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Posted On Sunday, 01.15.2012 / 1:36 PM

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

Hawks' Crawford rounding into form

CHICAGO -- If it weren't for Corey Crawford, Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena might've been a lot worse for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Crawford allowed two early goals in the first period, but the Hawks were badly outplayed in those 20 minutes -- outshot 21-4 -- and Crawford was forced to make a number of big stops to thwart good Detroit scoring chances.

Crawford also came up huge in the third period to keep his team down by just one goal on a breakaway by Red Wings forward Drew Miller -- turning his attempt away and paving the way for the Hawks to force overtime (and earn a big standings point) in the final minute of regulation.

Despite allowing the eventual game-winner in overtime on Todd Bertuzzi's snap shot off a rebound in the slot that just fluttered past him, Crawford was at his best in that game and has turned around his season after a slump that had him sitting out for six straight games in December.

After earning the starting job in his first full NHL season a year ago, Crawford is again showing why the Hawks allowed former goalie Antti Niemi -- who backstopped them to the 2010 Stanley Cup title -- to leave via free agency prior to last season.

"He's had a great start to his career," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said last week. "Had a great start last year … all big games for us down the stretch. You like his consistency. You like his size. Technically, his position is strong in each and every situation and he's got some quickness to his game."

He's also got some pretty thick skin. Instead of pouting while veteran backup Ray Emery took over the starting duties for that stint last month, Crawford just quietly worked with Hawks goaltending coach Stephane Waite on getting back into top form.

The work paid off. In nine appearances since the extended time off, Crawford has a 2.44 goals-against average and .921 save percentage -- allowing more than three goals just two times, with both of those four-goal games.

"He's a pro and wants to get better," Quenneville said. "He learns. He's got a nice relationship with Steph. The two of them work well together. Nice start to his career and we expect a lot out of him."
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Posted On Sunday, 01.15.2012 / 12:32 PM

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

Projected lineups for Penguins, Lightning

Here are the projected lineups for this afternoon's game between Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay:

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
 
Chris Kunitz  -  Evgeni Malkin  -   James Neal
Pascal Dupuis  -  Dustin Jeffrey  -  Tyler Kennedy
Matt Cooke  -  Richard Park  -  Steve Sullivan
Eric Tangradi  -  Craig Adams  -  Arron Asham
 
Paul Martin  -  Zbynek Michalek
Brooks Orpik  -  Deryk Engelland
Matt Niskanen  -  Ben Lovejoy
 
Marc-Andre Fleury
Brent Johnson
 
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
 
Ryan Malone  -  Vincent Lecavalier  -  Brett Connolly
Martin St. Louis  -  Steven Stamkos  -  Steve Downie
Tom Pyatt  -  Dominic Moore  -  Teddy Purcell
Dana Tyrell  -  Nate Thompson  -  Pierre-Cedric Labrie
 
Eric Brewer  -  Pavel Kubina
Marc-Andre Bergeron  -  Matt Gilroy
Brett Clark  -  Brendan Mikkelson
 
Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Roloson
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 9:21 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

NYR @ TOR - 2:29 of the Third Period

At 2:29 of the third period in the Rangers/Maple Leafs game, video review was inconclusive in determining whether Tim Connolly's shot crossed the goal line. The referee's call on the ice stands. No Goal Toronto.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 9:13 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

BOS @ CAR - 13:58 of the Third Period

At 13:58 of the third period in the Bruins/Hurricanes game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Justin Faulk's point shot went directly into the net in a legal fashion. Good Goal Carolina.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 8:36 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

SJ @ CLB - 14:59 of the Second Period

At 14:59  of the second period in the Sharks/Blue Jackets game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Ryane Clowe deflected the puck into the net with his stick below the crossbar.   According to Rule 60.5 "The determining factor is where the puck makes contact with the stick. If the puck makes contact with the stick below the level of the crossbar and enters the goal, this goal shall be allowed". Good Goal San Jose.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 8:25 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

PHA @ NSH - 4:47 of the First Period

At 4:47 of the first period in the Flyers/Predators game, video review determined that Nashville forward Gabriel Bourque kicked the puck off Philadelphia goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and into the net. According to rule 49.2 "A kicked puck that deflects off the body of any player of either team (including the goalkeeper) shall be ruled no goal." No Goal Nashville.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 4:56 PM

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

Pronger: 'It hurts so much not to be playing'

The Philadelphia Flyers released a statement Saturday from defenseman Chris Pronger, his first public comments since it was announced he would miss the remainder of the 2011-12 season with a concussion.

Via the team's official Twitter account, Pronger's statement read: "It is very, very tough right now. I don't feel well and it hurts so much not to be playing."

The Flyers announced in mid-December that after meeting with two concussion specialists, it was recommended that their captain not play again this season. He assisted on a pair of goals in his final game of the season, a Nov. 19 loss in Winnipeg.

"After consultation with respected concussion specialists Dr. Joseph Maroon and Dr. Micky Collins, it is the opinion of both doctors that Chris is suffering from severe post-concussion syndrome," general manager Paul Holmgren said on Dec. 15. "It is the recommendation of Drs. Maroon and Collins that Chris not return for the remainder of the 2011-12 season or playoffs.

"Chris will continue to receive treatment and therapy with the hope that he can get better."

Pronger played only 13 games this season, scoring a goal and adding 11 assists. He was out of the lineup for six games and 16 days after suffering an eye injury on Oct. 24 when he was hit in the face by the stick of Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski. He eventually rejoined the team and maintained his usual defensive role.

In his last game against the Jets, Pronger actually played a season-high 26:41. In addition to his eye injury and concussion, Pronger also underwent arthroscopic surgery to clean out his left knee in the summer.

On Dec. 9, Holmgren told reporters that Pronger "has struggled with other issues that are concussion-like symptoms."

"I just didn't feel well, I didn't know what it was," Pronger said that day. "I never felt like that before with headaches and nausea, and that stuff. I had a concussion baseline test and passed that … I got lightheaded, had headaches, you're nauseous."
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 3:42 PM

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

Sutters signing same tune on game day

CALGARY -- Just hours before puck drop between the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames -- better billed as Sutter versus Sutter -- both Darryl and Brent didn't waver.

The game isn't about them.

Despite it being the first time the two brothers have faced each other from behind the bench, coupled with the game being Darryl's first in Calgary since leaving the Flames organization in December 2010, Brent reiterated that there is no storyline from a family perspective.

"That's the neat thing about it," Brent said. "It's not even an issue with us. It is for everyone else, but not for us. It's LA versus Calgary. I haven't given it much thought. It's not the first time brothers have coached against each other and it won't be the last. It's not that big of deal, it really isn't."

In short, it isn't a story.

"We've done it our whole lives," Darryl said.

It was tough for Kings forward Colin Fraser to disagree.

"They grew up together, probably beating each other up their whole lives," said Fraser, who was coached by Brent as a member of the Western Hockey League's Red Deer Rebels.

Brent isn't rushing to get the game over with. He knows the questions about Darryl will continue to come long after Los Angeles departs for Sunday's game against Edmonton.

"Someone will ask the question again, I know (the media) well enough," Brent said. "It's not that big of a deal, it really isn't."
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 3:28 PM

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

Kopitar ready to go after leaving previous game

CALGARY -- There is no doubting the participation of Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar in tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames, according to coach Darryl Sutter.

In fact, despite taking a hard hit from Brendan Morrow that forced Kopitar out of the game in the Kings' 5-4 shootout loss against the Dallas Stars Thursday, Los Angeles' leading scorer would've been ready to return had there been more time on the clock.

Kopitar had a goal and two assists before being crunched by Morrow with just 7:48 left in the third period. He missed both overtime and the shootout.

"By the time we left the Staples Center he was ready to play," Sutter said. "I think if we would've played two that night he would've been back for the second one."

Which means Kopitar will be at Sutter's disposal when he returns to the Scotiabank Saddledome for the first time since Dec. 2010 when he left the organization after an eight-year tenure, first as coach and then general manager.

"(It's) nice to come see lots of people working in the building that you spent early morning and late days with," Sutter said. "I came here in a tough situation in every area, on and off the ice. It was one of the most successful on-and-off the ice teams in the NHL for a long time. That's pretty good."

KINGS
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jarret Stoll
Brad Richardson - Andrei Loktionov - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Trent Hunter

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Jack Johnson - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 3:18 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Biron starts, Dubinsky remains out for Rangers

TORONTO -- The Maple Leafs have had the Rangers number this season, and so tonight the Blueshirts will switch things up slightly. After suffering a pair of 4-2 losses to Toronto, coach John Tortorella has elected to start Martin Biron -- who has yet to face the Leafs this season, but sports an impressive 8-2-0 record as Henrik Lundqvist's backup. 

"It's been easy for both of us because we've been winnng, the team has been playing really well in front of us and when the team is winning, I think as a goalie you don't think too much," Lundqvist said after the morning skate. "It's been an adjustment for me not to play as much, but so far it's been working for me and I think it's a good thing for the team in the long run to have two fresh guys. Going into the season, I knew I would play less."

Lundqvist was in net for both Leaf victories at Madison Square Garden earlier this season. He feels the presence of Biron, whose prior start in Toronto was a 2-1 victory early last season, drives both of them to be at the top of their game.

"Marty, he is playing so well, I need to push myself to get minutes and I think he feels the same way -- if he wants to start, he needs to play well," Lundqvist said. "So we push each other to work really hard and get better and it's a healthy competition."

Meanwhile, Rangers forward John Mitchell returns to Toronto for the first time as a visitor since being traded to New York almost a year ago. The soon to be 27-year-old spent his first three NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs.

"It's fun and it's exciting, it's cool to be back in the city where it all began," said Mitchell, who grew up in nearby Waterloo, Ontario.

In the 23 games he has played for the Rangers, it has become evident why his club has been successful: "They have a good team identity here and I think everyone knows what their identity is, so it makes sense," Mitchell said.

Brandon Dubinsky, who was questionable to play Saturday, did not partake in the morning skate and will miss his second straight game recovering from a shoulder injury. That means Wojtek Wolski will remain in the lineup. The highly-skilled Wolski played nearly 15 minutes against Ottawa on Thursday, his first action since playing under five minutes versus Anaheim on Nov. 3. He has yet to score a goal this season in seven games.

While the Rangers study video to figure out their power play woes (1-for-20 over the last eight games), Toronto is coming off a 3-2 loss Friday in Buffalo. It was their first loss this month and the club had a sparsely-attended optional skate this morning. After playing last night, Jonas Gustavsson will start again tonight for the Maple Leafs.
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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