SHARE
Share with your friends
x
Share with your Friends


Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 3:00 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lightning still push for playoffs despite deals, injuries

WINNIPEG -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have been in selling mode over the past week, but their playoff aspirations are not completely gone.

The Lightning (27-26-6), who have shipped out Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina and Steve Downie in trades over the past week, meet the Winnipeg Jets tonight at the MTS Centre. All three players have been moved on game-days for the Lightning, leaving coach Guy Boucher a bit skittish before facing the Jets.

"I'm scared to check my phone," Boucher said jokingly prior to Tampa Bay's morning skate. "Hopefully we don't have another one traded today. It's been tough for some of the players to manage it, but whether this year or last year, we have shown a lot of character. We've had injuries all year. We've basically never played with our full lineup and it keeps on going."

Thanks to a 10-3-2 run that includes their current three-game winning streak, the Lightning sit five points behind the ninth-place Jets and the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs. They hold three games in hand on Winnipeg, however, and a single game in hand on the Leafs as well.

Boucher's club will be without captain Vincent Lecavalier, who will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Injured defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron will not dress for the 17th time out of the Lightning's past 18 games.

The Lightning claimed forward Tim Wallace on waivers from the New York Islanders on Thursday morning, but he will not be in the Tampa Bay lineup tonight. Wallace notched 1 assist in 36 games with the Islanders this season.

Mathieu Garon will make his third consecutive start in net for the Lightning.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Lightning:

Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Nate Thompson - Adam Hall
Tom Pyatt - Brett Connolly - Ryan Shannon
JT Wyman - Trevor Smith - Mike Angelidis

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy
Brendan Mikkelson - Bruno Gervais

Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Roloson
Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:58 PM

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

No contact, but Crosby joins Pens for practice

PITTSBURGH— Call it a step forward for Sidney Crosby, even if it might be only a small one.
 
Crosby took part in the Penguins’ off-day practice Thursday at the suburban Iceoplex at Southpointe, but sat out all contact drills. Crosby still has not been cleared for contact as he recovers from the concussion-like symptoms that have kept him out of game action since Dec. 5.
 
While Crosby also skated with the full Penguins team two other times since he last went through a full practice on Dec. 7, this was his most extensive on-ice time with them in the last two-and-a-half months. Since then, he has worked mostly with conditioning coach Mike Kadar and the other players who are out with injuries.
 
While Crosby’s status still has not changed, the Penguins remain hopeful that he can return this season. They have 22 games remaining.
 
The concussion-related issues have limited Crosby to eight games this season.
 
“(It’s) a chance to get on the ice with some more players,” Bylsma said Thursday. “He was out there with our team for the entire practice, although he did not participate in the contact drills that we did have. We’ll see how he progresses and where he’s at in terms of getting on the ice. Sometimes it (what Crosby does) is dictated on if it’s an optional (practice) or how many people will be out there.”
 
Crosby skated with the Penguins two weeks ago in Montreal and again last Friday, but only because there weren’t any other players to work out with in advance of practice.
 
Penguins general manager Ray Shero has not indicated whether the uncertainty regarding Crosby’s status will affect what he does at the trading deadline. The Penguins could use another reliable scorer at forward, but numerous other teams have the same need during what looks to be a seller’s market.
 
Shero has dealt for at least one forward at or near the deadline each of the last five years.
 
Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen (undisclosed illness) missed practice Thursday, but defenseman Brooks Orpik and goaltender Brent Johnson participated. Both were out for the Penguins’ 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday -- Orpik with an upper body injury and Johnson with an illness.
 
After one of their best all-around performances of the season, the Penguins remain at Consol Energy Center for back-to-back weekend afternoon games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.
 
The Penguins beat Tampa Bay 4-2 behind Evgeni Malkin’s two goals Feb. 12 in Pittsburgh, so Bylsma doesn’t need to go back very far for a reference point on how the Lightning are playing. Tampa Bay is 3-1 since then, with a Thursday night game against Winnipeg still to play; while the Penguins are 2-2.
 
What the Penguins didn’t see then was the 1-3-1 defensive system the Lightning were playing earlier under coach Guy Boucher.
 
“I think Tampa Bay has started to play a little bit differently in their system,” Bylsma said. “They’re not as stout at playing the 1-3-1 that we saw from them (previously), where the game was getting clogged in the neutral zone and really tough to play against. We played a team a couple of weeks ago that had won a lot of games in a row (7-1-2 in their previous 10) and was making a push.”
 
If the Blue Jackets haven’t moved forward Rick Nash by then, Sunday’s game could be played with an air of anticipation that it could be Nash’s last in a Blue Jackets jersey.
 
“They don’t have the pressure of a playoff race or that type of pressure, but they’re going out and playing hard right now,” Bylsma said of the Blue Jackets, who beat San Jose 6-3 on Tuesday after losing to the Rangers 3-2 in overtime on Sunday “We’ll look at that and expect that on Sunday.”
Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:56 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Jets continue homestand, battle for Southeast lead

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets will again attempt to climb into the Southeast Division lead when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning in the fourth contest of an eight-game homestand at the MTS Centre.

The Jets (29-27-6) failed to close out the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, losing 5-4 in overtime after allowing Philadelphia's tying goal with 10.8 seconds in regulation. The Jets sit outside the Eastern Conference's top-eight mix in ninth place at 65 points. A win tonight and a home loss for the Florida Panthers to Minnesota would allow the Jets to slip into the Southeast Division's top spot and third place in the Eastern Conference.

Defenseman Zach Bogosian will sit out his fifth consecutive contest.

Jets coach Claude Noel hinted that the Jets might insert Mark Flood into the lineup and skate seven defensemen. Flood has not played since Jan. 19. It is also expected that Antti Miettinen will replace Eric Fehr on Winnipeg's fourth line. Potentially sacrificing a forward for an extra defenseman against Tampa Bay might be an option after a physical, draining game against the Flyers.

"When you give up 55 shots, are you wearing down your defensemen and your goalies?" Noel asked. "Maybe I should dress three goalies. We're trying to manage our rest-and-recovery systems a bit so that we have energy."

Ondrej Pavelec, who stopped 50 of 55 Philadelphia shots on Tuesday night, will start again in the Winnipeg net.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Jets:

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

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Johnny Oduya - Ron Hainsey
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:49 PM

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

Vermette excited for Phoenix debut

It won’t take long for Antoine Vermette to get acquainted with his new teammates.

One day after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a pair of draft picks and goaltender Curtis McElhinney, Vermette is expected to be in the lineup Thursday night against the Calgary Flames

It has been a whirlwind 24 hours to say the least.

“It’s been crazy,” Vermette said. “I got the phone call and since then, I’ve been running around. I grabbed my stuff, my equipment, my luggage. I lost my luggage so I didn’t know if I’d have my stuff today. I’m glad I have everything back. It was one of those days running around.”

Lost luggage would have been a small price to pay for Vermette’s move. With the trade, he jumps from a last-place Blue Jackets squad to a Coyotes team in the thick of a playoff chase. Phoenix currently holds down the seventh spot in the Western Conference.

“This is really an exciting moment for me, being a part of a team in this position that is playing for a real purpose like that,” Vermette said. “It’s a great situation. You want to be in those situations and play in those important games. Here I have a chance to do it.”

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett likes the enthusiasm he’s seen out of his newest recruit.

“It’s the identity of our group,” Tippett said. “`We’re a group that has to play well together, has to depend on everyone to contribute for us to have success. We felt like he’d be a good fit on our team.
“I think he’ll fit in our group very well.”

Vermette hopes so too, and figures the change to Tippett’s system shouldn’t be too troubling.

“It’s a pretty simple game at the end of the day,” Vermette said. “From team-to-team, there are a few tweaks here and there, but for the most part you’re playing with good players and guys at this level know what to do.”

The bigger adjustment for Vermette might come with getting used to passing the puck to players in Phoenix’s brick red, as well as breaking in some new equipment.

“My pants feel a little tight,” Vermette said. “They’re brand new. I’m going to have to break them in.”

Here are the projected lineup for the Coyotes:

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Mikkel Boedker
Paul Bissonnette - Matt Watkins - Boyd Gordon

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Michael Stone - Chris Summers

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:48 PM

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

Two days after surgery, Datsyuk already eyes return

DETROIT -- Star Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk underwent minor arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday, but don't be fooled into thinking he's just reclining in a comfy chair for a few days.

Datsyuk was at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday morning getting started on off-ice workouts and wondering when he'll be able to get back on the ice just to get skating again.

"Yeah, for sure, no time to relax," Datsyuk said, when asked if he'd begin working out off the ice since having the surgical procedure. "No free tickets to Florida. I need to work out."

Datsyuk was having a great season before it was interrupted by a twinge in his knee that didn't feel right after Detroit's last home game -- a 3-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday that pushed the Red Wings' NHL-record home winning streak to 23 games.

He's amassed 59 points in 59 games (16 goals and 43 assists) and was again near the top of the League in takeaways. Something happened in the San Jose game, however, that caused Datsyuk to mention how his knee felt to Red Wings athletic trainer Piet Van Zant. An MRI was performed, which showed a loose fragment of cartilage that needed to be cleaned up.

"I felt something in my leg, needed to check it," Datsyuk told reporters on Thursday. "I felt it after San Jose game. Maybe it was bothering me a little bit [before], but not like what happened in San Jose game."

When does the jovial superstar hope to get back into some skates and go for a spin?

"Tomorrow," Datsyuk deadpanned.

Really … that soon?

"No," Datsyuk said. "Maybe not. We'll see."

The initial timetable for a return to game action was between two and three weeks, which Datsyuk is hopeful will be the case.
Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:42 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Maple Leafs, Sharks both badly in need of two points

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs and San Jose Sharks rarely play each other, but when they do battle Thursday night at Air Canada Center, it will be a contest between two teams that share some troubling similarities.

Both clubs have been struggling as of late and are fighting to hold on to a playoff position in their respective conferences.

The Maple Leafs will start James Reimer after Jonas Gustavsson had a tough night between the pipes on Tuesday night, allowing Mark Fayne's knuckling shot to get by him in overtime in a 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils. With that loss, Toronto is 1-5-1 in the past seven games heading into action on Thursday.

"That game is in the past, I don't really even want to talk about it," Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said after the morning skate Thursday. "We have to move forward very quickly, whether you win a game or you lose a game. Our thoughts are not even close to two nights ago, they are focused on what we have to do to play well as a group today and beat a team that's got a lot of experience, a lot of skill up front. ... They are a very good team and we expect a tough game tonight."

Toronto currently holds on to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, tied with ninth-place Winnipeg with 65 points.

One of the many talented players Phaneuf and the Leafs defensive corps will have to deal with is Sharks forward Logan Couture. Couture has set a blistering pace since the All-Star break, recording 15 points in 11 games.  However, as well as he has played, helping correct his team's losing ways is what is on his mind.  

"It's nice scoring goals but you'd rather have the team winning games," Couture said. "I'd rather go goalless for five games if the team could win the next five."

The Sharks are coming off an unexpected 6-3 loss to last place Columbus and have one point in their last four outings. Despite Niemi being pulled versus the Jackets, Sharks coach Todd McLellan has elected to start him again tonight with plenty on the line. A Sharks loss tonight combined with a Coyotes win could drop San Jose to seventh place.

"We're in a playoff race right now, something that we haven't been accustomed to, normally we're out in front,"  McLellan said. "I had to remind the players of that yesterday. Toronto's in the same boat we are, I expect both teams to be competitive from minute one on through."

Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:37 PM

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

Return of Peters only lineup change for Wild

SUNRISE, Fla. -- After their big 2-0 victory over Boston on Sunday, the Minnesota Wild not surprisingly will be going almost with the same lineup Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.

The only change will be the return of forward Warren Peters, who sat out the Boston game because of a suspension. He will replace Jeff Taffe, who was reassigned to Houston after Sunday's game.

On defense, that means that rookie defenseman Justin Falk again will be scratched. Coach Mike Yeo, though, is quite to point out that's not an indictment on Falk's play.

"I think our defense has played well lately," he said after Thursday's morning skate. "Certainly I would not be afraid one bit of putting him back in the lineup soon here. It's tough to sit a guy like that for sure because I know that when he's playing well he can add something to our group, but having said that, with the exception of the St. Louis game I've been pleased with the way our defense has been playing."

One defenseman who stood out in the victory over Boston, which snapped a seven-game losing streak, was Marco Scandella.

He logged 22:09 of ice time and finished with a plus-1 rating.

"He's funny, his best games have been against the Boston Bruins or when he's going out against Taylor Hall," Yeo said. "He seems to get this matchup, this role in his head of, 'OK, I've got to be good tonight,' and he looks forward to that challenge. He seems to be more aggressive, more assertive and just plays really well in those situations. It's something that maybe we have to going forward give him a specific role or assign him a task for that game to give him something to focus on and let that play out that way."

The Wild again will be without captain Mikko Koivu against Florida. He has missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury and did not accompany the Wild on their two-game road trip.

Goalie Josh Harding also didn't make the trip. He was injured at practice Wednesday, but was set to make the trip anyway before he became ill. After an MRI came back negative, the plan was to have Harding join the team for Friday's game at Dallas, but he was still feeling sick on Thursday, so the plan was scrapped.

Here is Minnesota’s projected lineup:

Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Devin Setoguchi
Darroll Powe - Matt Cullen - Nick Johnson
Erik Christensen - Chad Rau - Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Kassian - Warren Peters - Jed Ortmeyer

Nick Schultz - Nate Prosser
Greg Zanon - Marek Zidlicky
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Niklas Backstrom
Matt Hackett
Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:18 PM

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

Cullen laments missed opportunity to face brother

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Even though it's been eight years since he played for the Florida Panthers, Matt Cullen still enjoys coming to the BankAtlantic Center.

This trip, however, could have been really special.

Playing an NHL game against his brother Mark would have made it the perfect homecoming.

Unfortunately for both Cullens, Mark is back in the AHL, where he has spent the better part of the last 10 years. Mark Cullen got a shot with the Panthers earlier this season when he played an NHL game for the first time since November of 2006 and was back for another stint in December.

Matt said he and his brother talked about the possibility of facing each other during Mark's stint with the Panthers.

But when Matt plays at the BankAtlantic Center Thursday night, Mark will be preparing for a game at Peoria on Friday.

"I was disappointed for him," Matt said after Thursday's morning skate. "I know he was disappointed and he really liked it here. He's worked so hard and he's battled through so much to get an opportunity. I've always thought he's an NHL-caliber player, but that's the business. He loves it here, I know that."

Mark Cullen appeared in six games for the Panthers during his two call-ups and recorded an assist, against Toronto on Dec. 27.

Matt Cullen has 30 points in 58 games for the Wild in his 14th season. On Jan. 10, he played in his 1,000th NHL game against San Jose, and he marked the milestone by scoring in regulation and then scoring the shootout winner in a 5-4 victory.

Cullen spent parts of two seasons with the Panthers, who acquired him in a trade with Anaheim in January of 2003. After the 2003-04 season, Cullen signed as a free agent with Carolina.

"I still have some close friends in the area," Cullen said. "A lot's changed, it's been a long time. They've had a lot of turnover here since then, but definitely a place I'm still very fond of and like coming back to."

Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 2:02 PM

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

Panthers call up pair of forwards

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers will have some different faces up front Thursday night when they face the Minnesota Wild, but coach Kevin Dineen was very cryptic after the optional skate.

Jon Matsumoto and Michal Repik were called up from San Antonio on Thursday, but the Panthers were only one forward short -- the result of Matt Bradley sustaining an upper-body injury in Sunday’s 2-0 loss against Anaheim.

Asked why two forwards were called up with only one spot open, Dineen said: "Our feeling was that there's always options as far as how you're going to put a lineup on the ice. For us, both Jonathan and Michal were both playing well in San Antonio and now that gives us a little bit of depth at forward."

By all indications, center Marcel Goc could be another scratch for the Panthers. He left Wednesday's practice early, didn't take part in the optional skate and his spot in the locker room was gone on Thursday.

Goc has been centering a line between Sean Bergenheim and Mikael Samuelsson, which has cooled off after a hot stretch.

In practice this week, the Panthers also had a different top line, with Tomas Kopecky replacing Tomas Fleischmann alongside Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg.

Fleischmann worked on a line with Shawn Matthias and Mike Santorelli.

Veteran John Madden, who has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, skated on Thursday but Dineen said he would not play against Minnesota.

Here is the Panthers' projected lineup:

Tomas Kopecky - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Sean Bergenheim - Michal Repik - Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Fleischmann - Shawn Matthias - Mike Santorelli
Krystofer Barch - Jon Matsumoto - Jack Skille

Brian Campbell - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson
Keaton Ellerby - Tyson Strachan

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
Posted On Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 1:56 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Hornqvist still sidelined as Predators host Blues

NASHVILLE -- Predators right wing Patric Hornqvist, second on the team in goals with 17, will miss his fifth straight game with an upper-body injury when Nashville hosts St. Louis on Thursday.

He participated in the team's morning skate on Thursday, but is not yet ready to play.

"He's getting closer," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "He's not in tonight. Saturday would be the soonest."

Hornqvist has not been a huge loss in the short-term for Nashville, which has gone 3-1 without him, although the Predators have not scored more than three goals in a game in that span.

Hornqvist's absence has, however, caused the Preds to re-jigger their forward lines and their power play somewhat. Hornqvist normally skates with Colin Wilson on the left and David Legwand at center.

Instead, Wilson has moved to center with Matt Halischuk on his left and Brandon Yip on his right. Yip, a big body, also has taken Hornqvist's spot on the power play in front of the net.

Legwand has centered a line with Gabriel Bourque on his left and fleet-footed rookie Craig Smith on his right. Smith had been the fourth-line center.

Trotz also said it's likely the team will send rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis to the minors soon to get him playing again. Ellis played less than four minutes on Sunday, was scratched on Tuesday and will probably sit again on Thursday, as the Predators are carrying eight defensemen right now.

"Our thought process is that we may have him go to Milwaukee (AHL) for a couple of games just to keep him playing," Trotz said. "And it's not based on play. We just want to keep him playing."

Ellis would not have to pass through waivers, nor would fellow rookie defenseman Roman Josi, but Josi has established himself for longer. Josi played his first game on Nov. 26 and has not missed a game since. Ellis played his first game on Dec. 26 and has been out of the lineup three times entering Thursday.
 
Here are tonight's projected lineups:
 
PREDATORS
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Matt Halischuk - Colin Wilson - Brandon Yip
Gabriel Bourque - David Legwand - Craig Smith
Jerred Smithson - Nick Spaling - Jordin Tootoo
 
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein
Roman Josi - Hal Gill
 
Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
 
Out: Ryan Ellis, Patric Hornqvist, Brian McGrattan
 
BLUES
Vladimir Sobotka - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Chris Porter - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves
 
Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak
 
Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott
First | Prev | 1221 | 1222 | 1223 | 1224 | 1225 | 1226 | 1227-1232 | Next | Last
Quote of the Day

I spent a long summer thinking about that playoff series and what could have been. [The Blackhawks] ended up being the Stanley Cup champions, so we know we lost to a very good team. It's tough to know how close we were, and it motivates us for this year.

— Nashville captain Shea Weber in an interview with the Predators website
TONIGHT ON NHL NETWORK