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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 1:16 PM

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

Potential lineups for Senators, Capitals

KANATA, Ont. -- Here are the projected lineups for Wednesday's game between the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals at Scotiabank Place. The Sens held a full practice, while the Caps went with an optional skate.

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

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

Craig Anderson will start in goal, with Alex Auld the backup.

Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner will be healthy scratches.

With 15 points in his last six games and after being named the NHL's Third Star of the Week, Spezza was quick to give credit to linemates Michalek and Butler for his recent streak.

"I've been opportunistic and my linemates have given me some good chances in good scoring areas," he said. "I've managed to bury the puck on 2-on-1's and odd-man rushes which you don't get a lot of these days. The guys have done a good job of getting me the puck, and I feel pretty good right now.

"You just play, and try and figure out what you're doing well and build on it. I think there's still areas of my game that I'm trying to get better at, but you don't change too much equipment-wise and you just stick with what you’ve got."

CAPITALS
Matt Hendricks - Mathieu Perrault - Alexander Semin
Jason Chimera - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Joel Ward - Marcus Johansson - Mike Knuble
Jay Beagle - Jeff Halpern - Keith Aucoin

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Dennis Wideman
Jeff Schultz - Mike Green

Tomas Vokoun will start in goal, with Michal Neuvirth the backup.

One player missing from the Capitals' line rushes Wednesday was team captain Alex Ovechkin, who left the ice after about eight minutes and did not return.

Caps coach Dale Hunter said after the skate that Ovechkin is a game-time decision due to a lower-body injury.

"I don't feel well," Ovechkin said. "We'll see how it goes tonight. It's not an injury, it's just regular stuff."

Hunter also added that defenseman Roman Hamrlik will be a healthy scratch.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 12:27 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ovechkin to be game-time decision

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin told reporters in Ottawa that he would be a game-time decision for Wednesday's game against the Senators due to a lower-body injury.

Capitals coach Dale Hunter informed the media of the injury following the team's morning skate.

"I don't feel really good right now," Ovechkin told reporters. "We'll see how it goes before the game."

Ovechkin was on the ice for about eight minutes Wednesday morning. According to the Washington Post's Katie Carrera, Ovechkin appeared to try to build speed to explode through the neutral zone, but was forced to pull up after a few strides. He immediately skated to the bench and left the ice.

Ovechkin played just 15:43 in Monday's 5-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, including just five shifts in the third period. Capitals officials told the Washington Post after the game it was due to an equipment issue. However, reporters noticed Ovechkin limping after the game.

Ovechkin than sat out practice Tuesday, with Hunter telling reporters it was a "maintenance day."

The Capitals had recalled forward Keith Aucoin from AHL Hershey earlier Wednesday.

The Caps, who have won just three of their last 10 games, enter the game 10th in the Eastern Conference, two points behind eighth-place Toronto.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 11:54 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ovechkin leaves practice after 8 minutes

According to multiple media reports, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin left Wednesday morning's practice in Ottawa after about eight minutes, leaving his status for tonight's game against the Senators in question.

This comes one day after Ovechkin skipped practice, and two days after he was seen limping after Monday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Ovechkin played just 15:43 in the 5-0 loss to the Hurricanes, the second-lowest ice time he's had in a game this season, including only five shifts in the third period. Capitals officials told the Washington Post after the game it was due to an equipment issue.

“He had an equipment problem (Monday)," coach Dale Hunter told reporters. "Then we just gave him a maintenance day today (Tuesday)," said Hunter.

According to the Post's Katie Carrera, Ovechkin appeared to be testing something during practice. She reported that at one point it appeared that he tried to gather speed and explode through the neutral zone, but after a few strides had to pull up. Ovechkin immediately skated to the bench and left the ice.

Earlier this morning, the Capitals recalled forward Keith Aucoin from AHL Hershey, but it could have nothing to do with Ovechkin. The Caps had an optional practice this morning, and forwards Alexander Semin and Jeff Halpern stayed off the ice completely.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 9:52 AM

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

Noel sees bright spots despite Jets' overtime loss

WINNIPEG -- It is on nights like these that Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel really puts on his thinking cap.

The Jets' 5-4 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night became a missed chance for the club to elbow past the Florida Panthers into the Southeast Division lead and the Eastern Conference's third spot. Philadelphia tied that game at 4-4 with 10.8 seconds left in regulation before closing out the Jets in overtime.

Afterward, Noel admitted that he and his club were disappointed, but he did not expect the setback to linger inside the Winnipeg dressing room.

"I don't see that as an issue," Noel said.

Instead, Noel chose to find bright spots in the Jets' efforts against the Flyers, a team locked in its own playoff battle in the heart of the Eastern Conference. The Flyers erased three separate Winnipeg leads in taking the win. But Noel liked that his club continued to push back against Philadelphia.

"For me, the resilience is good," Noel said. "We had a chance to win the game. I like our group as much as I liked them yesterday and the day before."

The Jets were a quiet group after the loss, and Noel certainly noticed his club's discontent.

"I've got a really unhappy group in there," Noel said. "They're really disappointed. They're not real happy at all.

"I think our guys care about winning," he continued. "There is a will that I like. We try to find ways to win games. Our will was good. Our intent was good. We tried to get some stuff done."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 9:45 AM

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

Bryzgalov soaks up 'adulation' in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Jets fans may not care much for Philadelphia Flyers netminder Ilya Bryzgalov, but he certainly seems to like them.

The latest in a long line of NHL goaltenders to receive an unfriendly welcome at the MTS Centre, Bryzgalov has come under intense jeering from the Winnipeg fan base after making comments about the city that many fans deemed to be critical. Jets fans serenaded Bryzgalov with boos and taunts throughout the evening as he made his first-ever NHL start in the city.

But Bryzgalov, who made 22 saves in the Flyers' 5-4 overtime win, offered a cheeky assessment of his evening in Winnipeg.

"I like it," Bryzgalov said of the experience. "It was a great atmosphere. I wish every building would be supportive like here and support me like here."

"It was nice to hear [them] cheering, 'Ilya, Ilya,'" Bryzgalov said jokingly. "I never heard that before anywhere. When 15,000 people support you, it's very impressive."

"Here they cheer me," Bryzgalov continued, tongue in cheek. "In Philly, they boo me."

The evening capped off an eventful day for Bryzgalov in the Manitoba capital. He took a shot to his left glove hand during Philadelphia's morning skate, leaving his status for the game in doubt. However, the injury did not prove to be serious.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 9:00 AM

By Jeremy Roenick -  NHL Network Contributor /NHL.com - World According to JR

Roenick: Ducks clicking, Islanders inconsistent

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick pens a weekly blog for NHL.com. "World According to JR" appears every Wednesday and includes Roenick's sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League.

The Anaheim Ducks' amazing run under coach Bruce Boudreau and why the New York Islanders can't ever get over the hump. It's all in the blog, so read on:

What's clicking?

It's amazing to watch what the Anaheim Ducks are doing right now. They were 20 points out of eighth place on Jan. 6, but entering Tuesday's game in Tampa Bay they are five points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference

Incredibly, when Boudreau arrived just a few days after getting fired by Washington, the Ducks still couldn't get it right. They won just three of their first 14 games under him, but they are 15-2-4 in their last 21. For a team that looked like it couldn't do anything right, to change coaches like that and all of a sudden catch fire the way the Ducks have and play as soundly defensively -- it's just amazing.

This is a team that couldn't keep the puck out of the net, and now teams are finding it hard to get even one goal. Mind you, these are some of the same teams that were scoring in bunches against the Ducks. The same teams now can't score against them. Amazing.

My hat goes off to Boudreau and the mentality he's brought in there. I'm sure there were players on that team that were sick and tired of Randy Carlyle's drill-sergeant mentality; seeing now how Boudreau is with this team, at least it seems to me that the players are really playing hard for him and buying into his system.

The run they're on now, being as close to a playoff position as they are -- and with a lot of it being on the road -- tells me this is a team on a mission.

Moreover, they are fun to watch.

Teemu Selanne, at 41, continues to defy his age. He's just as fast as anybody out there now, and with his brilliant hockey mind he's leading this team. Guys like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan are following right with him.

Perry, in fact, is the best second-half player in the NHL, bar none. You saw the way he finished last season on an absolute tear, and he's doing it again. He's scored six goals in his last five games.

Between Selanne and Perry, they're bringing this team back into the playoff hunt.

It'll be interesting to see if they make the playoffs, and even more interesting to see if a coach that got fired by one team can win the Jack Adams Award in the same season with another team. That's never happened before. I would think Boudreau would be a shoe-in if the Ducks make the playoffs.

What's missing?

I don't know if the New York Islanders even want to play in the postseason.

This team probably works as hard, if not harder, than any in the National Hockey League. But when the moments get bigger, they seem to find ways to lose in big ways.

So there they were, six points out of a playoff spot, battling hard in every game to get there, working hard to climb up the standings, believing in coach Jack Capuano and the system he has put in place. They're beating the best teams in the NHL with that work ethic, and they get close to the playoff spot. But with a hot team in Ottawa coming into their building, they lay an egg in a 6-0 loss.

That is just so frustrating. You'd think it wouldn't happen when they can see the playoff line, so like I said before -- I wonder if the Islanders even want to make the playoffs? I wonder if they're so young that they don't have that mentality.

That's not a knock against their team; it's a knock against their age and maturity.

Their best player, John Tavares, is having a good season, but he's not bringing the team over the hump to get them more consistent. They have other good players in Matt Moulson, P.A. Parenteau, Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit, but they can't seem to grasp the mentality of how to slam the door.

Who is going to teach them that? Well, I believe having Doug Weight behind the bench is one of the best things the Islanders can have. That guy is a winner and can be a really good mentor to the young guys, but Dougie is such a nice guy. He needs to have some tough love with these players.

These guys work hard, but they're finding ways to lose when they're in critical situations. It frustrates me and I'm sure it frustrates Islanders fans everywhere. It's about time this young team matures and doesn't accept getting blown out 6-0 when they're in arm's reach of a playoff spot.

I sure hope Capuano and Weight put their foot down and expect more out of their players. I sure hope they can get back into the playoffs sometime soon.

Islanders fans have endured enough already.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 11:30 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

EDM @ CGY - 17:29 of the Third Period

At 17:29 of the third period in the Flames/Oilers game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Taylor Hall's shot completely crossed the goal line. Good Goal Edmonton.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 10:13 PM

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

After nabbing Quincey, Wings mull further moves

CHICAGO – Hours after completing a trade to bring in defenseman Kyle Quincey as part of a three-team deal, Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland didn’t rule out making another deal before Monday’s trade deadline expires.

Quincey’s addition gives the Red Wings eight NHL defensemen and the recent play of goalie Joey MacDonald has settled the backup role in net, but that doesn’t mean Detroit is necessarily done wheeling and
dealing.

“I'm going to kick the tires,” Holland told NHL.com prior to his team playing the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night at the United Center. “We're done in goal, we're done on defense. We might be done. We'll see."

As for what might pique Holland’s interest now, think forwards – big forwards. Also, don’t be surprised if the Red Wings stand pat after Tuesday’s deal between his club, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche.

“You’re always looking for grit and size and experience,” Holland said. “We’ll see. It’s got to be a fit. At the end of the day, this (Quincey) trade was about a fit for three teams.”
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 9:42 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

LAK @ PHX - 14:44 of the First Period

At 14:44 of the the first period in the Kings/Coyotes game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Willie Mitchell's point shot was tipped into the net by Dustin Brown with his stick below the crossbar.  According to rule 60.5 "The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick. If the puck makes contact with the stick below the level of the crossbar and enters the goal, this goal shall be allowed."  Good goal Los Angeles.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 9:30 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

SJS @ CBJ - 8:48 of the Third Period

At 8:48 of the third period in the Sharks/Blue Jackets game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Jamie McGinn batted the puck into the net with a high stick. According to Rule 60.5 "An apparent goal scored by an attacking player who strikes the puck with his stick carried above the height of the crossbar of the goal frame shall not be allowed. The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick." No Goal San Jose.
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