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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 12:35 PM

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

Projected lineups for Senators, Devils

KANATA, Ont. -- Here are the projected lineups for Monday night’s game between the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place:

SENATORS

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

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Brian Lee

Craig Anderson
Alex Auld

Lee dresses for the third straight game while Matt Carkner is a healthy scratch.

DEVILS
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrick Elias - Dainus Zubrus
Mattias Tedenby - Travis Zajac - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Cam Janssen

Bryce SalvadorAdam Larsson
Henrik TallinderMark Fayne
Matt TaorminaKurtis Foster

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

Boulton will enter the lineup on Monday, while Tim Sestito sits as a healthy scratch. Anton Volchenkov did not practice, but did ride the stationary bike. He is out against the Sens, and Taormina will take his place.
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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 12:20 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Aittokallio to earn start in goal againt Slovakia

CALGARY -- Not surprisingly, Finnish National Junior Team coach Raimo Helminen announced that goalie Sami Aittokaillio will get the start against Slovakia on Monday in quarterfinal-round play in the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Helminen made his decision following the team's brisk morning practice at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park facility.

Aittokaillio is the tournament leader in save percentage (.987) and goals-against average (0.50) in his two victories in the tournament. Fellow Finn Christopher Gibson sports an .865 save percentage and 4.50 goals against average in two starts for the Finns.

Helminen knows his team, winner of three straight, will have to be on the top of its game to have any measure of success against the Slovaks.

"We have to be careful with them, they're a hard-working team and they look very dangerous," Helminen told NHL.com.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 11:33 AM

By Danny Briere -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Briere's 2012 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic blog

Game-day routines, final preparations kick into gear


Philadelphia Flyers forward Danny Briere will blog about his Winter Classic experience exclusively for NHL.com, from his first turns on the ice at Citizens Bank Park and the family skate, to the his thoughts the morning of the game, to a wrap-up of the entire Classic experience

As players we all have routines we go through to get ready, and we try to stick to them as closely as possible whether it's a 7 o'clock start or a 1 o'clock start.

2012 WINTER CLASSIC

Winter Classic start time moved to 3pm

NHL.com
The NHL, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, announced Monday's 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will start at 3 p.m. ET. READ MORE ›
So when the NHL announced today's game was being pushed back, most players would agree with me that moving the game from 1 to 3 was a big relief. There's so much that goes into our preparation and getting your food in the morning. When you play at 1 o'clock, you can't eat 2-3 hours before the game, so you have to get up really early to eat, so you're not coming in with a full stomach before the game. Moving the game back gives you a chance to sleep an extra hour, an hour and a half, at least. Everything in your preparation, you have more time, you're not rushed, you have that much more time to get ready for the game. We were all happy the game was pushed back a couple hours.

The real hard focus started last night, thinking about the game, thinking about different players, what you're going to do in different situations, who you're going to face, the defensemen, the goalies -- especially for me. The system, what they like to do and what you're going to see the next day. That's when it started.

This morning I woke up and went down to eat with a couple guys, and we talked about what it's going to be like, what to expect. That's all part of the preparation as well. Having the chance to chat with your teammates about what to expect gives you a different perspective on what's going to happen out there.

The ride in isn't going to be much different for me. I want to try to keep it as close as possible to what I usually do. It's going to be a quiet ride. I don't talk very much, just thinking about the game, thinking about what you're going to see, what you're going to see on the breakout, things like that. It's really going to be a hard focus again on the ride in. It's going to be very, very quiet.

For me, my routine, a lot of it is taking care of your equipment -- your sticks, your skates -- making sure everything is in place, and then you try to follow the same routine. We're all different as far as warming up, stretching. I have my own routine of stretching out, and an active stretch before the game. Then about half an hour before warm-ups I take 5-10 minutes to wind down and get into deeper thoughts about the game, and then it's just the rush of getting dressed and jumping on the ice and going.
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Posted On Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 6:29 PM

By Davis Harper -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Live from New Year's Day practices

Boyle preparing for a physical matchup

PHILADELPHIA -- Rangers center Brian Boyle was all smiles during his team's afternoon practice, showing how excited he was to compete in his first Winter Classic. Afterward, a much more subdued Boyle addressed reporters from his locker.
 
"You've seen the games we've played throughout this year thus far, even in the preseason," Boyle said. "There's some bad blood there, there's a lot of fire, there's a lot of passion there. It's going to be a lot of fun to play in, but it's for sure going to be a little chippy."
 
Boyle is no stranger to "chippy" play, particularly in this rivalry. Fifth on the team with 36 penalty minutes this season, Boyle picked up a fighting major when he got into a scuffle with Philadelphia's Tom Sestito on Dec. 23, and he was assessed a roughing minor when he and Scott Hartnell got together in the teams' first meeting, Nov. 26.
 
Putting the physicality on the backburner, Boyle said how much he was enjoying the unique opportunity that comes with playing in the Winter Classic -- the family skate. As family members and friends of the players and coaches poured onto the ice for the post-practice skate, Boyle invited as many people as he could to join him.
 
"I'm going to hang out with my family and all that, have dinner, go to bed thinking about the game and come to the rink focused," Boyle said when asked about his preparation.
 
As for the crowd, Boyle said he was prepared to face whatever the rowdy, sold-out Philadelphia crowd gives to him. When asked his opinion on the average Flyer fan, Boyle gave a slight grin.
 
"Passionate," Boyle said. "That's all. I'm done there."
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Posted On Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 6:28 PM

By Mike Rupp -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Rupp's 2012 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic blog

Rupp: I'm so lucky to do this again

Rangers forward Mike Rupp is less than 24 hours away from playing in his second straight Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Rupp suited up for the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field last year, and is scheduled to skate for the New York Rangers against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday at Citizens Bank Park.

Rupp agreed to offer his opinions in blog form leading up to the main event Monday.


PHILADELPHIA -- It is fantastic to be back here at another Winter Classic. To think that most guys don't even get to experience one of these, and I'm lucky enough to experience two of them in back-to-back years; it is really just amazing.

2012 WINTER CLASSIC

Winter Classic start time moved to 3pm

NHL.com
The NHL, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, announced Monday's 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will start at 3 p.m. ET. READ MORE ›
The thing that I remember the most and the best thing about last year's game in Pittsburgh was walking out onto the field -- or ice, I guess -- for warm-ups and experiencing that. It was just so cool to look up and see close to 70,000 people there to watch a hockey game.

Then there were the moments after hard-fought periods when you hear the fans as you're coming out for the second or third -- they are the ones that I really remember most and cherish.

Walking out onto the field here today, yeah, it's cool. You look around and see the stadium, but tomorrow is the pinnacle of it.

What was interesting was last year they had us walking out for the game side-by-side with the Capitals. We were basically shoulder-to-shoulder and that was just so awkward. It was especially awkward in the tunnel as we were waiting for our cue to start walking onto the field.

They didn't tell us that we were going to be doing that last year, and all of a sudden there the Capitals walked up alongside of us. I remember thinking how strange it was. All of our routines that we do to get each other pumped up, they all were basically forgotten about and it just went quiet for a few moments. Everyone was just kind of standing there. It was very awkward.

There was that uncomfortable feeling in the air, so much tension; so we just started chirping each other, saying things like, 'Let's get all over these idiots,' just to break the ice.

But you know what? It was neat the way they did it. I doubt they'll do it that way this year since we can go out in our separate dugouts.

As I think about the game now, with less than 24 hours left before puck drop, I remember what happened last year and how it felt to lose.

It felt like we just got eliminated from the playoffs. You're sitting there thinking how it's only two points, and you keep telling yourself that leading up to the game, but there is also that Catch-22 because it's such a big game and you know so many people are watching it.

Then again, two points in this League are so huge, so we couldn't let it carry on and carry us into a funk.

The two points up for grabs tomorrow could be the difference in a top-four seed, an Atlantic Division title, or maybe even being in or out of the playoffs altogether. It's important to get two points tomorrow.
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Posted On Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 6:03 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Live from New Year's Day practices

Bryzgalov shows off his thermos


PHILADELPHIA -- Ilya Bryzgalov was the center of attention today at Citizens Bank Park when he informed the national media covering the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic that he would be the backup in Monday's game and Sergei Bobrovsky would get the start.

"I have great news and even better news," said Bryzgalov following the team's morning practice. "OK, great news is I'm not playing (Monday), and better news is we have a chance to win the game (Monday)."

The news wasn't so great to coach Peter Laviolette, who told the media a short while later that he had yet to talk to his goalies and wasn't ready to reveal who his starter would be. The team confirmed about 5 p.m. that it would be Bobrovsky.

When asked what he would do as the backup, Bryzgalov said, "Make sure I don't forget my thermos with some nice tea and enjoy the bench."

Then, about 5:30 p.m., Bryzgalov unveiled his latest piece of Winter Classic equipment -- his thermos.

It's tough to tell from the picture if it was a humongous big thermos. But I'm sure the tea will be fantastic.

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

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Posted On Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 5:56 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Live from New Year's Day practices

McDonagh skips practice with flu, but will play Classic

PHILADELPHIA -- Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh gave fans a scare during what was supposed to be a fun outdoor practice at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday.

About 10 minutes after the Rangers took the ice, McDonagh left with an equipment manager and returned to the locker room. But it was later reported that he was dealing with flu-like symptoms.

Rangers coach John Tortorella said after practice that McDonagh would be available Monday to face the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).

The Rangers have been dealing with injuries to their blueliners throughout the first half of the season. Marc Staal has missed the entire season with a concussion, Michael Sauer has missed almost a month with a concussion, and Steve Eminger is out two months after separating his shoulder.

The loss of McDonagh, who has made the transition seamlessly into Staal's spot on the top defense pairing with Dan Girardi, might have been too much to bear. Tortorella said the reason why the 22-year-old has performed so well this season is his short memory.

"I always say about Mac, he makes mistakes during the game," Tortorella said. "Everybody does. He makes some doozies, too. But when he does, it doesn't affect him the next shift. It doesn't take him two periods, two games, to get over it. He responds right away, and that's a great trait in that position, because the mistakes are so much more magnified playing defense. He's handled himself very well."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 4:58 PM

By Danny Briere -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Briere's 2012 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic blog

Classic practice day delivers 'unbelievable feeling'

Philadelphia Flyers forward Danny Briere is blogging about his Winter Classic experience exclusively for NHL.com. From his first turns on the ice at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday, through the family skate, to the his thoughts the morning of the game, to a wrap-up of the entire Classic experience, Briere will deliver his thoughts directly to NHL.com readers.

When I saw the layout at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, one of the things I really wanted to see was how the locker room would look with our gear in there, and to be in the Phillies' locker room and see our names and gear hanging up that was a cool feeling.

2012 WINTER CLASSIC

Winter Classic start time moved to 3pm

NHL.com
The NHL, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, announced Monday's 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will start at 3 p.m. ET. READ MORE ›
Walking into the ballpark was a great feeling, as well. Walking around, looking at all the stands, they were still empty, but that's what I can't wait to see tomorrow, with them filled. That was an unbelievable feeling.

Being on the ice, that was nice. Just testing the ice to get ready for tomorrow's game, getting a feel for it -- just looking up in the sky, it's almost magical. When you look above you and there's no roof over your head, that was really magic. I think that's the best word. It brings you back to your childhood playing outside. It's a really, really cool feeling.

The family skate, I remember in Boston was the highlight of my week. I made sure I really enjoyed it today and soaked it all in today.

I had my three sons, my dad and other friends and family down, but the real highlight today for me was having the chance to skate around with my little nephew, Zaac, my sister's boy, who's 2 years old. That was probably my highlight, to see his eyes looking everywhere. Having the chance to go on the ice, his smile, that made it all worth it right there.

Also, I got to see Claude Giroux's sister get engaged. That was a pretty cool moment, as well. To do it on the ice, not too many people will be able to say they did something like that. That was really cool to see as well. It's original. That was nice.

Today was a fun day. Today was the day where we enjoyed it, we were kind of joking around, just having a blast, relaxing. I'm planning on tonight after dinner, when I start to wind down for the night, that's when there's going to be a shift in focus, where it's going to go from fun to a focus on tomorrow's game.

It's a different day. We wake up, get a quick bite to eat and then it's game time at 1 p.m. The preparation is really going to start, the hard focus, the more serious focus is going to start tonight.
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Posted On Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 4:18 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Live from New Year's Day practices

Talbot, a Classic vet, doles out advice

Having played outdoors last year in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia Flyers forward Max Talbot was doling out some advice to his teammates Sunday morning before they hit the ice at Citizens Bank Park for practice ahead of the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic.

Talbot knows how impressive it can be for players to walk out to the rink in the middle of a huge stadium for the first time, and how that might impact the way certain players approach practice.

Except Sunday’s practice was more important than most, and Talbot wanted to be sure his teammates took full advantage of it.

“This morning I went to see a couple of the rookies and the young players and also my linemates,” Talbot said. “I just wanted them to visualize the stands full and that there was another team on the ice, not to just come and practice for the fun of it. We won’t have a morning skate tomorrow, and it’s different. It’s tough to get your bearings and the game starts quickly so we need to be ready. It’s two big points.”

Talbot was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins for last year’s game against the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field, and there were many differences he noticed from one year to the next.

“It’s a bit different going from a football stadium to a baseball stadium, it seems like the seats are a lot closer,” he said. “But I really liked the ice conditions today. It was better than last year.”
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Posted On Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 4:14 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - Live from New Year's Day practices

Classic a family affair for Couturier

Sean Couturier may be the youngest player on the Philadelphia Flyers, but it is that very fact that gives him a good dose of experience when it comes to playing in the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic.

“I’m a young guy, so three or four years ago I was still playing outside with my friends,” said Couturier, who just turned 19 last month. “So this is pretty cool.”

It is so cool, in fact, that Couturier has decided to share the moment with as many of his loved ones as possible. His parents will be part of a contingent of 13 members of his family and friends who are in Philadelphia to watch Monday’s main event.

“It’s going to be very special for them,” Couturier said. “It’s not every day you get to play outside. So I think they’re going to appreciate the moment.”

Couturier returned to action Thursday night for the Flyers, notching a pair of assists in Philadelphia’s 4-2 win in Pittsburgh. He missed four games recovering from an ear problem suffered in a 6-0 loss to Boston on Dec. 17 when Couturier was hit behind the ear by a shot.

He said the ear felt like it was completely blocked when it was at its worst, but that his hearing is practically fully returned now.
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— Jordan Eberle on taking his game and the Edmonton Oilers to the next level