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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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Posted On Monday, 01.16.2012 / 3:00 AM

NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry Melrose discusses his dream matchups for this postseason

Football fans across the U.S. and Canada have gone wild watching the NFL playoffs this weekend, but it's the NHL that's home to the greatest postseason tournament in sports. The Stanley Cup playoffs never fail to deliver each spring, and this weekend's NFL action has me wondering what matchups I'm hoping for this spring.

Here are the five matchups I'd most love to see this postseason.

1. Pittsburgh vs. Chicago

More than any other matchup, I'd love to see this just because of the talent level -- assuming Pittsburgh is healthy when the season ends, what a showdown this would be! You've got Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Neal against Kane, Toews, Sharp, Hossa, Keith … the list goes on. There are so many great players on both teams, and with two major markets and two great teams, I just think it would be a real home run for the NHL. It would put the League's best foot forward -- a win-win situation.

Even more amazing is that not only have both of these teams won a Stanley Cup in the last five years, they're both so young. If Crosby gets healthy -- and keep in mind that most of these guys are signed long-term, so there isn't going to be a lot of changeover of talent -- you could see these teams play each other in the Final multiple times over the next seven or eight years.

2. Vancouver vs. Boston

I would love to see these two teams play again. That game they played a couple of weeks ago -- you could see that these two teams genuinely don't like each other. There are a lot of stories and sidebars in this series, a lot of agitators on both sides, and you've got both organizations throwing barbs at each other. It would be a tough, nasty series. I loved the one last year, and I think it would be an even better seven-game series this year.

This time around, Vancouver would have to be tougher and I think we might even see Cory Schneider play. That's another interesting thing: Who plays goal for Vancouver? Schneider played that game in Boston recently and played very well. In addition, both teams are going to be active at the deadline. I think that Vancouver knows it would have to get tougher -- and don't forget, Shawn Thornton didn't play last year and Tyler Seguin was just an extra guy. Boston's a lot better than last year, too.

3. Detroit vs. Toronto

This might just be because I'm a traditional guy, but I'd love to see this matchup. Toronto looks like a playoff team at least, and then you look at the history of the two organizations and their proximity. Toronto is an up-and-coming team, while Detroit is trying to milk a few more great years out of the players it has. You can talk about so many stories here, like how many more kicks does Nicklas Lidstrom have left at the can. I just think it would be a “can't miss” for hockey fans who love the tradition of the League.

It would also be nice to see Toronto play a meaningful game in June. Toronto has never played in June. When the Leafs won the Cup in 1967 it was just two rounds, meaning the Final was over in early May. Toronto is fun to watch, too. Phil Kessel is fun, Joffrey Lupul is fun, they're quick to score goals -- and Detroit is playing great right now, they're as good as any team in the West. Jimmy Howard's really solidified their goaltending situation. At the start of the year I would never have said Detroit was a team that could win the West, but after watching them play Chicago and Vancouver, they're just as good as both of those teams. It's not a stretch now to think Detroit could come out of the West, and it would be exciting to see them face a historic rival in the Final.

4. Philadelphia vs. San Jose

I think this would be a great matchup. It would be a ton of goals from a great group of forwards on both teams. Jaromir Jagr back in the final back would be great to see. I'd love to see Joe Thornton in the Final, finally, and I'd love to see San Jose finally get the underachiever tag off its back. It'd be a gritty series, and I just think it would be a fun series to watch with the firepower the Flyers have up front and the firepower of San Jose up front. This would be a very high-scoring Final series -- just great fun to watch from start to finish.

5. Los Angeles vs. New York Rangers

I would love to see the two biggest markets in the U.S. The Rangers haven't been there since 1994, the Kings haven't been there since 1993, and both are very good teams. The Rangers right now are better than the Kings, but Darryl Sutter's got these guys playing a lot better. Talent-wise I would give the edge, strictly on talent, to the Kings -- they have a very talented lineup. Goaltending, you have to give the edge to the Rangers with Henrik Lundqvist -- but even then Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier are as good a tandem as there is in the NHL and they're playing better now than they have all season. Most of all, though, I would just love to see the top two markets in the United States get fired up about hockey.

John Tortorella would be fun for the media and Sutter's a good quote -- he tells it like it is. It would be great to see these two teams face off on the ice, but the best part might be the star power of the two cities. Can you imagine the people you'd see at the games in L.A. and the people you'd see at the games in New York? You'd get the stars of New York against the stars of L.A. all series long. And beyond the cities they play in, let's not forget that they're both good teams. The Rangers are, I think, next to Boston the best team in the East, and the Kings are a team that's going to get a lot better in the last 40 games. It would be a great show.
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Posted On Sunday, 01.15.2012 / 9:34 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

SJS @ CHI - 15:45 of the Third Period

At 15:45 of the third period in the Sharks / Blackhawks game, video upheld the referee's call on the ice that Viktor Stalberg kicked the puck into the net. No goal Chicago.

According to rule 49.2 "A goal cannot be scored by an attacking player who uses a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net."
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Posted On Sunday, 01.15.2012 / 7:23 PM

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

San Jose's Desjardins scratched in Chicago

CHICAGO – San Jose Sharks rookie center Andrew Desjardins was scratched
Sunday night at the United Center against the Chicago
Blackhawks after taking an illegal hit to the head on Saturday night
in Columbus.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan said before the game that Desjardins still
needs to undergo further testing, and that his long-term status might not be
fully determined until the team returns to San Jose on Monday.

“He’s in that stage -- that next-day stage -- where he’s got to come in
and we’ve got to re-evaluate him and get him to take his baseline
test,” McLellan said. “That’s where he is right now.”

Desjardins spoke with San Jose Mercury News reporter David Pollak
after Saturday nights’ game and said he felt fine, but McLellan warned
that, often, the symptoms of a concussion don’t fully start until the
following days after an injury occurs.

Desjardins, whom McLellan was happy with centering the Sharks’ fourth
line, was hit with a headshot by Columbus Blue Jackets rookie Dane
Byers early in the second period and didn’t return. McLellan expressed
his strong objection to the kind of hit that knocked Desjardins out of
the game and said it will be reviewed by the League for a possible
punishment -- on top of Byers’ major penalty and ejection from the game.

“I know it’s going to be reviewed,” McLellan said. “What will come out
of it? I don’t know. They have their guidelines and their protocol for
dealing with it. It’s completely out of our hands right now. Our
concern goes to our player and to making sure that we do everything we
can to make him comfortable and get him healthy.”

As for replacing Desjarding, Tommy Wingels is the answer short-term –
as he replaced Desjardins in the lineup against the Blackhawks –
getting the nod over forward Frazer McLaren. If Desjardins needs to
miss more games, McLellan will mix and match until his young center is
ready to return.

“Desi will still be a very important player for our team,” McLellan
said. “He’s really felt comfortable over the last month in his
environment here. We’ve used him on the penalty kill a lot. He’s
anchored that fourth line for us and they’ve given us good minutes on
a daily basis, so I really feel for him right now because he was just
starting to feel good about being a National Hockey League player.”
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Posted On Sunday, 01.15.2012 / 5:40 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bourque ready to make debut with Canadiens

MONTREAL -- After serving the final game of his suspension for an elbow to Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals on Saturday, newly acquired left wing Rene Bourque will make his debut with the Montreal Canadiens tonight against the New York Rangers.

Coach Randy Cunneyworth said Bourque will line up on the left of Tomas Plekanec, with Michael Blunden on the opposite wing. It could very well be the biggest linemates Plekanec has had his whole career.

Bourque watched from the press box as his new teammates dropped a 3-2 shootout to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, and Cunneyworth says he couldn't be more excited to try on his new uniform.

"What we're looking at is a guy who champing at the bit to get going," Cunneyworth said.

Bourque will slide into a spot filled Saturday by Scott Gomez in his first game back from a groin injury that cost him 21 games. Cunneyworth said Gomez will see some time at center on the fourth line in Sunday's game after playing exclusively on the wing with Plekanec on Saturday.

Peter Budaj will get just his sixth start in goal for the Canadiens, and his first since Dec. 21 when he allowed four goals in a 5-1 loss in Chicago. Cunneyworth said he had no problem relying on a cold goaltender against a team as formidable as the Rangers, who enter the night first in the overall standings.

"We have the utmost confidence in both our goaltenders," he said, adding he has leaned a bit too heavily on Carey Price of late.

Both teams played Saturday night, with the Rangers winning 3-0 in Toronto, a game coach John Tortorella felt his team "defended as well as we have all year."

Martin Biron got the shutout in that game, so Henrik Lundqvist will get the start Sunday in a building that has historically not been kind to him. Lundqvist has a career mark of 4-4-2 with a 3.86 GAA and .877 save percentage in 11 career starts in Montreal.

Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky will miss his third straight game with a shoulder injury.

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Posted On Sunday, 01.15.2012 / 5:31 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ducks improve with short passes, fewer interceptions

With the NFL playoffs in full swing Sunday it was fitting Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau used a gridiron analogy to explain the Ducks improving defense.

Anaheim didn't give up a goal in regulation the last two games – the only goal was in overtime of a 1-0 loss in Calgary – and just nine during a 4-0-1 streak, more than a goal-a-game less than a season average of 3.07 that ranks near the bottom of the NHL.

Boudreau, who took over as head coach Nov. 29 and immediately noticed giveaways through the middle of the ice were a problem, said it starts with the Anaheim forwards coming back. That allows the Ducks' defensemen to make shorter breakout passes, thus reducing risk of interception.

"We call them shares," Boudreau said. "We're bringing everybody back so you don't need to make the long passes anymore. Teams are too good now. They see it and they're all like free safeties back there, they can step up and intercept them and when you intercept them in the middle of the ice it's already a scoring position. The shorter the pass, the easier the pass, and the easier the play, the less chance of a mistake."

Boudreau said it's not surprising the buy-in from forwards improved when No.1 goalie Jonas Hiller was hurt four games ago. With backup Dan Ellis already out, Iiro Tarkki won in relief and call-up Jeff Deslauriers won his start before Hiller returned to backstop the last two games on back-to-back nights.

"It's a coincidence but it is a fact," Boudreau said. "When you're bringing up goalies you know you have to tighten up because your No.1 goalie isn't in there."

Ryan Getzlaf, who had four assists in a 5-0 win in Edmonton on Friday, said it helps at both ends.

"When you start doing the right things defensively, things start clicking offensively," he said.
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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp