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Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 3:22 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyotes' Doan off antibiotics, regaining strength

GLENDALE Ariz. – Shane Doan will end 2013 where he has spent almost all of December -- watching the Phoenix Coyotes from the sidelines.

But a return in 2014 is looking more and more likely each day.

After taking part in his first full practice Monday, Doan was strong enough to participate in the morning skate Tuesday. That's a sign the Coyotes captain is on the road to recovery from a bout with Rocky Mountain fever that has kept him out of the lineup since Dec. 4, and on his back for several weeks.

Doan won't play against the Edmonton Oilers and the timetable for his return is still undetermined, but he is off antibiotics and building his strength and wind. He returned to the ice last week and made the trip to Anaheim on Saturday, and the progress is noticeable. Following the Saturday skate, Doan slept for four hours in the afternoon to recharge.

Skating on back-to-back days is another hurdle cleared.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 3:14 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Red Wings' Miller sees irony in locker room placement

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Drew Miller spent three years as a player at Michigan State University. His brother, Ryan, was also a Spartan and one of the school’s two Hobey Baker Award winners.

Miller and fellow Michigan State alum Justin Abdelkader are in an interesting position this week as their Detroit Red Wings prepare for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Wednesday at Michigan Stadium against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He was in a really interesting position Tuesday when the Red Wings practiced at the Big House. Detroit is using the Michigan football locker room, and Miller is using one of the lockers that honors some of the great Wolverines players in program history.

"It is one of the legends ones or whatever, Desmond Howard," Miller said. "I guess it was just by chance of how the numbers went in order around the room. We were on the Fathers' Trip when I got a text from one of the equipment guys who stayed back here and he showed me a picture of it on the text.

"I said, 'Burn the stall and put me in a folding chair.' I'm just joking. It is a situation where you put all that rivalry stuff aside and make the most of it. It is such an unique situation. You put all that other stuff aside."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 3:10 PM

By Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets expect festive atmosphere in Colorado

DENVER -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards is expecting a festive atmosphere Tuesday at Pepsi Center when his team faces the Colorado Avalanche.

"It's probably going to be a unique environment tonight, just being New Year's [Eve] and based on the success they have had so far this year," Richards said. "You can see it on TV. There's more people [attending games]. There is going to be more energy."

The Avalanche are playing at home on New Year's Eve for the third time since the franchise has been in Denver and the first time at Pepsi Center. The previous two games were played at McNichols Sports Arena in 1998 (a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers) and 1997 (a 3-1 win against the New York Islanders).

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy is just interested in putting an end to the team's four-game losing streak (0-1-3) that includes two shootout losses and one in overtime.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 2:08 PM

By Aaron Vickers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Westgarth could make Flames debut against Flyers

CALGARY -- If Kevin Westgarth can make it to Scotiabank Saddledome in time, he will make his Calgary Flames debut Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Westgarth, acquired Monday from the Carolina Hurricanes in a trade for Greg Nemisz, is trying but may not make it in time for puck drop on New Year's Eve.

"Right now the main thing is to try to get Kevin Westgarth in town," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “His flight has been delayed. We think he's going to show up early this afternoon, so if he does he's going to be in the lineup."

If he does have Westgarth at his disposal, Hartley said he expects one thing from his new forward.

"Toughness," he said. "That's why we got him."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 2:04 PM

By Patrick Williams - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sabres looking to duplicate success against Jets

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets will attempt to avoid duplicating a hard-learned lesson when they meet the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday at MTS Centre.

The Sabres dealt the Jets a 4-2 defeat two weeks ago in Buffalo. The loss extended a pattern for the Jets of losing to teams placed well below them in the overall League standings.

However, that game in Buffalo sparked a surge for the Sabres (11-24-4), who have gone 3-1-1 since the win against the Jets and have defeated the Boston Bruins, Phoenix Coyotes and Washington Capitals.

The trip into Winnipeg begins a two-game road trip for the Sabres, who conducted an optional morning skate at MTS Centre, but they intend to duplicate the composed, structured game that they played against the Jets earlier this month.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 1:21 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Hurricanes coach Muller: 'We've got to win'

RALEIGH, N.C. -- One day after Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said he's been working the phones in pursuit of a trade, the Hurricanes had a quiet morning skate in preparation for their game Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens.

Carolina has won just one of its previous nine games (1-4-4). Rutherford also met with coach Kirk Muller on Monday.

"I had a good chat with him yesterday. Everything was good," Muller said. "We've got to win. I'm comfortable with it. That's what we're in this game for. Our better players have to play better. They know that. That gives us a better chance to win, like any hockey club. But there's more positives around here than negatives."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 1:08 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blues' Backes improving, but won't face Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- St. Louis Blues captain David Backes will miss his second consecutive game Tuesday when the Blues play the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

A native of Minneapolis who played college hockey 90 minutes south of the Twin Cities at Minnesota State, Backes missed two games earlier this month with a concussion. He was injured Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks, missing a portion of the third period in a game the Blues won 5-4 in a shootout. The two injuries are not believed to be related.

Backes will miss his fourth game of the season Tuesday after missing only three games in his previous six seasons. He skated at the Blues' practice Monday and again Tuesday during their morning skate, but coach Ken Hitchcock said he will give him more time.

"Not going to play tonight, not ready to go," Hitchcock said. "He's feeling better and better, but he's not able to play. We're just not prepared to risk it right now."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 12:57 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Marquee names expected for alumni doubleheader

DETROIT -- With so many former Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings players looking to participate in the 2013 Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings Alumni Showdown, preceding the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1, fans will be treated to a rare doubleheader. Comerica Park will host back-to-back alumni games Tuesday, with each game featuring a variety of notable names from Red Wings and Maple Leafs history.

In the first game at 1:25 p.m., Detroit will be represented by a number of names from the recent past. Among them will be forwards Martin Lapointe, Pat Verbeek, Mike Sillinger and Petr Klima. The defense for the Red Wings will be bolstered by several Stanley Cup winners, including Steve Duchesne, Aaron Ward, Mathieu Schneider and Mathieu Dandenault. In a unique twist to the game, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who played three games with Detroit during the 1983-84 season, is expected to appear in net alongside Kevin Hodson and Eddie Mio.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 12:56 PM

By Staff -  / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Hurricanes recall Khudobin from AHL

The Carolina Hurricanes recalled goalie Anton Khudobin from Charlotte of the American Hockey League on Tuesday.

Khudobin, 27, has not played in an NHL game since sustaining an ankle injury Oct. 13 against the Phoenix Coyotes. During a conditioning stint with the Checkers, Khudobin went 1-1-0 with a 3.03 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. He was named the first star of Charlotte's game Monday after stopping 41 shots in a 3-2 win against Rockford.

Khudobin is 2-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .929 save percentage in three games for the Hurricanes, who also have goalies Cam Ward and Justin Peters on the roster.

Carolina enters its game Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens on a five-game winless streak and 1-4-4 in its past nine games.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 12:32 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Record number of tickets sold to 2014 Winter Classic

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins said Tuesday that the League has sold a record 105,500 tickets to the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. The League expects to set a record for attendance at a hockey game Wednesday when the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs square off at Michigan Stadium.

The current attendance record for a hockey game is 104,173, which was set at Michigan Stadium on Dec. 11, 2010 for The Big Chill at the Big House. A representative from Guinness World Records will be on hand Wednesday to verify the attendance at the Winter Classic to determine if the NHL beats The Big Chill record for attendance.

The tickets sold would suggest the NHL will break the record, but Collins is not ready to say that for sure.

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