Stanley Cup Final
Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 7:57 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

STL @ CBJ - 19:59 of the first period

At 19:59 of the first period in the Blues/Blue Jackets game, video review was used to determine that James Wisniewski's shot crossed the goal line with one tenth of a second remaining in the period. Good goal Columbus.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 4:48 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Could Habs' Kostitsyn be available?

BROSSARD, Que. -- Losing Wednesday's game could put the Canadiens' playoff hopes to bed for good, and with the trade deadline looming Feb. 27 Montreal General Manager Pierre Gauthier may be inclined to declare himself a seller.

Among the potential assets Gauthier could move by the deadline, the names of Gill and injured forward Travis Moen have come up often because they both have Stanley Cup rings and both can be unrestricted free agents July 1.

Another possibility is Andrei Kostitsyn, who played a season-low 4:20 in Monday's 5-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. He had just one 40-second shift in the third period.

"We need more," Cunneyworth said of his decision to bench Kostitsyn. "For me, I saw a problem with turnovers. That was my main concern. It was three shifts, three turnovers that were painfully obvious. It comes down to managing the puck, and he's a veteran that should know better."

Kostitsyn, who turned 27 on Feb. 3, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. With 20 goals in three of the four previous season and decent size at 6-foot, 214 pounds, it's possible someone with his skill set could interest a playoff-bound team looking for someone to plug into their top six.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 4:43 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - At the Rink blog

Gomez, Ladouceur clash in Canadiens practice

BROSSARD, Que. -- The Montreal Canadiens' season to date has been one rife with frustration, and there was further evidence of that at practice Tuesday.

One day after blowing yet another third period lead in a 5-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, center Scott Gomez and Canadiens assistant coach Randy Ladouceur engaged in a very vocal and animated exchange over a drill that was not completed to the coach's liking.

The back and forth between the two continued for several minutes while the team was gathered along the boards to receive instructions on the next drill, and Gomez sought out Ladouceur later in practice to continue the discussion.

For a team that may have seen its dimming playoff hopes shut off for good with the loss to the Hurricanes, which left them 11th in the Eastern Conference seven points behind the eighth-place Maple Leafs, the shouting match appeared to reflect how many players on the team were feeling.

"It happens all the time. I screwed up on the drill. It just shows you how the fire's still there in all of us," Gomez said. "I screwed up on the drill and he let me know about it. It's not the first time, it's not the last time. It's a part of hockey. It happens all the time, and it just shows how crucial it is right now."

Though there clearly was some back and forth going on between the two, Gomez suggested he was doing more listening than talking.

"I wasn't going back, I was listening to him," Gomez said. "He's the coach. It was a conversation, there was no argument. It's a coach yelling at a player for messing up a drill. We're all in a position where we realize where we're at and your attitude's going to change a little bit, you're a little more on edge. I wish I could tell you there was more, but it was nothing."

It was not the first time Ladouceur has had a public discipline session with a player. Cameras caught him doing the same thing with defenseman P.K. Subban on the bench during a game in Pittsburgh on Jan. 20 after a turnover cost the Canadiens a shorthanded goal.

But this time it took place in front of the entire team, and the message sent was noticed by other players.

"It's the whole team," said veteran defenseman Hal Gill. "You're isolating it to one instance on the ice, but it's the whole team. The way things are going, everyone's got to be sharp. It's not one guy that wins games or one guy that loses games. We have to be sharper as a team."

Gomez played just 7:49 against Carolina, the lowest ice time he's had this season since he played just 2:40 Oct. 20 against Pittsburgh due to an upper-body injury.

Head coach Randy Cunneyworth said he fully supported Ladouceur's tone with Gomez, and refused to confirm Gomez would even play Wednesday at home against the Boston Bruins.

"We'll look at it; we'll look at everything at this time," Cunneyworth said when asked directly whether or not Gomez would play. "We're looking for the lineup that will play the right way and battle hard against a very good Boston Bruins team. That's all we’re looking for -- 20 guys that will do that."

The only lineup decision Cunneyworth would confirm for Wednesday's game was that Ryan White -- a hard-nosed, scrappy forward that fits perfectly into the style of game Cunneyworth is trying to sell -- will make his season debut after fully recovering from sports-hernia surgery.

White's insertion into the lineup means one forward who played Monday most likely will need to come out against Boston, and there's nothing saying it won't be Gomez or linemate Andrei Kostitsyn, who played just 4:20 Monday against the Hurricanes.

"We can't have one passenger, no matter who it is. There's a lot at stake here," Cunneyworth said. "If we don't play the right way, whether it's a top club or not, you're not going to achieve the goals you want. We have to have a great effort from everybody against a team like Boston, otherwise they'll embarrass you."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 4:41 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

McPhee negotiating tricky trade market

So this hasn't been the best of weeks for the Washington Capitals.

To recap: The No. 1 goaltender has the flu, the former No. 1 right wing is frustrated by being scratched and might want out, the No. 2 goaltender was surprised to learn two hours before a game that he was being replaced by the No. 3 goaltender, and the No. 1 defenseman and No. 1 center remain out with injuries.

Oh yeah, and the Capitals have lost three straight games and now are four points behind the Florida Panthers in the Southeast Division with four straight games coming up away from Verizon Center; they've lost 18 of 27 on the road this season.

Got all that?

The challenge for Capitals General Manager George McPhee is trying to figure out what to make of his club's current predicament, and if there is a way he can fix in the next two weeks.

One thing that is clear is that McPhee is trying to fix it, and not waiting around to see if and when injured defenseman Mike Green and center Nicklas Backstrom can or will return. CBC's Elliott Freidman wrote in his "30 Thoughts" column today that, "Apparently, no GM is burning up the phone lines more than George McPhee."

"I still think if we get our guys back and if we can add something here in the next couple of weeks we're good enough to win the Stanley Cup," McPhee said to John Feinstein of the Washington Post. "Then again, a lot of teams are looking to add something right now, too."

Added owner Ted Leonsis, on his Ted's Take blog: "Wish us speedy recovery to some of our players -- and hope we can add some jump via the trade markets during the next few weeks."

McPhee has a few potential roadblocks in the way of making a deal. One is what he already stated -- the market is full of buyers right now and not many sellers. Another is the status of Green and Backstrom. If both are back and healthy, it is great for the team but not for McPhee's ability to make a move -- Washington is already using the long-term injured reserve relief from Green and Tom Poti to stay below the salary cap.

Another issue is trying to determine what the Capitals need if Green and Backstrom are healthy. As McPhee pointed out to Feinstein, the team is 8-0-0 when everyone (sans Poti) is available.

The best way for McPhee to try and improve the team -- or at least shake up the roster and hope that sparks some improvement -- probably is to try and walk a delicate line of being a buyer and a seller as the deadline nears.

For the Capitals to add salary, McPhee is going to have to move some out (assuming Green and/or Backstrom can be ready before the end of the season). If Knuble wasn't an option to be traded before this week, he certainly might be now.

The 39-year-old right wing has three goals this season, and he's been a healthy scratch the past three games. He told reporters he hasn't gone to McPhee to request a trade, but that sounds like a plausible outcome if he doesn't start playing again soon.

"I don't know. I haven't thought that far ahead yet. I just kind of got through this weekend with three games in (five) nights -- just wanted to get through it and see what (would) happen," Knuble said to reporters. "Obviously we all saw what happened so it gets you thinking.

"If a player is not going to be used, or in the near future you don't have plans, then that player probably wouldn't want to be there. That's how we are in our League -- you want to go somewhere where you're going to play and contribute to your team and if you can't do it in one place, then you've got to go."

Knuble carries a $2 million cap hit. Another player in that price range who has not played a lot of hockey recently for the Capitals is defenseman Jeff Schultz. He's been a healthy scratch quite often since Dale Hunter became the coach, and his cap hit checks in at $2.75 million. Dealing Schultz would cut into Washington's depth on defense, but whether the team has seven NHL-caliber defensemen or nine won't matter if Washington doesn't qualify for the postseason.

A more radical move would be to deal Alexander Semin, who is on a one-year, $6.7 million contract. Semin has his warts even when he's producing at a high level, but he's been far from that this season. If McPhee could move him to a team willing to take the risk for more offense, he could then use the extra cap space to replace Semin and maybe address another need.

The final issue then becomes what future assets McPhee would be willing to trade to try and salvage the season. McPhee has proven to be a bit of a pack rat when it comes to young assets. He's yet to deal an impact prospect in a trade since this current group of players started making the playoffs consistently. The only young player with significant upside he has dealt was goaltender Semyon Varlamov -- and that was for an overwhelmingly great return and a player who easily was replaced.

Using those parameters, it is easy to take Evgeny Kuznetsov off the table, and probably rookie Dmitry Orlov, as well. Would McPhee part with Marcus Johansson in a deal for an established No. 2 center? How about goalie Braden Holtby, or forwards Cody Eakin or Stanislav Galiev? His history says no, but given how radically things have changed this season in Washington, it is plausible that he takes a different approach.

McPhee has proven to be someone who will make deals at the deadline, but this might be his trickiest two weeks to maneuver since the Capitals returned to prominence five years ago.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 3:10 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Stars want to avoid having record set at their expense

DETROIT -- The Dallas Stars have already lost once to the Detroit Red Wings during a record-tying 20-game win streak at Joe Louis Arena for the home team.

It happened on Nov. 12, when the Stars fell 5-2 to become the fourth team in a row to lose in this building since the Wings last lost here on Nov. 3 to Calgary. Heading into a rematch on Tuesday night, the Stars don't want to become the fifth team during the streak to lose multiple games at "The Joe."

"You don't want to be in the history books as the team that gave them the record at home," Stars forward Adam Burish said after Dallas' morning skate on Tuesday. "There's always motivation at this point of the season to win games and get a playoff spot, but there's a little extra tonight just to not be that team that will be all over TV losing that game to Detroit."

Teammate Steve Ott agreed.

"The love is in the air … it's Valentine's Day," Ott said. "They have a chance to do something very special over there, and we have a chance to knock them off. For us, it probably amps up the game a little more. In an 82-game regular season, it's more of a playoff-type format. You definitely don't want to be in the record books for the wrong reason, being the team associated with the streak they've had. Hopefully, we can be spoilers and put this [to] an end."

However, the Stars should be careful to guard against Detroit's impressive streak creeping too far into their heads in a negative way -- which could've happened to several teams here during the streak, especially of late.

Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said it's a trick balancing act when it comes to addressing the streak itself.

"It's probably gotten into a few teams' heads coming in here over the last week or so," he said. "The focus has to be on your own game, and that's what we tried to do this morning -- focus on what we need to do to make us successful in this game."

That includes everything from warm-ups before the game to the pre-game speech before they take the ice.

"You just have to try to keep the players focused on themselves, not the opposition," Gulutzan said.

Or as Ott put it: "Your own marbles sometimes get the best of you."

"You come in here and you look up in the rafters and you see the heritage, the presence that the organization has," Ott said. "For us, we have to take away the nostalgia and play them the same way we'd play anybody else. Hopefully, we can take that kind of attitude and get those cobwebs out of thinking how good they are at home out of our heads."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 3:10 PM

By Pete Jensen - Staff Writer / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: MacDonald making a case for time

As the Detroit Red Wings look to make history Tuesday against the Dallas Stars, goaltender Joey MacDonald will try to keep the ball rolling from a personal standpoint.

The 32-year-old netminder has posted a 3-1-1 record and is unbeaten at home this season as the Wings seek their 21st consecutive win at Joe Louis Arena -- which would set a new League record. MacDonald is expected to get the nod again over Ty Conklin, who had served as Detroit's backup all season long to Jimmy Howard prior to his injury.

Howard, who still leads the NHL with 32 wins, could be back in the crease as soon as this weekend after suffering a broken finger on Feb. 2 against the Vancouver Canucks. But despite this news, it's still hard to ignore MacDonald's stock in the Motor City -- which is rising by the day.

Joey MacDonald is making a case for more playing time with a three-game win streak at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo: Getty Images)
MacDonald has allowed two goals or less in three of his four starts since being recalled from the Wings' AHL affiliate earlier this month, while posting a 1.87 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage. When Howard returns to the lineup, he obviously warrants the bulk of the playing time. But with the twists and turns that come over the course of the NHL season, it is highly unlikely that MacDonald's performance in big spots over the last few games will be forgotten. Regardless of whether or not MacDonald will be reassigned when Howard returns, he has kept the Wings' streak going and made quite the impression on his teammates, coaching staff and the rest of the hockey world.

In the meantime, MacDonald is only owned in 18 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, so he remains a valuable commodity with games on tap for Detroit against Dallas, Nashville and San Jose to round out the fantasy week. If Howard decides not to rush back into the lineup or if he takes some time to get back to game speed, MacDonald could stick around after outperforming Conklin by a landslide since the call-up.

This journeyman goaltender has stepped into the fire during a historic win streak, absorbed the pressure and delivered results. For those reasons, as long as he's on the roster at the NHL level, he can be relied upon from a fantasy perspective.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 3:00 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Ankle injury lands Gunnarsson on injured reserve

CALGARY -- The news isn't as bad as coach Ron Wilson feared, but that doesn't mean the Toronto Maple Leafs will have the services of defenseman Carl Gunnarsson against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.

Expected out for about a week, Gunnarsson was placed on injured reserve.

"He's got a slightly sprained ankle," Wilson said. "We figure he'll miss about a week, so we put him on IR. It's not bad, it's not a high ankle sprain like we feared. It's in the lower part of his foot. Today he feels much better, so we brought up Keith Aulie as a recall while he recuperates."

Aulie was summoned from the Toronto Marlies, but it is expected that Mike Komisarek will draw into the lineup. Komisarek has been scratched for Toronto's last six games.

"We're fortunate that we have a player like Mike, and hopefully he can shake off the rust because he hasn't played in a couple weeks and get the job done for us," Wilson said.

Komisarek will be playing in front of Jonas Gustavsson, who came on in relief of James Reimer in the Maple Leafs 5-0 defeat at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens Saturday. After three straight losses, Gustavsson is hoping he can put Toronto back in the win column.

"We lost a few in a row here and we need to get back to winning, and the sooner we can do that the better," he said.

Wilson said he only needs one thing out of his starting goaltender.

"Saves, simple as that," Wilson said. "That's what I expect. Any coach will tell you that is what you need. You need saves, timely saves, a save or two that can rob the other team and can build confidence for your team."

Here is the projected lineup for the Maple Leafs:

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Tim Connolly
Nikolai Kulemin - Matthew Lombardi - Joey Crabb
Mike Brown - David Steckel - Darryl Boyce

Dion Phaneuf - Jake Gardiner
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Luke Schenn - Mike Komisarek

Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 2:56 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Critical stretch for Jets begins Tuesday night

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel stops just short of terming this week as the make-or-break point of his club's schedule.

"I don't like to put it in those terms, 'make-or-break,' because it is black-and-white," Noel said after the Jets' morning skate, "but I think we know where we stand."

The Jets (26-25-6) begin a busy week at home tonight at against the New York Islanders simultaneously trying to catch the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead and the Toronto Maple Leafs for eighth place in the Eastern Conference while fending off the likes of the Islanders, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning attempting to overtake the Jets.

Tonight's meeting with the Islanders begins a stretch of nine of 10 games at the MTS Centre for the Jets, who will visit Minnesota on Thursday night before settling in Winnipeg until well into March.

"It's going to be an important time," Noel said. "If we can duplicate the month of December, we might help ourselves a bit."

Winnipeg has won two of its last three games to remain within striking distance in the Eastern Conference hunt, but an 8-5 loss at Pittsburgh this past Saturday afternoon left Noel exasperated. One of the casualties of Saturday's performance was center Nik Antropov, whom Noel has demoted to the fourth line. Antropov has gone nine games without a goal and struggled defensively against the Penguins. Alexander Burmistrov will take Antropov's spot on the Jets' second line with Evander Kane and Kyle Wellwood.

Ondrej Pavelec will start in net for the Jets.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Winnipeg:

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Tim Stapleton - Nik Antropov - Antti Miettinen

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Zach Bogosian
Johnny Oduya - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 2:49 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Islanders trying to hang on at edge of playoff race

WINNIPEG -- If the New York Islanders are not within striking distance of a playoff spot, they are at least hovering closely enough to the playoff line and making sure that meaningful games are a part of the second half of their season.

Having held a record above .500 after Feb. 1 for the first time since the 2007-08 season, the Islanders (now 23-24-8) have gone 10-7-2 since New Year's Day to creep to within eight points of the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference chase. Holding a game in hand on the Leafs, the Islanders begin a critical week tonight in Winnipeg before journeying to St. Louis for a Thursday date with the Blues. The Islanders have earned points in six of their last eight games and return to a building where they took a 3-2 shootout win against the Jets on Dec. 20.

"We have a chance to gain ground," leading scorer John Tavares said after the Islanders' morning skate at the MTS Centre.

Michael Grabner and his Islanders teammates expect a tough test against the Jets, who are engaged in their own playoff race.

"They're going to come out hard," Grabner said of the Jets. "Everybody needs the points right now."

Evgeni Nabokov, who is 7-3-0 in his past 10 games, is expected to start for the Islanders.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Islanders:

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Matt Martin - Josh Bailey - Nino Niederreiter
Jay Pandolfo - Tim Wallace - Brian Rolston

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina
Aaron Ness - Andrew MacDonald

Evgeni Nabokov
Al Montoya
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 2:46 PM

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

Report: Boychuk, Bruins agree on extension

TSN is reporting the Boston Bruins and defenseman Johnny Boychuk have agreed to a three-year contract extension with an average annual value of $3.36 million.

Boychuk, 28, has three goals and seven assists in 52 games. The three goals tie his career high from last season, and he's in range for matching the 16 points he had in 69 games last season.

He's is fourth on the team with a plus-23 rating while averaging the third-most ice time per game at 20:30. He's also second on the team with 92 blocked shots and fourth in hits with 93.

Now in his fifth NHL season -- fourth with the Bruins -- Boychuk has 11 goals and 30 assists in 177 games.

Boychuk, who is in the second year of a deal that saw him make $2 million this season, would have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

I'm here to develop a winning culture and a winning team. There is a bright future ahead of this team.  A lot of young, great hockey players here and on the way … a fan base that's passionate about the game of hockey.

— Dan Bylsma after being introduced as new coach of the Buffalo Sabres