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Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 2:14 PM

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

Report: Wild's Koivu out a month with shoulder injury

The slumping Minnesota Wild will have to move forward for the time being without captain Mikko Koivu, who suffered what the team is calling an upper-body injury in Saturday's loss to the Blues.

The Wild are terming Koivu "week-to-week," but a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune indicates Koivu has a shoulder injury that will keep him out for at least a month.

Koivu appeared to suffer the injury on a hit by the Blues' Vladimir Sobotka.

"It's pretty frustrating right now," Koivu told the team's website on Monday. "Especially the time of the year. We play a lot of games and we're right in the middle of it, and so yeah. But there's nothing you can do about it, and you just got to move on and try and get better."

Koivu has a team-leading 24 assists and 33 points for the Wild, who led the Northwest Division for much of the first half, but are currently clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot after winning just two of their last 15 games.

"It'd be foolish of us to try and get anybody to be him," first-year coach Mike Yeo told the team's website. "It's a big challenge for us and we have to view it as such, and get excited about the opportunity to rise to it. A lot of people are probably writing us off right now … but the one thing I know is this team has a lot of character, and we need a lot of that right now."
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Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 1:58 PM

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

Pietrangelo starting to produce points for Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Alex Pietrangelo's six-game points streak is no fluke. But the St. Louis Blues' top defenseman wasn't quite himself in the early portions of the first half of the season.

"I kind of found myself second-guessing my shot there in the first half of the season," said Pietrangelo, who has 9 points in his last six games after only picking up 11 in his first 37 contests. "I think just simplifying it and putting pucks towards the net. I just want to shoot pucks towards the net a little more. It's made a huge difference."

But instead of getting discouraged, Pietrangelo kept at things and did all the other things that was making his game more complete.

Plus, the Blues (26-12-6), who host the Dallas Stars (24-18-1) tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM), were doing what cures all players' ails.

"We were winning," Pietrangelo said. "If I don't get any points and we win every game, I'm happy.

"Watching some video, I caught myself passing off when I could have shot it. Ever since then, it's really been a turnaround."

------------

His mind and body was into accomodating all St. Louis Blues fans Sunday night at the team's annual Rink Tours event, but for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, a Greenwich, Conn. native and huge New York Giants fan, part of him was elsewhere ... and rightfully so.

Shattenkirk was also busy celebrating the Giants' 37-20 upset win over the Green Bay Packers, who many touted to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Shattenkirk was able to watch the first half of the game before departing to his venue, which was the U.S. Ice Sports Complex in Fairview Heights, Ill.

"Fortunately, they had a little breathing room and I hopped in the car on my way there and turned the radio on and listened to the end of the game on the way there," Shattenkirk said. "I got to watch the majority of it and it was a great win for the G-Men.

"I've followed them through the tough times and the good ones."

But did you know Shattenkirk, listed as 5-foot-11 and 208 pounds, was a football player himself in high school?

It never amounted to much, especially when his hockey coaches got wind of what he was doing.

"My high school hockey coach told me no more. I had to causally let it go," Shattenkirk said. "When I was younger, I started playing (football) when I was like 10 years old or so. I played in high school for two years and once I went out to Ann Arbor (Mich.), that was it. I played linebacker and running back and then I was a punter."

Shattenkirk's popularity Sunday was not only evident by fans realizing he was a Giants fan but also because he helped the Blues snap their shootout funk with the winner in Saturday's 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.

"A lot of people came up saying thanks for breaking the curse," Shattenkirk joked. "A lot of people were giving me props for the Giants, too. I think there were more Packers haters than Giants fans, but we'll take them."

------------

The Blues will go once again without winger Alex Steen (concussion symptoms) and defenseman Kris Russell (groin) tonight against the Stars. Both skated again and both didn't hit any speed bumps, and according to coach Ken Hitchcock, Thursday's home game against Edmonton is a realistic option.

"He had a very good day yesterday, very good day today," Hitchcock said of Steen, who will miss his ninth consecutive game tonight. "We'll practice him hard Tuesday and Wednesday and see how he is for Thursday. He hasn't had a team practice yet. All he's done is isolation practices. He'll get team practices in the next two days. Looks very good. We'll work him up and hopefully continue to get him ready for Thursday.

"Russell, same thing conditioning-wise. Not quite there. Tuesday, Wednesday practice and hopefully ready for Thursday also."

Forward Andy McDonald, out with a concussion, has played in three of 45 games this season.

Hitchcock was asked when he feels McDonald will shed the red no-contact jersey.

"Until the color changes, don't even get in there," Hitchcock said. "He's our best player on the ice, every day in practice but don't even get me going there. He scores all the goals in the shootouts, all the goals in the line rushes, but until the color of the sweater changes ... no."

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Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 1:56 PM

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

Appendectomy sidelines Benn indefinitely

ST. LOUIS -- The Dallas Stars, who enter tonight's game against the St. Louis Blues having dropped two of their previous three games, will have their mettle tested now that they will be playing without two of their three top scorers and top two centermen.

Mike Ribeiro (knee) will miss his fourth consecutive game and the Stars will now be without leading scorer Jamie Benn, who had an appendectomy on Sunday and is sidelined indefinitely.

Benn has 42 points (13 goals, 29 assists) in 43 games, while Ribeiro is third on the team with 10 goals and 31 points in 40 games.

"You don't wish it, but it's like anything, it's life. You can't control it," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "You just hope that Benny's OK and he is this morning. ... When you take your top two centermen out of your lineup, it forces you to play a certain way. Maybe this is a little bit of a blessing in disguise, because our team needed to play a certain way more consistently and now they're going to have to. If we come out of this stronger, that's what you always hope when you have injuries and these guys acclimate themselves back.

"It wasn't a kick in the gut or anything. You just deal with it one day at a time."

What it does is give other players an opportunity to step into the lineup and fill those roles. The Stars have recalled winger Francis Wathier from AHL Texas and he will be in the lineup tonight.

"They are really huge for our team," Stars winger Loui Eriksson said of Benn and Ribeiro, who has an MCL tear. "There's not much we can do about it. We've just got to keep working harder and some other guys are going to get some opportunities and get some chances. We still have a good team. We know where we are in the standings."

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Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 1:54 PM

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

Projected lineups for Blues, Stars

ST. LOUIS -- Tonight's probable lineups between the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars:

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

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Halak is 8-0-3 in his last 11 starts with a 1.76 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. He is 1-4-0 with a 3.04 GAA and .874 save percentage in five career games against the Stars.

F Andy McDonald (concussion), D Kent Huskins (ankle) and D Kris Russell (groin) are on injured reserve. LW Alex Steen (concussion symptoms) is still day-to-day. Chris Porter is a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game and eighth out of the last nine.

STARS
Brenden Morrow - Tom Wandell - Loui Eriksson
Adam Burish - Steve Ott - Radek Dvorak
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Michael Ryder
Francis Wathier - Jake Dowell - Toby Petersen

Trevor Daley - Nicklas Grossman
Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Mark Fistric - Alex Goligoski

Kari Lehtonen
Richard Bachman

Lehtonen is 7-1-0 with a 1.72 GAA and .944 save percentage in his career against the Blues.

The Stars are without C Jamie Benn (appendectomy), C Mike Ribeiro (knee), D Philip Larsen (concussion-like symptoms) and RW Tomas Vincour (knee). Defenseman Adam Pardy is a healthy scratch.
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Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 1:38 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Panthers, Bruins have played two very different games

SUNRISE, Fla. -- In their first two meetings with Boston, the Florida Panthers had perhaps their biggest victory of the season and unquestionably their most embarrassing loss.

The teams meet for Round 3 on Monday night at the BankAtlantic Center, and don't think the Panthers have forgotten the 8-0 drubbing they absorbed at TD Garden on Dec. 23.

That game came 15 days after the Panthers recorded a 2-0 shutout at Boston on a night when Jose Theodore stopped 40 shots.

"Obviously we're not looking for the little Christmas coal we got last time against them," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "That was a pretty lopsided game, and deservedly so. We didn't play very well vs. the Bruins. I like the way, for the majority of the games, we've played on home ice and we're certainly going to need a strong effort to beat and compete with the Stanley Cup champions."

In that last matchup, the Panthers were coming off a 4-3 overtime loss at Ottawa the night before, but worse were playing without seven injured forwards.

Florida was so shorthanded up front, in fact, that rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson was used as a right wing.

"We had a really rough go," Gudbranson said. "We played as individuals, we didn't play as a five-man unit. We hear it from our coaches, we hear it from everybody and we know inside this room if we play as a unit that we're a very good team, we're one of the best teams in the League. It's going to be key to do that tonight."

As if the revenge factor didn't provide enough motivation for tonight's game, the Panthers also are coming off a lackluster performance Friday night in a 4-1 loss against a Pittsburgh team that came in on a six-game losing streak and missing several key players.

The Bruins also are coming off a disappointing performance, a 4-2 loss at Carolina on Saturday. Since a seven-game winning streak that began on Dec. 10 and included the rout of the Panthers, Boston has gone 4-3.

Coach Claude Julien says his team needs to battle harder and take pucks at the net. That's where his focus is, and not on the Panthers having extra motivation to avenge an ugly loss.

"Basically, our whole game has just kind of slipped a little bit, not to the point of being a bad team but to the point of being a very mediocre team right now," he said. "We've got to bring it back to the level that is expected of our group.

"I don't know what kind of game we can expect from them. I would look more at, what kind of game do we expect to play tonight? We've just got to be better. When your team isn't playing at the level it should be, you like to focus on your team a lot more than worrying about what the other team is going to do."

For his part, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara expects a tough battle on Monday.

"They're really good at home," Chara said of the Panthers. "They play a very hard style. We just have to be ready to do our thing and make sure we work extremely hard and don't take anything for granted.

"We played really well that game (on Dec. 23) and they had not a great night. That's going to happen. I'm sure they're going to be way better tonight."
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Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 1:10 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Injured Panthers getting closer to returning

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers are close to having their full complement of players, but they're not quite there yet.

The Panthers again will be without goalie Jose Theodore and four forwards -- Scottie Upshall, Sean Bergenheim, Jack Skille and Marco Sturm -- when they face the Boston Bruins on Monday night, but all five players are expected to join the team on a three-game road trip that begins Wednesday night in Colorado.

They all  took part in the morning skate, although the four forwards were wearing green jerseys.

"Just depending on our medical reports, I'd like to think that we're no longer considering injured guys and now it's going to be to options that I'll have," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "That's a good place for us to be, to have some healthy options."

As for Theodore, he has been practicing with the Panthers for several days, but Dineen says he wants to be extra cautious with the veteran goalie.

Theodore sustained a knee injury during a 3-2 victory over Montreal on New Year's Eve.

Said Dineen: "I think he has made good strides every day and we feel that he is close to being ready, but when I have expectations for a player to come and play a lot of hockey down the stretch, we want to make sure that he is doing that in a healthy body and frame of mind."

Against Boston, the Panthers power play should have a different look. Forward Mikael Samuelsson was working at the point instead of defenseman Dmitry Kulikov with the first power-play unit at the morning skate.

The Panthers converted only 2 of 17 power-play opportunities in the last six games.

One of those was the game-winner by Marcel Goc in last Monday's 2-1 victory over Vancouver. Samuelsson was at the point with the second power-play unit and started the play with a cross-ice pass to Kris Versteeg.

Here is the projected lineup:

PANTHERS

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

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson

Scott Clemmensen
Brian Foster
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Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 12:56 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Peverley to miss two games due to personal reasons

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Bruins center Rich Peverley will miss the team's next two games after flying back to Boston to attend to a personal matter.

Peverley accompanied the team as it flew to Florida following Saturday's 4-2 loss at Carolina, but returned home on Sunday.

The Bruins will be without Peverley on Monday night against the Panthers and Tuesday when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Coach Claude Julien said Peverley is expected to rejoin the Bruins in time for Thursday's game at New Jersey. Peverley is tied for sixth on the team with 29 points and is fourth in average ice time among the forwards at 16:46.

Zach Hamill will take Peverley's place in the lineup against Florida. Hamill has 2 assists in 10 games for Boston this season and has been recalled from the minors twice. He was stratched five of the last seven games.

Here is the projected lineup:

BRUINS

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Benoit Pouliot - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Jordan Caron - Chris Kelly - Zach Hamill
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask
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Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 12:54 PM

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

Projected lineups for Senators, Jets

KANATA, Ont. -- Here are the projected lineups for Monday night’s game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place:

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

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Carkner

Craig Anderson
Alex Auld

Coach Paul MacLean said that Jesse Winchester (concussion) "is feeling better, but is still experiencing symptoms." There is no timetable for his return. Brian Lee is the healthy scratch.

JETS
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Alexander Burmistrov
Antti Miettinen - Tim Stapleton - Eric Fehr
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Tobias Enstrom - Ron Hainsey
Johnny Oduya - Mark Flood
Mark Stuart - Randy Jones

Chris Mason
Ondrej Pavelec

Coach Claude Noel said that Blake Wheeler (throat) "should be able to skate today." He is day-to-day and the team hopes to have him back in the lineup for Thursday's game against Buffalo.




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Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 11:25 AM

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

Islanders give Poulin the nod against Predators

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin will get his second start of the season Monday afternoon against the Nashville Predators.

Poulin, who was recently named the Player of the Week in the American Hockey League, made 26 saves in a 3-2 loss against Dallas on Dec. 15 after being recalled on an emergency basis that same day. He was sent back to Bridgeport the following day, but was again recalled last Monday on an emergency basis and has been practicing with the club.

"Sitting with our coaches and goalie coach we thought this would be the right time to give him a start," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "I think he's a little bit more confident. Kevin has always been one of those guys that has a swagger to him, he has the right attitude and he wants to be the guy. His play after training camp, going to Bridgeport, getting the time, he's got a little bit more confidence. Hopefully he goes out there and gives us a chance."

Poulin will likely remain the backup to Evgeni Nabokov for the foreseeable future. Al Montoya remains out with a concussion and Rick DiPietro might be sidelined for the season after undergoing sports hernia surgery.

Poulin went 4-2-1 with a .924 save percentage and 2.44 goals-against average in 10 appearances last season.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 9:00 AM

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

LaFontaine discusses his three-goalie rotation

In this week's 'Making of a Royal' blog, head coach Pat LaFontaine talks about his three-goalie rotation and how pleased he is with each of the keepers this season. After losing his projected starting goalie prior to the season, LaFontaine has seen great improvement in Matt Atwell, Peter Fosso and Canadian newcomer Zach Waiman. Currently, Fosso and Waiman are listed on the active roster and Atwell on the practice team.


On the USA Hockey youth level, you can only roster two goalies at a time, so what we've done is deem one of the goalies a practice goalie at any given time. We've been able to give opportunities to all three goalies to show what they can do and we've been pleased with the results.

Zach came onto the team about two-and-a-half months into the season so he was kind of a late addition. We originally had a goalie committed to [the Under-16 Long Island Royals National Team] out of Connecticut, but he had to back out at the last minute. He was our No. 1 goalie, and [Atwell and Fosso] were going to fight it out for the backup spot. We ended up starting the season with two goalies and I'm really pleased with the way they've progressed. [Assistant coach] Steve Webb received a tip that there was a boy looking for an opportunity [from Peterborough, Ont.] who was a really strong goalie. We talked about giving him an opportunity, and that's how that all came about. I think if we're going to prepare these kids to play at the next level in the "Making of a Royal," they need to know there's healthy competition within at team in vying for spots.

Zach apparently was injured after making the Junior A team [in Peterborough] and was out for a period of time. Word was he was a really strong goalie, so we felt he would be a real asset to the team. He got a late start with the team but the way we're looking at it right now, we have three strong goaltenders. Only thing is, we're still looking for that one to step up and vie for that position. At different times throughout the season, they've all played very well.
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Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential