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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 11:54 AM

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

Devils get Henrique back in lineup against Bruins

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils rookie center Adam Henrique will return to the lineup Thursday night against the Bruins after missing the last two games with a groin injury. Henrique will be back in his customary spot between left wing Zach Parise and right wing Ilya Kovalchuk on the Devils' top line.

"It felt good this morning, so I'm excited to get back in and play," Henrique said after participating in New Jersey's optional morning skate.

Henrique suffered the injury during the Devils 2-1 overtime win at Edmonton last week. He said Wednesday after practicing for the first time that he was definitely thinking about the injury throughout the entire practice session.

However, he said Thursday morning that won't be the case against the Bruins.

"The first practice back is a little different, but I'll be ready to go tonight," Henrique said.

Mattias Tedenby will be a healthy scratch and Martin Brodeur will get the start in net against the Bruins, who beat the Devils at Prudential Center, 6-1, on Jan. 4.

Here is the Devils projected lineup, or at least the one that was written on the white board inside the team's dressing room:

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Steven Zalewski - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Brad Mills - Cam Janssen

Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Anton Volchenkov - Kurtis Foster

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 1:51 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Blake's offense gives Ducks boost

Jason Blake is no stranger to a productive NHL season.

After all, he has been part of five 20-plus goal campaigns, including a 40-goal outing in 2006-07.

Despite all the success, the past few seasons have seen a drop in production.

Jason Blake
Left Wing - ANA
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 8
SOG: 30 | +/-: 4
Nowadays, things are looking pretty, pretty, pretty...pretty good. Not only for the Ducks, who are doing nothing but torching opponents night in, night out, but for Blake, too.

In the 11 games he's appeared in this season, the 38-year-old has 4 goals and 4 assists, including a power play goal and 30 shots.

What's more, his solid play has come of late, as Blake is riding a three-game point streak, in which he's compiled six points on two multi-point nights. 

On Sunday night against a formidable Vancouver squad, the 5-foot-10 left wing had himself a pair of goals, three points and threw 10 shots toward the cage.

As the Ducks aim to build on their three-game winning streak, Blake can be a beneficiary of solid offensive production. Keep an eye on him as a  healthy option to boost your fantasy squads.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 11:14 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

FLA @ COL- 18:48 of the Second Period

At 18:48 of the second period in the Panthers / Avalanche game, video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that the goal credited to Stephen Weiss entered the net in a legal fashion. Good goal Florida.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 8:26 PM

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

Blues give goalie Elliott two-year extension

ST. LOUIS -- By locking up Brian Elliott for two more years, St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong believes he has the best -- if not one of the best -- goalie tandems in the NHL.

Elliott's resurrection continued Wednesday, when the Blues announced they signed the All-Star goaltender to a two-year contract extension worth $3.6 million.

It's quite a story for a guy who entered last summer without a job, searching for work and now getting job security in mid-season.

Brian Elliott
Goalie - STL
RECORD: 15-5-1
GAA: 1.68 | SVP: 0.937
"I wasn't really expecting it because I haven't been approached like that before ... it's always been in the off-season," Elliott said. "I was happy that they wanted me to stay. Whenever you get that, you know that they're impressed with you and your work ethic. I was happy that they did and we came to an agreement that we both felt was a good deal."

Elliott, who is 15-5-1 with a 1.68 goals-against average (second in the NHL), .937 save percentage and five shutouts, signed a one-year, two-way contract on July 1 worth $600,000. He will make $1.7 million next season and $1.9 million in 2013-14, with a $1.8 million cap hit.

With Elliott and Jaroslav Halak in the fold for at least the next two seasons, the Blues feel good about what they have on their team but also at the AHL level with Ben Bishop and Jake Allen.

"We're excited to have the tandem of Jaro and Brian together for the next two seasons," Armstrong said. "Goaltending's such a big part of our game. To know now that we have two goalies that we think are entering the prime of their careers together, to have that partnership together is very important for us.

"For Brian especially, the situation he was in last summer wondering where he was going to play and finding a good home here in St. Louis and doing his job on the ice, I think it's a great story. Now he can settle in and take his career to the next level with our group."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has a problem on his hands -- a good problem. When he has to go game by game to pick a goalie, it's nice to know there are two reliable guys to choose from.

"He's the perfect example of perseverance, but he's a great model for stay with it," Hitchcock said. "... I think the biggest thing Brian did was look in the mirror. It wasn't his work ethic, it wasn't his determination, it wasn't his conditioning. There were some things that had to change in his game. He had to just become more compact in his game and he's done that, he's done it beautifully. He's resurrected a career based on being able to look in the mirror and not feel sorry for himself, and make adjustments."

Elliott did not make the final roster until after the final preseason game on Oct. 1. He was battling with Bishop to be the backup to Halak.

But the 6-foot-3, 204-pound Elliott, who is in his fifth NHL season, has surpassed all expectations. He's allowed the fewest goals (36) and suffered the fewest losses among goalies with 20 starts or more. He's got a 9-1-1 mark at home.

"I'm not only excited for Brian, but I'm also excited about Jaro knowing he's going to have a healthy partner knowing that they can tandem up and try and keep us in the top tandem of the goaltending in the NHL for the next two plus years," Armstrong said.

With the season he's having and with impending unrestricted free agency looming this summer, the 26-year-old Elliott chose to remain in St. Louis knowing it will be a tandem and not a chance to go somewhere else and try to become a clear-cut No. 1.

"Things can go the other way, too," Elliott said. "You're basically playing the odds.

"You can say what if you get injured, or the other way, what if you lead the team to a couple playoff wins, you can be even more attractive. But I've learned from experience that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. I really like it here and I like the guys and I think it sets up well for my career. After this contract is done, I'll still be probably one of the younger goalies in the League, so it just builds on to the rest of my career."

A native of Newmarket, Ontario, Elliott is 76-58-17 in his career with the Blues, Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 5:40 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Pepsi Center homecomings for Mueller, Fleischmann

DENVER -- It will be a homecoming of sorts for Peter Mueller and Tomas Fleischmann tonight when the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers meet at the Pepsi Center.

Mueller will play his first home game since opening night after he missed 41 consecutive games to recover from concussion-like symptoms. The 23-year-old right wing, who didn't play at all last season after suffering two concussions within a five-month period, returned to the Avalanche lineup last Thursday in Nashville and played in all three games of the road trip.

Fleischmann signed a four-year, $18 million contract with the Panthers as an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after collecting 8 goals and 13 assists in 22 games with the Avalanche last season. Acquired from Washington in a Nov. 30, 2010 trade in exchange for defenseman Scott Hannan, Fleischmann was a valuable offensive weapon but had to sit out the final 36 games after being diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs.

Fleischmann, 27, was put on medication and regained his health, and he's tied with Stephen Weiss for second in scoring on the Panthers with 15 goals and 19 assists in 44 games.

"He's a great kid and I enjoyed working with him last year," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said this morning. "He had some good production when he was with us; he had some good games when he was with us. Unfortunately, he got sidetracked by the injury there. Obviously, we went in a different direction in the offseason, but I'm glad to see that he's doing very well. I'm happy for him."

Sacco also has been pleased with the play of Mueller, who is still seeking his first point but had 11 shots on the three-game trip. He'll skate on a line with left wing TJ Galiardi and center Paul Stastny tonight.

"Good progression every game," Sacco said. "He feels more comfortable out there, and you can see that his energy level is increasing every time he steps on the ice. He's generated some scoring chances for himself and for his linemates. I think he's headed in the right direction. I know that he wants to get (a goal), and maybe feel a little better about himself. But I really like the way he's played, the way he's moving his feet. He's involved in the game physically, had three or four hits last game (Monday against Phoenix), so he's not shying away from the physical side of it.

"He's a good kid and he's gone through a long battle over the last couple of years. The guys in the room certainly are pushing for him and we're pushing for him and pulling for him and I'm hoping that he stays healthy and contributes to our team."

Mueller is excited to play before the home fans and is hopeful of returning to the form he displayed in 2009-10 when he had 9 goals and 11 assists in 15 games following his March 10, 2010 acquisition with Kevin Porter from Phoenix in exchange for Wojtek Wolski.

"I feel great. I definitely feel better than I did in the beginning of the year (when he played in the first three games)," Mueller said. "It seems like every game I've been getting more comfortable, and my ice time has been getting increased, which is nice. I'm still looking for that first (goal), but it's going to come sooner or later."

Tonight's game will be Mueller's first at the Pepsi Center since Oct. 8, when he had three shots in the Avalanche's 3-0 loss to Detroit.

"It's been quite some time," said Mueller, who is wearing a helmet with special padding and a tinted visor because bright arena lights can be difficult for concussion victims to handle. "I'm excited. It's going to be good to be in front of the home crowd and to hear the noise and just to be on the home ice. It's still a little weird waking up and knowing that you're going to play. It's a good feeling. I'm excited to be coming to the rink and being a part of the everyday situation."

Surgery for Jovo:
The Panthers announced today that defenseman Ed Jovanovski will undergo hand surgery on Thursday at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, Fla., and will be sidelined indefinitely. Jovanovski, 35, was injured in a first-period fight with Boston's Daniel Paille on Monday. Keaton Ellerby, who has 2 assists in 15 games, is expected to take Jovanovski's place against the Avalanche.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 5:30 PM

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

Kane recalls growing up as diehard Sabres fan

CHICAGO -- Somewhere in his parents' basement in Buffalo are a whole bunch of Buffalo Sabres hockey sweaters that used to belong to Patrick Kane.

Some have "Mogilny" or "Lafontaine" or "Hasek" stitched on the back, while several are No. 11 and have "Kane" across the nameplate. Those particular jerseys also have a captain's "C" in the front corner.

Needless to say, the Chicago Blackhawks' star forward was quite the Sabres fan when growing up in Buffalo. He'd attend games with his family and play "mini sticks" in the hallways outside the concession area between periods.

During the game, he'd sit near the visiting team's bench and soak in the entire scene -- from all the sticks in the rack to how each player looked as they came out from the locker room ready to play.

"I was probably five or six years old when I started and went to about 20 games a year until I was like 13 or 14 and I moved away from home," said Kane, who will face his childhood favorite team on Wednesday night at the United Center for the sixth time in his NHL career. "I probably became an even bigger Sabres fan just watching from the sidelines. I've got a lot of good memories in that rink, playing mini-sticks with my buddies in the hallway and missing periods because you're out playing mini-sticks."

In the Sabres' old arena, they'd used the heaters in the hallway as "nets" and shoot makeshift pucks at them with mini hockey sticks purchased at the concession stands. They also had another intermission tradition that involved food.

"I remember always having to get the nachos between the second and the first period and the ice cream between the second and third," Kane said on Wednesday morning. "Different things like that, that were kind of silly is what makes these games kind of special to me now … to look back on them."

He still keeps track of the Sabres and how they're doing season to season, but his days as a "fan" are over -- despite his friends and family back home still passionately following the Sabres.

"You keep track (of them), for sure," said Kane, whose favorite Sabres were Dominik Hasek, Alexander Mogilny and Pat Lafontaine -- along with the best players on opposing teams. "To say I'm rooting for them, I'd probably be lying to you. Ever since I got drafted to the Hawks, that's probably when my Sabres fan days died. Other than that, though, I still keep tabs on them. I guess that's just how it happens."

Thus, he won't feel any remorse if the Blackhawks add to Buffalo's current losing streak -- which stands at just two games in a row overall, but spans nine straight road games dating back to early November. Kane is well aware of how frustrating this season has been for the Sabres, because he hears about it a lot with the angst of friends back in Buffalo.

"There's a lot of frustration, for sure," Kane said. "You hear a lot of different things they're saying about the Sabres, but I don't know … sometimes a team doesn't have the right chemistry and sometimes you go through slumps. Who knows the real reason? I'm not really sure, to be honest with you, and right now I'm worried about tonight's game -- trying to pounce on a team that's struggling and hopefully make their wound a little worse."

Kane's been in a bit of a scoring funk recently, with just 3 goals in the past 27 games and none in the past six, but he's played well against his hometown team in the previous five meetings (2 goals and 3 assists).

"I don't get to play them much," Kane said. "I think this is the sixth time in my career, so it's a little more special. It's one of the first things you look for on the schedule, whether you're going back to Buffalo or they're coming here. It's exciting. It's a game that doesn't come around a lot and I try to take advantage of it."
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 4:41 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes: My All-Star Game Starters

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 4:16 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Panthers, Avs

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

PANTHERS
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Mikael Samuelsson - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky
Shawn Matthias - John Madden - Michal Repik
Krys Barch - Mike Santorelli - Matt Bradley

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Keaton Ellerby - Erik Gudbranson
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Jose Theodore will start in goal with Scott Clemmensen the backup.

The Panthers will be without defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who had hand surgery today, for up to two months. Left wing Marco Sturm (concussion) als is out.  Left wing Sean Bergenheim (groin), right wing Jack Skille (shoulder) and left wing Scottie Upshall (hip) are day to day.

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
T.J. Galiardi - Paul Stastny - Peter Mueller
Chuck Kobasew - Jay McClement - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - David Van Der Gulik - David Jones

Ryan Wilson - Erik Johnson
Kyle Quincey - Stefan Elliott
Shane O'Brien - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere will start in goal, with Semyon Varlamov the backup.

The Avs are without left wing Matt Duchene (knee) and defenseman Jan Hejda (groin).
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 3:58 PM

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

Blue line hardly lighting up the board for Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- It hasn't become a big issue yet because the Chicago Blackhawks are averaging 3.2 goals a game, but hardly any of those markers are being credited to defensemen.

Assists aren't a problem, but when it comes to goals … they just aren't happening for Chicago's blueliners with a lot of regularity. As a whole, the Hawks' defensive core has scored a combined 13 goals heading into Wednesday night's game against the Buffalo Sabres at the United Center.

Steve Montador has 5 goals to lead the bunch, but two of those were scored when he was used as a forward on the top power-play unit. In fact, Brent Seabrook is the lone Hawks defenseman to score while playing the point on the power play -- and that's just one goal.

In an effort to boost production from the back end, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has moved Montador to one of the points on the top power-play unit for Wednesday's game.

"He'll shoot it and we're looking for more shots," Quenneville said. "What we do after that is complementary to the type of players we have on (the PP units). Let's make sure we at least get some more pucks to the net and then go from there."

Simply firing more shots isn't the entire problem.

Top defenseman Duncan Keith is taking more slap shots of late, but the puck isn't going into the net. He hit the crossbar early in Sunday's win against the San Jose Sharks, and last week one of his blasts was partially blocked in the slot before ricocheting off teammate Jonathan Toews' head and then hitting the right post.

"Dunc's had some great looks lately," Quenneville said after Chicago's optional skate on Wednesday morning. "He's hit some posts and I like him active on the point, and he's been getting some opportunities to give us some offense on the back end."

Still, Keith hasn't scored in 28 games and no Hawks defenseman has found the back of the net in the past six. On Sunday, 20-year old Nick Leddy because just the fourth Hawks defenseman to put up 20 assists in a season before his 21st birthday -- but even he only has 2 goals thus far.

"We've just got to keep creating plays and helping the forwards by moving around in the (offensive) zone and just trying to get shots through and take a lot," said Leddy, who hasn't scored a goal since Halloween. "It's kind of read and react. Every play is different and I think it just depends on the play."

Quenneville, however, likes to see his defense joining the play on offense -- which usually leads to good scoring chances for somebody, even if it's not a defenseman who gets the shot.

"Sometimes you measure by goals or assists, but I still think our offense is helped by our defense getting involved in the play and off the point -- both Duncs and (Nick Leddy) and our whole group for that matter. Maybe they're not scoring at the rate we'd like, but at least they're giving us some offense from the back end -- which is noticed in our game."

Likewise, the lack of goals scored from the back end isn't noticed as much when the Hawks' talented group of forwards are scoring -- which they've been doing lately, even without the injured Patrick Sharp's 20 goals available for a few weeks.

"As a team, I still think we're getting some scoring and sometimes you're not really concerned … who's really producing for you," Quenneville said. "But over time you'll get stretches where it will be going in from the point and a lot of times you get those points on the power play -- and the power play hasn't been as hot as it was."
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 3:51 PM

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

Roenick: Credit to Kovalchuk, concern for Leafs

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick is penning a weekly blog for NHL.com this season. Look for new entries from, "World According to JR," every Wednesday. Roenick offers sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League.

I have to give some kudos and offer my respect to one of my least favorite players, but I also have to get critical with one of my favorite teams. Read on to find out what I'm talking about:

What's clicking?

Ilya Kovalchuk is really playing like the player that he should be, and that's a really good sign for the New Jersey Devils.

One of the reasons this team is winning is because their best player is doing the little things he's supposed to be doing to allow his team to win. He's working harder defensively, and his coach is playing him more in penalty-killing roles because of his speed and because of how well he's playing. When you play well, your coach is going to reward you with more ice time.

Kovalchuk is very focused on scoring goals and being one of the best players in the game, and that's pretty commendable for him.

I've been all over him in terms of his team mentality. I've called him selfish. I've called him a lot of different things, but I've been impressed with his dedication to Pete DeBoer's system and how he's been playing to the system. You know what, he's scoring goals and he's one of the hottest guys in the League right now because of it.

I can be mean, but when you're playing well and playing properly, within the team rules and the team concept, I can appreciate that, too. And I need to give a lot of respect to Kovalchuk for his recent play. I hope he keeps it up because if he does, the team will continue to do well and creep up the board to secure a playoff spot.

Hey, I will say that Kovalchuk is not one of my favorite players. I have no problem telling you that, but I do appreciate his dedication to the team and that his work ethic seems much more focused. I recognize good, solid hockey when I see it. He has more success when he plays a team-oriented way.

What's missing?

I'll go on record and say the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of my favorite teams because of their fan base, their history, and it was also one of my favorite places to play because of the fans, their knowledge, and the history behind the Maple Leafs.

But Toronto's last playoff appearance was in 2004 when we [the Philadelphia Flyers] knocked them out with one of my favorite goals of my career against Eddie Belfour. Since then, it's been a downhill spiral.

The Maple Leafs started off so hot, but they've lost three in a row and now they're ninth in the Eastern Conference.

At the beginning of this season it looked like they were on the right path to getting out of that playoff funk. They started out so hot and Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul were off to career years, but now the Leafs have lost three in a row and they're again flirting with the possibility of missing the playoffs.

One of my favorite coaches, Ron Wilson, just received a contract extension and some people might have scoffed at that, but this is less about coaching and more about putting enough talented players on the ice. Brian Burke is a very savvy, smart GM, but because of Toronto's inconsistencies in winning hockey games and with missing the playoffs looming again, he needs to make a trade.

Burke needs to get somebody that will help the Leafs secure a playoff spot for this year, and he needs to do it now because time is running out for the Maple Leafs. How much are the fans and the media going to allow with this team missing the playoffs?

It's funny, though, because I don't know if it's goaltending, defense or offense. It befuddles me as to why this team can't find consistency.

It has to be the players, and Burke, being as smart as he is and being this close to the trade deadline, he has to start shopping people around and getting on the "I need" list for players to help his team get into the playoffs.

The Toronto Maple Leafs need something, and they need it now.
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Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season