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Posted On Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 1:20 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Gudbranson hopes to stick in South Florida

SUNRISE, Fla. — Erik Gudbranson will be playing his third game at the BankAtlantic Center Saturday night when the Florida Panthers take on the New York Islanders. The third pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft is hoping it won't be his last this season.

The Panthers will have to decide after their ninth game whether to return Gudbranson to his Ontario Hockey League team in Kingston or keep him in the NHL, which would move him a year closer toward free agency.

Tonight will be Florida's seventh game, and its next two will be the road — Monday at Montreal and Thursday at Ottawa, which happens to be Gudbranson's hometown.

"I think you just go back to keeping it simple and looking at it as a team game," Gudbranson said after Saturday's morning skate. "For the next three games, this is my team and hopefully I get the 10th game in. That's obviously in the back of my mind, but never when I'm playing and never when I'm with the guys."

In his first six NHL games, Gudbranson has yet to record a point. He's averaging 12:39 of ice time and is tied for the worst plus-minus ratio among Panthers defensemen with Brian Campbell at minus-4.

Gudbranson has had 24 penalty minutes, which includes fights against Steve Downie and Ryan Malone in games against Tampa Bay Saturday and Monday, respectively.

Along with the physical aspect, Gudbranson has shown crisp passing from the back end as well as an impressive slap shot.

"I like his game, I like what he's brought," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "He still shows his youth at times. I think that doesn't surprise anybody that he can go out there and just bring so much enthusiasm that sometimes that youth gets him in positions he doesn't want to be in. But the overall picture is he's off to a good start to his NHL career."

After failing to reach agreement on an entry-level contract last summer, Gudbranson spent all of the 2010-11 season in the OHL. If he does go back to Kingston, Gudbranson again will get to play with his younger brother Alex, who is also a defenseman.

The Frontenacs sure could use Erik Gudbranson, considering a 4-0 loss to Brampton Friday night dropped them to 1-11 on the season.

But Gudbranson clearly wants to stay in the NHL, and he feels he belongs there.

"In my mind, I do, and that's not only just for the 10th-game mark," Gudbranson said. "You have to think that when you're playing on the ice. You have to believe that you're in the right place and that you're making a difference on the ice.

"I've been happy (with my performance). I've been trying to get better every single game. I think that's the biggest thing, working on your gaps, on your stick, really adjusting to the speed. I'm trying to pick up as much as I can, game in, game out, and be a better player the next day."
Posted On Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 1:19 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kiprusoff expected to be back for Flames

Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to return to the crease as the Calgary Flames take on the Nashville Predators in a Saturday matinee.

Kiprusoff, who the Flames are hoping to give a lighter workload to this season, watched his club gave up a goal with 1.4 seconds left in overtime to fall 3-2 to the New York Rangers on Thursday.

The Predators, meanwhile, will have the services of defenseman Shea Weber against Calgary. Weber was fined $2,500, but not suspended, by NHL Vice-president of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan for an illegal hit on Jannik Hansen of the Vancouver Canucks.

Here are the projected lineups:

Calgary Flames

Alex TanguayDavid MossJarome Iginla
Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenLee Stempniak
Niklas HagmanBrendan MorrisonRene Bourque
Tom KostopoulosMatt StajanTim Jackman

Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
Cory SarichDerek Smith

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson

Nashville Predators

Colin WilsonDavid LegwandMatt Halischuk
Sergei KostitsynNick SpalingCraig Smith
Jordin TootooJerred SmithsonBrian McGrattan
Patric HornqvistBlake GeoffrionNiclas Bergfors

Ryan SuterShea Weber
Jonathon BlumKevin Klein
Jack HillenTeemu Laakso

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
Posted On Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 1:01 PM

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

Thornton happy for Boston after Cup win

BOSTON – Joe Thornton is back in Boston to face the Bruins.

The perennial All-Star has been back many times since he was dealt to San Jose in November 2005, but this time things are a little different because for the first time in 39 years the Bruins are the defending Stanley Cup champions.

"I enjoy it. I still have quite a few friends here and we usually get to stay the night, so it's nice," said Thornton about being back where he was drafted in 1997 and played his first seven NHL seasons. "I always love coming back. It's a great sports town and I have a lot of fond memories here."

Although most of the names and faces in black and gold have changed since Thornton's days on Causeway Street, he said he still keeps in touch with the training staff. And once he and the Sharks were knocked out of the playoffs by Vancouver in the Western Conference Final, Thornton said he backed the Eastern Conference representative while watching the Stanley Cup Final.

"I was actually cheering for them in the finals. You know after losing to Chicago [in 2010] and Chicago hoisting it up, and it would've been hard seeing Vancouver hoisting it," Thornton said. "So I was cheering for them and I've still got a lot of friends over there. So I was happy for them."

Thornton reached 1,000 NHL games played Friday night in New Jersey, and also scored his first goal against the Devils. Although he's a veteran, it wasn't that long ago that he was a teenager who was projected to be the player that would bring the Cup back to Boston. However, he says he never reflected on Boston's triumph that way.

"It's so long ago, you're just so consumed with what you've got to do in San Jose, there's no ‘what ifs,'" he said.
Posted On Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 12:45 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Rolston out for Islanders, projected lineups

SUNRISE, Fla. — Veteran forward Brian Rolston will miss the Islanders' game at Florida Saturday night after he flew home to be with his wife as she prepared to give birth.

Rolston, an alternate captain in his first season with the Isles, had no goals and two assists in the team's first five games.

In Rolston's place, Matt Martin is expected to skate on the third line with Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau, who will be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last two games.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are likely to have veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski back in the lineup after he missed Thursday night's game against Buffalo because of a hip injury.

Jovanovski took part in the morning skate, as did wing Shawn Matthias, who missed the Buffalo game because of flu symptoms. Matthias should be in the lineup Saturday night.

Forward Sean Bergenheim, however, will miss his third consecutive game because of a lower-body injury. Coach Kevin Dineen said it was even possible Bergenheim could be left behind when the Panthers go on a three-game trip that begins at Montreal on Monday.

Projected lineups

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Matt Moulson - John TavaresPA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Blake Comeau - Josh Bailey - Matt Martin
Trevor Gillies-Marty Reasoner-Jay Pandolfo

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Mike Mottau

Evgeni Nabokov
Al Montoya

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
David Booth - Tomas Kopecky - Tim Kennedy
Scottie Upshall - Marcel Goc - Jack Skille
Shawn Matthias - Ryan Carter - Matt Bradley

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

Jose Theodore
Jacob Markstrom
Posted On Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 12:30 PM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Senators, Blue Jackets

Here are the projected lineups for Saturday night's game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. The Senators held a full practice, while the Blue Jackets elected not to skate, after coming off a 5-2 loss Friday night to the Red Wings in Detroit.

SENATORS

Milan MichalekJason SpezzaColin Greening
Nick FolignoMika ZibanejadDaniel Alfredsson
Erik CondraZack SmithChris Neil
Jesse WinchesterStephane Da CostaZenon Konopka

Jared CowenSergei Gonchar
Chris PhillipsDavid Rundblad
Erik KarlssonFilip Kuba

Craig Anderson gets the start, with Alex Auld serving as backup.

Peter Regin remains out of the lineup with an injured shoulder. He has been evaluated but results have yet to come in – they are expected to be announced tomorrow or Monday. Zenon Konopka returns to the lineup, and Brian Lee remains a healthy scratch. Both Bobby Butler (groin) and Matt Carkner (knee) skated with the team, but there is no timetable on their respective returns.

BLUE JACKETS

Rick NashDerick BrassardR.J. Umberger
Vinny ProspalAntoine VermetteAlexandre Giroux
Maksim MayorovSamuel PahlssonDerek Dorsett
Cody BassDerek MacKenzieRyan Johansen

Fedor TyutinRadek Martinek
Grant Clitsome – Mark Methot
Kris RussellAaron Johnson

Steve Mason is expected to get the start, with Allen York serving as backup. York was called up from Springfield on Thursday after an upper-body injury to Curtis Sanford in practice.

Radek Martinek was hit by Darren Helm during Friday's game against Detroit, and may have suffered a concussion. He is being re-evaluated today. There has yet to be a call-up from Springfield at the time of this post.
Posted On Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 12:20 PM

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

Sharks hope for more momentum after snapping skid

BOSTON – Despite getting in late after winning a shootout in New Jersey last night, the San Jose Sharks showed up at TD Garden this morning for an optional skate.

Some players took the ice, while others opted for an off-ice workout. To a man, however, the players were all in a better frame of mind since the Sharks snapped a three-game losing streak.
   
"A win makes you feel a little better than a loss. It doesn't matter how you get it, where you get it," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan, whose team takes on the Boston Bruins tonight. "Guys feel a little bit better about themselves. The fact that we were able to stick with it an come back is rewarding as well. But the task ahead of us just gets tougher tonight. We know, obviously, how strong this team is, how well they play at home and we'll have our hands full."
   
The Sharks' win against the Devils came with a cost, as forward Torrey Mitchell was injured in the first period. McLellan ruled the winger out for tonight with an upper-body injury. Andrew Desjardins, a healthy scratch in New Jersey, is the top candidate to fill Mitchell's spot.
   
The Sharks might also feature a change on defense, as Justin Braun was recalled from the Worcester (AHL) farm club.
   
"There are a couple of D-men who have struggled in our opinion the first two games. And we'll give [Braun] an opportunity to win a job," said McLellan, who also noted that Braun was cut after a strong training camp because of the Sharks' depth not his performance.

Here is the Sharks' projected lineup:

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryan Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
Andrew Desjardins - Michal Handzus - Benn Ferriero
Jamie McGinn - Andrew Murray - Brad Winchester

Douglas Murray - Dan Boyle
Marc-Edourard Vlasic - Brent Burns
Colin White/Justin Demers - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss
Posted On Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 12:13 PM

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

Bruins search for consistency, projected lineup

BOSTON -- The Bruins held an optional skate this morning in preparation for their game tonight with San Jose at TD Garden.
   
Considering their new line combinations produced six goals Thursday night in a win against Toronto, expect the Bruins to stick with what is working. The Bruins will also look for another strong start.

"Consistency is what we're looking for right now. We talked about that yesterday in practice and how we've got to kind of come in every day and try to focus on the right things and tonight's a good test for us," said head coach Claude Julien. "This is a team that plays well in this building, they have in the past, they've always given us good games and this is going to be a good challenge for us. So if we plan on building some consistency in our play, I think tonight's a good night to show that."
   
Adam McQuaid, who has been out with a neck injury for a week, skated but stayed on the ice longer than the rest of his teammates. Julien said he is still waiting for the doctors to tell him McQuaid is an option to play. McQuaid said he's feeling better.

Here's the Bruins' projected lineup:

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

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Steven Kampfer

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask
Posted On Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 12:01 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Still no Malkin for Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- Star center Evgeni Malkin will miss a fifth consecutive game Saturday night when the Pittsburgh Penguins take on division rival New Jersey at Consol Energy Center.
 
Malkin, bothered by soreness in his surgically repaired right knee, went through a full practice Friday -- creating optimism he might be ready to return. But after Malkin went through the morning skate -- during which he and Sidney Crosby manned the points on the power point during one drill -- coach Dan Bylsma ruled him out.
 
Malkin hasn't played since getting two assists during Pittsburgh's 3-2 overtime loss to Washington on Oct. 13. He has a goal and 3 assists in three games but, if he sits out the Devils' game, will have missed seven of Pittsburgh's first 10 games.
 
Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy (concussion) will be out for a fourth consecutive game. He must be symptom-free before he can return, and Bylsma has not speculated when that might be.
 
The Penguins, the NHL's most active team this season, are 5-2-2 and have earned at least a point in all but two of nine games. They will be playing their fourth game in six nights. New Jersey is 3-1-1 following a 4-3 shootout loss Friday to San Jose, which scored the tying goal in the final minute of regulation.
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