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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 1:06 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Versteeg back from flu in time to face Jets

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kris Versteeg did not enjoy watching his Florida Panthers on television when they faced Washington on Wednesday night. He even admitted to screaming at the TV at times.

"It's tough watching, it's way more nerve-racking watching a game from your house," Versteeg said. "You're sitting there and you're on your hands. I don't really ever get nervous when I play, but when it's out of your control it's a lot tougher."

Versteeg won't have that problem Friday night against Winnipeg as he returns to the lineup after missing the Panthers' 4-2 victory over the Capitals because of the flu.

The Panthers' leading scorer with 43 points, Versteeg didn't take part in practices Monday and Tuesday when the Panthers returned from the break but got back on the ice Thursday.

"I'm slowly getting there," Versteeg said. "Hopefully, I'll get some more energy back every day by day now. Yesterday hopefully I got over that hump. Today, you start getting energy back and start feeling good again."

Versteeg is expected to take his place again on the top line with Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann after Tomas Kopecky replaced him against Washington.

Even though he's not ready to say he feels 100 percent physically, Versteeg expects to give nothing less than an all-out effort.

"It doesn't matter if it's an injury or whatever, I always expect myself to go out there and play hard no matter how I feel," he said. "You do what you can to get ready for the game."

Versteeg spent a day in Chicago after the Panthers began their All-Star break following a game against Philadelphia on Jan. 24 and started feeling sick over the weekend.

It made for a forgettable All-Star break.

"Saturday I think is when it really hit me," Versteeg said. "Didn't really get to do much over the All-Star break besides laying in bed. I got to visit a buddy (in Chicago) on Wednesday, but that was about it. Didn't get out too much. You want to get away and you want to do some stuff, but I got some quality time with my bed.

"It was really unfortunate. But, you know, I guess it was a lot of soul-searching in five days."

At least Versteeg wasn't alone, as his younger brother Bryce was visiting from Canada. Bryce, who's 21, also got sick.

Kris Versteeg said his temperature went "well over 100" and he couldn't sleep for "about five nights."

You'll have to forgive the Jets if they wished Versteeg had stayed sick just a little bit longer.

After beating Florida 4-3 in a shootout on Oct. 31, Winnipeg has dropped the teams' last two meetings and watched Versteeg collect 5 goals and 2 assists in those games.

Versteeg recorded his first career hat trick at Winnipeg on Nov. 10, his empty-net goal clinching a 5-2 victory. Then on Jan. 21, Versteeg had 2 goals and an assist as the Panthers beat the Jets 4-3 in Winnipeg.

Before that game, Versteeg had gone nine games without a goal, his longest drought of the season.

"We gave him some offense that he didn't have to earn too much of," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "I shouldn't say that, he's a good player for them. He's the one guy that's really kind of hurt us.

"You've got to give him full marks and full credit. He's a guy that's got skill and speed, and he's got that long stick and he can make plays. He's a guy we've got to be aware of."


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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 11:58 AM

By Erin Nicks -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Senators, Islanders

KANATA, Ont. -- Here are the projected lineups for Friday night’s game between the New York Islanders and the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place:

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

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Alex Auld

Spezza did not participate in the morning skate. Coach Paul MacLean said he was taking a "maintenance day" and is expected to play tonight.

ISLANDERS
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Rhett Rakhshani - Josh Bailey - Matt Martin
Nino Niederreiter - Jay Pandolfo - Tim Wallace

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina

Evgeni Nabokov
Al Montoya
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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 11:44 AM

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

Melrose Match Up: Penguins at Bruins

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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 11:40 AM

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

Barry's Mullet of the Week: Jamie Benn

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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 11:37 AM

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

Barry's Best: Top All-Star Game performers

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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 11:33 AM

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

Melrose joins CISCO NHL Live via Telepresence

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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 11:25 AM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Rangers deal Christensen, pick to Wild for Wellman

The New York Rangers, who have been carrying 14 forwards since the All-Star break, cleared some room Friday by dealing Erik Christensen and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2013 to the Minnesota Wild for forward Casey Wellman.

The 24-year-old Wellman, who has 2 goals and 5 assists in 14 games this season, was assigned to the AHL's Connecticut Whale.

Before shedding Christensen's $925,000 salary, the Rangers could add about $5.5 million in cap hits at the Feb. 27 trade deadline, according to capgeek.com. That number is sure to go up slightly with this transaction.

Christensen had fallen out of favor with the Rangers after winning a roster spot out of training camp over fellow forward Sean Avery. The 28-year-old never seized the opportunity, netting just 1 goal and 4 assists in 20 games. He hasn't played since Dec. 17.

Christensen accepting a two-week conditioning stint with the Whale in mid-January. He had 2 goals and an assist in five games with the Whale, but had been a healthy scratch since he was recalled Jan. 24.

The Wild are Christensen's fifth team in seven seasons.

Christensen's strength has always been in shootouts. In his career, he is 24-for-46 in the post-overtime tiebreaker. The Wild, who rank 28th in the NHL in offense at 2.26 goals per game, are 5-5 in the shootout this season. Christensen has 62 goals and 94 assists in 358 career games, but confidence has always been an issue for the Edmonton native.

Christensen was claimed off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks in 2009, but he never found consistency with the Rangers. In 132 games as a Ranger, he had 20 goals and 38 assists.

"I probably frustrate him more than anyone else on this team," Christensen told NHL.com during last year's playoffs about his dealings with Tortorella. "He's definitely given me an opportunity. I come up here and didn't know what to expect. He's definitely got a people kind of side to him. He's not the guy everyone sees on the bench. He'll talk to you. You'll see him laughing and joking with the guys. It's been a lot of fun playing for him."

The 6-foot, 173-pound Wellman has 4 goals and 9 assists in 41 career games over parts of three seasons.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 1:43 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Gagner Opens eyes With record night

Oh, what a night!

That's what fantasy owners must be thinking after the show Sam Gagner put on Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Edmonton Oilers forward scored four goals - yes, four - and added four assists - yes, four - to book-end an eight-point outing against one of the Western Conference's more elite clubs.

To go along with the offensive explosion, Gagner skated away with a plus-6 rating and threw another six shots on the cage.

Sam Gagner
Center - EDM
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 30
SOG: 86 | +/-: 2
Not many outings will top this record-tying game for the crafty forward, but he is in the midst of a productive stretch. In the past four games, the 22-year-old has 10 points and 10 shots. This small segment of production came after a drought to forget for the former first-round pick of the Oilers.

Coming into the game againt the Blackhawks, Gagner hadn't scored a goal in 11 games and prior to the stretch of points in three of four games, he hadn't collected a point in six games.

Whether or not the 5-foot-11 forward's monster performance will prove to be a springboard to bigger and better things in the second half of the season remains to be seen. But regardless of the totals during the season, any player capable of putting up an eight-point effort is worthy of fantasy consideration.

Currently owned in 7 percent of standard Yahoo! leagues, Gagner - a dual-eligibility player - could be had and could be a sleeper as the season progresses.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 10:05 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Higgins a late scratch for Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Canucks forward Chris Higgins was a surprise late scratch Thursday against Detroit with what a team official called an “illness.”

There was no word if it was related to the Staph infection that caused Higgins to miss five games over two separate absences earlier this season. The second-line left winger, who has 10 goals and 26 points in 45 games, missed two games in early December after his foot swelled up suddenly overnight, and three more late that month when the symptoms returned.

Higgins, who was one of Vancouver's better forwards in October and November, struggled after returning from the second infection, failing to record a point in his first six games, and going without a goal through all 11 games in January. Both he and head coach Alain Vigneault, who was expected to update Higgins' status after Thursday’s game, said at the time that the gritty winger struggled with his energy levels as a result of medication he was taking. Higgins also missed six games with a Staph infection last season while with the Florida Panthers.

The Canucks are only carrying 12 forwards on the roster, and without enough time to call one up from the American Hockey League, were forced to dress extra defenseman Andrew Alberts, who has skated as a forward a few times already this season.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 8:34 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

MTL @ NJD - 13:43 of the Second Period



At 13:43 of the second period in the Canadiens/Devils game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Ilya Kovalchuk's shot deflected off David Clarkson's leg and into the net.  According to rule 78.4 "If an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed." Good Goal New Jersey.
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Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season