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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 2:20 PM

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

Status quo as Howard recovers from broken finger


DETROIT -- Status quo is the term of the day for Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who will miss a third consecutive game with a broken index finger when his team faces the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

It's been seven days since Howard broke the finger stopping a shot against the Vancouver Canucks, but a visit with the doctor on Wednesday morning didn't really reveal anything new in his recovery or shed light on a timeline for returning to action.

"It's pretty much the same news as before," Howard said after the Red Wings' morning skate, which he dressed for, but did not take shots. "It's just going to take a little while to heal."

It could potentially be a couple more games, if not longer. Howard said the main issue is pain tolerance and how much he can withstand and still be effective in net. As for the next step in his recovery -- facing live shots from teammates in practice -- Howard said he'd like to get in a couple of solid practice sessions before coming back.

"It's been seven days now, so the timing can go a little bit," he said. "I've missed seven days worth of shots, so I'd like to get a couple of practices in before I come back. It all depends on how it feels. This whole thing, with it obviously being broken, is just going to be basically how the finger feels out there. We'll work on (adjusting the equipment) but there's no guarantee it's going to work."

Replacing Howard will be Joey MacDonald, who will get his second straight start in net for the Wings. Detroit has won 17 straight home games, but all of them came with Howard starting. In fact, Howard has started all 23 home games for Detroit and posted a sterling 20-2-1 mark.

That, in itself, makes sitting out even tougher to swallow.

"It's frustrating just because I want to be out there with the guys," said Howard, who still leads the League with 32 wins and was on pace to break Martin Brodeur's single-season NHL record of 48 victories prior to getting injured. "I enjoy being out there. I love the competition and the downfall is not being able to be out there."

Howard said he's not concerned about the interruption throwing him off-kilter for the remaining portion of the season, but he's still working hard off the ice on conditioning drills to keep his legs strong for whenever he can return.

Meanwhile, it's just assessing how much pain the finger is causing him. The doctor told Howard that it'd be hard to do more damage by playing, so his ultimate return will be based on how confident he feels in his abilities while playing with a fractured bone in a finger on his blocker hand.

"It's just all going to depend on pain threshold and what I can and cannot withstand out there," Howard said. "Every single day the finger's getting better. I'm just trying to keep on top of things here with doing skating drills and keep my legs under me, so when I'm able to come back hopefully I can pick up where I left off."

In other Red Wings news, forward Danny Cleary will likely play despite lingering knee soreness that might need to be relieved with an injection at some point. Defenseman Brad Stuart is also healthy enough to play against the Oilers -- who called up Magnus Paajarvi on Tuesday to replace injured star rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder).

Also, Edmonton coach Tom Renney said he plans on coaching the game after missing Monday night's contest in Toronto with concussion-like symptoms after being hit in the head with a puck at the morning skate and needing stitches.

Here is how Edmonton and Detroit could line up on Wednesday night:

OILERS

Magnus Paajarvi - Shawn Horcoff - Ales Hemsky
Taylor Hall - Sam Gagner - Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth - Eric Belanger - Ryan Jones
Ben Eager - Anton Lander - Lennart Petrell

Ladislav Smid - Tom Gilbert
Ryan Whitney - Jeff Petry
Andy Sutton - Corey Potter

Nikolai Khabibulin
Devan Dubnyk

RED WINGS
Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Danny Cleary
Cory Emmerton - Justin Abdelkader - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Joey MacDonald
Ty Conklin
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 11:42 AM

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

Brodeur doesn't practice, Hedberg says he's starting

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who notched his first shutout of the season in a victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday, was a noticeable absentee from practice on Wednesday morning at Prudential Center.

According to The Bergen Record (N.J.), Brodeur is still recovering from a twisted right ankle he suffered midway through the third period of the Devils 1-0 victory over the Rangers. Brodeur's injury occurred when Rangers captain Ryan Callahan landed on the ankle during an offensive rush up ice. It was incidental contact.

Devils backup goalie Johan Hedberg and goalie coach Chris Terreri were each manning the pipes for the team during Wednesday's practice session. Brodeur made 15 saves over the final 20 minutes of Tuesday's game, including three huge stops on Marian Gaborik, Carl Hagelin and Brandon Dubinsky.

Hedberg later told reporters he would start against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, though coach Pete DeBoer said he hadn't made the decision yet and Brodeur could still play.

"I'm playing tomorrow. Marty looked like he had some discomfort during the game. I don't know if he's good to go or not," Hedberg said in an online post by the Newark Star-Ledger.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 10:48 AM

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

Prospal staying put with Blue Jackets

Scratch another potential trade candidate off the list.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, expected to be aggressive sellers at the Feb. 27 trade deadline, signed 36-year-old forward Vinny Prospal to a one-year contract extension with a reported value of $2.5 million. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch is reporting the deal includes a no-trade clause.

Prospal joined the Blue Jackets this summer after spending two seasons with the New York Rangers. Last season, Prospal was limited to 29 games as he recovered from knee surgery.

In 53 games with the Blue Jackets, Prospal has 9 goals and 24 assists.

"We are very excited to have Vinny signed for another year," said Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson said in a statement. "His leadership and play on the ice have certainly been positives for us this season."

Teams looking to add a veteran presence at minimal cost can't be happy about the extension. Prospal's original deal also carried a $2.5 million cap hit, and the veteran has 65 games of playoff experience under his belt.

At the time of coach Scott Arniel's firing, Howson said he expected his team to be sellers in the trade market this month. With Prospal locked up for another year, that leaves the Blue Jackets with five unrestricted free agents after this season -- forwards Kristian Huselius, Samuel Pahlsson and Derek MacKenzie along with defensemen Radek Martinek and Brett Lebda.

Huselius has played just two games this season due to pectoral surgery and a subsequent groin injury. Martinek has missed all but seven games due to a concussion.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 9:31 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

PIT @ MTL - 1:03 of the Third Period

At 1:03 of the third period in the Penguins/Canadiens game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Joe Vitale's pass deflected off Pascal Dupuis' right skate and into the net. According to rule 49.2 "A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal."  Good Goal Pittsburgh.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 9:15 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

VAN @ NSH - 4:14 of the Second Period

At 4:14 of the second period in the Canucks/Predators game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Kevin Klein's shot deflected off Sergei Kostitsyn's skate and into the net. According to rule 49.2 "A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal."  Good Goal Nashville.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 8:41 PM

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

Goalies up for grabs?

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 7:07 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Isles, Nielsen agree on 4-year extension

The New York Islanders confirmed Tuesday night that they have re-signed center Frans Nielsen, who was set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The team said the deal will be announced Wednesday, but TSN's Bon McKenzie reported that it's a four-year deal worth $11 million, a cap hit of $2.75 million. That's a big jump for Nielsen, who is on the last season of a four-year, $2.2 million deal he signed in 2008.

Nielsen, 27, was the Islanders' third-round choice (No. 87) in the 2002 NHL Draft. He became the first Danish-born NHL player to score a goal when he connected during a 15-game callup in 2007, and became a full-time Islander in 2008-09.

Nielsen entered Thursday's action with nine goals and 25 points in 51 games after posting career highs of 13 goals, 31 assists and 44 points last season, when he led the NHL with seven shorthanded goals. He is also one of the NHL's most proficient scorers in the shootout -- his 57.6 percentage (19-for-33) is the best of any player who has taken 20 or more attempts.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 3:40 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blackhawks, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

BLACKHAWKS

Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Brendan Morrison - Marian Hossa
Marcus Kruger - Dave Bolland - Andrew Shaw
Bryan Bickell - Jamal Mayers - Michael Frolik

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Nick Leddy
Steve Montador - Sean O'Donnell

Ray Emery
Corey Crawford

Injuries: RW Andrew Brunette (upper body) is day to day. Daniel Carcillo (knee) is out.

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Peter Mueller
David Jones - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
TJ Galiardi - Jay McClement - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - David Van Der Gulik - Chuck Kobasew

Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Kyle Quincey -- Tyson Barrie
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

Injuries: LW Matt Duchene (knee) is out.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 2:24 PM

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

Toronto penalty kill perfect since last trip to Winnipeg

WINNIPEG -- The Toronto Maple Leafs roll into Winnipeg with three consecutive wins in hand and a real chance to make further headway in the Eastern Conference playoff race against the Jets.

The Leafs dispatched the Edmonton Oilers, 6-3, before heading to Winnipeg, where they did not hold a morning skate today. In beating Edmonton, the seventh-place Leafs climbed to within two points of the fifth-place Pittsburgh Penguins and own a 6-3-1 mark over their past 10 games.

The once-maligned Toronto penalty kill continues to shine and has not allowed a power-play goal since the Jets struck twice on the man-advantage when the teams met at the MTS Centre on Dec. 31. The Leafs have killed off 22 consecutive opposing power plays over the ensuing 15 games. The Toronto penalty kill received a night off against the Oilers in the Leafs' first game since March 28, 2001 in which neither the Leafs nor their opponent registered a penalty.

Jonas Gustavsson is expected to start for the Maple Leafs for the first time in four games.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Toronto:

Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Matthew Lombardi - Tim Connolly - Joey Crabb
Mike Brown - David Steckel - Colby Armstrong
 
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn
 
Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 2:22 PM

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

Shoulder sidelines Nugent-Hopkins for at least a week

Edmonton Oilers rookie center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins told the media on Tuesday afternoon that the shoulder injury he suffered on Monday in a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, which will keep him sidelined at least a week, is unrelated to his previous shoulder ailment.

Nugent-Hopkins, who returned to action on Saturday after being out of the lineup with a non-related shoulder injury since Jan. 2, was hit by Toronto's Mike Brown and ultimately sent to the dressing room in the third period for precautionary reasons.

According to the Oilers, Nugent-Hopkins will be sidelined 7-10 days with a sprained shoulder.

"He's obviously a solid guy, but we were both going for the puck and just collided … landed shoulder on shoulder," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I could feel it as soon as I got hit. My shoulder kind of dropped and I could feel it.

"It's the same area, it's the same shoulder, but it's a new thing on top."

Nugent-Hopkins, who has 13 goals and 35 points in 40 games, is still considered a leading candidate for the Calder Trophy this season. He still leads all first-year players in assists (22) and points.

"It could be frustrating and disappointing, but [Monday] I wasn't too happy," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I just try and stay positive through it all and keep same attitude."

The decision to sit Nugent-Hopkins came Tuesday after doctors re-examined the team's No. 1 pick from the 2011 Draft.

With Nugent-Hopkins back on the shelf, Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini recalled left-winger Magnus Paajarvi from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League. Paajarvi, 20, was assigned to Oklahoma City on Jan. 24 and had 10 points in 14 games with the Barons. In 33 games with the Oilers this season, he has 4 assists.
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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp