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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 2:34 PM

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

McLellan seeking better effort from Sharks

WINNIPEG -- A 5-4 shootout loss on Tuesday night at Minnesota figures to leave the San Jose Sharks a hungry bunch leading into tonight's date with the Winnipeg Jets.

The shootout loss ended the Sharks' four-game win streak as they started a four-game road trip that continues against the Jets before winding its way to Columbus for a game with the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"We were actually quite disappointed with a number of our players," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We didn't get the effort that we needed.

"We'll probably talk about a 10-minute game and a 50-minute game," McLellan explained when asked what he expects from the Jets. "We'll have to be on our toes early. I think they're going to be an energized team."

Antti Niemi, who has started 15 of the Sharks' past 16 games, is expected to be in net for San Jose. Ryan Clowe is expected to skate for the Sharks tonight after being banged up in Minnesota. The Sharks will be without defensemen Jim Vandermeer and Colin White as well as Martin Havlat.

McLellan also indicated that there could "potentially" be lineup changes after Tuesday's game. Here is a look at the projected lineup for San Jose:

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryan Clowe - Logan Couture - Benn Ferriero
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Tommy Wingels

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Jason Demers - Brent Burns
Douglas Murray - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss
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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 2:34 PM

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

Jets hope return home cures recent woes

WINNIPEG -- When the Winnipeg Jets last skated before their fans at the MTS Centre, life was good.

The Jets (20-17-5), who meet the San Jose Sharks tonight at home, finished a packed December home schedule with New Year's Eve win that concluded a 9-2-1 mark at the MTS Centre for the month.

But then the Jets embarked on a 1-3-0 four-game road trip in which they were throttled in their three losses. On Tuesday night in Boston, the Bruins stomped the Jets in the third period in which the visiting club blew a second-intermission lead and lost 5-3.

Defenseman Zach Bogosian and checking winger Tanner Glass exited Tuesday's loss with injuries. Bogosian will not dress for tonight's game. Glass is questionable, as is Alexander Burmistrov, who has missed Winnipeg's past two games due to injury. Dustin Byfuglien and Derek Meech remain out with injuries.

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is expected to start in net for the Jets. Here is a look at the projected lineup for Winnipeg:

Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Eric Fehr
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Antti Miettinen
Kyle Wellwood - Alexander Burmistrov - Chris Thorburn

Ron Hainsey - Tobias Enstrom
Mark Stuart - Randy Jones
Mark Flood - Johnny Oduya

Ondrej Pavelec
Chris Mason


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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 2:24 PM

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

Giordano says he's ready to return to Flames' lineup

CALGARY -- After being sidelined for 21 consecutive games, Flames defenseman Mark Giordano will be a game-time decision for coach Brent Sutter as Calgary welcomes the Anaheim Ducks to the Scotiabank Saddledome.

But if you ask Giordano, he's ready to go.

"Hopefully I get in tonight and go from there," said Giordano, who has been on the injured reserve list since suffering a torn hamstring in a home contest against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 29. "I've been excited here the last week skating with the team and getting closer and closer."

Giordano isn't concerned about aggravating the hamstring he injured while catching a rut in the ice. In fact, he insists that if he does get back into the lineup, he'll be pain free.

"Right now, so far so good," Giordano said. "I haven't had any setbacks. I'm looking forward to getting into the game.

"There's no pain. The last three weeks have been pain-free, really, and it's just a matter getting back to game-type speed and getting my strength back."

The Flames could use Giordano's presence on the blue line. The team is already without defensemen Scott Hannan and Derek Smith. Both have played integral parts on the back end this season.

Hannan, who suffered an upper-body injury in a game against Boston on Jan. 5, has resumed skating as well and is considered day-to-day. Derek Smith has missed Calgary's last six games with a lower-body injury.

Tonight's projected lineup:

FLAMES

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Paul Byron - Blair Jones - Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

T.J. Brodie - Cory Sarich
Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 1:54 PM

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

Projected lineups for Senators, Rangers

NEW YORK -- Erik Karlsson is checking back into the Senators lineup Thursday night, but Brandon Dubinsky may sit out for the Rangers with an ailing shoulder.

Matt Carkner will come out of the lineup for the Senators, while Wojtek Wolski would replace Dubinsky.

Craig Anderson will start in goal for the Senators; Henrik Lundqvist will likely be in net for the Rangers.

Here's what both teams will likely use as their lineups in a battle of the two of the East's better teams:

SENATORS
Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Colin Greening
Daniel Alfredsson - Kyle Turris - Erik Condra
Nick Foligno - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Kaspars Daugavins - Zenon Konopka - Bobby Butler

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Sergei Gonchar - Jared Cowen
Chris Phillips - Brian Lee

Craig Anderson
Alex Auld

RANGERS
Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky (Carl Hagelin) - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Carl Hagelin (Wojtek Wolski) - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Brandon Prust - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Marc Staal - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 1:43 PM

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

Rangers' Dubinsky questionable vs. Senators

New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky will be a game-time decision for tonight's meeting with the Ottawa Senators.
 
Dubinsky took a hard hit during Tuesday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes and did not participate in Thursday morning's practice. He had X-rays on his right shoulder, but they came back negative.
 
"It's going to be sore, obviously," Dubinsky told reporters at the team's practice facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. "It's just a matter of how well I can deal with that and take it from there."
 
If Dubinsky can't go, Wojtek Wolski will play his first game since having sports-hernia surgery in early November. He's been a healthy scratch the past couple of weeks as coach John Tortorella hasn't wanted to mess with the lineup as the Rangers have won five straight and 10 of 11.
 
Wolski has played just six games this season and has 2 assists.
 
His first game back could be a memorable one. On Oct. 29, Wolski delivered a shot to the head of Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson that caused a concussion. Alfredsson missed five games after the hit.
 
The two teams met again Nov. 9, but both Alfredsson and Wolski were out of the lineup. Alfredsson said Thursday after practice that he wasn't aware of the fact that Wolski could return, but the Senators likely haven't forgotten about that hit.
 
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 1:31 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Tale of two power plays as Lightning, Canes meet

TAMPA -- Two teams vying to avoid last place in the Southeast Division meet Thursday when the Carolina Hurricanes visit the Tampa Bay Times Forum to face the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The clubs are just three points apart in the standings, with the advantage going to Tampa Bay, and Lightning coach Guy Boucher expects a close battle.

“They are a hard-working team; they grind it out,” Boucher said. “We’re not a high-end team and they’re not a high-end team. We’re two teams that are fighting to get whatever we can, and that makes for tight games. I expect that to be the story tonight.”

A tight game often turns on the play of special teams and in that aspect, this matchup is a tale of two power plays. The Lightning are mired in a 2-for-33 power play slump and in their last game, Tuesday night against Vancouver, struggled to even get across the Canucks’ blueline with the man advantage.

“It’s not like we don’t have a really good group of players on the power play,” Marc-Andre Bergeron said. “We’ve got real skilled guys out there.”

The problem, then?

“If I knew, I don’t think I’d tell,” Bergeron said. “I’d keep it to myself and share it with the guys. One thing for sure, you can’t win in this League without a good power play.”

True enough, and Tampa Bay has gone 1-3-1 in its last five games; their last win came against the Hurricanes on New Year’s Eve.

For Guy Boucher, the problem hasn’t been the skill of the players he sends out with the extra man, but more a matter of finding the right man to run the power play.

“Time on the power play is the last thing you want to give a guy that doesn’t have confidence,” Boucher said. “I’ve seen this my entire life as a coach and as a player. Power plays are the most stressful things for any defenseman because he’s the quarterback back there. Anything that goes wrong, he feels that he’s the one responsible for it. You need a lot of poise and a lot of confidence. Top power play guys have cockiness about themselves; you need that. There’s a swagger and an extreme confidence that goes with it. When you give that spot to the wrong guy at the wrong time, it’s a catastrophe and you can actually ruin a player’s season like that.”

Boucher’s search for the power play quarterback has led him down some blind alleys.

“I saw it happen with Matt Gilroy,” Boucher said. “I knew it was a mistake but I still made it – he had been playing well and I put him on the power play and his game went down.”

Carolina, meanwhile, seems to have found the secret. In its last six games, the power play is clicking along at a better than 40 percent success rate (7 of 17).

“It goes to execution and poise,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. “The guys are committed to simplifying it and getting shots when they are available. We’ve gotten traffic in front of the net. It’s just a matter of composure and staying with the plan.”
One break for Tampa Bay is that Jeff Skinner will not play. Although he has been cleared for contact, Skinner will sit out and will miss his 15th game with a concussion.

HURRICANES

Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Andreas Nodl - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jussi Jokinnen - Jerome Samson
Brett Sutter - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

Tim Gleason - Jamie McBain
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Jaroslav Spacek - Bryan Allen

Cam Ward
Justin Peters

LIGHTNING

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

Marc-Andre Bergeron - Matt Gilroy
Brett Clark - Bruno Gervais
Brendan Mikkelson

Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Roloson

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 1:22 PM

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

Cammalleri clarifies Wednesday comments on Habs

BOSTON -- The day after Michael Cammalleri made some disparaging remarks about his team's attitude, the Montreal forward went into damage-control mode today after his team's morning skate at the TD Garden in preparation for tonight's game with the Boston Bruins.

After the Habs practiced Wednesday, Cammalleri told NHL.com and a reporter from Montreal newspaper La Presse that he was unhappy with his ice time before making a comparison between teams with a "winning mentality" and those with a "losing mentality," suggesting the Canadiens were currently a part of the latter group.

In the Garden dressing room, he expressed confusion over why a statement like that would cause a controversy.

"Yesterday was a little bit crazy. I'm obviously not happy," said Cammalleri. "It's an emotional game, we're sitting in 12th spot, so it's not fun to lose and you want to win. So you always want to do more. That's all. I made some comments after my interview yesterday that I thought were pretty PC comments with regards to the competitive advantage a winning team has and their mentality, and the lack thereof of a losing team. I didn't think it was ground-breaking news.

"We're in 12th spot, we're not in a winning position right now. So it was some pretty impressive journalism to make all that out of that. But that's what it was for me. This group in here knows that we've got to be better. It's no secret, like I said, [we're in] 12th spot."

Cammalleri, who has only produced nine goals and 22 points for the 16-19-7 Canadiens, would not confirm whether he addressed the comments with his teammates, head coach Randy Cunneyworth or general manager Pierre Gauthier. But several players said that Cammalleri did clarify what he said with them.

Cammalleri also responded to those translating his statements about the team's attitude, and additional ones about his diminished ice time, as a message saying he wanted out of Montreal.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 1:12 PM

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

Karlsson plans to play against Rangers

NEW YORK -- Erik Karlsson confirmed Thursday what everyone believed would be the case -- he's back in the lineup for the Ottawa Senators after missing the team's previous game with an upper-body injury.

"I feel a lot better today," Karlsson said. "It's definitely going as plan and I expect to be ready tonight."

Karlsson suffered his injury during pre-game warmups in the Sens' previous game against the Penguins on Tuesday. He was replaced by Matt Carkner, who will be a healthy scratch against the Rangers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

The NHL's leading scorer among defensemen said he doesn't expect his injury to be a nagging one, but he couldn't promise it wouldn't crop up again.

Coach Paul MacLean is just happy to get Karlsson back against the NHL's top team.

"Obviously he's a very important player for us," MacLean said. "He generates a lot of offense for us. He's arguably our best player. Anytime you get one of them back, it's good for your team."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo


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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 12:39 PM

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

Barry Melrose's midseason awards

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 12:28 PM

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

Julien hopes Horton keeps burying opportunities

BOSTON -- As they attempt to close out their four-game, Canadian-opponent homestand tonight at the TD Garden with a win over Montreal, the Bruins are hoping winger Nathan Horton is finally out of the woods in terms of a scoring slump.

In his last four games, Horton has posted 5-1-6 totals, including two goals in Tuesday night's win over Winnipeg. Previously, Horton had scored just once over a seven-game span. His 14 goals now tie him with Milan Lucic for third on the team, and he's well on pace to at least match last season's total of 26 goals.

Bruins coach Claude Julien has witnessed a resurgence in Horton's game.

"I'd have to say it's picked up. I mean, in the last week or so you've seen him, again, I always say when he's emotionally involved in a game, he brings a lot," Julien said after an optional morning skate at TD Garden. "He can be a physical player, he can be a strong player, he's in the right spots, he buries his opportunities, and to me, he started doing that. I'm seeing a guy turning a corner, and I hope he keeps building on what he's done in the last week because it makes a big difference to our hockey club."

The Bruins' lineup isn't expected to change tonight from Tuesday, although Julien now has an extra option among forwards with the recall of Jordan Caron from the Bruins' Providence (AHL) farm club.

Here are tonight's projected lineups:

CANADIENS
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Andrei Kostitsyn - Lars Eller - Travis Moen
Michael Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Mike Blunden
Mathieu Darche - Petteri Nokelainen - Yannick Weber

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Hal Gill
Tomas Kaberle - Raphael Diaz

Carey Price
Peter Budaj

BRUINS
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Benoit Pouliot - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Chris Kelly - Zach Hamill - Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

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I was in there icing my face as she was trying to push a baby out.

— Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf on going to the hospital with a facial laceration while his wife was in labor following Game 1 on Wednesday