be without Mattias Ohlund (knee, is on injured reserve), Victor Hedman (upper-body, is day-to-day) and Ryan Malone (upper-body, is also day-to-day). Hedman was on the ice for the skate this morning but now a likely target for a return is Monday.
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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 1:06 PM

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

Detroit's Mursak progressing well in ankle rehab

DETROIT – He’s still a couple weeks away from putting on skates and getting back on the ice, but Detroit Red Wings rookie forward Jan Mursak is progressing from a severely broken ankle that happened in the preseason.

Mursak, who had earned a spot on the Wings before the injury, is encouraged by how quickly he was able to shed both the initial cast and the walking cast that followed. He’s walking around with no cast right now, even though the ankle still feels stiff and isn’t strong enough to run or jump on it yet.

“It’s going pretty good,” Mursak said after working out in the Wings’ weight room Saturday morning at Joe Louis Arena. “Every day it’s a lot better and I can do more stuff. There’s still certain things that I can’t do, yet hopefully in the next couple weeks I can get better and get back on the ice and start skating.”
   
Mursak didn’t require surgery to fix the fracture, which happened in a preseason game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Mursak was bumped during a hard charge to the net and lost his edge. He was sent flying feet-first into the dasher boards behind the net and his foot bent at an awkward angle – snapping a bone in his ankle and damaging some ligaments.

“I was lucky,” said Mursak, who made his debut with the Wings last season and played 19 games with Detroit. “It was kind of … on the line between surgery or not. I had to ask a few more specialists for ankles to see if I’d need one, but in the end I didn’t need (surgery), and it’s good because my recovery … it’s a lot shorter than it would be with surgery.”

The speedy Mursak played in 54 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League last season and finished with 13 goals and 22 assists. He’s just the second Slovenian to play in the NHL after the Los Angeles KingsAnze Kopitar and was eagerly anticipating his first full season in the League before he got hurt.

His last cast came off two weeks early, but Mursak doesn’t want to jump the gun in setting a timetable for a return – which doctors initially said would be around Christmas time in December.

“It just takes time to stretch that ankle now because it’s so stiff,” Mursak said. “We’ll see in the next few weeks how it goes. It’s still healing. It doesn’t hurt as much anymore. It’s just stiff and we have to stretch that out.”
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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 12:55 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Paille skates for Bruins

BOSTON – The Boston Bruins welcomed a surprise visitor to their morning skate today at TD Garden in preparation for their game with Buffalo tonight.
   
Forward Daniel Paille, who suffered a broken nose last Monday when he was hit in the face with a Steve Staios slap shot, skated for the first time. The wing underwent surgery Wednesday and went through a light workout at the Garden Friday. He has to breathe through his mouth, but said there’s not a lot of pain right now.

During the skate, he wore a full cage for the first time, he estimated, since he was 15.
   
“At first, when I put it on, I had to look through the holes,” he said. “But after a while I kind of got used to it, you just kind of ignore it. So it’s a certain adjustment, but I think after a couple skates I’m going to get used to it.”
   
Paille will not play tonight but said he hopes to be able to get into a game sometime next week. He can take some tips from teammate Chris Kelly, who famously wore a cage after a facial injury during last spring’s playoff series with Montreal. Kelly went on to record six points in his next six games with the cage on.
   
“He’s got the white in the back of the cage so you kind of see more clear,” Paille said. “He just says that with time, you won’t even notice it. So I’m just waiting for that moment.”
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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 12:48 PM

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

Stars look for options to help replace injured Goligoski

DETROIT – A bad night in Pittsburgh on Friday for the Dallas Stars got worse with the news that puck-moving defenseman Alex Goligoski has a fractured thumb that could keep him out of action for up to a month.

Goligoski was hit in the hand by a shot just six minutes into the game and left the game immediately. He didn’t return and flew back to Dallas after the game for X-rays – which showed the fracture.

“It’s non-displaced, so it’s probably going to be a four-week thing,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said, following Dallas’ optional morning skate Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. “It’s a bad blow for us, but he took a wrist shot off the thumb, so it’s just one of those things that teams go through. Other guys can step up now.”

In the immediate short term, that will include Adam Pardy – who will step into the lineup in place of Goligoski on Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings. He will be on the second defense pairing with Mark Fistric, who was hit in the throat with a puck against Pittsburgh on Friday night but is healthy enough to play.

“(Pardy) is a guy we went after in free agency and really wanted,” Gulutzan said. “He’s a big body that can move, so this can be a good chance for other guys to showcase themselves on a full-time basis.”

Another guy to watch in that regard is 21-year old puck-moving defenseman Philip Larsen, who was recalled from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League on Saturday morning. Larsen, Dallas’ fifth pick in the 2008 Entry Draft (No. 149), could see a lot of ice time while Goligoski. He played for Gulutzan on the Texas Stars last season, so the coach is already familiar with him.

“I like the idea of having a right shot here,” Gulutzan said. “(Goligoski) can skate, (Larsen) can skate. Obviously he’s not at the offensive level that Goose is. Goose is a one or two (defenseman) and Philip, in my mind, is a five or six guy in the NHL. He had a great training camp. I don’t think there will be any huge learning curve for Philip. I think he’ll be ready to step in and help us when he gets an opportunity.”

Gulutzan said that won’t happen in Saturday night, but could after Larsen gets a few practices with the Stars under his belt.

Prior to his call-up, Larsen led all Texas Stars defensemen in scoring with one goal and nine assists in 10 games. He was also their top-scoring defenseman on the power play by racking up six assists with the man-advantage.

“I’ve got a lot of trust in Philip,” Gulutzan said. “He’s got a high compete level. When you get European-skating defensemen like him, you seem to think he’s a real catalyst offensively. He’s good offensively, but he competes real hard defensively and that’s what I think about him.”

Gulutzan said the only other lineup decision to make will be whether Krystofer Barch or Jake Dowell plays left wing on the fourth line for the Stars, which he said will be a gametime decision made after warm-ups.


Here are the projected lineups for tonight at Joe Louis Arena between the Dallas Stars (11-4-0) and Detroit Red Wings (8-5-1):

DALLAS

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

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

Andrew Raycroft will start in net for the Stars, while Kari Lehtonen will get a night off as the backup.

DETRIOT

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

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard will start in goal for the Red Wings and Ty Conklin will be his back-up.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 12:36 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kaleta back for Sabres after suspension

BOSTON – The Buffalo Sabres have won four in a row, including a  5-1 victory Friday night against Ottawa.
   
But tonight against the Boston Bruins they’re still going to make a slight lineup change because forward Patrick Kaleta is scheduled to return from a four-game suspension.
   
“Sitting out’s not the best feeling in the world,” said Kaleta after the Sabres’ optional morning skate at TD Garden. “But I’m finally getting back into the swing of things, getting back into the routine and I’m ready for a big game tonight.”
   
Kaleta was suspended Nov. 4 for head-butting after he jumped into a crowd of players battling for the puck and struck Philadelphia forward Jakub Voracek in the chest and face. In announcing the suspension, NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan pointed out that the latest incident was Kaleta’s third in less than two years. The Buffalo wing says he’s attempting to mend his ways.
   
“You learn from your mistakes,” he said. “And like I’ve been saying for the past little while here, it’s about changing my game and I’ve been working pretty hard at it since the beginning of summer. It was a little bump in the road, but you can’t let it bother you and you come back and play the same way I was before.”
   
Ryan Miller is scheduled to get the start in goal tonight after Jhonas Enroth beat the Senators.
   
Here is the projected lineup for the Sabres:

Thomas Vanek - Luke Adam - Jason Pominville
Ville Leino - Derek Roy - Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe - Paul Gaustad - Brad Boyes
Cody McCormick - Matt Ellis - Patrick Kaleta

Robyn Regehr - Jordan Leopold
Tyler Myers - Andrej Sekera
Marc-Andre Gragnani - Christian Ehrhoff
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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 12:27 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bruins go back to Thomas in net

BOSTON – After giving backup goaltender Tuukka Rask consecutive starts this week for the first time this season, the Boston Bruins are going to turn back to Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas for a Northeast Division showdown Saturday with Buffalo at TD Garden.
   
Picking between the man who’s been the world’s best goaltender for more than a season and the club’s promising No. 2 has forced coach Claude Julien and his staff to strike a delicate balance.
   
“We do [have the world’s best goaltender] and he’s also 37 years old, he also played 111 games last year and all that stuff is taken into context,” Julien said. “We feel comfortable with Tuukka as well in net, that he’s a good goaltender and at the same time you want to make sure that your best goaltender remains your best goaltender by not over-utilizing him and we know as the season goes on we’re going to have to be relying on both of those guys. And we want him to be as fresh or as good as possible near the end of the year. It’s an 82-game schedule and we’re kind of gauging it that way, taking the fact that you’ve got 82 games, you’ve got two goaltenders, you have to do that once in a while. It’s just part of a plan.”
   
The Bruins held a full morning skate today with everyone except the injured Andrew Ference (lower body) on the ice. Ference is out for tonight and day-to-day with that injury.
   
Here is the projected lineup for Boston:

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

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

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask   

Peverley has missed the last two games and will be a game-time decision with an undisclosed injury.
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Quote of the Day

When I first became captain here, Monsieur Beliveau came to me and said, 'You're going to be fine. You don't have to change, you got selected because of who you are.'

— Saku Koivu on Thursday, recalling what he was told by the late Jean Beliveau when he was named Canadiens captain in 1999
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