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Posted On Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 12:36 PM

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

New Jersey gets latest crack at defending champs

BOSTON -- The New Jersey Devils will try to snap a three-game losing streak, and also try to defeat the Boston Bruins for the first time in four tries this season, tonight at the TD Garden.

Although this is the Devils' final meeting with the Bruins in the regular season, they could run into the defending champs in the postseason. If the season ended today, second-seeded Boston and seventh-seeded New Jersey would meet.

Nonetheless, the Devils aren't looking at this game as any type of playoff preview. They're looking at it more like a chance to start playing better. They had won four in a row before their current slide.

"I think more so for ourselves, just to get back on track, try to get back in the winning column. We've been playing well, we've been playing some good hockey, we just need to do a better job of generating some more offense,"  captain Zach Parise said after the Devils' morning skate. "But I think this is definitely a team that's going to be there at the end of the year, so we definitely want to make sure we play a good game against them."

In an effort to jostle his team's offense, New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer has juggled his forward lines, including moving Dainius Zubrus from third-line center to second-line right wing with Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias.

Here’s how the Devils' lineup should look tonight against the Bruins:

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Steve Bernier

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Marek Zidlicky

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg


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Posted On Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 12:32 PM

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

Zanon will make Bruins' debut against Devils

BOSTON -- Bruins coach Claude Julien confirmed that defenseman Greg Zanon will make his debut with the team tonight when Boston hosts the New Jersey Devils at the TD Garden.

Zanon was acquired in a trade from Minnesota on Monday and arrived in the Boston area late Tuesday night morning. He practiced with the team Wednesday and took part in an optional morning skate today.

"Obviously, every system has it's little adjustments. But hockey's hockey in the end, and you just go out there and play," Zanon said. "You just have to make sure you keep things in mind. It's a defensive style, so it's pretty easy for me just to fall into my spot and allow the rush to come to me and let the play happen. I'm not too much of an on-attack defenseman, so I'll wait for my opportunities, and when I get my opportunities to make a play, make a hit, I'm stepping up to do what I can."

Julien said that Mike Mottau, who was also traded to Boston on Monday, would be the healthy scratch against the Devils.

Here's the Bruins' projected lineup:

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

Zdeno Chara - Greg Zanon
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask



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Posted On Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 11:51 AM

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

Rangers' Callahan out vs. Hurricanes

The New York Rangers announced that captain Ryan Callahan will miss Thursday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes with a bruised foot.

Callahan, who is considered day-to-day, suffered the injury Monday night against the New Jersey Devils, but was not forced to leave the game. Newly acquired John Scott will take his place in the lineup.

Callahan has 25 goals this season, second-most on the team.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 9:47 AM

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

Melrose Place: Best non moves of the deadline

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Posted On Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 9:46 AM

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

Melrose Matchup: Panthers at Jets

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.29.2012 / 8:02 PM

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

Kane, Hawks look forward to next meeting with Nashville

CHICAGO -- Barry Trotz was just doing what he does when asked a question, which is giving his honest opinion about the subject.

Still, the Nashville Predators' coach seems to have caught the attention of the Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks -- Patrick Kane in particular -- by offering his thoughts on the nine-game losing streak in February that caused the Hawks to slip from the top of the Western Conference to sixth.

Trotz was asked about it while Nashville was preparing to play the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 17 in the Motor City -- three days after the Preds beat the Hawks 3-2 in Nashville and one day after Chicago ended its skid by beating the New York Rangers 4-2 in Madison Square Garden.

Trotz told reporters he thought a big part of the Hawks' woes stemmed from too many forwards "cheating" to create offense and not playing a 200-foot game. He said "forwards" several times, but did single out Kane as one example.

"Kane had no speed, and thank God because when he gets rolling he's hard to stop," Trotz said. "I was actually happy that he was cheating [against us]. [Marian Hossa] was the one guy who was sort of playing a complete game and he ended up being the most dangerous guy all night -- and [Jonathan Toews] was the real deal. He was really trying to will that team that night. Some of the other guys were cheating too much - trying to do the right thing, but doing the wrong thing, if you know what I mean."

Kane, it turns out, did know what he meant -- but still wasn't thrilled to hear it coming from the coach of a division rival.

"I think for me personally, you take offense to it for sure," Kane told NHL.com on Wednesday at the United Center after Chicago's morning skate. "It's one of those things that ... I'll be excited to play those guys again."

Kane, who has 14 goals and 36 assists in 64 games, compared the criticism to critical comments made in 2009 by Los Angeles Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell -- then a Vancouver Canuck. Mitchell was quoted as saying that Kane "couldn't play five-on-five" when the Canucks and Hawks met in the 2009 Western Conference semifinals.

Kane wound up torching the Canucks for a hat trick in the deciding Game 6 of the series against Roberto Luongo.

"I know different things like that kind of pump me up a little bit, whether it was Willie Mitchell saying it in the playoffs a couple years ago or Trotz," Kane said. "[I'm] excited to play them again. That's for sure."

Does Kane feel there was any validity to what Trotz was talking about?

"Sometimes it catches your [attention] to hear that," Kane said. "He's probably been living real high this year with the way their team's been playing and the way their team's shaping up a little bit, but I don't know ... we've had a good team in the past and our team's done well, so it's kind of tough to criticize a team that's had some success in the past. That's where I think it kind of ticks you off. But I'm sure all of us will be ready to play that game."

The Hawks and Preds only have one more regular-season game left this season, on March 31 in Nashville, but there's always the possibility they could meet in the postseason -- if so, it would be a rematch of an intense first-round series in 2010 that preceded Chicago winning the Stanley Cup.

Kane, however, did say he's been doing some things differently on the ice since Chicago's losing streak.

"I'm trying to take more pucks to the net and make more plays," he said. "Speed's a big part of my game, so I'm definitely trying to incorporate that."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.29.2012 / 4:20 PM

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

Potential lineups for Blues, Oilers

When the Oilers and Blues hit the ice in Edmonton tonight, here is what their lineups likely will look like:

BLUES
Andy McDonald - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
David Perron - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart
Chris Porter - Jason Arnott - Vladimir Sobotka
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Alex Pietrangelo - Carlo Colaiacovo
Barrett Jackman - Roman Polak
Kent Huskins - Kevin Shattenkirk

Jaroslav Halak will start in goal, with Brian Elliott the backup.

OILERS
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Ales Hemsky
Ryan Smyth - Sam Gagner - Jordan Eberle
Ryan Jones - Shawn Horcoff - Ben Eager
Lennart Petrell - Eric Belanger - Darcy Hordichuk

Nick Schultz - Ryan Whitney
Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Cam Barker - Corey Potter

Devan Dubnyk will start in goal, with Nikolai Khabibulin the backup.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.29.2012 / 3:56 PM

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

Hodgson joins Sabres in Anaheim after wild ride

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The 48-hour saga of Cody Hodgson finally saw him skate with his new teammates in Anaheim on Wednesday morning.

Hodgson arrived in Southern California about 9 p.m. on Tuesday night after he flew from Phoenix to Buffalo to complete visa work and medical clearance, then to Anaheim in time for Wednesday night's game against the Ducks.

"We just got something quick to eat (last night) and shut it down really quick," Hodgson said. "It didn't take long to fall asleep.

"There's still unanswered texts and calls. The phone's ringing off the hook -- well-wishers, people trying to know what's going on. It's been a whirlwind. But I'm excited and ready to go."

There was also a fake Twitter account someone is using to pose as Hodgson.

"That's nice," Hodgson said with a smile.

It was by far the craziest two days in the young hockey career of Hodgson, who was traded with Alexander Sulzer from Vancouver to Buffalo for Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani in a shocking move at Monday's trade deadline.

Hodgson did his first full introductory media scrum and acknowledged he was taken aback by the move but didn't say much more.

"I didn't know what to think," Hodgson said. "But I'm excited. I'm looking forward. It's a good group of guys and hopefully I can fit in and do well, depending on where things go. But I'm interested in helping the team get in the playoff picture."

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff will have Hodgson center Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford. Ville Leino will move down to third line center with Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Kaleta.

But Ruff added, "There's nothing etched in stone with these lines. We don't get a chance to practice them, so you don't know what they're going to look like. We can easily take a look at different lines even during the game."

Ruff met Hodgson for the first time and one thing stood out.

"I think the first thing you notice is the thickness," Ruff said. "He's got good hands. I think he understands the game. He's got good hands. Again, a young player (who) wants an elevated role. Obviously that's what we're going to try and give him."

That was an issue in Vancouver, where Hodgson was stuck behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler at center and averaged only 12:43 minutes of ice time.

Hodgson still poured in 16 goals and 17 assists in 63 games. He only said of his role in Vancouver, "They're a solid team, but so is here. They've had a bit of injury troubles, but most guys are pretty healthy now and I'm looking forward to getting back on track."

Hodgson was given jersey No. 19 and had all of 20 minutes with his new teammates. A lack of adrenaline probably won’t be an issue tonight.

"I'm a little nervous, but that's a good thing," Hodgson said.

It appears that Sulzer will start his Sabres career as a healthy scratch as the seventh defenseman.

Goalie matchup:
The rare Anaheim-Buffalo tilt features Jonas Hiller against Ryan Miller.

Hiller will tie a franchise record with his 23rd straight start. Miller backstopped Buffalo to a 4-1 victory in the season opener Oct. 7 in the NHL Premiere Games.

Top line back together:
Judging from the morning skate, it looks Anaheim will go back to its top line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

Ryan has been playing on the second line with Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne, but Niklas Hagman was with Koivu and Selanne on Wednesday morning.

"I don't care, really," Ryan said. "Either way, you got a playmaker in Saku or Getz and you got a guy that's really good around the net in Teemu and Pears. The only thing's that changed is the way you create offense through the cycle. I think for the most part, I've had chemistry with both sides, so I'm comfortable anyway."

Smith-Pelly to stay:
Devante Smith-Pelly will remain with the Ducks for the rest of the season, Boudreau told the Orange County Register earlier this week.

The move speaks to the development of the 19-year-old, who suffered a broken foot in the World Juniors but has carved out a role with his broad shoulders and third-line grit.

Smith-Pelly said he had to adjust to NHL speed, but felt he was a regular shortly before the injury.

"I felt right around the Christmas break, before I went to World Juniors, probably around the time Bruce came on board, that's when I kind of felt I was getting the hang of it and I could be an everyday player," Smith-Pelly said.

"Bruce kind of gave me a little extra confidence and I'm just hoping to continue that."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.29.2012 / 3:52 PM

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

Projected lineups for Sabres, Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Anaheim Ducks host the Buffalo Sabres at Honda Center:

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

Jordan Leopold - Tyler Myers
Robyn Regehr - Andrej Sekera
Christian Ehrhoff - Mike Weber

Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth

DUCKS
Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Niklas Hagman - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Matt Beleskey - Rod Pelley - George Parros

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

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.29.2012 / 3:43 PM

By Jeremy Roenick -  NHL Network Contributor /NHL.com - World According to JR

Coyotes, Leafs illustrate opposite ends of spectrum

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick pens a weekly blog for NHL.com. "World According to JR" appears every Wednesday and includes Roenick's sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League.

Two teams going in opposite directions as the Stanley Cup Playoff races head down the stretch. Read on to find out who, what, why, all of it...

What's Clicking?

The Phoenix Coyotes = red hot.

They've had the most controversy of any team in the NHL during the last two or three years with the ownership issue, but GM Don Maloney has done just a tremendous job of not only keeping the faith within that dressing room, but bringing in quality players and a coach who has created a great playing atmosphere for these players.

You can tell by the way they play.

They were up against adversity going into the All-Star break, and they come out playing like their playoff lives were on the line. Now to be unbeaten in February and third in a difficult, strong Western Conference without any major superstars just tells you how much pride is in that locker room.

Shane Doan, who is one of the best men I've ever met in the game, is a true professional in the way that he runs this team, captains this team, leads it by example.

Radim Vrbata is drastically under-appreciated in the NHL for what he can do and for the season he's having. For him to not make the All-Star Game was such a kick in the face.

And, I've got to give props to Ray Whitney -- 20 years in the NHL and he's leading the Coyotes in points. He continues to be a great locker room leader and a fantastic person to watch on the ice. To keep his level of play as high as he has is a true testament to him as a competitor.

All in all, I am very proud of the Coyotes and I hope for continued success for them. I really hope they can continue this right on into the playoffs and be that team that nobody wants to play come April 10.

Kudos to them. Job well done.

What's Missing?

The Toronto Maple Leafs = ice cold.

This is a team that is under probably the most scrutiny of any in the NHL, especially because they haven't made the playoffs since 2004, but you have to wonder what it is now. It's not coaching because obviously Ron Wilson has a system in place that had the team flying high in the beginning of the season.

You know what, I'm going to make the same statement I made last week about the New York Islanders: Does this team even want to make the playoffs? Does this team even want to make the sacrifice that it takes to win crucial games night in and night out?

I know Florida is a good team, but you can't lose to the Florida Panthers at home when you're battling for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. There are too many teams right now that are refusing to take that next step, and Toronto is in that group.

Phil Kessel has continued to play strong hockey. Joffrey Lupul has fallen off a bit. But, the guy who has fallen off the most and is hurting this team is Mikhail Grabovski.

It bothers me so much when a guy with that much talent has so many ups and downs throughout a season. You can't be as good as Grabovski was and then be as poor as Grabovski has been. Either you're good or you're not.

To me, it's simply about effort.

Grabovski is a great player and he needs to step up and be accountable for the way he's performing.

But, unfortunately, goalies James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson have also fallen on quiet times. That's not helping the cause at all for Wilson and Brian Burke or the Toronto Maple Leafs' fans.

Finally, I have heard they're calling for Wilson to be fired, chanting for it at Air Canada Centre; but it's not right. Why is it Wilson's fault now? What about the beginning of the season? They weren't calling for his head then.

It now goes down to the players because they're not performing to their expectations. They have proven that they can do it, that the system works, but now they have to play the system and stop blaming the coach.

They just need to do what it takes to win hockey games.
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Quote of the Day

You don't see many. The [Drew] Doughtys, the [P.K.] Subbans, those are guys that create offense from the back and then on top of that ability, the size that he has. In the West you play against some pretty big players, and being able to clear the crease and contain the [Ryan] Getzlafs and the [Corey] Perrys and [Anze] Kopitars and players like that, we're excited about him going back there.

— Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Brent Burns returning back to defense