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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 4:18 PM

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

Richardson getting an opportunity

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Jeff Carter's from the Kings' lineup has opened a spot for Brad Richardson, who became the odd-man out when L.A. acquired Carter on Feb. 25.

Richardson subsequently was scratched in all but two of the first 16 games following the trade and admitted it didn't sit well with him.

"At times it's not easy," Richardson said. "You always want to be in there. It's a thing you learn as you get older. You got to stay positive. You have to be a good teammate. You don't want the other teammates to see that.

"Even though you're [angry] at not playing, you still have to show up at the rink and have a positive attitude. But it's never easy. There are times where I was [angry] and I did want to be in there, but when you come back you try to be that much better."

So far, Richardson has taken advantage of his playing time. Sutter put him on the top line Saturday and Richardson scored twice, his first points since Jan. 12 and his first goals since Dec. 31.

"We talked to Brad," Sutter said. "He wasn't very happy [sitting out]. I don't blame him. You're not playing, you better not be happy. You better work your butt off in practice. If the coaches tell you that we want you to start preparing to play, then you have to go through that. You have to do that to reinforce it in your mind."

Richardson has played on every line since he came to L.A. Last season he had a prominent role playing with Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford, as the trio was the club's most effective line against San Jose in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Sutter still wants more out of Richardson and said that, “OK is not OK."

Sutter didn't have any reservations putting Richardson in a top-line role, but said Richardson has to produce there.

"We're at the time of the year where those kids with that same skill set are playing every other night in (American Hockey League affiliate) Manchester," said Sutter.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 4:13 PM

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

Kings' Carter has bruised ankle

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- An MRI exam on Jeff Carter's ankle revealed the Los Angeles Kings forward has a deep bone bruise and no structural damage, the team announced Monday.

Carter is considered day-to-day but is not expected to play when the Kings host the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. The Kings have two days off the Oilers game and finish the regular season with a critical home-and-home series against San Jose.

Carter caught his toe along the boards in Calgary on March 28 and twisted his ankle. He was seen on crutches with a walking boot.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter did not yet know the results of the MRI after the morning skate but said that the severity of Carter’s injury wasn’t too much of a concern.

"It really doesn't have any impact other than we miss him in the lineup," Sutter said. "What the results are doesn't really matter. He's getting better. We're not going to amputate, I don't think."

L.A. has gone 1-0-1 without Carter.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:45 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

A special dinner with Mr. Jim Gregory

The highlight of my weekend stay with NHL Central Scouting was, without question, Saturday night.

After being told a table for seven at a local steak establishment would take approximately 45 minutes, Hall of Famer Jim Gregory, 77, took out his cell phone and began punching in numbers while sitting in the driver's seat of his white Cadillac.

I'm thinking to myself, "This is going to be good."
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:39 PM

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

Flyers' Briere, Grossmann injured

The Philadelphia Flyers won Sunday's battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins but did not emerge unscathed.

The team announced Monday that center Danny Briere is out indefinitely with an upper-back contusion, and defenseman Nicklas Grossmann is out 7-10 days with a lower-body injury.

Grossmann was injured midway through the first period when he collided with the Penguins Joe Vitale.

Vitale's hit on Briere with 1:03 left in regulation sparked the late-game melee that saw 52 minutes in penalties assessed, as well as the ejections of and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato.

The Flyers play their final three regular-season games this week -- Tuesday against the Rangers, Thursday against the Sabres and a rematch with the Penguins on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:27 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

Who's your goalie?

Before I left the meetings for the flight back to New York, Central Scouting's Al Jensen was given the floor just prior to the lunch break to discuss the top North American goalies he had locked in on the draft board.

Keep in mind, the top eight goalies are usually invited to the NHL Combine in May.

Here are the numbers for the top five North American goalies  that Central Scouting had listed on their midterm rankings.

1-Malcolm Subban, Belleville, OHL, 39 games, 2.50 GAA, .923 save percentage
2-Matthew Murray, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL, 36 games, 4.08 GAA, .876 save percentage
3-Brandon Whitney, Victoriaville, QMJHL, 36 games, 2.74 GAA, .896 save percentage
4-Jon Gillies, Indiana, USHL, 48 games, 2.76 GAA, .916 save percentage
5-Jake Paterson, Saginaw, OHL 42 games, 3.42 GAA, .904 save percentage

Jensen went one by one, starting from the top. Many of the scouts, who obviously were involved with keeping tabs on skaters for much of the year, also watched a few of the top goalies ranked.

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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:26 PM

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

Ehrhoff won't return this week, Myers questionable

Buffalo's bid for a playoff berth will have to go on without defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and possibly fellow blueliner Tyler Myers.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Monday that Ehrhoff will not play in the final three regular season games. He added that Myers could be back this week, but the towering defenseman was not on the ice for Monday's practice after sitting out Saturday's game with a foot injury.

Ehrhoff has missed the last two games since injuring himself last Tuesday in Washington when he appeared to have a knee-on-knee collision with Capitals forward Troy Brouwer.

Buffalo is 0-2 and has allowed a combined nine goals in the games Ehrhoff has missed. He has 32 points in 66 games this season.

Ruff said Ehrhoff would probably be available for the playoffs, but the Sabres have to get there first and that's not going to be easy.

Buffalo trails the Capitals by two points for eighth place, but Washington could extend its lead to four points with a win Monday in Tampa Bay. If the Capitals beat the Lightning, the Sabres will only stay alive in the race if they pick up at least one point Tuesday against Toronto.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:10 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lightning promise 'work-ethic show' against Capitals

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning play their final home game of the 2011-12 season Monday night when the Washington Capitals visit the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

For the Capitals, with three regular season games remaining and a slim two-point grip on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the game has huge postseason implications.

"It's a big game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "We need all those points and we have to be ready to battle out there and get our two points."

But for the Lightning, the contest is meaningful, too, as they have the chance to play spoiler and send the home crowd off with optimism for the future.

With that in mind, Tampa Bay is planning somewhat of a fan appreciation night.

"We'll try to give the fans a great show tonight," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "Regardless of playoffs or no playoffs, we've always talked about isolating games and this game is isolated. We want to please our fans with a work-ethic show."

To the players' disappointment, there is little else left for them to offer the fans now except hard work.

"We're disappointed that we won't be playing some hockey in April and May," Martin St. Louis said. "It's a tough League and we want to finish strong and make the fans feel good about the last home game. It's not about the wins and losses, it's the effort you put on the ice. The fans will recognize the work ethic and the effort, and if you do that you give yourself a good chance to win games. We'll work on that tonight."

Also on display, though the team is playing it down, will be Steven Stamkos' continued drive to be the first NHL player to get 60 goals since Alex Ovechkin notched 65 in 2007-08. Stamkos currently has 56 with four games remaining.

"I'll be honest, I'm not big on these things," Boucher said. "Nobody in the room talks about that. The only people that talk about it are the media. If he gets 59, does that diminish him as a player? When players chase these intangibles they aren't part of a team-oriented mentality. Steven is the first guy to be an unselfish, team-oriented guy. Whether he stays at 56 or goes to 62 he's still going to be a great leader, and I wouldn't be surprised if he had 59 and an open net, if he didn't pass the puck to someone else."

Boucher might not be surprised, but everyone else in the building would be.

Still, Stamkos has been making a point of telling teammates not to go out of their way to set him up for scoring chances.

"I think what Steven is saying with that is that he wants everyone to understand that he's not going after 60 goals," Boucher said. "He's going after our team winning. But that's him. That's what makes Steven special. He sees things as they are and he's a great leader for it."

This is the sixth and final meeting between these two clubs this season. The Capitals have won three of five, but the Lightning (2-1-2) have points in four of five. They have defeated the Capitals in two home games previously.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 1:06 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Capitals, Lightning

Here's how the lineups project when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Washington Capitals on Monday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum:

CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Keith Aucoin - Brooks Laich - Troy Brouwer
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Mike Knuble

Karl Alzner - Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
Dmitry Orlov - John Carlson

Michal Neuvirth
Braden Holtby

LIGHTNING
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Vincent Lecavalier - J.T. Brown 
Tim Wallace - Tom Pyatt - Nate Thompson
Brandon Segal - JT Wyman - Brett Connolly

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Keith Aulie
Brian Lee - Brendan Mikkelson

Dwayne Roloson
Sebastien Caron

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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 12:17 PM

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

Royals claim New York State championship


In this week's 'Making of a Royal' blog, head coach Pat LaFontaine and assistant coach Steve Webb discuss the team's road to winning the New York State championship. After going 2-1 in round-robin play, the Long Island Royals Midget National team defeated the Junior Sabres, 7-4, in the semifinal round, and the Amherst Knights, 7-1, in the final held in Amherst, N.Y. The Royals are 56-6-3 for the season.
 
Pat LaFontaine
 
We had three games leading up to semifinals and final and we won the first two pretty handily [by a combined 18-0 aggregate]. The kids were firing on all cylinders. Then we played the host team, the Amherst Knights, and got off to a tough start; they scored on their first three of four shots and their goalie stood on his head [in an eventual 3-1 loss].
 
Amherst is Justin Bailey's former team and he was excited. But it was one of those games where we played well, and ran into a hot goalie. The bounces didn't go our way and we ended up losing. But we win as a team and lose as a team. We regrouped and refocused and played the Junior Sabres in the semifinals. They threw everything at us but we were able to weather the storm and get that first goal. They fought back to close within 4-3 before the third period and we made some adjustments.
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Posted On Monday, 04.02.2012 / 11:17 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Prospecting with Central Scouting

Expectations for the top 2013 draft prospects

The scouts at Central Scouting had an interesting discussion on Monday morning regarding expectations of certain underage players in the season leading up to their draft year.

  Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax Mooseheads
Halifax forward Nathan MacKinnon, for instance, is regarded as a top five pick for the 2013 Draft. MacKinnon, who centered 2012 draft eligible wing Martin Frk most of the season, finished the regular season with 31 goals, 78 points and a plus-11 rating this season for the Mooseheads.  

Needless to say, expectations for the 16-year-old, 5-foot-11, 179-pounder will be through the roof in 2012-13. Add to that the fact MacKinnon is from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, the home to Sidney Crosby. He also played at Shattuck-St. Mary's, where Crosby spent some of his early years.

"It really isn't fair to put those expectations on Nathan," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told NHL.com. "It's a tough label to carry. You're comparing him to Crosby, who has been the premier player in the NHL in the last number of years and probably the foreseeable future. That's tough."
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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic