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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 2:33 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Gaborik helps Sauer show he's ready

NEW YORK -- Michael Sauer should be on the ice with his teammates when the New York Rangers play their home-opener Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Sauer missed the last five games with an injured right shoulder, but after taking part in the team's full practice today at the Garden, and even taking some inadvertent contact from Marian Gaborik, the top-four defenseman said he will be good to go against Toronto.

"Gabby closed me out and bumped me from the side, but it was good," Sauer said. "I don't think he was happy that I got the puck from him that time. I did and it felt good."

Sauer missed the second half of training camp after injuring his right shoulder in a preseason game at Philadelphia. He did not play in the Rangers' four preseason games in Europe, but returned to play both games in Stockholm.

However, in the first period of the Rangers' second game, Sauer was hit along the boards and re-injured his shoulder. He played the rest of the game against the Ducks, but said he couldn't lift his stick.

"The hit (in Sweden) re-did it to a greater degree," Sauer said. "It was one of those things where I got hit just right and I needed to take that time off again because I was back to square one."

Sauer traveled to Western Canada and started to get back to skating in Vancouver, but the Rangers didn't have any long, hard practices in which he could test his shoulder in contact situations.

However, he worked with trainer Jim Ramsay and was pretty sure he'd be OK to play Thursday before the Rangers practiced Wednesday. The hit he took from Gaborik gave him the re-assurance that everything seems just fine.

"It's hard to simulate something like that, but we've gotten it strong and I should be able to take that blow," Sauer said.

Rangers coach John Tortorella is eager to get Sauer back in the lineup because it'll help him position the rest of his defense the way he feels most comfortable.

Tortorella wouldn't divulge the defense pairs he will use Thursday, but it's possible Sauer will play with Steve Eminger on the second pair, behind Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. That means the likely third pair would be Michael Del Zotto with rookie Tim Erixon. In that case, Jeff Woywitka could be a healthy scratch.

"It puts some guys that we have slotted in areas that we didn't want to put them in back into areas that they can succeed in, or at least better try to succeed in," Tortorella said of getting Sauer back. "Michael came on strong last year. He was a surprise and turned into one of our top four. When you get one of your top four back, it certainly helps."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 1:53 PM

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

Sens send Zibanejad back to Sweden

The Ottawa Senators have elected to return first-round pick Mika Zibanejad to his team in the Swedish Elite League.

Zibanejad, the sixth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, had just 1 assist in nine games, and was a minus-3.

The Senators had until Thursday, which would have been Zibanejad's 10th game, to make a decision. Returning him to Djurgarden in Sweden delays the start of his three-year, entry-level contract. However, the Senators can't recall him until his European season is over, unless it's under emergency conditions.

"We think, for the long-term development of him, to give him the opportunity to become what we believe he has a chance to become, and that is a quality NHL player, that this is the right step for him at this moment," Senators General Manager Bryan Murray told reporters today.

Murray said the decision came down to the determination that it would be better for Zibanejad to play a top-line role with Djurgarden then on the third line in Ottawa.

"I think the reason we're probably sending him back is that we want him to have the puck, we want him to have a chance to score points, to be a legitimate top-six NHL player," he said. "I think at 18 years of age, he was playing the last little bit to survive and not make mistakes, rather than be a creative kind of kid that we think he'll turn out to be.

"From a selfish point of view, it was very difficult. We like him, he's a good man, he's a guy that will work hard and do everything the coaches ask every game. In turn, I think, from Mika's point of view, we want to have to pay him a lot of money in the future and that will only happen if he becomes, as I say, a legitimate top-six forward and creates offense."

Murray said coach Paul MacLean fought hard to keep Zibanejad, due in part to the player's size (6-foot-1, 200 pounds), skill and defensive-zone ability. However, MacLean said he understood the decision.

"Nowhere is it what's best for Paul MacLean," he said. "It's what's best for the Ottawa Senators and this is the right decision."

Zibanejad said he was going to look at the decision as a positive.

"I really wanted to stay but I knew there was options to send me home," he said. "I was prepared for that and I was prepared to stay. I'm going home. It's sad, but on other hand it's a good thing for me.

"It's going to be a chance for me to improve my game."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 1:11 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Potential lineups for Flyers, Canadiens

MONTREAL – The Philadelphia Flyers will be playing their first game since captain Chris Pronger went down with an eye injury Monday when they take on the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS).

It's unclear how the Flyers' defense will compensate for Pronger's absence, and the pairings listed below can best be described as an educated guess. Still, coach Peter Laviolette said he will have "six good defensemen" in uniform and was confident his team can make up for
Pronger's loss.

The Flyers' forward lines also are a bit of an educated guess seeing as Laviolette did not do line rushes this morning.

For the Canadiens, leading scorer Max Pacioretty was expected to miss the game with torn ligaments in his wrist, but he was on the ice shooting pucks with his teammates, and coach Jacques Martin termed his status as a game-time decision. If he does play, Aaron Palushaj would be scratched.

CANADIENS
Travis Moen - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta
Michael Cammalleri - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Andrei Kostitsyn - Lars Eller - Aaron Palushaj
Mathieu Darche - Petteri Nokelainen - Michael Blunden

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Hal Gill - Raphael Diaz
Jaroslav Spacek - Yannick Weber

Carey Price will start in goal, with Peter Budaj the backup.

Besides the Pacioretty/Palushaj decision, defenseman Alexei Emelin will be a healthy scratch.

FLYERS
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
James van Riemsdyk - Matt Read - Jakub Voracek
Andreas Nodl - Sean Couturier - Maxime Talbot

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Meszaros
Matt Carle - Andreas Lilja
Kimmo Timonen - Matt Walker

Ilya Bryzgalov will be back in net, with Sergei Bobrovsky the backup.

Forward Jody Shelley likely will be a healthy scratch.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 12:50 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Rangers' Sauer says he'll play Thursday

Rangers defenseman Mike Sauer said after practice today that he will play his first regular-season North American game Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sauer has missed the last 5 games with a right shoulder injury. He first got hurt during training camp, and re-injured it against Anaheim in Stockholm.
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 11:58 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

No Rupp for Rangers

Forward Mike Rupp is not skating with the Rangers this morning at Madison Square Garden. He has been nursing a sore knee.

Without Rupp, here's how the lines looked at practice:

Ruslan Fedotenko - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Wojtek Wolski - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
Erik Christensen - Artem Anisimov - Kris Newbury
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 9:58 AM

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

Connolly sticking with Lightning

Facing a rapidly approaching deadline in regard to the future of rookie left wing Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager decided after last night's game against the Sabres.

Connolly is sticking with the team.

"We feel Brett's shown that he belongs in the NHL and makes our team better," Yzerman wrote in a text message to the St. Petersburg Times. "So, we've decided to keep him."

Yzerman had until Thursday's game against Nashville to make the decision on whether to keep Connolly or return him to his junior team, the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. Connolly's ninth game was last night; if they sent him back before he played a 10th game, it would have delayed the start of his entry-level contract for another year.

Connolly has 2 assists in nine games, but is tied for the team lead with a plus-5 rating, and is averaging 13:54 of ice time per game.

Playing on a line with veteran Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis hasn't hurt his development, either.

"Both guys have Stanley Cups and a lot of experience, so, for me, it's nice to have a couple of guys like that I can talk to," Connolly told the Times before Tuesday's game. "I'm just trying to take as much knowledge as I can."

He'll have much more time to listen and learn going forward.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 9:00 AM

By Jeremy Roenick -  NHL Network Contributor /NHL.com - World According to JR

Roenick: Neal, Kessel are players on a mission

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick will be penning a weekly blog for NHL.com this season. Look for new entries from "The World According to JR" every Wednesday. Roenick will offer sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League.

I've got two players in mind who have impressed me and two teams that have totally fallen flat to start the season. Read on for my takes on what's clicking and what's missing in the NHL this week.
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 9:00 AM

By Matt Dumba -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Matt Dumba draft blog

Dumba building off strong summer

Matt Dumba is a defenseman for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. The 5-foot-11.75, 183-pound defenseman was named WHL Rookie of the Year after scoring 15 goals and adding 11 assists in 62 games. He also had a tournament-high 12 points -- all assists -- to help Canada Pacific win the bronze medal at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. This summer, he played for Canada at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament and also took part in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August. Dumba has offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Hi, this is Matt Dumba from the Red Deer Rebels. I'm really excited to get this season going. It's been a good start to the season here. We're 8-3 now. We got off to a slow start as a team and I did individually, but we've picked it up and found a rhythm, and lately we've been on a roll, winning five games in a row, and I have 7 points in 11 games. They're pretty good numbers, I'm happy with that. And it's fun playing with Justin Weller on the back end here. I'm really looking forward to the next month ahead of us.

We're only a month or so into the regular season here, but I've actually been on the ice for a while. I was named captain of our team for the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in August. I'd been to Europe when I was younger with a summer hockey team. We traveled around and played other teams. It was nice to experience that, but I hadn't been over in recent years. It was really interesting to go over to Slovakia and the Czech Republic, experience the culture and see how everyone is over there.

As a team, we came out and lost our first game to Sweden, which was a wake-up call, but we went on a tear in the next five games and won every game by a decisive margin. It was a pretty amazing accomplishment. As captain, leading the team was pretty easy with such a great group of players and characters on that team. I had a pretty good tournament and really showed I could play that defensive game, but also add that offense, the hits and flair that everyone likes to see.

After that, I had the NHL RDO Camp in Toronto. That camp was pretty interesting. You got matched up against some of the top guys in this year's draft. It was pretty neat to see all the guys, especially the Russian guys, Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk. It was great to see their skill and what you're up against, competition-wise. It was a pretty fun few days -- fun to go up there and know people are watching, but just have fun with it, just go out there and have fun and enjoy the experience.
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 12:02 AM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NJD @ LAK- 13:12 of The Second Period

At 13:12 of the second period in the Devils/Kings game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck went into the net off of Dainius Zubrus' body but was not batted by Zubrus into the net. Good goal New Jersey.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 12:01 AM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

VAN @ EDM - 13:34 of The Third Period

At 13:34 of the third period in the Canucks/Oilers game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Edmonton forward Jordan Eberle's shot did not cross the goal line. No Goal.

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