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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 12:40 PM

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

Islanders turn back to Nabokov in net

BOSTON -- New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano plans tonight to stick with what earned his team a long-awaited two points Saturday night, except when it comes to his goaltending.

Capuano revealed that Evgeni Nabokov will start tonight and be backed up by Al Montoya. Rick DiPietro started the Isles' three previous games, including the slump-busting 5-3 win over Washington Saturday. The Isles had been 0-4-2 in their prior six games.

While Nabokov missed the last three games with a lower-body injury, Montoya has been healthy but inactive since Oct. 20. Of the six games over that span, Montoya didn't even dress for two.

Capuano said he's not worried about rust on Montoya.

"No, like I said earlier, I just concentrate day to day and Nabby will go tonight," the coach said. "Just like our team, whether it's the D or the forwards, it's a day-to-day process with our lineup."

The Islanders juggled their lines to start the Caps game, and it paid off with a rally from 2-0 down. While the lineup in front of the goaltender will stay the same, the Isles are hoping that translates into a similar performance and in turn a victory.

"It was big. It was against a pretty good hockey team that's playing really well," star forward John Tavares said about the Washington victory. "So it was definitely big for us. But we've got to learn how to bring that every night and have that consistency in being able to win victories likes that. And we haven't played too well on the road (0-2-1), so this is a good test for us tonight. It's time to move on and focus on what we have to do to be successful tonight and throughout the rest of the year. But it was definitely a good feeling though to get the confidence up and see the results."

Here is the Islanders' projected lineup:

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

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

Healthy scratch: Mike Mottau

Evgeni Nabokov in goal, Al Montoya to back up.


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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 12:08 PM

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

Peverley will miss Bruins' game with Islanders

BOSTON -- The Bruins are riding their first winning streak of the season into tonight's home date with the New York Islanders at the TD Garden.

But their lineup will look a little different against the Isles than it did in victories over Ottawa and Toronto.

Forward Rich Peverley, who played Saturday night in the rout of the Leafs despite missing practice the two days prior, will miss the Isles game, according to coach Claude Julien. Peverley also missed practice Sunday.

"It's a minor, undisclosed injury and he needs a few more days. … But it's not getting better. So we're allowing him to take a few more days," Julien said.

Tuukka Rask is scheduled to make the start in goal. He's winless through his first three starts with a respectable goals-against average of 2.71 and a save percentage of .906. His last start was Oct. 29 in Montreal, a stretch of two games.

"It's unfortunate that his record doesn't indicate the way he's played," Julien said about Rask. "But for the most part, we've failed in front of him. Everybody knows that that's seen the games, that we haven't given him much help and we haven't played that well in front of him either. So he's got an opportunity tonight to win his first game, and it's up to all of us, him included, to be solid and the rest of the team to continue to play the way we have lately."

Here is the Bruins' projected lineup:

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

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

Healthy scratch: Steven Kampfer

Tuukka Rask in goal, Tim Thomas the backup.

 


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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 11:04 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Top USHL prospect Schmaltz part of six-player trade

A blockbuster trade was finalized in the United States Hockey League on Monday when the Sioux City Musketeers dealt highly touted defensive prospect Jordan Schmaltz to the Green Bay Gamblers as part of a six-player deal.

Schmaltz, committed to the University of North Dakota next fall, is regarded by many to be a first-round choice for the upcoming 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. Schmaltz finished his rookie season in the USHL last year as the highest scoring defenseman in the league with 44 points, including 13 goals, in 53 games.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Schmaltz has 3 goals and 6 points in nine games this season.

"He's got a good shot from the top of the point," NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee told NHL.com. "The thing is, I don't think he'll be drafted as a defensive guy -- he'll be drafted for his high-end offense."

In fact, many believe Schmaltz offers the type of offensive skills that made Kitchener Rangers defenseman Ryan Murphy (Carolina Hurricanes) so attractive last June.

Schmaltz of Verona, Wis., is currently in Langley, B.C., with Team USA for the 2011 World Junior A Challenge. Schmaltz is actually one of two returnees on the team, which captured a third straight World Junior A Challenge title in 2010. Team USA opens the tournament on Nov. 7 against Sweden.

Schmaltz was dealt to Green Bay in exchange for forward David Goodwin, defensemen Andy Ryan and Dan Molenaar and affiliate list player forward Jacob Montgomery. The Gamblers also acquired forward Peter Maric as compensation for an earlier trade involving forward Nikita Sirotkin.

Schmaltz, a member of the 2011 All-USHL First team and All-Rookie team, was also a member of the United States team that captured the gold medal in the 2010 World U-17 Hockey Challenge.  

"The trade was made with mixed emotions," Green Bay coach Derek Lalonde told the team's website. "David, Andy and Dan our great people and were valuable players to our team. But at the same time you rarely have an opportunity to acquire a player the caliber of Jordan Schmaltz. He is a projected a first round NHL draft pick and will be a tremendous addition to our team."

Additionally, the Gamblers added Jordan's younger brother, forward Nick Schmaltz. Nick Schmaltz, a member of the Chicago Mission Under-16 Team, is one of the top players among the 1996 birth years.

According to the Gamblers website, Jordan Schmaltz is expected to make his Green Bay debut on Nov. 18 against the U.S. U-18 National Team Development Program.  The team is currently 8-3 in the Eastern Conference.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 11:00 PM

NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Best NHL arenas

Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for NHL.com throughout the 2011-2012 season.

I've got two lists for everyone this week. The first is the five greatest hockey buildings in the history of the NHL.

No. 5 -- St. Louis Arena, or the Checkerdome

Most people do not think this would be on a list of the best buildings, but it was a unique building. It sat close to 20,000 people and when I was there it was full. I saw great crowds, loud crowds. They were right on top of you. It was really an unbelievable building.

I loved playing there. If you couldn't get jazzed about playing in St. Louis, oh boy, you had problems. Purina owned it at the time, so it looked like a checkerboard on the roof of the building. It was a real unique building.

No. 4 -- Madison Square Garden

Any building that has the rink on the fifth floor has to be fantastic. New York is the greatest city in the world. MSG is as mentioned as the greatest sports building in the world. I don't have it as the best in the NHL, but that first time you play at MSG and you walk up that ramp when you get to the building and you start to think of all the great things that have happened in this building. All the great fights, all the great hockey games, all the great basketball games, the college basketball, the track and field events – it is pretty phenomenal. 
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 3:45 PM

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

Duchene stays on wing after breakout game

DENVER – Matt Duchene, who is coming off a career-high four-point performance Friday, will remain at left wing Sunday night when the Colorado Avalanche takes on the Calgary Flames at the Pepsi Center.
   
Avalanche coach Joe Sacco sees no reason to move Duchene back to center following his three-goal, one-assist effort in a wild 7-6 overtime loss in Dallas. Duchene, who had two goals and four assists in the previous 12 games, will stay on the left side with center Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk.
   
“I thought they had a good night offensively, especially Matty,” Sacco said after this morning’s skate. “So we’ll keep it together and see how it works tonight. Matty was skating the way that he can. Once he started moving his feet, the work ethic was there. It’s certainly a step in the right direction for him.”
   
Duchene, 20, has made a habit of getting off to slow starts, but he’s taken over the team scoring lead with five goals and as many assists. Ryan O’Reilly, also 20, has two goals and eight assists.
   
Duchene played with a variety of wings while centering the second line for the first 12 games after starting the season between Peter Mueller and Hejduk. Mueller will miss his 11th consecutive game tonight with a head injury after he sat out all last year to recover from a concussion, but he’s beginning to feel better and skated this morning for the second day in a row.
   
“I thought I was playing better even before (Friday),” Duchene said. “I think it gives you confidence. I felt I was right on the verge of that for a long time and it was fun to finally have the floodgates open a little bit. It was nice. It’s too bad we lost, but there were some positives to take away offensively for our whole team.”
   
The six goals Friday matched the total number of goals the Avalanche has scored in five home games, four of them losses, and it doesn’t get any easier tonight.
   
The Flames have beaten the Avalanche six times in a row while scoring 28 goals, and the most recent meeting was a 4-2 victory in Calgary on Oct. 26.
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 2:56 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flames, Avalanche

Here are the projected lineups for the game Sunday night between the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center:

CALGARY

Curtis GlencrossOlli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Alex TanguayBrendan Morrison - Lee Stempniak
Rene BourqueRoman Horak - David Moss
Tom KostopoulosMatt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Cory Sarich
Scott HannanAnton Babchuk

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

COLORADO

Matt DuchenePaul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Gabriel LandeskogRyan O'ReillyDaniel Winnik
Joakim LindstromTJ GaliardiChuck Kobasew
Cody McLeodJay McClementKevin Porter

Jan HejdaErik Johnson
Shane O'BrienKyle Quincey
Ryan WilsonRyan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere serving as the backup.
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 1:20 PM

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

Salo, Burrows out but Rome could return for Canucks

CHICAGO – It will be a game-time decision, but it looks like Vancouver Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome might get back into the lineup after missing the first 14 games with a hand injury.

Rome participated in the morning skate Sunday at the United Center and Canucks coach Alain Vigneault didn’t rule out the possibility of him playing against the rival Chicago Blackhawks. If he plays, Vigneault might opt to put Rome on the second defense pairing with Alexander Edler and re-pair defensive stoppers Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa on the top pairing.

“We’ll see how he feels tonight and we’ll make that call tonight before the game,” Vigneault said of Rome. “We’ll see what we have (for pairings) if Aaron goes back in, but we need our whole group to play well. I thought in St. Louis (on Friday), for the most part it was one of our better defensive games. Against Chicago we’re going to have to be real strong without the puck and I’m confident that we can do that.”

The Canucks will be missing forward Alexandre Burrows and defenseman Sami Salo against the Hawks. Both are considered day-to-day and Vigneault doesn’t expect either to become a long-term absence.

Burrows is dealing with a recent back issue that flared up this past week and didn’t skate Sunday. Salo, who tried to skate, left the workout early and has missed two games with a groin injury.

“We’ll see how they feel in the next couple days,” Vigneault said. “If either one had been able to go, they would’ve went. It’s just both of them feel they’re not quite there, so we’ll see how they do this week.”
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 1:17 PM

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

Keith remains out for Blackhawks

CHICAGO – Duncan Keith will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury believed to be his hand, which was hit with a shot last week against the Nashville Predators.

Keith made the Hawks’ recent two-game road trip to Florida but didn’t play in either game despite practicing. The Hawks didn’t skate Sunday morning at the United Center, but did do some team stretching drills and Keith didn’t appear to be participating.

In his place most likely will be 40-year old defenseman Sean O’Donnell, who will be paired with 20-year old puck-mover Nick Leddy . The pairing of Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson is being used as the top pair in Keith’s absence, with O’Donnell and Leddy the second pair over the boards.

“[Keith’s] not going tonight,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’re looking for him on the next road trip.”

Chicago will hit the road for two games in St. Louis and Columbus this week before heading back to the United Center for a pair of games next weekend – which will lead into the annual “circus trip” that sends the Hawks to the West Coast and Western Canada.
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 12:48 PM

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

Projected lineups for Canucks, Blackhawks

Here's the projected lineup for the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks for their showdown Sunday night at United Center:

VANCOUVER

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
Cody Hodgson - Ryan Kesler - Chris Higgins
David Booth - Maxim Lapierre - Andrew Ebbett
Aaron Volpatti - Manny Malhotra - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Aaron Rome/Andrew Alberts - Alexander Edler
Keith Ballard - Alexander Sulzer

Roberto Luongo will start in goal for the Canucks and Cory Schneider will be his backup.

CHICAGO

Andrew Brunette - Jonathan Toews - Viktor Stalberg
Patrick Sharp - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Michael Frolik
Daniel Carcillo - Marcus Kruger - Jamal Mayers

Brent Seabrook - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sean O'Donnell - Nick Leddy
Steve Montador - Sami Lepisto

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the Blackhawks and Ray Emery will be his backup.
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 12:22 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lightning, Panthers battle for second in Southeast

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers have rarely been among the top team in the Eastern Conference at the same time, which has made it tough for the two geographical rivals to foster a significant rivalry on the ice.

It is possible that could change this season. Second place in the Southeast Division is on the line Sunday when the Lightning travel to BankAtlantic Center to face the Panthers. Both teams sit on 14 points, and the winner of this contest will be two shy of the Washington Capitals for first in the Southeast.

Only once in the two franchise’s young histories have both Florida-based clubs reached the postseason. The Panthers made a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996, while the Lightning were kicked out in the first round by Philadelphia. Since that season the Lightning have progressed – claiming the Cup in 2004 and reaching the conference finals last season. Florida has qualified for the playoffs only twice since that magical run and have not won a series.

The Panthers could be in the midst of a revival this season. General manager Dale Tallon made wholesale changes in the offseason, and Florida has been an improved team in the early stages. Even better, goaltender Jacob Markstrom looks like a future star, and Panthers fans eagerly await the arrival of potential franchise cornerstone Jonathan Huberdeau, who could help make the Panthers a more permanent fixture among postseason contenders.

One of the team’s new pickups, forward Tomas Fleischmann, has four goals and eight points in the past six games, and the Panthers are 3-1-2 in that span. He struggled mightily in the postseason for Washington in 2010 and missed several months with a blood clot problem, but Fleischmann has 32 points in 34 games for Colorado and Florida since leaving the Capitals.

Steven Stamkos dominated the NHL in the first half of last season, and he might just be getting warmed up to repeat the feat. Stamkos had a hat trick Friday night to help Tampa Bay defeat Chicago, and he now has nine goals – one behind Toronto’s Phil Kessel for the League lead.

The Lightning made “The Leap” into contention last season, but struggled at the start of this campaign. Tampa Bay lost five straight at one point, but the Lightning have now won five of seven and could climb has high as sixth in the East with a victory against the Panthers. 
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— Florida goalie Roberto Luongo after the Panthers defeated the Capitals in the longest shootout in NHL history on Tuesday
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