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Posted On Friday, 04.19.2013 / 1:42 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Blackhawks staying the course with lineup for now

CHICAGO -- All that's left for the Chicago Blackhawks to accomplish in the regular season is to secure the Presidents' Trophy as the NHLs top team in points earned.

Otherwise, the Blackhawks have already locked up everything else. They were the first team to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they won the Central Division handily, and they will be the Western Conference's top seed in the postseason. They've done all that and still have six games left, which raises the question if they will continue playing their usual lineup or start sitting out key players to avoid injuries and garner rest.

The answer, at least short term, is to stay the course. Chicago plays back-to-back games at United Center this weekend, beginning with Friday's contest against the Nashville Predators (7:30 p.m.) and finishing against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.

"I think we want to go in the same mode here," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after Friday's morning skate. "We've still got six games [left]. We've got a busy schedule next week, but we'll play these games and go along here and we'll make those decisions as we go along. We're not going to change going into these two games. We'll see. We have that in our pocket to visit with, for sure, but that depends."

Posted On Friday, 04.19.2013 / 1:38 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst / - Weekes on the Web

Weekes' Beat: Clutch playoff goalies

Posted On Friday, 04.19.2013 / 12:28 PM

By Chris Ryndak - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Sabres get set for must-win against Rangers

BUFFALO -- For the Buffalo Sabres, it's essentially win or start thinking about next season.

The Sabres face what comes down to an elimination game Friday night when they host the New York Rangers at First Niagara Center.

Buffalo, 10th in the Eastern Conference with 44 points, trails eighth-place New York by four points. The Sabres have four games remaining including Friday; the Rangers have five games left. The Rangers hold the tiebreaker with five more non-shootout wins than the Sabres.

A regulation win by New York would eliminate Buffalo from qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A Sabres victory would keep their hopes alive for at least one more day.

Due to circumstances in Boston, Buffalo's game at the Pittsburgh Penguins scheduled for Saturday has been moved to Tuesday. The Sabres will next play Monday at home against the Winnipeg Jets.

"We have to take care of our own destiny in that aspect," Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said. "We've been that way for a while, just concentrating on one game and playing our best in that game. That'll be the same case [Friday]."

Posted On Thursday, 04.18.2013 / 8:52 PM - 2012-2013 Situation Room blog

NJ @ PHI - 9:04 of the Second Period

At 9:04 of the second period in the Devils/Flyers game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Philadelphia forward Jakub Voracek used his right skate to kick the puck into the Devils net. 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 Philadelphia.

Posted On Thursday, 04.18.2013 / 8:34 PM - 2012-2013 Situation Room blog

PHX @ STL - 9:58 of the First Period

At 9:58 of the first period in the Coyotes/Blues game, David Backes shot was deflected into the net by David Perron's stick. The referees on the ice determined that Perron's stick was below the level of the crossbar when he deflected the puck. The Toronto Situation room reviewed the play and was inconclusive so the ruling on the ice stands. According to Rule 60.5 "The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick. If the puck makes contact with the stick below the level of the crossbar and enters the goal, this goal shall be allowed." Good Goal St Louis.

Posted On Thursday, 04.18.2013 / 6:17 PM

By Matt Sitkoff - Contributor / - NHL Live blog

CISCO NHL Live: Shawn Thornton

CISCO NHL Live talks with Boston Bruins' Left Wing Shawn Thornton.

Posted On Thursday, 04.18.2013 / 6:08 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Kreider replaces Boyle in Rangers lineup

NEW YORK -- With his team slated to play three games in four nights heading into the final stretch of the regular season, New York Rangers coach John Tortorella confirmed that forward Brian Boyle would not be in the lineup for any of those contests, starting with Thursday's home matchup against the Florida Panthers.

Replacing Boyle will be 21-year-old Chris Kreider, who the Rangers called up Wednesday from Connecticut of the American Hockey League. In the past month, Tortorella has voiced his reluctance to stifle the development of players such as Kreider and prospect JT Miller, both of whom have seen action with the Rangers this season. But in the end, he saw Kreider's speed as an asset for his team.

"There were a number of players we talked about [calling up]. What we settled on was his speed," Tortorella said. "I'm still not crazy about bringing a kid here. We felt with his assets, his speed especially, that's what we would go with."

Boyle was ruled out for Thursday's game with a leg injury. In 17 games with the Rangers this season, Kreider has two goals and three points.

Posted On Thursday, 04.18.2013 / 3:48 PM

By Eric Gilmore - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Tensions could run high when Sharks, Wild meet

SAN JOSE -- It was 15 days ago that the San Jose Sharks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 at HP Pavilion in a game that ended with a nasty confrontation between Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Wild forward Dany Heatley.

Vlasic and Heatley took swings at each other with their sticks then started wrestling. Heatley, a former Sharks player, landed hard on the ice with Vlasic on top of him and suffered a season-ending shoulder injury that required surgery.

The Sharks and Wild meet again Thursday night at HP. Will there be any carryover?

"I think it will be an emotional game," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said after the Wild's morning skate. "I think that both teams are focused on getting two points at this time of the year. That's what it's about. Whatever you can use to get you motivated. I don't know that we need a whole lot of extra motivation right now, but, again, I think it will be an emotional game."

Posted On Thursday, 04.18.2013 / 3:36 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Kreider back with Rangers, focused on wins

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Since the beginning of the NHL season, forward Chris Kreider has had three separate stints with the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League. But after being called up Wednesday, Kreider is excited to be back with the New York Rangers in April.

It was around this time last season the Boston College product saw his first NHL action, contributing five goals in 18 Stanley Cup Playoff games as the Rangers advanced to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. After collecting three points in 17 games this season, Kreider would love nothing more than to make a similar contribution in the postseason.

"I think it was around this time that I got that opportunity," Kreider said following Thursday's optional team skate. "That being said, it's an entirely different situation. I'm looking forward to trying to seize that opportunity."

Posted On Thursday, 04.18.2013 / 2:54 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Kings activate Greene off injured reserve

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It appears the Los Angeles Kings will get defenseman Matt Greene back into the lineup sooner than expected.

Greene was activated from injured reserve Thursday morning and is available to play his first game since he injured his back in the season opener Jan. 19. Coach Darryl Sutter was not available to reporters, but Greene said he was good to go against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"You got to play," Greene said. "You got to play some time, you know? Playoffs are every other day. Obviously you've got to play some games to try and get ready and see if I can handle it."

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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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