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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 6:08 PM

By Jon Lane -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Senators at Devils

NEWARK -- Hit hard by injuries and illness for much of the season, the New Jersey Devils will get a key component back in their lineup Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators when forward Patrik Elias returns after missing five straight games and six of the past seven with a groin injury.

Elias was on a line with Travis Zajac and Martin Havlat at the morning skate.

"I'm better than I was before I came back," he said.

Elias was injured Dec. 2 at the Pittsburgh Penguins. After sitting out the next game against the Toronto Maple Leafs he attempted to return Dec. 6 at the Washington Capitals. He scored a goal in 15:15 of ice time in New Jersey's 4-1 loss but said he came back too soon.

"I wanted to get back and play and help out," Elias said. "Ten minutes in I started getting the same issue again. I tried to go through it again but I couldn't really push. It got worse. The situation we're in, you want to be part of the team, you want to play. I didn't feel horrible, but obviously playing games, doing stops and starts, battling and shooting, it's different than if you go on the ice doing laps. We were a lot smarter this time."

Elias has three goals and 12 points in 26 games.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 5:25 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Stars at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff wasn't surprised to hear the Vancouver Canucks talking about tightening their defense after a 5-1 loss against the New York Rangers on Saturday.

Ruff has expressed similar concerns this season about his Stars, who enter play Wednesday allowing 3.48 goals per game, most in the League, as they start a three-game road trip in Vancouver on Wednesday.

"I watched their last game so I think that's an obvious statement," Ruff said of the Canucks. "When you see 2-on-1s, 3-on-1s and sometimes when you get caught being too aggressive and you don't have the cover, it can look pretty bad. But I think they have made a living so far being really aggressive and having their [defensemen] involved."

The focus in Vancouver now is finding a better balance between that attacking style without also giving up the odd-man rushes that have plagued them during a season-worst four-game losing streak (0-3-1).

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 4:17 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

DeAngelo determined not to let nerves get best of him

BOSTON -- Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo has made a career out of foiling oncoming forecheckers and disappointing determined shot blockers.

The only thing that sometimes gets in the way of the defenseman achieving his goals is nerves. After the second day of the USA Hockey evaluation camp for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship on Wednesday, DeAngelo said anxiety cost him last year when he was cut from this camp in Minnesota.

The 19-year-old is more comfortable this time competing against nine other defensemen at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University for a spot on the 2015 team.

"I had to be [more comfortable]," said DeAngelo, who was drafted in the first round (No. 19) by the Tampa Bay Lightning last June. "Last year, kind of, I was a little too nervous and just trying to be too simple and not playing the game that they brought me in to play. So I changed it around a little bit this year."

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 2:55 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Bruins at Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Boston Bruins forward David Krejci could return to the lineup Wednesday as the Bruins play on the second half of back-to-back games against the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Krejci hasn't played since Nov. 18; the Bruins have gone 3-7-1 in his absence. He has three goals and seven assists in 11 games this season.

"Been trying to stay positive throughout whole process," Krejci said, according to the Bruins website. "This is just another step forward. Got to wait and see."

He said he's being cautious to make sure once he does return to the lineup, he's able to stay there.

"I've worked hard to get back where I am," he said. "I don't want to any setbacks anymore. Want to keep playing from now on until the end of the season."

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 1:38 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

McDavid, Crouse headline Top Prospects Game roster

Top 2015 NHL Draft prospect Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League will play for Team Orr at the 2015 CHL/NHL Top Prospects game, which will be played Jan. 22 in St. Catharines, Ontario at Meridan Centre, home of the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League.

The Top Prospects Game features 40 of the top players eligible for the 2015 draft playing in the Canadian Hockey League. NHL Central Scouting coordinates the rosters, with input from all 30 NHL teams.

"The CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is an event that all NHL scouts and general managers circle on their calendars," Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "The 40 players competing in this game were chosen by our 30 NHL clubs and provides a unique opportunity for them to evaluate top CHL talent for the 2015 NHL Draft. This is also a unique opportunity for the players, who can take advantage of the spotlight to promote their play in this exciting and highly competitive single-game best-on-best contest."

The Top Prospects Game will be televised by NHL Network in the United States, and Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 12:59 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

Osiecki discusses requirements in forming U.S. lineup

BOSTON -- Mark Osiecki realizes the importance of having players that are tough to play against in big situations at the World Junior Championship.

Osiecki, coach of the United States National Junior Team, is not only looking for players capable of providing an offensive push but those grinders who are willing to pay the price in getting them the puck. Osiecki has seen his share of hard-nosed competitors as a three-time assistant for the U.S. National Junior Team, including gold medal-winning performances in 2010 and 2013.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 10:58 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Stars' Ruff on growing pains, positive signs, adversity

This week's Five Questions featured Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill discussing the patience required when you're an executive trying to build a winner and dealing with the peaks and valleys that make the ride to consistency a bumpy one.

You can read that Q&A right here.

To add to it, Stars coach Lindy Ruff also talked with NHL.com about the trials and tribulations his team has experienced so far this season after its surprising run to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 10:50 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Live blog

Scott Stevens a guest host Wednesday on NHL Live

NHL Live with Steve Mears and E.J. Hradek, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, will feature a special guest analyst for the show Wednesday as Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens joins us.

Wednesday Night Rivalry this week pits the Boston Bruins against the Minnesota Wild. NBCSN analyst Pierre McGuire will join us via the Arena Cam at Xcel Energy Center at 6 p.m. to preview this matchup between Eastern Conference and Western Conference clubs.

USA Hockey's selection camp for the 2015 World Junior Championship continues and defenseman Will Butcher will call the show at 5:40 p.m. to give us insight into the process.

Florida Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad, who ended a record 20-round shootout Tuesday against the Washington Capitals with the decisive goal, will call in at 6:10 p.m. to talk about the epic night.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 9:00 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship blog

U.S. players take proactive steps to mumps outbreak

BOSTON -- The mumps outbreak that has infected more than a dozen NHL players is not being taken lightly by the managerial team at USA Hockey during the four-day selection camp on the campus of Boston University this week.

USA Hockey general manager Jim Johannson said that while he hasn't received any instruction from the International Ice Hockey Federation with regard to the virus that now has affected six NHL teams, he made it a point to tell all 30 players just prior to camp to remain vigilant about their hygiene.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 7:27 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Over the Boards blog

Rosen's mailbag - Dec. 17, 2014

Here is the Dec. 17 edition of Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday during the season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

If the Chicago Blackhawks continue to play the way they have can anyone beat them in a seven-game series? -- @jhoman29

I picked the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup, so you know my answer to this question right off the hop. But I'll assume here you don't necessarily care about my pick, but more about the way the Blackhawks are playing. So here is your answer:

Nobody can beat them in a seven-game series when they are playing the brand of hockey they're playing now. Nobody as in NOBODY!

The Blackhawks have Patrick Kane on their second line because Marian Hossa is on their top line. They have Patrick Sharp, a four-time 30-goal scorer, playing out of position on the third line right now because their depth is so great. Ben Smith on the fourth line is perfect for Chicago because he can skate, has some speed and skill, but understands his role is to check. That's unbelievable depth at right wing.

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Quote of the Day

I might have blacked out. I was pretty pumped.

— New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid on his first NHL win Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning