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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 2:03 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Leafs, Caps vie for critical points at ACC

The Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Washington Capitals tonight at Air Canada Centre in what will be there third meeting this season.  Each team has won once.

As it stands, both clubs are on the outside of the playoff picture with 65 points and trailing the eighth-place Florida Panthers by one in the standings.

For Toronto, getting off to the right start is imperative. They have not held a lead after the first 20 minutes in the first two games of their current homestand and ended up losing both contests by one goal.

“That’s what we need tonight, is to be aggressive right off the bat and take it to them as quickly as possible, not wait.” coach Ron Wilson said.  “We’ve got to initiate things, especially with Washington and us in the (same) proximity in the standings and the fact they played last night.”

Wilson also confirmed that James Reimer would start in goal for the second straight game.

Joffrey Lupul, the Leafs second-leading scorer, acknowledged that opponents have been looking to mitigate Toronto’s speed, something which has contributed to their recent woes. 

“It’s something we got to be prepared for, we might not get 15 or 20 scoring chances in a game but we have to be ready to score when we do," Lupul said. "On the other hand we have to limit other team’s chances.  These guys are a team with a lot of top end talent.  We want to try and limit Ovechkin and Semin in their time and space.”

Leafs forward Darryl Boyce and was claimed off waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.  Boyce had a goal and an assist in 17 games for Toronto this season.  Fellow forward Jay Rosehill cleared waivers and was sent to Toronto’s AHL Affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.

The moves made room for the Maple Leafs to call up forward Matt Frattin, who will play tonight.  The rookie has 10 points in 37 games with the Leafs so far this season.  Forward Colby Armstrong will also play tonight.

After a 4-1 win Friday against Montreal, the Capitals had only four players on the ice for the morning skate. Goalie Tomas Vokoun was on the ice but Michal Neurvirth is expected to start for the second straight night after stopping 30 shots for the victory Friday.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 1:54 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flames turn to Desbiens for energy boost

In order to inject a little life into their club against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night, the Calgary Flames have turned to Guillaume Desbiens.

A rough-and-tumble forward recalled yesterday from the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat, Desbiens will make his Flames debut against the Broad Street Bullies.

It’s the perfect situation for his debut.

“They’re a physical team and I’m a physical player,” said Desbiens, who has 13 points with the Heat this season. “It’s going to be a good match for me and the kind of game I like to play in. I’m not going to change anything. I’m going to forecheck, be physical and try to bring some energy and try to spend some time in the offensive zone. If I can do that, I’ll be happy with my game.”

Lance Bouma, a fellow call-up from Abbotsford, thinks it’s the right situation for his teammate.

“That’s the type of player he is,” Bouma said. “He’s a big, strong guy who uses his body well. He’s not afraid to drop the gloves. He’s not shy with that at all. It’s a big game for him coming in.”

Coach Brent Sutter, whose Flames have shown little in the way of emotion in back-to-back losses to the Edmonton Oilers and Phoenix Coyotes earlier in the week, hopes Desbiens can provide that spark.

“He’s a big, strong guy who plays with emotion, plays with his heart on his sleeve,” Sutter said. “He’s going to bang, crash, go hard to the net. He’s not a real high-end skilled guy. It gives him an opportunity and gives us an opportunity to see where he’s at.”

Emotion shouldn’t be difficult to find for Desbiens, who has 102 penalty minutes in 51 games this season in the AHL.

“It’s a good time of the year,” he said. “Stakes are high. The team is doing pretty good so we’re hoping to make a final push for the playoffs. The stakes are really high. When you’re younger you dream about these games.

Here's the Flames' projected lineup:

Jarome IginlaOlli JokinenCurtis Glencross
Alex TanguayMichael CammalleriBlake Comeau
Guillaume DesbiensRoman HorakTim Jackman
Lance BoumaMatt StajanTom Kostopoulos

Jay BouwmeesterDerek Smith
Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
TJ BrodieCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson
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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 1:46 PM

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

Carter doesn't skate, expected to make Kings' debut

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Jeff Carter did not skate with the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday morning but the club expects him to play against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Carter had a physical off site and is expected to join the team before the 5 p.m. PT game at Staples Center.

“You’re still waiting for the League sign off,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “But he’s been through everything so that’s not an issue but there’s still a formal procedure that they have to do, and because it’s Saturday – I guess its trouble putting all that together.”

Sutter confirmed Carter will play on the second line with Mike Richards. Dwight King has had chemistry with Richards and will likely fill the other wing spot.

Sutter plans to plug in Carter without much hitch.

“Our systems and all that are pretty generic,” he said. “And he’s played most of the season. Other than the odd tweak or maybe three feet where he’s got to be, there’s not much (adjustment).”

Voynov in: Slava Voynov returns to the lineup after he was recalled. A bright spot on defense this season, Voynov is largely why the club justified trading Jack Johnson.

Voynov said he found out about his recall during a game with the Manchester Monarchs. He is aware of this increased responsibility.

“I’ve waited for this time,” Voynov said. “First power-play (unit) – more pressure for me.”

Father watching: Jordan Nolan said his father, former NHL coach Ted Nolan, is in town and will watch him in Los Angeles for the first time.

Jordan Nolan has been put on the fourth line but his stay with the big club has gone on longer than he expected.

“I’m probably the guy they’ll send down next because of waivers,” Nolan said. “You just got to keep on your toes and play your best hockey because you never know.”

Nolan said he’s learned a lot in his brief time in the NHL.

“I think I’ve learned how serious the game is, how badly the guys want to win and how guys want to be successful,” he said. “It’s a business and guys want to stay in the lineup, so that’s all I’m trying to do right now.”
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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 1:34 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Wings look to get back to basics, winning ways

DETROIT – It's not about starting a new home winning streak for the Detroit Red Wings as much it is about getting back to the basics of what helped them reel off an NHL record 23 straight victories at Joe Louis Arena in the first place.

They need to skate better than they have the past two games, both one-goal losses, and they need to fix their puck-possession game – which, when it's right, is dominant.  The hurdle on Saturday night (7 p.m.) will be doing it against the hungry, athletic Colorado Avalanche (31-37-4), who have won two straight games including a 5-0 thrashing of the Columbus Blue Jackets in Ohio on Friday night.

Colorado finds itself deadlocked in the Western Conference standings at 66 points with two other teams – who are all two points behind the Dallas Stars for the final playoff spot. So, the Avs ought to be highly motivated.

Detroit (41-18-3) should be, too, after Vancouver passed the Red Wings by a point for the top spot in the West after winning on Friday night in New Jersey.

"They’ve won their last two games total and they’re playing well," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of the Avs on Saturday morning at Joe Louis Arena. "They play fast, and they’ve got some skill up front. Their back end is young, but they’ve got some good skill. They’re going to be a test. The other thing is, we haven’t been as good. You’ve got to reestablish how you play and your structure."

The Red Wings will also try to accomplish that for the third straight game without star center Pavel Datsyuk, who could be out for up to two more weeks recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery this past Tuesday.

The dynamic Russian two-way centerman's prowess in the faceoff circle – among all other facets of his game – has been noticeably missed in the last two games against the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks, which leads to the Wings not possessing the puck as much as they'd like.

Babcock said it's merely another opportunity for somebody else to step forward and fill the gap until Datsyuk returns.

"It’s important that you can have enough guys to keep everybody hungry," Babcock said. "It’s like anything. Am I satisfied with our scoring ability without Pav? Am I satisfied with our defense without Pav? Well, I like having Pav on the team. We don’t have him on the team, but opportunity knocks for somebody else."

Newly-acquired Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey – who was traded from the Colorado Avalanche in a three-team deal on Tuesday – didn't meet with reporters prior to the game after making a few comments about his former teammates "having their bags packed" hoping to be traded.

After Friday's practice, Quincey said the comments – which he gave to reporters in Detroit on Thursday – were taken out of context and didn't think they should be bulletin board material for Saturday night's game against the Avs.

Colorado only held a sparsely-attended optional skate at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday morning and didn't have many players who will play in the game available for comment.

Here is how the Avalanche and Red Wings will likely line up to start Saturday night's game:

AVALANCHE

Matt Duchene - Paul Statsny - Milan Hejduk
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downie
Daniel Winnik - Mark Olver - David Jones
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew

Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan Wilson
Stefan Elliott - Matt Hunwick

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

RED WINGS

Johan Franzen - Henrik Zetterberg - Todd Bertuzzi
Jiri Hudler - Valtteri Filppula - Danny Cleary
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Jan Mursak - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Kyle Quincey

Jimmy Howard
Joey MacDonald
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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 1:12 PM

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

Smithson set for Panthers debut against Carolina

The Florida Panthers had a bit of a new look Saturday morning after the Friday acquisition of forward Jerred Smithson, who came from Nashville in exchange for a 2012 sixth-round draft pick.

Smithson had spent the past seven seasons with the Predators. With 89 points in 527 NHL games, he brings a reputation as a strong faceoff man who finishes his checks.

"It's definitely a new experience for me. I've never been traded before," Smithson said. "It happened so fast I didn't get a chance to sit down and take it all in last night until I got to the hotel. But I'm excited. It was a long time in Nashville, but it will be good to get a fresh start."

As far as making the quick transition to a new team, Smithson wasn't worried.

"There's an easy part -- the guys are always good," he said. "I'll just go in there and do my thing and try to fit in."

Carolina will give Justin Peters his third straight start in goal. The Hurricanes had hoped to have Cam Ward back in the net Saturday night, but coach Kirk Muller insisted that Ward continues to make progress with his lower-body injury. Muller said the team is just being extra cautious.

Florida coach Kevin Dineen did not name a starting goaltender. He will make a game-time decision.

FLORIDA

Tomas Fleischmann – Stephan Weiss -– Kris Versteeg
Michael Samuelsson - Tomas Kopecky - Shawn Matthias
Michal Repik - Mike Santorelli – Jerrod Smithson
Krystofer Barch - Jon MatsumotoJack Skille

Brian CampbellErik Gudbranson
Ed Jovanovski - Jason Garrison
Keaton EllerbyMike Weaver

Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen

CAROLINA

Jiri TlustyEric StaalJerome Samson
Jussi JokinenJeff SkinnerPatrick Dwyer
Drayson BowmanBrandon SutterAndreas Nodl
Anthony StewartTim BrentDerek Joslin

Tim GleasonBryan Allen
Jay HarrisonJustin Faulk
Jaroslav SpacekJamie McBain

Justin Peters
Mike Murphy
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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 12:22 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Thiessen might spell Fleury, earn NHL debut Sunday

PITTSBURGH— A day off for Marc-Andre Fleury? It really might happen.
 
On Sunday, Brad Thiessen could become the first Pittsburgh Penguins goalie other than Fleury and Brent Johnson to start a game in more than two years.
 
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is leaning towards starting Thiessen – who is up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) for the second time in a week – against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. Thiessen, a 25-year-old former Northeastern University goalie, hasn’t played in an NHL game.
 
Thiessen is 20-14-2 with a 2.88 goals-against average at Wilkes-Barre after having a superlative season in 2010-11, when he was 35-8-2 with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.
 
Johnson, the Penguins’ backup, was injured in practice Thursday – two days after an undisclosed illness prompted Pittsburgh to bring up Thiessen for a 2-0 victory over the Rangers. Thiessen did not play in that game, but was back in uniform for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
 
Fleury has had an exceptionally heavy workload – the Tampa Bay game was his 31st appearance in Pittsburgh’s last 33 games, including three games in which he replaced an ineffective Johnson.
 
With the Penguins playing at a more than every other day pace for the next month – 18 games in 35 days – Bylsma wants to give Fleury some time off as the playoffs grow closer.
 
Fleury, enjoying a second consecutive strong season and the Penguins’ MVP a year ago, has 31 of the team’s 34 victories this season. He is 31-14-3 and has 2.36 goals-against average.
 
Johnson is 3-7-2 and has won only once in six appearances since Dec. 3.
 
Only once in the last three seasons has a goalie other than Fleury or Johnson started for Pittsburgh. John Curry stopped only nine of 14 shots during an emergency start at Vancouver on Jan. 16, 2010, a game in which amateur callup Alexander Pechurski finished up by stopping 12 of 13 shots. Both Fleury and Johnson were unavailable that night.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 11:45 AM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lineups for Bruins, Senators

KANATA, Ont. – Here are the projected lineups for Saturday night when the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins meet at Scotiabank Place. The Senators held a full practice, while the Bruins, coming off a 2-1 shootout loss to Buffalo on Friday night, did not skate.

SENATORS

Milan MichalekJason SpezzaBobby Butler
Colin GreeningKyle TurrisDaniel Alfredsson
Kaspars DaugavinsZack SmithErik Condra
Nick Foligno – Jim O’Brien – Chris Neil

Filip KubaErik Karlsson
Chris PhillipsSergei Gonchar
Jared CowenMatt Carkner

Alex Auld
Robin Lehner

Zenon Konopka and Brian Lee are the healthy scratches.

Robin Lehner was called up from Binghamton on Friday, while Craig Anderson (hand) is out indefinitely. Alex Auld has started just seven games this season, going 2-3-2 with a 3.28 goals-against average and a .883 save percentage. His last start was Feb .9 against Nashville – a game the Senators won 4-3.

“Personally, I’m excited to have the opportunity to help the team,” Auld said. “I’ve been in this situation a couple of times where you have to fill in for injury, and I’ve been in situations where you have to play every night as well. It’s fun – it’s why you play the game. I’m really looking forward to it.”

BRUINS

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronTyler Seguin
Milan LucicChris KellyDavid Krejci
Daniel Paille - Gregory CampbellShawn Thornton
Benoit PouliotCarter CamperJordan Caron

Zdeno CharaJohnny Boychuk
Dennis SeidenbergJoe Corvo
Andrew FerenceAdam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

Rich Peverley (knee) and Nathan Horton (concussion) are out, while Andrew Bodnarchuk and Josh Hennessy are the healthy scratches.  

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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 10:14 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Matchup: Capitals at Maple Leafs

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POSTED ON Friday, 02.24.2012 / 8:50 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

VAN @ NJD - 11:30 of the Second Period



At 11:30 of the second period in the Canucks/Devils game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck deflected off David Clarkson's skate and entered the net in a legal fashion. Good goal New Jersey.

 According to rule 49.2 "A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal."
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POSTED ON Friday, 02.24.2012 / 6:40 PM

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

Jets ready for tough test from Blues

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets might finally control the Southeast Division's top spot, but the challenges will keep coming for coach Claude Noel's club.

The St. Louis Blues visit the MTS Centre on Saturday afternoon and will present the Jets with another stiff challenge in the fifth of a season-long eight-game homestand. The Jets are 3-0-1 during their current stay at home and sit one point ahead of the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead.

"It will be a really good challenge for our team," Noel said of his team's final game before the NHL Trade Deadline. "They've got a pretty good team. They've got some good elements when you look at their team."

"It's very clear that they will manage the puck well and will check, check, check," Noel said of the Blues. "You're going to have earn every inch of ice, especially up the ice."

Noel will be matching up against Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, his long-time mentor in the Dallas and Columbus organizations.

"It will be interesting. That's good. It raises the bar, makes it fun," he said.

Noel said after practice on Friday that he has not yet determined his starting goaltender for Saturday's game. Ondrej Pavelec has started Winnipeg's past four games, including a 55-shot barrage from the Philadelphia Flyers this past Tuesday night.

"There are a lot of reasons why you wouldn't want to move off Pavelec," Noel said.

Zach Bogosian will miss his sixth consecutive game on the Winnipeg blue line. What was expected to be a brief absence has lasted longer than expected, and he will not return until at least next week, Noel said.

The Jets also placed forward Antti Miettinen on waivers on Friday. Winnipeg claimed the Finnish veteran on waivers from Tampa Bay on Dec. 13, but the move has not panned out for the Jets. Miettinen has not scored, managed just four assists and been a healthy scratch four times.

"I think that with Miettinen I would like to see more of his play, a little bit better play," Noel said. "I've spoken with him about that."

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I was in there icing my face as she was trying to push a baby out.

— Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf on going to the hospital with a facial laceration while his wife was in labor following Game 1 on Wednesday