Posted On Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 2:48 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Stars at Jets

WINNIPEG -- The struggling Winnipeg Jets will have two more problems when they host the Dallas Stars at MTS Centre on Tuesday.

The Jets will be without right wing Blake Wheeler and defenseman Ben Chiarot as they try to fend off a host of competitors chasing them for the first Western Conference wild-card berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Wheeler (lower body) will miss his first game of the season. Right wing Michael Frolik will replace Wheeler on Winnipeg's top line, alongside left wing Andrew Ladd and center Bryan Little.

"[Wheeler] has that speed and that big body," Little said. "[Frolik] is a hard worker and I like that. He plays simple [and] up-and-down [hockey]. I kind of know what to expect. They are different styles but I think that they suit everybody's game in different ways."

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 2:43 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Canadiens at Blues

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is a believer that eventually what goes good tends to at times run its course.

So when the Blues (38-17-4) play the Montreal Canadiens (38-16-5) on Tuesday, they will sport a different look when the puck drops.

But it's a look that has some familiarity. Hitchcock will move around his top three left wings in hopes of refreshing the Blues' top-nine group.

That means Patrik Berglund, who's been playing with Paul Stastny and Dmitrij Jaskin, will move up to the top line with David Backes and T.J. Oshie. Alexander Steen, who's been playing with Backes and Oshie and putting up lots of points, will slide to the left side and play with Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko. Jaden Schwartz will move into Berglund's spot alongside Stastny and Jaskin.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 2:09 PM

By Craig Merz - Correspondent / - 2015 NHL Trade Deadline blog

Wisniewski expresses desire to stay with Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- James Wisniewski said his goal is to help the Columbus Blue Jackets in their desperate push to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs and that his desire to do so should not be in doubt.

The 31-year-old defenseman was a healthy scratch at the New York Rangers on Sunday because he said management was unhappy with his play.

Wisniewski leads Blue Jackets defensemen and is fourth on the team with 27 points.

"If you're going to question my effort then there's something wrong with whoever's judging my effort because I don't think that's the case," he said. "No way you can ever question my effort. I think it's performance based."

The Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday that the Blue Jackets are looking to trade Wisniewski and that he has a modified a no-trade clause in his contract that allows him to list 10 teams to which he would not approve a trade.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 2:01 PM

By Robby Stanley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Avalanche at Predators

NASHVILLE -- The Colorado Avalanche will try to gain ground in the Western Conference playoff race against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena.

Colorado has won two games in a row and four of its past five. They are six points out of a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with 22 games remaining, but the offense is starting to come.

“We’ve been scoring offensively,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. “It seems like our guys are gaining more and more confidence offensively, and we continue to play well defensively, which is good. Our power play got two big goals in Chicago, got one at home against [the Arizona Coyotes] I think. We’ve been doing a lot of good things out there, and I think that’s the main thing.”

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 1:52 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Canucks at Bruins

BOSTON -- Vancouver Canucks forward Nick Bonino spent Monday night watching his alma mater Boston University win the Beanpot Tournament championship at TD Garden.

Now he's hoping his Boston return will continue to be positive as he tries to make his way back into the Canucks lineup Tuesday against the Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET, SN360).

Bonino, who has 11 goals and 14 assists in 52 games, has missed the past seven games because of a lower-body injury; he'll be a game-time decision Tuesday.

"You always want to get back," Bonino said after the Canucks' morning skate. "And if you can do it in Boston, where you've played a little bit in your life, it's always going to be fun."

Bonino centered a line with Shawn Matthias and Radim Vrbata during the morning skate.

"It's always good when you get some guys back," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins. "You know he's a big part for us and we've missed him while he's been out. So if he's back it'll be great."

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 1:40 PM

By Craig Merz - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sabres at Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski returns from a one-game benching, but the reasons why he sat and how long he stays in the lineup are unclear.

Wisniewski will play against the Buffalo Sabres at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday after being a healthy scratch Sunday at the New York Rangers, which fueled trade rumors.

He said Tuesday morning that he had not asked be traded, but The Columbus Dispatch reported the Blue Jackets (26-28-4) have made him available ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline on March 2 at 3 p.m. ET.

Wisniewski has seven goals, 27 points and a minus-6 rating in 52 games.

As for not playing against the Rangers, Wisniewski said no one has told him specifically why he sat other than he needs to play better.

"The thing is they say I wasn't good enough and I hold myself to a higher standard to play better," he said. "I'm not going to say I was happy about it. I want to win and make this playoff push. But at the same time, I have to realize for myself that I need to go out and play now."

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 1:33 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flames at Rangers

NEW YORK -- The Calgary Flames have been breaking down their season in seven-game segments since opening night, and they're not going to alter their plan now even though they're starting what could be a season-defining seven-game road trip Tuesday against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

"Tonight is Game 4," Flames coach Bob Hartley said.

The Flames are 1-1-1 in their current seven-game segment, but they have lost their past two games -- in overtime against the Minnesota Wild this past Wednesday, and 6-3 against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

Calgary, though, is in the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Western Conference because of how well it has done in its seven-game segments. The Flames, who are one point out of the second wild-card spot through 59 games, have a winning record in seven of their eight full seven-game segments. They went 0-6-1 in games 29-35.

"I think the guys have bought into it and that has been our mindset since the start of the season," Hartley said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 1:22 PM

By John Kreiser - Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Coyotes at Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Chad Johnson's improved performance is earning him more playing time.

The New York Islanders backup goaltender will start for the second time in three games when the Arizona Coyotes make their final visit to Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday.

It's Johnson's fourth start in 11 games; for comparison, he made a total of four starts in December and January combined, with Jaroslav Halak backstopping the Islanders to first place in the Metropolitan Division and tying a franchise record with 32 victories.

"He's played well his last few games," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "He deserves the opportunity."

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 1:21 PM

By Staff -  / - 2015 NHL Trade Deadline blog

Tlusty, Hurricanes coping with trade rumors: report

Forward Jiri Tlusty is one of a handful of Carolina Hurricanes players reportedly on the radar with the NHL Trade Deadline of March 2 at 3 p.m. ET fast approaching.

Tlusty is a pending unrestricted free agent and Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis told the Raleigh News & Observer on Monday that any players moved will most likely be pending free agents.

Tlusty has 13 goals in 51 games this season, but the Hurricanes are 15th in the Eastern Conference.

"Obviously I know the deal and know what they expect to do," Tlusty told the Raleigh News & Observer on Tuesday. "I'm trying to block it out of my mind and just play the game I know how to play. You need stay really focused on the game and that's what I'm trying to do.

"It's kind of hard but it is what it is. Other guys go through it in their careers and I'm going through it right now. It's a part of the business and you have to understand as a player what's the management plan. My plan is to go out there and do things right."

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.24.2015 / 1:10 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flyers at Hurricanes

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Philadelphia Flyers will continue to take aim on the second Eastern Conference wild-card berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they face the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

An 8-1-4 stretch has the Flyers four points behind the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot in the East.

"We've climbed back from a deep hole but we still have a long ways to go," said Wayne Simmonds, who leads Philadelphia with 24 goals. "I think we just need to keep our heads down and keep playing solid hockey. Hopefully we can grab that last spot."

With goaltenders Steve Mason and Ray Emery injured, Rob Zepp will make his eighth start this season. Mason skated Tuesday morning but Flyers coach Craig Berube said he is not ready to return.

"It's good. He's in there, he's getting some work," Berube said. "That's what he needs."

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Quote of the Day

I loved being in the jerseys again and they worked some magic for us. It was weird in warm-ups, seeing No. 22 in that jersey and thinking he’s [Mike Gartner], and No. 8 reminds you of Danny Briere … every number had me thinking back to the guys who wore them and smiling.

— Coyotes captain Shane Doan on wearing Kachina-style throwback jerseys in a 3-2 victory against the Canucks on Thursday