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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 1:04 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Bozak game-time decision for Leafs

WINNIPEG – The Toronto Maple Leafs arrive in Winnipeg to meet the Jets on Saturday night while lugging a two-game losing streak in the midst of an inconsistent December.

The Leafs blew a two-goal lead in the third period Thursday night at Carolina and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Hurricanes. The Leafs have a 4-5-3 December mark and are in a four-way tie with the Jets, New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators at 41 points in the Eastern Conference.

The Leafs did not hold a morning skate, but center Tyler Bozak fell awkwardly in the Leafs’ afternoon practice Friday at the MTS Centre and will be a game-time decision on Toronto’s top line. Colby Armstrong, Mike Brown, Mike Komisarek and John-Michael Liles are all out with injuries. Philippe Dupuis and Matthew Lombardi could be possibilities for the Leafs.

James Reimer will start in net for the Leafs in front of family and friends in his native Manitoba. Reimer’s start will be his sixth consecutive nod and 11th in the Leafs’ 13 games this month.

After Saturday night, the Leafs return home for four-game homestand that begins this coming Tuesday against Tampa Bay. The Leafs begin the new calendar year with nine of 10 games at the Air Canada Centre.

Here are the projected lines and pairings for Toronto:

MAPLE LEAFS

Joffrey LupulTyler BozakPhil Kessel
Clarke MacArthurTim ConnollyNazem Kadri
Nikolai KuleminMikhail GrabovskiMatt Frattin
Darryl BoyceDavid SteckelJoey Crabb

Dion PhaneufCarl Gunnarsson
Luke SchennKeith Aulie
Cody FransonJake Gardiner

James Reimer
Jonas Gustavsson
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 12:58 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Coyotes-Wild probable lineups

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Traditionally, Minnesota does not skate before 5 p.m. starts, but its injured guys did go through quite a workout Saturday morning. Guys on the ice included forwards Devin Setoguchi (lower body) and Casey Wellman (upper body) and defenseman Clayton Stoner (lower body). Mike Lundin also skated Saturday morning, but he is not injured and is expected to be a healthy scratch Saturday.

Defenseman Jared Spurgeon skated for a bit as he recovers from his lower-body injury, but he left the ice well before the others.

The Wild have recalled forward Jed Ortmeyer from Houston (American Hockey League) and he should be available for Saturday night's game. Expect Colton Gillies to replace Jarod Palmer in the lineup Saturday after Palmer was injured in Thursday's 4-3 win against Edmonton.

For Phoenix, only defensemen Derek Morris and David Rundblad were skaters on the ice Saturday morning. Morris' presence could indicate the return of veteran Adrian Aucoin to the lineup, who is trying to return from a lower-body injury.

Jason LaBarbera also skated, meaning Curtis McElhinney could be in line to start in goal this evening. If he does, it will be his first start for Phoenix this season and just his second game action after entering for LaBarbera in the third period Monday night in a 4-3 loss to Los Angeles.

PROJECTED LINEUP

WILD

Cal Clutterbuck - Mikko Koivu - Dany Heatley
Pierre-Marc Bouchard - Matt Cullen - Nick Johnson
Darroll Powe - Kyle Brodziak - Colton Gillies
Matt Kassian - Warren Peters - Brad Staubitz

Nick Schultz - Justin Falk
Marco Scandella - Greg Zanon
Marek Zidlicky - Nate Prosser

Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding
 

COYOTES

Ray Whitney - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Lauri Korpikoski - Andy Miele - Radim Vrbata
Raffi Torres - Cal O'Reilly - Mikkel Boedker
Taylor Pratt - Kyle Chipchura - Paul Bissonnette
 
Keith Yandle - Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Rostslav Klesla - David Schlemko
 
Curtis McElhinney
Jason LaBarbera
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 12:30 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Broten puts hunting on hold for Classic

PHILADELPHIA -- Before Paul Broten ever joined the New York Rangers in 1989, he grew up in Roseau, Minn. If you're not familiar with that territory, it's a cold-weather area in a state that's nicknamed The Land of 10,000 Lakes.

So it would only be normal to assume Broten spent his boyhood years skating outside on frozen bodies of water, honing the game that would allow him to spend seven years in the NHL and four with the Rangers.

Well, you'd be wrong.

"You know what, I didn't," Broten said Friday, as he met with media on the eve of 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game in which he'll take part. "I grew up in northern Minnesota. We didn't have a lot of outdoor rinks. We had three indoor rinks. We had 2,500 people who skated all the time. I played a lot of road hockey. But the myth of skating outdoors in northern Minnesota was…never did it a lot. We always had indoor rinks and did that all the time."

Broten will get to skate outside Saturday against the Flyers alumni at Citizens Bank Park. While that will be a rarity for the 46-year-old, he talked about what is commonplace for a native of Minnesota -- ice fishing and sitting in a tree for hours while out hunting.

"That's part of Minnesota -- if you don't ice fish and you don't sit in a tree and wait for a deer, you're not a true Minnesotan," Broten said. "I'm not going to say it's a lot of fun, but it's something you have to do. I do a lot of it, and I enjoy it. It's just something that gets you out of the house I guess."

Broten told his favorite story from the Flyers-Rangers rivalry, when he scored a big goal that angered the Flyers' goaltender.

"The rivalry way so intense," Broten said. "I'll never forget the time (Darren Turcotte) slid the puck over to me and I scored against Ron Hextall. I told him, 'Hey, it's not a guessing game.' He was so mad that he swung his stick and broke it. Every time I came into Philadelphia, it was always a battle. Guys were nervous to play here because we knew it was going to be an intense hockey game.

"When they turned the bus off and pulled into the parking lot, the bus would still be shaking. Guys were scared. They knew they were in for a battle."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 12:11 PM

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

Blues-Red Wings projected lines


DETROIT -- Following a 3-2 loss on the road in Chicago on Friday
night, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock quickly ran through some
of the positives.

The penalty kill was great, stonewalling the Chicago Blackhawks on all
five of their power plays. The bottom two lines played well in his
estimation, including third-line center Justin Abdelkader -- who
scored the game's first goal while filling in for injured Darren Helm
(groin). The Wings' "baby" line of all rookies -- Gustav Nyquist, Cory
Emmerton and Joakim Andersson -- was also one of the few Detroit
bright spots, skating with the speedy Hawks.

Still, it's what went left unsaid -- but was strongly implied -- that
mattered most to the Wings heading into another Central Division
showdown Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena against the gritty St. Louis
Blues. Babcock didn't praise the work of his top two lines and
basically said they have to be better than they were at the United
Center.

"The bottom line is we weren’t good enough," Babcock said. "We got
out-played, any way you look at it. That’s not good enough. The whole
game was fine, but to me we just didn’t have enough play in their
zone. I thought the kids that we gave an opportunity to (were good).
We just needed more."

Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen didn't record a point between them on
the top line, while the second line of Valtteri Filppula, Henrik
Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler each went without a point and finished with
a minus-2 rating.

No doubt, the effort will have to be better Saturday night against
the Blues, who dropped a tough 2-1 game in a shootout Friday night
at Scottrade Center to the Nashville Predators. The Blues, who lost in
Detroit on Tuesday after coughing up a two-goal lead, come into the
Motor City with a bad taste in their mouth after the five-round
shootout -- which spoiled a great performance in net by Jaroslav
Halak.

The Blues haven't won a shootout since March 7, 2011 and those woes
are starting to frustrate them.

"Five rounds, you expect to get at least one in," St. Louis center
David Backes said. "We don't do that. Jaro really deserved the win.
Jaro kept us in there long enough, but obviously it's an area you'd
like to get better at. If we're not going to win (the shootout), we
might as well win them in regulation or put one in in overtime and
skip that whole formality."

Here's a look at how the Blues and Red Wings may line up for their New
Year's Eve showdown at Joe Louis Arena:


BLUES
David Perron-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Vladimir Sobotka-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart
Evgeny Grachev-Jason Arnott-Matt D'Agostini
Jamie Langenbrunner-Scott Nichol-B.J. Crombeen

Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Roman Polak
Ian Cole-Kevin Shattenkirk

Joey Elliott
Jaroslav Halak


RED WINGS

Johan Franzen-Pavel Datsyuk-Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula-Henrik Zetterberg-Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller-Justin Abdelkader-Danny Cleary
Gustav Nyquist-Cory Emmerton-Joakim Andersson

Nicklas Lidstrom-Ian White
Niklas Kronwall-Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson-Mike Commodore

Jimmy Howard
Ty Conklin
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 2:10 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Switzerland without Sven for Slovakia

CALGARY -- If Switzerland wants to make it a third consecutive year with a quarterfinal at the World Juniors, they'll be forced to do so without standout Sven Bartschi.

Bartschi, who is suffering from what is being described as a light concussion, will not be back in time for Switzerland's game with Slovakia Saturday. The winner will finish third in Group A and advance to the quarterfinal of the World Junior Championship.

"He won't play tomorrow," coach Manuele Celio said after Switzerland's 5-3 win over Latvia. "If he's going to play he's going to play in the next round."

Manuele admitted Bartschi hasn't been back on the ice since suffering the injury in the first period of Switzerland's 4-3 shootout loss to Sweden Wednesday.

"He was on the bike a little bit," Manuele said. "It's normal procedure. The doctor is going to look at him. Even the Flames' doctor is going to look at him. I'll have some information tonight again after an assessment and we're going to see what's going on in the new year."
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 1:18 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Switzerland overcomes Latvia's late scare

CALGARY -- Switzerland was expecting a rebound game from Latvia on Friday night after suffering a humiliating 14-0 defeat to the Russians the night before.

But few imaged the late game push Latvia would bestow on Switzerland.

Trailing 3-1 heading into the third period, Latvia tied the game before Gaetan Haas and Christian Marti scored 59 seconds apart to lift Switzerland to a 5-3 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Making matters worse was the absence of standout forward Sven Bartschi due to concussion-like symptoms. In the end, it was no worry for Switzerland after Christoph Bertschy stepped into Bartschi's place, adding 2 goals in the victory.

"I think it was a lucky game for me tonight," Bertschy said. "The most important stat is that we won, and now I look forward to the game tomorrow."

Saturday brings Slovakia in a battle to determine which team advances to the quarterfinal.

"We already talked after the game in the dressing room what's going to be," Swiss coach Manuele Celio said. "We've got to keep up and try to be really ready for 4 o'clock tomorrow."

Victory almost didn't happen after the serious push late from Latvia.

Nikita Jevpalovs scored 2:23 into the third period to bring Latvia to within one. With just over seven minutes remaining, Vitalijs Hvorostinins put a rebound behind Switzerland starter Tim Wolf to tie the game.

Haas scored 24 seconds later to restore the lead with his second of the night. Marti added an insurance marker through a screen just under a minute later to extend the lead to 5-3.

With the Latvian goalie pulled, Switzerland shut down a 6-on-4 opportunity to preserve the victory.

"We brought them back in the game," Manuele said. "We didn't need to do that. We should have won easily. After 3-3, the guys stayed calm and put the puck on the net. I hope it's good learning for tomorrow."

Latvian coach Eriks Miluns was happy with the way his team responded after the Russian drubbing.

"It was our best game in the tournament," Miluns said through an interpreter. "After last night's loss our boys showed character. Luck was a little bit not on our side but I'm proud the way we battled and came back in the third. Hopefully we get the bounces soon."

Haas' first goal came midway through the second period after deflecting a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period.

But soon after, Haas coughed the puck up in front of Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked the Swiss netminder backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.

While Switzerland will look to Slovakia, Latvia has the unenviable task of avoiding relegation for the second time in three years. They'll battle the loser of Switzerland and Slovakia, as well as Denmark and the United States.

"They're both going to be tough games," Miluns said. "All the teams will be battling to stay in the top division. Any team that's going to come from that side, it's going to be a hard game. The main opponent is going to be Denmark for us to stay in the top division."

Zemgus Girgensons agreed that if Latvia is to stave off relegation, it has to come at the expense of Denmark.

"We have to beat them to stay in the top division," he said. "It's our goal."
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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 1:05 AM

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

Denmark suspends five players for post-game incident

EDMONTON -- The last thing Danish National Junior Team coach Todd Bjorkstrand needed to see on television following a 10-2 loss to Team Canada on Thursday were five of his players hamming it up for cameras, photographers and journalists during an impromptu gathering at the coaches' press conference table within the media area of Rexall Place.
 
But that's exactly what Bjorkstrand witnessed on TSN after his team suffered their third straight loss. Those players would pay the consequences, too, as Bjorkstrand decided to suspend all five for Friday's final Group B preliminary-round match against Finland -- a 10-1 loss.
 
"Obviously it's not the way we want our players acting after we lose a hockey game 10-2 against Team Canada," Bjorkstrand said. "It's the wrong way, and that's it. It was my decision [and I got no feedback from the Danish Ice Hockey Association]."
 
The loss officially knocked the U.S. from medal contention. The Americans dropped a 5-2 decision to Czech Republic earlier in the day. Bjorkstrand was asked if suspending the five players helped compromise a game that would ultimately doom the United States.
 
"We're going out every game to win and we had three lines and that was it," Bjorkstrand said. "Playing back-to-back games was difficult, especially since we were playing Finland, but I thought the guys did well. You have to go through those things, but it was the wrong message.
 
"I'm responsible for Team Denmark and not for Team USA."
 
Bjorkstrand remains undecided whether the suspended players will be allowed to return to the lineup for the relegation round beginning on Jan. 2 at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
 
"I don't want my players goofing around after a game we lose 10-2, even if it's Canada … it's absolutely the wrong message," Bjorkstrand said. "It's unfortunate. They're kids and they were fooling around, but the hockey in Denmark has come a long way. We have players in the NHL and the senior national team has been in the A Group for many years now. We're here to do well, compete and stay in the A Group."
 
Denmark, which has allowed 38 goals in the preliminary round, was playing without the services of forwards Mathias Bau-Hansen, Jonas Sass-Jensen, Nicki Kisum, Anders Thode and Anders Schultz. Bau-Hansen had 2 goals and 3 points in three previous games.
 
The problem began when the five players departed their locker room and congregated at the coaches' press conference table in the media area. They then began holding a pretend press conference, with each player taking a turn behind the microphone, which was turned off at the time. All the while, each of them began posing for pictures and shaking hands among themselves.
 
It didn't take long before several news outlets and journalists began taking pictures and video of the session.
 
"You always feel afterwards that you could have done something different," the coach said. "They feel bad about it, and we just have to get through it. The guys we had on the ice [Friday] played hard. We want to play good hockey and represent the hockey community in the right way."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


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Posted On Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 12:18 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Bartschi-less Swiss tackle Latvia

CALGARY -- No Sven Bartschi? No problem.

Switzerland has Cristoph Bertschy instead.

Losing Bartschi to concussion-like symptoms earlier in the tournament, Bertschy stepped up against Latvia on Friday night, scoring twice while Gaetan Haas also added a pair -- including the winner -- to pace Switzerland to a 5-3 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

The win moves Switzerland to 1-0-1-1 and into an important date with Slovakia on Saturday to determine who advances to the quarter-final.

The win wasn't without a serious push back from Latvia in the third period.

Nikita Jevpalovs scored just 2:23 into the third period to bring Latvia to within one. With just over seven minutes remaining, Vitalijs Hvorostinins put a rebound behind Switzerland starter Tim Wolf to tie the game.

Haas scored 24 seconds later to restore the lead with his second of the night. Christian Marti added an insurance marker through a screen just under a minute later to extend the lead to 5-3.

With the Latvian goalie pulled, Switzerland shut down a 6-on-4 opportunity to preserve the victory.

Haas’ first came midway through the second period after deflecting a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period.

But soon after, Haas coughed the puck up in front of Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked the Swiss netminder backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.


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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 11:40 PM

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

Pulkkinen scores four as Finland routs Denmark

EDMONTON -- Teemu Pulkkinen scored 4 goals and Miikka Salomaki had 2 goals and 2 assists to lead Finland to a 10-1 victory over Denmark in Group B preliminary-round action of the 2012 World Junior Championship on Friday at Rexall Place.
 
The victory officially knocked the U.S. National Junior Team from medal contention for the first time since 1999. The U.S., which suffered a 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic earlier in the day, needed winless Denmark to defeat Finland if it was to have any hope at advancing into the medal round.
 
Salomaki, Jani Hakanpaa and Ville Pokka scored goals in the first period when Finland opened a 3-0 lead on 22 shots. Pulkkinen, a 2010 fourth-round draft choice (No. 111) of the Detroit Red Wings, scored four consecutive goals to close out the scoring in the third period. He took 13 of Finland's 59 shots on goal for the game. All of Pulkkinen's goals were assisted by Mikael Granlund.
 
The line of Pulkkinen-Markus Granlund-Mikael Granlund actually finished with 11 points, including 7 assists. Finland goalie Christopher Gibson stopped 24 of 25 shots. Head coach Raimo Helminen said after the game that Sami Aittokallio, who earned the victory against the U.S. on Wednesday, would be his likely starter against the Czech Republic on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.
 
Denmark, which has allowed 38 goals in five preliminary-round games, was playing without the services of five suspended players -- including forwards Mathias Bau-Hansen, Jonas Sass-Jensen, Nicki Kisum, Anders Thode and Anders Schultz.
 
All five suspended skaters were part of a joke at the conclusion of Thursday's 10-2 setback to Canada. Upon conclusion of the usual post-game press conference, the guilty players approached the press conference media riser where coaches hold their post-game talks and began pretending to answer questions from the media. All the while posing for pictures and shaking hands.
 
It didn't take long before several news outlets and journalists began taking pictures and video of the impromptu session among friends. After seeing what those players had done while watching TSN, Denmark coach Todd Bjorkstrand decided to suspend them for the game against Finland.
 
"Obviously it's not the way we want our players acting after we lose a hockey game 10-2 against Team Canada," Bjorkstrand said. "It's the wrong way and that's it. It was my decision [and I got no feedback from the Danish Ice Hockey Association]."


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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 11:30 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Swiss extend lead in second period

CALGARY -- No Sven Bartschi? No problem.

Switzerland has Cristoph Bertschy instead.

Switzerland continued to roll over Latvia, extending its lead to two after goals by Bertschy and Gaetan Haas.

Gaetan Haas deflected a Mike Vermeille point shot past Latvian starter Kristers Gudlevskis to put Switzerland up 2-0 midway through the second period. Haas coughed the puck up in front of goaltender Tim Wolf. Toms Andersons picked up the puck, deked Wolf backhand and lifted the puck into the net to bring Latvia to within one at 8:26.

Bertschy restored the two-goal lead on the power play with just 1:32 remaining in the period. Floating in the high slot, Bertschy took a pass from Samuel Walser and fired a shot over the blocker of Gudlevskis -- his second of the night -- to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Switzerland didn't have it in neutral coming out of the gates against Latvia, but had just a one-goal lead to show for their efforts after the opening 20 minutes at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Switzerland fired 15 shots at Gudlevskis, cracking the Latvian goaltender 7:41 into the game.

On the power play, Dario Trutmann fired a shot that caught Gudlevskis' right pad. On the doorstep, Bertschy slid the rebound across the goal line to make it 1-0.

The goal came moments after Latvia almost opened the scoring on a shorthanded chance. Barreling down his off-wing, Vitalijs Hvorostinins sent a backhand on net that was met by the pad of Swiss goalie Tim Wolf. It was one of only three shots Wolf faced in the period.
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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres