The night started with a video tribute that showed several members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, including Gilmour and Nieuwendyk in their Maple Leaf blue. Gilmour got the first of what will be several ovations over the next three days.
After introducing 15 members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, including Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe, the Class of 2011 got their due.
Since Gordie Howe was the final of the 15 introduced, it was only natural that Mark Howe was the first of the incoming Hall of Fame class to greet the crowd. He walked the line and ended with an embrace with his dad.
How cool is that?
Nieuwendyk was the next up and he received a standing ovation. Nieuwendyk spent the 2003-04 season in Toronto and became a fan favorite. He also received an ovation for winning the gold medal with Team Canada in 2002.
Belfour was up next, and keeping with his natural quirkiness (some call it individuality) he was not dressed the part. While everyone else was wearing a suit, Belfour was wearing a leather jacket and did not have on a tie.
Finally, the ultimate fan favorite here in Toronto, Gilmour got his introduction. The fans stood and applauded and cheered almost the entire time as the P.A. announcer read his biography.
Gilmour, Nieuwendyk, Belfour and Howe stood beside the Toronto Maple Leafs logo on the carpet draped over top center ice as the Leafs and Senators came onto the ice and assembled on their respective blue lines.
Gilmour brought the puck out for the ceremonial faceoff and he dropped it between Dion Phaneuf and Daniel Alfredsson. Soon enough, the legends stepped off center stage, the blue carpets were rolled up, the anthem was performed by Beverley Mahood and the game got under way.
The Hall of Famers will be back here at Air Canada Centre for the annual Legend's Game, where they will be honored again and receive their Hall of Fame jackets.
Craig Button worked in the Dallas Stars organization when Ed Belfour was serving as the team's star goalie in the mid-to-late 1990s. Button stayed around the team a lot and spoke to Belfour quite often.
Here Button tells NHL.com a story that he believes helps define the type of private, quirky, and yet caring guy Belfour is, and the type of hard-driving, emotional teammate he was:
"I remember one day in training camp talking to him, and he was like, 'You know what, these guys have to work harder. They have to understand that there is more to this,' " Button recalled during a wide-ranging phone interview. "He cared. He cared about the young players and he understood from where he had come in his career that these were important elements. He wanted to impress upon me that this is what these guys have to do and they have to understand it. He might not have been comfortable telling people about that, but he was always that guy that was doing those things to prepare himself and make sure he gave himself the best chance to perform.
"You'd like to say, 'Ed, you go tell them.' But, you have to understand Ed's personality. So, that is where you took the information from him and tried to impart that onto the younger players. That was good. It becomes part of teamwork in a different way."
NEWARK, N.J. -- Tomas Vokoun will start in net for the Capitals tonight at Prudential Center, but the rest of Washington's lineup won't be determined until later today.
Mike Green will likely get back in after missing six games, but for now he's considered a game-time decision.
Matt Hendricks will also be a game-time decision because his wife, Kim, gave birth to twins Gunnar and Lennon on Thursday. Hendricks was not here this morning, but is supposed to be on his way and should arrive before the game. There is no word on if he will play.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Capitals defenseman Mike Green could return to the lineup tonight at Prudential Center. He has missed the last six games with a right ankle injury.
Both Green and Washington coach Bruce Boudreau used the words "gametime decision" to describe the blue-liner's status for tonight against the Devils, but all indications are that he will play.
Green has participated in every full practice this week, including a bag skate Wednesday. He didn't look to be in any discomfort this morning and came off the ice when the rest of his teammates did. Had he stayed on for extra work, it would have been an indication that he is definitely out.
"It's more how he feels," Boudreau said. "He's cleared to play. It's just up to him."
Boudreau also said the back-to-back against the Devils (Washington plays host to New Jersey on Saturday at Verizon Center) has nothing to do with the decision on Green for tonight.
"Tomorrow might be a different issue, but if he feels good enough to play he's going to play," Boudreau said. "His conditioning is fine after this week."
Washington needs to get Green back in the lineup.
"We're 7-0 with him and 2-4 without him," Boudreau said. "He's a pretty important piece to our puzzle."
NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils goalie Martin Brodeur finally feels as though he's found a rhythm to his season. It's showing in his play.
Brodeur will get his third straight start tonight when the Devils take on Washington. He has won the last two and allowed only four goals in the process.
This is the first time this season Brodeur is on a starting streak. He lost the season-opener, 3-0, and sat out the second game before coming back in Oct. 13 to play Los Angles. He lasted only one period before suffering a shoulder injury that kept him out until Nov. 2, when he returned but gave up five goals to the Maple Leafs in a loss.
Johan Hedberg, who started the six games that Brodeur had to miss because of his injury, got back in the night after the Devils lost to the Leafs and picked up a 4-3 shootout victory against the Flyers the very next night. Brodeur, though, comes into the game Friday after making 21 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against the Jets on Saturday and then 25 saves in a 3-2 regulation win against Carolina on Tuesday.
"The more you play the more you feel comfortable." Brodeur, who isn't expected to play Saturday in Washington, told NHL.com. "It helps to get in somewhat of a rhythm. I didn't have one earlier due to the lack of playing. It felt for a while like the season never started for me, so this is the start of my season now."
As much as the consistent starts matter to Brodeur, the wins mean more to him because now it tells him he's contributing, not just playing.
"For a forward, even if you win but you don't score, you feel you're left out. It's the same thing with a goalie," Brodeur said. "If you can't put anything together to try to get the team to advance in the standings it's hard. It's nice to do that and be part of the team."
For the Devils, it's just nice to have Brodeur back in rhythm. As solid as Hedberg has been, he just doesn't have the same reputation as Brodeur, who is still arguably the most talked about player by opposing coaches and players when they're getting ready to face the Devils.
"It's good for us because he's starting to play really well," Devils captain Zach Parise told NHL.com. "I think he's got that ability to make the opponents think. He definitely at times gets in players heads and makes them overthink. If you can have that as an advantage, that's great."
NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Pete DeBoer confirmed that forward Ilya Kovalchuk will not play in either of the home-and-home games against the Washington Capitals this weekend due to a pulled leg muscle. The Devils host Washington tonight at Prudential Center and play the Capitals at Verizon Center on Saturday.
Kovalchuk has missed the last two games with a pulled leg muscle, an injury he suffered in Philadelphia last week.
"He did skate this morning, but we're in November and … we don't want to turn this into something that lingers," DeBoer said. "Lingering is probably the best way to describe it."
"Early in the season we've made a habit of shuffling our fourth line around, our lines around in general," DeBoer said. "Hopefully (Zharkov brings) some energy and a different look. He's a little bit of a different player than Pelley. He plays a different game and can complement Mills and Janssen hopefully."
Martin Brodeur, who missed several games earlier in the season with a shoulder injury, is expected to get his third straight start in goal. He's won the last two, giving up just 4 goals in the process.
"I'm getting there," Brodeur told NHL.com. "The more you play the more you feel comfortable. It helps to get in somewhat of a rhythm. I didn't have one earlier due to the lack of playing. It felt for a while like the season never started for me, so this is the start of my season now."
Here are the Devils lines and defense pairings from the skate:
VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers captain Chris Pronger completed his second straight full practice Tuesday morning and left for Tampa Bay with his teammates later in the afternoon. He again skated with Matt Carle, his normal defense partner, and participated in all of the power-play drills.
The next question is how he will feel off of it later Tuesday when Pronger has had time to relax from the hard practice. That will help determine if he'll be able to return to the Flyers lineup Wednesday in Tampa Bay or if he'll miss his seventh straight game after being struck in the right eye by the stick of Toronto forward Mikhail Grabovski's during a game on Oct. 24.
"I couldn't tell you," Pronger said in response to a question about how his recovery is going. "I've got to see how I feel after today. I didn't feel too hot (Monday), so we'll see how I feel today after a pretty good skate."
Pronger likely won't make any decision until after he takes the morning skate Wednesday. It appears that conditioning is all that's holding him back now. His eye doesn't seem to be a problem.
"It's been a little suspect after the last couple days," Pronger said of his conditioning. "Again, you don't realize how quickly you can lose it when you've done nothing for seven days, you're bedridden for four of them -- the joints need to be moving. Sometimes while I feel like I'm 25, when you're laying decrepit in your bed for four or five days, you get a little tight and stiff."
The rest of the Flyers aren't worried. They've skated with Pronger the last couple of days and to them it looks like nothing is different.
"He looks in great shape," Claude Giroux said. "He's had two or three practices with us and he's moving well. He's a smart player, so if he's in good shape he'll be fine out there. He knows what it takes and how to get ready for a game. He'll be fine."
Whenever Pronger does return, he will be wearing a visor. His ophthalmologist, Dr. Stephen Goldman, wouldn't clear him to play unless he agreed to wear one for at least the time being.
Pronger still is adjusting to the shield that now covers his face.
"Well, I've played with guys that have never worn one then late in the career have had to throw one on because of injury or what have you," he said. "When you have to wear one, you have to wear it and you just get used to it. You don't really have a choice."
He said the colder temperature inside the Flyers' practice facility hasn't allowed him to grasp what it will be like to wear one in a big arena such as the St. Pete Times Forum, which seats 19,758 for Lightning games.
"It's different because this rink is a lot colder than the rinks we're going to play in, so it will fog up a lot more in the game rinks," Pronger said. "Obviously when you start hitting and stuff, sweat is going to fly and all the things that guys deal with shift in, shift out. After pretty much every shift you have to wipe the visor down to keep it clean. It's just a matter of keeping it clean."
Toronto goalie James Reimer did not practice Friday and will miss his seventh straight game Saturday when the Maple Leafs host Boston. The Leafs are saying Reimer has an upper-body injury, but the fear is that he is suffering concussion-like symptoms after getting hit in the head against Montreal two weeks ago.
"I would say he kind of hit a plateau in his recovery so the trainers decided not to ask him to go on the ice," Leafs coach Ron Wilson told reporters in Toronto. "With the other two goalies (Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens) playing well, if he's not going to face a lot of shots (in practice) it's better for him to just work out off the ice."
Wilson expressed optimism in Reimer's recovery on Wednesday when the Leafs were in Newark to face the Devils. He had hoped that Reimer would be able to serve as Gustavsson's backup, but said it didn't happen because Reimer was gassed after a long workout in the morning and wouldn't have been able to play if he had to go in.
Wilson, though, said after Wednesday's game that he was hopeful Reimer would be able to start Thursday in Columbus. That didn't happen as Scrivens got the call with Gustavsson as the backup.
And now Reimer was held out of practice Friday. There's no word on who will start Saturday against Boston.
"I'm not a doctor or a trainer," Wilson said. "We've got the healthy guys and they're doing the job so we'll give James plenty of time to recover. There's no rush to get him back."
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Rangers lineup should remain the same for Thursday's game against Anaheim as it was for Monday's win over San Jose. The only difference is that Henrik Lundqvist will likely replace Martin Biron in net.
Here is what the Rangers lines and D-pairings looked like in practice Wednesday: