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Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 7:50 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

FLA @ TOR - 19:35 of the First Period

At 19:35 of the first period in the Panthers/Maple Leafs game, video review determined that Joffrey Lupul kicked the puck into the net with his left skate. According to rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net.". No Goal Toronto.
Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 5:26 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Lower-body injury leaves Couture game-time decision

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture, who leads the team with 27 goals, will be a game-time decision Tuesday night against Philadelphia because of a lower-body injury he suffered Sunday at Minnesota.

Couture took three huge hits against the Wild and left the ice for good midway through the second period. He skated briefly Tuesday morning, without pads, but was not on the ice for the rest of the morning skate.

"It felt good to get on the ice," Couture said. "I didn't feel that bad. There's a chance I could play tonight."

On Sunday against Minnesota, Couture's head banged against the glass at least twice, but it's a lower-body injury that's the main problem.

"I think all three (hits) really built up, and the last one, my body was hurting," Couture said. "I really didn't want to come back in the game. I got a couple days of rest. Yesterday, rested and treated it. Today as well. It definitely feels a lot better than it did the other day at the game."

Couture said he didn't think Minnesota was targeting him specifically or trying to take him out of the game, and he said "there was nothing wrong" with any of the hits he took.

"Guys were finishing checks," Couture said. "That's hockey. You expect to get hit every night. I definitely didn't feel they were only hitting me out there. They were hitting other guys, too.’"

The Sharks, coming off a 2-6-1 road trip, could definitely use Couture tonight against Philadelphia when they open a four-game homestand.

With or without Couture, the Sharks hope to get a boost from forwards Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi, who will make their debuts after being traded from Colorado to San Jose on Monday.

"That's what we're hoping," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said after the morning skate. "We definitely think we've got the pieces in here to make a good run. We just feel like the two new guys are definitely going to help that out."

Winnik said he hopes that he and Galiardi can energize the Sharks.

"When you get traded you bring new excitement with yourself, and hopefully TJ and I inject some energy into the lineup," Winnik said.

During the morning skate, Winnik was on the second line with Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski. Galiardi skated on the third line with Michael Handzus and Torrey Mitchell. Ryane Clowe and Tommy Wingels skated on the top line with Thornton.

That's likely how they'll open tonight's game unless Couture is able to play.

The road-weary Sharks will face a Flyers team that is playing the final game of a four-game road trip but hasn't played since Saturday when it beat Calgary 5-4 in a shootout.

"A couple days in California isn't bad for the body or the mind," Flyers winger Scott Hartnell said. "We had a good practice yesterday, a good skate this morning. Even though we're all the way across the country, we've got to play hard and not focus on getting back home."

Hartnell, who played six seasons in Nashville, has been to the Shark Tank enough times to know how tough San Jose is to beat at home.

"This is a tough building to play in," Harnell said. "The fans are incredible and they feed off that energy. So it's going to be a big battle for us. It's going to be a big test for us tonight to come out, come hard. Hopefully we get a lead. It seems like we haven't had a lead in the first period for three months."

The Flyers haven't beaten the Sharks in San Jose since Nov. 5, 1999. Their last victory over San Jose was on Dec. 21, 2000, in Philadelphia.

Hartnell is coming off a two-goal game against Calgary and has a career-high 30 goals for the season. He credited “a lot of hard work” for his career year, as well as the chance to skate with teammates such as Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr.

“It’s a lot who you’re playing with and power play time and things like that,” Hartnell said. “I’ve been really focused, trying to be focused for every practice, every game. Just trying to do what I do best, and that’s go to the net. Playing with Giroux and Jagr, you put your stick on the ice, pucks are going to find your stick. It’s been a real treat playing with those guys.”

Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 5:24 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks, Flyers

SAN JOSE -- Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the San Jose Sharks face the Philadelphia Flyers at HP Pavilion:

Ryane Clowe - Joe Thornton - Tommy Wingels
Daniel Winnik - Patrick Marleau - Joe Pavelski
TJ Galiardi - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Jim Vandermeer

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Jason Demers - Brent Burns
Colin White - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Niemi, who came off the ice first Tuesday morning, is expected to be in goal tonight. He backed up Greiss on Sunday at Minnesota. In two of his three previous starts he was pulled in the first period after allowing three goals. Center Dominic Moore (lower body) took part in the morning skate and appears close to returning, but he'll miss his fourth straight game.

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

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Pavel Kubina - Matt Carle
Andrej Meszaros - Nicklas Grossman

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

Bryzgalov, coming off a 5-4 shootout win over Calgary on Saturday, will be in goal again for the Flyers. He's 22-12-6 overall with a 2.82 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage.

Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 4:47 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Ruff back on the ice

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A familiar face was back on the ice today with the Buffalo Sabres -- coach Lindy Ruff.

Ruff skated during practice for the first time since he broke three ribs in a collision with Jordan Leopold during a practice earlier this month.

"It felt good to be out there," Ruff said. "I'd probably win the stupid award for going out. I just felt that it's time and be careful that I don't fall and that I don't get hit."

Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 4:46 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

WJC teammates happy to see Hodgson on their side

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- In perhaps the biggest move Monday, the Buffalo Sabres acquired center Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer from the Vancouver Canucks for Sabres prospect forward Zack Kassian and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani.

Hodgson, taken by Vancouver with the 10th pick of 2008 Entry draft, currently is tied for second among rookies with 16 goals in 63 games, which makes him the third leading scorer on the Sabres.

Neither player was available for practice Tuesday, as they were back in Buffalo for their physicals. Hodgson also had to take care of paperwork regarding his work visa. The Sabres expected both players to arrive in time for the game.

With the Sabres, Hodgson will be reunited with Sabres center Tyler Ennis and defenseman Tyler Myers; the three won gold medals with Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championship.

"He was a huge part of our gold-medal team,” Ennis said of Hodgson, who led that tournament with 11 assists and 16 points in six games. "He was probably one of the best guys in the tournament."

Added Myers, "If he plays anything like he did in the World Juniors, he's a very good player. He was a really nice kid. I know that was three years ago, but I doubt much has changed."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said it will be "trial and error" working in Hodgson. He said the initial thought would be to have him center Ennis and Drew Stafford.

"I know we're getting a real good player," Ruff said. "I've heard nothing but good things about Hodgson and the offensive side of it. I told the team that there's some guys that are going to get a bigger role, some guys will get different roles. We've got a guy that left that was our top penalty guy, top faceoff guy, and he was the guy that played the last minute of the game. Players are usually begging for those responsibilities and I want to see who comes through."
Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 4:42 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Miller unhappy over Gaustad's departure

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The focus was on who wasn't on the ice when the Buffalo Sabres practiced Tuesday for the first time since the trade deadline.

Newly acquired center Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer had not yet arrived because they traveled to Buffalo for medical clearances.

Noticeably absent was veteran center Paul Gaustad, and at least one teammate voiced his disapproval at the organization's decision to deal him to Nashville.

"I'm not going to lie -- I'm not really happy about the way it all turned out," said goalie Ryan Miller. "But (it's) the business of hockey. We don't make those decisions -- there's more proof. If I had any more influence, Paul would still be here. I really appreciate the way he plays and he's been one of my best friends for a long time there."

Miller came up through the Sabres organization with Gaustad, a third-line center who is a key penalty killer and faceoff man. Buffalo sent Gaustad and a fourth round draft pick in 2013 to Nashville for a first round pick in this year's draft.

"If you don't understand, I'm not going to explain it," Miller said of Gaustad's worth. "Because it's just too important for a hockey team, I think. So it is a little frustrating in that regard.

"Personally, we're close friends and also I think he's a big part of the team. No matter the way you view hockey, you have to understand how important players like Paul can be and how long it takes to develop a guy who plays that way at such a high level. Winning those faceoffs is not easy. Killing those (penalties) is not easy. There's not a lot of guys that are willing to do that job."

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said it was difficult when he spoke with Gaustad.

"I've been with him all these years," Ruff said. "I remember his first game. He came up and I thought, 'I don't know. His skating may hurt him. He may never make it.' He's come a long a way. That's a tough one. It's like dealing with a Brian Campbell. You've grown up with a player like that, spent all those years with him. It's tough to see him go."
Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 4:20 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Blackhawks report 'no progress' yet on Toews

CHICAGO -- It looks like captain Jonathan Toews will sit out again when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night at the United Center (8 p.m., TSN).

Toews, the Hawks' captain, has missed four straight games with what the team is calling an upper-body injury that's believed to be concussion-related. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville sounded hopeful this past weekend that Toews might be ready to face the Leafs, but the young superstar and Chicago's sparkplug didn't practice on Tuesday and there is no change in his prognosis of "day-to-day" with the injury.

"Toews is the same, didn't skate today," Quenneville said when asked after Tuesday's practice. "[He's] about the same he's been the last few days. No progress."

The Hawks are also missing defensemen Steve Montador and Niklas Hjalmarsson, who are also out with suspected concussions. Hjalmarsson skated on his own Tuesday, but was also ruled out for Wednesday's game -- which will be his second straight game missed since returning from a seven-game absence last week against the Dallas Stars.

Missing Toews, however, is a crushing blow to the Hawks -- who feed off his drive, emotion and sheer will to win. They also lack a true center to play on the top line, which is why star forward Patrick Kane will likely man that position on Wednesday night between Andrew Brunette and Marian Hossa.

"Obviously we'd like to see him on the ice and get a pretty good idea when he'll be back," Quenneville said of Toews. "He enhances our team in all areas, so it's tough when we don't see him on the ice. He's watching games and he's disappointed he can't be out there helping."

Knowing Toews, however, the term "disappointed" is probably understating his frustration by quite a bit.

"Injured guys definitely deal with that," Quenneville said. "We know the leader he is and how meaningful he'd be in our lineup. That's part of the frustration, as well."

Chicago also called up rookie forwards Andrew Shaw and Brand Bollig in the past two days now that the trading deadline has passed and teams no longer have to limit their rosters to 23 players.

Shaw is a gritty two-way forward who's not afraid to play around the net despite a lack of size, while Bollig is a big enforcer type who was put on a fourth line for Tuesday's practice with big bodies Jimmy Hayes and Jamal Mayers.

The Blackhawks now have five rookies on their roster, and all could suit up to play the Leafs on Wednesday in a big game for two teams trying to stop out of slumps. Quenneville wants his veterans to lead the way and try to take some pressure of all the young guys as the final portion of the regular season comes at them.

"The stretch drive is going to be very competitive, [and] going to be extremely tight," Quenneville said. "[We] lost the nice position we were in a month ago. It's evaporated and we have to come together here quickly and push and help each other."
Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 3:50 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Coyotes try to solve Canucks to cap amazing month

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Coyotes will shoot for an 11-0-1 February to cap an incredible month that shot them from 12th place in the Western Conference to third on Tuesday when they meet the Vancouver Canucks -- the only team to take a point away from Phoenix this month with a 2-1 shootout win over backup goalie Jason LaBarbera on Feb. 13 in Vancouver.

The Coyotes are 5-1-1 against Western Canadian teams this season, but still looking for their first win over the Canucks, who humbled Phoenix 5-0 in Glendale way back on the day after Thanksgiving.

What's most amazing about the Coyotes' streak is they have pulled it off with as many as six regulars out of the lineup -- and five will miss the Vancouver game. Defensemen Rostislav Klesla (upper body), Derek Morris (leave of absence, family illness) and David Schlemko (foot) all remain out but could be back within a week, and forwards Kyle Chipchura (wrist) and Gilbert Brule (upper body) are also still out.

The addition of Antoine Vermette from Columbus and the play of young defensemen Chris Summers and Michael Stone have allowed Phoenix to keep rolling. Goalie Mike Smith will go for his 11th straight win and has allowed just 15 goals in 10 starts in February.

Here is how the Coyotes will line up tonight:

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

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

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera
Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 3:42 PM

By Ben Raby - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Tavares learned a lot playing for Dale Hunter

WASHINGTON -- It has been three months to the day since former Capitals captain Dale Hunter was named the 15th head coach in club history.

Hunter has since compiled a 19-17-4 record, while attempting to transform the once offensively potent Capitals into a more conservative defensive hockey team.

"I like the way he coaches," general manager George McPhee said Monday. "Certainly I think we're a team that's much better defensively. We haven't given up much under [Hunter] and you've got to be stingy defensively."

Hunter has been challenged in recent weeks for his handling of goalies Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth and for his scratching healthy veterans Roman Hamrlik and Mike Knuble.

Tonight against the Islanders, Hamrlik is expected to be a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game, Knuble for the third straight game.

"If you play well you're going to stay in the lineup," Hunter said. "And especially down the stretch here, we need who is playing the best to be in the lineup to win games."

Islanders leading goal scorer John Tavares is familiar with the concept. Tavares played 38 games for Hunter's London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League in 2009.

"The biggest message that I remember he used to send is that if you weren't playing well or doing things the right way, or if you were making mistakes and not working hard, then you usually just didn't play," Tavares said.

Tavares was already the projected first pick in the 2009 Entry Draft when he joined London in an OHL trade from Oshawa. But the 18-year-old recalls being treated no differently than any of his teammates while playing for Hunter.

"If he had that trust in you and you played the game the right way, then you were going to be counted on for a lot of responsibility," Tavares said. "He wanted to make sure that you were not taking things for granted, that you were doing the right things out there and that you were working hard."

In 38 combined regular-season and playoff games under Hunter, Tavares had 42 goals and 71 points. But it was his play away from the puck, Tavares says, that benefitted most from Hunter's tutelage.

"Not only were you going to be counted on offensively, but in defensive situations as well," he said. "That's where he really helped me understand that I could be a better player on both sides of the puck and he had a lot of faith in me that way and it definitely helped me prepare for the National Hockey League."

The Knights were the OHL's Midwest Division champions in 2008-09, but were eliminated in five games by the eventual Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires in the conference finals.

"It was a lot of fun," Tavares said of playing for Hunter. "He taught me a lot even though I was there only for a short period of time. He had a lot of trust in me and gave me a lot of opportunity when I went there. … I had a great time, we had a great team, and I really excelled and learned a lot from him and I'm happy to see him get the opportunity at this level."
Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 3:08 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

No McLellan for Sharks tonight

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan will miss Tuesday's game against Philadelphia (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) because of concussion-like symptoms he's still suffering from after accidentally being hit in the head with a stick during the second period of Sunday's game against Minnesota, the team announced.

As they did for the remainder of that game against the Wild, assistants Matt Shaw and Jay Woodcroft will share the coaching duties.

"Todd continues to make progress in his recovery from the stick incident in Minnesota on Sunday evening but is still experiencing concussion-like symptoms," Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said in a statement released by the team. "Thus, he will not be behind the bench until cleared by doctors to resume his coaching duties, beginning with tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers. While Todd will continue to provide his input on the team, we have full confidence in the abilities of assistant coaches Matt Shaw and Jay Woodcroft to lead the team in Todd's absence. Our main concern at this point is for Todd's full and complete recovery."

McLellan was hurt when forward Jamie McGinn -- who was traded Monday to Colorado -- checked Minnesota defenseman Marco Scandella into the boards alongside the Sharks' bench. Scandella's stick made contact with McLellan's forehead, knocking the coach down behind the bench.

Sharks captain Joe Thornton said McLellan was knocked out.

"He wasn't moving," Thornton said. "We were yelling to the ref, 'There's a problem here.' It was one of the strangest things I've ever seen, that's for sure."

Thornton said he wasn't surprised at the news that McLellan would miss the game.

"He was hit pretty hard," said Thornton. "We saw him a little bit today. He's gotten better, so that's a good sign. But, yeah, he got hit real hard."

McLellan missed one game last season to attend a funeral of a family member. Shaw, Woodcroft and former Sharks assistant Trent Yawney shared coaching duties in that game, Woodcroft said Tuesday after San Jose's morning skate. Yawney no longer is with the team.

"In that case, Trent Yawney ran our defense and Matt and I ran the forwards like we did last year," Woodcroft said. "And for us, this year going forward, we're going to stick with that precedent. I'm going to run the forwards, which I've worked with during the season, and Matt will continue running the (defense).

Woodcroft said he expects that plan to work smoothly tonight.

"Our staff has been with this group for four years," he said. "There's a lot of trust with our leadership group. We understand where we're at in our season. We expect everybody's best effort. Todd has spoken to our leadership group, so they know it's coming, and there's a real comfort level. They know what to expect, and we're going to expect a strong effort tonight."
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