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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 1:39 PM

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

Lightning add goaltender Caron

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed goaltender Sebastien Caron, and hope to add him to the roster Tuesday, if he clears waivers.

Caron, whose equipment already was in place in the Lightning locker room, has been playing for German team Iserlohn Roosters and if all goes well, will join the team in time for Thursday's game against Edmonton.

Caron has appeared in 92 NHL games with a record of 25-47-12 with a 3.45 goals-against average.

"We'll go one game at a time and give him some time to get accustomed first, flying back here, being back in the NHL and getting used to NHL shots and NHL type of game, and we'll see when we can put him in," Boucher said.

Once Caron joins the team, Dustin Tokarski will be returned to AHL Norfolk for the playoffs.
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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 1:37 PM

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

Injuries led to Lightning's slip in standings

TAMPA, Fla. -- When the Buffalo Sabres meet the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday at the Tampa Bay Times Fourm, on display will be a case of two teams heading in opposite directions.

Buffalo, two points behind Washington for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, has put together an enviable run at the postseason, going 9-2-3 over its last 14 games.

Tampa Bay, however, has fallen off the playoff trail, going 1-4-1 and dropping three of four during its seven-game homestand.

Adding to the Lightning's woes is the loss of two additional key players, Adam Hall and Ryan Shannon, bringing the total to eight regulars sidelined.

"I have a choice: Either I start crying, which I felt like, or I just look at it like it's ridiculous and just go with it," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "We've got two lines of AHL guys, but they work hard and they give us a chance to stay in games. The reality is everyone has got their own pace of development and we want to respect that."

Although Boucher's preference often is to play seven defensemen, usually it's a decision, rather than a mandate.

"I've got no choice," Boucher said. "I don't have 12 forwards. Let's not kid ourselves."

Twelve forwards or not, Monday's task appears to be a formidable one for the Lightning.

"We know what's going on," Boucher said. "They're on a high, they're playing terrific. They're bouncing at the perfect time and they're making a push and their game doesn't have any fog right now. They have speed and scoring ability on each line. Goaltender is playing incredible. They are one of the top teams in the League right now in terms of performance."

If Boucher looks at the Buffalo bench with some envy, he might be forgiven; earlier in the month the Lightning were just two points from the eighth spot, which is precisely where Buffalo is now.

"It's extremely frustrating to be right there and then lose all these guys," Boucher said. "It's very tough, but they have been handling it like men and it will pay off."

For Tampa Bay, though, the pay-off will have to be in the future.

"We all understand where we are," said forward Martin St. Louis. "When you are in the heart of the season and things happen, I think you're counted on as veteran leadership, but when it comes down to this sort of do-or-die situation, you have to look at yourself and see what you can do to pull us an inch closer. If you're waiting to look at somebody all the time, it's not going to happen."

The Sabres, on the other hand, are focused on what they have to do to make the playoffs and have gotten some breaks going their way, especially Sunday, when Winnipeg, with whom they currently are tied, and Washington, who they trail, both lost.

"There's always pressure making the playoffs, but we got a break last night when both those teams lost," Buffalo rookie Marcus Foligno said. "That's huge for us. It's about capitalizing on chances and we have a chance tonight against Tampa Bay."

Veteran Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, who has seen his share of battles for the playoff, said, "We have to go game-by-game. We've won our share and we'll have to win more than our share down the stretch to get in."
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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 1:00 PM

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

Peverley continuing to work his way back

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins forward Rich Peverley continued on the trail to returning to the lineup Monday when he joined his teammates for their morning skate at TD Garden.

Peverley suffered a third-degree sprain of the MCL in his right knee Feb. 15 against Montreal. At the time, his prognosis was for a return in 4-6 weeks.

Coach Claude Julien classified Peverley as day-to-day.

"Again, there's no exact time for when he's going to start playing again," said Julien, "but he's looking better every day. There's the rehab part of it that he's doing right now, so he started skating last Wednesday on his own and he's progressed since then. So when you've been off for that long, you just don't come back every night. So we're going to give him a chance and wait for our doctors to clear him."

Peverley said he hopes to join the team for a practice this week and then go on the upcoming California road trip, which Boston will start Wednesday with a cross-country flight and then a practice in San Jose.

Peverley is seventh on the Bruins with 38 points in 49 games played this season.
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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 12:54 PM

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

Learning experiences continue for Skinner

WINNIPEG – The learning experiences continue for Jeff Skinner, the Carolina Hurricanes’ star second-year forward.

Skinner has completed his two-game suspension for a kicking incident against the St. Louis Blues this past Thursday night. Skinner’s teammates eased some of his guilt by taking two come-from-behind wins in a two-game road swing through Minnesota and Winnipeg that put the Hurricanes back on the edge of postseason discussion.

The 19-year-old has 20 goals in 55 games this season after a 31-goal rookie season that earned him the Calder Trophy.

“It’s always tough sitting out,” said Skinner, who earlier this season missed time with a concussion. “It definitely has been a learning experience. It has been a little bit of a tough year.

"As you go through the League, gain more experience and become more mature, you benefit just as much from going through the tough times and learning how to handle them.”

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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 12:48 PM

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

Carolina's Staal putting up the good fight

WINNIPEG – On a night when Eric Staal took his turn as the object of scorn among Winnipeg fans, the Carolina Hurricanes’ dressing room countered with ample praise for its captain.

Staal saved the best work of his two-goal, one-assist performance for the third period of the Hurricanes’ 4-3 come-from-behind victory against the Winnipeg Jets. Staal’s breakaway goal midway through the final period tied the game at 3-3 and he then set up Chad LaRose’s game-winner with 1:22 remaining. The win was the third time this season that Carolina has taken two points after trailing at the second intermission.

Afterward, Staal’s teammates jokingly chanted “Jordan’s better!” in reference to a chant that Jets fans unleashed comparing Staal to his brother, Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Staal’s good-natured retort to the crowd?

“I mean, Jordan’s good, but I don’t know if he is better,” Staal replied.

Staal has rebounded from a dismal start that plagued both him and the Hurricanes, led to Paul Maurice’s firing and buried the club at the bottom of the Eastern Conference for much of the season. Staal had managed just nine goals by the 40-game mark. But Staal spun off a 12-game point streak for the Hurricanes in the season’s second half and helped power the club back into semi-contention.

“He has taken this team and has been an unbelievable leader,” Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. “Everybody talks about his start, but I think that people should talk about how he has played his last 40 games.”

Goaltender Cam Ward, who won a Stanley Cup alongside Staal in 2006, agreed with Muller.

“It was a huge win for us,” Ward said. “We were led by Staal, who took the game up on his shoulders and was dominant.”

Now the Hurricanes have moved to 11th place in the Eastern Conference and are only three points behind the Jets and five points behind the Washington Capitals for eighth place. While the club’s poor first half may ultimately doom any Stanley Cup Playoff aspirations, the Hurricanes are, if nothing else, making themselves a relevant player again in postseason conversation.

“We’ll take [the win],” Staal said, “and keep working, because stranger things have happened, and we’re going to keep playing hard.”
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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 12:46 PM

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

Carlyle not using Bruins rematch as measuring stick

BOSTON -- The last time the Boston Bruins saw the Toronto Maple Leafs, Randy Carlyle was behind Toronto's bench for just his second game as coach and his first in front of the home crowd.

Boston didn't treat Carlyle's Leafs any different than they had Ron Wilson's Leafs previously -- the Bruins improved to 5-0-0 against Toronto with a 5-4 win.

Over the last several weeks, Carlyle has had a chance to mold the Leafs more into the image of one of his teams, according to Boston coach Claude Julien.  

"His system, it's his system," said Julien after his team's morning skate in preparation for Monday's game against Toronto at the TD Garden. "You just have to look at Anaheim play when he was there and that's a lot of what they're trying to do. I'm not going to get into details and specifics, but that's what we see from Randy's approach versus Ron's.

"Let me put it this way: Ron was a very aggressive coach and Randy -- not that he's not aggressive -- but also spends a lot of time making sure the defensive approach is there, as well."

It's a long shot that Toronto will qualify for the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, so an opportunity to avoid a season-series sweep at the hands of one of the Eastern Conference's powers might be the Leafs' last chance to win a playoff-like game. It also could provide a way for Toronto to gauge how far it has come under Carlyle, but the coach isn't looking at this game that way.

"I think it's the chance to play against the Stanley Cup champions. I don't look at it any other way," said Carlyle. "What we've tried to do is focus on each game and one game at a time -- and I know it's an old sports cliché and you guys are probably tired of hearing it, I'm probably tired of saying it -- but the reality is that you're not going to be judged by one game. I don't think we're in a position to say we're using this game as a measuring stick. I think what we're trying to say is we have a template that we're trying to create that we have to play to. And I'll let other people do the judging of that after."

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:

BRUINS
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jordan Caron
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk
Greg Zanon - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas will start in net, with Marty Turco the backup.
 
MAPLE LEAFS
Clarke MacArthur - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Carter Ashton - Mikhail Grabovski - Matt Frattin
Joey Crabb - Dave Steckel - Tim Connolly
Jay Rosehill - Matthew Lombardi - Colby Armstrong

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

James Reimer will be in net, with Jonas Gustavsson the backup.
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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 12:43 PM

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

Quality of play, not position, concerns Rangers

NEW YORK -- Last season, the Rangers had to wait until the final day of the season to secure a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, catching a break when the Carolina Hurricanes lost to a Tampa Bay Lightning team that had secured its playoff position.

On Monday night, the Rangers can become the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a spot in the postseason by simply earning a point against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. If the Rangers lose in regulation, they'll have to wait at least another day before punching their playoff ticket.

What was once an insurmountable lead for the top spot in the East has been whittled to one point on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Philadelphia Flyers have played one more game than the Rangers and are three points back.

If the Rangers continue to play mediocre hockey -- they are 7-7-2 since Feb. 14 -- home-ice advantage in the first round might slip away. That's something that's not a concern to coach John Tortorella.

"It's certainly not on my mind, home ice," Tortorella said. "It's how you're playing. If you have the opportunity to play in the playoffs, it's how you're playing. So I guess your momentum going into it is very important. We're just trying to play the right way. We certainly did our last game, even after breaking the tape down, I was even more pleased by some of the things we did, but we didn't get the result.

"We're still in the regular season. We're trying to talk about playing the right away, and I believe we will. I have full faith in the hockey club. We've had a little bump here, but I thought we were dead on in our game the other night. Hopefully we can bring it into tonight."

Tortorella probably didn't mind home-ice advantage when his Tampa Bay Lightning won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2004 at home against the Calgary Flames and Game 7 of the Eastern Final at home against the Flyers. Rangers center Brad Richards was a member of that team and the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, and said while finishing atop the East that season was nice, it doesn't necessarily guarantee anything.

"I don't know if it's important, but it's good to play a Game 7 at home," Richards told NHL.com. "To start a series at home, sometimes it's harder. I don't think it matters much anymore. Look at Boston last year. I'm sure Vancouver felt very good coming home for Game 7. Once you get that far in, players block everything out. You're so focused and in tune it doesn't really matter anymore."

Does having the last change in that game matter?

"In one game, I don't think so," Richards said. "By that far, everybody knows exactly what everybody is doing. It can go both ways. We were happy to have our two Game 7s that we needed at home. So, who knows?"

The Rangers have spent the past month talking less about results and more about their overall play. It begs the question -- would Richards prefer to be the No. 5 seed and have the team playing well, or would he rather see the Rangers plod along and grab the No. 1 seed in spite of that? After all, the Rangers 24-9-2 at home, the fifth-best mark in the NHL.

"I think if we're playing well, we'll be pretty close to the top, and that's still where you want to be," Richards said. "It's so tough to say I want to finish here or finish there, really you just let him fall. You're going to have to beat the best teams to get where you want to go. All 16 teams, it's crazy, you have a chance if you get in. It's happened a lot over the past however many years. Two years ago in the East, it was 7 vs. 8 in the conference finals (Canadiens vs. Flyers). So you don't know. You just want to be playing good hockey and have everything fine-tuned and it's whole new ballgame once that starts."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 12:40 PM

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

Rangers to keep same lineup vs. Devils

NEW YORK -- The Rangers will roll out the same lineup they did last game when they face the New Jersey Devils on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2) at Madison Square Garden.

Forward Artem Anisimov (left shoulder) and defenseman Steve Eminger (unknown) will sit again, although Anisimov skated Monday morning and is considered day-to-day. Defenseman Anton Stralman again will be a healthy scratch, with Tim Erixon getting another chance after playing 9:57 over 12 shifts in a 2-1 loss to the Avalanche on Saturday.

Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in net. Here are the Rangers' line combinations from practice:

Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Mats Zuccarello - Brian Boyle - John Mitchell
Michael Rupp - Ruslan Fedotenko - Brandon Prust

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Michael Del Zotto
Tim Erixon - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist will start in net, with Martin Biron the backup.
 
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 12:07 PM

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

Anisimov healing, but still out

NEW YORK -- Artem Anisimov won't be back in the Rangers' lineup Monday against the Devils (7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2), but the good news is the injury to his left shoulder doesn't appear to be serious.

A staple among the Rangers' top-six forwards, Anisimov took part in practice Monday morning at Madison Square Garden for the first time since taking a hit from Pittsburgh's Joe Vitale on Thursday. Anisimov left the game unable to move the shoulder, but he was on the ice for a lengthy skate and said he felt "all right" Monday.

"Day-to-day," Anisimov said, echoing what coach John Tortorella had said earlier in the morning. "I'm so happy it's not more serious because it's a tough injury. I want to fully recover and not get rushed, because I go on the ice and somebody hit me in the shoulder, it'd be much more serious.

"When I hit, I don't feel my arm, I can't move my arm. I say to (head trainer Jim Ramsay), 'I can't move arm.' We went inside to work on it and he did his stuff."

In 69 games this season, Anisimov has 14 goals and 19 assists. He's been a valuable part of the Rangers' power play and penalty kill this season.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 11:58 AM

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

Corvo says hand 'doesn't feel 100 percent'

BOSTON -- When Joe Corvo missed Saturday's game with Philadelphia, he left Patrice Bergeron, Chris Kelly and Dennis Seidenberg as the only Boston Bruins players to skate in every game this season.

While Bruins coach Claude Julien classified Corvo that day as "banged up but healthy," Corvo on Monday told NHL.com that he definitely wasn't healthy.

Corvo revealed that Friday night he had a cortisone shot in his right hand for an injury he had been playing through since a collision with teammate Andrew Ference in a game against the New York Rangers earlier this month. Corvo strained some ligaments in the hand/wrist area.

"My hand doesn't feel 100 percent, so I'm not going to out there and not be able to battle and stuff and do my job if I'm not 100 percent," said Corvo, who stayed on the ice for extra skating Monday.

Corvo said he's feeling better, and Julien on Monday re-classified Corvo as "a little banged up." He added that if the Bruins needed Corvo, he could play. But since the Bruins currently are carrying eight healthy -- if you include Corvo -- defensemen, it's likely Corvo will sit out tonight's game against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.

In 70 games this season, Corvo has 4 goals, 21 assists and a plus-7 rating.
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