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POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 1:27 PM

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

Potential lineups for Wild, Jackets

Here is what the lineups could look like when the Wild and Blue Jackets meet tonight at Nationwide Arena in Columbus

Rick Nash - Jeff Carter - R.J. Umberger
Vinny Prospal - Mark Letestu - Ryan Johansen
Antoine VermetteSamuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett
Matt Calvert - Derek MacKenzie - Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin- Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot - James Wisniewski
John Moore - Grant Clitsome

Steve Mason will start in net, with Curtis Sanford backing him up.

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

Nick Schultz - Nate Prosser
Clayton Stoner - Marek Zidlicky
Justin Falk - Jared Spurgeon

Niklas Backstrom will start in net, with Josh Harding the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 1:12 PM

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

Goalie contact a big issue in wake of Lucic collision

BOSTON -- The Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller collision from Saturday night's Boston Bruins-Buffalo Sabres game has become a hot-button issue around the League.

There was no shortage of talk about it in both dressing rooms this morning at the TD Garden after the Bruins and New Jersey Devils completed their morning skates. Lucic had a hearing with the NHL on Monday but received no supplemental discipline. During the Bruins' win, he was assessed a two-minute minor for charging.

Boston coach Claude Julien was asked about a possible alteration to the rule about contact with the goaltender or the possibility of limiting a goaltender's ability to move out of his crease.

"There's a difference between a hit and a collision. And that's always going to be a gray area in everybody's minds," Julien said. "Some people are going to call certain things a hit, some people are going call it a collision. I mean, as far as I'm concerned as a coach, I'll abide by any rule they want to put in there. If they say you can't touch him at all, then it's you can't touch him at all. If they keep the rule the way it is, then let's keep the rule the way it is.

"I know for a fact that if Milan had intended on hitting him, he would've never got up. We all know how hard he hits. So that speaks for itself."

New Jersey netminder Johan Hedberg will be tasked with facing the Bruins tonight. He doesn't think goaltenders have a right to expect special treatment.

"That's what I don't think is right. You have to respect the game in the game, too," he said. "You can't expect the rules to protect you at times. That goes for everybody, including us as goaltenders. Who knows, the guy might be coming in full-blast, he looks away, he doesn't see that you're out there and you've got to make sure that you're ready for it. I think it's part of the game."

Hedberg and Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask both recalled instances where they were in a position like Miller was and got hit. Rask said he understands that sometimes these incidents with contact are unavoidable.

"Everybody knows it. That was just an accident," he said. "Everybody knows that you don't try to take a goalie's head off or anything. Things happen in the game. It's just part of the game and sometimes accidents happen."

As for Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff's comment that by the League not suspending Milan Lucic it's declaring "fair game" on goaltenders, the Bruins didn't want to engage in much of a war of words.

"No comment on that. They can say whatever they want," Rask said.

Added Julien: "That's just talk. We're certainly not going to get into that. People get frustrated, people talk and you don't hold those kind of things against people like that. They're entitled to their opinion. And you just move along here. We can't react to everything that's being said out there. Everybody has their own opinion, and we're just happy it was dealt with the way it was and we're ready to move on."

The Bruins and Sabres next meet Nov. 23 in Buffalo.

POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 1:07 PM

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

Potential lineups for Pens, Avs

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Tyler Kennedy (concussion) and Steve Sullivan (lower-body injury) took part in the morning skate and will be game-time decisions tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN2) against Colorado, but it appears as if both will play.
Kennedy has been out with a concussion since Oct. 15, while Sullivan sustained an undisclosed injury during a 5-3 loss at Carolina on Saturday.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, as usual, took part in the morning skate but will not play after being ruled out Monday. The earliest he could play would be Thursday at Tampa Bay. Crosby hasn’t played since Jan. 5 against the Lightning.
Avalanche forward Brandon Yip (broken right arm) took part in the morning skate and got in some extra work afterward, but coach Joe Sacco said he won’t play in the first meeting between the teams since Pittsburgh's 3-2 overtime win Feb. 16, 2011, at the Pepsi Center. Kennedy scored the game-winning goal on a power play with 50 seconds remaining.
Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis left the morning skate after about 10 minutes with a cut on his face that required stitches, but will be in the lineup.
The expected lineups at Consol Energy Center:
Joakim Lindstrom - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
TJ Galiardi - Matt Duchene - David Jones
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - Kevin Porter/Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew
Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Ryan Wilson - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Semyon Varlamov, 2-0 in his career with a 2.00 goals-against average against Pittsburgh during the regular season, is expected to be in goal, with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as his backup.
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Richard Park - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Deryk Engelland
Matt Niskanen - Alexandre Picard
Marc-Andre Fleury (9-2-1) will be back in goal after backup Brent Johnson played against Carolina. Fleury enters tonight's games second in the League in wins (nine), sixth in goals-against average (1.87) and ninth in save percentage (.932).

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.

POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 12:58 PM

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

Potential lineups for Panthers, Stars

Here are what the lineups could look like when the Stars and Panthers play tonight in Dallas:

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Evgeny Dadonov - Mike Santorelli - Tomas Kopecky
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Marco Sturm
Tim Kennedy - Shawn Matthias - Matt Bradley

Erik Gudbranson - Ed Jovanovski
Brian Campbell - Jason Garrison
Mike Weaver - Dmitry Kulikov

Scott Clemmensen will make his season debut in goal tonight, with Jose Theodore the backup.

Loui Eriksson - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Brenden Morrow - Mike Ribeiro - Adam Burish
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Krystofer Barch - Jake Dowell - Toby Petersen

Stephane Robidas - Sheldon Souray
Trevor Daley - Nicklas Grossman
Adam Pardy - Mark Fistric

Kari Lehtonen will start in goal, with Andrew Raycroft the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 12:40 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Tortorella delighted with Gaborik’s play

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Rangers coach John Tortorella has had his ups and downs with high-scoring forward Marian Gaborik during their two-plus seasons together. As the Rangers head into tonight's visit to the Nassau Coliseum, they're definitely on the ups.

Not only is Gaborik leading the Rangers with 9 goals and 15 points, he has, in Tortorella's eyes, been the Rangers' most consistent player through the first six weeks of the season -- a stretch that includes New York's current six-game winning streak.

Scoring never has been a problem for Gaborik, a two-time 42-goal scorer – including 2009-10, his first season with the Rangers. It's been the other areas of the game that Tortorella says have seen the most improvement.

"Where I think he's made tremendous improvement is his play away from the puck -- the back pressure, being in the right position when he doesn't have the puck," Tortorella said after the morning skate at the Coliseum. "I think he's finding out that when we play better team defense, we have the puck more."

Gaborik took a lot of heat from Tortorella last season, when he slumped from 42 goals to 22. Now, he's on pace to surpass his career high in goals this season -- and his plus-8 rating is second on the team and tops among forwards.

"He's a proud man. He's a good man, and he did not like how it worked out last year," Tortorella said. "You could sense that he was going to have a really good year. He's certainly off to a very good start."

Tortorella said most of the coaching he and his staff do is team-oriented, rather than working with individual players, and gave Gaborik the credit for his improved play.

"It comes down to the player's willingness to do it and realizing it does work, as far as playing good defense to help out your offense," he said of Gaborik's improvement without the puck.

"He's a smart guy. Ever since I met him, and that was three years ago, he's asked questions. You can tell that he's engaged. I think there's a motivation there with Gabby, where he wants to help his team get to the next level. He knows he has the ability; it's just a matter of consistently doing it."
POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 12:40 PM

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

Bruins happy Lucic will be available vs. Devils

BOSTON -- Now that Bruins forward Milan Lucic has escaped supplemental discipline from the NHL after his collision with Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller on Saturday night, the Bruins should field the same lineup against New Jersey tonight that they had in the win over the Sabres.

"I guess from our end of it, we were convinced it wasn't deliberate. We were hoping that that's the decision that was going to be taken, and it was," coach Claude Julien said.

Lucic had a phone hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Monday afternoon. Lucic, who addressed the matter with the media after Monday's practice, was not available to speak after the Bruins' morning skate.

Daniel Paille, out with a broken nose, skated with the Bruins again today. He is now able to breathe through his nostrils and said he's getting close to being 100 percent. He could be ready for game action by the end of the week.

Defenseman Andrew Ference, who is out with a lower-body injury, skated on his own before the team and is day-to-day.

Tim Thomas should get the start in goal. Here's the rest of the Bruins' projected lineup:

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Jordan Caron - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Steven Kampfer - Adam McQuaid

POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 12:25 PM

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

Kovalchuk could face Bruins; Hedberg to start

BOSTON -- The New Jersey Devils could have forward Ilya Kovalchuk back tonight when they face the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

Kovalchuk, who has missed the last four games due to a groin injury suffered Nov. 3, stayed on the ice beyond the regulation morning skate along with the Devils' healthy scratches and goaltender Martin Brodeur, and originally New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer confirmed he would sit out at least one more game.

"Another step in the right direction. He feels good," DeBoer said. "He hasn't taken any contact yet or through a full practice, so we just felt it's the right thing to do."

However, following DeBoer's initial meeting with the media, he spoke with Kovalchuk again and the forward will take part in the pre-game skate, according to newspaper reports. The Bergen Record and Newark Star-Ledger reported it is possible Kovalchuk could face the Bruins.

Johan Hedberg will start in goal. The Devils should have their hands full with Bruins team that has won five in a row.

"We're obviously aware of it. We're aware that they're on a roll," said DeBoer, whose team is 4-1-0 in its last five. "We have to try to take them out of that comfort zone early by playing well defensively and having people in front of them. We've got to get another road effort like we had in Washington."

Here’s the rest of the Devils' projected lineup:

Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Nick Palmieri
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Mattias Tedenby - Ryan Carter - David Clarkson
Vladimir Zharkov - Brad Mills - Cam Janssen

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov


POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 11:50 AM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Niederreiter's back, but will he play?

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Nino Niederreiter's two-week conditioning stint with the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers is over -- he scored goals in each of his last three games. The New York Islanders' top pick in the 2010 NHL Draft is back on Long Island, but coach Jack Capuano won't commit to playing him in Tuesday night's game against the New York Rangers.

In fact, Capuano wouldn't commit to what his lines would look like when his team takes the ice tonight, other than that Evgeni Nabokov will make his second straight start in goal, with Al Montoya as his backup.

"I think that he can bring an element of size and physicality to our lineup," Capuano said of the 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward, who looked good in training camp before suffering a groin injury. "What I'd like to see him do is like all the other guys -- play within the team structure but play loose and enjoy yourself."

There hasn't been much to enjoy on the Island lately. The Islanders are mired in a 1-6-3 slump that began after a 4-2 victory against the Rangers at the Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 15. That includes an 0-2-1 road trip that ended with a 4-1 loss at Vancouver on Sunday night.

"Some guys are squeezing their sticks right now," Capuano said. "As bad as the last couple of weeks (have been), we've had some chances; we’re just not scoring."

As for what he's looking for from Niederreiter, whether it's tonight or later in the week?

"I want him to play like he played at Bridgeport," Capuano said. "He worked hard and got himself back to where he needed to be.

"Obviously he's had some success in junior hockey; he scored some big goals. For us -- top nine, with some power-play time. He's got quick hands for a big guy. Hopefully we'll get some pucks to the net, he'll get to the net and good things will happen."

Niederreiter spent nine games with the Islanders last season before being returned to Portland of the Western Hockey League. The Islanders could send him back again, but he wants to make the kind of impression that will keep him on Long Island for good.

"I'm excited to be back here," he said. "If I get the chance tonight, hopefully I can score.

"I'm just trying to do the best I can every night to show (GM) Garth (Snow) that I can stay here and he can't send me down. This is definitely where I want to be."

POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 10:45 AM

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

Sullivan, Kennedy skating with Pens

When the Pittsburgh Penguins came out for the morning skate today at Consol Energy Center, injured forwards Steve Sullivan and Tyler Kennedy were with them.

Coach Dan Bylsma had told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Sullivan (lower body) and Kennedy would take part in the morning skate, and would play if they felt up to it. Otherwise, Dustin Jeffrey, recalled from a conditioning assignment with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, would re-enter the lineup.

Sidney Crosby is on the ice, but won't play tonight. Also skating today is forward Eric Tangradi.

Here is what the lines looked like, according to the Penguins' website:

Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Richard Park - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams

POSTED ON Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 10:10 AM

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

Pens' Jeffrey recalled from AHL conditioning stint

With Steve Sullivan (lower-body injury) and Tyler Kennedy (concussion) game-time decisions, the Pittsburgh Penguins today have recalled forward Dustin Jeffrey from a conditioning assignment with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scratnon.

Jeffrey is scoreless in six games this season, but he still might be dealing with the effects of March surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right knee.

Bylsma told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the conditioning assignment was not performance based; rather, it's because Jeffrey needed to get into game situations that weren't available when the Penguins were a fully healthy team.

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Once again, it shows character in this dressing room. Once again, there's no quitting in here. We all wanted this so bad and we worked so hard to get home-ice advantage and we weren't going to let this one slide.

— Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog on his team's OT Game 1 win vs. Minnesota Wild