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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 2:44 PM

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

Fantasy Spin: Kovalchuk surpasses Ovechkin in value

The final sequence of the New Jersey Devils' overtime win over the Washington Capitals Friday night was a microcosm of where forwards Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk stand in the fantasy landscape at this stage in their careers.

Ovechkin, trying to create a scoring chance in transition, lost his footing before losing the puck, causing an odd-man rush in the opposite direction.

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 1
SOG: 13 | +/-: -1
Then, despite his teammate fanning on the ensuing shot, Kovalchuk didn't give up on the play. The Devils' sniper swooped around the Capitals' net, parked himself on the left wing and cashed in on a feed from Marek Zidlicky to win the game and keep Washington winless this season.

While it may only be a single play in a 48-game season, it really represented what has been a contrasting opening week for fantasy owners who spent first-round draft picks on either Kovalchuk or Ovechkin. Kovalchuk, 29, has fully lived up to fantasy expectations (2 G, 2 A, plus-5, 6 PIM, 1 PPP, 13 SOG), but Ovechkin is off to the least productive four-game start of his NHL career (0 G, 1 A, minus-1, 4 PIM, 0 PPP, 13 SOG). Both averaged better than a point per game playing in the Kontinental Hockey League during the work stoppage, but only Kovalchuk has risen to the occasion since returning to NHL action.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 2:23 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Howden could make NHL debut for Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers already have had three players make their NHL debut this season, and they could have a fourth Saturday night.

Forward Quinton Howden, one of the team’s three first-round picks in the 2010 NHL Draft, was recalled Friday from San Antonio of the American Hockey League and took part in the morning skate Saturday.

Howden skated on a line with Jack Skille and Drew Shore, with whom he played in San Antonio this season.

“Very excited,” Howden said. “This is what you dream of, opportunities like this. I’ve been working hard to get this opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.”

He was so excited, in fact, he didn’t mind dressing on a chair in the middle of the dressing room because all the seats were filled. Howden, who had nine goals and 10 assists in 41 games with San Antonio, is among the large group of blue-chip prospects in the Panthers organization.

Howden is in line to join 2011 first-round pick Jonathan Huberdeau, Shore and defenseman Michael Caruso in making his NHL debut this season.

“It’s exciting,” Howden said. “You can see that things are starting from the bottom and building up, but all those draft picks with [Shore] and [Huberdeau] and me and [Erik Gudbranson] and all that, there’s a lot of guys that are making their debuts and are going to make a name for themselves.”

A 6-foot-2, 189-pound left wing who can also play center, Howden was the 25th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft.

Asked what he was looking to get out of Howden, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen didn’t hesitate.

“Speed,” he said. “That’s his No. 1 asset is his speed. If he can come out and establish that, that’s a part of his game, that’s a good step.

“I think he’s had a solid first rookie season that he’s gone out there and he’s found the adjustment to the schedule and how it is to play against big men. He’s still a work in progress but he’s headed in the right direction and deserves his shot if he can get in there tonight.”

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 2:07 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Knuble excited to rejoin Flyers

SUNRISE, Fla. — Veteran forward Mike Knuble was the only Philadelphia Flyers player missing a nameplate in the visiting locker room at the BB&T Center Saturday morning.

After completing the morning skate in preparation for Saturday night's contest against the Florida Panthers, the first game of Knuble's second stint with the Flyers, the 40-year-old recent signee wasn’t about to complain.

While he enjoyed his one-game stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, Knuble is happy to be back in the NHL after signing Friday with the Flyers.

"It was good. It was in my hometown. It was important. [I'm] pretty shocked that it wasn’t a little bit longer," Knuble said of his stint with the Griffins. "I thought I had two, three weeks before anything would pop up, but it was fun. Good experience. It’s funny to say, but I wish it would have been a couple more games there. It would have been fun."

Knuble was signed after the Flyers lost wing Scott Hartnell for 4-8 weeks with a foot injury. Knuble isn’t likely to replace Hartnell’s scoring, but he’s the kind of veteran who should fit in comfortably.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 1:35 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flyers, Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — Here are the projected lines for the game Saturday between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Florida Panthers.

FLYERS

Wayne Simmonds - Claude Giroux - Matt Read

Jakub Voracek - Sean Couturier - Maxime Talbot

Ruslan Fedotenko - Brayden Schenn - Mike Knuble

Tom Sestito - Eric Wellwood - Scott Laughton

Kimmo Timonen - Luke Schenn

Nicklas Grossman - Braydon Coburn

Kurtis Foster - Bruno Gervais

Ilya Bryzgalov

Michael Leighton

Injured: Danny Briere, Andrej Meszaros, Scott Hartnell, Zac Rinaldo

Scratches: Tye McGinn, Jody Shelley

Notes: Veteran defenseman Kurtis Foster returns to the lineup after sitting out the last two games. Foster said an undisclosed injury kept him out against New Jersey on Tuesday, but he could have played Thursday night against the Rangers. The Flyers also will have forward Brayden Schenn back in the lineup after he served his one-game suspension for his hit on New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov. “You may not agree with it, but you respect their decision,” Schenn said. “It’s no fun missing a game, but I’m glad I’m back after sitting out one game.”

PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Tomas Kopecky - Alex Kovalev

Jonathan Huberdeau - Peter Mueller - Scottie Upshall

Quinton Howden - Shawn Matthias - Drew Shore

Jack Skille - Jerred Smithson - George Parros

Filip Kuba - Brian Campbell

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Ed Jovanovski - Keaton Ellerby

Jose Theodore

Scott Clemmensen

Injured: Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg, Erik Gudbranson, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim, Michael Caruso

Scratches: Mike Santorelli, Tyson Strachan

Notes: The Florida Panthers’ lineup was up in the air after the morning skate because of the uncertain status of both Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg. “We were a hard scout today,” Dineen said. “You look at the morning skate and you look at the bodies in the lineup and the possibilities. We’re not sure what we’re putting on the ice tonight just based on guys are that close to coming back.”

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 1:28 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Reimer poised to make MSG debut

NEW YORK – Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer doesn’t remember if he was tabbed to start against the New York Rangers on Oct. 27, 2011, but he knows he was definitely supposed to dress.

Reimer took part in the team’s morning skate that day, but was scratched with what was believed to be whiplash issues before later being diagnosed with a concussion near the end of the season. The Maple Leafs recalled Ben Scrivens to back up Jonas Gustavsson for that contest and Reimer didn’t see the ice again until early December.

More than a year later, Reimer will likely get a chance to make his Madison Square Garden debut against the Rangers on Saturday night. Reimer was the first goaltender off the ice at practice while Scrivens stayed longer for extra work.

Reimer was expected to be the No. 1 goaltender in Toronto this season, but rumors swirled that the Leafs would acquire Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks. That trade wasn't consummated by the start of this season and Scrivens was given the Leafs’ first two starts. Four games into the 2012-13 campaign, he has made three starts compared to just one for Reimer.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 1:11 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Briere closer to returning

SUNRISE, Fla. — Forward Danny Briere is inching closer to making his season debut for the Philadelphia Flyers, but he didn’t sound optimistic following the morning skate that it would happen Saturday night against the Florida Panthers.

Briere, who sustained a wrist injury during the lockout while playing for Berlin Polar Bears of the Deutsche Eishockey League in Germany, took part in the morning skate after being cleared for contact on Thursday.

“I’m going to come back, try to warm up, it didn’t feel great this morning,” Briere said. "There’s ups and downs. Maybe [it will be] a little better tonight, we’ll see what happens. But probably more no than yes at this point."

Briere wasn’t sure whether he would even take part in pregame warmups.

"It’s where it’s at, how much strength, how much pain, at this point," he said. "Sometimes during the day it loosens up and it might be a little better."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 1:09 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blues, Stars

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for the Saturday night contest between the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

BLUES

David PerronDavid BackesT.J. Oshie

Andy McDonaldAlexander SteenVladimir Tarasenko

Jayden Schwartz – Patrik BerglundChris Stewart

Vladimir SobotkaScott NicholRyan Reaves

Wade ReddenAlex Pietrangelo

Barret JackmanKevin Shattenkirk

Kris RussellRoman Polak

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

Injuries: none

Scratches: Ian Cole, Matt D’Agostini, Jamie Langenbrunner.

NOTES: St. Louis has posted shutouts in two of its first four games, including a 4-0 blanking of Nashville at Scottrade Center on Thursday. Wade Redden made his Blues debut against the Predators, seeing 17:23 of ice time in his first NHL action since 2010. Heading into the contest Saturday, St. Louis has the NHL’s second-ranked power play, converting at a rate of 53.8 percent (7 of 13) and is tied for second in the League with seven power-play goals. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was behind the Dallas bench between 1996 and 2002, leading the Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup. RW Jamie Langenbrunner has spent two stints in Dallas, the first from 1994 through 2002 and the latter coming in 2011 when he skated in 39 games after coming over prior to the trade deadline.

STARS

Loui Eriksson - Derek RoyReilly Smith

Ray WhitneyCody Eakin - Michael Ryder

Brenden Morrow - Vernon Fiddler - Eric Nystrom

Ryan GarbuttTom WandellColton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski - Stephane Robidas

Aaron Rome - Trevor Daley

Brenden Dillon - Philip Larsen

Christopher Nilstorp

Kari Lehtonen

Scratches: Jordie Benn, Tomas Vincour.

Injuries: Jamie Benn (signed contract Thursday), Jaromir Jagr (back), Kari Lehtonen (undisclosed "tweak").

NOTES: This concludes a short, two-game homestand for Dallas, who lost 3-2 to Chicago in overtime on Thursday night. Through their first four games, the Stars have been on the power play six fewer times than their opposition. Dallas put the Blackhawks on the PP seven times in the OT loss with Chicago converting on three of those opportunities. Rookie goaltender Christopher Nilstorp gets his second NHL start against the Blues. Nilstorp was also between the pipes for Dallas in a 1-0 loss Sunday at Minnesota and stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced from the Wild.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 12:56 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jagr out for Dallas against Blues

Jaromir Jagr will not play Saturday night for the Dallas Stars against the St. Louis Blues because of a sore back, coach Glen Gulutzan told reporters after the team's morning skate.

Jagr, who left the Stars' 3-2 overtime loss Thursday to the Chicago Blackhawks, missed practice Friday because of the injury. Mark Stepneski, writer for the Stars' website, wrote on Twitter that Gulutzan said rookie Reilly Smith could move into the top six to help replace Jagr.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 12:45 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Weiss out again for Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla.Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss will miss his second consecutive game Saturday night, but coach Kevin Dineen didn’t rule out the other two members of his top line, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann, for the matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Versteeg has yet to play in a game this season after he sustained a lower-body injury in practice the day before the Jan. 19 opener against the Carolina Hurricanes. He took part in the morning skate Saturday, but didn’t work with a line and stayed on the ice for extra work after his teammates went off.

“He looked pretty good there today,” Dineen said. “With [Versteeg], I always have to be careful because his heart is telling him one thing and we’ve got to make sure that we get over this hump of our early-season injuries and make sure that guys are fully prepared to go instead of getting along with not firing on all the pistons. We’ll see where he’s at after a good skate today. It’s encouraging. There’s a possibility he can even play tonight.”

Fleischmann had the most ice time of any Florida forward in a 3-1 loss Thursday against the Ottawa Senators, but he sustained a cut on top of his right foot during the game.

Fleischmann stepped onto the ice before his teammates Saturday morning wearing warmup gear and skated briefly before stepping off. He returned after the start of the morning skate again in warmup gear before leaving after a short while and returning a third time in his full gear.

Dineen said Fleischmann’s availability has nothing to do with his past medical history — Fleischmann missed the second half of the 2010-11 because of a pulmonary embolism.

“Him and his medical team have done a really good job of staying on top of that,” Dineen said. “He’s aware of his history, but it’s all based on whether he can go out and be able to perform like he usually does.”

Like Versteeg, Fleischmann didn’t work with a line in the morning skate.

As for Weiss, who was a late scratch Thursday after taking part in the morning skate, Dineen said keeping him out because of his lower-body injury was a matter of playing things safely.

“Stephen is slowly coming along,” Dineen said. “It’s no different than anybody else. We want to make sure that when he comes back he’s feeling like he can contribute the way he usually does. He’s such a big part of everything we do here. He’s missed in the lineup. We’ll wait and get an evaluation, but he won’t be available for tonight.”

Because of the uncertain status of both Fleischmann and Versteeg, Dineen might have some line juggling to do before the puck drops Saturday night.

“We look at the morning skate and you look at the bodies in the lineup and the possibilities, we’re not sure what we’re putting on the ice tonight just based on guys are that close to coming back. It’s a little bit of a stickhandling to see where we’re at when we drop the puck tonight.”

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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 12:30 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Atkinson could miss 'a week or two weeks' for Columbus

Second-year wing Cam Atkinson is out of the lineup Saturday night for the Columbus Blue Jackets against the Chicago Blackhawks, and his absence might not be a brief one.

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch of the Atkinson injury, "This could be a week or two weeks." Atkinson missed time during training camp with a lower-body injury, and he did not play Thursday in a 4-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

Atkinson is one of Columbus' top young forwards and began this season on the top line. He has eight goals and 15 points in 30 career NHL games, and boasts an impressive scoring record at the American Hockey League level (49 goals in 89 games).

Portzline (@Aportzline) also reported on Twitter that Steve Mason will be in net for the Blue Jackets, who have dropped three straight after winning their opener against the Nashville Predators. Mason yielded five goals on 42 shots in a 5-1 loss Wednesday to the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Blackhawks are the only 4-0-0 team in the NHL. Corey Crawford will be in net for Chicago, according to multiple reports.

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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres