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Posted On Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 1:48 PM

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

Projected lineups for Wild, Avalanche

ST. PAUL -- Just six days after coming to the Minnesota Wild organization from the Boston Bruins, defenseman Steven Kampfer will make his debut with his new team tonight against the Colorado Avalanche.

Initially sent to Minnesota's AHL affiliate in Houston to learn the system and get his feet wet, Wild General Manager figured Kampfer's feet were wet enough when watching his team get blown out 6-0 Friday night Detroit. With a bevy of defensive breakdowns in front of goaltender Josh Harding, the Wild decided the time was now to add a seventh defenseman to the mix. Minnesota, which had been playing with seven, or even eight, for much of the season, had decided to go with six since the trade deadline last Monday.

"We've had a chance to look at some of his shifts in the NHL," said Wild coach Mike Yeo. "He moves well, passes the puck well, so we're anxious to see if he can come in and fit right in."

The Ann Arbor, Mich. native and former Michigan Wolverine was a fourth round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in the 2007 NHL draft. He was acquired in the deadline day deal that sent veteran blueliner Greg Zanon to Boston.

"It was definitely a surprise that [the call] came this quick," Kampfer said. "I talked to Chuck yesterday and the plan was to play a couple of games [in Houston], get acclimated with the system, play in some games then come up. But I was excited to get the call and I'll be ready to go out there tonight."

Kampfer didn't play in any games with Houston, but was able to participate in two practices with the Aeros, which he said helped him learn a little bit about the systems the Wild use. And with Minnesota's playoff hopes essentially D.O.A. at this point, Kampfer has an opportunity to show Yeo and his staff what he can do in game situations.

"I think you're on tryout everyday when you're in the NHL," Kampfer said. "I don't think it really matters who you are, you have to prove yourself everyday and show that you're making the most of your opportunities. I definitely think this is an opportunity to show the coaches and management that I can play, and I can play in the NHL every night."

Kampfer will be paired tonight with another Wild newcomer, Tom Gilbert, also acquired on deadline day. Gilbert is still looking for his first win in a Wild sweater.

"Both guys move the puck well," Yeo said. "If we can get those guys executing well, it'd be nice to throw those guys out there with a [Cullen] line or a [Brodziak] line. Hopefully their execution can help those guys create a little bit more, whether it's off the rush or even just getting to the offensive zone."

Kampfer's debut is about the only thing certain for a very uncertain Wild team right now. He will take the place of veteran Kurtis Foster, who, along with being a little banged up, was on the ice for three goals against the Red Wings.

Winger Cal Clutterbuck will be a game-time decision after a hard collision with Justin Abdelkader in Detroit. Fellow wing Nick Palmieri, also injured in Detroit, is out with an upper body injury and Yeo had no timetable for his return.

If Clutterbuck does play, Yeo will have to choose between veteran Erik Christensen, who has been scratched of late, or recent call-up Chad Rau, who has scored two game-winning goals for the Wild in just seven games this season -- one coming on Hockey Day Minnesota in January and the other a couple of weeks ago on Hockey Day Across America.

No word yet on if the Wild have petitioned any local municipalities to declare a Hockey Day holiday in their city.

Even Minnesota's starting goaltender for tonight is uncertain. Harding allowed all six goals in Detroit before giving way to Matt Hackett for a large chunk of the final period. Veteran Niklas Backstrom is out 2 to 4 weeks with a groin injury.

Like most teams, it's easy to tell who the starting goaltender will be based on how they come off following the morning skate. Yeo had both goalies come off at the same time.

"We're going to keep that a surprise, we don't do that often," Yeo said.

The smart money is on Hackett making just his second career start tonight. In five games with the Wild this season, Hackett has been brilliant, posting a 2-0 record with a 0.63 goals against average while stopping 98 percent of shots faced. Viewed by many as the franchise's goaltender of the future, it would be Hackett's first career start at Xcel Energy Center.

Colorado, which lost 5-1 to Pittsburgh last night at the Pepsi Center, did not arrive until early in the morning and did not skate Sunday. Steve Downey was injured against the Penguins and the Avs called up winger Mike Connolly, a former University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog.

Connolly led the Bulldogs to a national championship 11 months ago in this building, and if he plays tonight, will also make his NHL debut here. He was acquired in the deal that sent Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi to San Jose last Monday. In 42 games in the AHL this season, Connolly has 10 goals and 20 assists.

WILD

Nick Johnson - Kyle Brodziak - Dany Heatley
Devin Setoguchi - Matt Cullen - Darroll Powe
Matt Kassian - Chad Rau - Cal Clutterbuck
Jed Ortmeyer - Warren Peters - Stephane Veilleux

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Tom Gilbert - Steven Kampfer
Justin Falk - Nate Prosser

Matt Hackett
Josh Harding

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Mike Connolly
Jamie McGinn - Mark Olver - David Jones
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Peter Mueller

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

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere
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Posted On Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 1:36 PM

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

Finns clash in key game for Dallas, Flames

Trailing the Dallas Stars by just four points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Calgary Flames will turn to Miikka Kiprusoff when the two teams meet Sunday afternoon.

In a rare day off, Kiprusoff watched from the bench as the Flames dropped a 3-2 contest to the Anaheim Ducks Friday.

Kiprusoff is enjoying one of his best seasons on record, posting a 28-19-7 with a 2.35 goals against average and .921 save percentage in 56 games.

He'll have to be at his best to counter Kari Lehtonen. The Dallas goaltender has an identical save percentage to Kiprusoff, while his 2.30 goals-against edges his Finnish counterpart.

With points at a premium as teams enter the playoff push, both will be at their best.

CALGARY FLAMES

Alex Tanguay - Michael Cammalleri - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Blake Comeau
Lance Bouma - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

Derek Smith - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson

DALLAS STARS

Loui Eriksson - Mike Ribiero - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Jamie Benn - Adam Burish
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Ryan Garbutt - Tom Wandell - Tomas Vincour

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Alex Goligoski - Philip Larsen
Mark Fistric - Trevor Daley

Kari Lehtonen
Richard Bachman
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Posted On Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 1:12 PM

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

Projected lineups for Senators-Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kaspars Daugavins had a season-high two points in Ottawa's last visit to the BankAtlantic Center, but he won't get the chance to duplicate that performance against the Florida Panthers Sunday.

Senators coach Paul MacLean said after the optional morning skate that Daugavins would be a healthy scratch for a third consecutive game. Center Zack Smith, meanwhile, will be scratched for the first time this season.

"We can only play 20 and you have to play well to play," MacLean said. "At this point in the season, people are playing better and that's why they're not playing. You have to earn the right to play in the league and you have to play well on a game-by-game basis. We evaluate on a game-by-game basis and at this point the other 12 forwards are playing better."

MacLean also said that rookie Robin Lehner would make his fourth consecutive start in net. Lehner is 3-1 with a 1.50 GAA, his only defeat coming Friday night when he stopped 37 of 39 shots in a 2-1 loss against Chicago.

For the Panthers, defenseman Ed Jovanovski is expected to return to the lineup after being given what Coach Kevin Dineen called a "maintenance day" Saturday and sitting out the 3-1 loss against Nashville.

With Florida carrying seven defensemen, Dineen will have a decision to make when it comes to who to sit. Rookie Erik Gudbranson didn't play in the last 13 minutes of Saturday's game after he was involved in a bad line change that led to the final goal.

OTTAWA SENATORS

Forwards
Rob Klinkhammer - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Bobby Butler
Nick Foligno - Jim O'Brien - Chris Neil
Colin Greening - Zenon Konopka - Erik Condra

Defensemen
Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Gilroy

Goalie
Robin Lehner

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Forwards
Sean Bergenheim - Stephen Weiss - Mikael Samuelsson
Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Wojtek Wolski
Tomas Kopecky - Shawn Matthias - Jack Skille
Marco Sturm - Jerred Smithson - Mike Santorelli

Defensemen
Jason Garrison - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Brian Campbell
Keaton Ellerby - Tyson Strachan

Goalies
Jose Theodore
Scott Clemmensen
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Posted On Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 12:38 PM

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

Callahan out today against Boston

NEW YORK -- Rangers captain Ryan Callahan will miss Sunday afternoon's contest with the Boston Bruins due to a bruised foot, the third straight game Callahan will sit out.

Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who was absent from Friday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Lightning due to a hip injury, is back after a one-game absence.

Forward Ruslan Fedotenko took a shot off his left foot during the first period of Friday's game and sat out practice Saturday along with defenseman Dan Girardi, but both will be in the lineup against the Bruins.

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in search of his 31st win of the season.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 12:35 PM

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

Klinkhammer gets into Sens lineup for the first time

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Three months after being acquired in a trade with Chicago, forward Rob Klinkhammer will play his first game for the Ottawa Senators Sunday at Florida.

It will be the second NHL game overall for Klinkhammer, who was called up from Binghamton of the AHL on Saturday.

Klinkhammer, acquired Dec. 3 for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2013, made his NHL debut on Dec. 8, 2010 with the Blackhawks.

"I'm just super excited," Klinkhammer said after Ottawa's optional morning skate. "I'm just glad to be here, so thankful to get an opportunity and I'm just going to try to make the most of it and have some fun and try not to be too nervous."

Klinkhammer, who will start off playing on a line with Daniel Alfredsson and Kyle Turris against Florida, had 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) in 35 games with Binghamton. Prior to the trade, he had only six points in 18 games for Chicago's AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs.

"He's worked real hard, can really skate, can make plays, and his work ethic is probably his best attribute," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "We like that. We're still looking for depth on our team and we're going to give him the opportunity to be a part of it."

Another Binghamton player soon will be joining Klinkhammer in Ottawa, with MacLean saying goalie Ben Bishop would get a start for the Senators before too long.

Bishop was acquired from St. Louis on Feb. 26 in exchange for a second-round pick. In his first two starts in Binghamton, Bishop stopped 82 of 85 shots for an exceptional .965 save percentage.

With Craig Anderson out with a hand injury, rookie Robin Lehner has started the last three games for Ottawa and he'll again get the call against Florida Sunday.

"We do have plans for Ben Bishop that we want to see him play in some games," MacLean said. "Obviously it's not tonight. That could change after that or moving forward next week. With this injury to Craig Anderson, we fully plan to take a look at Ben Bishop. We want to make sure he's comfortable and he's ready to come up and play a game before we do anything. He's playing well down there, Robin is playing well up here, so we're going to monitor it and evaluate it on a daily basis."
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 10:24 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

BUF @ VAN - 5:10 of the First Period

At 5:10 of the first period in the Sabres/Canucks game, the Toronto video room initiated a review and conclusively determined that Brad Boyes' shot went into the net. Good goal Buffalo.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 9:48 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blues-Sharks

SAN JOSE -- Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the San Jose Sharks face the St. Louis Blues at HP Pavilion:

BLUES
Vladimir SobotkaDavid BackesT.J. Oshie
Andy McDonaldPatrik BerglundChris Stewart
Chris PorterJason ArnottChris Stewart
B.J.Crombeen – Scott NicholRyan Reaves

Carlo ColaiacovoAlex Pietrangelo
Barret JackmanKevin Shattenkirk
Kent HuskinsRoman Polak

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock juggled his top three lines in order to spread his firepower throughout the lineup. McDonald moved from the first line to the second, with Sobotka jumping from the third to the first. Stewart dropped from the second to the third line.

SHARKS
Ryane CloweJoe ThorntonLogan Couture
Daniel WinnikPatrick MarleauJoe Pavelski
TJ GaliardiDominic MooreTorrey Mitchell
Brad WinchesterMichal HandzusJim Vandermeer

Marc-Edouard VlasicDan Boyle
Brent BurnsDouglas Murray
Jason DemersColin White

Sharks coach Todd McLellan will miss his third straight game after suffering a concussion Sunday at Minnesota when he was hit by a stick, the team announced. Assistants Jay Woodcroft and Matt Shaw will fill in behind the bench. The Sharks had an optional skate Saturday morning, so there were no line rushes, and Woodcroft said the lines had yet to be set. Couture is expected to return to the lineup after missing two games with a lower body injury, and Murray might be back after missing eight games since being hit in the throat with a puck.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 9:11 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

CBJ @ PHX - 5:18 of the Second Period

At 5:18 of the second period in the Blue Jackets/Coyotes game, the Toronto situation room initiated a review because Rick Nash's shot crossed the goal line. Video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that the puck crossed the goal line prior to the net becoming dislodged. Good Goal Columbus.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 8:01 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Coyotes shake up struggling power play

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Looking to jump-start the League's worst power-play, the Coyotes make two tweaks to their starting lineup for tonight's game with Columbus.

Defenseman David Rundblad, who had collected six goals and 10 points in 15 games with the AHL's Portland Pirates, has been recalled and will replace Michael Stone in the Phoenix lineup. Rundblad, acquired from Ottawa in December in the Kyle Turris deal, has played only two games with the Coyotes, registering an assist in each game.

The Coyotes will also have Gilbert Brule back in the lineup for the first time since he took a hit to the head from Kyle Clifford of the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21. Brule has three goals -- one on the power play -- and seven points in the 17 games he played for Phoenix since being acquired on waivers from Edmonton on Jan. 10. Brule will replace enforcer Paul Bissonnette in the lineup.

The Coyotes have just 26 power-play goals this season in 196 chances (13.3 percent) and are the worst in the League at home, converting just 14 times in 106 chances (13.0 percent). They were 1-for-6 in Thursday's 4-2 home loss to Calgary and are 1-for-13 over the last four games.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 5:52 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Blues, Sharks savoring Saturday's test


SAN JOSE – It’s safe to say that the St. Louis Blues have had San Jose’s number this year.

The Blues are 3-0 against the Sharks entering the fourth and final game of the series Saturday night at HP Pavilion. They beat the Sharks 4-2 in San Jose when Davis Payne was still the coach, and they shut them out 1-0 and 3-0 in St. Louis under coach Ken Hitchcock.

The numbers don’t lie, but the Blues are approaching Saturday night’s game as if they were looking up at San Jose in the Western Conference standings rather than the other way around. Hitchcock said there’s zero chance of his team having a letdown on the final leg of its six-game road trip because of the “respect” it has for the Sharks.

“San Jose plays us tough,” Hitchcock said after the Blues’ morning skate at HP Pavilion. “They’re a hard team for us to play against. They’ve got weight, they’ve got size up front. They lean on you pretty hard. They get our attention all the time. In a lot of ways, I know they’re a difficult opponent, but our players really like playing against them because it really tests your competitiveness.

“I think both teams play with similar structure, we use similar terminology, we use a similar style of game. We measure ourselves. Any time it’s Vancouver, Detroit, San Jose or Chicago, we measure ourselves to see if we’re ready for the test, so any time we play these teams, those four teams, we get pretty excited.”

The Blues enter Saturday night’s game with 87 points and the fourth spot in the West – three places ahead of San Jose, which has gone 3-6-1 in its past 10 games and is coming off a 1-0 loss Thursday night to Buffalo. St. Louis is 4-1 on its road trip, but suffered a 2-0 loss Thursday at Vancouver.

The Sharks see Saturday night’s game against St. Louis as a chance to prove they’re still one of the West’s elite teams, despite their recent slide.

“They’ve been the hottest team in the League since Hitch took over there,” Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said. “We need a game like that tonight to get us back on track, just a sound game against a real good team. It’s going to be a great test and we all know that. We got to pass that test. If we can create some chances and prove to ourselves that we are a dominant team, too. Especially if we get power-play opportunites – they’ve had our number in that area. We got to get that going tonight if we get those opportunities.”

During their 3-0 loss on Feb. 12 at St. Louis, the Sharks went 0-for-4 on the power play while the Blues scored a pair of power-play goals. The Blues killed all six penalties during their 1-0 win against San Jose on Dec. 10. The Blues PK units come into the game on a hot streak. St. Louis has killed 24 straight penalties during a span of nine-plus games.

Jaroslav Halak was in goal for the Blues during that Feb. 12 shutout, and he’ll be in goal Saturday night against San Jose and goaltender Antti Niemi. Halak has six shutouts this season to go with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. Niemi (2.43, .914) has five shutouts and allowed just one goal in his past two games, snapping out of a slump.

In other words, goals should be scarce, as they usually are when St. Louis plays. The Blues lead the NHL in goals-against per game (1.91) shots-against per game (26.2) and shutouts (12). St. Louis will face a Sharks team that has scored just 15 goals in its past eight games and just one in its past two games.

“They’re a tough team to play,” Sharks forward Logan Couture said. “They come hard on the forecheck. Great defensive team, haven’t given up very many goals all year. To beat them you have to play one of the best games that we’ve played all year and step up tonight.”

Former Shark Scott Nichol, now a fourth-line center for St. Louis, said the Blues are “really buying into” Hitchcock’s defense-first system.

“We all just kind of stick together, playing a hard game, a heavy game,” Nichol said. “It’s been working out for us.”

Hitchcock said he expects to see the Sharks at their best, especially on a Saturday night at HP Pavilion.

“Teams that have been there before, they know when the light’s at the end of the tunnel,” Hitchcock said. “They’ll be there at the end. They’ll play at a high level. It’s hard for teams that keep going back to the same well year in and year out. The players know when to crank it up. There’s a month left in the season, I’m sure they’re going to crank it up and go to another level. That’s why we want to test ourselves. We think they’re going to play at that level now, and we want to test ourselves.”

Here’s how the lineups could look Saturday night:

SHARKS

Ryane CloweJoe ThorntonLogan Couture

Daniel WinnikPatrick MarleauJoe Pavelski

TJ GaliardiDominic MooreTorrey Mitchell

Brad WinchesterMichal HandzusJim Vandermeer


Marc-Edouard VlasicDan Boyle

Brent BurnsDouglas Murray

Jason DemersColin White


Sharks coach Todd McLellan will miss his third straight game after suffering a concussion Sunday at Minnesota when he was hit by a stick, the team announced. Assistants Jay Woodcroft and Matt Shaw will fill in behind the bench. The Sharks had an optional skate Saturday morning, so there were no line rushes, and  Woodcroft said the lines had yet to be set. Couture is expected to return to the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury, and Murray might be back after missing eight games since being hit in the throat with a puck.
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