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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 2:09 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Hamrlik back in on Rangers' blue line

WINNIPEG -- The New York Rangers (13-10-2) held a lively practice Wednesday after the team's arrival here in preparation for a date Thursday with the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.

Eighth-place in the Eastern Conference is at stake for the clubs, who each have 28 points.

Roman Hamrlik likely will return to the Rangers' defensive rotation after a two-game absence, replacing Matt Gilroy. Defenseman Marc Staal remains injured and will miss his fifth consecutive game, leaving the Rangers to look for help to ease some of the burden on their blue line's top four.

"It's crucial that someone steps up in the five-six spot," coach John Tortorella said. "When you lose a guy like Marc Staal, and we have guys playing minutes that they're not used to playing, we'd really like to get a rotation of six [defensemen] playing. But we also have to try to win each game, so that's where we're making the call on the bench. We have a few guys looking to take that spot."

Forward Arron Asham participated in practice Wednesday, but is not expected to return to the Rangers' lineup against the Jets.

Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal for the eighth time in the team's past nine contests.

Here is the Rangers' possible lineup:

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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 1:54 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Bouchard will take Zucker's spot in Wild lineup

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Pierre-Marc Bouchard has been a healthy scratch each of the previous three games for the Minnesota Wild, but he will re-enter the lineup Thursday in place of injured Jason Zucker.

Zucker, who was hit in the head by Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry on Tuesday, will accompany the Wild on its three-game road trip beginning this weekend against the Colorado Avalanche. Zucker skated for the second straight day Thursday and has reported no problems so far.

For the Avalanche, veteran Milan Hejduk will return to the lineup after missing five games with a stiff neck.

Colorado's Semyon Varlamov and Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom are the expected starters in net.

Here are the projected lineups for the game Thursday at Xcel Energy Center:

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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 1:47 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Blues, Coyotes getting healthy before matchup

ST. LOUIS -- Both the Phoenix Coyotes and St. Louis Blues are expected to get injured players back into their lineups when they meet Thursday at Scottrade Center.

For the Coyotes, defenseman David Schlemko returns after missing 16 games with an upper-body injury suffered early in a Feb. 4 game against the Minnesota Wild.

"It's been a long five-and-a-half weeks, I think," Schlemko said after the Coyotes' morning skate. "I'm definitely excited to get back in there. I think you bag-skate for three weeks straight ... reminds you how much you love the game. It'll be exciting. Probably a little bit of nerves the first couple shifts. It'll be fun to be back in there."

The Coyotes, who have won back-to-back games since losing 6-3 to the Blues one week ago, also could get center Matthew Lombardi (upper-body) back Thursday.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 1:36 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jets look to overtake Rangers for eighth in East

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets look to overtake the New York Rangers for eighth place in the Eastern Conference when the clubs meet Thursday at MTS Centre.

The Jets (13-11-2) will face the Rangers with a pair of tweaks to their lineup after a 5-2 home win Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Winnipeg recalled center Patrice Cormier from the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League on Wednesday to replace Jim Slater on the fourth line. Slater departed the game Tuesday with an apparent hand injury.

It also appears that center Alexander Burmistrov will be a healthy scratch for the second game in a row. Noel termed Burmistrov a game-time decision, but Burmistrov remained on the ice after the club's morning skate.

Winnipeg also recalled goaltender Edward Pasquale early Thursday to replace backup goaltender Al Montoya, who Noel said has aggravated a lower-body injury. Pasquale will dress in Montoya's place against the Rangers.

Here is what the Jets' lineup could look like Thursday:

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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 1:18 PM

By Matt Sitkoff -  NHL.com Contributor /NHL.com - NHL Live blog

Commissioner Gary Bettman joins Cisco NHL Live

Thursday at 5 p.m. ET on the NHL Network we'll kick of Cisco NHL Live with a special guest. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will join Steve Mears and E.J. Hradek to discuss the new realignment plan that was just approved by the Board of Governors. We will also talk to Columbus Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson, as they move from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference.

Division rivals square off in Carolina on the NHL Network on Thursday night, and we'll get a live update from Hurricanes radio voice Chuck Kaiton, who will call the game. With 10 other games on the ice we'll hit all of them and even give you a live look at warm-ups via our Cisco NHL Arena Cam in our Ice Pass.

Don't forget to submit your ideas for new division names on Twitter and Facebook, and stick around for the shootout as EJ picks all 11 games being played on Thursday.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 1:12 PM

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

Projected lineups for Stars, Ducks

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for Thursday night’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

DUCKS

Bobby RyanRyan GetzlafTeemu Selanne

Andrew CoglianoSaku KoivuDaniel Winnik

Matt BeleskeyBrandon McMillanEmerson Etem

Patrick MaroonPeter HollandKyle Palmieri

Sheldon SourayFrancois Beauchemin

Bryan AllenCam Fowler

Luca Sbisa- Toni Lydman

Jonas Hiller

Viktor Fasth

Scratched: Ben Lovejoy.

Injured: Nick Bonino (lower body), Corey Perry (suspended), Brad Staubitz (facial cut).


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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 1:08 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Knee surgery ends Versteeg's season

BOSTON -- The Florida Panthers will take the ice Thursday against the Boston Bruins with the fewest points in the Eastern Conference and a four-game losing streak.

Now here's the bad news:

Panthers coach Kevin Dineen announced after his team's morning skate at TD Garden that forward Kris Versteeg will have season-ending knee surgery. Versteeg, Florida's third-leading scorer last season, he has played in 10 games this season. He was playing his third game back from a prior injury when he was hit by Radko Gudas of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Versteeg left the game and did not return.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 1:01 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Capitals, Hurricanes

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here are the projected lineups for the game Thursday between the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena:

CAPITALS

Matt Hendricks - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin

Eric Fehr - Marcus Johansson - Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera - Mike Ribeiro - Joel Ward

Aaron Volpatti - Jay Beagle - Joey Crabb

Jeff Schultz - John Carlson

Karl Alzner - Tomas Kundratek

Tom Poti - Steve Oleksy

Michal Neuvirth

Braden Holtby

Scratches: Mathieu Perreault, Wojtek Wolski, Cameron Schilling

Injuries: Mike Green (groin), John Erskine (upper body), Brooks Laich (groin)

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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 12:54 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Lecavalier heading to IR with lower-body injury

TAMPA -- As if it weren't enough that the Tampa Bay Lightning have lost seven of their past nine games, Thursday morning they also lost captain Vincent Lecavalier.

Lecavalier was placed on injured reserve as a result of a hit he sustained in the third period of Tampa Bay's 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. Although the injured-reserve status puts Lecavalier out of action for a minimum of seven days (retroactive to Tuesday), Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he expects Lecavalier will be sidelined longer than that.

"Lecavalier plays a lot of minutes," Yzerman said. "It's a big hole in our lineup. He's one of our key faceoff guys and power-play guys. It's a difficult hole to fill, but we have to try to look at something positive. Someone's going to come down from Syracuse (American Hockey League) and get an opportunity."

That someone will be Tyler Johnson, an undrafted center who leads the AHL with 32 goals and leads the Lightning affiliate with 58 points. Johnson will make his NHL debut Thursday night when Tampa Bay hosts the New York Islanders.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.14.2013 / 12:45 PM

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

Projected lineups for Blackhawks, Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets will look to extend their eight-game point streak (5-0-3) when they face the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday at Nationwide Arena.

Aiding in their effort will be Artem Anisimov, who has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury. He's second on the team with six goals.

For the Blackhawks, Jimmy Hayes will slide into the spot vacated by injured Patrick Sharp. Hayes, playing for Rockford of the American Hockey League, is tied for the team lead with 22 goals

"He brings a presence," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Hayes. "He's got some size to him and he's been on a tear down in the minors there, producing at a real good rate. [He] gets to the net well and I think he's got a real nice set of hands at the net."

The Blackhawks announced Corey Crawford would start in goal, and forward Rostislav Olesz, who has not played this season, has been assigned to Rockford.

Here is how the teams could look when they take the ice Thursday:

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Quote of the Day

You get the right the whistles at the right times, you can leave him out there. He's a beast when it comes to being on the ice. I thought [Saturday] he was a big man. That first period, he did that lateral cut and it was like three bowling pins bounced off him. There's not too many guys that can do that.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on Alex Ovechkin, who enters February tied for the NHL lead in goals