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Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 12:06 PM

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

Voracek also set to return to Flyers' lineup

VOORHEES, N.J. -- One week after absorbing a scary hit from Detroit's Niklas Kronwall, Flyers forward Jakub Voracek says he will be back in the Flyers' lineup when his team hosts the New Jersey Devils.

He missed three games with a concussion, and said he's happy to be back after so short an absence.

"It wasn't great to sit out three games, but there was nothing I could do about it," he said after the morning skate. "I think after the hit I'm pretty happy I'm back in a week. Hopefully we're going to get a win and get it rolling again."

He skated at right wing on a line centered by Danny Briere, with rookie Eric Wellwood at left wing.

Here's the rest of the Flyers' lineup, based on their morning skate:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Matt Read - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Eric Wellwood - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Zac Rinaldo

Kimmo Timonen - Matt Carle
Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Andreas Lilja - Erik Gustafsson

Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal, with Sergei Bobrovsky the backup.

Pavel Kubina, who has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury, skated with the team at the morning skate, but will not play. Rookie defenseman Brandon Manning and veteran forward Jody Shelley will be healthy scratches.

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



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Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 11:55 AM

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

Flyers get Timonen back after five-game absence

VOORHEES, N.J. -- After a five-game absence, Philadelphia Flyers All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen will be back on the ice when his team hosts the New Jersey Devils.

Timonen has been out with a lower-body injury, but told reporters following the Flyers' morning skate that he was "95-percent sure" he was playing.

Timonen wouldn't specify the exact nature of his injury, but said he's hoping his time off will be enough to sustain him through the rest of the season and the playoffs.

"It's one of those things that I don't think it's going to go away, but hopefully this lasts," he said. "We'll see. … We go game-by-game and day-by-day and see how it feels."

Timonen, who had played in 248 consecutive regular-season games prior to sitting out, said he enjoyed the time off.

"Mentally it's been great," he said. "I've played a lot of hockey the last four years. The last 10 days I didn't do much. Mentally it's been really good, and hopefully it carries over to rest of the year and the playoffs."

Now, though, he knows rest time is over, and he's excited to get back into the lineup.

"It's a tough thing, you don't want to miss games," he said. "I played 3 1/2 years not missing any games, so it was tough. I knew it was going to happen (but) I'm excited to be back. Hopefully I can help the team."

The Flyers have been without Timonen, as well as fellow veterans Andrej Meszaros and Pavel Kubina. Rookies Erik Gustafsson and Brandon Manning have done solid jobs filling in, but with the return of one of their injured veteran blueliners -- Meszaros (lower body) and Kubina (upper body) remain out -- the Flyers should be a bit more composed in their back end.

"Kimmo is the same as Prongs (Chris Pronger)," Matt Carle, who was paired with Timonen at Tuesday's practice, told NHL.com. "They've been around so long, you just expect them to be in the right place and make the right plays because they've been doing it so long. No matter how much time they've missed, you expect them to be great. When he's out there he's so sound as a player that you're not going to notice too much of a difference with him whether it's bad or good. He's an even-keeled player like that."

Timonen has 36 points and is tied for third among NHL defensemen with 34 assists, but it's his role off the ice as much on it that the Flyers missed. 

"He's looked up to on our team by a lot of guys," Carle said. "He's somebody who's been in the League a long time and somebody who's a leader."

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


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Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 9:47 AM

By Craig Button -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - On the Playoff Button blog

Updated playoff projections: March 13th

NHL Network's Craig Button has been tracking playoff positioning -- using a variety of statistical categories -- for several years now. His formula, while not a true probability exercise, has proven to be very effective at predicting the cutoff number to secure a Stanley Cup Playoffs berth.

In its simplest terms, Button's formula uses a team's current winning percentage, factoring in games remaining, to arrive at the number of wins -- and points -- each team will finish the season with. From that exercise, the formula can extrapolate the magic number for qualification and which teams currently in the race will reach that number. This equation will also determine tiebreakers should they become necessary.

Still not convinced? Check out the full explanation of Button's formula

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Current
Position
NHL
Team
Games
Played
Current
Points
Games
Remaining
Projected
Points
Wins to
earn 8th
8th 69 76 13 89 8

9th 70 74 12 85 9
10th 69 72 13 84 10
11th 68 69 14 82 11
12th 69 68 13 79 12
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE
Current
Position
NHL
Team
Games
Played
Current
Points
Games
Remaining
Projected
Points
Wins to
earn 8th
8th 71 78 11 89 7

9th 68 77 14 91 8
10th 69 76 13 88 9
11th 69 76 13 88 9

The skinny: The NHL has their own version of March Madness as teams jockey for position and nearly every possible playoff spot is at stake.

Florida, which is trying to end a long playoff drought, entertains the reeling Toronto Maple Leafs with a chance to move three points ahead of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Southeast Division. Just as importantly, in their quest to end the playoff drought there is an opportunity to move further ahead of the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets, who are trying to chase down Washington in the eighth spot.

Winning this game would make it almost impossible for the Jets to catch the Panthers. The Jets would have to win four more games than Florida in their remaining games to pass them. This is called breathing room.

As for the jockeying inside the top eight, look no further than the New Jersey Devils-Philadelphia Flyers matchup. Both of these teams try to chase down the fourth position in the conference and coveted home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Looking to the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks won in Edmonton on Monday night to move past Calgary and can find themselves back in a playoff position with a win or even a single point Tuesday against the Flames. Those three point games are certainly loathed by teams not playing on a particular night.

The Flames have eight of their remaining 13 games at home, and those games are almost mandatory if they want to qualify for the playoffs. A year ago on this date the Flames were in eighth position, but they finished 5-3-3 -- including an 0-2-2 record against Phoenix, Los Angeles and Anaheim.

If you don't beat the teams you are competing with for playoff spots, you won't qualify. The Flames don't want to have a repeat of that this season.

As for the battles inside the top eight, Detroit, at the very least, wants to have home ice in the first round of the playoffs and with a win against the Kings, the Red Wings can move four points ahead of Nashville in that race.
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Posted On Monday, 03.12.2012 / 11:27 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

ANA @ COL - 16:43 of the Third Period



At 16:43 of the third period in the Ducks/Avalanche game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Ryan O'Reilly's shot never crossed the goal line. No Goal Colorado.
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Posted On Monday, 03.12.2012 / 4:36 PM

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

Coyotes look to build off shutout of Sharks

The Coyotes broke through with a huge 3-0 shutout of San Jose on Saturday night, but their 1-4-1 start to March has left them fighting three points behind Dallas in the Pacific Division standings and in a battle with five other teams separated by three points for the final two playoff spots.
 
Phoenix has won two of the three meetings with Nashville this season -- in keeping with its track record of playing the top teams tough this season. A win would move the Coyotes within a point of the idle Stars and keep them in seventh place. And with a tough four-game game road trip to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Dallas beginning on Wednesday, the last game of this three-game homestand looms large.
 
Mike Smith will be back in goal after recording his fifth shutout of the season against the Sharks and looking more like the League's First Star of February than the one that struggled for a week. But the Coyotes won't have center Martin Hanzal (upper body) for a second straight game, and that will play havoc with the forward lines. Boyd Gordon stepped up with a big game against the Sharks and will be counted on again with Daymond Langkow struggling and Kyle Chipchura still out of the lineup.
 
With defensemen Derek Morris and David Schlemko are skating but still not ready to return, the Coyotes have found rookie Michael Stone up to the task. Stone had his first NHL goal and set up Mikkel Boedker's goal against the Sharks and, just eight games into his NHL career, is impressing coach Dave Tippett with his poise.
 
COYOTES

Ray Whitney - Antoine Vermette - Radim Vrbata
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Boyd Gordon - Lauri Korpikoski
Mikkel Boedker - Marc-Antoine Pouliot - Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Rostislav Klesla - Michael Stone

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

PREDATORS

Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Colin Wilson - Nick Spaling - Jordin Tootoo
Gabriel Bourque - Paul Gaustad - Matt Halischuk

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Roman Josi - Hal Gill
Francis Bouillon - Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback
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Posted On Monday, 03.12.2012 / 4:28 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ducks could be without Perry against Avalanche

DENVER -- March madness is in full swing for the Colorado Avalanche and Anaheim Ducks, who meet at the Pepsi Center tonight.

Only 12 games remain on the schedule for the Avalanche, who sit 10th in the Western Conference but are tied with eighth-place Calgary and ninth-place Los Angeles with 76 points. The Ducks have 13 games to play, but they are in 12th place with 68 points and have a much tougher road ahead.

It won't help the Ducks' cause if right wing Corey Perry doesn't play. Perry, who won the Hart Trophy last season and leads the Ducks with 34 goals, hurt his right shoulder in Saturday's 2-0 loss to Dallas and is questionable for tonight. Perry didn't take part in this morning's skate.

Perry was injured when he was ridden into the boards by Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas while losing his balance. Perry attempted to return to the game but the pain was too severe.

"He's got a lot of character," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, who felt Robidas should have been assessed more than a minor penalty. "(Perry) has a lot of gumption and a lot of everything else that's positive. He just couldn't go."

If Perry is scratched, he would be replaced by Kyle Palmieri, who has been summoned from Syracuse in the American Hockey League. Palmieri, 21, had 1 goal in 11 games with the Ducks earlier this season and leads the AHL with 32 goals in 42 games.

While Perry's consecutive games played streak (272 games) is in jeopardy, Ducks center Saku Koivu will play in his 1,000th NHL game.

"Very impressive," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said of Koivu. "I think anybody that can play 1,000 games in this League, there's a lot to be said for that. You have to be durable, you have to be consistent. Even a guy like Koivu, who went through some battles during his career, to be able to come through that and be able to finish off with 1,000 games, is very impressive. Any player in this League that can hang around that long is doing something right."

Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne could reach a milestone as well. With 1,398 points, he is tied with fellow Finn and Hall of Famer Jari Kurri for 19th place on the NHL's all-time list.

"It's very special," Selanne said. "I could never imagine having as many points as Jari Kurri. It's a big honor. He was my idol growing up. His picture was on my wall and everything."

The Avalanche won two of the three previous meetings with the Ducks, taking a 4-1 decision in the most recent game, Feb. 27 at the Pepsi Center. Colorado hasn't won a season series from Anaheim since 2006-07.

"There is an eight-point cushion now with a chance to make it 10," Sacco said, referring to his team's lead over the Ducks. "If you don't (win), it could be six points and you give them hope again. I certainly believe that they believe they still have a strong chance to get in there if they put some wins together. It'll be our job tonight to discourage those chances."

Despite the pressure to win every night, Sacco said this should be a fun time for players.

"This is why you play, to have an opportunity to get into the postseason," he said. "We're right in the thick of things with a handful of other teams. I think it's easy to keep that intensity and that level up to where it should be. We're a young team, we should have good legs and we should be excited about where we're at right now, an opportunity to get into the dance. That's the biggest thing, just to get there."

The Avalanche won't know until game time if rookie left wing Gabriel Landeskog will be able to play. He was ill this morning and didn't skate.
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Posted On Monday, 03.12.2012 / 4:20 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Ducks, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

DUCKS
Niklas Hagman - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry/Kyle Palmieri
Bobby Ryan - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake - Andrew Cogliano - Devante Smith-Pelly
Matt Beleskey - Ryan O'Marra - George Parros

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

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers 

INJURIES: G Dan Ellis (groin) is out. RW Corey Perry (shoulder) is questionable. C Nick Bonino (leg) is day to day.

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog/Mike Connolly - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downie
Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Peter Mueller - Mark Olver - Milan Hejduk
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Kevin Porter

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

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

INJURIES: C Matt Duchene (knee) and RW Chuck Kobasew (back) are out. LW Gabriel Landeskog (ill) is a game-time decision.
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Posted On Monday, 03.12.2012 / 4:18 PM

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

Projected lineups for Sabres, Canadiens

Thomas Vanek will be back in the lineup for the Sabres, while the Canadiens will have their own returning top-line player in center David Desharnais.

Here is what the lineups could look like when the teams hit the ice Monday at First Niagara Center (7 p.m. ET, TSN):

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

Jordan Leopold - Tyler Myers
Robyn Regehr - Mike Weber
Alexander Sulzer - Christian Ehrhoff

Ryan Miller will start in goal, with Jhonas Enroth the backup.

CANADIENS
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Ryan White - Tomas Plekanec - Rene Bourque
Blake Geoffrion - Petteri Nokelainen - Brad Staubitz
Scott Gomez - Lars Eller - Aaron Palushaj

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Chris Campoli - Yannick Weber
Alexei Emelin - Andrei Markov

Peter Budaj will start in goal, with Carey Price the backup. In four career games against the Sabres, Budaj is 3-1-0 with a 1.84 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.
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Posted On Monday, 03.12.2012 / 3:20 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Blues sign Schwartz to entry-level contract

CHICAGO -- There will be no seasoning in the American Hockey League for Jaden Schwartz.

The Blues announced the signing of their first-round pick (No. 14) from 2010, who left Colorado College after his sophomore season, to a three-year, entry-level contract on Monday. Schwartz joined the Blues in Chicago on Monday and will be available to play against the Blackhawks at the United Center on Tuesday night.

Schwartz, 19, completed his second season with the Tigers, picking up 15 goals and adding 26 assists in 30 games after a 17-goal, 47-point season with Colorado College his freshman year, where the left wing led the nation among freshmen in scoring average at 1.56 points per game.

Turning pro was a whirlwind experience for Schwartz and a decision that came rather quickly.

"This opportunity popped up and you can't turn down an opportunity like this," Schwartz said after he arrived at the team hotel. "It's a tough decision. Our season (at Colorado College) ended pretty unexpectedly and this opportunity popped up pretty quick. I didn't have too much time to think about it, but I wanted to turn pro if the opportunity came. For me, it did and I feel very fortunate."

For a family that has struggled with the tragic loss of Mandi Schwartz, Jaden's sister, in the past year, it was welcomed news for Jaden's parents Rick and Carol Schwartz.

"They're super-excited," Schwartz said of his parents. "That's an understatement to say the least. They sacrificed a lot for our family. Hockey's a big part of our lives. We've been through some hard times lately. This is something that definitely makes them smile and I know they're extremely excited for this."

Schwartz was picked to return to Team Canada for the 2012 World Junior Championships in Edmonton and Calgary, being named the team captain, after getting an invitation in 2011 but having that tournament cut short because of a broken left ankle.

He had 2 goals and 5 points in six games, including one goal against Russia in the semifinals when he was named Canada's Player of the Game.

"A tournament like that playing for Canada, there's so many good players to pick across from Canada," Schwartz said. "When you make a team like that and you play an important role, it's going to give you confidence."

The Blues had a decision to make once Schwartz announced his intentions to turn pro -- send him to Peoria and play in the AHL or immediately bring him to St. Louis.

After consideration and consultation with the teams scouts and personnel surrounding the Wilcox, Saskatchewan native while he played at the collegiate level, the Blues decided this is where he belonged.

"We looked at all the options," said Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. "When Jaden said he was ready to turn pro, we could have either sent him to Peoria for the rest of the year, or bring him right to the NHL and we had to make a decision. We just felt with his skill-set and our injuries, we thought it was worth signing him and bringing him into St. Louis and keeping him with our team the rest of the year."

How much of that is also based on the concussion injuries to Alex Steen and Matt D'Agostini? Armstrong wouldn't say, only stating that the Blues have been consistent with the concussion protocol and that the players haven't told the team they're ready to come back.

Steen has not played since Dec. 27 (34 games), while D'Agostini has been out since Feb. 7 (18 games).

"Obviously with the injuries to D'Agostini and Steen maybe expedited this process," Armstrong said. "If they were healthy, we may not have gone this route. You have to deal with the cards you're playing with and right now, we think that Jaden has a chance to come in and prove to his teammates and the coaches he can help us now."

The Blues did take a gamble in signing Schwartz so late in the season, taking one of three years off his NHL entry-level status (if in Peoria, it would have began next year). But it was a gamble they felt like was worth it.

It also may be telling in that the Blues didn't feel comfortable bringing someone up from the Rivermen to fill a void, if necessary.

"We've had our scouts monitor him closely," Armstrong said of Schwartz. "We've talked to the contacts in his league and talked to all of our scouting staff, and we just felt that where he's at in his career, where he's at in his game and where we're at in our season and with our personnel, it was worth the risk to bring him onto our team."

Then Armstrong caught himself and added: "I don't believe it's a risk because he's going to have a leg up on what to expect in the NHL nest year."

It'll ultimately be up to coach Ken Hitchcock whether Schwartz plays, perhaps as soon as Tuesday against the Blackhawks, but from the sounds of it, the Blues plan to bring him in without throwing Schwartz in the fire.

"We'll want to make him comfortable in the environment before we throw him in," Armstrong said. "Ultimately that will be Ken's decision on when he believes he's ready to play an NHL game. We don't want to put him in a situation that we don't think he can succeed in."

"I was prepared for anything, whether it was the (AHL) or here," Schwartz said. "... It's been a busy couple days, but it's been very exciting.

"It's a dream come true to be in this spot. I'm very thankful to join a team like this that's doing so well and is such a great organization. It's pretty special."


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Posted On Monday, 03.12.2012 / 2:05 PM

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

Projected lineups for Sharks, Oilers

With just two wins in their last 13 games (2-8-3), the San Jose Sharks enter Monday's game in Edmonton (9:30 p.m. ET, TSN) 11th in the Western  Conference, but they're just one point behind eighth-place Calgary, and three behind seventh-place Phoenix.

The Oilers are out of the playoff hunt, but they're relishing their role as potential playoff spoiler.

"You play for pride, for sure," Oilers forward Jordan Eberle told CSNBayArea.com. "I think everyone in here is competitive and they’re going to go out here and give their best. I think when it comes down to it you have to find things that motivate you, and personally it's fun to be the spoiler, to try and upset teams and upset what they're trying to do."

Here are the projected lineups the Sharks and Oilers could put on the ice when the teams meet Monday at Rexall Place in Edmonton.

SHARKS
Logan Couture - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Patrick Marleau - Daniel Winnik
Tommy Wingels - Dominic Moore - Torrey Mitchell
T.J. Galiardi - Andrew Desjardins - Benn Ferriero

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Colin White - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi likely will start in goal, with Thomas Greiss the backup.

OILERS
Taylor Hall - Sam Gagner - Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smythe - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Ales Hemsky
Ben Eager - Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Jones
Lennart Petrell - Eric Belanger - Linus Omark

Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Ryan Whitney - Nick Schultz
Theo Peckham - Corey Potter

Devan Dubnyk will start in goal, with Nikolai Khabibulin the backup. Dubnyk's last start was March 6, when he stopped 28 of 30 shots in a 3-2 shootout win against the Sharks.
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