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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 5:44 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Tanev happy to be back in the fold with Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Welcome back to the NHL, Christopher Tanev.

Enjoy the bag skate.

OK, so the Canucks' hour-long practice on Thursday wasn't quite that bad, but after apathetic starts led to two-straight losses that were followed by a day off, there was a lot of hard, conditioning skating and battle drills when the players returned to the rink.

None of which was enough to wipe the smile off Tanev's face, not after being called up from Chicago of the American Hockey League the night before and dropped into a top-four pairing with All-Star Game-bound Alexander Edler.

"Got in last night for a tough practice today, but happy to be here," Tanev said with a sheepish grin.

It's a phrase Tanev repeated several times during a five-minute session with the media. The 22-year-old also admitted he was "a little" surprised to get called up to a Canucks team already carrying seven healthy defensemen. But with Sami Salo still out because of a concussion after a low hit Jan. 7 from Boston's Brad Marchand, they are short on defenders comfortable playing the right side -- hence the recall of the right-shot Tanev.

The inability to replace Salo on the right side of a second pairing with Edler has been a big part of the sloppy defensive zone coverage and turnovers in transition, leading to lopsided shot totals and grade-A scoring chances against.

"We felt bringing up a right-handed defensemen at this time would help our puck-moving ability," coach Alain Vigneault said. "A lot of times, left-handed defensemen on the right side, it's tough to see the opening, the cross-ice seams, because you gotta turn and move. Some guys are comfortable doing it. Some guys have played the off side all their lives. Right now we're having trouble with our puck movement."

The departed Christian Ehrhoff was a left-shot defensemen comfortable on the right side. But neither Keith Ballard nor Aaron Rome looked good on the right side of Edler, and Tanev played well enough on that side on a third pairing as a rookie last season to deserve a look.

"We need to get a little bit better chemistry there," Vigneault said. "I'm looking for a little better stability with the puck. … Chris is a solid puck mover with a lot of confidence and makes really good reads."

Tanev was just two years removed from tier-2 junior, and coming off one season of college hockey at the Rochester Institute of Technology when the Canucks signed him as a free agent in the summer of 2010. But he impressed enough in 29 regular season games last year to earn five more in the playoffs, including three in the Stanley Cup Final, demonstrating so much poise and patience with the puck that fellow defenseman Kevin Bieksa once quipped that he could "play the game with a cigarette in his mouth."

Tanev struggled in three games to start this season, though, and with eight other NHL-proven defenders on the roster -- and a contract and games-played status that made him the only one that didn't require waivers -- was sent to the AHL to get more playing time and continue developing.

"I was a little disappointed, but you move on fairly quickly when you gotta play hockey the next day," said Tanev, who got hurt his first game with Chicago and missed a month. "Obviously I wanted to stay, but I'm happy to be here now and trying to take advantage of this opportunity."

Tanev has just a single assist in 32 NHL games, and had 12 assists but no goals in 25 AHL games this season despite increased special teams opportunities, so he won't replace Salo's 100-mile-an-hour point shot on the first unit power play. But he's also yet to take a penalty in the NHL, and has just 22 minutes in two AHL seasons, so Tanev may have the best chance to mimic the veteran's calm, steadying influence.

"Try to make smart plays and be a smart player and move the puck," Tanev said. "It's definitely more comfortable than last year. I'm not going to try and force things. There are enough guys in this room that know how to score. But if opportunity is there I want to contribute in that way.”

That opportunity may only exist for the two remaining games before the All-Star break, as Salo skated on his own for a second straight day Thursday. But if Tanev can help get the puck out of Vancouver's end as easily as he did late last season, there will be plenty more chances to impress, likely even this season and into the playoffs.

"One of our strongest assets is our transition, defense to offense," Vigneault said.

It's one of Tanev's strengths, too.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 4:36 PM

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

Grigorenko could return to lineup on Tuesday

Top draft prospect Mikhail Grigorenko, who has missed the last four games for the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League while recuperating from an ankle injury suffered at the 2012 World Junior Championship, is expected to make his anticipated return on Tuesday.

Remparts head coach Patrick Roy told local reporters that Grigorenko, who is ranked No. 2 among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting's midterm report, "seems fine."

"The goal has always been that he'll make his comeback [Jan. 24] in Chicoutimi," Roy said. Quebec has two more games on the schedule before meeting the Sagueneens on Jan. 24.

Grigorenko suffered his injury playing for silver medal-winning Team Russia at the WJC. During the second period of an eventual 14-0 victory over Latvia in the preliminary round, Grigorenko collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija at the Russian blueline -- sending him to the ice in pain. He'd miss one game and finish the tournament with 2 goals, 5 points and a plus-2 rating in six appearances.

Despite not playing a period of hockey for the Remparts upon returning from the WJC, Grigorenko still stands 11th in scoring in the league with 58 points (25 goals) in 36 games.

Once he returns to the lineup, the 6-foot-3 1/4, 200-pound center will certainly command the attention of NHL scouts and general managers.

According to NHL Director of Central Scouting, Dan Marr, Grigorenko is not too far behind No. 1-ranked Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting in terms of natural talent. At the time of Central Scouting's midterm release, Marr told that Yakupov and Grigorenko were 1-A and 1-B in his mind.

"Right now, Yakupov has shown, with the level that he's played, that he does have the ability to make a difference in the game," Marr told at the time. "That's not saying that Grigorenko doesn't make a difference. Grigorenko controls the play, can dictate how the game is played when he's on the ice. But, right now, the consensus was Yakupov has the potential to be a difference-maker in a game. He can just turn a game around in a couple of shifts; he's that dynamic a player."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 4:16 PM

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

Concussion recovery 'day-to-day' for Pronger

Chris Pronger was one player notably absent from Wednesday's Flyers Wives Fashion Show in Philadelphia.

Pronger's wife, Lauren, hosted the event and told Comcast SportsNet that "it was not a good day" for the All-Star defenseman, who is recovering from serious post-concussion syndrome that will sideline him for the remainder of the season and the playoffs.

Pronger initially was injured Oct. 24 against the Toronto Maple Leafs when he was hit in the eye by the stick of the Leafs' Mikhail Grabovski. Pronger missed two weeks and played just five more games due to what the team called an illness. He last played Nov. 19 in Winnipeg, and was shut down for the season Dec. 15 after consulting with two Pittsburgh-based concussion experts, Dr. Joseph Maroon and Dr. Michael "Micky" Collins.

"It's a tough go at home," Lauren Pronger said. "We're going day-to-day right now -- good days, bad days. It's been a lot of trauma going on. We're just praying right now. He's battling. He wants to be out there more than anybody. It's tough for all of us to watch him go through this."

The only words out of Chris Pronger since being shut down for the season came Jan. 14, when he released a short statement through the Flyers: "It is very, very tough right now. I don't feel well and it hurts so much not to be playing."

Lauren said the family's three children have been affected by Chris' injury, as well.

"They're confused all the time," she said, "'Dad, when can we go to a game? Dad, when can you play?' And he looks at them and says please don't ask that question. I want to get out there and play, too."

Lauren added the last month has been a major change for her, as well.

"It's been an adjustment for all of us," she said. "He's around a lot more -- I'm not used to that. I do as much as I can to support him. I want to see him better."

She said she had hoped Chris would be able to attend the fashion show, which raised money for Comcast-Spectacor Charities, a list that included the Police Athletic League, PAWS, the Ronald McDonald House and Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

"It was not a good day today, he's not here tonight," she said. "Breaks his heart, breaks my heart. We're hoping for a better day tomorrow, and at least a couple good days in a row would be nice."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 4:14 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Red Wings, Coyotes

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Phoenix Coyotes welcome in the Detroit Red Wings to Arena:

Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Danny Cleary
Cory Emmerton - Justin Abdelkader - Tomas Holmstrom
Nicklas LidstromIan White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl
Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin

Emmerton and Kindl are back in the lineup, replacing Jan Mursak and Mike Commodore. Howard leads the NHL with 27 wins and has a 1.98 goals-against average, and he's 6-0-1 with a 2.24 GAA in his last seven road starts against the Coyotes. He's won six straight starts overall versus Phoenix.

The Red Wings are 14-2-2 in Phoenix since the start of 2005-06 season.
Ray Whitney - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - Radim Vrbata
Taylor Pyatt - Marc-Antoine Pouliot - Mikkel Boedker
Raffi Torres - Kyle Chipchura - Gilbert Brule
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Rostislav Klesla
Michal Rozsival - Chris Summers
Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

The Coyotes are 9-8-3 at home this season, but have won their last two home games by a combined score of 11-2.

Martin Hanzal, who has missed the last 12 games with a lower body injury, participated in an optional morning skate on Thursday (the Coyotes played Wednesday night in Anaheim) and is a game-time decision for tonight. His return would result in the juggling of at least three and possibly four lines.
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 3:58 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Sutter guiding Kings through demanding stretch

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- One of the challenges Darryl Sutter has had to re-learn in his latest coaching stint is managing the schedule.

Since he took over the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 20, Sutter has repeatedly talked about working through the back-to-back sequences and travel demands of a West Coast team.

Sutter is quite familiar with it from his tenure as San Jose coach, and this run up to the All-Star break is getting busy. Thursday's game against the Calgary Flames comes after three games in four nights on the road, and tonight will start a stretch of three games in five nights for Kings.

"I told the guys when I came in, 'I'm going to give you every break physically. You guys got to be with me on the brain part,'" Sutter said.

"That's kind of how you got to look at it. Successful teams, that's what they have to trust their training and what they do for 12 months, not what they do the day before the game or the day after a game. You have to set your team up so that when you start training in the first of July to get prepared for back-to-backs and travel."

Sutter is aware of the team's six-game road trip in February, which includes back-to-back games at the New York Islanders and Dallas Stars.

"They aren't machines," said Sutter, who held an off-ice workout Wednesday and saw full attendance at Thursday's morning skate.

"You have to learn as a staff and as an organization how to manage it properly, because it can affect making the playoffs, not making the playoffs, home ice ... the old way of beating players up after you lost a game the next day, it serves zero purpose. It's way different."

Sutter vs. Sutter, part II: This will be the second meeting in six days between Darryl Sutter and brother Brent, who coaches Calgary.

There isn't as much media focus on the brothers this time around, and Darryl predictably said, "It wasn't very hard last time … We're used to it."

L.A. scored a 4-1 win last Saturday in Mike Cammalleri's first game back with the Flames. Darryl said Cammalleri isn't the only player to worry about.

"They've still got their goaltender and they've got an awesome defense and they really get up the middle," he said. "I'm not really worried the individuals more than positions."

Sutter on warm-up procedures:
Sutter delivered the line of the day when asked about the Taylor Hall incident and talk of players wearing helmets during warm-ups.

"If they wear wigs and sunglasses, I don't care," Sutter said. "It doesn't bother me one way or the other. It's an isolated, once-a-year (incident)."

Sutter, who had to wear a facemask on his helmet because of a facial injury as a player with Chicago, felt strongly about players' freedom not to wear a helmet in warm-ups.

"I still like the players having an identity," he said. "I think that's important in the game, and I think it's important that they grandfather the (face) shields in because the kids grow up with the shields and it's hard to imagine them taking it off. I still think that identity and the people seeing the player, I still think that's something there to it. I like that."

Sutter added that the facemask he wore was rather primitive.

"I got a football (cage) from Mike Ditka, from the (Chicago) Bears," Sutter said. "That was before the plexiglass and all that stuff, so I was either going to get Joe Girardi's catching mask or something from the Bears."

Nicholls helping power play:
Former King Bernie Nicholls has been working with the team as a consultant, particularly on the power play, and the results are tangible.

The Kings are 6-for-19 on the power play in the past five games.

"His experience helps," Jarret Stoll said. "He's seeing different things up there. It looks a lot different up there than it does down on the ice. He's letting us know what he sees, what he thinks is open, if we're not moving the puck quick enough, if we're not shooting when we should. Just little simple things, which make sense."
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 3:56 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flames, Kings

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Los Angeles Kings host the Calgary Flames at Staples Center:

Mike Cammalleri - Mikael Backlund - Jarome Iginla
Blake Comeau - Olli Jokinen - Tim Jackman
Tom Kostopoulos - Blair Jones - Lee Stempniak
Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan

Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
Cory Sarich - TJ Brodie
Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving


Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jarret Stoll
Brad Richardson - Andrei Loktionov - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Trent Hunter

Drew Doughty - Rob Scuderi
Jack Johnson - Matt Greene
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 3:12 PM

By Sergei J. Feldman - Staff Writer / - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Hawks' Shaw, Hayes making impact

Move over Jonathan Toews, and take Patrick Kane with you.

There's a new tandem in town.

They go by the name of Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes, two Chicago Blackhawks rookies who have done nothing but impress since being penciled in on the NHL roster.

The surprisingly dynamic duo has combined for nine goals, four assists and 13 points in 18 games, and both have shown a propensity to participate in the more physical elements of the game, as Shaw dropped the gloves in his first game, while Hayes has amassed six PIMs in his brief stint. Couple those hard-to-find attributes with an obvious scoring touch and knack for creativity and you've got yourself a complete NHL package.

Success at the highest level wasn't written in stone for the two youngsters, as both were selected outside the first round (Hayes, 60th overall; Shaw, 139th overall). Nowadays, both players are riding their dark horses to a photo finish of marvelous play.

In the case of Shaw (5 goals, 6 points, 7 PIMs, plus-1, 19 shots), it doesn't hurt to be playing alongside Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger in place of the injured Patrick Sharp. Shaw is currently riding a four-game goal and point-scoring streak and is recently coming off a multi-point night against Buffalo. His numbers so far are staggering, especially when compared with modest AHL outputs. In 33 games with the Rockford IceHogs, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound 20-year-old scored 12 goals and collected 21 points.

With the way he's dazzling night in, night out, it shouldn't be a surprise to see Shaw's ownership in standard Yahoo! Leagues to go up from his current three percent.

Hayes (4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points, 6 PIMs, 16 shots), meanwhile, has points in three of his past four games, including two multi-point nights. He's getting no fewer than 16 shifts a night in his past seven games and is making the most of his opportunities.

Owned in one percent of standard Yahoo! Leagues, Hayes could be a nice addition to any roster, especially as the Blackhawks continue a strong 2011-12 campaign.

Continue to follow the unlikely story, but don't be left behind by other more active fantasy owners, as the chance to jump at both could no longer be available in short order.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 2:56 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Steen still not ready for Blues

ST. LOUIS -- For the second time in a week, the St. Louis Blues were anticipating the return of winger Alex Steen to the lineup.

And for the second time, it's been determined that Steen (concussion-related symptoms) is not quite ready to return.

Steen will miss his 10th consecutive game when the Blues (27-12-6) entertain the Edmonton Oilers (17-24-4) at 7 p.m. Thursday (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM). Steen continues to skate, and even took part in a full-scale workout Wednesday at St. Louis Mills, determining himself to be "close." But after Thursday's morning skate, the Blues said he's not at 100 percent.

"Steen's not 100 percent and he's not coming in until he's 100 percent, so the next update we'll give you which ... who knows, will be when he's in," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's a very similar situation with Andy (McDonald). He's not 100, so he's not playing.

"He's had good days, but until he's 100 (percent) with that injury, we're not taking any chances. ... He's participating in everything, but this is 100 percent physically, 100 percent mentally and if it's 95 or 99, we're not taking any chances. We want this to be 100 percent, so if it's on a conditioning side where we're concerned with where there's kind of soreness the next day or he's missed a time and hit the wall, we're not taking any chances. We want the player for long-term so we'll keep him out and keep working him hard like we are now."

The good news for the Blues is that defenseman Kris Russell (groin) will make his return after missing nine games.

Russell, who has five points in 21 games with the Blues, will replace Ian Cole in the lineup.

"I didn't want to push it if I wasn't feeling right, but it felt good," Russell said after the morning skate. "Obviously a little bit of tightness in it, but I'm fully confident in my skating ability now. It should be good."

Hitchcock is one that if a player is ready to play, he's in; so there won't be any type of easing Russell back in.

"Hitch is always like that," Russell said. "If you're ready to go, you better execute and play within the system, be an effective player. That's what I want to do."

So for Russell, it's just do what he does best.

"Mostly it's just simplifying your game," Russell said. "Try not to do much, make quick first outlet passes, be sharp on the puck and let your game evolve from there. That's what I'm going to try and do."

With Alex Steen out of the lineup, the St. Louis Blues will keep things as they have been the last handful or so games. That means Matt D'Agostini will stay in a top-six role with Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie, while David Perron moves back up with David Backes and Chris Stewart.

That means the return of the 'Kid Line' will have to wait for the time being.

"We'll just go back to flipping him (D'Agostini) and flipping Perron back in with Backes and go back to where we were before," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "If we get in a situation like we did in the third period (Monday) where we think we need Oshie's energy and a little bit different role, then we'll go back to that.

"Oshie's been good wherever we play him. The thing that concerned me the last game, the (Backes) line was spending too much time on their heels. They were defending too much. It was too conservative. Wherever you play Oshie, it's not going to be a conservative group. You'll be on the forecheck all night. He created the energy that the line came with and he did a helluva job."
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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 2:48 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Edmonton's Hall discusses facial injury

ST. LOUIS -- The Edmonton Oilers, who have suffered as many freakish injuries as any team in the NHL, addressed the strangest one of all, that of winger Taylor Hall, who suffered a scary cut to his head after being cut by a skate blade of teammate Corey Potter during pregame warmups Tuesday in Columbus.

Hall, who has 15 goals and 31 points in 36 games this season, accidentally stepped on a puck near the Oilers' goal, wiped out teammate Ladislav Smid in the process before being accidentally stepped on by Potter.

Hall received 30 stitches on the left side of his head and is sporting a black eye and swelling around the eye. He was not wearing a helmet when the incident occurred.

"I'm feeling better every day," said Hall, who will not play Thursday night. "From the time it happened and the freezing came out, it's pretty painful. But I'm not feeling too much pain now. I got some exercise in this morning and it held up. My face didn't swell up too much. I'm looking forward to getting back as soon as possible.

"I didn't feel too much pain (when the incident occurred). I thought it was just kind of a little cut. I knew right away when the blood was coming out pretty bad that it was serious. I just tried to get in the (locker) room as soon as possible and slow the bleeding down."

Hall said there's an outside chance he plays when the Oilers return home to face Calgary on Saturday.

"I'd like to think that I can try and play on Saturday against Calgary, but that's not for sure by any means. I want to get a helmet on and see how that feels and get a couple bumps in. There's no for sure when I'm going to play."

Oilers coach Tom Renney said there are no major repercussions with Hall.

"He certainly feels a lot better. He slept well for two nights now," Renney said. "The wound looks really good ... for me.

"The bottom line is it's a matter of impact and whether not the stitches might open up or whatever if in fact he gets hit. It's kind of a day-to-day thing. I know he would tell you he's ready to go tonight in talking to him. ... He's had no head issues whatsoever. He slept well, his appetite's good, no dizziness, nothing like that whatsoever. It's a matter of the healing of the wound."

What was Hall's reaction when he saw himself in a mirror for the first time?

"It doesn't look good, that's for sure," he said. "I looked a lot better before.

"What can you do? I said to someone this morning that it's lucky and it's unlucky at the same time. You can say that I'm lucky that I didn't get my eye taken out or my throat sliced or I'm just unlucky because something like this has never happened in the history of the sport with guys that have not worn a helmet in warmups. ... It's kind of the way the injuries have gone for this team."

Potter was shaken up before the game Tuesday but is obviously relieved his teammate is fine.

"Now that I know he's doing well, things are starting to calm down here and feeling a little better. I'm just happy that he's alright," Potter said. "... The guys in the locker room after warmups were definitely letting me know that it's alright. It was just kind of a freak accident and not to take it personally. They were there to back me up for sure."

The Colorado Avalanche issued a release stating that they are mandating all their players to wear helmets during pregame warmups. It might become a trend in the wake of the Hall incident.

"We're discussing that internally right now," Renney said. "You'll see everyone on with a helmet tonight.

"I'm not sure it's a (NHLPA) issue. Obviously they have a voice that we should all pay attention to. At the same time, at the end of the day, if this is what I want as a head coach or we as an organization, we do it."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 2:44 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Probable lineups for Blues vs. Oilers

Thursday night's probable lineups between the St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers:


David Perron - David Backes - Chris Stewart
Matt D'Agostini - Patrik Berglund - T.J. Oshie
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

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

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Halak is 9-0-3 with a 1.62 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in his past 12 starts, will get his sixth start in the past eight games Thursday night. He has shutouts in two of his previous three starts.
Forward Andy McDonald (concussion) and defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle) remain on injured reserve. Alex Steen (concussion symptoms) was expected to play Thursday night but will not after taking part in morning skate. Healthy scratches include defenseman Ian Cole and forward Chris Porter.


Jordan Eberle - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Jones
Anton Lander - Josh Green - Magnus Paajarvi
Darcy Hordichuk - Ryan O'Marra - Ben Eager

Ladislav Smid - Corey Potter
Andy Sutton - Jeff Petry
Theo Peckham - Colten Teubert

Nikolai Khabibulin
Devan Dubnyk

The laundry list of injured players for the Oilers is a long one. Included are defensemen Cam Barker (ankle), Ryan Whitney (ankle) and Tom Gilbert (knee), center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder), center Eric Belanger (leg) and winger Taylor Hall (facial laceration).
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Quote of the Day

Hockey means everything to people here [Winnipeg]. They take their team's success to heart. We've had an incredible year and they've given us incredible support.

— Jets center Mathieu Perreault after losing to the Ducks in Game 3 of their playoff series on Monday