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Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 3:28 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Flames, Canucks welcome key players back Saturday

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks continue to get healthier up front, but they’ll have to wait at least one more game for their biggest return.

Mason Raymond and Dale Weise, who have been out with shoulder injuries, will be back against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, and Selke Trophy-winning center Ryan Kesler may not be far behind.

Kesler has played seven games all season, missing the start recovering from offseason wrist and shoulder surgeries only to break a bone in his foot blocking a shot two periods into his return. He played six more games before the fracture turned up in a CT scan, but the only thing keeping Kesler from playing now is a lack of conditioning after spending a month on crutches.

“It’s finally healed and it's just a matter of time for the wind to get back and for me to feel comfortable,” Kesler said after taking part in an optional morning skate Saturday. “Obviously being out there you want to play tonight, but that's not realistic. I am itching big time. It’s been a tough year for me but everything happens for a reason. … My goal is to get some games in before playoffs and feel good about my game heading into playoffs.”

Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 3:04 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

NHL Scouting Combine slated in May

Once NHL Central Scouting finalizes the rankings for the top draft-eligible North American prospects, the scouting staff will continue to make preparations for the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto from May 27 through June 1.

While there is no confirmation to the number of North American and European invites at the Combine just yet, the 2012 Combine had the top 104 players from North American and Europe. Head goalie scout Al Jensen has traditionally had the top eight goalies attend.

The fitness testing portion of the Combine will be held May 31 and June 1 at the Toronto International Centre.


Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 2:44 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Plekanec likely for Canadiens, Kelly unlikely for Bruins

MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec and Boston Bruins center Chris Kelly each took part in their respective morning skates Saturday, but only one of them has a chance of playing in the fourth installment of the Northeast Division rivalry this season.

Plekanec missed a 4-1 win Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets with a groin injury, but he was back in his usual spot at Canadiens practice between Michael Ryder and Brian Gionta. Coach Michel Therrien said a final decision on Plekanec will be taken following the warm-up.

“One thing is certain,” Therrien said, “if he plays tonight, it’s because he’s able to play.”

Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 1:50 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Sharp, Bolland remain out for Chicago

NASHVILLE -- Neither David Bolland nor Patrick Sharp are expected back in the lineup on Saturday when the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said the two forwards were questionable to play Sunday when Chicago faces Nashville in the second half of a home-and-home.

“We’ll see,” Quenneville said of their status for Sunday.

Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 1:34 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Laich out for Capitals, Bjugstad in for Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla.Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich will sit out Saturday night against the Florida Panthers, but coach Adam Oates said it was more as a precaution than anything else.

Laich played in Washington’s past nine games after missing the first 28 because of a groin injury, but he did not play in the last 9:26 of regulation or overtime in a 2-1 shootout victory Thursday against the New York Islanders.

“He didn’t really aggravate it,” Oates said after the morning skate Saturday. “He’s just sore all over, just from playing so much since he got back and fighting through it. I think we just need to give him a little rest.

“He probably could play today. But he’s getting a little weaker. He played fine the other night. I shut him down just because he got hit. He wasn’t feeling good all over.”

Oates said Laich’s status was day-to-day.

Martin Erat, acquired from the Nashville Predators before the NHL Trade Deadline Wednesday, will replace Laich on the second line alongside Mike Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer.

Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 1:34 PM

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

Sullivan to play for Devils against Maple Leafs

Three days after being acquired by the New Jersey Devils in an NHL Trade Deadline-day deal with the Phoenix Coyotes, veteran forward Steve Sullivan will debut Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Prudential Center.

According to the team's Twitter page, the 38-year-old forward will play right wing on the Devils top line alongside Patrik Elias and another in-season acquisition, Andrei Loktionov.

Sullivan and Elias were linemates for the Devils' minor-league team in Albany 17 years ago.

"I'm excited," Sullivan said Saturday, according to The Record of Hackensack. "Obviously to play with a player with his skill is going to be good. I'm very excited about the opportunity to play with him again."

Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 1:26 PM

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

Hedman out for Lightning against Islanders

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman will not play in back-to-back road games this weekend, the Tampa Tribune reports.

Hedman, who has a lower-body injury, will not play Saturday against the New York Islanders nor Sunday against the Washington Capitals.

Defenseman Matt Taormina has been called up from Syracuse of the American Hockey League.

Forward Nate Thompson will return to the Lightning lineup after serving a two-game NHL suspension for a hit delivered against the New Jersey Devils.

Goalie Ben Bishop, who posted a 5-0 shutout of the Carolina Hurricanes in his Tampa Bay debut Thursday, will start. He was acquired in a deadline-day trade from the Ottawa Senators.

Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 12:59 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Quick could start again for Kings

Here is the projected Saturday lineup for the Los Angeles Kings, who play host to the Edmonton Oilers at Staples Center:

Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 12:58 PM

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

Report: Lupul out for Maple Leafs on Saturday

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul will not play against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported.

Lupul sustained an upper-body injury when hit during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

Coach Randy Carlyle would not call the injury a concussion Friday.

“No that’s a bad word,” Carlyle told the newspaper. “We don’t use that word until we’re 100 percent sure on any of those situations medically. The term concussion, in today’s sporting world, you want to make sure you’re 100 percent sure before you start using that one.”

Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 11:38 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Niemi making case for goalie MVP

When fantasy owners invest in a goalie, they want nothing more than job security, category coverage and consistency.

Antti Niemi
Goalie - SJS
RECORD: 19-8-5
GAA: 2.09 | SVP: 0.926
San Jose Sharks netminder Antti Niemi has covered each of those bases.

Niemi has put the Sharks on his back during the team's current seven-game win streak, picking up victories in each game with only 10 combined goals allowed over that stretch. The 29-year-old stopped 23 of 24 shots to defeat the Calgary Flames on Friday and earn his 19th win of the season, tying him with Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild for the NHL lead.

But this Finnish-born goalie's success hasn't just been limited to this streak. He's held the opposition to one goal or less in 11 of his 33 games this season and has allowed three goals or fewer 29 times.

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Quote of the Day

That's today's game. That's one of the things you have to deal with when you're a championship team. Guys are going to earn more money based on their performance and what they've achieved, [and] deservedly so. [Saad] falls into that category.

— Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Brandon Saad, who was traded by Chicago to the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason