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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 8:36 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Meech glad to offer Winnipeg history lesson

WINNIPEG -- If any of the Winnipeg Jets need a lesson on the city's NHL history, teammate Derek Meech can provide it.

Meech made the club's roster out of training camp as a spare defenseman who's also capable of filling in as a forward. The Winnipeg native signed with the Jets this summer after six seasons in the Detroit Red Wings organization.

Meech does not expect to dress for the Jets in Sunday's season-opening game against the Montreal Canadiens. But he's the only member of the Winnipeg roster who was present for the city's last taste of NHL hockey in April 1996.

Just 12 years old when the original Winnipeg Jets bowed out to the Red Wings on April 28, 1996, Meech has since spent four seasons as a standout defenseman in the Western Hockey League, made his NHL debut with the Red Wings and scored his first goal in the League.

On Saturday morning, Meech recalled taking part in the city's famous white-outs for Jets games at the old Winnipeg Arena. A Dave Ellett poster adorned the wall of his bedroom -- and, like a lot of kids in Manitoba during the 1980s and 1990s, Meech lived and died with the fortunes of the local NHL club.

"I'm a [Jets] fan. I've been a fan for the past 15 years," he said.

Unlike a lot of Winnipeggers, the easy-going Meech did not harbor any dislike of the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, two powerhouse divisional rivals that tormented the Jets and their fans during the 1980s.

"I mostly just loved the Jets," he said.

Meech plans to bring his family's Jets loyalties full circle. Meech's father, brother and step-brother all took in that April 1996 game, and all three will be in the MTS Centre for Sunday's game.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 7:39 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Winnipeg gets ready

WINNIPEG -- Just a little more than 24 hours before their NHL season-opener, the Winnipeg Jets conducted their final tune-up at the MTS Centre on Saturday.

After a 5,643-day wait, on Sunday afternoon the Jets will bring the NHL back to Winnipeg for the first regular-season contest in the city since 1996. Winnipeg will host the Montreal Canadiens in a contest that will be broadcast across Canada on CBC and RDS. The NHL Network will present the 5 p.m. ET to viewers in the U.S.

The Jets skated the following forward lines and defensive pairings on Saturday:

Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane-Mark Scheifele-Kyle Wellwood
Brett MacLean-Alexander Burmistrov-Nikolai Antropov

Tanner Glass-Jim Slater-Chris Thorburn
Johnny Oduya-Dustin Byfuglien

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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 3:04 PM

By Compiled By -  NHL.com Staff /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Expected lineups for Penguins, Flames

The Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins are set to face off Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Based on this morning's practices, here are the expected forward lines and defense pairings for each team:


FLAMES

Alex TanguayDavid MossJarome Iginla
Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenLee Stempniak
Niklas HagmanRoman HorakRene Bourque
Tom KostopoulosMatt StajanTim Jackman

Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
Chris ButlerJay Bouwmeester
Anton BabchukCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to get the start in goal with Henrik Karlsson serving as the backup.

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

Kris Letang - Deryk Engelland
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy

Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to get the start in goal with Brent Johnson serving as the backup.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 1:36 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Expected lineups for Bruins, Lightning

The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning are set to face off Saturday in a rematch of last spring's Eastern Conference Finals. Based on this morning's practices, here are the expected forward lines and defense pairings for each team:

BRUINS

Lucic-Krejci-Horton
Marchand-Bergeron-Peverley
Pouliot-Kelly-Seguin
Paille-Campbell-Thornton

Chara-Boychuk
Seidenberg-Corvo
Ference-McQuaid

Tim Thomas is expected to start in goal with Tuukka Rask backing him up.

LIGHTNING
Malone-Lecavalier-Purcell
St. Louis-Stamkos-Downie
Connolly-Moore-Shannon
Jones-Thompson-Hall

Hedman-Brewer
Clark-Gilroy
Bergeron-Kubina

Mathieu Garon looks like he may see the start in goal with Dwayne Roloson backing him up.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 12:49 PM

By Compiled By -  NHL.com Staff /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Expected lineups for Maple Leafs, Senators

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators are set to face off Saturday in the second game of each team's season. Based on this morning's practices, here are the expected forward lines and defense pairings for each team:

MAPLE LEAFS
Frattin-Grabovski-Kulemin
Lupul-Bozak-Kessel
Armstrong-Steckel-Dupuis
Brown-Lombardi-Orr
 
Gunnarsson-Phaneuf
Liles-Schenn
Gardiner-Komisarek
 
James Reimer is expected to start in goal with Jonas Gustavsson backing up.

SENATORS
Michalek - Spezza - Filatov
Greening - Zibanejad - Alfredsson
Foligno  - Da Costa  - Neil
Condra - Smith - Konopka
 
Phillips - Lee
Cowen - Gonchar
Kuba - Karlsson
 
Craig Anderson is expected to start in goal with Alex Auld backing up.



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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 6:41 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Wings to honor three victims of Lokomotiv crash

Detroit will do a number of things before Friday's opening game at Joe Louis Arena to honor the lives of former players Ruslan Salei, Stefan Liv and former assistant coach Brad McCrimmon.

The three were among those killed in the tragic September plane crash in Russia that killed 37 members of the KHL team Lokomotiv just outside of Yaroslavl. Salei played on the blue line for the Wings last season, Liv was once a Wings goalie prospect and McCrimmon was an assistant under Mike Babcock from 2008-11 - leaving after last season to become Lokomotiv's coach.

The Wings will wear a special patch in the Lokomotiv colors of blue and red on the left sleeve of their jerseys with the initials "BM, RS and SL."

Friday night's game-worn jerseys will also be used to raise funds for the three families, and wives of current Red Wings players will also sell honorary bracelets that say "Love for Lokomotiv" in the concourse - with the proceeds going to a fund for the families of players and staff killed in the crash.

Coaching staffs of both the Wings and Senators will also wear red and blue ribbons made by the wives of the Red Wings players. McCrimmon's family -- wife Maureen, daughter Carlin and son Liam -- still live in the Detroit area and will be honored on the ice prior to the game.
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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 6:30 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Babcock holds fast to his goal: a championship

It was a simple question about legendary Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and whether Mike Babcock feels a little fortunate to coach him.

Babcock's answer gave turned out to be a sort of mission statement that assuming the Red Wings are on the downswing now is probably a mistake.

"When you get to coach an Original Six team and you get to coach the Detroit Red Wings and work for Mr. (Mike) Illitch and get to coach (Steve Yzerman) and Lidstrom and (Brendan Shanahan) and (Chris Chelios) and (Dominik Hasek), Henrik Zetterberg), Pavel Datsyuk … you've got to pinch yourself," he said. "It's a dream come true. We've got great people in this room and we've found a way to be great for long periods of time. We don't plan on letting it stop anytime soon."

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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 4:56 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Glass predicting Cup Final-loud crowd in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG -- Twelve hours after the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off wrapped up in downtown, the event still merited dressing-room chatter among the Winnipeg Jets.

Left wing Tanner Glass helped introduce legendary Winnipeg band Bachman & Turner during the second intermission of the Montreal Canadiens-Toronto Maple Leafs broadcast displayed on large video screens at the event.

"Awesome," Glass said. "So awesome. I knew it was going to be a (special) atmosphere there, but I didn't know the amount of people that we were going to have down there. It was pretty special."

Glass said he had a difficult time hearing questions from CBC host George Stroumboulopoulos while on the stage.

"I heard three or four words and just took a stab at it," Glass said with a laugh.

Glass played with the Vancouver Canucks last season and skated with them in the Stanley Cup Final. When asked to gauge the atmosphere that will greet the Jets on Sunday for their season-opener against the Canadiens, Glass said Winnipeg would measure up well against Canucks fans.

"It's going to be awesome," Glass predicted. "I expect it to be just as crazy here as that was. I'm looking forward to getting that first shift over with."
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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 1:50 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Expected lineups for Hurricanes, Lightning tonight

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes will open their seasons today at the RBC Center in Raleigh. Based on this morning's practices, here are the expected forward lines and defense pairings for each team:

LIGHTNING

Martin St. Louis-Steven Stamkos-Steve Downie
Ryan Malone-Vincent Lecavalier-Teddy Purcell
Ryan Shannon-Dominic Moore-Brett Connolly
Adam Hall-Nate Thompson-Blair Jones

Victor Hedman-Eric Brewer
Marc-Andre Bergeron-Pavel Kubina
Brett Clark-Matt Gilroy

Dwayne Roloson will start in goal, with Mathieu Roy serving as the backup

HURRICANES

Jeff Skinner-Eric Staal-Tuomo Ruutu
Jiri Tlusty-Jussi Jokinen-Chad LaRose
Alexei Ponikarovsky-Brandon Sutter-Patrick Dwyer
Anthony Stewart-Tim Brent-Zac Dalpe

Joni Pitkanen-Tim Gleason
Jay Harrison-Bryan Allen
Tomas Kaberle-Justin Faulk

Cam Ward will start in goal, with Brian Boucher the backup
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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 1:37 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Expected lineups for Stars, Blackhawks today

The Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars will open their seasons today at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. Based on this morning's practices, here are the expected forward lines and defense pairings for each team:

BLACKHAWKS
Brandon Saad-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Sharp
Andrew Brunette-Patrick Kane-Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell-Brandon Pirri-Michael Frolik
Jamal Mayers-Rostislav Olesz
 
Duncan Keith-Nick Leddy
Niklas Hjalmarsson-Brent Seabrook
Sean O'Donnell-Sami Lepisto
Steve Montador
 
Corey Crawford will start in goal, with Ray Emery the backup

STARS
Michael Ryder-Mike Ribeiro-Brenden Morrow
Loui Eriksson-Jamie Benn-Tomas Vincour
Steve Ott-Vernon Fiddler-Radek Dvorak
Jake Dowell-Tom Wandell-Toby Petersen
 
Stephane Robidas-Alex Goligoski
Trevor Daley-Sheldon Souray
Mark Fistric-Philip Larsen

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