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Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 11:29 AM

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

Hawks place Toews on IR

The Chicago Blackhawks placed center Jonathon Toews on injured reserve this morning and have recalled forward Brandon Pirri from Rockford of the American Hockey League.

Toews left Saturday's game against the Nashville Predators in the second period due to an upper-body injury.

Toews is second in the League with 27 goals and second on the Hawks with 50 points. He was picked for his third All-Star Game earlier this month.

"You certainly miss his leadership and how important he is to our team," coach Joel Quenneville said Monday. "It changes the complexion of what our options are, but it's part of it. You get tested along the way. Everybody goes through it, top guys out, key guys. It's certainly going to test us.”

"Guys are going to have to step up and try to fill the void," added teammate Patrick Kane. "We have to make sure we're focused and worry about the task at hand. He plays in every situation, key player, a guy you definitely miss if he's out of the lineup. You can't replace a player like (Patrick) Sharp or Toews, but there are some guys who can step up, and they have. These are big opportunities for myself and a lot of guys here."

Taking Toews' place in the middle of the top line -- at least to start tonight's game against Nashville -- will be Dave Bolland.

"I don't want him to change how he plays," Quenneville said Monday. "He doesn't have to be Johnny or an offensive type of guy. Play to your strength."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 11:10 AM

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

Melrose votes Karlsson as Fantasy Draft top pick

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Posted On Monday, 01.23.2012 / 4:55 PM

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

Stars place Morrow on IR, activate Ribeiro

Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow suffered an upper-body injury in Saturday's game and has been placed on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 21, while Mike Ribeiro was activated off the IR on Monday.

The Stars released the following statements earlier in the day from coach Glen Gulutzan through their official Twitter account:

"Morrow out, not a long term issue there, and (Stephane) Robidas will be a game player for us tomorrow."

"Ribeiro is close and we will reevaluate him after morning skate tomorrow. (Matt) Fraser will be a go for us tomorrow."

Morrow, in his 12th NHL season, is fifth on the team in scoring with 8 goals and 22 points in 41 games.

Ribeiro is fourth on the team in scoring with 10 goals and 31 points. He hasn't played since Jan. 7, when he was involved in a knee-on-knee collision in a game against the Oilers. Ribeiro was on a hot streak before he went down, scoring twice in each of his last two games.

Fraser, an undrafted, 6-foot-1, 204-pound right wing, is set to make his NHL debut after being called up from the AHL Texas Stars, where he had 21 goals and 35 points in 40 games.
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Posted On Monday, 01.23.2012 / 4:01 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kings not worried about PK issues

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Kings killed 40 straight penalties from Dec. 17 to Jan. 14 but have allowed a power-play goal in each of the past six games.

"Sometimes that's the way it goes," captain Dustin Brown said. "Our attitude is, I think, the main reason our PK is successful. I don't know if we've had the exact same attitude the last few games. Sometimes you get scored on, power plays make good plays. But there's been some breakdowns – the Colorado goals late in the game was just a breakdown on our part. It's not like they made a great play. We've got to tighten it up a bit."

Coach Darryl Sutter, though, isn't concerned. There's been no change in the group's structure and often their best penalty killers have been the ones serving the penalties.

There's also an element of luck. The streak ended on a play in which Calgary's Jarome Iginla scored because Trevor Lewis didn't have a stick to break up a pass.

"When you are so good for so long, that means you're good," Sutter said. "We're still in the top four or five in the League. We've got caught with broken sticks a little bit. We've got caught with not clearing pucks a little bit. We've got caught more with (the fact that) there is a hockey god. We've taken two bad change penalties that have cost us goals-against. We have taken retaliation penalties, which has cost us goals-against. That's probably where it is."
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Posted On Monday, 01.23.2012 / 3:47 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Westgarth back in for Kings

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- After using largely the same lineup for most of his tenure as Los Angeles Kings coach, Darryl Sutter will have one new wrinkle tonight.

Forward Kevin Westgarth, who has played just twice since Sutter became coach Dec. 20, will be inserted at right wing on the fourth line against the Ottawa Senators.

Sutter previously has gone with Trent Hunter in that spot, on a line with Colin Fraser and Kyle Clifford, because Hunter brings more offensive potential. But L.A. is coming off a disappointing loss to Colorado in which only its top line was a factor. The Kings have scored five goals in regulation the past four games.

"The fourth line has been sort of off on the energy part of it here, so we’ll see if we can give it a different look," Sutter said.

In his last game, Jan. 7, Westgarth played just two shifts, totaling 55 seconds. His last extended action was Dec. 26.

The Senators enter the game coming off a loss Saturday to the Anaheim Ducks. They haven't lost consecutive games in regulation since Nov. 9-11, but team history suggests that streak could be in jeopardy: The Senators have won just once in Los Angeles in franchise history (1-10-1). Their only win at L.A. was Jan. 11, 2000.

Here is what the lineups for the Kings and Senators likely will go with tonight:

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

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Mark Borowiecki

Craig Anderson will start in goal, with Alex Auld the backup.

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

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

Jonathan Quick will start in goal, with Jonathan Bernier the backup.
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Posted On Monday, 01.23.2012 / 3:40 PM

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

Islanders hit Toronto on a hot streak

TORONTO -- The New York Islanders, winners of three straight games, head into Toronto tonight playing their best hockey of the season. They boast the League's hottest player in John Tavares, who has a season-long 12-game point-scoring streak; an up-and-coming play maker in PA Parenteau, who enters tonight's action fifth in the League in assists; and the NHL’s Third Star of the past week, goalie Evgeni Nabokov.

"We're executing more, we're starting to put 60-minute games together more frequently," said Tavares who has eight goals and 13 assists during his streak.

"When we are having tough stretches I feel like we're bouncing back and responding with solid shifts, big goals, big penalty kills and big saves, and we are coming up in those key moments in games and making some plays where overall it's making a difference for the end result."

Toronto will be playing their last of nine home games this month. They started the new year with four straight victories at Air Canada Centre but have tumbled recently, losing four of five and three of their last four at home.

"Their power play is just behind ours in the League and over the last 10 games or so it's about 35 percent," said Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson. "A lot of their offense is coming from the power play. By playing the way we have been, and not taking penalties will help, if we do take a penalty, (we need to) continue to be as aggressive as we have."

Wilson also acknowledged the play of Nabokov and his impact on the Isles. Wilson knows Nabokov well from their time together in San Jose.

"Nabokov is giving them solid goaltending (and) that's a huge plus," said Wilson. "A veteran presence in net who doesn't really get rattled. And when you get that kind of goaltending, your offence perks up and all areas of your game gets a little better."

Toronto enters the game two points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference, while the Islanders can pull within five points of the ninth-place Leafs with a victory.

The Maple Leafs took the teams' only other meeting this season between the two clubs, skating away with a 5-3 victory Dec. 23 on Long Island.
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Posted On Monday, 01.23.2012 / 3:08 PM

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

Umberger back for Blue Jackets

NASHVILLE -- Columbus activated left wing RJ Umberger, who has been one of the League's most durable players over the last few seasons, off injured reserve on Monday and Umberger will get back in the lineup when the Blue Jackets visit the Predators later in the day.

Umberger, who has 7 goals and 11 assists, was out for nine days and five games with concussion-like symptoms. To make room in the lineup, rookie Ryan Johansen, the fourth pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, was expected to sit out, coach Todd Richards said.

Johansen has 1 goal in the last 12 games. He has been a healthy scratch five times this season, but not since Dec. 18. The 6-foot-3, 203-pound 19-year-old has 8 goals and 8 assists in 41 games and, at plus-3, is one of only three players with a positive rating on the Blue Jackets.

He had been skating on the Blue Jackets' second line with Derick Brassard and Tomas Kubalik. Umberger will likely slip into that slot.

"It's exciting," Umberger said. "It's obviously a new feeling for me. I was a little anxious and nervous this morning. I'm not used to being a guy who comes back in the lineup, so hopefully I just grab back on to my normal routines and make it a normal game."

Umberger said his goal was to get in front of the Predators' net, and to "be greasy and play a hard game."

Umberger, 29, had played in every game over each of the last three seasons and over the previous six seasons he had missed only eight games. Until the last five games, he had never missed a game as a Blue Jacket -- playing in 206 straight.

He talked about the frightening nature of head injuries.

"You just want to make sure you're getting healthy, you're going to live a normal life again," he said. "Things with the head are just so scary. It's not a fun way to go about every day, so once I started to get signs of coming back around, starting to feel myself,  that makes you feel a little better."

Richards addressed why Johansen would sit.

“A lot of it is his game’s been OK -- he has been OK -- but when you look up and down our lineup, our forwards, it’s tough to pull other guys out for what they bring to our team and what we need as a team, or what we feel as a staff we need, going into certain games,” he said. “The way our top six has gone, they’ve been good and we’re really happy with our third line, (Samuel) Pahlsson, (Derek) Dorsett and (Ryan) Russell.

"Right now, it's just a set of circumstances that he's not in the lineup. And he needs to be better. I think he can be better, but his play has not been bad where we have to get him out of the lineup."

Defenseman Brett Lebda was set to make his season debut after the Blue Jackets signed him on Jan. 17. He was expected to play on their top pair with Fedor Tyutin. Lebda was going to take the place of Nikita Nikitin, who had played in every game but one since Nov. 12 when he arrived with Kris Russell in a trade from St. Louis. Nikitin, who has 2 goals and 16 assists in 38 games, injured his knee on Saturday against Detroit.

Steve Mason was expected to start in goal, his second start in the last three games but only his third in the last 10.
 
Vinny Prospal - Antoine Vermette - Rick Nash
RJ Umberger - Derick Brassard - Tomas Kubalik
Ryan Russell - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies - Derek MacKenzie - Jared Boll
 
Fedor Tyutin - Brett Lebda
Marc Methot - John Moore
Grant Clitsome - Aaron Johnson
 
Steve Mason
Curtis Sanford
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Posted On Monday, 01.23.2012 / 2:52 PM

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

Projected lineups for Islanders, Maple Leafs

Here's how the lines could look tonight when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the New York Islanders at Air Canada Centre:

ISLANDERS
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Brian Rolston - Josh Bailey - Matt Martin
Tim Wallace - Nino Niederreiter - Jay Pandolfo

Mark Streit - Travis Hamonic
Andrew MacDonald - Milan Jurcina
Mark Eaton - Dylan Reese

Evgeni Nabokov

MAPLE LEAFS
Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Matthew Lombardi - Tim Connolly - Nazem Kadri
Clarke MacArthur - David Steckel - Mike Brown
 
Dion Phaneuf - Luke Schenn
Carl Gunnarsson - Mike Komisarek
Jake Gardiner - Cody Franson

Jonas Gustavsson
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Posted On Monday, 01.23.2012 / 1:26 PM

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

Toews out Tuesday, could miss All-Star Game

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will miss Tuesday's game against the Nashville Predators, and his availability for this weekend's NHL All-Star Game also appears in question.

Toews left Saturday's game in Nashville with what the team is calling an upper-body injury during the second period of the Hawks' 5-2 loss.

In speaking with reporters, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said today there wasn't one particular hit that injured Toews. He added that Toews was "not likely" to take part in the All-Star Weekend festivities.

"We have some time off. Have some extra days there," Quenneville said. "Hopefully he gets some rest. We'll get a better assessment after (the All-Star break)."

The Chicago Tribune reported Toews had been slashed on the left hand by Florida's Erik Gudbranson during Friday's game against the Panthers, but there's no word if that injury is connected to Toews' current ailment.

Quenneville said Dave Bolland will move into Toews' top line spot for Tuesday's game. 

"I don't want him to change how he plays," said Quenneville. "He doesn't have to be Johnny or an offensive type of guy. Play to your strength, especially tomorrow, because it will be a tight game."

Patrick Kane, Toews' linemate, said the rest of the team will have to step up in Toews' absence.

"Guys are going to have to step up and try to fill the void," said Kane. "We have to make sure we're focused and worry about the task at hand. He plays in every situation, key player, a guy you definitely miss if he's out of the lineup. You can't replace a player like (Patrick) Sharp or Toews, but there are some guys who can step up, and they have. These are big opportunities for myself and a lot of guys here."

In other Blackhawks news, Patrick Sharp skated for the first time today in his recovery from a left wrist injury. It's anticipated he'll return sometime during the Hawks' road trip after the All-Star break.

Quenneville also noted Corey Crawford will start in goal Tuesday against the Predators.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Monday, 01.23.2012 / 12:54 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Mason hopes to continue mastery of Hurricanes

The Jets have had the Hurricanes' number this season, winning the first three games between the Southeast Division rivals. Winnipeg backup goaltender Chris Mason has been in the net for all of them, twice as the starter, once in relief. He has surrendered just four goals in the process.

"I don't really have an explanation," Mason said. "I haven't played against them a ton. I've had the three games against them this year and I've done pretty good. There's other teams I have played against a lot more and I don't have success against, even though I may have a better idea of what guys are going to do."

Given Mason's record against Carolina, Winnipeg coach Claude Noel didn't need to ponder the goaltending choice very long.
 
"If a guy has success against a team and feels comfortable, it's a pretty easy decision," he said. "But there's no guarantees in a game. Carolina's been going good. They've played a lot of low-scoring games. It's going to be all we can handle. Mason's going to have to be good."

Cam Ward will make his eighth straight start for Carolina. In his current stretch of seven consecutive starts, Ward has allowed no more than two goals in any game, good for a 3-2-2 mark.

JETS
Alexander Burmistrov - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn
Eric Fehr - Patrice Cormier - Antti Miettinen
 
Tobias Enstrom - Ron Hainsey
Johnny Oduya - Zach Bogosian
Mark Stuart - Randy Jones
 
Chris Mason
Ondrej Pavelec
 
HURRICANES
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Jussi Jokinen - Jeff Skinner - Zac Dalpe
Patrick Dwyer - Brandon Sutter - Andreas Nodl
Anthony Stewart - Tim Brent - Chad LaRose
 
Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Derek Joslin - Jamie McBain
 
Cam Ward
Justin Peters
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— Defenseman Torey Krug on signing with the Boston Bruins
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