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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 1:02 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Babcock defers talk of reprising Olympic role in 2014

PHILADELPHIA -- Hockey Canada on Monday announced the entire management group from the 2010 Olympics would return to lead Team Canada for the 2014 Games.

Steve Yzerman will return as executive director, with Doug Armstrong, Ken Holland and Kevin Lowe back on board as assistants.

That group's ability to construct a gold medal-winning team was part of the reason they were asked to reprise their roles for 2014; does that mean the coach of the 2010 team will be back for 2014?

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who guided Canada to the gold medal in Vancouver, said Tuesday there's a long time before he has to think about that. The NHL has not committed to sending its players to the 2014 Games, which will be held in Sochi, Russia.

"There's a couple years before those decisions are made," Babcock said following the Wings' morning skate. "Not only that, the players … the League has to figure out if they're going and get an agreement. Everything will happen in due time. Hopefully I won't have to answer that question for a while."

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


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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 12:48 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Game-time decision, Callahan a likely go vs. Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Rangers captain Ryan Callahan will likely return from a three-game absence Tuesday night to take on the New Jersey Devils.

Callahan, who hasn't played since the Rangers' 2-0 victory against the Devils eight days ago, has been dealing with a swollen right foot. X-rays showed no break, but the swelling was so significant that Callahan couldn't get the foot into his skate. He took part in the team's morning skate at Prudential Center and appeared to have no limitations, but said afterward he will be a game-time decision.

"It felt pretty good out there, not too bad," said Callahan, who also skated on his own Monday. "I'll take warmups and go from there, see how it reacts."

Callahan said he'll wear an extra piece of padding in his skate as a precaution if he does play.

"It's just a matter of being comfortable out there and being able to do everything at top speed," Callahan said. "I felt comfortable and I felt good.

The League-leading Rangers, who have 91 points in 64 games, didn't miss a beat in Callahan's absence, going 2-0-1. Facing the defending Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon, the Rangers found a way to pull out a 4-3 victory.

Callahan is the Rangers' second-leading scorer with 25 goals and 47 points in 61 games.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 12:44 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Long-time jersey snafu finally made right for Flyer

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossman might be the nicest player on the ice, but he's pretty cordial when it comes to the equipment guys.

Now in his sixth season in the NHL, he's never corrected any of the folks who took care of his jersey in Dallas or Philadelphia -- even though it's had his name misspelled since he arrived in the League.

Tuesday against the Red Wings, Grossman for the first time will wear his name spelled correctly on his jersey -- Grossmann.

"I just started off and they put it on the wrong way and I just kept it like that," he told reporters following the Flyers' morning skate. "My dad said something a while ago, why is it spelled wrong, and I said that's the way it came and I didn't change it."

It was Flyers Director of Team Services Bryan Hardenbergh who noticed recently that Grossman's name was spelled one way on his jersey and a different way on his passport.

"He (Hardenbergh) came up to me and said I notice your name (on your jersey) is a little different than what's in your passport and I said that (the passport) is what it should be," Grossman said. "He said we can change it for you, so I said OK."

Grossmann said he never said anything early in his career. Since then, he's just gotten used to it.

"When I was young coming up I didn't want to say anything," he said. "I was just happy to have a jersey with my name on it."

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


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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 12:38 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Carlyle calls Leafs' play against Bruins 'embarrassing'

TORONTO -- Randy Carlyle spoke candidly Tuesday morning about the Maple Leafs abysmal record this season against the Boston Bruins. He used the word "embarrassing" to describe the Leafs' four losses by a combined 23-6 score against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Carlyle, of course, was not around for any of Toronto's own Boston massacre. It didn't change his thinking.

"When you're with a team, it's we, it's not I, so I'm part of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and to tell you as a head coach of the hockey club and to look at the record, we are embarrassed," said Carlyle, who will make his debut behind the home bench at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday. "We want to make a change in that. As we stated, we have to play the game to a higher level on the road and in this building. This is our building. We want to make it as difficult as possible for teams to come in here and have success against us. That's a fact."

Carlyle put the Leafs through two rigorous practices Sunday and Monday that occupied a combined three and a half hours. There was plenty of teaching going on in each session. He said the key to beating Boston on Tuesday is to basically put into play what he implemented over the last two days.

"The message was we better be prepared to play the type of hockey that is going to be necessary to win the little battles that are out there, to win the 50-50 pucks, the one-on-one battles, or we're going to be embarrassed," Carlyle said. "We can't be embarrassed in our own building.

"We want to try to be first on the puck, use the skating game that we're capable of, be conservative from a standpoint where you don't give up and don't make the Hail Mary plays, and keep as many people above the puck when you don't have it," he later added. "And when you have opportunities to go, you're a transition team and you skate. I've said it numerous times, we've got to get on our horse and get going."

Sticking to his superstitious ways, Carlyle would not verbally announce the starting goaltender for Tuesday's game. But Jonas Gustavsson was the first off the ice and Carlyle said if a guy is playing well he's going to stick with him.

Gustavsson made 21 saves in Toronto's 3-1 win over Montreal on Saturday. He has a 5.44 goals-against average and .852 save percentage in three appearances against Boston this season.

"You've got to play well to earn the next chance. That doesn't change if you get a new coach," Gustavsson said. "I try to make the most of every chance I get. Then, if I get another chance I'll try to do the same thing there. My thinking didn't really change with the new coach. It's just about doing the same thing."

Carlyle did have some lineup news to announce. He said Mike Brown, who aggravated a previous hand injury late in Monday's practice, will not play and John-Michael Liles is a gametime decision. Liles developed a temperature of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit late Monday night.

"We thought it would be best suited for him not to come here this morning," Carlyle said. "He will visit with the doctors prior to the game, before everybody gets here, and we'll make an assessment on whether he's available to us or not."

Here is what Toronto's lines and D pairs could look like Tuesday:

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Matt Frattin
Nikolai Kulemin - David Steckel - Colby Armstrong
Jay Rosehill - Tim Connolly - Matthew Lombardi

Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles or Cody Franson - Mike Komisarek
Luke Schenn - Jake Gardiner

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 12:32 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Shot to hand won't keep Parise from facing Rangers

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise declared himself good to go on Tuesday following his team's morning practice at Prudential Center in preparation for the New York Rangers.
 
In the second period of a 1-0 loss to the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Sunday, Parise was struck in the left hand with a shot by Isles defenseman Milan Jurcina. While he was able to finish the game, he appeared a bit uncomfortable at times and was ultimately taken for X-rays. Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello informed the local media on Monday that the results were negative and showed no broken bones.
 
"Yeah, it would take a lot for me to miss this game," Parise told reporters. "I wouldn't want to miss this game … I'll be alright.

"Everyone is hurt and sore one way or another, and that's just how it is in March and April. Probably 15 or 20 guys are dealing with some type of injury, so it's nothing really."
 
The Devils are certainly going to need all hands on deck in their fifth meeting against their Atlantic Division rival this season. The Rangers are 2-1-1 against the Devils, scoring a 2-0 victory in the most recent meeting on Feb. 27 at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers have outscored the Devils, 9-5, including a 6-2 advantage in the third period. Additionally, 12 of the last 16 meetings have been decided by two goals or less.
 
"It's great rivalry," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "If you can't get up for this game … they're leading the conference. They're a team we're trying to close the gap and a team we might see in the playoffs at some point. It's two critical points for us where we're sitting in the standings, so all that factors in, and then you have the rivalry. The games we've had with them have been great; emotionally and from a hockey point of view, so it's exciting."
 
Meanwhile, left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky, who has skated the last two days after missing the last two games with a right knee injury, will be sidelined again. An MRI on Ponikarovsky's knee on Saturday revealed no damage.
 
"I did some conditioning and skating," Ponikarovsky said. "I'm doing well and [the knee] feels much better right now. It's been three days since it happened and I'm taking it day by day. I'll practice again [Wednesday] and see how it goes. I'm definitely not going [Tuesday]."
 
On defense, Andy Greene, who sat out Sunday's game after suffering back spasms during his pre-game stretching routine, did practice but admitted he'll be a game-time decision against the Rangers.
 
Martin Brodeur will face the Rangers in the regular season for the 94th time in his career. He sports a 45-28-20 mark with a 2.11 goals-against average, nine shutouts and a .919 save percentage.
 
Here are the probable line combinations for the Devils:
 
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Steve Bernier - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Cam Janssen
 
Adam Larsson - Matt Taormina
Bryce Salvador - Mark Fayne
Anton Volchenkov - Marek Zidlicky

Game time decision: Andy Greene
 
Brodeur will start and Johan Hedberg will serve as backup.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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POSTED ON Monday, 03.05.2012 / 4:14 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Hall declares himself fit to play for Oilers

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall pronounced himself fit to play Monday after going through the morning skate pain free at Honda Center.

Hall hurt his shoulder on a cross-check by Mark Fistric of Dallas on Friday night. He was held out of practice Sunday and was thought to be questionable for Monday night's game against Anaheim.

"It was a little sore when I woke up yesterday," Hall said. "(They) kind of recommended not to practice and we took that time to get the swelling down. Going out there today is usually the thing that would hurt it and didn't it at all, so I don't see why I can't play tonight. If (coach) Tom (Renney) has anything else to say, that's fine, but I think I should be in."

Hall might have to address the area during the offseason with a possible procedure but he said he'll cross that bridge when he comes to it.

"There's no question that throughout the season you're going to have little nicks and scrapes, and you have to take care of them when the season’s done," he said. "That's something we're going to have to re-visit."

Omark up:
Edmonton recalled Linus Omark in case Hall couldn't go, but Omark figures to get another look at some point anyway.

Renney said Omark is a game-time decision. It would be the fourth game in four nights for Omark, who played all three games over the weekend for the Oklahoma City Barons.

How will his legs feel?

"I don't know," Omark said. "I don't remember (ever doing) that. Of course it's a chance, so I'm glad to be here. I got to find a way to have fresh legs."

Omark was initially sent down in October to find his scoring touch, but he suffered a broken ankle with the Barons and was out for three months. He has 5 goals and 9 points in 11 games with Oklahoma City since he returned, and this is something of a tryout because he is an impending free agent.

"Where this ends up going, it's hard to say," Renney said. "I think he can contribute to our team, our organization. I think there's an opportunity for him, should he come back and have a real strong training camp and make some noise for himself again. Obviously, he needs to get traction."
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POSTED ON Monday, 03.05.2012 / 4:10 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Boudreau: Ducks 'still eligible' to chase playoffs

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Anaheim's locker room was quite sullen and silent after Saturday's loss to the rival Kings, the Ducks' third loss in four games.

Captain Ryan Getzlaf said afterward that they still believe, and coach Bruce Boudreau says it can still be done.

"I've looked at every team's schedule many times over and if we do what we're supposed to do -- there's still 98 points on the boards if we win them all -- I don't think it's going to take 98 points to make the playoffs but we're still  eligible to play," Boudreau said.

So what will it take to make it?

"Not 98," he said.

Brookbank finds his role:
Sheldon Brookbank has quietly put together a statement season in that he has become a regular on the back end of the defense.

Brookbank is two games shy of his career-high 66 games played. He's had three goals in nine games after he went 167 games without scoring.

After spending six years in the minors, he's become a regular.

"You don't have to play thinking that if you make a mistake, you're sitting in the press box, you know?" Brookbank said. "You can't make a bunch of mistakes, but they give you a little bit of rope."

Brookbank has beaten Martin Brodeur, Ray Emery and Jonathan Quick for his career-high three goals.

"The pucks are going in right now," he said. "I'll take every one I can get."

Special teams struggle:
Anaheim has allowed seven power play goals in the last seven games, and Boudreau sees a pattern he would like discontinued against Edmonton's top-ranked power play.

"They're always at the end of the penalty kill," Boudreau said. "We're killing off a minute and 40 seconds and then we make a mistake and then it seems to be in our net. That's something we have to fix. We've sort of figured out a few things and hopefully we apply them tonight. The League's best power play is not the ideal situation coming in, but if you're going to get any confidence from doing something well you might as well start against the best."

Boudreau ripped the officiating after Saturday night's game but said he wasn't fined by the League.
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POSTED ON Monday, 03.05.2012 / 4:04 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Oilers, Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Edmonton Oilers visit the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center:

OILERS
Taylor Hall - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
Lennart Petrell - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Ben Eager
Darcy Hordichuk - Eric Belanger - Ryan Jones

Ryan Whitney - Corey Potter
Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Nick Schultz - Andy Sutton

Nikolai Khabibulin
Devan Dubnyk

DUCKS
Niklas Hagman - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Bobby Ryan - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jason Blake - Rod Pelley - Matt Beleskey

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Lubomir Visnovsky - Luca Sbisa
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers
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POSTED ON Monday, 03.05.2012 / 2:42 PM

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

Buffalo riding workhorse Miller during improbable run

WINNIPEG -- The Buffalo Sabres' improbable march back into the Eastern Conference playoff race continues tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.

A 6-0-2 run has pulled the Sabres (30-27-8) into ninth place, two points behind the Jets. A regulation win tonight would slide Buffalo ahead of Winnipeg for the East's eighth spot. The Sabres have not occupied eighth place since Dec. 19. The Sabres wrap up their five-game road trip that has criss-crossed North America fresh off a 5-3 win at Vancouver on Saturday night.

"We've been treating every game as a playoff game," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

But Ruff expects a tough test in Winnipeg, where the Sabres suffered a 4-1 loss on Jan. 19.

"This team here is one of the better home teams," Ruff said, "and has really played well in this building. We're going to have to play well. We're going to have to execute. We're going to have to make plays."

Ruff will start goaltender Ryan Miller for the 19th time in Buffalo's past 20 games. Miller has spun an 11-2-3 mark over his past 17 games to go with a 1.70 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. The Sabres also expect to regain Robin Regehr, who missed Saturday's game with a lower-body injury.

Thanks in no small part to Miller's play, the Sabres have been able to shore up defensive problems that plagued them earlier in the season. The Sabres have allowed only seven goals over their past five games, and Miller ran a 106-minute shutout streak earlier in the road trip.

"I think we're playing much better defensively," Sabres captain Jason Pominville said. "We're making teams work hard to get their opportunities. I still think we're playing an aggressive style, but we're there to back each other up."

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Sabres:

Thomas Vanek - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Tyler Ennis - Cody Hodgson - Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe - Ville Leino - Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis - Brad Boyes - Corey Tropp

Jordan Leopold - Tyler Myers
Christian Ehrhoff - Robyn Regehr
Andrej Sekera - Mike Weber

Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth
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POSTED ON Monday, 03.05.2012 / 2:40 PM

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

Jets can push Sabres back in race for eighth

WINNIPEG -- Every game going forward for the time being is crucial for the Winnipeg Jets.

But now the Jets (31-27-8) have company in tonight's game with the Buffalo Sabres at the MTS Centre that concludes an eight-game homestand. Written off some time ago, the Sabres have rolled off a 6-0-2 run and can pass the Jets tonight with a regulation win and take over eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Jets have managed a 4-1-2 homestand so far, piling up 29 goals in the process, but have yet to be able to put distance between themselves and the Sabres, Washington, Tampa Bay and Toronto. The Florida Panthers have extended their Southeast Division lead over the Jets to four games. Five of Winnipeg’s final 16 games will pit them against Southeast Division clubs still jostling for playoff positioning.

Jets coach Claude Noel knows that his club will be facing a tough Buffalo opponent riding a wave of confidence.

"They're in a good place right now when you watch them play," Noel said. "They look like they play with confidence. They look like they're feeding off their goaltender. They look like they're certainly feeling good about things. They're a dangerous group."

Defenseman Zach Bogosian, who returned for last Thursday's 7-0 win over Florida after a seven-game absence (upper body), will again miss action due to a lower-body injury. Grant Clitsome will make his Jets debut and take Bogosian's spot in a pairing with Ron Hainsey.

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for the Jets:

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane - Alexander Burmistrov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Tim Stapleton - Nik Antropov - Antti Miettinen

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ron Hainsey - Grant Clitsome
Randy Jones - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason
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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory