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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 1:46 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blues, Ducks

ST. LOUIS -- Here are the probable lineups for Thursday's matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks:

BLUES
Vladimir Sobotka - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Chris Porter - Jason Arnott - Chris Stewart
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

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

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Halak is 6-0-0 with a 1.46 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in his last six starts. Elliott will get the start Saturday against Columbus.

On injured reserve are Alex Steen (concussion), Matt D'Agostini (concussion), Jamie Langenbrunner (broken foot) and Kris Russell (concussion symptoms). Defenseman Kent Huskins (bruised hand) will miss his second straight game. Huskins, Russell (in red no-contact jersey) and Langenbrunner all took part in the morning skate.

DUCKS
Niklas Hagman - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Bobby Ryan - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Andrew Cogliano - Nick Bonino - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jason Blake - Rod Pelley - Matt Beleskey

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Lubomir Visnovsky - Luca Sbisa
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers

Hiller, who leads the NHL in appearances and starts this season, will make his 62nd appearance this season. Hiller will be making his club-record 27th straight start tonight.

Healthy scratches for the Ducks will include winger George Parros and defenseman Nate Guenin. Goaltender Dan Ellis (groin strain) is on injured reserve.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 1:42 PM

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

First-place Stars try again to solve Sharks

DALLAS -- As good as the Dallas Stars (36-26-5, 77 points) have been during their current eight-game point streak, a run where they have gone 7-0-1 and taken 15 of a possible 16 points, on Thursday night at American Airlines Center they face a team they have yet to defeat this season in the San Jose Sharks (33-24-8, 74 points).

Dallas heads into tonight's Pacific Division battle just two days removed from an impressive 5-2 win at Vancouver on Tuesday, a victory that snapped a six-game losing streak on the Canucks' home ice.

That triumph gave the Stars a perfect 3-0-0 record in their road swing through Western Canada last week as they also won at Edmonton and Calgary earlier in the trip.

First-year coach Glen Gulutzan knows the reason for his club's recent upswing is actually a pretty simple one.

"Our guys are competing and it's probably well-documented they're a real tight group and they're playing for each other," Gulutzan said. "That's an important thing this time of year."

In their first three meetings with the Sharks this season, Dallas has been outscored 14-5 by San Jose, a trend Gulutzan obviously wants to see end tonight.

"We haven't really focused on San Jose other than our pre-scout and what they're doing. We've really isolated ourselves to what we need to do and the way we need to approach games. But certainly facts are facts and we know that we haven't beat them," Gulutzan said. "Today we're certainly focused on what our job is, what our game plan is and what it has been the last month. All that is just a distraction, we're focused on the way we need to play tonight."

Stars captain Brenden Morrow did go through his first morning skate since early February but he will miss a 17th straight game with an upper-body injury. He looks like a strong possibility to return to the ice on Saturday against Anaheim.

"Morrow's close, but not yet -- but I would say Brendan is a 60/40 for to play against Anaheim. If not, he'll play against Minnesota [next week]," Gulutzan said.

Second-line winger Steve Ott did not skate this morning due to an illness that continues to linger from the trip to Western Canada, but his coach isn't worried about the gritty forward being ready to go tonight.

"Otter's been sick the whole Western Canada trip and so we'll see how he is tonight, but he'll play," Gulutzan said. "He's getting better."

The Sharks are currently on a three-game losing streak, having lost 3-2 to Edmonton in overtime on Tuesday. But despite their current struggles, they aren't a team the Stars players are about to take lightly.

"They've been playing really well against us this year. We have to see if we can beat these guys," Dallas winger Loui Eriksson said. "It's going to be a hard-working game tonight again. We know they're right behind us in the standings. These two points are really huge for us to get, and we're going to do everything we can to get those."

And for 2012 All-Star center Jamie Benn, the key to getting both points tonight could be in how they approach their first game back after such a successful three-game road trip.

"Yeah, I think we've got to approach tonight like it's a road game. These first home games coming back after a road trip are pretty tough. I think we've got to play it as a road game -- play it the right way and go after them right away," Benn said.

Antti Niemi figures to start in goal for San Jose tonight, while it appears Dallas will go with Kari Lehtonen.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 1:34 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Caps, Lightning could have different look in net

WASHINGTON -- Both the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning will have a different look in goal Thursday when the Southeast Division rivals meet at Verizon Center.

Tomas Vokoun will start for the Capitals for the first time in more than two weeks, while the Lightning will look to continue their late-season surge without recent No. 1 Mathieu Garon, who left a game Tuesday against Ottawa and is out indefinitely.

Garon had started 19 of Tampa Bay's last 23 games (going 12-4-2 in 18 decisions), but Lightning coach Guy Boucher would not say this morning who will start against the Capitals.

Boucher's options are 42-year-old Dwayne Roloson (8-13-2, 3.82 goals-against average, .878 save percentage), or 22-year-old Dustin Tokarski, who has two career NHL relief appearances and was recalled from AHL Norfolk on Wednesday.

"I haven't talked to the goalies yet," Boucher said this morning. "I talked to [Roloson] yesterday and we talked about our plan for the next days. I haven't talked to Tokarski; he just got in. I'll talk to him around lunchtime and I'll talk to Roli and I'll explain the plan for them."

Tokarski has won a team-record eight straight games with Norfolk, with a 1.75 GAA and .927 save percentage during that stretch. His two NHL appearances came in Jan. 2010 when he allowed three goals on 16 shots spread across 44 minutes.

Boucher acknowledged there is much to consider when planning the goaltending rotation.

"Who we're playing, circumstances, experiences and just having some time to get accustomed to things for the young guy and for the older guy to make sure he understands the situation and what's going on," Boucher said. "There are quite a few things that I need to discuss with them."

For the Capitals, Vokoun returns after he was pulled in each of his last two starts, Feb.20 in Carolina and Feb.22 in Ottawa, when he allowed a combined six goals on 18 shots. Michal Neuvirth had started the six games since (3-2-1).

"I thought Neuvy played well, but he's played a lot of games and Tomas is feeling great so we'll go with him," Capitals coach Dale Hunter explained. "You can't let them sit too long so Tomas is good to go."

Vokoun is 23-16-2 with a 2.52 goals-against-average and a .917 save percentage, and has not started at home in nearly a month -- a Feb. 9 shootout loss to Winnipeg.

The first draft pick in Tampa Bay Lightning history, Roman Hamrlik, will be a healthy scratch for the Capitals tonight for the eighth straight game. He'll be joined in the press box by Mike Knuble and John Erskine.

Vincent Lecavalier remains on injured-reserve for the Lightning and will miss his ninth straight game with an upper-body injury.

Below are the projected lineups for the Capitals and Lightning:

CAPITALS
Alex Ovechkin - Brooks Laich - Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Matt Hendricks - Jay Beagle - Troy Brouwer
Keith Aucoin - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Jeff Schultz - Mike Green
Dmitry Orlov - Dennis Wideman

Tomas Vokoun
Michal Neuvirth

LIGHTNING
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Nate Thompson - Adam Hall
JT Wyman - Tom Pyatt - Brett Connolly
Ryan Shannon - Tim Wallace - Brandon Segal

Victor Hedman - Eric Brewer
Brett Clark - Brian Lee
Mike Commodore - Brendan Mikkelson

Dwayne Roloson
Dustin Tokarski
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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 1:19 PM

By Craig Button -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - On the Playoff Button blog

Updated playoff projections: March 8th

NHL Network's Craig Button has been tracking playoff positioning -- using a variety of statistical categories -- for several years now. His formula, while not a true probability exercise, has proven to be very effective at predicting the cutoff number to secure a Stanley Cup Playoffs berth.

In its simplest terms, Button's formula uses a team's current winning percentage, factoring in games remaining, to arrive at the number of wins -- and points -- each team will finish the season with. From that exercise, the formula can extrapolate the magic number for qualification and which teams currently in the race will reach that number. This equation will also determine tiebreakers should they become necessary.

Still not convinced? Check out the full explanation of Button's formula


EASTERN CONFERENCE
Current
Position
NHL
Team
Games
Played
Current
Points
Games
Remaining
Projected
Points
Wins to
earn 8th
8th 67 72 15 86 9

9th 66 70 16 86 10
10th 67 70 15 84 10
11th 66 68 16 83 11
12th 67 67 15 80 11
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE
Current
Position
NHL
Team
Games
Played
Current
Points
Games
Remaining
Projected
Points
Wins to
earn 8th
8th 65 74 17 91 9

9th 66 74 16 89 9
10th 68 74 14 88 9
11th 67 72 15 85 10
12th 67 68 15 81 12

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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 1:05 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Julien likes MacDermid's toughness, hockey sense

BOSTON -- When a rookie scores his first NHL goal, a teammate usually retrieves the puck and at some point it's presented by that scorer's organization as a memento.

So what does one get for his first NHL fight?

"Nothing. Keep the gloves, maybe, I don't know," Lane MacDermid said today after the Bruins' optional morning skate in preparation for an evening matchup with divisional rival Buffalo at the TD Garden.

MacDermid should make his NHL home debut against the Sabres after skating on Boston's fourth line in both games on the Bruins' recent road trip to New York and Toronto. At Madison Square Garden, MacDermid -- a 150-plus-PIM guy in his first two pro seasons with Providence of the AHL -- needed little time to show what he could bring to the Bruins. On his first shift, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound MacDermid met the challenge of 6-5, 243-pound Mike Rupp in a spirited bout.

"He's a pretty big guy, so I just tried to hold my own and do my best," MacDermid said.

An injury to usual Boston fourth-line left winger Daniel Paille opened up the opportunity for MacDermid to be recalled during the regular season for the first time. He's averaged just 7:03 of ice time during his two games and hasn't recorded a point, but he hasn't been on the ice for a goal against either.

"Well, I think what I like about those kinds of guys is that they're pretty tough individuals, but they can play. I think that's always important," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I think obviously he has some good genes [MacDermid's father, Paul, played in the NHL], and he obviously has some hockey sense. You watch him play -- he finishes his checks well, he plays a big, tough, grinding-type game. But he also plays a smart game. When it's time to back check or be the third man, he reads the play well. Certainly not a liability out there, and right now what I've appreciated of him as that he's come in and not played on his heels, he's just gone out there and plays hard and seems to have a lot of confidence."

MacDermid says that linemates Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton are so solid positionally that it makes it easy to play with them. He's also sticking to the basics in an effort to show the Bruins he belongs with the parent club.

"Down there [at Providence], I tried to maybe expand my game a little bit more and try to work on some things. But up here you don't want to make any mistakes, so you try to keep it simple and play your game," he said.




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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 12:54 PM

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

Predators to give Yip a look against former team

NASHVILLE -- From the time that the Colorado Avalanche put forward Brandon Yip on waivers and he landed with the Nashville Predators on Jan. 19, Thursday's game with his former team has been on his mind.

"Yeah, for sure, I think any time you get traded, a team lets you go, or even if you're just playing your old teammates, you definitely look at the calendar and you're excited definitely for that game," Yip said. "I'm fired up for tonight."

Although it might have been unnecessary to say so, Yip mentioned several times how excited he was. He said he went out with six or seven former teammates on Wednesday night after the Avs arrived in town.

Yip played only 10 games in Colorado this season, often being made a healthy scratch, and had no goals. He has 1 goal and 2 assists in 13 games with Nashville.

Last season, Yip had a promising 10 goals and 12 assists in 71 games, and Nashville likes his size at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds. Since Nashville picked up forwards Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad at the trade deadline, Yip has had a harder time getting in the lineup.

He was a scratch for the last three games, but coach Barry Trotz gave him the heads-up that he would play against his former team a few days ago. Nonetheless, as Nashville tries to settle on its expected playoff lineup, Trotz said he likes Yip's chances to earn a regular spot.

"I think he's really worked hard, him and (Matt Halischuk), and those guys are setting themselves up to unseat some guys, if guys' play doesn't pick up here, so I know Brandon will be a good fit," Trotz said.

Following Tuesday's 5-4 loss to Los Angeles, Trotz was unhappy with what he called some players' commitment level. Asked if Craig Smith and Colin Wilson could be scratched on Thursday, Trotz said, "possibly."

"The guys that are bringing it every night are the guys I'm going to start putting in, and I'm not going to be concerned about 'Do I have enough power-play guys?'" Trotz said. "I'm just going to put the guys that are deserving in terms of accountability. If you're not detailed in your game, if you're not willing to play a 200-foot game, then maybe I'll change you out.

"Whoever comes out tonight, it doesn't mean that they're not going to get back in, but I'm going to increase the urgency level -- a) to get in and, b) to stay in."

Both Wilson and Smith earn power-play time for Nashville.

Yip is looking forward to the opportunity that Thursday is providing him.

"Absolutely, that's the biggest thing on my mind right now, to prove I can be in this lineup and be a contributing factor in every game," Yip said. "Like you said, there's not much regular season left and we're getting geared up for the playoffs and kind of getting in that playoff mode right now. It's exciting for everyone and it's good healthy competition."
 
Projected lineup:
 
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Gabriel Bourque - Nick Spaling - Jordin Tootoo
Matt Halischuk - Paul Gaustad - Brandon Yip
 
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Hal Gill - Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon - Ryan Ellis
 
Out: Brian McGrattan, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Jack Hillen
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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 12:45 PM

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

Projected lineups for Sharks, Stars

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for today’s game between the San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center:

SHARKS
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels
Daniel Winnik - Dominic Moore - Torrey Mitchell
TJ Galiardi - Michal Handzus - Jim Vandermeer

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Justin Braun - Colin White

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Injuries: Martin Havlat (hamstring)

Scratches: Jason Demers, Andrew Desjardins, Benn Ferriero

Notes: The Sharks head into Thursday's game in Dallas on a three-game losing streak and are just 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. San Jose last played on Tuesday, losing 3-2 in overtime to Edmonton at HP Pavilion. For the season, the Sharks are 14-13-5 away from home. Tonight's contest marks the start of a four-game road trip that will also see them play in Phoenix, Edmonton and Calgary before hosting Nashville next Thursday in San Jose. However, the Sharks have had the Stars' number so far this season, taking all three previous meetings and outscoring Dallas by a combined 14-5.

STARS
Loui Eriksson - Mike Ribeiro - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Jamie Benn - Adam Burish
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Ryan Garbutt - Tom Wandell - Tomas Vincour

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley - Mark Fistric
Alex Goligoski - Philip Larsen

Kari Lehtonen
Richard Bachman

Injuries: Jake Dowell (finger), Brenden Morrow (upper body)

Scratches: Adam Pardy, Toby Petersen

Notes: Dallas is currently on a three-game winning streak after sweeping a trip through Western Canada, a run which culminated in an impressive 5-2 win at Vancouver on Tuesday, the Stars' first win on the Canucks' home ice since Jan. 2009. Glen Gulutzan's club is currently on an eight-game point streak, having won seven of their last eight contests. Dallas is 0-3-0 against the Sharks so far this season, dropping two meetings at American Airlines Center and another at HP Pavilion. Ryder is currently on a seven-game point streak while Ribeiro has at least a point in 10 of the last 11 games for the Stars. Tonight's game begins a short, two-game homestand for Dallas, who will also host Anaheim on Saturday.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 12:13 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Turco is backup to Thomas in Boston debut

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins will have Marty Turco on the bench as their backup goaltender tonight when they play host to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden.
               
Turco, who signed a one-year deal with the Bruins on Monday, practiced with the team for the first time Wednesday. After practice, Michael Hutchinson, who had been Tim Thomas’ backup for Boston’s previous two games after the Tuukka Rask injury, was reassigned to the Providence (AHL) farm club.
     
Coach Claude Julien also said that forward Benoit Pouliot should be able to play. The speedy wing collected a lower-body injury during the second period of a win Tuesday in Toronto. Pouliot did not practice Wednesday, but he skated during an optional session this morning.
               
Daniel Paille (upper-body) and Andrew Ference (lower-body) also continued to skate. However, Julien ruled both out for a Thursday night return.
               
The Sabres, who arrived in Boston late Wednesday after an overtime home win over Carolina, did not hold a skate. Buffalo is 7-1-2 in its last 10 games. Coach Lindy Ruff has hinted that Ryan Miller, who has played in 20 straight games, might get a night off soon.

Here are the projected lineups for both Buffalo and Boston:

BRUINS
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Tyler Seguin
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Brian Rolston
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Jordan Caron
Lane MacDermid - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Greg Zanon - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Marty Turco

SABRES
Thomas Vanek - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Tyler Ennis - Cody Hodgson - Drew Stafford
Nathan Gerbe - Ville Leino - Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis - Brad Boyes - Corey Tropp

Jordan Leopold - Tyler Myers
Mike Weber - Robyn Regehr
Christian Ehrhoff - Alexander Sulzer

Ryan Miller
Jhonas Enroth
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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 11:47 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

"Boo" Nieves ready to join USHL's Indiana Ice

Indian Ice head coach and general manager Kyle Wallack is looking forward to getting New England prep school standout Cristoval "Boo" Nieves on the ice for his first practice with the team on Thursday at Pepsi Coliseum.

Nieves closed out his high school season at the Kent School in Connecticut last weekend with a semifinal-round loss to St. Sebastian's School (Mass.) in the New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association large-schools tournament.

Nieves made the flight to Indiana on Thursday morning.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 11:02 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ankle injury to sideline Duchene 3-4 weeks



The Colorado Avalanche on Thursday announced that center Matt Duchene would be sidelined approximately 3-4 weeks while he recovers from a right ankle injury.

Duchene, who was hurt in the third period in a victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, does not need surgery. The Avalanche made the announcement via their Twitter account on Thursday morning.

Duchene needed help getting off the ice after coming in contact with Minnesota's Nick Palmieri.

"We hope he will be OK," Avalanche rookie forward Gabriel Landeskog told local reporters. "We have a good team even without him. It is a team sport and we have a good group."

Duchene, who is in his third season with Colorado, has 13 goals and 26 points in 48 games with the Avalanche this season. He also has 36 hits and 31 blocked shots. The club will play eight of their remaining 14 regular-season games on the road, starting with Thursday's visit to Nashville. The Avs are 10th in the Western Conference with 74 points.

On Thursday afternoon, Duchene tweeted: "I'm gonna work as hard as I possibly can to be back in an Avs jersey before the season is over. It kills me to be out again."
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