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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 6:17 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Neuvirth gets the nod against Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Michal Neuvirth will get the start for the Washington Capitals tonight versus the Toronto Maple Leafs after backstopping his club to a 4-1 victory Friday in Montreal.

"He was solid, he didn't give up many rebounds," Caps coach Dale Hunter said. "We didn't have a lot of work for him last night, so it wasn't like a real hard game for him.  With this team here, with the speed they got and the scoring they got, he's going to have to be really ready in the first period."

Neuvirth relieved Tomas Vokoun in a 7-1 road loss to the Maple Leafs on Nov. 19.  He allowed 3 goals on 11 shots after entering play in the second period.

Defenseman Mike Green echoed Hunter's sentiments.

"I thought he was outstanding. He made the big saves when he needed to," Green said. "I am sure it's not easy for him because he is in and out of the lineup. He handles himself very well and we need more out of him down the stretch.  We need to win some games and it's going to start with our goaltending."

Green, who has averaged over 20 minutes of ice time in the past three games, says he is getting close to hitting his stride since returning from abdominal injury on Feb. 18.

"It's taken these last couple of games to get my feel again with being out so long," Green said. "I'm finally starting to come into my own again and feel the way I used to.

Green has not faced the Leafs in the two games the clubs have played this season.

Hunter, an Ontario native, will coach his first NHL game in Toronto.

"It's always nice to come to Toronto," Hunter said. "It's near my hometown and I grew up watching the Leafs."
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 6:12 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Wings may make a move, just not a big splash

DETROIT -- As Monday's trade deadline approaches, more sports talk on local radio stations is being dedicated to the Detroit Red Wings.

Callers and show hosts will probably be a little disappointed, however, when they learn the Red Wings aren't even kicking the tires on a major deal such as the kind that would bring Columbus Blue Jackets power forward Rick Nash to the Motor City.

The price would probably be way too high in return for the Stanley-Cup minded Red Wings to get a deal like that done -- not to mention the fact Columbus would likely be gun shy of trading Nash within the Central Division. The Wings are also looking at their situation in a different light than many fans – who’ve noticed Detroit’s scoring woes the past five games and think trading for a top goal-scorer is the
answer.

"That's not what we're looking for," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said on Saturday. "We're looking for depth people."

Detroit general manager Ken Holland has already pulled off one depth-related maneuver this week when he reeled in former Red Wings prospect and draft pick Kyle Quincey from the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche in a three-team deal.

Quincey, who's 26, is a restricted free agent and is an insurance policy of sorts in case veteran defenseman Brad Stuart opts to leave when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this coming July. Quincey scored a goal in his first game back with the Wings on Thursday while shifting with Jonathan Ericsson on the third pairing. He has 6 goals and 18 assists in 55 games overall this season.

Quincey gives the Wings eight defensemen with NHL experience heading into the stretch run of the regular season, which is exactly the kind of quality depth Holland sees as ideal for a team hoping to make a long playoff run.

Detroit is also set in goal, where starter Jimmy Howard continues to shine and 32-year old backup Joey MacDonald played great filling in while Howard was injured for eight games. The Wings also have veteran Ty Conklin working on his game down in Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. The only area left to address, possibly, is up front -- where Detroit likely won't get veteran depth forward Patrick Eaves [concussion] back this season.

"[Quincey] has a chance to be a real impact guy [on D] because he gives us depth and he's a good player," Babcock said. "That's, to me, what we're looking for. We're looking for depth because there's injuries. We got kids in the minors, but they're kids. So, if we can add a veteran type player who knows how to win and knows how to play, then maybe that happens. If not, then all hands on deck and let's go."

One name that has surfaced among those who cover the Red Wings is Montreal forward Travis Moen, who is currently out with an upper-body injury. If Montreal makes him available, the Red Wings are thought to have legitimate interest.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 5:54 PM

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

Lineups for Rangers-Sabres, no room for Wolski

NEW YORK -- There was just no room at the wing for Wojtek Wolski.

That's what Rangers coach John Tortorella said Saturday evening before his team faced the Buffalo Sabres. Wolski was dealt to the Florida Panthers earlier in the day for a third-round pick in the 2012 draft and a prospect.

“This year, through his injuries, and then (Carl) Hagelin comes up and plays, (John) Mitchell comes up and plays, we just run out of spots,” Tortorella told a room full of reporters at Madison Square Garden.

“He’s a good guy, I wish him the best. It’s best for him. Our lineup evolved and there just weren’t any spots.”

Wolski underwent sports hernia surgery in November and played just three games upon his return. The 26-year-old has been out of the lineup since Jan. 15 and spent time playing for the AHL's Connecticut Whale in an effort to stay sharp.

The Rangers will employ the same lineup as they did Friday night in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Islanders, but Henrik Lundqvist will be in net. Look for the Sabres to ice the same group as they did in their 2-1 shootout win against the Bruins on Friday, but there's no definitive word on which goaltender Lindy Ruff will start.

RANGERS

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Brandon Dubinsky - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
Michael Rupp - John Mitchell - Ruslan Fedotenko

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

Henrik Lundqvist
Martin Biron

SABRES

Thomas Vanek - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Tyler Ennis - Ville Leino - Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe - Paul Gaustad - Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis - Zack Kassian - Corey Tropp

Jordan Leopold - Tyler Myers
Robyn Regher - Jordan Leopold
Christian Ehrhoff - Mike Weber

Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 5:37 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Nash's agent breaks silence, hopes for trade soon

The Rick Nash story got more interesting Saturday afternoon because of comments by his agent to TSN and NHL Network Insider Bob McKenzie.

McKenzie reported via his Twitter account that Joe Resnick, the agent for the Columbus Blue Jackets' captain, has broken his silence on the trade talk about his client with less than 48 hours remaining until the trade deadline, which is Monday at 3 p.m. ET.

"We're hopeful a deal can get done prior to the trade deadline that is fair and equitable for the Blue Jackets," Resnick told TSN, according to McKenzie. "However, if a deal is not reached, then the list of acceptable teams will not change at a later date."

Nash has a no-movement clause in his contract, but he has given the Blue Jackets a list of teams that he would be willing to accept a trade to. Nash's list of teams reportedly includes the Rangers, Canucks, Bruins, Kings, Sharks and Maple Leafs.

Nash is signed through the 2017-18 season and comes with a cap hit of $7.8 million. According to Columbus Dispatch reporter Aaron Portzline, Nash traveled with the Blue Jackets to Pittsburgh on Saturday in advance of Sunday afternoon's game at Consol Energy Center.

The Rangers shed some cap space on Saturday with the deal that sent Wojtek Wolski to Florida in exchange for a third-round pick in 2013 and minor-league defenseman Mike Vernace. There were rumors on Saturday that the Rangers and Blue Jackets were in serious discussions about a trade for Nash.

According to capgeek.com, the Rangers have just more than $10.5 million in acquisition space.

The Canucks put defenseman Keith Ballard (concussion) on long-term injured reserve, freeing up some cap space as well. Capgeek.com has the Canucks with $4.607 million in space.

The Bruins could potentially do the same with Nathan Horton (concussion) and put him on LTIR, but the Bruins already have almost $11.9 million in acquisition space.

The Kings recently acquired Nash's former teammate, Jeff Carter, who is signed for 10 more seasons with a $5.27 million cap hit. Los Angeles, though, is on the outside of the playoff picture and is 30th in goals per game this season (2.05).

Nash has 20 goals and 42 points in 61 games this season. He has 279 goals and 530 points in 653 career games, all with the Blue Jackets.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 4:29 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

PHX @ EDM - 6:16 of the First Period



At 6:16 of the first period in the Coyotes/Oilers game, the Toronto situation room initiated a review after Lauri Korpikoski's shot was stopped but Antoine Vermette poked the rebound into the net. The referee informed the video room that he had been in the act of blowing the whistle after the save on the original shot by Korpikoski and prior to the Vermette shot. The referee's call on the ice stands. No Goal Phoenix.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 3:55 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Predators will miss popular Smithson

NASHVILLE – Jerred Smithson was a long-time Nashville Predator who was liked and respected by teammates and members of the coaching staff alike.

So when Nashville traded him to Florida on Friday for a sixth-round pick, it was not an easy move.

Smithson, a solid two-way forward who was strong on faceoffs and a good penalty killer, scored what coach Barry Trotz called arguably the biggest goal in franchise history last year in overtime in Game 5 of the first round at Anaheim, setting Nashville up for its first series-clinching win in Game 6 at Bridgestone Arena.

Trotz was the second member of the organization to speak to Smithson on Friday night after general manager David Poile informed him of the trade. Trotz said it was a “tough” phone call and that he was at a loss for words, saying Smithson was “one of my favorites.”

Smithson, 33, in his seventh season with Nashville, was held out of the lineup four times since the Predators claimed a younger faster forward with more potential offensive upside in Brandon Yip. Trotz also said that the development of young players like Nick Spaling, Matt Halischuk, Craig Smith and Gabriel Bourque increasingly took over Smithson’s former role.

Smithson had only one goal and four assists in 53 games. He entered the season with 35 goals and 46 assists in 444 games for Nashville.

“It was difficult in the sense that Jerred brought a lot to the locker room,” Trotz said. “The stats, if you look at stats, they’re really for losers. He brings a lot of intangibles to the group -- character guy. Real pro, one of the better faceoff guys in the game, with him also he probably hasn’t had the year he was expecting and maybe he was expecting. Not to diminish anything he’s done. Not to diminish anything he’s done. He’s done a lot for us.”

Trotz hinted that it was a potentially unhealthy situation, having a player so well respected sitting out on a regular basis, saying, “One thing you don’t want is a player you highly respect and you know has contributed in a lot of different ways to not be a part of it.”

Smithson and Predators captain Shea Weber were roommates on the road. Weber was the third person to speak to Smithson after the deal. He said it was hard to see Smithson sitting out.

“Yeah, yeah, he’s such a character guy, someone who means so much in the locker room, a veteran presence especially where we’re so young,” Weber said. “It was tough to see.”

Right wing Jordin Tootoo played on the same line as Smithson and sat next to him in the Preds’ dressing room.

“He’ll be greatly missed in the dressing room but at the same time it’s part of business,” said Tootoo, who also spoke to Smithson after he was dealt. “… As a person, he was a very comical guy.”…

Right wing Patric Hornqvist will return to the lineup after missing five games with what the team called an upper-body injury.

Here is the projected lineup for the Predators:
 
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher-Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque - Nick Spaling-Jordin Tootoo
Matt Halischuk - Craig Smith-Brandon Yip
 
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Roman Josi - Kevin Klein
Francis Bouillon - Hal Gill
 
Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

Out: Jack Hillen

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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 3:41 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sharks hope win sparks trip turnaround

NASHVILLE – The San Jose Sharks enter their second-to-last game on Saturday of what had been a rather unsuccessful nine-game road trip with a chance to finish at .500 thanks to a 2-1 win on Saturday at Toronto.

The Sharks went 1-4-1 in the first six games of the trip, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he saw some improvement and hopes that with wins over the Predators on Saturday and in the finale at Minnesota on Sunday the Sharks can go home with nine out of a possible 18 points.

The poor road trip, combined with Phoenix’s surge, has allowed the Coyotes to tie the Sharks for first in the Pacific Division with 71 points entering Saturday.

“Defensively, we were much better,” McLellan said of the Leafs’ game. “We weren’t as loose. Positionally, we were better. I thought our goaltender looked sharp, the way he’s supposed to look. Power play got us a goal. We came out on the winning side of a one-goal game, instead of the losing side. Kept a team to under three, which is important to our team.

“A lot of real positives. I thought we got solid contributions from all four lines. We were much more disciplined. We didn’t end up in the penalty box. I can keep going on and on. It’s amazing how many things we did better and yet it still a one-goal win.”

One player who will not play on Saturday or Sunday is newly acquired center Dominic Moore, who has a lower-body injury. Moore missed the game on Thursday at Toronto and McLellan said he would not get back into the lineup at earliest until the team returns home against Philadelphia on Wednesday.
 
Here's the Sharks' projected lineup:
 
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryan Clowe - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Jim Vandermeer
 
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Jason Demers - Brent Burns
Justin Braun - Colin White
 
Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 3:32 PM

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

Abdelkader hopes for happy birthday against rival Avs

DETROIT -- While growing up in Muskegon, Mich., in the 1990s Justin Abdelkader enjoyed the bitter rivalry that developed between the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche.

Though the rhetoric has almost evaporated from those old battles, which featured two goalie fights and other physical run-ins, Abdelkader said he still thinks there is some leftover spite between the two organizations.

“I think it's still there," said Abdekader, who turned 25 on Saturday. "Maybe it's a little different, because I think both teams were pretty much 1-2 during the late [1990s], when they were battling it out. It's a little different, but I think there's still some of that intensity there.''

The Red Wings and Avalanche will face each other for the fourth and final time during the regular season on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena, which gave Abdelkader an opportunity to reflect on his days growing up as a Red Wings fan.

"It was '97, so I was probably 10 years old or so when it got heated up," Abdelkader said of the rivalry. "Just watching on TV, watching the battles, the playoffs, looked like it was really neat. I remember the fights. Lot of good memories."

If things go well on Saturday night, Abdelkader might make a few memories of his own in the rivalry with the Red Wings. He'll be lined up at right wing on the third line and will try to duplicate his one goal and one assist performance from Thursday night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

Also, he'll  have a sizable group of family and friends attending the game and celebrating his birthday.

"It's crazy," Abdelkader said. "Seems like each year goes by faster and faster. Talking to my parents on the way down to the rink ... 25 ... you know, it's wild, but it's pretty neat to get an opportunity to play a game on my birthday."
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 3:14 PM

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

New Flyers working on fitting in

Though the trade deadline looms Monday, the Philadelphia Flyers have already worked on assimilating their newest additions into the lineup.

Defensemen Pavel Kubina and Nicklas Grossman have been forced to adapt quickly after being recently acquired by the Flyers, who are in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference.

“Everything is new,” said Kubina, who will protect projected starter Ilya Bryzgalov Saturday night against Calgary. “New team, new system. You’ve just got to work on it. It’s a little different style then we’ve played in Tampa. You’ve got to learn quick.”

The biggest adjustment may be mental for Kubina. Previously a member of the 12th-place Tampa Bay Lightning, the 6-foot-4 defenseman now has the playoffs directly in his crosshairs.

“It’s always good to have a chance and be in the playoffs,” Kubina said. “I remember we won a Stanley Cup in Tampa, we made it to the playoffs the next year after that but I wasn’t in for five, six years after. It’s always special to have a chance to be in the playoffs.”

Adjusting to new partners won't be a problem for current Flyers defensemen. They’ve been forced to do it all season, Matt Carle said.

“With all the injuries we’ve had this year it seems like you’re always playing with a new partner,” Carle said. “That’s the one positive. It’s helped to make these adjustments when bringing new guys in. We’ve had our fair share of new faces on the back end so it’s nothing new for us to bring someone new into our d-core.”

Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette likes what he sees out of his two newest additions that combine for almost 13 feet and nearly 500 pounds between them.

“They’ve been good,” he said. “They’re big units back there – both of them. They’ve done a pretty good job since being here trying to put some size back there behind our forwards and in front of our goaltender and clear things out in front of our net.”

Here's the Flyers' projected lineup:

Scott HartnellClaude GirouxWayne Simmonds
Danny BriereMatt ReadJaromir Jagr
James van RiemsdykBrayden SchennJakub Voracek
Eric Wellwood – Max Talbot – Jody Shelley

Kimmo TimonenBraydon Coburn
Matt CarlePavel Kubina
Nicklas GrossmanAndrej Meszaros

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 2:58 PM

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

Young Wings will be happy to see deadline pass

DETROIT -- Cory Emmerton, like many young players, will have a little sense of relief after the Monday trade deadline comes and goes.

The Detroit Red Wings rookie center isn't part of speculation, but many players don't really know if they're staying or going until after the deadline passes -- especially young guys.

"It's kind of nice when it's all said and done," Emmerton said on Saturday morning. "As much as you say you don't think about it, it's  always there. It's just part of hockey. It's more of a media thing. It's the biggest day of the year in Canada."

Emmerton actually finds that part of it entertaining.

"It's funny how they make a big production out of it," he said. "It'll be fun when it's overwith and we can just worry about playing hockey and not have to worry about what's going on with trades in the League."

Forward Justin Abdelkader, who turned 25 on Saturday, agrees.

"Obviously it's always a time of year when you never know, teams are always looking to upgrade their rosters," he said. "Players always have it in the backs of their minds. You can't really worry about it. You just have to go out and play. When it passes you don't need to worry anymore, but it's one of those things where you can control what you can control. Just go out there, play hard and do your best."

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland has already pulled off a trade on Tuesday to bring in 26-year old defenseman Kyle Quincey from the Colorado Avalanche in a three-team deal that gives Detroit depth on the blue line with eight NHL defensemen.

Backup goalie Joey MacDonald has a firm handle on that role, so all that's really left to address -- if anything -- is a depth forward to help replace the likely loss of Patrick Eaves (concussion) for the rest of the season.

"We’re all in our organization and as a management group right now focused on if we can improve our team," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "At the same time, we like our team. If there’s something there that can help us and makes sense, then that’s a great thing. Change just to change isn’t going to be the approach."
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