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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 11:14 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Taking a twirl

PHILADELPHIA -- The first skates touched the Citizens Bank Park ice shortly after 10 a.m. Friday morning. They were tied onto Dan Craig's feet.

Craig, rightfully so, was the first person to skate on the rink he and his crew have been creating here for nearly two weeks. He skated along the boards and kept his eyes down, looking at the ice around the edges.

Not long after Craig got on the ice, several members of the crew and some NHL staffers joined him and started taking some twirls. The sun is shining, but right now shadows are covering roughly a third of the ice.

HBO had its cameras rolling on the entire thing.

We'll have more later, including a video report from the ice.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 10:47 AM

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

Wings, Hawks renew heated rivalry

CHICAGO -- Friday night’s game at the United Center (8:30 p.m.) will be the first of six meetings between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, who find themselves at or near the top of the Western Conference standings.

The Wings come to the Windy City off an exciting 3-2 come-from-behind victory against another Central Division rival, the St. Louis Blues, on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit, however, has just a 9-10-0 record on the road this season and will be facing a team in the Blackhawks that have only dropped one game in regulation at home in the month of December.

That was a tough 2-0 loss at the United Center to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday – a game in which goalies on both teams dominated the highlights. The Hawks’ offense will have to solve another top goalie in Jimmy Howard on Friday night.

The Blackhawks will get gritty forward Daniel Carcillo back from an upper-body injury that kept him out for six games, while rookie center Marcus Kruger will miss a second straight game with an upper-body injury believed to be related to a concussion.

Hawks defenseman Steve Montador missed practices on Tuesday and Thursday, but played against the Kings on Wednesday and hasn’t been ruled out for Friday night’s game against the Wings prior to the morning skate.

The Red Wings will be without two regulars in its lineup, as Tomas Holmstrom and Darren Helm are both sidelined with groin injuries. They will be replaced by rookie center Gustav Nyquist and rookie forward Joakim Andersson -- a pair of talented Swedish youngsters.

Here’s a look at how both teams may line up on Friday night:

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

BLACKHAWKS
Daniel Carcillo - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Viktor Stalberg - Patrick Kane - Patrick Sharp
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Michael Frolik
Andrew Brunette - Jamal Mayers - Jimmy Hayes

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy - Nicklas Hjalmarsson
Sean O'Donnell - Steve Montador

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 2:21 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Wheeler emerges as distributor for Jets

The wheels keep turning in the right direction for the Winnipeg Jets, and Blake Wheeler's consistency is a major reason why.

Blake Wheeler
Right Wing - WPG
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 22 | PTS: 27
SOG: 79 | +/-: 11
Wheeler extended his point streak to four games by assisting on Evander Kane's overtime winner as Winnipeg blanked the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 on Thursday night at a raucous MTS Centre. With Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little again out of the lineup for the Jets, Little continues to shine as a distributor alongside Kane on Winnipeg's top line. The 25-year-old notched his team-high 22nd assist of the season and also leads the club with a plus-11 rating.

At the forefront of Claude Noel's offensive system, Wheeler is certainly emerging as a breakout fantasy asset. While he is far off the goal-scoring pace of his career-best rookie campaign (21 goals), Wheeler is among the League leaders in helpers and quietly one of the most impactful players in Winnipeg's lineup. Wheeler (owned in 24 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) has played in all 37 games for the Jets and even touches on categories such as hits (52), power-play points (5) and shots on goal (79).

With the Jets suddenly in the thick of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference as December comes to a close, Wheeler may not be available much longer in deep fantasy leagues. Thus, the time is now to catch on to Manitoba's hottest fantasy hockey commodity.
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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 1:58 AM

By Ryan Murray -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Ryan Murray draft blog

Canadian defenseman Ryan Murray talks WJC

Defenseman Ryan Murray is captain of the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League. The 6-foot, 182-pound native of Saskatchewan is currently starring on defense alongside Scott Harrington for Team Canada at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship. Despite the busy schedule, Murray continues to provide a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Hi everyone. I'm checking in from the media room at Rexall Place in Edmonton at the World Junior Championship. This has been an unbelievable experience so far. The fans here are crazy. I've really never seen anything like it. I've never been to a World Junior game before and, just to play out there, it's a huge honor to wear the jersey and it's been a great experience so far.

At the start of the tournament, it was a little bit overwhelming with all the TV coverage. Everybody in the country pretty much watches this, so it was a little bit intimidating at the start but now that things have settled down a bit, you kind of get used to all the media attention and you know everything going on so it's just great and I feel comfortable now.

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Posted On Friday, 12.30.2011 / 1:46 AM

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

Grigorenko injured in Russian rout

Though Russia handed Latvia a lopsided 14-0 defeat Thursday night, the reigning world champions may have suffered a big loss.

Early in the second period, forward Mikhail Grigorenko collided with Latvian defender Arturs Salija at the Russian blue line, sending the 2012 draft-eligible prospect to the ice in pain. Grigorenko did not return to the game and his status for the tournament is in doubt.

"There was an injury around the ankle," Russia coach Valeri Bragin said through a translator after the game. "We don't know about it right now. We'll see tomorrow morning."

When asked if Grigorenko could be lost for the duration of the World Juniors, Bragin confirmed.

"It's possible."

Grigorenko has two goals and four points in three games for the undefeated Russians.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 11:29 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

VAN @ ANA - 15:21 of the Second Period



At 15:21 of the second period in the Canucks/Ducks game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Bobby Ryan's shot didn't completely cross the goal line. No Goal Anaheim.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 9:42 PM

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

Canada extends lead to 7-0 over Danes

EDMONTON - Mark Stone, Scott Harrington and Freddie Hamilton scored goals in the second period to help the Canadian National Junior Team extend its sizeable lead to 7-0 over Denmark in preliminary round action of the 2011 World Junior Championship.
 
Harrington's blast from the point gave Canada a 5-0 advantage just 25 seconds into the second. Stone's second of the game and team-leading sixth of the tournament came off a tip from in front. Hamilton's goal also came off a well-placed redirect off a shot by Harrington.
 
Harrington, a second-round pick (No. 54) of the Pittsburgh Penguins last June, has a goal and three assists through two periods. Canada has outshot the Danes, 37-15.   
 
Quinton Howden, Brett Connolly, Stone and Ryan Strome each connected in the first when the Canadians outshot Denmark, 19-3, and built a 4-0 lead.

The line of Jonathan Huberdeau-Mark Stone-Ryan Strome clicked for four points in the first, including 2 goals and 2 assists.
 
Denmark goalie Sebastian Feuk, who entered the game having made 57 saves on 71 shots, has made 30 saves through 40 minutes.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 9:39 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

MTL @ TB - 2:32 of the Third Period



At 2:32 of the third period in the Canadiens/Lightning game, video review was inconclusive in determining if Marc-Andre Bergeron's shot was deflected by a high stick into the net, as such the call on the ice stands, Good Goal Tampa.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 9:08 PM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

MTL @ TB - 17:38 of the Second Period



At 17:38 of the second period in the Canadiens/Lightning game, video review upheld the referee's call on the ice that Lightning forward JT Wyman's shot completely crossed the goal line. Good Goal Tampa.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 8:55 PM

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

Canada off to fast start vs. Denmark

EDMONTON -- Team Canada has no intention of taking its foot off the gas in preliminary-round action at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Quinton Howden, Brett Connolly, Mark Stone and Ryan Strome scored goals and the unbeaten Canadians outshot Denmark 19-3 in the first period on the way to opening a 4-0 lead on Thursday at Rexall Place.

Stone's goal 16:05 was his team-leading fifth goal of the tournament. The line of Jonathan Huberdeau-Stone-Strome clicked for four points in the first -- two goals and two assists.

Canadian starter goalie Mark Visentin needed to make just three saves. Denmark goalie Sebastian Feuk stopped 15 shots.

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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