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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 2:53 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Bertuzzi could be sidelined for a month

ST. LOUIS -- The Detroit Red Wings will be without veteran forward Todd Bertuzzi longer than expected.

Bertuzzi, who has been nursing a groin injury, will miss up to a month with mononucleosis.

"Bert's got mono," Red wings coach Mike Babcock said Saturday. "When we talked to him [Friday], we knew something was wrong. He's got mono, so he's going to [miss] a chunk of time."

Asked if it will be weeks, Babcock replied: "Oh yeah, for sure. Probably."

Bertuzzi, who turns 38 on Feb. 2, could go on injured reserve, which would clear a spot for injured Darren Helm (back) to return.

Bertuzzi has 751 points in 1,093 career games.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 2:51 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Colaiacovo excited for return to St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- A familiar face will sit on the visitors bench tonight, as Carlo Colaiacovo, who was a staple on the St. Louis Blues' defensive unit for four seasons, will wear the Winged Wheel.

Colaiacovo, who became an unrestricted free agent this summer, was not brought back by the Blues and signed a two-year, $5-million contract with the archrival Detroit Red Wings.

Colaiacovo, 29, arrived at the arena Saturday morning and had to remind himself where he needed to be.

"Actually, I got locked out when I came in," Colaiacovo quipped. "I didn't know where to go. I'm still used to being a home player here. I didn't know where the visiting teams were supposed to go.

"I've seen a lot of familiar faces and it brings back a lot of good memories. I obviously still have a lot of great friends on that team. I saw them last night and saw them again this morning. A lot of mixed emotions going through me today. The adrenaline's going to be rushing through me tonight. I know that the crowd's going to be rocking. It's a new opportunity for me, a fresh start. I'm looking forward to making the most of it."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 2:45 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Bylsma, Laviolette happy to see each other

PHILADELPHIA -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and his Philadelphia Flyers counterpart, Peter Laviolette, agree that matchup of their two teams Saturday is the perfect way to start the season.

The Flyers and Penguins finished the 2011-12 regular season against each other, then engaged in a memorable, hard-fought six-game playoff series. In fact, the Penguins' last eight games have been against the Flyers.

For the Penguins, Bylsma said his team should have extra inspiration for the way their season ended, a 5-1 loss to the Flyers here at Wells Fargo Center.

"When the news stated rolling around and it looked like we were going to have a season, and the possibility of when the season could start … [it] would be against the Flyers, you kind of smirk at the decision-makers who put that schedule together," Bylsma said. "But now we're getting in the plane, coming here, coming into this building, certainly no better way to start for us. A shortened season, the sprint it's going to be to the playoffs, the place where our [season] ended last year, disappointed with us not playing the way we thought we could, starting here against the Flyers, our rival, it's going to be a great way to start."

Laviolette said he's just as happy to see the Penguins written first on his team's schedule. As much as he's pleased for having a rival to open the season against, he's glad the fans who have missed hockey for so long will have what should be an entertaining game for their first day back.

"It's a good way to kick off the season for us, for sure," Laviolette said. "We've got a real strong opponent here. There was a real emotional series last year, I think, and it's a perfect opening game.

"The fact that it's the Penguins, an afternoon game, NBC, that brings the hype already. The lockout adds a little bit. I think you've got a couple teams that have a pretty good rivalry going, it's the first game of the year. People that love hockey still love hockey after the lockout. We're happy they're here and we want to put on a good game for the fans."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 2:43 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Blues' Tarasenko ready for NHL debut

ST. LOUIS -- The look in Vladimir Tarasenko's eyes said it all.

The St. Louis Blues' 2010 first-round draft pick is feeling like a kid in a candy store, excited to be realizing a dream. On the other hand, when the 21-year-old steps onto the ice for his first National Hockey League game against the Detroit Red Wings tonight (7 p.m. on FSN, KMOX 1120-AM), the nerves will be fast and furious.

"I'm very excited because this is my dream. It's a dream come true," Tarasenko said at the morning skate. "I'm a little bit nervous because this is my first game in the National Hockey League. I never thought I would get here."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 2:37 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Blues ready to face Lidstrom-less Red Wings

ST. LOUIS -- The defending Central Division champion St. Louis Blues will face a still formidable Detroit Red Wings team Saturday, even though they will be opening a season without the great Nicklas Lidstrom for the first time since 1991.

"It's the Detroit Red Wings, so it just looks the same to us," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They just fill in the gaps.

"Everyone thought when (Steve) Yzerman left, it was going to be all over and they did just fine. I'll reserve judgment until we see how they look without him in there. To me, they know how to play the game the right way."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 2:29 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Parise, Suter Set to Make Wild Debut

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild have waited over six months to unveil their new $98-million assets. After a lockout and week-long training camp, the team will officially do just that as Zach Parise and Ryan Suter debut in Wild sweaters at 8 p.m. against the Colorado Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center.

Saturday's season opener also caps the annual "Hockey Day Minnesota" celebration sponsored by the team and the local Fox Sports affiliate. So it's safe to say that the hockey-crazed fans in Minnesota will be even more excited to see the Wild season finally get underway this evening.

For Parise, the delay has been especially long. After all, this is the player who started pining for the season to start in July at his introductory press conference.

"It dragged during November, December. It got pretty long," Parise said. "Everyone can stop analyzing and overanalyzing and now we can just play. I think everybody is looking forward to that."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:57 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Projected Lineup: Hurricanes at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers are going to be short-handed when they begin defense of their Southeast Division title Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Six regulars from last year’s team will be missing, the latest casualty being wing Kris Versteeg. He sustained a lower-body injury in practice Friday and left the morning skate early Saturday.

Taking Versteeg’s place on the top line with Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann will be Mike Santorelli, who was placed on waivers Friday.

Also out for Florida are forwards Sean Bergenheim and Marcel Goc as well as defensemen Dmitry Kulikov, Erik Gudbranson and Mike Weaver. All are dealing with injuries, except for Kulikov, who just rejoined the team after signing a new contract.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:45 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Veteran Stars eager to end playoff drought

DALLAS -- After trading Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro this offseason, there are just four current members of the Dallas Stars who were with the club the last time they made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2008, when Dallas finished fifth in the Western Conference and reached the conference finals.

The group consists of defenseman Trevor Daley, forward Loui Eriksson, captain Brenden Morrow and veteran blueliner Stephane Robidas. Since losing to the Detroit Red Wings in six games in the 2008 Western Conference Finals, Dallas has missed the playoffs four straight seasons and it's a trend this group would not like to see continue this year, the franchise’s 20th in Dallas.

“It’s been a long time, obviously too long. The time’s now to get it done,” Daley said. “There’s no excuses this year. We’ve got a good group and this should be a playoff team.”

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:43 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

New-look Hurricanes ready to make amends

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Carolina Hurricanes will begin this season exactly where they ended the last one, but they're confident they're a lot better than the team that last played at the BB&T Center.

After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2011-12, the Hurricanes made a couple of significant moves in the offseason, most notably the acquisition via trade of center Jordan Staal and the signing of free-agent wing Alexander Semin.

The 4-1 loss against the Florida Panthers on April 7 left Carolina in 12th place in the Eastern Conference standings, last in the Southeast Division.

The Hurricanes watched the Panthers celebrate clinching the division title that night, and Saturday night they'll watch a banner go up before the new season begins.

Carolina captain Eric Staal said that will just add even more motivation to a new season already filled with it.

"For the guys that we here, no question," he said. "They're the team that took our division last year and that's something that we want to make sure that we achieve this year. We want to turn the tables and we want it to be the other way around next time. We're ready to go."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:40 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Kulikov out for Panthers vs. Hurricanes

SUNRISE, Fla. — Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov rejoined the Florida Panthers after signing a two-year contract Thursday. But he will not be in the lineup for Saturday’s season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes.

After passing his physical on Friday, Kulikov took part in Saturday’s morning skate and at one point had a one-on-one conversation with coach Kevin Dineen.

“You’ve got to look at a guy, where he’s at and if he’s going to help you,” Dineen said. “Frankly, it’s disappointing he’s not ready to play.”

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Quote of the Day

He seemed to thrive on his own and didn't really need any push from me. I certainly don't want to get in the way of the coaches. You see how that goes sometimes. I never really worried about it and just enjoyed the ride.

— David Ekblad on his son's [Aaron Ekblad] journey to the NHL, signing with the Florida Panthers