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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 2:42 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Samuelsson returning to form

If your fantasy squad is in the thick of a playoff push and in need of a spark on the wing, Mikael Samuelsson is knocking on your door.

Mikael Samuelsson
Right Wing - FLA
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 13
SOG: 51 | +/-: 1
The Swedish-born forward reeled off two goals on Wednesday as the Florida Panthers held off the Washington Capitals to move into first place in the Southeast Division. With three goals and an assist in his last five games, Samuelsson is finally healthy and producing for a team that appears to be in the postseason hunt with just over two months to go in the regular season.

During a time when injuries are decimating fantasy teams around the world, this 35-year-old is skating on the second line for the Panthers and making a sizable impact after an injury-plagued first half of his own. With Kris Versteeg out with flu-like symptoms on Wednesday, Samuelsson (5 goals, 8 assists, plus-1, 10 PIM, 5 PPP, 51 SOG) notched a power-play goal and will be a sure-fire contributor moving forward as the Panthers continue to play meaningful hockey.

Samuelsson was in the midst of a six-game goalless drought from Jan. 9 to Jan. 21, but has responded nicely and has compiled four goals and six assists overall in 16 games since being traded to Florida. With Samuelsson owned in only seven percent of Yahoo! leagues, he is certainly worth taking a chance on. His 30-goal, 53-point season in 2009-10 is evidence that he has the capability of producing points at a high level.

Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 11:56 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Live Blog: NHL.com at CHL Top Prospects Game

2 periods down, Orr leads 1-0

KELOWNA, B.C. -- There was a bit of everything in the second period, including the game's only goal.

Team Orr's Griffin Reinhart picked up a puck in the left circle and fired a wrister that found a tiny gap between the goal post and Brandon Whitney's blocker at 2:46 of the period.

The other highlight of the period was the game's first fight. Team Cherry's Thomas Wilson decked Orr's Lukas Sutter with a big hit not long after Sutter left the penalty box. Sutter's teammate Dalton Thrower -- perfect name for this occasion -- jumped to his friend and teammate's defense and engaged Wilson in a spirited fight. At 6-foot-3.5 and 203 pounds, Wilson had the size advantage on the 5-11.5, 189-pound Thrower, but it was a long, even battle.

Not only are Sutter and Thrower teammates here, they're also teammates and close friends on the Saskatoon Blades.

Also notable in the period were a pair of penalty kills by Team Orr. Not only did they shut down Team Cherry's man-advantage opportunities, they barely allowed them any scoring chances.

We'll be back with more after the game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 10:59 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Live Blog: NHL.com at CHL Top Prospects Game

Scoreless after one period

KELOWNA, B.C. -- Most of the top players for the 2012 NHL Draft are defensemen, so it shouldn't be a surprise that a defensive battle has broken out here at the 2012 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

Team Cherry leads Team Orr in shots, 10-9, but neither team created much in the way of offensive chances, thanks to tight checking by both teams.

While there hasn't been much offense, there's been more than a few nice, hard hits. Team Cherry forward Thomas Wilson and Team Orr defenseman Gianluca Curcuruto took turns throwing big hits on each other early in the first, and Team Orr's Lukas Sutter did a nice job agitating a few players on Team Cherry.

The only penalty of the period came with 13 seconds left, as Team Orr captain Colten Sissons -- also captain of the host Kelowna Rockets -- was sent off for tripping, so the second period will start with Team Cherry on a power play for 1:47.

We'll be back with more following the second period.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 10:21 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

WSH @ FLA - of the Third Period

At 9:52 of the third period in the Capitals/Panthers game, video review determined that the puck deflected off Stephen Weiss shoulder and into the net in a legal fashion. According to rule 78.4 "if an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed." Good Goal Florida.

Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 9:48 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Live Blog: NHL.com at CHL Top Prospects Game

Official lineups for Top Prospects Game

KELOWNA, B.C. -- Coaches Pat Quinn and Mark Recchi have submitted their lineup cards for tonight's Top Prospects Game (10 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet), and they include full line combinations.

They're not much different than what the teams used at practice this morning, with one exception -- Windsor defenseman Nick Ebert will play for Team Cherry. He was sick with a stomach bug last night and into today and skipped the morning practice.

Here are the full lineups for each team:

TEAM ORR
Francis Beauvillier - Colton Sissons - Branden Troock
Chandler Stephenson - Mikhail Grigorenko - Tomas Hyka
Raphael Bussieres - Radek Faksa - Scott Kosmachuk
Andreas Athanasiou - Lukas Sutter - Tanner Pearson

Griffin Reinhart - Derrick Pouliot
Adam Pelech - Matthew Finn
Gianluca Curcuruto - Dalton Thrower

Chris Driedger starts in goal, with Francois Tremblay to play the second half of the game.

TEAM CHERRY
Daniil Zharkov - Brendan Gaunce - Andrew Ryan
Tim Bozon - Gemel Smith - Thomas Wilson
Coda Gordon - Mike Winther - Martin Frk
Dominik Volek - Dane Fox - Scott Laughton

Brett Kulak - Damon Severson
Ryan Murray - Mathew Dumba
Dillon Fournier - Nick Ebert

Brandon Whitney starts in goal, with Matthew Murray to play the second half of the game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 8:39 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

PIT @ TOR - 1:17 of the Second Period

At 1:17 of the second period in the Penguins/Maple Leafs game, video review conclusively determined that Chris Kunitz 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 Pittsburgh.

Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 7:11 PM

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

Pens go for sweep of Leafs

After overcoming a 4-1 third-period deficit to beat Toronto 5-4 in a shootout on Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins will go for a sweep of the Leafs at Air Canada Centre in the second half of a back-to-back series.

"We're very fortunate, we feel - to have gotten the two points," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said late Wednesday afternoon. Pittsburgh was down by three goals in the third but managed to erase the deficit in regulation on Evgeni Malkin's late goal in the dying seconds, he scored the only goal of the shootout to win it.

"We certainly tap out goalie on the pads for a number of the big saves he made throughout the game, especially in the third..."

After making 35 saves last night, Marc-Andre Fleury will get a rest; backup Brent Johnson gets his first start since Jan. 10, when he was pulled in a loss two the Senators. Defenseman, Ben Lovejoy will also play tonight -- his first game since Jan. 17. Deryk Engelland will have the night off.

James Reimer will get the start in goal for Toronto. While he has not started in two weeks, he has used his time backing up Jonas Gustavsson to absorb as much as he can. "In every situation there is a chance to learn, when you are on the bench you get to see the game from a difference perspective," he said. "Overall, when you watch the really successful goalies, they play with a lot of intensity and they do anything to stop the puck, maybe that is something I will try to put more into my game."

Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 6:10 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Live Blog: NHL.com at CHL Top Prospects Game

Murray and Dumba to join forces along blue line

KELOWNA, B.C. -- It appears as though Ryan Murray and Mathew Dumba, two of the most talked-about defensive prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft, will pair up in the first period of the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday at Prospera Place.

"That will be a pretty deadly pair, that's for sure," Team Cherry goalie Matthew Murray told NHL.com.

Perhaps it won't be the first time, either, that Murray and Dumba pair up along the blue line in an All-Star type setting. Both players, who worked together exclusively during Wednesday's morning skate for Team Cherry, are looking forward to the opportunity.
Posted On Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 5:56 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Live Blog: NHL.com at CHL Top Prospects Game

Recchi brings out the bling

KELOWNA, B.C. -- Mark Recchi said he doesn't know much about coaching, but he certainly knows how to inspire the next generation of NHL stars.

Recchi, who is coaching Team Cherry here at the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, brought his three Stanley Cup rings into the locker room before the skills contest last night. The players clearly were impressed with the championship jewelry Recchi earned with the 1991 Penguins, the 2006 Hurricanes and 2011 Bruins.

"What a sight that was," center Brendan Gaunce told NHL.com. "Each of those rings takes up your whole finger. I thought the ring I won as a ninth-grader playing football in the Metro Bowl was pretty big, but that had one stone and those Stanley Cup rings had something like 25 stones … I've never seen anything like it."
 
"They looked like they weighed 30 pounds each," added defenseman Ryan Murray.

"They were pretty good," Recchi told NHL.com. "They quietly got up real quick. I just put them in the middle of the room. They could do what they want with it. It was good."

Everything's been good for Recchi since he ended his 22-year career following last June's Cup win. When he hasn't been home with his wife and children, he's done TV work for the NHL Network, skated in the alumni game at the 2012 Winter Classic, and spent time with the junior team he co-owns, the Kamloops Blazers.

"It's been great," he said. "I haven't done much. I still watch games every night, look at stats every day. Other than that, it's been really good. Just taking a break, getting away from it a little bit, playing with my kids and hanging out. The good thing about it is I don't have to be in a hurry."

As he dabbles in everything to figure out what's next, he figured coaching would be something new to try.

"Bruce Hamilton (Kelowna owner/GM) asked me if I was interested and I said absolutely," said Recchi. "I have no idea how to coach, but I've been around it enough. There's not a lot that goes into it. (Kelowna coach Ryan) Huska has been great. He's really the one leading the charge. I'm just trying to push pucks around and have fun with the guys."

Recchi also talked to my colleague Mike G. Morreale about the changes in junior players and the draft from his younger days, the advice he's been giving his players and which players have impressed him the most -- including which defenseman reminded him of a certain Hall of Famer. You won't want to miss that story when it goes up a little later today.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow. I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense... I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver.

— Coyotes GM Don Maloney on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson