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Posted On Wednesday, 11.06.2013 / 4:22 PM

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

Avalanche have shot at making history

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche can make NHL history Wednesday night if they defeat the Nashville Predators at Pepsi Center. A win would give them a 13-1-0 record to match the 2007-08 Ottawa Senators as the only teams in League history to begin a season with 13 wins in the first 14 games.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy is more interested in getting off to a fast start against the Predators, who will be playing the third of a seven-game, 17-day road trip to accommodate the Country Music Association awards Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena.

"We need to focus on preparing ourselves for tonight and make sure we focus when we get to the rink, make sure that we play a strong game and especially have a strong start," Roy said Wednesday morning. "These guys are on the road for a long time, and I'm sure they're going to want to have a good start and try to win that first period. It'll be important for us to be ready right at the start of this game."

Posted On Wednesday, 11.06.2013 / 3:38 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Rangers' Miller returns to lineup at ideal time

NEW YORK -- Thirty-five games into his NHL career, New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller remains a work in progress.

The 2011 first-round pick (No. 15) scored twice in his Madison Square Garden debut on Feb. 7 but hasn't scored since. After opening the 2013-14 season with one assist in nine games, he was made a healthy scratch Monday night in a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

But with New York playing a back-to-back set at home Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins and on the road Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Rangers coach Alain Vigneauilt has decided to inject Miller's young legs back in the lineup.

The move couldn't have come at a better time for Miller, who was raised just outside Pittsburgh in suburban Ohio and grew up idolizing the Penguins.

"One of my favorite players was [Alex] Kovalev. I tried to play like him. Him and obviously [Jaromir] Jagr and Mario [Lemieux]. I really looked up to those guys," said Miller, who especially tried to emulate Kovalev's style. "His wrist shot was very special to watch. He scored a lot of goals with that. It was great to watch that guy."

Posted On Wednesday, 11.06.2013 / 3:28 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Chanter healthy, returning to Dubuque lineup

Defenseman Dylan Chanter of the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League is set to return to the lineup less than a month after sustaining a separated shoulder and concussion following a fight in an Oct. 12 game against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.

Chanter's availability was made official by the team in an announcement Wednesday. The 18-year-old, who will attend the University of New Hampshire beginning in 2014-15, was activated from the 25-day injured reserve list and he is eligible to play as soon as the team's next game, Friday against the Muskegon Lumberjacks.

"It's a great feeling to be back," Chanter told Dubuque's website. "I'm really excited to be back and get going. I couldn't give enough thanks to our trainer Sean Murdoch as well as all the staff in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. They did a fantastic job and my neurologist couldn't have been a better guy. I'm excited to get back in the lineup. I really can't wait to be in the dressing room before a game and know I am about to play."

Posted On Wednesday, 11.06.2013 / 2:19 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Penguins energized as Neal skates with team

NEW YORK -- The Pittsburgh Penguins enjoyed some extra energy during their pregame skate Wednesday heading into a divisional matchup against the rival New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2). Some of that extra jump came courtesy of a standout player rejoining the team following a long absence.

All-Star forward James Neal skated in part of the morning skate, mostly participating in conditioning drills. Neal hasn't played since Oct. 3, when he skated 3:49 against the New Jersey Devils and left with an upper-body injury.

Neal, along with injured forward Beau Bennett, stayed on the ice after practice to continue conditioning work, with Neal joking as he walked to the Penguins locker room that he needed a stretcher following the intense workout.

Bennett, out since Oct. 12 due to a lower-body injury, could be back as soon as the weekend; there remains no timetable for Neal's return.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma acknowledged the mere presence of these players trying to work their way back was uplifting.

"James in particular," Bylsma said. "We've missed both those guys for extended periods of times. Having James on the ice, even in small quantities this morning, there was a lot of jump in a lot of guys' step seeing James out there."

Posted On Wednesday, 11.06.2013 / 11:24 AM

By Matt Sitkoff - Contributor / - NHL Live blog

NHL Live previews Rivalry Night, talks to Niedermayer

We're set for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN as the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins square off and NHL Live, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, will preview this Metropolitan Division rivalry. Eddie Olcyzk, from NBCSN, will join us in studio to talk about the matchup and his thoughts on pressing issues around the NHL. We'll also have NHL Insider Bob McKenzie on the show to talk rumors and injuries around the League.

The Pacific-leading Anaheim Ducks face the red-hot Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday and we'll talk to Ducks forward Mathieu Perreault and assistant coach Scott Niedermayer about the game and his Hall-of-Fame career from our Arena Cam.

Remember to submit your #AskEJ questions through Twitter via @NHLNetwork or @EJHradek_NHL, and join the conversation on Twitter as we ask you to pick the game of the night.

Posted On Wednesday, 11.06.2013 / 9:50 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Schmaltz powers U.S. in World Junior A opener

Nick Schmaltz, an "A"-rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list for the 2014 NHL Draft, had two goals and two assists to help lead the United States to an 8-3 victory against Russia in its first game at the 2013 World Junior A Challenge, being held at Yarmouth Mariners Centre in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

The U.S., which has won four of the past five tournament titles, outshot the Russians 41-27. Schmaltz, who plays for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League, scored twice in the Americans' five-goal second period as the U.S. opened a 6-1 advantage.

"Great chemistry and our power play was clicking [5-for-9], so that helps," Schmaltz told Tina Comeau of the Yarmouth County Vanguard. "We've got a lot of skill on this team, we're comfortable playing with these players, we've got one line that's been playing together for 100 games. I thought we had a great game."

Posted On Tuesday, 11.05.2013 / 10:06 PM - 2013-2014 Situation Room blog

PHI @ CAR - 16:02 of the Third Period

At 16:02 of the third period in the Flyers/Hurricanes game, video review supported the referee's call on the ice that Scott Hartnell's stick was below the level of the crossbar when he deflected the puck into the net. According to Rule 60.5 "The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick. If the puck makes contact with the stick below the level of the crossbar and enters the goal, this goal shall be allowed." Good goal Philadelphia.

Posted On Tuesday, 11.05.2013 / 7:52 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst / - Weekes on the Web

Role players will be key in Penguins-Rangers matchup

The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers used to be rivals in the Patrick Division. Then they met as Atlantic Division foes. They're still together in the new Metropolitan Division.

No matter what division they're in, the Penguins and Rangers are poised to meet in a great Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2).

Posted On Tuesday, 11.05.2013 / 7:13 PM

By Matt Sitkoff - Contributor / - NHL Live blog

NHL Live: E.J. Hradek's Tuesday game picks

E.J. Hradek Game Picks Tuesday November 5th:

Dallas Stars vs Boston Bruins - Bruins

New York Islanders vs Washington Capitals - Islanders

Ottawa Senators vs Columbus Blue Jackets - Blue Jackets

St. Louis Blues vs Montreal Canadiens - Blues

Edmonton Oilers vs Florida Panthers - Panthers

Philadelphia Flyers vs Carolina Hurricanes - Flyers

Calgary Flames vs Phoenix Coyotes - Coyotes

Buffalo Sabres vs San Jose Sharks - Sharks

E.J.'s Season Record: 82-44-9

Posted On Tuesday, 11.05.2013 / 7:10 PM - NHL Live blog

USA Warriors' Joseph Bowser joins NHL Live

A staff assistant to the secretary of the Army and a 14-year veteran, Sgt. Joseph L. Bowser was a guest on NHL Live to discuss the USA Warriors hockey team and meeting the Chicago Blackhawks during a trip to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday.

"It was just a great event," Bowser said. "Everybody was going around there, getting to talk to the guys and taking pictures with [Blackhawks captain Jonathan] Toews and the Cup. It was an awesome event."

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