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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 11:53 AM

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

Fedotenko out for Rangers against Flyers, projected lineups

PHILADELPHIA -- With an early start today at Wells Fargo Center, neither the Flyers nor the Rangers skated. But with both teams coming off wins, the lineups shouldn't look too different.

One big change for the Rangers, however, will be the absence of forward Ruslan Fedotenko, who is out following taking a hard hit in a win Thursday win against Tampa Bay.

On Friday, Rangers coach John Tortorella said he would dress seven defensemen rather than call up an extra forward from Connecticut of the American Hockey League, meaning Stu Bickel will return to the lineup.

Here's how the rosters for both teams should look today:

RANGERS

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Mike Rupp - John Mitchell

Marc Staal - Steve Eminger
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal, with Martin Biron the backup.

FLYERS

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read - Maxime Talbot - Jakub Voracek
Zac Rinaldo - Sean Couturier - Tom Sestito

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Matt Carle - Marc-Andre Bourdon
Andrej Meszaros - Erik Gustafsson

With Ilya Bryzgalov still suffering from the flu, Sergei Bobrovsky will start in net today. Jason Bacashihua will be the backup.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 11:44 AM

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

Projected lineups for Oilers, Senators

KANATA, Ont. – Here are the projected lineups for a Saturday afternoon game between the Ottawa Senators and the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Place:

SENATORS

Milan MichalekJason SpezzaBobby Butler
Colin GreeningKyle TurrisDaniel Alfredsson
Kaspars DaugavinsZack SmithErik Condra
Nick Foligno – Jim O’Brien – Chris Neil

Filip KubaErik Karlsson
Jared CowenSergei Gonchar
Chris PhillipsBrian Lee

Craig Anderson
Alex Auld

Craig Anderson returns as the starting goaltender, while Zenon Konopka and Bobby Butler remain as the healthy scratches.

OILERS

Taylor HallSam Gagner  - Jordan Eberle
Magnus PaajarviShawn HorcoffAles Hemsky
Ryan SmythEric BelangerLennart Petrell
Ben EagerAnton LanderRyan Jones

Ryan Whitney – Cory Potter
Ladislav SmidJeff Petry
Andy SuttonTom Gilbert

Nikolai Khabibulin
Devan Dubnyk

Andy Sutton will return to the lineup, after sitting out the last two games as a healthy scratch. Cam Barker will likely sit versus Ottawa.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) remains out for approximately seven-to-10 days.


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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 11:36 AM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bruins, Predators look for improved play

BOSTON – Two teams that have lost three of their last four games will meet this afternoon at TD Garden, as the Boston Bruins play host to the Nashville Predators.
               
Boston dropped its last outing, 6-0, at Buffalo on Wednesday. To a man, the Bruins know it’s not as bad, in general, as that score reflected. Now with just two home games left before a six-game road trip, the Bruins are looking forward to a better future.
               
“There’s some games like that,” said rookie forward Jordan Caron this morning. “There were a lot of little things that made it 6-0, and I think it’s going to happen during the season. We just have to bounce back.”
               
The Predators are 1-2-1 in their last four. In the three losses, they’ve allowed an uncharacteristic 11 goals. Nashville coach Barry Trotz, whose team ranks 12th with 2.58 goals allowed per game, knows that the Preds are only going to get better results once they improve their defensive play. They had won five in a row prior to their current slump.
               
“If we’re going to get back on track, we have to tighten things up [defensively],” said Trotz.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 1:50 AM

NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Hunter prepared for return to Long Island

The Los Angeles Kings don't get to Long Island too often, but forward Trent Hunter knows every nook and cranny of the Nassau Coliseum.

He should. The Coliseum was Hunter's home for the first eight-plus seasons of his NHL career. He made his debut with the New York Islanders during the 2002 Stanley Cup Playoffs, was a Calder Trophy finalist two years later and scored 20 goals twice. But he was limited to 17 games last season by a torn knee ligament, and the Islanders traded him to New Jersey for Brian Rolston in late July.

The Devils bought out his contract four days later, leaving him without a place to play. But the Kings invited him to training camp and he earned a one-year contract.

The 31-year-old has two goals and five assists in 32 games as a fourth-liner for the Kings. He'll take the Coliseum ice for the first time in a visiting uniform when the Kings visit the Islanders on Saturday afternoon.

"Eight years, but in the organization my entire career, so I came and went in this building quite a few times," he told Kings Insider when asked about returning to the building he called home until this season.

Hunter was popular among teammates and fans, but said he was able to get past his disappointment at leaving the Isles fairly quickly -- and with no hard feelings.

"It is a business. It's obviously tough, because I was here a long time, and especially last year, with not playing much," he told Kings Insider. "It was tough. When you're hurt, you're around the guys and around the team, but you're not really. You're kind of on the outside looking in.

"Last year was definitely a tough year for me, but like I said, it's a business and everything happens for a reason."

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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 9:17 PM

By Derek Mori -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Mori: One win to the title at another great camp

Derek Mori has been attending Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Camp since 2006, when his wife sprung the trip on him as a 40th birthday gift. He is here for a seventh straight year and has agreed to blog his experiences for NHL.com.

Derek, who lives in Oakville, Ont. with his wife, Anita, and twin boys, says he's certainly not an ex-pro, but he's not a beginner either. He's been on the team that has won the Gretzky Fantasy Camp Cup four out of the six years he's been here, and he intends to do it again.

Read on to learn more about Derek's experience and what No. 99's camp is all about:


LAS VEGAS -- Once again this camp has exceeded my expectations.

Wayne really knows how to do it right. He improves it and makes sure the customers are happy. We definitely are.

They always want feedback from us, the campers, to know if people had a good time, what they enjoyed, because that plays into whether or not they have another one. Not everyone is always going to be happy, but we're all on holiday here, so you can't complain. We're on holiday, playing hockey, drinking beer, hanging out and we're in Vegas -- do I need to say more.

If I win another championship, it's like a cherry on top of a great trip.

And, you know what, I've got a chance. We won again today, and now we're 3-0 going into the Gretzky Cup Final on Saturday.

It was a tight one, though. We were tied and went to overtime. Guy Carbonneau and Denis Savard were on the team and they were good. I can't believe those guys were 0-2 against us.

We didn't play that well, but we worked on some small things for tomorrow because the pros don't play in the championship. We're all looking forward to it. It's a one game elimination now.

I didn't score today, but I came close in overtime. I was on the ice and my linemate scored, but if he didn't score I would have gotten it. It was a rebound goal, bang-bang, and I was right there to get it, too.

It's a great feeling to win and to get another opportunity to get another Cup, but what I'll take most out of this year's camp is the new friends I've made. There are a lot of first time guys here and guys here for only the second time that I have never had a chance to meet and get to know.

There is also a guy on our team that has been here for seven years and he's never won, so we're trying to win the Gretzky Cup for him. It's the Ray Bourque thing. We want to win it for ourselves, but we want to really win it for him, too.

Thursday night they had a party at Hyde Bar here at the Bellagio and, like every year, they managed to surprise us again. They always try to organize something that is fun and different, which is good because it keeps the energy going and the intrigue up.

Well, Thursday night they were raffling off NHL sweaters that were autographed by the former pros that are here. They put all of our names in the raffle and there were 20 sweaters available, so you had basically a one in three chance to get it.

I didn't get one. That's how good my luck has been here in Vegas. Then I went to play the tables afterwards and I didn't play very well either.

Tonight they've given everyone free time to do what we like, but I'll go up to the hospitality suite, hook up with some guys, go have dinner and probably go to a club. We'll go out in packs, but of course we've got to prepare ourselves for Saturday's big game.

Or, at least our goalie better.

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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 5:35 PM

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

Sacco expects high-tempo game between Avs, Canes

DENVER -- Two teams that have been hard-pressed to score goals face off tonight when the Colorado Avalanche and Carolina Hurricanes meet at the Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche broke through in a big way Tuesday with a 5-2 win against Chicago, but have scored two goals or fewer in 10 of their past 13 games and are averaging 2.4 goals per game overall.

"We had been struggling to score goals on a consistent basis, but we always talk about the process," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said this morning following his team's optional skate. "When you do good things during the course of the game -- if you do them consistently -- sooner or later the chances that you get are going to go in. That finally happened against Chicago. I thought we played a pretty complete game."

The Hurricanes, who are averaging 2.5 goals per game, have been held to two goals or fewer in seven of their past nine contests but have managed to post a 4-2-3 record in that stretch because of solid goaltending by Cam Ward and efficient penalty-killing.

But Sacco expects a high-paced game tonight, similar to the one his team played against the Blackhawks when the clubs combined for 60 shots and plenty of scoring chances.

"They're a fast team, they're a young team, and they play with energy," Sacco said of the Hurricanes. "It looks like they try to play a very aggressive game where they're chipping pucks in and trying to chase pucks down. It should make for a good game with a lot of pace and a lot of tempo, two young teams that like to push the pace and like to skate."

While the Avalanche remain in the Western Conference playoff hunt with 57 points -- three points behind eighth-place Phoenix -- the Hurricanes have 50 points and are a dozen points behind eighth-place Toronto in the East despite posting a 6-2-3 record since Jan. 12. Carolina has gone 12-12-6 since Kirk Muller replaced Paul Maurice as head coach on Nov. 28.

"They found themselves behind the eight-ball at the start of the year, but they're definitely playing much better now," Sacco said. "You've got two teams looking for points, so it should be a good game."

The Hurricanes will be bucking history tonight. The franchise has gone 0-7-2 in Denver since Feb. 9, 1996, when the Hartford Whalers defeated the Avalanche 3-2 in overtime at since-razed McNichols Sports Arena. It was the first season after the Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado and were renamed the Avalanche.

Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who was a first-round pick of the Whalers in 1995, will start against the Hurricanes, who are making their first appearance in Denver since Oct. 23, 2009. Giguere on Tuesday ended a personal four-game winless streak (0-3-1) in which he permitted a total of six goals but received little in the way of offensive support.

"If you look at the previous games, our problem was scoring goals," center Ryan O'Reilly said. "We had a good backcheck (against Chicago) with all the guys coming back and it created a lot of two-on-ones and odd-man rushes for us, and I think that's one reason why we did get our offense going. Our scoring definitely gained a little confidence from that. We're going to need that down the stretch. Having a game like that, even without any power plays, was a big thing for us and something to build on."

Sacco reunited struggling left wing David Jones with center Paul Stastny and right wing Milan Hejduk, and the line combined for 2 goals and 4 assists, with Jones collecting 2 goals and 1 assist.

"We played a lot together last year and we had some success," said Jones, who has 12 goals in 45 games after scoring a career-high 27 goals last season. "Those guys make it so easy to play with them. They're real good with the puck and they draw guys to them. They'll find you anywhere on the ice, so it's just a matter of being ready and being ready to shoot."
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 5:22 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Reeling Blackhawks lose a pair of defensemen

SAN JOSE -- The Chicago Blackhawks, riding a six-game losing streak and a deep defensive slump, got some more bad news Friday morning.

Steve Montador and Niklas Hjalmarsson, two of the Blackhawks' top defensive players, were sent back to Chicago because of upper-body injuries and will miss Friday night's game against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion.

Montador, who was hurt in the second period Tuesday against Colorado, was placed on injured reserve. Coach Joel Quenneville said Hjalmarsson has been ruled out for Saturday's game at Phoenix.  Hjalmarsson had missed the previous two days of practice with what the Blackhawks said was the flu but, according to multiple reports, could actually be a concussion.

"Things changed," Quenneville said, offering no specifics.

Chicago recalled rookie defenseman Dylan Olsen from Rockford of the American Hockey League. He didn't arrive in time for Friday morning's skate, but he's expected to arrive in time for the game and will be in the lineup Friday night, Quenneville said. So will defenseman Sami Lepisto, who has been a healthy scratch the past 15 and 23 of the past 24 games.

"I think Sami can give us some defensive consistency," Quenneville said. "He's got some offense, as well, to back it up. I want him to play a sound game, kind of like our team game."

Quenneville offered no specific reason why Lepisto has played so seldom.

"When you've got eight 'D' sometimes you've got to make some tough decisions," he said. "Whether it's him or John Scott, they want to play. You've got to commend them for sticking with it and being part of it and being a good teammate when they've been watching other guys get more ice time or games that they'd love to get a part of it. I was telling Sami the other day, be patient, things can change quickly, and here he is."

Olsen, 21, made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks on Jan. 5 and played two games before being sent back down. He had four shots, five hits and one blocked shot in that stint. Chicago drafted him with the 28th pick in the 2009 Entry Draft. In 44 games with the IceHogs, he has 4 goals, 3 assists and 44 penalty minutes.

"I think when he played here prior, the two games he played, I thought he was real solid for us," Quenneville said. "Gave us some size. Had some good presence, played the right side for us, did some good things."

The news was much better for San Jose. Defenseman Dan Boyle, who missed Wednesday night's game and Thursday's practice because of the flu, skated Friday morning and expects to return to the lineup against Chicago.

"I feel better," Boyle said. "Obviously I wouldn't be here if I didn't feel better. Stomach flu kind of went through the whole household. My parents were here, they both had it. Both my daughters and my wife had it. Not sure what it was. Ran its course and hopefully back in there tonight."

With Boyle sidelined, the Sharks suffered a 4-3 loss to Calgary, which came on the heels of a 5-3 loss at Phoenix. The Sharks' No. 1 focus tonight will be to get their defense back on track against a Blackhawks team that beat them 4-3 on Jan. 15 at Chicago.

"We know they're a very dynamic offensive team, so we're going to have to look after our end, and usually when we do that good things happen," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "So take care of our end and we'll probably play in their end quite a bit."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he expects to see "a different look" from his team Friday night than it had against Calgary.

"We didn't have a lot of intensity or energy early in the game," he said. "We expect that to change, and we weren't very good defensively. Too loose, too many freebies, too many turnovers. If we're playing the way I believe we can, we'll fix those areas and we'll still be in for a tight game because they're a group that's trying to fix their own issues, and I'm sure they'll come out with a lot of fire early in the game, and we'll have to match that."

Despite having back-to-back rough games, Antti Niemi will be in goal to face his former team, McLellan said. Niemi, who helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup two seasons ago, is 4-2-1 against the Blackhawks with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage.

"We think he's played well against them in the past," McLellan said of his decision to start Niemi. "He's due for a good game, and we believe in him."

Niemi certainly won't lack motivation when he takes the ice against a team that let him go in a salary cap move shortly after he won a Stanley Cup.

"You get motivated knowing who you're playing against," Niemi said. "Don't have to dig it from deep."

After losing six straight games and allowing 27 goals during that stretch, the Blackhawks should have motivation to spare, too. For the past two days, they've gone back to the basics, trying to get their defensive house in order.

"There's some little things we need to just remind ourselves of that are very important," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "When things are going well you don't have to think about it. You just go out and do it. Maybe the last couple games we've been thinking a little too much out on the ice and that's why we're making mistakes. It's good just to refresh our mind on what we need to do defensively and now we can go out there and play and it will be a little more natural."

Here's how the lineups could look Friday night when the San Jose Sharks face the Chicago Blackhawks at HP Pavilion:

SHARKS
Benn Ferriero - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Ryane Clowe
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - John McCarthy

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Colin White - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

BLACKHAWKS
Michael Frolik - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp - Marcus Kruger - Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Andrew Shaw
Andrew Brunette - Jamal Mayers - Viktor Stalberg

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Sami Lepisto - Sean O'Donnell
Dylan Olsen - Nick Leddy

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery

Crawford will start in goal for Chicago after backing up Ray Emery the previous two games. Crawford lost 1-0 to the Sharks and Niemi on Nov. 23, Chicago’s first game at HP Pavilion this season.

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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 4:36 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Mullet of the Week: Sam Gagner

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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 3:40 PM

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

Projected lineups for Hurricanes, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

HURRICANES
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Andreas Nodl - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Drayson Bowman - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Jaroslav Spacek - Jamie McBain

Cam Ward
Justin Peters

INJURIES: G Brian Boucher (lower body) and D Joni Pitkanen (concussion) are out.

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Peter Mueller
David Jones - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
TJ Galiardi - Jay McClement - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - David Van Der Gulik - Chuck Kobasew

Kyle Quincey - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Shane O'Brien - Tyson Barrie

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

INJURIES: LW Matt Duchene (knee) is out.
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 3:05 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Gretzky talks respect in game, Crosby



LAS VEGAS -- Wayne Gretzky said Friday from the Bellagio that he believes the respect factor from player to player was lost for some time, but it is coming back into the game now and it's essential that it remains.

"As much as the League is trying to police itself, and I think they do as good a job as they can do, I think it was Sidney Crosby that said it's still up to the players to monitor themselves and understand that you can't just hit guys in the head," Gretzky said in a sitdown interview with the NHL Network.

"If a guy has his head down, yeah you've got to hit him, but you can also take your foot off the pedal a touch with that respect factor," Gretzky continued. "I think it's gotten way better the protection of each and every player. And, listen, the physical aspect of our game can never be taken out. That's what makes our game special. We need to keep that physical presence in our sport, but it can be done in a way when it's not crossing the line."

Gretzky said in his day that respect factor existed because players understood there was life outside of hockey.

"The players understood they had to do whatever it took to become a champion, become a winner, but the guy on the other side also had a wife, kids, a mom and dad," Gretzky said. "There was always that feeling that, 'OK, I can't really cross the line, this is as far as it can go.' For some reason we lost a little bit of that respect factor from the players point of view to each other. We're getting that back now."

Regarding Crosby, Gretzky called him the game's best player and said he's hopeful that No. 87 can soon put this part of his career in the rearview mirror.

"You don't replace the best player, and he's without question the best player in our game today and he has been for a few years," Gretzky said. "More important his importance to that franchise, to helping that team win, and for those fans to get to watch him play, because he is a special hockey player. Then you top that off with what he does as far as being the front guy for the game itself, the ambassador for our game, the people of Nova Scotia, the people of Canada -- you don't replace that.

"It's very disappointing that a player of that caliber is injured, and I hope when he does come back he comes back at the right time, where he does feel healthy and can put this part of his career in the rearview mirror and continue without having to face these setbacks."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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