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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 7:00 PM

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

Report: Rutherford, Ruutu to meet this week

Will Tuomo Ruutu remain a member of the Carolina Hurricanes?

The Raleigh News and Observer reported Monday that 'Canes general manager Jim Rutherford will be holding "an important meeting" with Ruutu this week.

"I want to talk to him about where he's at, this season and in the future," Rutherford told the paper. "We'll talk about that and see where it goes. We're closing in on the (NHL) trade deadline, so we need to make a decision.

"I've had casual conversations with his agent the past month or so. The next step is to meet with (Ruutu) and make a decision on what direction would be the best for everyone."

Ruutu, who turns 29 next week, is believed to be seeking a long-term contract. Set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, Ruutu leads Carolina with 16 goals.


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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 4:55 PM

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

Lineups for Maple Leafs, Oilers

TORONTO -- Here are the lineups the Maple Leafs and Oilers likely will use tonight when the teams meet at the Air Canada Centre:

MAPLE LEAFS
Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Mathew Lombardi - Tim Connolly - Joey Crabb
Mike Brown - David Steckel - Colby Armstrong
 
Carl Gunnarsson - Dion Phaneuf
John-Michael Liles - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner - Luke Schenn
 
James Reimer will be back in goal. Jonas Gustavsson will serve as the backup

OILERS

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

Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Cam Barker - Andy Sutton
Ryan Whitney - Corey Potter

Devan Dubnyk will start in goal, with Nikolai Khabibulin the backup.

The game also marks the return home for Gagner, named the NHL's First Star of the Week for his record scoring outburst last week.
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 4:04 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kiprusoff chases 300th win, first in Anaheim

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A sort of daily double is on the line when the Calgary Flames take on the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

Miikka Kiprusoff is going for his 300th career victory, and it would snap a 13-game losing streak by Calgary in Anaheim's building.

Calgary coach Brent Sutter, who coached Martin Brodeur in New Jersey, likened Kiprusoff to Brodeur in his ability to not let personal milestones distract from the task at hand.

"There's an element about those guys that's really hard to put into words," Sutter said. "I played with Billy Smith. Eddie Belfour was the same way. Kelly Hrudey was the same way. These guys … they had a very calming influence inside the room but they were also very, very confident in their abilities and everyone knew it inside in the room, which is huge for a goalie, and it's huge for the psyche that it brings inside the room."

Kiprusoff would be the 27th goalie to reach 300 wins. Remarkably, he has never won a regular season game in Anaheim as a Flame.

Kiprusoff was injured when Calgary last won in Anaheim on Jan. 19, 2004.

"That is surprising," Jarome Iginla said. "I think he's going to play a number of more years. Hopefully we've got to change that now."

Iginla optimistic:
Iginla said he plans on staying in Calgary with the Flames on the outside of the playoff picture with the Feb. 27 trade deadline looming.

"I think we're going to be a playoff team," he said. "I believe that. In the Western Conference, it's tight. I don'’t think there's any heavy, favorite front runner. I think we've got a shot. We've played Detroit. We've played Vancouver. We played San Jose and we played them (tightly). While we respect them, we definitely believe we can beat them.

"I believe we can make it here this year. We're four points out, but that can change quickly. That's where the focus is. As far as trade deadline rumors, I haven't kept up on them."

Long drought:
Not only has Calgary not won in 13 straight in Anaheim, it is 1-13-9 past 23 here and the last six games were decided by one goal.

"We don’t bring it up," Iginla said. "The team's turned over so much that most people haven't been through it, so why bring it up and act like they haven't won here? They probably have with other teams. There's only a handful of us that have been through that really tough stretch here.

"We hope that we're due. We'll go with that mindset."

Iginla also missed that 2004 game with an injury. Anaheim defenseman Toni Lydman is the only player from that game that will dress tonight -- Lydman played for Calgary.

"That's a while ago," Lydman said. "Now you made me feel old."

Hagman demoted:
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau broke up the Finnish line of Niklas Hagman, Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne and demoted Hagman to the fourth line.

Matt Beleskey takes the spot of Hagman, who thrived earlier this season but has one goal in his past 17 games.

"He's been up and down," Boudreau said. "There's time when you can see why he was a 28-goal scorer (actually 27) and there's times when he just works and he gets opportunity after opportunity and it seems like he's shooting everything five feet wide. It's never for a lack of work. Sometimes his hands are moving way too quick for his body. But his work ethic is always there."

Sbisa's accident:
Anaheim defenseman Luca Sbisa is sporting a nasty red blemish on the right side of his face from what he told The Orange County Register was a bicycle accident, which has given teammates ammunition for some gentle ribbing.

"We have a bicycle helmet back there somewhere," Lydman said with a smile. "I don't know whose it is."
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 4:03 PM

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

Gagner brings hot stick home to face Leafs

TORONTO -- Call him Sam the Record Man.

On Thursday, Edmonton center Sam Gagner tied a club record with eight points in an 8-4 win against the Chicago Blackhawks, and he followed that by factoring in on his team's first three goals Saturday's 5-4 shootout win against the Red Wings. Gagner's outburst set a new club record with points on 11 straight Oilers goals.

On Monday, he was named the NHL's First Star of the Week as he prepared to play against his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night

Gagner said he's hungry to continue to make a large-scale impact.

"When you get an opportunity, you want to be the guy that steps up and takes it," said Gagner. "Over the last few games, I have gotten the opportunity to play with Taylor (Hall) and Jordan (Eberle), both great players. I enjoy playing with skilled players, especially of their caliber. I think it brings out the best in me. When you play with guys that skilled, you kind of have to have the mindset that you want to be the guy."

Tonight, Gagner will be playing in front of friends and his family who reside in nearby Oakville, Ont., and include his father, former NHL player Dave Gagner. The senior Gagner was an assistant coach under Dale Hunter with the OHL's London Knights, and has had a massive impact on his son's career.

"He's a guy I owe everything too," said Sam. "We talk so much about the game, and the ups and downs of what it brings. Obviously it took him a few years to become a regular NHLer that put up really good numbers. I try to listen to him as much as I can about what it takes to get through those slumps."

Gagner was in his own slump prior to his record-setting scoring outburst, with no goals and four assists in the 11 prior games.

"I think the advice he has given me, if I didn't have it, I don't know where it would be," said Gagner.

Talk of his scoring has at least changed the discussion from the trade rumors that had surrounded the 22-year-old, now in his fifth NHL season.

"It's tough to deal with that, I've never really dealt with it before," he said. "I think as long as I can continue ... where I am not worrying about the outside factors I can't really control and just worrying about my game and relishing the opportunity that I get every night, than hopefully things can continue to work out and I can continue to grow as a player."
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 4:02 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flames, Ducks

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Anaheim Ducks host the Calgary Flames at the Honda Center:

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Michael Cammalleri - Krys Kolanos - Blair Jones
Lance Bouma - Mikael Backlund - Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

DUCKS
Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Niklas Hagman - Rod Pelley - George Parros

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Lubomir Visnovsky - Luca Sbisa
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Iiro Tarkki
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 3:40 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Red Wings, Coyotes

Here's how the lineups project for tonight's game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings at Jobing.com Arena:

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

The Red Wings will have MacDonald make his first NHL start in goal this season tonight against the Coyotes. With starter Jimmy Howard out with a broken right index finger and Conklin struggling in the first period in Edmonton on Saturday, MacDonald came on for the final two periods and overtime to stop 22 of 23 shots and give his team a chance to steal a point in the 5-4 loss to the Oilers.

Stuart missed the morning skate with a touch of the flu but is expected to go. Mike Commodore would be the replacement if Stuart is a scratch.

Cleary, an ex-Coyote, cut his morning skate short due to a sore left knee, but will likely take part in his 800th NHL game tonight. If Cleary sits, Jan Mursak would get the start.

COYOTES

Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Boyd Gordon - Shane Doan
Raffi Torres - Daymond Langkow - Mikkel Boedker
Taylor Pyatt - Kyle Chipchura - Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Rostislav Klesla
Derek Morris - Michal Rozsival

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

The Coyotes are looking for a second big win in three days after Saturday’s 5-3 win over San Jose. Each of Phoenix’s top six forwards had two-point games and Smith bounced back from a back loss to Anaheim with 32 saves. With Morris back in the lineup, the Coyotes are missing only defenseman David Schlemko, who is out for the season following foot surgery.
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 2:37 PM

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

Caps, Stars most likely to ascend into playoffs

With roughly 30 games left in the season for each team, playoff races are about to heat up pretty quickly -- and for several teams their place in the postseason is far from safe. Some teams will have to worry more about dropping out than others, and to me the difference between the standings now and the standings in April will be pretty slight -- but there will be a difference.

In the East, I think the only team that's going to drop out of playoff position is Ottawa. I think the Senators will get knocked out and the Washington Capitals will take their spot. Ottawa looks like it's in a free fall right now and it's come back to Earth. Other teams are starting to catch them and I think with Alex Ovechkin back in the lineup -- and when Nicklas Backstrom gets healthy -- the Capitals are only going to get better. Ottawa had its moment in the sun with that great stretch before the All-Star Game, but I don't think they've got the horses to finish the race.

Another team that may have to watch out for Washington is Florida, which is barely ahead of the Caps in the Southeast Division. Florida lost a tough game Saturday against Tampa Bay, which hurts them and they're going to be a team fighting right to the end. If you look at Washington and Florida you'd have to say Washington is the better lineup, but Florida, even when things have gotten tough this season, has managed to get back in first place. I think the Southeast is something we're definitely going to be watching and it'll be a heck of a race right to the end. Right now the difference is just one point, so I wouldn't be surprised if they flip flop by the end of the year.

That said, I do think Florida will make it even if they don't win the division. They're a better team than Ottawa. Their special teams are a little bit better and I think Ottawa has hit its top watermark. I really see the Sens struggling until the end of the year. Also, you see teams like Winnipeg that are six points out and you think it's nothing with so much time left in the season, but in the era of the three-point game it's not easy to climb past teams. For example, Tampa Bay is playing great right now and they've barely picked up ground on the eighth spot.

The other difference for Florida will be that the Panthers used to have a lot of guys who have lost their entire career. Now you've got guys that have won -- guys like Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann. They will take the lead and they will teach the other guys to expect to make plays -- not to expect to fail, but to expect to succeed. Those guys will make a difference in the dressing room and they'll have the puck on their sticks at key times.

The West is very similar to the East, in my opinion. The only difference I see is I don't think Minnesota makes the playoffs. I think they're struggling right now and have a lot of issues. They just don't score enough, they have a lot of injury problems and I just don't think they'll be able to hold on. The team I would pick to get in is Dallas. Dallas has games in hand on the nearest competitors and while it's going to be a battle, I suspect they'll be the only team to make the jump.

I think LA's fine -- I like the way they're playing now. Obviously, Detroit, Vancouver, San Jose, Nashville, St. Louis and Chicago are better than anyone else in the West, so I think those teams are all safe barring something drastic. That leaves Minnesota as the weak link and I just think if you look at Dallas defensively, the goaltending and the fact that Jamie Benn is back and has made a big difference already, I just think it adds up to the Stars taking Minnesota's spot.

I do think there will be some movement up top in the West, however. I think the team that will wind up with the best record in the conference is Vancouver, because they don't have to play as many good teams as anyone in the Central. The Central teams will beat each other up and the Northwest is not nearly as strong, so it will be hard for a team in the Central to win first. Vancouver will get a tough matchup maybe once out of every three games, whereas in the Central the only break you get is Columbus. I do think Detroit will hold onto the division title. They're the best team and they walked into Vancouver and looked pretty good last week. The other teams in the division are solid, but I don't think anyone is playing as well as Detroit right now. Still, the Central is a gauntlet. I suspect that will give Vancouver the opening to slip into the top spot come playoff time.
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 2:08 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Could Moen be going back to Sharks?

According to a report in the Toronto Star, a return to the San Jose Sharks could be in the future for Montreal Canadiens forward Travis Moen.

The newspaper reports the Sharks are the frontrunner to acquire Moen, who was acquired by the Sharks from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline in 2009. Moen had three goals and two assists in 19 regular-season games and was scoreless in six playoff games with the Sharks.

Other teams likely are interested in Moen, but before he goes anywhere, it's likely he has to prove he's healthy. An upper-body injury has kept the forward out of the lineup since Jan. 21, and while he has resumed light skating, the Star is reporting Canadiens coach Randy Cunneyworth as saying Moen will be out at least another week.

Prior to getting hurt, Moen was having his best offensive season, with his 9 goals and 16 points in 48 games, close to career-bests.

Moen can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 1:02 PM

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

Ruff suffers broken ribs; Renney hit by puck

Players sustaining injuries during practices and morning skates is nothing new in the NHL, but on Monday it was a pair of coaches in the line of fire.

Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff broke three ribs when he collided with defenseman Jordan Leopold during practice.

According to the Sabres website, Leopold lost an edge while coming up on Ruff's blindside and ended up taking him out. Ruff remained down on the ice for several minutes before skating off the ice for treatment.

Ruff didn't address the media Monday, but the Sabres released the following statement:

"Buffalo Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff suffered three broken ribs following a collision with Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold during the team's practice this morning at First Niagara Center. He is expected to be back tomorrow to resume his coaching responsibilities."
 
The Sabres are off until Wednesday, when they host the Boston Bruins.

Leopold did speak to reporters about the accident.

"I lost my breath. I was looking back and right when it happened and I kind of yelled, 'Are you all right? Are you all right?' And right away, 'No,' so that wasn't a good thing," he said. "I know Lindy's a tough guy, he's played a lot of games in the NHL and played through a lot of injuries. Your body ends up hurting more and more, I think, every day the older you get. That was one of those unexpected ones. Those ones are dangerous."

Meanwhile, according to the Edmonton Oilers' official Twitter feed, "Tom Renney is doing fine & receiving stitches after taking a puck to the head earlier in practice, according to Ralph Krueger."

Krueger is the Oilers' associate coach, but from the sound of things Renney will be perfectly fine to resume his head coaching duties Wednesday night when Edmonton is in Detroit.
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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 9:00 AM

By Steve Webb -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Making of a Royal

Webb discusses his role as assistant coach with L.I.

Technology helps Webb spread message

Steve Webb has used technology to help the kids that he coaches improve. Find out all about his Y Athlete website and what it does to help kids chase their hockey dreams.
Steve Webb was the recipient of the Bob Nystrom Award in 2002 for the Islander that best exemplified hard work, leadership, and dedication on and off the ice. He currently serves as assistant coach to Pat LaFontaine for the Under-16 Long Island Royals Midget National Team.
 
My experiences in coaching go back to when I took over the Junior Islanders for Bobby Nystrom -- a program he had started 15 years earlier. It allowed kids from Long Island an opportunity to go to the Quebec Peewee Tournament every year and get that experience. Nystrom would run fundraisers to help these kids go on that trip. I'd help out and travel and two years after taking over, Pat (LaFontaine's) son was coming through the system. That was the first time I really started working with this select group of kids -- they were about 12-years-old.

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Quote of the Day

I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh