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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 4:40 PM

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

Goal support (or lack thereof) no concern to Quick

VANCOUVER -- Jonathan Quick's nose started bleeding during the national anthem before the Kings' game in Edmonton Sunday. It's one of the few times all season he's been leaky.

"Out of respect for the anthem you don't skate over to the bench right when it happens," Quick, who played the first period with gauze stuffed up his nose and then changed out of the blood-stained jersey at the intermission, said after the morning skate Tuesday in Vancouver. "You just kind of try not to leak too much during the anthem."

Quick, who blamed dry weather for the blood, said the gauze didn't bug him.

Not much has this season.

Quick is already a worthy All-Star selection, and a strong midseason Vezina Trophy candidate in just his fifth NHL season. Imagine if he had more offensive support.

As impressive as Quick's overall statistics look -- he leads the League in shutouts with six, and is fifth in save percentage at .933 and third in goals-against average at 1.95 -- his record would undoubtedly be a lot better than 19-11-8 if the Kings weren't also the lowest-scoring team in the NHL with a 2.15 goals-per-game average. 

Quick's physical tools have always been as obvious as the explosive cross-crease pushes and full-split saves that turn up on highlight reels around the League. But the fact he isn't bothered by the lack of support -- including a total of just 14 goals scored in his 11 regulation defeats -- says a lot about his mental development.

"Some goaltenders might go into every game thinking, 'I have to make 35, 40 saves to win,'" Kings forward Jarret Stoll said. "I don't think he even thinks about us scoring or not scoring. It's just the way he is. I know for a fact he doesn't think that way."

It's not an easy approach to achieve for some goalies. Almost all will tell you they can't afford to think about it, but getting to a point where they don't can be a process.

"Absolutely," Quick said. "Maybe a guy in their first or second year may think about it a little bit more than some guys in their 10th year, and that's just the natural progression of being a goalie in this League and just learning the game a little bit more."

Like a PGA Tour player talking about taking it one-shot-at-a-time and trying not to think too far ahead or about their score, it all starts with the first save for Quick.

"You can't go in thinking about it," he said. "You just go in trying to make the first save and then you worry about making the second save. That's personally how I prepare for each game. Whatever the score is, you just have to make the next save. If you let it get to you, maybe it could, but I feel like your job is you just gotta stop the puck whether you are up 5-0 or down 5-0, just make the next save. You have to look at it as a challenge."

It's one the Kings, who are 7-1-5 since Darryl Sutter took over as head coach, are hoping to make less challenging. They scored a whopping 13 goals over three games before losing 2-1 in overtime against the Oilers on Sunday. Not that Quick noticed.

"He's been the man for us, especially this year the way the scoring is going," Stoll said. "Hopefully he can keep it going. Hopefully we can help him out a little bit more."

As for Sutter, who got many similar performances from Miikka Kiprusoff behind a goal-challenged Flames team during his time in Calgary, he wasn't overly impressed.

"I wouldn't call it a challenge, I didn't know the best goalies in the NHL were supposed to give up more than two goals a game," said Sutter, rightly pointing out the Kings don't give up a lot of great chances. "I'm not a goalie and I've never been. I couldn't tell you. There are 10 guys that are aces in this League and that's what they do, right?"

Which in its own way says a lot about how far Quick has come.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 4:06 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Brassard beginning to turn his season around

COLUMBUS -- About a month ago, this was looking like a lost season for Columbus center Derick Brassard.

The 24-year-old had only 5 points in his first 24 games. There were nights when he watched his Blue Jackets teammates as a healthy scratch. His agent, Allan Walsh, was angry with how the organization was utilizing a guy who was the No. 6 pick in the 2006 Entry Draft and once considered a cornerstone in the team's quest to find consistent success.

Well, it was apparently too soon to write off the 2011-12 campaign for Brassard. He's got 9 points in his past 12 games, and now that he's back centering the team's top line, Brassard has a chance to finish strong and provide some hope for Blue Jackets fans waiting for him to become a consistent top-six forward.

"I'm just having fun and enjoying being at the rink," Brassard said. "I've just had the chance to play more minutes, on the power play especially. I've just tried not to worry about anything and I'm not thinking -- just react. That's been the biggest thing."

Brassard's ascension to the top line coincided with Jeff Carter being lost to a separated shoulder. It was another injury in a season of bad luck and bad results for the Blue Jackets.

If Brassard can continue to produce the way he has the past month, there could something of a silver lining from Carter's injury. Columbus got off to a terrible start this season, and previous coach Scott Arniel was constantly shuffling his lines around in search of the right combinations.

"We have a lot of guys who can play center, and I've been all over the place, but it is good to be back with Rick [Nash] and Vinny [Prospal]," Brassard said. "They are two great players and I love to play with those two guys. I enjoy the challenge of playing against some top players, too. Just to be on the ice with those guys -- they create so much offensively, it is really fun."

For Brassard moving forward, the search for consistency continues. He's been close to fulfilling his vast potential before.

He led all rookies in scoring when he went down with an injury in the 2008-09 season. After a rough 2009-10, Brassard responded with 17 goals and 47 points last season. There have been plenty of playoff teams that would be happy with that from their No. 2 center.

Maybe that is where Brassard eventually settles in, especially given the presence of Carter and 19-year-old Ryan Johansen. One of those three guys can probably play on the wing to accommodate everyone in the top six -- especially if their play warrants it.

"He's been very good over the last two games," interim coach Todd Richards said. "It has been his play without the puck is where he's been really good. He's been battling and competing.

"This will be another great challenge for him tonight, and the question I have for him is can he continue to play like this, game in and game out? There is that initial push, but will he be able to do the things he did the other night every night?"
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 3:34 PM

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

Canucks home for a rest, but can't afford to relax

VANCOUVER -- The Canucks are happy to be home after a four-game road trip, and eager for a more relaxed stretch of their schedule after playing 22 games over 46 days, including two separate swings through the Eastern Conference since the start of December.

"It was tough and we were on the road a lot during that stretch, so that takes a toll," Daniel Sedin said. "We're used to that, so to some degree we're not as affected by it, but at the same time when you get home and get a few days off, I think you realize you need it."

Vancouver now hopes to recharge during a stretch that, starting with Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings, will see them play just three games -- all at home -- over the next two weeks, including the five-day NHL All-Star break next weekend.

"I think it will be good for us to get some home time and some time away from hockey," continued Daniel, who, along with twin brother Henrik, defenseman Alexander Edler and rookie Cody Hodgson, will have the break shortened by participating in the All-Star Game in Ottawa. "It's been really hectic pretty much December until now. It will be good for us to get some practice and even some time in the gym, too, so it will be good."

But the players stressed a relaxed schedule didn't mean they could relax, a point proven by Sunday's lackluster, mistake-filled loss to Anaheim.

"We're obviously going to get some days off here, but when we practice we have to be sharp and when we're playing we have to make sure we're not coming out sloppy," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "It's a fine balance, but it's something you need over the course of an 82-game schedule."

As for claims the Canucks have been guilty of overlooking lesser opponents since an emotionally-charged Stanley Cup Final rematch with Boston back on Jan. 7, they won't have that excuse with a rematch of the Western Conference Finals against San Jose next up Saturday. And games against archrival Chicago and Detroit right after the All-Star break should also have their full attention.

"There are important games in the next couple weeks that we have to take care of," goalie Roberto Luongo said. "It gives us a chance to work on some stuff in practice. We always want to keep improving as a team and there's no better time to work on things."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 3:33 PM

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

Wild careful to not do too much

PHILADELPHIA -- How much do the Minnesota Wild miss Mikko Koivu?

As Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher told NHL.com, "Clearly he's an irreplaceable player. There's nobody on your farm team that can come up and replace his role or the job that he does."

Koivu suffered an upper-body injury early in Saturday's game against the St. Louis Blues and is considered week-to-week. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting the injury, to Koivu's shoulder, will sideline him about a month.

Koivu has led the team in scoring in three straight seasons, and his 33 points in 41 games is tops on the team this season.

And with just two wins in their last 15 games (2-10-3) and in the midst of a stretch where they play eight of 10 on the road, the Wild are preaching what Fletcher said -- no one can replace Koivu, so don't try to.

"We can't worry about anything other than just preparing to play our 'A' game," center Matt Cullen told NHL.com. "Every individual guy has to bring his 'A' game and that's it. Can't focus on picking up the slack or doing something for somebody else -- you have to do your job and you've got to do it your best.

"We don't need every guy to go out and score every time he touches the puck. … You have to go out and do your job, play the game the way you play it."

Cullen said he believes the key to working through the team's issues and missing players right now is to prepare like it's a playoff game.

"At this point in the season you get into these big games, especially when you're down like that, everybody needs to prepare as if it's playoff-style hockey," he said. "That's how we play our best, when we're all focused on playing playoff-style hockey."

Teammate Devin Setoguchi said the team has to adopt a foxhole mentality -- it's everybody in the bunker together, and no one is going to come in from the outside to help them.

"We've got a lot of adversity that we've overcome this season and we're still in a (playoff) position here," he told NHL.com. "We need to take it upon ourselves to maybe dig a little deeper, work a little harder when you're missing guys. If we're going to win games it's not going to be because of a lack of work ethic, sticking with the plan and the process."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 3:28 PM

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

Projected lineups for Canucks, Kings

Here's how the lineups could look when the Vancouver Canucks host the Los Angeles Kings tonight at Rogers Arena:

CANUCKS
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault had his forward lines in a blender by the end of Sunday's lackluster 4-2 loss to Anaheim, a game in which his team produced two even-strength shots the first 35 minutes. Expect them to be back the way they started against the Kings Tuesday.

That includes the reunited second unit -- the American Express line -- of David Booth, Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins, whose second-unit power play assist against the Ducks was his first point in eight games since coming back from a second blood infection.

"In Chris' case he'd be the first one to tell you that energy-wise, since his second infection, he doesn't feel quite the same," said Vigneault, adding the pills Higgins continues to take daily are taxing his energy levels. "We've got to work with him here and try to get him back to that same energy level where he was one of our most effective players."

Vigneault said it will also take time for Booth, who missed almost six weeks with a knee injury, to get back to top speed, but saw enough promise from the line before Booth's early December injury to give the trio an extended look together. The rest of the lines are also expected to remain intact:

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - David Booth
Mason Raymond - Cody Hodgson - Jannik Hansen
Manny Malhotra - Maxim Lapierre - Dale Weise

Things will be different on the back end, where it's clear the Canucks miss the calming presence of veteran Sami Salo, who will miss a fifth game Tuesday after suffering a concussion when flipped by a low hit from Boston's Brad Marchand back on Jan. 7.

Vigneault said Sunday that Keith Ballard, Andrew Alberts and Alexander Sulzer are all competing for two spots on the third pairing -- and confirmed Tuesday morning that Alberts will come out of the press box to replace Sulzer in the lineup against LA after Ballard sat out the previous game in St. Louis -- but after a minus-3 outing for Aaron Rome, the bigger problem is a fit alongside Salo's usual partner, Alexander Edler.

As for Salo, he still hasn't skated since the contentious hit, which cost Marchand a five-game suspension, but Vigneault said he talked to him Tuesday and "he is feeling much better and starting the concussion protocols so everything is on the right track."

There was no timeline for a return, but also little question the coach would like to see Salo back soon: Vancouver is 3-5-0 without the oft-injured 37-year-old Finn, and 25-10-3 with him, but more telling are the defensive scrambles and miscues without him.

"We've all said this many, many times -- and the proof is in the stats -- that whenever Sami is in the lineup, we seem to be such a composed team," Vigneault said. "Our breakouts seem to be cleaner and quicker. He's a very important part of our mix. When he's in there, he makes a huge difference to our group."

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler - Aaron Rome
Andrew Alberts - Keith Ballard

Roberto Luongo is back in goal for a third straight game. Cory Schneider backs him up.

KINGS
Leading-scorer and captain Anze Kopitar was given a rare day off Monday in Vancouver, which always raises eyebrows given his workhorse, former ironman status with the Kings. But after taking a beating in back-to-back games against Calgary and Edmonton the previous two nights, it was understandable and easy to buy the "maintenance day" explanation offered up by assistant coach John Stevens, who ran things after head coach Daryl Sutter stayed an extra day in Alberta to attend to some to some family matters.

Sure enough Kopitar and Sutter were back on the ice Tuesday to prepare for the Canucks, so the roster is expected to remain intact as Los Angeles tries to go 2-0-1 as they wrap up a tough Western Canadian road trip with their third game in four nights:

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 Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 3:22 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Injured Eberle could return ahead of schedule

COLUMBUS -- After Jordan Eberle fell awkwardly Dec. 7 in Dallas, the timetable for his return from a right knee injury was two-to-three weeks.

Eberle skated with the Edmonton Oilers at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday morning, and could return slightly ahead of schedule. He won't play here against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the second-year wing and team's leading scorer did not rule a return Thursday night in St. Louis against the Blues.

"I definitely feel ahead of schedule. I've taken care of it and rehabbed it and I feel good," Eberle said.

Not initially expected to join the Oilers on this road trip, Eberle skated with the team for the first time Tuesday since the injury, which he said was a strain of one of the ligaments in the back of his knee. The Oilers play at home Saturday against rival Calgary, and that would be exactly two weeks after the injury.

Eberle may be healing quickly, but that also doesn't mean the Oilers are going to forego being cautious.

"He's close," coach Tom Renney said. "You look at his age and how long you hope he's going to be an Oiler first and foremost. From an unselfish prospective, you have to take care of the long run here. That being said, we'll make sure he's really ready to play."

Added Eberle: "It is very tough. One thing I've always noticed, especially with guys coming back from injury, is you don't really have 50 percent. You just always want to go at 100 and you don't want to hold yourself back. At times I want to go 100 percent but sometimes I feel it a little bit. Today was probably the best I've felt."

Eberle has thrived in his second season, and leads Edmonton with 43 points. He has fit well on the team's top line alongside No. 1 picks Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who is also out with a shoulder injury.

The 21-year-old could be a candidate to replace one of the injured players at the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game if he does return and play a couple of games before any replacements are named. For now, he needs to put his knee through a full practice and then see if he can return Thursday or Saturday.

"It felt good. It is the excitement level of it -- you're back on the road, back with the team," Eberle said. "You get to shoot on goalies -- the whole nine yards. ... I haven't really been able to get into a contact situation in practice. Once I kind of get that in, I'll be the most ready to play."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 3:12 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Malkin, Neal among leaders as Pens' top line thrives

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins' top line of Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal has produced more than 40 percent of their goals this season, yet Neal says they can still play better together.
 
Really.
 
Leading the Penguins out of the worst slump of coach Dan Bylsma's nearly three-year tenure, Malkin and Neal combined for seven goals -- four from Malkin -- during a two-game Florida swing last weekend. Pittsburgh beat Florida 4-1 on Friday to end a six-game slide, then added a 6-3 win at Tampa Bay on Sunday as Malkin scored three times and Neal added two goals.
 
Abandoning chilly Pittsburgh for sunny Florida in January is almost always a pleasant experience, but perhaps never before have the Penguins enjoyed such a mid-winter getaway. It was exactly what they needed to regain some of the confidence and momentum they had while winning four in a row immediately before the streak began.
 
The two wins also helped them shake off their four consecutive losses at Consol Energy Center, where they returned to play Carolina on Tuesday night.
 
As Neal said of going on the road, "Sometimes maybe that's the best thing for you."
 
"Those two wins were definitely nice," goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "It's good to relax a little bit. That was a tough stretch and it's good to finally be out of it. We're looking forward to keeping it going."
 
It will be much easier for the Penguins to do so if they continue getting Malkin and Neal on the score sheet. Of the Penguins' 134 goals, Neal (24), Malkin (21) and Kunitz (13) have 58 -- or 42 percent of the scoring load. Steve Sullivan, who's also played on the line at times, has 8 goals.
 
Malkin is only 25, but he's already tied for fourth in Penguins' history (with Rick Kehoe and Alex Kovalev) with eight career hat tricks, or one more than injured teammate Sidney Crosby. Mario Lemieux is the Penguins' leader with 40.
 
Malkin enjoyed his second five-point game of the season Sunday, scoring all three of his goals in the third period. And the Kunitz-Malkin-Neal line combined for five goals and seven points.
 
The more that Neal plays alongside Malkin, the better they seem to play together. They were first paired when the Dallas Stars traded Neal to Pittsburgh 11 months ago, and they've been together much of the time since.
 
"Even when I've got my back to him, I kind of know where he's going," Neal said. "You just try to read what he's going to do. He always likes coming through the middle with speed, so as long as you put it in his area, he's going to pick up the puck. Just little things like that. … And I'll get in position to shoot, and he'll give it right back to me."
 
Despite recently going six games without a goal, Malkin has scored in four of his last five. With 51 points, Malkin went into Tuesday's NHL schedule only one point behind NHL leader Henrik Sedin of Vancouver -- despite playing in nine fewer games than Sedin.
 
Neal is tied with Jonathan Toews of Chicago and Phil Kessel of Toronto with 24 goals, six behind NHL leader Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay.
 
"I think we're trying to find our stride here and become a good line," Neal said. "He (Malkin) obviously likes having the puck. Hopefully I draw a few guys off him and then he gets some more space. He's so skilled with the puck, so strong, he's a fun guy to play with."
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 3:07 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Vincour in for injury-riddled Stars

FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Stars will continue to be without their top two centers, Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro, as they host the Detroit Red Wings tonight at American Airlines Center. But they will get back another injured player, as rookie forward Tomas Vincour, who has missed the last 14 games with a knee injury, will see his first action since Dec. 15, 2011.

"It feels good," Vincour said of his knee. "I'm ready to go tonight and focus on helping us get two points tonight. Whatever coach (Glen Gulutzan)wants me to do, I'm going to do the best for the team so we can start winning games again."

In 14 games this season, Vincour has a goal and 2 assists. He was activated from injured reserve Tuesday; as a result, Dallas sent fellow forward Francis Wathier, who had been called up Sunday and played in Monday's loss at St. Louis, back to the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.

Vincour will see minutes on the fourth line, most likely alongside Toby Petersen and Jake Dowell. He figures to log six or seven minutes in his return, according to Gulutzan.

Dallas heads into tonight's contest on a two-game losing streak and the Stars, who lost 1-0 at St. Louis on Monday, are 0-6-0 in the second half of back-to-backs this season. They will face a Red Wings club that is on a three-game win streak and won a franchise-record 15th straight game at Joe Louis Arena on Monday, a 5-0 blanking of Buffalo.

"It's going to be a tough one," Gulutzan said. "We worked real hard last night and didn't come up with a win. Tonight will be a tough game against a real good opponent. We're playing top-five teams in the League right now. We're going to have to work."

Stars starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen was stellar against the Blues on Monday, stopping 31 of 32 shots while taking a tough loss. However, Gulutzan will go with rookie Richard Bachman tonight against the Wings.

If Dallas is to break its two-game skid, Gulutzan knows they only have to adhere to a simple formula.

"We have to work," he said. "There's no secret. If we come in with the attitude that it's not going to be a tough game, we'll be in trouble. We've got to dig in, work, win the blue lines and play good defense."

So far this season, Dallas is 0-2-0 against Detroit, having lost to the Red Wings at home and on the road. These teams met just two weeks ago in Dallas, and it was Detroit who came away with a 5-4 win thanks to three-point nights from Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg.

These teams will meet once more in the regular season, on Feb. 14 in Detroit.

Here are the projected lineups for tonight’s game:
       
RED WINGS
Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Danny Cleary
Cory Emmerton - Justin Abdelkader - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jakub Kindl - Jonathan Ericsson

Ty Conklin will start in goal, with Jimmy Howard serving as the backup.

Forward Jan Mursak will be a healthy scratch, joining injured Wings Mike Commodore (foot) and Patrick Eaves (jaw) on the sideline

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

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

Defenseman Adam Pardy will be a healthy scratch; also sitting out are injured forwards Jamie Benn (appendectomy) and Mike Ribeiro (knee), as well as defenseman Philip Larsen (head).
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 2:42 PM

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

Avoiding the trap

PHILADELPHIA -- Danny Briere said one thing he's noticed in his career is the hardest game is the first one at home following a road trip.

That's where the Flyers are tonight, facing a Minnesota Wild team that could be the perfect opponent.

The Wild are struggling (2-10-3 in their last 15) and are missing their team captain and All-Star, Mikko Koivu. However, facing a desperate team could be just what the Flyers need tonight.

"It could be a dangerous game if we're not ready," said Flyers center Danny Briere. "We can't be looking at the other team … and think that it's going to be easier because they're struggling. We have to come out strong. I'm sure they're not happy with their play lately and they want to turn things around. For us, it's important not to look at them but to make sure we come out of the gate with a bang today and put our own tempo in instead of letting them set the tempo of the game."

The Flyers have played just nine of their last 29 games in Philadelphia, but tonight starts a stretch of nine of their next 12 at home. They're just 10-6-2 at home this season, tying them for the second-fewest home wins in the Eastern Conference.

"It's a dangerous opponent because they're playing with a lot of desperation," defenseman Matt Carle told NHL.com. "The season is only halfway over, but you start looking at the standings and try to put yourself in a playoff position and they're battling right now in that 8-9-10 spot. They've had a tough stretch. You never know, one game, a bounce here or there can turn a team around and start building some momentum. Hopefully we can allow them not to pick up any of that tonight."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 2:17 PM

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

Another new-look lineup for Wild

PHILADELPHIA -- Yet another injury has again forced Wild coach Mike Yeo to juggle his lines.

Team captain and All-Star center Mikko Koivu is week-to-week with a shoulder injury -- reportedly a shoulder injury that could sideline him a month -- meaning Matt Cullen slides into the No. 1 center spot, and Carson McMillan, called up from AHL Houston, makes his season debut.

"I think we're used to that at this point," Yeo said of the constantly changing lineup. "The one thing that's going to be really important for us, with Mikko being out, we didn't handle it too well last time. We have to prove to ourselves that we can do a better job of that this time, continue to go out and play our game and not get taken away from our individual roles and the responsibilities we have as players, just go out and concentrate on what you have to do within the team concept."

McMillan, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward, has 3 goals and 9 points in 29 AHL games. Yeo said it's his size and toughness that earned him his first trip to the NHL this season.

"We're coming into Philadelphia and expect a physical game," said Yeo. "They've got a lot of big, strong, skilled forwards. We're just looking for a guy that's going to go out there and compete and play the game with an edge. Anything that we're going to have to do tonight, we're going to have to earn it and we're going to have to do it the hard way and he's a guy that can play that kind of game."

We had the Flyers' lines earlier, and here's what the Wild lineup probably will look like when they hit the ice tonight.

Dany Heatley - Matt Cullen - Nick Johnson
Darroll Powe - Kyle Brodziak - Devin Setoguchi
Cal Clutterbuck - Warren Peters - David McIntyre
Brad Staubitz - Carson McMillan - Casey Wellman

Marek Zidlicky - Nick Schultz
Mike Lundin - Justin Falk
Clayton Stoner - Jared Spurgeon

Josh Harding will start in goal for the fourth straight game, with Niklas Backstrom the backup.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Quote of the Day

Right now I'm just happy to be back and get through this season and make sure I do my job. I've never had an issue with having to prove myself again and I'll try to do it again. We'll see where it takes me.

— Defenseman Torey Krug on signing with the Boston Bruins
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