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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 3:51 PM

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

Oilers hope to end slide against rival Flames

The Edmonton Oilers are well aware of the success the Calgary Flames have had recently in the Battle of Alberta.

The Flames have won both games this season and haven’t dropped a contest to the Oilers since the opening night of the 2009-10 season.

Oilers coach Tom Renney hopes to remedy that tonight in Calgary.

“It seems every time we play these guys, with all due respect to the Flames, we have a tendency to beat ourselves,” Renney said. “If we eliminate that part of the process, I think we’ve got a shot of beating them tonight.”

The Oilers may do that with a more physical approach.

Darcy Hordichuk could draw back into the lineup for tonight’s Battle of Alberta in the place of finesse forward Magnus Paajarvi.

“I am going to make a game time decision on that,” Oilers coach Tom Renney said. “[Paajarvi] skated but he’ll also take the warm-up here and I’ll make a game-time decision on what I want to do there.”

The Oilers are coming off a 4-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche last night. Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulan earned the win and could be in line for back-to-back starts 24 hours apart.

“Let’s wait on that one,” Renney said on his goaltending situation.

OILERS

Sam GagnerRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle
Ryan SmythShawn HorcoffAles Hemsky
Ben EagerEric BelangerRyan Jones
Darcy HordichukAnton Lander – Lenart Petrell

Ladislav SmidTom Gilbert
Ryan WhitneyJeff Petry
Theo PeckhamColten Teubert

Nikolai Khabibulan
Devan Dybnyk
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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 3:21 PM

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

Likely lineups for Flyers, Lightning

PHILADELPHIA -- Here is what the lineups could look like when the Flyers and Lightning hit the ice tonight (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) here at the Wells Fargo Center.

With wins in four straight, it's likely the Flyers' lineup remains the same as it did in Thursday's win against Pittsburgh. Tampa Bay didn't skate today, but Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune posted on his Twitter feed that he expected the lineup to remain the same as it did in Thursday's win against the Rangers, with one exception -- Nate Thompson replacing rookie forward Brett Connolly, who was loaned to Team Canada for the 2012 World Junior Championship.

FLYERS
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Matt Read - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
James van Riemsdyk - Maxime Talbot - Jakub Voracek
Zac Rinaldo - Sean Couturier - Harry Zolnierczyk

The defense pairings likely will be mixed around most of the night, with the foursome of Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Andrej Meszaros seeing the bulk of the minutes, with rookies Kevin Marshall and Marc-Andre Bourdon being spotted in.

After back-to-back starts against Buffalo and Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Thursday, this could be a chance for coach Peter Laviolette to get Sergei Bobrovsky a game.

LIGHTNING
Ryan Malone - Steven Stamkos - Steve Downie
Tom Pyatt - Vincent Lecavalier - Teddy Purcell
Nate Thompson - Dominic Moore - Ryan Shannon
Dana Tyrell - Blair Jones - Adam Hall

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy
Bruno Gervais - Marc-Andre Bergeron

Mathieu Garon likely will start in goal, with Dwayne Roloson backing him up.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 3:15 PM

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

With Koivu injured, Ducks turn to Ryan at center

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With Saku Koivu expected to miss the game Saturday against the Predators with a lower-body injury, Bobby Ryan is going to move to center for Anaheim from his customary left wing for the first time this season.
 
Ryan, who will center a line with Teemu Selanne on his right and Andrew Cogliano on his left, played a few games at center last season when Ryan Getzlaf was injured, but the Ducks decided in the end that he was better off at wing.
 
“I like the fact that I get to move my feet through the neutral zone a little bit,” Ryan said. “I’ll be counted on the break-out side of things a little more. Other than that, I have to make sure whoever I’m playing against doesn’t beat me too bad on the draws.”
 
Because of the Ducks’ struggles – they entered Saturday 14th in the Western Conference – Ryan was the subject of intense trade rumors in recent weeks – put to rest by general manager Bob Murray following the firing of former coach Randy Carlyle. Ryan’s name surfaced in those rumors as a result of his relative lack of production.
 
The former 30-goal scorer has 10 goals and six assists in 28 games, but since Bruce Boudreau has taken over as coach Nov. 29, Ryan has three goals and two assists in five games. The move also represents a bit of tinkering by Boudreau, as he continues to get to know his new team.
 
“You know, I hope he gets to handle the puck a lot,” Boudreau said. “That’s what he’s so good at. The other advice is take shorter shifts because when you’re at center, you’re skating an awful lot more. You don’t realize it when you don’t play that position.
 
“It’s like a defenseman. You put him up to forward for a few shifts. He comes back and can’t wait to play defense because he’s exhausted. But center, again, you’ve got to go not only side to side, but you’re down low, you’re up top, you’re doing an awful lot of yeoman’s work, which is why it’s really difficult for a winger to step and be a center, but it’s an awful lot easier for a center to become a winger, so we’ll see how it goes.”
 
Ryan understands those challenges.
 
“I will (take shorter shifts), yeah, my workload is essentially going to be higher,” he said. “So I’m going to spend more time in the defensive zone and more time moving my feet, so I think it is something that will come with it.”
 
Ryan said he likes the idea of handling the puck more.
 
“It gets you more involved in the game,” he said.
 
With Ryan on a different line, Kyle Palmieri, in his first game of the season, will get an opportunity to skate with Getzlaf and Corey Perry in Ryan’s usual spot on the line which was League’s best last season.
 
Palmieri, a first-round pick in 2009, has played in 10 career games with one goal and no assists. He led the AHL in goals with 17 when he was recalled on Friday. He played in one playoff game last season against Nashville and failed to record a point.
 
Boudreau, the one-time high-scoring minor-leaguer, offered his advice to Palmieri and his reasoning on the move. At times, players called up from the minors might be a scorer, but they are thrust into a fourth-line role. Boudreau said that by playing Palmieri with Getzlaf and Perry, the Ducks are putting the rookie in a position to succeed. The coach admitted that when a player doesn’t get much ice time, “it’s difficult to throw them in from the bench.”
 
“I said (to Palmieri), I got called up 18 times, and the one thing if you want to stay, you have to do something other than ordinary,” Boudreau said. “If you just do ordinary things, when the injured player comes back, you’re always the one who gets sent down. So you’ve got to do something to show for yourself …
 
“Score a goal. Open peoples’ eyes. That’s how you stay in the NHL. Or, you’ve seen it a hundred times, guys come up, they do an OK job and then they get sent down. But you’ve got to do something extraordinary to open those guys’ eyes.”
 
Dan Ellis, the former Predator, was expected to start in goal … Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who has missed the last 12 games with a broken finger, could return in a week to 10 days and could return to practice next week.
 
Predators right wing Jordin Tootoo was expected to return to the lineup after sitting out two games with a suspension. Defenseman Jon Blum was a healthy scratch for the first time on Thursday in a 4-3 win against Columbus. Predators coach Barry Trotz did not indicate whether Blum would return to the lineup …
 
Nashville center Blake Geoffrion, who has missed the last five games with an upper-body injury, participated in the morning skate for the first time since getting hurt Nov. 28. Trotz said he thought Geoffrion might return to the lineup early next week.
 
DUCKS
 
Kyle Palmieri - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Bobby Ryan - Teemu Selanne
Niklas Hagman - Brandon McMillan - Andrew Gordon
Matt Beleskey - Maxime Macenauer - George Parros
 
Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Luca Sbisa - Sheldon Brookbank
Toni Lydman - Nate Guenin
 
Dan Ellis
Jonas Hiller
 
PREDATORS
 
Martin Erat - Mike Fisher - Craig Smith
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitsyn - Nick Spaling - Matt Halischuk
Brian McGrattan - Jerred Smithson - Jordin Tootoo
 
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein
Jack Hillen - Roman Josi
 
Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback


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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 2:56 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Shattenkirk returns for Blues, projected lineups

The Blues will welcome defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk back to the lineup tonight after missing Thursday's game with a bout of the flu.

Shattenkirk became ill suddenly and did not dress for the 4-2 win against Anaheim. Ian Cole stepped in and contributed his second career two-point game (one goal, one assist).

"Everything is good to go," Shattenkirk said Saturday morning. "I felt pretty much back to 100 percent this morning. I finally was able to keep some food down yesterday. ... I skated yesterday for a little bit just to make sure my stomach was settled. I hadn't really eaten much so I didn't have much energy. This morning I felt like I was back.
 
"It was definitely great seeing the team do well on Thursday. Obviously Ian [filled] in and doing a great job. You're just sitting in bed watching and it's a tough way to watch a game, especially not even being at the rink. It was something where I was giving some fist pumps in bed, but for the most part, just lying around."

Shattenkirk will play alongside Kris Russell, with Barret Jackman and Roman Polak getting back together.

"When there's a definitive matchup, we put Polak and Jackman together," Hitchcock said. "They play well together when there's a good central focus. Obviously Russell and Shattenkirk, they've had a good plus-minus. Russ has been really good since he's (been) here. They're a threat. They're a threat to get up the ice, they're a threat in the offensive zone and Shattenkirk's got the weight and size to play against bigger players, too. There seems to be a lot of bigger players on the other team today. We'll get a challenge back there, but I like the way Russell and Shattenkirk's played together."

Cole will become a healthy scratch again despite the solid outing Thursday.

"Based on his last game, Cole doesn't deserve to sit out," Hitchcock said. "But numbers are numbers and he's a young guy that's going to get his chance. He's an improving player. He's got a better focus at practice and he's improving on a daily basis. If he continues down this path, he's going to put a lot of pressure on people to stay in the lineup because he was very good the last game. If he can continue upgrading from there and continues to stay consistent, he's going to put a lot of heat on people."

Added Shattenkirk: "Ian's at a point now where he's pretty settled in and comfortable at this level. I think it showed the other night he's not someone who's going to go out there and try to make simple plays. He's going to go out there and try to be effective for the team. I think we all know we can count on him in those situations."

Hitchcock also is juggling the forward lines a bit, as he's elevating Jamie Langenbrunner to the second line with Patrik Berglund and David Perron while dropping Chris Stewart to Vladimir Sobotka's line with Ryan Reaves.
"Hopefully, we can get a better three-line game going," Hitchcock said. "For us, Sobe operates better when he's playing with physicality. We'll get big, physical play there and hopefully give Sobe some room."

As for Langenbrunner, who had two assists Thursday, Hitchcock is impressed with the veteran.

"Langs has played unbelievable the last three games," Hitchcock said. "Gotta reward good play – the Berglund line didn't have a great game last game, so we need that line to be better. If we're going to get going ... we talked about secondary scoring, we're getting third scoring because we're getting guys that come in the lineup scoring goals. We need people here all the time to start becoming productive if we're going to get to the next level. We're looking for combinations that can help get that second wave scoring. If Langs can go up there and continue his good play and impact Bergy's line, then that's going to help us."

The Sharks come in with one of the better road records in the league at 7-3-0, and according to winger Patrick Marleau, there's no secret recipe to the success.

"Keeping it simple and making sure that you're ready right from the bat," Marleau said. "Usually teams come out hard at home the first 10 minutes or so. You have to be ready for that. You have to weather the storm and get your game going in those 10 minutes."

BLUES

Alex Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
David Perron - Patrik Berglund - Jamie Langenbrunner
Matt D'Agostini - Jason Arnott - Scott Nichol
Ryan Reaves - Vladimir Sobotka - Chris Stewart

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Roman Polak
Kris Russell-Kevin Shattenkirk

Brian Elliott
Jaroslav Halak

Defenseman Ian Cole and winger Chris Porter, who scored Thursday, are healthy scratches. The Blues are without forward Andy McDonald (concussion), winger B.J. Crombeen (shoulder) and defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle).

SHARKS

Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
Jamie McGinn - Joe Thornton - Brad Winchester
Patrick Marleau - Michal Handzus - Joe Pavelski
Frazer McLaren - Andrew Desjardins - Torrey Mitchell

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Brent Burns - Jason Demers
Colin White - Justin Braun
Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Center Andrew Murray is expected to be the healthy scratch. Coach Todd McClellan could swap Murray for McLaren. Defensemen Douglas Murray and Jim Vandermeer are both nursing upper-body injuries. Goalie Antero Niittymaki (hip) is still on injured reserve but is very close to being activated.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 2:32 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Perron, Thornton to meet for first time since hit

ST. LOUIS -- They haven't seen one another in more than 13 months, but for the St. Louis wing David Perron and San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, it'll be time to once and for all put "the hit" to rest.

The Blues (16-9-3) and Sharks (15-9-1) square off for the second time this season at 7 p.m. today at Scottrade Center (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM) but it will be the first time Perron will face the Sharks since suffering a concussion from a hit by Thornton near center ice.

Thornton was coming out of the penalty box and delivered a crushing blow that would eventually knock Perron out for more than a year. But Thornton said he's glad to see Perron back in the game.

"Obviously, you don't want to hurt anybody," Thornton said Saturday morning. "It's unfortunate he's been out for so long, but to see him back playing put a smile on my face. For him to score in his first game back was exciting as well. To have him back, it's nice. I wish him all the health in the world now."

Perron reflected on the incident Friday.

"Coming out of the box, he was probably so frustrated from that previous penalty, he wanted to get his game going, get physical and he saw that I was there," Perron said of Thornton. "To say it's disappointing that he didn't contact me after, it's tough to say. I moved on pretty quickly after that.

"I'm a pretty forgiving person. I forgave him pretty much right away. We all make mistakes in our lives. Sometimes it's bigger than others. I can move on from that and hopefully he can learn something about it."

Thornton was suspended two games at the time for his first such offense.

"I know Joe well and that's not his intention at all," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It was kind of an unfortunate thing. For me, I think everybody's gone past it. Joe's not that type of player, doesn't even think that way and I'm sure he felt as bad as ... I don't think anybody thought it would be what it was, but I'm sure he felt as bad as anybody did.

"For David's sake, he's come back, he feels good and you hope it stays that way. You don't want to see any setbacks from where he's at, and I'm sure Joe feels the same way."

Upon his return last week against Chicago, Perron did receive a text message from Thornton wishing him luck and glad that Perron was back healthy again.

"I didn't really expect anything, but it's nice to get that one," Perron said. "I think he's a pretty classy guy from what I know of him. I met him at the All-Star Game in Atlanta. He's just a nice guy. I'm sure he'll be happy to get that one out of the way, too."

Perron was asked if he expected anything from Thornton when the two are on the ice and there's a stoppage in action.

"I think he'll be pretty respectful," Perron said of Thornton. "He knows what he did and I think he'll be pretty respectful and so will his teammates."

Thornton said he would say something.

"Absolutely. Yeah, or even after the game," he said. "We'll have some contact, but that's between me and him."
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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 2:13 PM

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

Flu causing problems for Calgary

For the second time in a week, the Calgary Flames with be without a key forward because of the flu.

Missing from practice Friday, Alex Tanguay was again absent from the ice during Calgary’s morning skate as they prepare to take on the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday in the Battle of Alberta.

In Tanguay’s absence, Calgary has recalled Greg Nemisz from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League. Nemisz, who has six NHL games to his credit, is expected to skate alongside Brendan Morrison and Rene Bourque against the Oilers.

“They are both great players,” Nemisz said. “For me, I’m just going to have to provide some energy and go to the net for them.”

Morrison himself returned to the lineup earlier this week after Curtis Glencross was stricken by the flu. He had two goals and two assists in place of Glencross.

The expectations are a little different for the 21-year-old Nemisz.

“He’s been playing well in [Abbotsford] and we need him to carry it on it here,” coach Brent Sutter said. “Whether we use him on the wing or at center, we’ll see. A lot depends on where Alex is at tonight and whether he can play or not.”

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:

FLAMES

Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenJarome Iginla
Greg NemiszBrendan MorrisonRene Bourque
Blake ComeauMikael BacklundLee Stempniak
Tom KostopoulosMatt StajanTim Jackman

Scott Hannan – T.J. Brodie
Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
Derek SmithJoe Piskula

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

OILERS

Sam GagnerRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle
Ryan SmythShawn HorcoffAles Hemsky
Ben EagerEric BelangerRyan Jones
Magnus PaajarviAnton Lander – Lenart Petrell

Ladislav SmidTom Gilbert
Ryan WhitneyJeff Petry
Theo PeckhamColten Teubert

Nikolai Khabibulan
Devan Dybnyk
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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 1:10 PM

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

Datsyuk sees All-Star potential in Filppula

DETROIT – Pavel Datsyuk probably knows a thing or two about great players, and the superstar center for the Detroit Red Wings thinks an All-Star Game or two is in the future for 27-year old Wings forward Valtteri Filppula.

The two have rarely played together on the same line, but Datsyuk has seen firsthand the kind of impact Filppula’s had for the Wings since moving from center to left wing on the second line with star Henrik Zetterberg at center.

Filppula has scored points in five of his last seven games, including six goals. He now has nine goals and 14 assists heading into a game Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets at Joe Louis Arena (7 p.m.,
CBC, FS-D).

“He’s just more confident now and more grown up,” said Datsyuk, who has eight goals and 18 assists while centering the top line. “He’s just a bigger player now and he will be a good All-Star.”

That’s pretty high praise coming from an All-Star caliber player like Datsyuk, but the Russian star really likes what he’s seeing from his Finnish teammate.

“[Filppula] is one of the best players on our team this year so far,” Datsyuk said. “He shoots, he scores. He has lots of help and he helps [Zetterberg] on the second line, too.”

Other Wings are seeing it, too – including Jiri Hudler, who’s currently playing opposite Filppula on the second line at right wing. Filppula missed a game in St. Louis on Tuesday with a deep cut on his shin from a skate blade, but returned Thursday wearing protective Kevlar socks to score a goal and add another assist in a 5-2 win against the Phoenix Coyotes.

“[Filppula] is a horse,” Hudler said. “He’s really strong. He’s a strong guy and he flies. It’s tough to take the puck from him. He’s got big legs and it’s tough to go around him, too.”

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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 1:05 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Campoli scratched for Canadiens

NEWARK, N.J. -- Montreal defenseman Chris Campoli said Friday he has been cleared to play and was hoping to be in the lineup Saturday afternoon against the Devils. Canadiens coach Jacques Martin had other ideas, because Campoli is scratched.

Tomas Kaberle, who the Habs acquired Friday, will be in the lineup and paired with rookie Alexei Emelin. Josh Gorges and P.K. Subban are starting together, leaving Raphael Diaz and Hal Gill as the Canadiens’ remaining pair.

That leaves no room for Campoli, who hasn't played since injuring his hamstring in the first game of the season.

Carey Price is starting in net for the Canadiens.

Here's the lineup for Montreal:

Michael Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Louis Leblanc
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Travis Moen - Lars Eller - Andrei Kostitsyn
Mathieu Darche - Petteri Nokelainen - Yannick Weber
 
Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Raphael Diaz - Hal Gill
Tomas Kaberle - Alexei Emelin

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 1:03 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Staal injured, won't play against Isles

The injury-plagued Pittsburgh Penguins will look to avoid their third straight loss as they take on the New York Islanders tonight at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Pittsburgh (16-9-4) will once again be without captain Sidney Crosby, who is experiencing slight headaches. The hope is that he'll be able to play when the Pens host Detroit on Tuesday night. Crosby will be evaluated when the Pens return home.
 
The Penguins will also be missing defensemen Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek, as well as center Jordan Staal, who briefly skated this morning before heading to the dressing room due to a lower-body injury.

New York (9-11-6) has gone six straight games without a regulation loss. The Isles, who are 4-0-2 over that stretch, rallied from a 2-0 deficit Thursday night before losing in overtime to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Here are the projected lineups for the clubs:

ISLANDERS

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
David Ullstrom - Josh Bailey - Brian Rolston
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Tim Wallace

Mark Streit - Travis Hamonic
Steve Staios - Milan Jurcina
Mike Mottau - Dylan Reese

Al Montoya gets his third straight start in goal. Kevin Poulin will back him up.

Scratches for the Isles are Nino Niederreiter (concussion), Evgeni Nabokov (groin) and Rick DiPietro (groin). Andrew MacDonald (leg), Mark Eaton (MCL) and Jay Pandolfo (foot) are on injured reserve. Micheal Haley will be a healthy scratch.

PENGUINS

Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chris Kunitz - Jason Wiliams - Tyler Kennedy
Matt Cooke - Joe Vitale- Pascal Dupuis
Arron Asham - Craig Adams- Steve MacIntyre

Paul Martin - Brooks Orpik
Deryk Engelland - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Alexandre Picard

With Staal out of the lineup, Williams will be promoted from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Engelland returns to the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury.

Other scratches for the Penguins include Letang (concussion), Michalek (concussion), Brian Strait (elbow), Ben Lovejoy (wrist), Richard Park (lower body) and Robert Bortuzzo (concussion-like symptoms).

Marc-Andre Fleury is 16-4-1-3 with a 2.25 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 26 career appearances against the Islanders.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 1:02 PM

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

Detroit's Hudler adjusting well to position change

DETROIT – Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg are doing so well on the second line for the Detroit Red Wings that it’s easy to overlook the play of Jiri Hudler on the line’s right wing.

It’s been an adjustment for the 27-year old Hudler, who usually plays the left side because he’s a left-handed shot. However, after getting used to the new side of the ice, he’s starting to showcase his own skills while playing with two highly-skilled teammates.

Hudler has scored a goal and added an assist in each of the Wings’ last two games and has four goals to go with 12 assists in 26 games heading into their game Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets at Joe
Louis Arena.

“I feel pretty good,” Hudler said. “Being with both [Filppula] and [Zetterberg] is fun. I’m playing on the right wing. I usually play on the left, but when you play with players like this you don’t need to worry about it.”

So, he’s not.

He’s also trying not to overthink his recent success after last season’s disappointing regular season – when he scored 10 goals and finished with 37 points in 73 games. Those numbers were a far cry from what Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was hoping to get from him, after Detroit got him back from a year he spent playing in Russia’s KHL.

“Obviously, last year at this time it didn’t go my way,” Hudler said. “I was frustrated and you know, it was tough. But it’s a new year and a totally different thing. I feel pretty good. I’m not going to get over-excited. It could kick me in the butt (any) time. We don’t want to mess with the karma.”

It might not matter if the forward trio he’s a part of currently keeps playing the way it has the past few weeks. Hudler said it has been a little odd to have his stick blade facing the wall now, but he’s learning to make it work.

“You get the puck on your backhand more because you’re (stick’s) facing (the wall),” he said. “At the same time you’ve got your forehand to the net all the time, so you’re ready to shoot the puck quicker. Other than that, when you play with good players it doesn’t really matter.”

The Wings just hope the chemistry continues for that line – including Hudler’s improved play.

“He seems to be playing well, skating way better and he looks like he’s got confidence in playing,” Babcock said. “[Hudler] is a veteran player. It’s quite evident he didn’t have the kind of year he wanted to last year and he’s on track this year. We need him to generate offense for us and be good defensively as well.”
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Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1