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Posted On Friday, 08.10.2012 / 10:18 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Finland back on the ice

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- After a much-needed day of rest, Finland coach Harri Lindell had his team on the ice for a short spin Friday morning, ahead of an afternoon game against Sweden.

Finland had played three games over the previous three days, losing to a split-squad U.S. team Monday, to Sweden on Tuesday and to the full-squad U.S. team Wednesday.

"We really needed that [day off] because it was a tough start to the season," Lindell told NHL.com. "Now that we have relaxed, now it's important today to have the right mental toughness again because playing three games in a row, then having a day of rest, then all of a sudden you need to battle again -- battle really hard. That's why we had a half an hour on the ice this morning, and having some one-on-ones, two-on-twos, to make sure that we are ready."

In Tuesday's 8-2 loss to Sweden, Finland played well at the start and had a 2-1 lead in the first minute of the second period. Things fell apart from there, however.

Lindell said one of the places he's looking to improve is puck control, especially in the neutral zone. And getting a power-play goal wouldn't hurt, either -- Finland is 0-for-11 in three games, and didn't have a power-play chance against Sweden.

"We need to play better on the power play, but we haven't had that many power-play chances," Lindell said. "And we really need to improve the game in the [neutral] zone. We have lost too many pucks there. Our puck control hasn't been that good. We have to focus on that."

Lindell said Richard Ullberg will start in goal Thursday. He allowed five goals on 24 shots in Monday's 5-1 loss to USA Blue. Lindell said Ullberg likely will be his top goalie for the 2013 World Junior Championship, and wants to see how he performs against Sweden, last year's tournament champion.

"We are thinking about him for the World Junior Championship," Lindell said. "These are tough games. … He didn't play against Sweden before so we need to see him."

Lindell also said Miikka Salomaki, a Nashville Predators prospect, will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury. Salomaki skated Friday morning with the team, but Lindell said it wasn't worth risking further injury by playing him now. Lindell said there's a chance Salomaki could play Saturday against the United States.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Friday, 08.10.2012 / 10:09 AM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Summer with Stanley blog

After tumultuous season, Cup defense already in sight

It's amazing how much things can change in a matter of months. For Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, the 2011-12 season ended on such a high note with the franchise's first Stanley Cup win that it's easy to forget the team's tumultuous regular season.

Just under a year ago, the Kings were opening the season in Europe with one of their best players, defenseman Drew Doughty, holding out for a new contract. Eventually head coach Terry Murray was replaced with Lombardi's former coach in San Jose, Darryl Sutter. That's a lot for any team to deal with in just half a season.

"[Last season] was really hard in a lot of ways. Starting out with Drew, it was frustrating not having a top player in your camp. Then going to Europe, you're not sure how it affects your team with the travel," Lombardi told NHL.com. "Making that [coaching] change was very difficult, but fortunately I had a man like Darryl who I knew was willing to do it. What he did speaks for itself."

In all the drama surrounding the Kings' first half last season, Lombardi didn't escape unscathed, either. Leading up to the NHL trade deadline, there was some speculation that his job could be in jeopardy if he didn't make a significant addition to a team that ranked near the bottom in League scoring. But for a longtime executive mentored by Cup winners like Bill Torrey, Bob Clarke and Lou Lamoriello, that speculation didn't mean much.

"Whether it was Clarkey or Torrey or Lou Lamoriello, they would pound that into you. You can't listen to it. You're a pro, you can't let it affect your judgment. At this stage of my career, it really didn't affect me. I've been trained so well," Lombardi said. "They're very single-minded men who aren't going to be influenced by things they don't believe. Early in my career, it might have [been a distraction]. But I guess that just comes with experience."

In the end, Lombardi was able to acquire Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the deadline and the rest is hockey history. And with the entire Cup-winning roster returning for a chance to repeat, Lombardi sees an opportunity for the Kings to make even more history.

"We're very fortunate to bring everybody back," he said. "We were the fifth- or sixth-youngest team in the League. These guys have to continue to get better. I just talked to Jeff Carter last week, he sounds better than he ever has in terms of conditioning. Dustin Penner is way ahead of schedule.

"They're a great bunch of guys. The bottom line is it's about the players. The way they stuck together, I'm so proud of them."

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Posted On Friday, 08.10.2012 / 10:00 AM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Summer with Stanley blog

For Lombardi, day with Cup all about giving back

Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi had the perfect icebreaker for the noticeably pro-Boston Bruins crowd that came out to celebrate the public event he hosted Thursday during his day with the Stanley Cup in his hometown of Ludlow, Mass.

"It's all about you. It's about being able to give back to so many people who did it for me. I just hope you have a great time," Lombardi said. "There's only one problem. Every Bruins jersey has to go in the back."

Lombardi would end up hosting a five-hour photo session with the Cup. For the man known by his hometown buddies as Dean-O, it was just part of giving back to the community that helped raise him.

Local hockey fans gathered to celebrate Dean Lombardi's day with the Stanley Cup in Ludlow, Massachusetts. (Photo: Tal Pinchevsky/NHL.com)

That meant starting the day by bringing the Cup to two local children's hospitals. The incredible perspective that trip provided ultimately set the tone for what would be a day dedicated to the people of Ludlow.

"There was one kid. She was in intensive care and she got up and touched [the Cup] and smiled," Lombardi told NHL.com. "I got so wired I wanted to hit somebody. Sport is about competitiveness. You see kids like that, they send us a message about being competitive. That was really neat."

From there, Lombardi was a fixture at the public event held nearby at Ludlow's Polish-American Citizens Club. Through five hours of posing for pictures and handing out hugs and handshakes, the GM made sure to spend time with the childhood friends he has known for over 40 years. They're some of his most cherished friends, a tight-knit group of one-time hockey brats whose parents, like Lombardi's, worked at the local factories and mills that once dotted Western Massachusetts.

Even decades after first lacing up the skates together, they still laugh at one another's expense, still refer to one another by nicknames like Sponge and Stevie and Eddie Looch. And when Lombardi returned to Ludlow this summer with the Stanley Cup, it was clear from the start that this was a celebration for everyone.

"He never forgot his roots," said Steve Orlik, Lombardi's longtime friend and former minor hockey teammate. "There's an electricity here right now, because it's about the people."

But when the endless crowds finally stopped filing into the public event, Lombardi and his former mates, including a group that won a national championship in 1976 with the Springfield Olympics, took time to honor two people in particular.

The first was Tony Costa, a local legend generally revered around town as the godfather of Ludlow hockey. Lombardi was just one of hundreds of young kids Costa coached in the area over decades. When kids needed a ride, he drove them to the game. When they needed equipment, he found it for them. And when Lombardi and his crew walked the Cup right up to the home of their former coach, the 92-year-old local legend was waiting ecstatically for them on his porch.

"It's hard to describe back then in the Bobby Orr era, when every kid was starting to play. He [Costa] drove the bus, collected the money, got you to the rink, coached you. Everybody knew him in this town," Lombardi said of his mentor. "[We] never forgot what he did."

After spending time with Costa, the group reconvened with the Cup to make one last visit to a friend; a valued teammate who couldn't make it to the day's festivities. That last trip was to the grave site of Gary "Zun" Ziencina, a fixture in the community who lost his battle with cancer in April 2010. Zun's concern for others always stuck with Lombardi, who has tried to impart those values on his players.

"He was the guy who taught me that happiness in life is being happy for someone else. He was so beloved in this town. He would get 10 guys together, but if somebody wasn't having a good time, he wasn't having a good time. He just loved people," Lombardi said. "In life, you say, 'If I had that car or if I just did this or met this person, my life would be complete.' Usually you're disappointed. Winning the Stanley Cup that night was [actually] better [than expected]. He totally would have loved this."

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Posted On Friday, 08.10.2012 / 9:54 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Senators: Zibanejad staying in North America

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Mika Zibanejad got a short taste of hockey and life in North America last season, after the Ottawa Senators picked him No. 6 at the 2011 NHL Draft.

This season, he'll be on this side of the Atlantic far longer.

Ottawa Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray told NHL.com that Zibanejad will spend the 2012-13 season in North America, either in the NHL with the Senators or with the club's American Hockey League affiliate, the Binghamton Senators.

"He's staying no matter what," Murray said. "Whether its Ottawa or Binghamton, we're not sending him back. So he's here."

Zibanejad, currently here with Team Sweden for the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp, started last season in Ottawa, but was returned to his Swedish team, Djurgardens, in late October.

"We wanted to keep him, that was the intent," Murray said. "Just the longer it went, you could see with him the loss of confidence. The NHL is a tough league for anybody, especially an 18-year-old kid coming from Europe for the first time. I thought he played pretty well. He had some good games. I think it was the right thing to do to send him back. Hopefully that comes through in the next couple years."

Zibanejad, who scored the overtime goal in the championship game at the 2012 World Junior Championship, remains eligible for the 2013 tournament. Murray said there's a chance the Senators could let Zibanejad play in the tournament. It's a similar situation they faced last year with goalie Robin Lehner. The Senators opted to keep Lehner in Binghamton rather than release him for Team Sweden.

"For the World Juniors, obviously then that's not a decision we have to make today," Murray said. "He's obviously on their team. … We'll just have to do what we think is right for him. Is he playing 18 minutes a night in Ottawa? Is he playing 23 minutes a night in Binghamton? Who knows? Potentially he will be back playing in this tournament, but if I had to put odds on it I wouldn't even know where to place the odds."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 10:07 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Gostisbehere stole the show for Team USA

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Most of the attention Thursday was focused on U.S. defensemen Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba, but it was another blueliner who stole the show in Team USA's 10-2 rout of Sweden.

Shayne Gostisbehere, a 2012 third-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, scored a pair of power-play goals and had an assist. He also played solid defensively, which U.S. coach Phil Housley was quick to point out.

"His all-round game was good," Housley said. "His defense is getting better throughout the whole week. The stick is definitely good. He can skate it out of trouble. He moves the puck quite well. He's improving all week, and I think he played excellent tonight."

Gostisbehere, who had 22 points in 41 games to help Union College reach the Frozen Four last season, has had a memorable summer. Start with the NHL Draft in June, when even he was surprised to hear his name called with the 78th pick.

"I wasn't expecting third [round]," he told NHL.com. "I was expecting more fourth or fifth. It was a big surprise for me."

He also got his first experience at a professional development camp last month, and now he's still a big part of the evaluation process for USA Hockey.

"Make new friends and play well and play for your country," Gostisbehere said of his expectations for this week's National Junior Evaluation Camp. "I wasn't hoping (to just make the cut). I went through it, tried my hardest and thankfully it turned out well for me."

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, Gostisbehere isn't going to intimidate anyone in the defensive zone, but he has performed well in camp by outsmarting bigger, stronger forwards.

"It's using your stick first," he said. "Use your body as your last form of defense. Use your stick first and keep everyone in front of you and you won't have any problems."

He certainly didn't appear to have any problems against Sweden.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 7:46 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Lineup changes put charge in U.S. power play

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The biggest beneficiary of the lineup changes for the United States on Thursday might have been the team's power play.

Inserting defensemen Seth Jones, Jacob Trouba and Mike Reilly against Sweden paid immediate dividends when the extra-man unit scored Team USA's first two goals and went 4-for-5 in a 10-2 win.

Without those three Wednesday, the U.S. team went 0-for-3 with the extra man in a 5-2 win against Finland.

Shayne Gostisbehere, who partnered with Trouba on one unit, had a pair of power-play goals. Reilly, who was paired with Jones on a second unit, set up a pair of extra-man goals.

"With Reilly and Jones on the one unit and Trouba and Gostisbehere on the other unit, it brought a lot of offense from our defensive side of the puck," U.S. coach Phil Housley said. "They really created and were the quarterbacks. It made a big difference, especially early. We got two power-play goals early which really helps us get off to the right start."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 7:35 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Gibson's play big part of U.S. win

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- It's not often a goalie is one of the stars of a 10-2 game, but U.S. netminder John Gibson was a big part of Team USA's win over Sweden on Thursday.

Gibson, an Anaheim Ducks prospect, stopped 35 of 37 shots, including a number of outstanding saves. There was a strong glove stop with 2:20 left in the first period with the game tied 1-1, and a spectacular lunging glove save to deny William Karlsson on a shorthanded attempt midway through the second.

Gibson helped hold Sweden to 1-for-7 on the power play, with the only goal coming when it had a five-on-three advantage.

"It wouldn't have been 10-2 without John," U.S. defenseman Jacob Trouba told NHL.com. "He played great. He had some sweet saves and he was there to back us up whenever we made a mistake."

U.S. coach Phil Housley said, "In the second period when we really needed saves, he made a glove and a pad save that kept the game out of reach for Sweden and was a big-time difference-maker. His game has come a long way this week. It's great to see everybody improving, but John certainly provided us with solid goaltending."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 6:22 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

USA defeats Sweden 10-2

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Mario Lucia, Jacob Trouba and Sean Kuraly scored in the third period as the United States finished its rout of Sweden 10-2 in a game at the National Junior Evaluation Camp.

Shayne Gostisbehere led the U.S. team with a pair of goals and an assist, and Jacob Trouba, J.T. Miller, Tyler Biggs and John Gaudreau each had a goal and an assist.

John Gibson had an excellent game in net, further solidifying his position as the team's No. 1 goalie for the 2013 World Junior Championship.

Mika Zibanejad and Joachim Nermark had the goals for Sweden. Niklas Lundstrom let in all 10 goals as his team had no backup. Oscar Dansk was out with a knee injury, and Alexander Wennberg, a center projected to go in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft, dressed as the emergency backup goaltender.

Back with more from the locker rooms.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 5:28 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

U.S. extends lead over Sweden to 8-1 after two

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The U.S. turned up their level of play in the second period, turning what was expected to be a close game against the defending World Junior Championship gold medalists into a rout.

Vincent Trocheck and Alex Galchenyuk scored 21 seconds apart in the first two minutes of the period to make it 4-1. Trocheck, a Florida Panthers product, drove to the net to bang in a loose puck at 1:31. Then Galchenyuk, the third pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, got a gift when Sweden goalie Niklas Lundstrom stopped his shot under his pads. But when he stood up, the puck trickled over the goal line at 1:52.

They cranked up the pressure minutes later, scoring a pair of goals 24 seconds apart.

Shayne Gostisbehere, a Philadelphia Flyers' 2012 draft pick, scored his second power-play goal of the game when he wired a shot from the right circle short-side past Lundstrom at 6:19 to make it 5-1, and then Anaheim Ducks prospect Nicolas Kerdiles scored at 6:43 to make it 6-1.

Tyler Biggs made it 7-1 with a nice give-and-go goal with John Gaudreau at 15:16 of the period, and then J.T. Miller scored a power-play goal at 18:28 to make it 8-1.

Back with more when the game ends.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 5:01 PM

NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Devils sign forward Bobby Butler

The New Jersey Devils on Thursday signed forward Bobby Butler to a two-way contract. No other terms of the deal were disclosed.

Butler spent the past two seasons with the Ottawa Senators, producing six goals and 16 points in 56 regular-season games last season. He was scoreless in three Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"He signed a two-way (contract), so we’ll just see what develops, but he has the potential of being a top-six forward," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello told The Record.

Butler, who was undrafted, signed with Ottawa as a free agent on March 29, 2010.

The Senators bought out Butler's contract on July 27, making him a free agent.

"It’s going to be really up to him," Lamoriello said. “He’ll be given every opportunity. He visited and spent some time here and had some other opportunities."

The 6-foot, 185-pound native of Marlborough, Mass., split the 2010-11 season between Ottawa and the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton. He played in all 23 games for Binghamton en route to the team's 2011 Calder Cup Championship.

Butler spent four seasons at the University of New Hampshire, scoring 61 goals and piling up 121 points in 153 games for the Wildcats. As a senior, he was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star and the conference's player of the year after scoring a career-high 29 goals and 53 points in 39 games. With Butler in the lineup, New Hampshire went 87-49-17.

"He also played in Binghamton for (former Devils assistant and AHL head coach) Kurt Klienendorst when they won the Calder Cup, so we know a lot about him there, and also his college coach (Dick Umile) I had at Providence," Lamoriello told the newspaper. "So, we know enough about him."

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Quote of the Day

I think you always have to look internally before you look externally to see, 'Do we have these players within our organization?' And I think we do.

— Ottawa Senators assistant general manager Pierre Dorion on the Binghamton Senators (AHL affiliate)