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Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 4:47 PM

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

Avalanche face Coyotes, Smith in critical game

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche know they could be in for a difficult game Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes and goalie Mike Smith at Pepsi Center.

Smith has frustrated the Avalanche as much as any goalie in the NHL, using his size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and ability to move from side to side to fashion an 8-1-3 record in 12 games against them, with a 1.85 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and one shutout.

"I think it's his athleticism," Avalanche center Matt Duchene said. "I played with him last season at Worlds [2013 IIHF World Championship] and I couldn't believe how good that guy is, especially for playing as deep in the net as he does. You can see a lot of net at times but it doesn't necessarily mean it's there. He's so good with his reflexes. You get a goal on him you know you did something really right."

The Avalanche had 44 shots at Smith on Nov. 21 and needed an overtime goal from Ryan O'Reilly for a 4-3 win against the Coyotes.

"We have to do the same thing, get a lot of shots and rebounds," Duchene said. "I think we scored more against him last time than he's used to against us."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 3:42 PM

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

Bruins place Eriksson on IR, recall Johnson

CALGARY -- The Boston Bruins have placed forward Loui Eriksson on injured reserve with a concussion and have recalled Nick Johnson from Providence of the American Hockey League.

Eriksson left the Bruins' game against the Pittsburgh Penguins after being hit by defenseman Brooks Orpik in the opening minute of the first period. Eriksson missed five games earlier this season due to a concussion.

"Some of the guys have texted him and had very limited contact with him right now," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It's really early in the concussion stage. You don't want too much stimulation and stuff like that. It's been done purposely. I'll reach out to him when my trainers tell me he's starting to turn the corner a little bit and I'll be able to reach out to him which I've done the last time as well."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 3:16 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Oilers still searching for consistent, 60-minute efforts

EDMONTON -- The only thing consistent about the Edmonton Oilers of late has been their inconsistency.

The Oilers have alternated between winning and losing in their past eight games. They host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday at Rexall Place, having lost to 2-1 in overtime against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

"The ups and downs of our team are sometimes understood and sometimes not," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "The last game against Calgary was a head-shaker for all of us. We thought we made some progress, we were feeling very good about ourselves and we made some knucklehead plays that cost us some offense."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 3:16 PM

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

Blues looking for better starts

WINNIPEG -- While the Winnipeg Jets' three-game homestand needs a good start Tuesday, it will be the visiting St. Louis Blues looking to reverse a trend of poor first-period showings.

The Blues visit Winnipeg fresh off a 5-2 loss Saturday to the Anaheim Ducks in which they allowed three goals in the opening seven minutes. In a stretch of three losses in the past four games, opponents have outscored the Blues in the first period 9-1.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock put his team through practice Monday before departing for Winnipeg and saw a similar pattern play out.

"[Monday] was a slow start and a great finish," Hitchcock said with a chuckle after the team's morning skate Tuesday. "Kind of like our games. I think for us we just have to play the right way earlier and not dig ourselves a hole. I think every team goes through these lulls. Ours seem to be in the first period.

"But I think we won't have a choice with Winnipeg having a first game back after such a long break and the fans the way they are here. They're going to be engaged at the start, so I don't think we have any choice but to get engaged here."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 2:53 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Red Wings' Weiss makes initial return to Florida

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Detroit center Stephen Weiss didn't try to downplay the significance of his return to South Florida.

The Florida Panthers' all-time leader in games played and assists will face his former team for a second consecutive game Tuesday night, but this one will be his first game back at BB&T Center, where he played the past decade.

"First time back, real excited to get the game underway," Weiss said after the Red Wings' morning skate. "The last few days I've been thinking about it quite a bit. I'm just real excited to start.

"It felt strange for sure [walking into the arena]. I really didn't know which way to come in the building, didn't know really where to go when we got in. A different feeling for sure coming to the rink. Just excited to get the game underway, but it certainly feels a little bit strange being on the other side."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 2:38 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Kings' Doughty focused on outplaying Habs' Subban

MONTREAL -- In spite of the fact they practically never play each other, the game Tuesday between the Los Angeles Kings and Montreal Canadiens has a ton of interesting storylines.

Each team is on an extended roll, are playing well defensively and rely on a young, dynamic defenseman who eats a lot of minutes.

On that last point, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said he sees it as his responsibility to outplay Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.

"Even though it's a matchup between both teams," Doughty said, "in order for us to win I have to outplay P.K."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 2:34 PM

By Steve Hunt - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Quenneville confident Blackhawks' Raanta is ready

DALLAS -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford will be sidelined about three weeks with a lower-body injury, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Tuesday.

Crawford was injured in the first period of the Blackhawks' game Sunday against the Florida Panthers and did not travel with his teammates to Dallas.

Antti Raanta replaced Crawford in the 6-2 win against the Panthers and will start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. Kent Simpson has been recalled from the American Hockey League to serve as the backup. Regular backup Nikolai Khabibulin is out with a lower-body injury.

Quenneville has no reservations about starting the rookie Raanta, who is 3-0-1 with a 2.16 goals-against average.

"Well, he's handled it well. He's been in the net. Game's been on the line, he's been solid for us. Just moving forward, you like his approach, you like his competitiveness," Quenneville said. "He's a battler. It'll be a good test for him as well."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 2:29 PM

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

Rangers look to call-up Asham for toughness

NEW YORK -- One day after being called up from the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League, Arron Asham will be expected to do the things that have helped him carve out an NHL career for the past 14 years.

The veteran forward said he would be focusing on the physical play that has marked his career as he is inserted back into the New York Rangers lineup after spending the past two months in the AHL.

"I just have to come in here and spark a little life in the fourth line, try to get the boys going," Asham said. "Just play the way I have the last 14 years. Finish my checks, chip in offensively here and there and try to keep the puck out of my own net. It seems to have been working out so I'm going to try to work with that and not get too fancy."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 1:57 PM

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

Rangers defenseman Staal out with concussion

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal sustained a concussion against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday and is out indefinitely, coach Alain Vigneault said Tuesday.

Staal's injury was originally diagnosed as a neck issue, although he was described as having concussion-like symptoms.

Now that the concussion is confirmed, the Rangers will keep Staal out of the lineup until his condition improves.

"Marc has been diagnosed with a concussion," Vigneault said. "He's being watched by our doctors. They don't feel it's as serious as what he might have had in the past. He's feeling better and we'll take it day by day."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 1:40 PM

By Alain Poupart - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Red Wings get Datsyuk back in lineup

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk will make his much-anticipated return to the lineup Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers.

Datsyuk will be back after missing seven games because of a concussion he sustained as a result of an elbow from Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen on Nov. 23.

The Red Wings managed to post a 5-2-0 record during Datsyuk's absence, but have lost two of their past three. In their most recent game, the Red Wings lost to the Panthers 2-1 at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.

"It means a lot [to have Datsyuk back], but it means a lot over the long haul," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after his team's morning skate. "If we're looking at Pavel and counting on Pavel to get 'er done, that's not how it works. We have to be way better than we were last game. The bottom line is Pavel gives us lots of confidence, he's a real good player, but the rest of us gotta play better than we did."

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Quote of the Day

It's a big milestone for me and I'm happy to help my team with lots of good teammates. It's fun.

— Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, who on Wednesday became the ninth Russian-born player, and ninth Red Wings player, to score 300 NHL goals
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