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POSTED ON Friday, 01.13.2012 / 1:28 PM

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

No sophomore slump for All-Star pick Couture

WINNIPEG -- San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan will have company in Ottawa later this month.

Sharks center Logan Couture, a former standout with the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67's,will join McLellan for the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star game in Ottawa on Jan. 29.

Couture's 18 goals lead all Sharks scorers this season, and he celebrated his ticket to Ottawa with a game-winning goal against the Winnipeg Jets in a 2-0 win on Thursday night. Couture set a franchise record last season for goals by a rookie with 32. On a roster packed with veteran stars like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, it is Couture who will be en route to Ottawa.

"I still find it hard to believe that he is as young as he is," McLellan said of his 22-year-old star. "Give him credit for establishing himself in the National Hockey League and maintaining it."

Couture's nomination to the event comes two days after McLellan cinched his trip to Ottawa by virtue of the Sharks having owned the Western Conference’s best points percentage as of Jan. 9.

"There's nobody in our room debating whether Logan Couture is an All-Star, not one bit," McLellan said. "He deserves to go to that game, and he will represent our organization, and even more importantly, our city."
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POSTED ON Friday, 01.13.2012 / 1:22 PM

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

Noel waiting to see how Jets respond to adversity

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets have officially hit turbulence.

Just 1-4-0 to start 2012, the Jets followed up a third-period collapse on Tuesday night in Boston with a 2-0 home loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. With eight of their next 10 games on the road, a club with just six wins in 21 road games this season faces a difficult path over the next month that will determine whether it is a legitimate playoff contender. Last season's second-half collapse doomed a promising start by their predecessors, the Atlanta Thrashers, and that memory remains fresh in the Winnipeg dressing room this season.

"Certainly we've hit a bump in the road now," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "This is going to be interesting to see how we do. It will be a good task for us, a good test for us, because we're going to face adversity straight-square in the face.

"For me, it's going to be more about dealing with the morale of the team now," Noel continued. "The team isn't going to be feeling very good. It's one of the issues that we're going to have to deal with."

Injuries to defensemen Zach Bogosian and Dustin Byfuglien have left the Winnipeg blue line struggling to generate much in the way of offense. The Jets will also be attempting to save their season against elite competition that is digging in for the Eastern Conference race, and Noel is all too aware of that reality.

"What happens at the 40-game mark is that you can see the teams with experience, they have winning experience, and our team doesn't have that experience," Noel said. "Somehow we have to find a way to get ourselves over the hump and re-energize and re-charge ourselves. It's a tough task."
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POSTED ON Friday, 01.13.2012 / 12:33 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Kulak to replace Koekkoek at Top Prospects

Vancouver Giants defenseman Brett Kulak, ranked No. 67 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of North American skaters, will replace injured Slater Koekkoek of the Peterborough Petes for the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Kelowna later this month.

Koekkoek suffered a shoulder injury midway through the third period of a 6-3 loss to the Windsor Spitfires on Nov. 27 after being hit along the boards while reaching for the puck. He's scheduled to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery on Jan. 20.

In 26 games his season, Koekkoek, who is No. 17 on Central Scouting's list of North American skaters, has 5 goals and 18 points with 17 penalty minutes.

Kulak, a 6-foot-0.25, 174-pound native of Stony Plain, Alta., is in his second season with the Western Hockey League's Giants. He has 4 goals, 11 points and a plus-22 rating in 42 games for Vancouver this season. Kulak will replace Koekkoek on Team Cherry at the Top Prospects Game, scheduled Feb. 1 in Kelowna.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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POSTED ON Friday, 01.13.2012 / 12:29 PM

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

Lineups for Maple Leafs, Sabres

Here is what the rosters likely will look like when the Sabres and Maple Leafs play tonight in snowy Buffalo. The Sabres skated today at First Niagara Center, and had Derek Roy back in the lineup after the center sat out the last two games with an upper-body injury.

The Maple Leafs opted to stay at their hotel rather than venture to the arena to skate.

MAPLE LEAFS

Joffrey Lupul - Tim Connolly - Phil Kessel
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Clarke MacArthur - Matthew Lombardi - Nazem Kadri
Darryl Boyce - David Steckel - Mike Brown

Keith Aulie - Dion Phaneuf
Mike Komisarek - Cody Franson
Carl Gunnarsson - Luke Schenn

Jonas Gustavsson will be back in net for a fifth straight game, with James Reimer the backup.

SABRES
Thomas Vanek - Jochen Hecht - Jason Pominville
Nathan Gerbe - Derek Roy - Drew Stafford
Luke Adam - Ville Leino - Brad Boyes
Cody McCormick - Paul Gaustad - Patrick Kaleta

Brayden McNabb - Tyler Myers
Robyn Regehr - Jordan Leopold
Mike Weber - Marc-Andre Gragnani

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

Matt Ellis likely will be a healthy scratch.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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POSTED ON Friday, 01.13.2012 / 12:20 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Vokoun back in net for Caps vs. Lightning

WASHINGTON -- Tomas Vokoun will make his eighth straight start tonight as the Capitals continue their four-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Caps have won five straight at Verizon Center and own the second-best home record in the Eastern Conference at 15-5-1.

Nicklas Backstrom will miss his fourth straight game after taking an elbow to the head from then-Calgary Flame Rene Bourque Jan. 3.

Mike Green also will miss his third straight game after aggravating his previously injured groin last Saturday in San Jose. Green has missed 25 of the past 27 games and was placed on long-term injured reserve yesterday. He is not eligible to return until Feb.1 at the earliest.

With Green placed on LTIR, forward prospect Cody Eakin was recalled from AHL Hershey and will be in the lineup tonight. Eakin has 3 goals and 6 points in 20 NHL games this season.

Defenseman Tomas Kundratek also is expected back in Washington's lineup after making his NHL debut in Wednesday's 1-0 win against Pittsburgh.

The Capitals and Lightning haven't played since Washington's 6-5 shootout win Oct. 10; they'll meet five times in the second half of the season.

The top two teams in the Southeast Division a year ago enter play Friday fighting for a playoff position. The Caps begin the day tied eighth in the Eastern Conference, eight points clear of the 13th-place Lightning.

The Lightning still are seeking their first win of 2012, having gone 0-4-1 since a 5-2 win against Carolina on New Year's Eve.

Steven Stamkos remains the NHL's goal-scoring leader, with 29 in 42 games, but the Bolts have allowed a league-worst 3.40 goals per game.

Here is the lineup for both teams; the Capitals had a morning skate, while the Lightning, after playing Carolina last night, opted against skating today. Tampa dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen last night, so their forward lines lacked real consistency.

CAPITALS
Alex Ovechkin - Marcus Johansson - Alexander Semin
Mike Knuble - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Matt Hendricks - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward
Jason Chimera - Cody Eakin - Jay Beagle

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik - Tomas Kundratek

Tomas Vokoun will make his eighth straight start in net, with Michal Neuvirth the backup.

Forward Mathieu Perreault and defensemen John Erskine and Jeff Schultz will be scratched.

LIGHTNING
Tom Pyatt - Vincent Lecavalier - Steve Downie
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Brett Connolly
Ryan Malone - Dominic Moore - Teddy Purcell
Dana Tyrell - Nate Thompson   

Marc-Andre Bergeron - Matt Gilroy
Brett Clark - Bruno Gervais
Eric Brewer - Pavel Kubina
Brendan Mikkelson

With Mathieu Garon starting last night, it's likely he'll back-up Dwayne Roloson tonight.
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POSTED ON Friday, 01.13.2012 / 12:04 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

Kitchener's Matia Marcantuoni suffers injury

Kitchener Rangers forward Matia Marcantuoni, who was ranked No. 42 among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting's midterm report, will be sidelined indefinitely after suffering an upper body injury in a victory over the Erie Otters on Jan. 7.

"He's dealing with injury problems right now which may cost him the rest of this year," Kitchener coach and general manager Steve Spott told NHL.com. "We'll know more this week."

The injury shouldn't affect Marcantuoni's draft status -- he is projected to be selected in the second or third round. It remains to be seen whether or not Marcantuoni will attend the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, scheduled Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in Kelowna, as a spectator.

Marcantuoni was invited to the Top Prospects Game along with Kitchener teammate and No. 4-ranked North American, Radek Faksa. Both players were placed on Team Orr.
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POSTED ON Friday, 01.13.2012 / 2:58 AM

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

Fantasy Spin: Trade should spark Cammy, Bourque

Mike Cammalleri and Rene Bourque have yet to emerge as true fantasy difference-makers for their respective clubs this season. Thursday's trade provides each with a change of scenery that could ultimately turn over a new leaf.

Cammalleri (9 G, 13 A, minus-6, 10 PIM, 6 PPP, 111 SOG) had only three goals in his last 17 games for the Montreal Canadiens before being shipped to the Calgary Flames after playing in the first two periods of the Habs' loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday. Bourque (13 G, 3 A, minus-3, 41 PIM, 5 PPP, 91 SOG), who is nearing the end of his
Michael Cammalleri
Left Wing - CGY
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 22
SOG: 111 | +/-: -6
five-game suspension for elbowing Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals on Jan. 3, has averaged three minutes of power-play time per game this season, but has struggled mightily on the man advantage.

This trade comes at a make-or-break juncture of the campaign for both squads. A return to Calgary is a breath of fresh air for Cammalleri (owned in 62 percent of Yahoo! leagues), who notched career-highs in goals (39) and points (82) for the Flames during the 2008-09 season. Despite missing a total of 32 games due to injury over the last two seasons and seeing his numbers dip through 38 games this season, Cammy was a proven playoff point-producer in Montreal and could be an asset for the Flames -- who find themselves only three points out of the final playoff spot in the West.

Bourque (owned in 38 percent of leagues), on the other hand, brings size, physicality and goal-scoring to Montreal's lineup and is on pace to challenge for a career-high in goals this season. While the 30-year-old forward has only compiled 5 PPP through 38 games and has been one-dimensional from a point-production standpoint with only three assists, he brings experience and goal-scoring potential to a lineup in desperate need of an offensive spark. Montreal is seven points out of the final playoff spot in the East.
Rene Bourque
Left Wing - MTL
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 16
SOG: 91 | +/-: -3

It's been a bumpy ride for Bourque, Cammalleri and their respective teams this season, but each should be an intriguing fantasy story in his new home. Bourque has posted 27 goals and 50-plus points in each of his last two seasons, while Cammalleri is a two-time 80-point scorer. Both are expected to be utilized in new roles with their new teams to cater to their strengths, which is promising news for fantasy owners.

While Cammalleri is likely nowhere to be found on the free-agent wire in most leagues, now is an opportune time to grab Bourque if he's available. Although Bourque faces a tremendous challenge in turning around the League's second-worst power-play unit, his tenacity, along with his knack for finding the back of the net, could provide a new element to the Habs' offensive initiative.

And as far as Cammy, his return to Calgary warrants more patience moving forward from his fantasy owners.
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POSTED ON Friday, 01.13.2012 / 2:07 AM

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

Jones knows Ramo well

CALGARY -- Goaltender Karri Ramo contacted former teammate Blair Jones a few days ago to congratulate him on Jones' trade to Calgary. As fate would have it, Jones will have to return the same email.

Six days after the Calgary Flames acquired Jones in a trade with Tampa Bay, Ramo -- a former Tampa Bay Lightning prospect now playing in Russia -- was packaged with a fifth-round pick alongside and forward Michael Cammalleri and sent to Montreal in exchange for Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a second-rounder in 2013.

"He actually just congratulated me on the trade to Calgary on the computer," Jones said after scoring the overtime winner Thursday night in the Flames' 1-0 victory against Anaheim. "Funny enough, he's been traded here."

Once again, Jones and the Ramo find themselves a part of the same NHL organization. Both Ramo and Jones played together in the American Hockey League as members of the Springfield Falcons in 2006-07 and again in 2007-08 as members of the Norfolk Admirals.

After two seasons in the AHL, Ramo split time between Norfolk and the Lightning in 2008-09. It was his last season of North American hockey before returning to Europe to play with Omsk Avangard of the Kontinental Hockey League.

"I played with him my rookie season in the minors," Jones said, who scored his first goal with the Flames after coming from Tampa Bay last week. "He was a good goalie prospect and he just took a few years and played in Russia. We'll see what happens to him. He's a very good goalie."

The Tampa Bay connection doesn't end at Jones. Ramo was selected by the Lightning in the sixth round of the 2004 NHL Draft by current Flames general manager Jay Feaster, then the GM in Tampa Bay.

But Jones admitted he isn't sure if a Lightning reunion in Calgary is in the cards for the former Tampa Bay trio.

"I don't know the status of what he'll be doing but he's a good guy, good goalie," Jones said.

A good guy with a congratulatory email he'll be sure to read in the morning.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 11:39 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

ANA @ CGY - 9:32 of the Third Period



At 9:32 of the third period in the Ducks/Flames game, video review was initiated by the Situation Room to see if the puck had crossed the Calgary goal line. It was determined by the referee on the ice that the play was blown dead. 
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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 10:12 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

ANA @ CGY - 18:03 of the First Period



At 18:03 of the first period in the Ducks/Flames game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that George Parros cross ice pass was kicked into the net by Rod Pelley's left skate.  According to rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net.". No Goal Anaheim.
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Once again, it shows character in this dressing room. Once again, there's no quitting in here. We all wanted this so bad and we worked so hard to get home-ice advantage and we weren't going to let this one slide.

— Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog on his team's OT Game 1 win vs. Minnesota Wild