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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 5:05 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ribeiro happy to be back in Montreal

MONTREAL -- It's been a long time coming for Mike Ribeiro.

The Dallas Stars center will play his first regular-season game in his hometown since he was traded away in 2006 by the Montreal Canadiens, and he can't wait.

"I'm excited to see the atmosphere in the building again," Ribeiro said Tuesday morning. "Maybe they forgot me, it's been so long."

Ribeiro was injured the only other time the Stars played at Bell Centre since he was traded for defenseman Janne Niinimaa on Sept. 30, 2006, though he did play in a preseason game here in September.

"It's been six years," said Ribeiro, who turned 32 on Feb. 10. "If I look back on my career there are some things I'd like to do over again, and I think everyone in their lives can look back at things they'd like to improve. But I'm looking to the future, and what's in the past is in the past."

Ribeiro thrived almost immediately upon his arrival in Dallas, while Niinimaa played just 41 games in a Canadiens uniform. The deal widely is panned by Canadiens fans as one of team's the worst in recent years.

"I'm sure they know they made a mistake, but who would have said I would play this way?" Ribeiro said. "I'm coming back to Montreal in front of my friends and people I grew up with, so I'll try to play well and I'll try to score tonight."

He feels the constant pressure the Canadiens are under from their fans and the media to produce a winner led to him being traded, and it affects the franchise's ability to wait for their young players to reach their full potential.

"You have to be patient with the young guys, because you get better as you grow and as you learn the game," he said. "A lot of times in Montreal you have to win now and a lot of times kids are not ready to win now, so you get impatient and trade them -- like in my situation -- a little too quickly."

Ribeiro is far from the only former Canadiens player in town with the Stars. He’s joined by his linemate, right wing Michael Ryder, and defensemen Stephane Robidas and Sheldon Souray, who was disappointed he won't be able to suit up as he recovers from a foot injury.

The game also will be special for first-year Stars coach Glen Gulutzan, who grew up a Canadiens fan in Hudson Bay, Sask., and wore the No. 23 jersey of Bob Gainey to school as a kid.

The game is so special he insisted his father, Gene, make the trip to Montreal to attend.

"I've had a few pinchable moments, and this was certainly one of them when we played our exhibition game here," Gulutzan said. "It's not the typical exhibition game with 20-some thousand people in the stands. It's special to come back to Canada, but in Montreal it's a little extra special. It's a little surreal at times."

While players always get up for games against their former teams, Gulutzan feels the Canadiens have a home-ice disadvantage because it's pretty difficult for any player not to get excited to play a game in Montreal.

"You get amped up to play here because it's exciting," Gulutzan said. "It's the talk of the town and the players feel that vibe. I'm sure it's not easy for the home team here because other teams are gunned up and ready."

That certainly will be the case for Gulutzan's top center.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 4:41 PM

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

Sens' Murray unsure if he'll be active

Seeing the Ottawa Senators sitting seventh in the Eastern Conference with less than a week to go until the trade deadline is a major surprise. How they handle the next few days also could be a surprise.

"I don't know that we're doing anything," Senators general manager Bryan Murray told reporters when asked about his plans heading into the Feb. 27 trade deadline. "A lot of managers seem to be like me -- they're not sure what they want to do. They're in the race but they're not convinced if they're going to be around, so we're all trying to be somewhat cautious."

The Senators enter Tuesday seventh in the East with 70 points, but they're just two points behind fourth-place New Jersey.

Ottawa has hung around the top eight in the conference for most of the season, and after a seven-game winless skid around the All-Star break, they've rebounded to win four of their last five and three straight.

Murray said he'd like to add depth to his team, but wouldn't go into detail as to what area of his club he'd like to add it to. He said he's not actively working on anything, but said he's had phone calls with numerous teams.

"I've talked to a couple teams that look like they're ready to trade people away and asked for a particular name," he said. "And in turn I've had calls were we've talked about, could we get this guy or that guy, what the price would be. I can't be really definite because there's nothing definite I could get."

Murray said ideally he'd make a deal similar to the one he made in December with Phoenix for center Kyle Turris.

"That's the kind of trade we'd like to make," said Murray. "If we can get a younger play coming in that can help us now but has a good future going forward, that's the type of thing I'd much like to do more than trade a younger player for an older guy that's unrestricted that you'll really have a hard time re-signing."

One name that Murray has heard mentioned in trade rumors is defenseman Filip Kuba, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but Murray was quick to squash any talk of him moving the veteran blueliner. Kuba has 22 points and a team-best plus-18 rating while playing 23:30 per game.

"I think he's one of our best defensemen, if not our most steady guy at this point in time," said Murray. "He's played penalty kill, power play, he's been Erik Karlsson's partner. He plays a lot of minutes, has great respect on the team. I'm not sure why his name has ever come up. At this point in time … unless I got something awfully, awfully good, it would do us no service to not keep him here."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 4:36 PM

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

Injury in past, Bickell beginning to find his way

CHICAGO -- He's waited all season to feel like this, but now Bryan Bickell is finally starting to play up to the expectations that were heaped on the hulking Chicago Blackhawks forward coming into the season.

After scoring 17 goals and finishing with 37 points in 78 games last season -- his first full NHL campaign -- the 6-foot-4, 233-pound Bickell was thought to be a potential 20-goal scorer in the making. The way he played in a rout of the Vancouver Canucks in the fourth game of what turned out to be a classic seven-game series made the expectations even greater.

Bickell severed a tendon in that game on a skate blade, however, and needed surgery to repair it. Until recently, he's floundered this season trying to find both his deadly wrist shot and the confidence to fire it more often.

Bickell scored just 4 goals and added 5 assists in the first 54 games this season and was a healthy scratch 11 times. But something clicked during Chicago's recent nine-game road trip, starting with a goal scored on Feb. 10 in San Jose.

Chicago lost the game, but Bickell started to play like he did a year ago -- adding another goal and two more helpers in the next five games, the last three resulting in Hawks wins.

"It's a new page and it's good," said Bickell, who's playing left wing on Chicago's third line with Dave Bolland in the middle and Viktor Stalberg on the right wing. "I think there's light at the end of the tunnel and our line with Bolly's been playing good, which is huge for our team and it's nice to see. We've got to keep things going the right way."

What's been the key to Bickell's game changing back toward the positive?

"I think playing [defense] is the biggest part," Bickell said after Tuesday's morning skate, prior to facing the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night at the United Center (8 p.m., NBCSN, TBS2). "Then our offensive chances will come."

As for his own confidence level?

"It's where it was last year," Bickell said. "I know last year was a good year for me, and coming into this year there were a lot higher expectations of me. It was a slow start and it's been a slow, bumpy ride until now. I just need to keep this up and give this team everything I can do to win."

One of those things is simply shooting the puck more. Bickell had a deadly-accurate and hard wrist shot last season, which is one reason he scored 17 goals. Did the severed tendon affect it in any way?

"It's not where it was, but mentally it feels the same," Bickell said of his wrist shot. "I just need to shoot more. A lot of guys around this room think I have a good shot and I need to use it more."

The same can be said for his size, which he gets criticized for not using more as a checking-line winger.

"We're missing [Daniel Carcillo] for the rest of the year, who is a big physical guy, so it makes me have to step up more and be more physical," Bickell said. "Now we've got [Jimmy Hayes] here, too, so we can be more physical. I hope me and him can throw some guys around."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 4:04 PM

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

Downie, Quincey dealt in three-team deal



The Detroit Red Wings' search for defensive help has brought Kyle Quincey back to where he started his NHL career.

The Wings acquired defenseman Kyle Quincey from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday in a three-way trade. The Lightning, run by former Wings star Steve Yzerman, acquired Quincey from Colorado earlier in the day for forward Steve Downie, then shipped him to Detroit for the Wings' first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft and minor-league defenseman Sebastien Piche.

Kyle Quincey
Defense - DET
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 23
SOG: 131 | +/-: -1
Quincey, 26, is expected to be in the lineup Thursday when the Wings take their NHL-record 23-game home winning streak into a matchup against the Vancouver Canucks.

"We like the addition of Quincey," general manager Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press. "He's a guy who can play 20 minutes a night, he can play right defense, left defense, he can play in all situations. He can man a point on the second power-play unit. We believe this makes us deeper for the playoffs, and he's not a rental."

Quincey is returning to the team with which he began his NHL career. The Wings took him with the 132nd pick in the 2003 NHL Draft. He saw limited playing time and was lost on waivers to Los Angeles before the 2008-09 season The Kings traded him to Colorado in July 2010 as part of the package that sent Ryan Smyth to Edmonton.

The 6-foot-2, 202-pounder had five goals and 18 assists in 54 games with the Avs this season after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury.

The Wings have been looking for more toughness on the blue line. They signed veteran Mike Commodore last summer, but he hasn't been able to earn a regular berth. Rookie Jakub Kindl got off to a good start but has struggled during the past month.

It was the third trade in less than a week by the Lightning, who dealt center Dominic Moore to San Jose on Thursday and sent defenseman Pavel Kubina to Philadelphia.

Downie, 24, can become a restricted free agent this summer. He's in the final year of a two-year, $3.7 million deal and has 12 goals, 16 assists and 121 penalty minutes in 55 games this season.

"Our organization believes that Steve Downie will add grit and skill to our lineup offensively," Avalanche GM Greg Sherman said in a statement. "He plays the game with an edge and we look forward to seeing the immediate and future impact he can bring to our team."

The Lightning now have two first-round picks in 2012 along with a minimum of three selections in the second round.

Piche, 6-foot, 202 pounds, has played in 42 career AHL games with the Grand Rapids Griffins, recording five assists. This season he has played in 22 games, notching three assists. Piche signed with the Red Wings as a free agent on April 12, 2009.


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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 3:52 PM

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

Pacific rivals Coyotes, Kings square off again

The Coyotes and Kings get together again just five days after Mike Smith posted a 1-0 shutout in Los Angeles that will be more remembered for the fisticuffs than the finesse.

After Kings captain Dustin Brown leveled Phoenix defenseman Rusty Klesla with a high hit in the first period, Phoenix captain Shane Doan was right there to stick up for his teammate and instigate a fight. That was the first of four brawls in the game -- not a normal occurrence for a Phoenix team that had only 12 fighting majors all season. Will this be Round 2?

The Kings have to make sure they keep their eyes on the ball. While their offense continues to slump, the Coyotes are 7-0-1 in their last eight games and have moved from 12th place past Los Angeles and into seventh in the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Kings and Flames. Phoenix will visit Calgary on Thursday.

The Coyotes, however, will enter this game shorthanded. On defense, Klesla is still out and Derek Morris has been given a leave of absence to deal with a family issue. David Schlemko is on track to return early from a foot surgery, but is still a week away. That leaves Chris Summers (15 NHL games) and Michael Stone, who made his debut in Saturday's 2-1 overtime win over Dallas, as the third defense pair again tonight.

Up front the Coyotes are hoping to have both forward Taylor Pyatt (upper body) and center Martin Hanzal (lower body) available tonight. Pyatt is expected to play, while Hanzal is a game-time decision. Hanzal left Saturday's game with the injury and if he doesn't play, the absence will have a domino effect throughout the top three lines.

One player Phoenix won't have is center Kyle Chipchura, who suffered a wrist injury against the Kings and will miss at least a week. Chipchura has been an integral part of Phoenix's fourth line.

The good news is Smith is healthy. The Coyotes goalie has won seven straight starts with a 0.99 goals-against average, including the 28-save shutout in Los Angeles. Smith has allowed one goal in his last two games against the Kings -- and it was a controversial overtime goal with three different Kings players standing in the crease that was the difference in another 1-0 game.

Here's how tonight's lineups could look:

COYOTES


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

Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Michael Stone - Chris Summers

Mike Smith
Jason LaBarbera

KINGS


The Kings should have Jarrett Stoll, activated off injured reserve today, back in the lineup and coach Darryl Sutter is talking about mixing up his lines that continue to struggle offensively. This is what the Kings looked like in the last game, but changes are coming.

Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jordan Nolan
Kyle Clifford - Andrei Loktionov - Trevor Lewis
Dustin Penner - Colin Fraser - Brad Richardson

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Jack Johnson
Davis Drewiske - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 3:04 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Benn out, tired Eriksson in for Stars

MONTREAL -- The Dallas Stars will be missing All-Star Jamie Benn for a third straight game when they face the Montreal Canadiens tonight. And while star forward Loui Eriksson will play, it's likely he'll be a pretty tired.

Eriksson was flying to Montreal from Dallas on Tuesday to re-join the team after his wife gave birth to the couple's second daughter on Monday morning, just as the team's flight here was leaving.

As for Benn, he took the ice briefly after his teammates were finished with the morning skate, but the cut on his left leg is not healed enough for him to return.

"It's the equivalent of getting stabbed in the leg," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "He wants to play (Thursday) in Chicago. He's getting better every day, so that's the encouraging part."

Another Dallas player looking to make a return Thursday is defenseman Sheldon Souray, who has been out since Feb. 9 with a foot injury.

Souray took a regular turn with the Stars at their morning skate, but it was just his second time practicing with the team and his conditioning is not where it needs to be to face the Canadiens.

"I was pushing for this game," Souray, who spent six seasons with the Canadiens, said.

For the Canadiens, rookie forward Louis Leblanc will return to the lineup after missing the last game with the flu, while Erik Cole will be available even though he sat out Monday's practice with a leg injury.

The goaltending matchup is Kari Lehtonen for the Stars against Montreal's Carey Price, who will start his ninth game in a row.

Here are the expected lineups for tonight:

STARS
Loui Eriksson - Mike Ribeiro - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Tom Wandell - Tomas Vincour
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Ryan Garbutt - Jake Dowell - Adam Burish

Alex Goligoski - Stephane Robidas
Adam Pardy - Philip Larsen
Mark Fistric - Trevor Daley

Kari Lehtonen will start in net, with Richard Bachman backing him up.

CANADIENS
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Mathieu Darche - Tomas Plekanec - Rene Bourque
Ryan White - Scott Gomez - Andrei Kostitsyn
Louis Leblanc - Lars Eller
 
Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Raphael Diaz
Tomas Kaberle - Chris Campoli
Yannick Weber

Carey Price will start in net, with Peter Budaj the backup.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 2:44 PM

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

Nugent-Hopkins will miss latest Battle of Alberta

CALGARY -- If the Edmonton Oilers hope to put an end to a pair of lengthy losing streaks at the hands of the Calgary Flames, they'll do so without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Still bothered by a shoulder injury suffered Feb. 6 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nugent-Hopkins isn't ready to return.

"There's no discussion on that right now," associate coach Ralph Krueger said. "He's not 100 percent and he will not play unless he is 100 percent."

The Flames have won nine straight 'Battle of Alberta' contests and 10 consecutive on home ice. Calgary's winning streak over the Oilers at the Scotiabank Saddledome is the longest home streak against any opponent for the Flames.

"Lately they've really taken it to us," Krueger said. "They've played well of late. They're really looking like a playoff team at the moment, so we know we need to bring our 'A' game today irrelevant of the series so far. It's Calgary playing probably its best hockey.

"They have to win and we want to win. The pressure is definitely in their court."

In the crease, Devan Dubnyk is expected to get the start. Nikolai Khabibulan suffered a groin injury in Edmonton's 5-2 loss against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday and is expected to be out for 7-10 days. The Oilers have called up Yann Danis to serve as Dubnyk's backup.

Here's the projected lineup for the Oilers:

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

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

Devan Dubnyk
Yann Danis
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 2:42 PM

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

Wings' Conklin clears waivers, assigned to AHL

CHICAGO -- The Detroit Red Wings had room to carry three goalies if they wanted, but decided instead to put veteran backup Ty Conklin on waivers Monday afternoon.

He cleared waivers on Tuesday and headed to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, where he'll get the majority of minutes.

"I think Ty Conklin needs to play,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland told reporters on Monday. "He hasn't really got it going. His starts have been sporadic, and I think his play has probably been sporadic. He's played some good games and played some games not so good. We're running a risk he'll get claimed on waivers. We've prepared to take that risk. Jimmy Howard's finger … we believe he's ready to roll, but we don't know until he gets at it."

Howard will get the start on Tuesday night in Chicago (NBCSN, TSN2), while 32-year old Joey MacDonald will be the backup. Conklin started the season as Howard's backup, but struggled in most of his opportunities to play and lasted only one period on Feb. 2 in Edmonton in an effort to replace Howard after he went down with a broken finger on Jan. 31 in Vancouver.

MacDonald, Detroit's backup for much of last season, relieved Conklin and didn't come out of the net for the next seven games. He won the last six in a row at Joe Louis Arena to help the Wings set an NHL record with 23 straight home wins.

"Obviously, Joey has been a great story for us," Holland said. "I still think Ty has some good hockey in him and still has some good games left in him. I just talked to him. He hasn't played a lot and hasn't had a really good chance to get it going. It opened a crack and Joey MacDonald grabbed it."

While pleased to be staying in the NHL, MacDonald realizes his job description changes now that Howard is coming back. Howard rarely came out of the net before he got hurt and loves to absorb playing time -- like most goalies. MacDonald started seven straight games and went 6-1-1 in eight appearances filling in for Howard. He also posted stellar secondary numbers, with a 1.66 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

Will it be a difficult switch for MacDonald to now sit most of the time?

"I don't think so," MacDonald said. "I've been around and I know what to expect. Last year, Howie was doing awesome and I just kind of waited and waited and waited and got a start every now and then. That's the thing with a backup goalie. You got to be ready at all times and whatever it is, if it's next week or whenever my next start is, I just got to be ready and just perform the same way as I have been over the last couple of weeks."

The Wings also see the situation as a plus for the organization, especially if Conklin finds his game down in the minors.

"It's the old 'What have you done for me lately?' and Joey MacDonald has been an incredible story for us the last two weeks," Holland said. "If the other guy goes down and lights it up for two weeks and Joey comes off it, we're in a position [then] that they've both cleared waivers. Joey MacDonald is in a groove right now. We need Ty Conklin playing. We still think he's still got good hockey in him. We've seen it this year."

Ironically, one of Conklin's best performances this season came in Chicago on Jan. 8, when he gave up two quick goals in the first period and then shut the Blackhawks down the rest of the way -- setting the stage for Pavel Datsyuk's game-winning goal late in overtime in a 3-2 Detroit win.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 2:34 PM

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

Howard set to return from broken finger

CHICAGO -- Jimmy Howard has to get back in net at some point, so why not make his return from a broken finger in one of the toughest buildings to play, against a team that's on a three-game winning streak?

That's the approach that Howard, the Detroit Red Wings starting goalie, is taking coming into Tuesday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United  Center (NBCSN,TSN2). Howard broke the index finger on his right [blocker side] hand on Feb. 2 in Vancouver and hasn't played since -- a span of eight games and 19 days.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," said Howard, who has 32 wins in 44 starts. "Why not? No matter where you play now in the NHL, with the parity, it's always tough. So, it might as well be here in Chicago. I always enjoy playing here and it's always a great atmosphere."

In the time he's been out, the Wings returned from the road trip where he got hurt and won six straight games at Joe Louis Arena to set the NHL record with 23 straight home victories. Howard won the first 17 and then watched 32-year old journeyman backup Joey MacDonald win the last six.

Aside from the anxiousness of watching games, the biggest issues in Howard's recovery have been finding the right comfort level for his injured digit while holding the goalie stick and tracking the puck with traffic in front of him.

The puck-tracking probably just requires him to get back into games and get his anticipation and feel for stopping pucks back, while the stick has been altered to adjust to the finger. Howard originally had a notch cut out of the stick to accommodate where his gloved and bandaged finger would rest, but he did away with it because the notch was too big and it felt awkward.

He went back to an unaltered stick for a few practices and then came back recently with another notched cue -- only this one with a less pronounced slot cut out of it.

"The one that I used [Monday], with the way that it's cut out, the notch isn't as big so my hand isn't as far down on the paddle," Howard said. "It makes it easier to use. We've continued to tinker and still tinkering with stuff. It seems like we've gotten a good mix here. We're just trying to find ways to make it more comfortable with holding onto the stick and trying to be as realistic as possible out there with it."

As for the pain level with the finger?

"The pain level isn't really a factor anymore," Howard said. "It's more so, just being comfortable out there and using the stick. We're just trying to figure out some things to make it better."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 2:30 PM

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

Luongo back in net for Canucks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Roberto Luongo will start in goal for the Vancouver Canucks after Cory Schneider posted a 5-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

Tonight's game is the second stop on the Canucks' six-game road trip, which also includes stops in Detroit, New Jersey, Dallas and Phoenix. With five games in the next eight days, Vigneault said he expects Schneider to get his share of starts.

Here is what the Canucks' lineup likely will look like tonight:

Mason Raymond - Ryan Kesler - David Booth
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Cody Hodgson - Jannik Hansen
Manny Malhotra - Maxim Lapierre - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Aaron Rome - Christopher Tanev

Roberto Luongo will start in goal, with Cory Schneider the backup.
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